The New York State Senate last week passed legislation sponsored by Senator Craig M. Johnson (D-Nassau) that will authorize the installation of red light cameras in Nassau County.

The legislation (S.3749) will enable Nassau officials to install red-light cameras at up to 50 intersections throughout the county under a five-year pilot program. These devices turn on only when a vehicle runs a red light.

According to a 2007 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 900 people were killed and an estimated 153,000 were injured nationwide as a result of people running red lights. One person dies from every 100 red light related accidents.

The legislation has also passed the Assembly, where it was sponsored by Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove). The Senate bill was co-sponsored by Charles J. Fuschillo Jr. (R-Merrick.)

"These red light cameras will help the improve the safety of our roadways and protect every Nassau resident," Johnson said. "I thank Assemblyman Lavine and Senator Fuschillo for joining me in sponsoring this vitally important legislation."

This legislation includes protections for vehicle owners from being convicted of a red light violation if the vehicle has been reported stolen, or the traffic signal was malfunctioning.

This measure has long been a priority for County Executive Thomas Suozzi and the Nassau County Legislature. Under the bill, which has been delivered to the Governor, county officials are required to issue an annual report to state leaders detailing the effectiveness of this technology.

Senator Craig Johnson (D- Nassau) was joined by Assemblyman Marc Alessi (D-Wading River) and Senator Brian X. Foley (D-Suffolk) last week in calling for a thorough review of the state's flawed school aid formula.

Johnson and the other lawmakers plan to work with the chairs of the Assembly and Senate Education Committees to start a public discussion on how to reform the formula, which shortchanges Long Island students and places undue burdens on taxpayers.

The lawmakers are pushing for legislative hearings with input from the Department of Education, local school districts, and taxpayers. The goal is to have a new formula implemented in next year's state budget. "Ensuring Long Island receives its fair share of school funding should not be a yearly battle against a faulty and reality-deficient formula," Johnson said. "We owe it to our children and to every taxpayer to hold these hearings and make sure facts, not misconceptions, determine how school aid is distributed."

New York's current system uses a district's combined wealth ratio - a combination of the average home's worth and the average resident's income - to divvy up education aid. The problem, Senator Johnson contends, is that the blanket formula fails to account for areas where real estate prices outpace the average income, such as on Long Island. The picture is further muddied when just a few high-earners tip the average income scale, giving the appearance of a wealthy community. The result is that some areas are mistakenly deemed wealthy - leaving children, schools and taxpayers out in the cold when budget dollars are doled out.

Alessi noted that Long Island schools narrowly escaped the governor's proposed education cuts thanks to $14 billion in federal stimulus money pumped into state coffers, but warned that the respite is only temporary.

"Time is running out. We must get serious about changing this formula so our schools get the funding they need and deserve - and our taxpayers see long-overdue relief," Alessi said. "Successful, quality public schools and affordable, manageable property taxes don't have to be mutually exclusive."

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