State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) is hoping a little bit of luck will befall legislation he just introduced that would help fund nonprofit community organizations through dedicated proceeds from a new scratch-off lottery game.
Avella says that “draconian” state budget cuts, the loss of legislators’ ability to earmark funds for groups in their districts and the lingering downturn in the economy have combined to put “a tremendous burden” on nonprofits. The new source of money for the organizations would be called the Community Grant Fund.
“Youth groups, senior centers, cultural organizations and little leagues provide essential services and rely on discretionary funding to survive,” the senator said at an Aug. 3 press conference announcing the legislation. “These groups certainly are not pork.With declining sources of funding these groups need a dedicated Community Grant Fund.My legislation is an innovative way to provide these groups with the funding they desperately need.”
Avella noted that since 2010, the state has banned member item spending, and he said that loss, combined with cuts in regular budget allocations and reductions in private funding since the recession, means that vital organizations are unable to get the dollars they need to serve the community.
He was joined at the press conference by leaders of several such groups.
“I am involved with numerous not-for-profit organizations, and one has already been dissolved after 35 years, and others are on the ropes,” said Jim Trent, president of the Queens County Farm Museum, located in Floral Park. “The governor does not understand the dire consequences of going three years with no state support.
“The not-for-profitsare an importantquality of life factor in education, culture, seniors support, health, etcetera. There needs to be an acknowledgment by government of the important role not-for-profits play in the life of the community and a strategy designed to keep these groups from folding.Sen. Avella’s bill may well be the solution we are all seeking.”