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From The Desk Of Senator Jack Martins: February 20, 2014

Beware Of Mayors Seeking Tax Hikes

I guess I rained on the parade and I have to admit, it felt pretty good.  

I’m talking about New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ill-conceived plan to raise taxes to purportedly pay for universal pre-k in New York City public schools. On its surface, it’s a noble idea and one that would eventually bridge gaps of inequality for future New Yorkers. Honestly, who wouldn’t be in favor of improving the education system? I guess that’s why the mayor made it one of his core campaign promises even though he knew full well that enacting it was totally out of his control. What he continuously failed to point out is that responsibility for making such an aggressive plan actually work falls squarely on the shoulders of state legislators and Governor Cuomo in Albany. And it’s no secret that together, we’ve spent the last four years fervently trying to lower taxes—not raise them.  

So Governor Cuomo’s team went straight to work and somehow managed to offer Mayor de Blasio state funds totaling a very generous $1.5 billion over five years without having to raise taxes on anyone. Problem solved, right? Wrong. Inexplicably, the mayor flat out refused the assistance. Like me, you’re probably wondering why anyone would look a billion dollar gift horse in the mouth. So I asked the mayor at a recent hearing and here’s what I learned.   

First off, pre-k already exists in New York City although not throughout the rest of our state. Currently, approximately 60,000 NYC children participate but there isn’t enough funding to allow all of them to attend full-time. When I asked how many more needed full-time status the answer was about 27,000. I pointed to New York City’s $70 billion budget and maintained that certainly, savings could be found somewhere that might allow the city to feasibly fund a few more hours a day for 27,000 youngsters. His team flatly responded that it had to be an “add on and not a subtract.” Frankly, after years of belt-tightening across all levels of government, I find it disconcerting that this new team should remove themselves from the effort.  

That’s when I moved to surpluses that are mysteriously being left out of the pre-k equation. The New York Times wrote, “State Senator Jack M. Martins asked why the city could not use projected surpluses—$2.4 billion this year and $1.9 billion next year—to pay for prekindergarten. ‘Why is a tax increase necessary?’ Mr. Martins asked. Mr. de Blasio said the surpluses were needed to settle contracts with unions representing city workers, all of which have lapsed.”

There it was—that moment of uncomfortable truth hanging in mid-air that the Daily News would later categorize as a de Blasio “misstep.” Clearly, the jeers from his supporters were meant for me but I don’t apologize because the whole exchange made things abundantly clear. Mayor de Blasio and his allies are willing to walk away from an immediate and certain victory for our children to make sure there’s money in the coffers for the unions, the same unions that supported his bid for mayor.  That also explains why he turned down Governor Cuomo’s offer of state funding. He is openly insisting on a new revenue stream, one that will ultimately free precious budget dollars for labor negotiations.

Now he can call it whatever he wants and promise the funds will be kept separate but that does absolutely nothing to change reality. The funds are there for the taking, in the city as well as state budget, and they’re walking away from it. They are fixed on raising taxes so he can use the surplus for labor negotiations, the complete antithesis of our “taxpayer first” approach these last three years.

Friends, we’ve seen this movie before and we know how it ends. Special interests groups feed at the public trough, political operatives congratulate each other with slaps on the back, and the taxpayer gets the bill. Unfortunately, the Mayor doesn’t understand that every New York City taxpayer he chases away is one less taxpayer for the entire state, so we all suffer for his high handed approach.

What a sideshow our education system has become, first with the ongoing debacle of Common Core and now this slap in the face. An educator I spoke with earlier this week likened it to a sinking ship. Only instead of bailing out the water, they’re taking on more passengers. Let’s focus on saving the ship first.

News

Hicksville improv sketch comedy group, Unrehearsed, will be performing this weekend at Crossroads Farm in Malverne.

The group, which consists of performers from Hicksville, will put on a fast-paced, interactive improv sketch show which will be made up completely on the spot. The only thing the actors know is which improv game they will be playing.

An Unrehearsed show follows a format similar to popular improv sketch comedy television shows, such as "Whose Line Is It Anyway," using games to create hilarious situations that are completely made up on the spot.

Superintendent Maureen Bright and the Hicksville School District are parting ways, a year earlier than originally planned.

At a Board of Education meeting May 20, Bright announced that she would not be renewing her contract when it expired at the end of the 2014-15 school year. However, a notice posted last week on the Hicksville School District website stated that she is leaving her position July 31, 2014.


Sports

Cantiague Park Senior Men’s Golf League had its fourth tournament on Thursday, July 17. We had 34 golfers and only three who scored under 40. Low overall score was won by Charlie Hong with an impressive 34. Joe Sander scored a solid 49 and won low overall net with a 31.

Competition on the nine-hole course is divided into two divisions. Flight A is for players with a handicap of 13 or lower. Flight B is for players with a handicap of 14 or more. The league is a 100% handicap league. Any man 55 years or older is eligible for membership. We have many openings for this year, and you can sign up anytime throughout the the season. The league meets every Thursday at 7:30 a.m., but the formal tournament dates are only the first and third Thursday of the month through late October. We will have a final luncheon with prizes on our last meeting.

The Michael Magro Foundation is once again partnering with The Mastermind Unit to put on the annual Soccer For A Cause tournament. The event, which raises money for the Michael Magro Foundation, will take place at the Kevin Kolm Memorial Field in Hicksville this Saturday.

The soccer tournament is an enjoyable event, which offers participants the chance to enter in the competitive game. In years past, approximately 20 soccer teams from the tri-state area have played. All participants will be able to enjoy music and entertainment while supporting a worthy cause. Each registrant will receive a special event t-shirt. Teams can register online at http://www.mastermindunit.com/ with a $500 donation.


Calendar

Soccer For A Cause

August 2

Blood Drive

August 2

Holy Family Church Fair

August 13-16



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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