For Immediate Release: March 31, 2014 Contact: Gary Ginsburg | ginsburg@nysenate.

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Senate Majority Votes Down Legislation Which Would Provide Increased Aid And Opportunities To New York Businesses, Families And Schools
Democratic Conference Members Offered Bills to Lower Taxes, Strip Pensions from Corrupt State Officials, Protect Natural Resources and Increase Aid to Municipalities and School Funding (Albany, NY) The Senate Democratic Conference brought legislation to the Senate floor that would have amended the 2014-2015 State Budget to grow the state economy, help put New Yorkers back to work, reduce taxes on struggling middle class families, provide additional resources for small businesses and increase aid to local governments and school districts. All of these legislative measures were voted down by the Senate Republican/IDC Coalition. “As state leaders, we have a responsibility to use tax dollars wisely to grow New York’s economy and assist struggling middle class families, public schools and small businesses,” Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “The 2014-2015 State Budget could have, and should have, done more to help middle and working class New Yorkers and I am disappointed that the Senate Majority Coalition voted against our amendments. The Democratic Conference will continue to fight for common sense solutions to the issues facing our state.” Stripping Pensions From Corrupt Officials Under current law, state officials who joined the pension system before 2011 can continue to receive their pensions even if they are convicted of felonies related to abuse of power and corruption. The Senate Democratic Conference brought legislation to the floor that would have retroactively stripped pension benefits from any state or local official convicted of a felony involving breach of public trust. Senator Ted O’Brien said, “Anyone who betrays the public’s trust and abuses power for personal gain should not receive taxpayer funded pensions. To expect New Yorkers to support corrupt individuals that have been convicted of felonies due to their unethical actions is absurd. By voting against this common sense reform, the Senate Majority Coalition demonstrated that it opposes providing New Yorkers with the ethics reforms they demand of their state government.”


The Senate Democratic Conference introduced legislation that would have provided an additional $340 million in Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) to help reduce property taxes and ensure local governments have the funds they need to operate vital services for their constituents. The Aid and Incentives for Municipalities program is a revenue sharing program that has a proven history of success in the New York and effectively suppresses the growth of municipal property taxes. The Senate Majority Coalition rejected Senate Democratic efforts to increase AIM funding, effectively blocking $140 million to Upstate communities and $200 million to the City of New York. Senator Liz Krueger said, “Local governments and school districts, upstate and downstate alike, are being forced to make awful choices and are struggling to stay afloat because our government is failing to deliver fair funding. It’s time our state government got its priorities straight: we can't afford to cut sales taxes on private airplanes or give away taxpayer dollars on more special tax breaks for corporations until our school districts and local governments are made whole again. I’m offering this amendment to remind us all that there’s a better, smarter, more responsible option -- and we should be taking it.”

Small Business Aid The Senate Democratic Conference introduced legislation that would have provided zero interest loans to businesses with fewer than 5 employees to hire New York residents. Under this initiative, loan funds of up to 20% of a new hire’s salary, up to $20,000 per new hire, would be made available to qualifying small businesses. These loans would have helped grow small businesses throughout New York State and encouraged entrepreneurs to hire full-time employees and grow local economies. Senator Terry Gipson said, “Small businesses, family farms and entrepreneurs are the backbone of the state economy and we need to incentivize growth to help them put more New Yorkers back to work. Hire NY would have invested directly in New Yorkers to create jobs here in New York and provided innovators, farmers, and other small business owners with access to capital to expand their operations and contribute more to their local economies. I am disappointed that the Senate Majority Coalition voted down this common sense initiative.”

Blocking Inequality In Education Spending Legislation was introduced by the Senate Democratic Conference to eliminate proposals in the State Budget that would provide charter schools with special treatment and hurt public schools. The State Budget is an attack on mayoral control in New York City, and would provide charter schools with special treatment not enjoyed by traditional public education institutions. The Senate Democratic initiative was intended to combat efforts to institutionalize disparities between charter schools and public schools, though it was voted down by the Senate Majority Coalition.

Moratorium On Teacher Evaluation Consequences

The Senate Democratic Conference introduced an initiative that would extend the moratorium on the consequences of the Common Core standardized exams to cover educators as well as students. The State Budget applies a three-year moratorium on the high-stakes Common Core testing consequences for students, but does not apply that moratorium to educators. The Senate Democratic proposal would recognize that because of the student moratorium, the test results will not properly demonstrate what students are actually learning and therefore judging teachers on these results would be unfair. Senator Kevin Parker said, “I believe that common academic standards for New York's schools and children could be helpful. I am deeply concerned however with the troubled implementation of the State's Common Core curriculum. This new system was rolled out too quickly and without sufficient transparency to keep the process from being confusing to parents and our communities, and detrimental to students and teachers. It would be unfair to evaluate teachers based on exams that we have already acknowledged are too flawed to evaluate students. Therefore, implementing a moratorium on the consequences of the Common Core exams is the right thing to do. The Senate Majority Coalition’s rejection of this legislation defies common sense and is contrary to our goal of continual improvement of our schools and the best educational results for our children.”

Hydraulic Fracturing Moratorium Members of the Senate Democratic Conference have been longtime advocates for the protection and sustainable development of New York’s natural resources. The long term environmental and health risks associated with the process of hydraulic fracturing are still unclear, which is why the Senate Democratic Conference advanced legislation that would implement a moratorium on issuing permits for drilling until May 15, 2016. This legislation would also require public health experts to conduct a comprehensive health impact assessment complete with a public comment and review period. Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk said, “Every day brings new evidence of the potential dangers associated with fracking. It would be irresponsible and dangerous to allow oil companies to begin fracking in New York State before our medical and environmental experts have enough time to fully understand the potential impact. Establishing a moratorium will allow us to determine the effects fracking will have on our constituents and our natural resources. It is disappointing that the Senate Majority Coalition blocked this common sense public health and safety initiative.” The legislative initiatives advanced by the Senate Democratic Conference would have provided millions of dollars in tax relief, education aid and small business support to help New Yorkers keep more of their hard earned money and grow their local and statewide economies. Unfortunately, every single proposal was rejected by the Senate Majority Republican/IDC Coalition.


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