Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Brooklyn State Legislators Discuss the Borough's State Legislative Agenda
State legislative priorities for Brooklyn were the main topic of discussion at a luncheon Borough President Marty Markowitz hosted for the borough's State Senators and Assembly Members at Borough Hall on March 22nd.
Borough President Markowitz told the gathered legislators that he wants to help advance Brooklyn's interests through a close, working relationship with the delegation.
Among the key legislative priorities Borough President Markowitz raised were:
CUNY. Fund an increase in base-aid support for CUNY.
Summer youth jobs. Restore the State's contribution to the summer youth jobs program to the fiscal year 2001 level of $25 million.
MTA. Enact a new law to give borough presidents seats on the MTA Board of Directors. Borough President Markowitz noted that Brooklyn has more mass transit riders than any other county in the nation.
Automobile insurance. Borough President Markowitz invited the legisaltors to participate in the Brooklyn Automobile Task Force that he announced last month. The Task Force will explore ways of reducing insurance fraud and other causes for Brooklyn's extraordinary and still-escalating auto insurance premiums.
Commuter tax. Restore the commuter tax, but with a "sunset" provision so that it expires in two to three years, once the City's fiscal health is restored.
East River Bridge tolls. Oppose East River bridge tolls and oppose any attempts to lease the East River Bridges to the MTA.
Energy planning. The power plant siting process should be reformed to improve public participation and require a cumulative environmental analysis of all power plants in the area.
Brownfields. Adopt proposed compromise legislation that will speed redevelopment of industrial brownfields. Brooklyn has hundreds of acres that could be redeveloped for housing, industry, and commercial uses.
Economic development. Among the priorities are funding of State economic development incentives in areas affected by the World Trade Center disaster that are located beyond "Ground Zero," retain funding for the Coney Island Sportsplex and increase the allocation in order to attract an NBA franchise, and support funding for various infrastructure improvements.
Housing. Adopt a Loft Bill that protects existing residents and expands geographic coverage, adopt legislation to provide a permanent property tax abatement for condo and co-op owners, enact legislation to revive the Mitchell-Lama housing production program, provide additional funds for the Low-Income Housing Trust Fund.
Medicaid costs. Localities should be relieved of responsibility for assuming part of the cost of Medicaid. In other states, Medicaid is paid for entirely by the federal and state governments.
Borough President Markowitz invited the legislators to use the newly-designated Legislators' Office on the second floor of Borough Hall whenever they need a downtown location for a meeting or to make calls and send faxes. He also invited them to use Borough Hall's meeting rooms for their events, including public hearings.
He also told them about the special services that Borough Hall staff can offer, ranging from the latest information on the land-use review status of a project in their district to detailed engineering information on the City infrastructure that is maintained by Borough Hall's engineering staff.
State lawmakers attending the luncheon said they were very pleased with the prospect of working closely with Borough Hall. Assembly Member Joseph Lentol, Dean of the Brooklyn delegation, said that they are "proud that one of us -- a State legislator" was elected Borough President and that Borough President Markowitz' effort to work together with the legislators was "a breath of fresh air for all of us."