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From The Desk Of Senator Jack Martins: April 10, 2014

Stopping The New York Exodus

I think it was sometime after our tenth snowstorm that some of the most die-hard New Yorkers I know said Florida wasn’t looking too bad.

Truth be told, when people leave the Empire State, it’s not in search of better weather, it’s mostly in search of a better life.

Did you know that from 2000 to 2010 New York lost more than 1.6 million residents to other states? They left because life here was just too expensive. That’s bad for our economy and worse for the families and friends impacted by separation.

Our friends and neighbors are not leaving their childhood homes, the communities they helped build, because they want to; they’re leaving because they need to.  That’s the unfortunate truth — New Yorkers have historically been chased away by high costs and taxes.

Like many of you, I grew up a tight-knit Long Island community and I’m now lucky enough to raise my own kids in that very same neighborhood. But it troubles me to think they might not be able to do the same. We have to find ways to make our communities affordable for young adults, our children, who want to stay, but can’t make ends meet.

As Chair of the Senate’s Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business Committee, I’m in a position to help shape policies that keep New Yorkers in New York. And as I also Chair the Senate’s Committee on Local Government, I’m in a great position to advance ideas that I know work — downtown revitalization, transit-oriented development, next generation and senior housing. As the former Mayor of Mineola for eight years, I had first-hand experience with these successful revitalization efforts that I know can be replicated throughout Long Island and our state.

I brought together community and business leaders and developed a comprehensive plan for our downtown that was built on consensus. It introduced “smart growth” concepts that converted a decaying industrial railroad corridor into a pedestrian-friendly downtown complete with housing and public amenities that improved the quality of life.

As a small business owner myself, I knew that we had to get government out of the way so the private sector could crank the engine and get jobs and new homes to follow. So we ended the borrow and spend policies that had our village on the edge of a precipice and focused on redeveloping our downtown. When builders saw the rebound, they naturally wanted in too. They started building more affordable housing and even agreed to fund park and streetscape improvements which further enhanced the desirability of our communities.

We came to embrace Ronald Reagan’s now-famous assessment that, sometimes, government is the problem and not the solution, especially on a local level.  Why would anyone invest in creating new jobs or offer affordable housing when they could barely pay their sky-high taxes?

Well New York is now ready for its own rebound and I’m happy to help pave the way. In the last four years we’ve lowered the income tax for middle-class New Yorkers, passed a long-overdue tax cap and delivered four consecutive, on- time, balanced budgets. We’ve provided increases in aid to schools and funding for infrastructure improvements. And, we did it all without raising a single tax or fee. We’ve even initiated START-UP New York, a groundbreaking initiative that transforms communities into tax-free sites for new and expanding businesses. Now, they can operate 100 percent tax-free for 10 years. That’s real commitment from a Governor and State Senate serious about stopping the New York exodus.

I know what worked for us in Mineola can work everywhere on Long Island but it won’t be easy. It's a tedious, step-by-step process that has to be tailored for each community, but it’s a process that I’m familiar with and that I know will work. I still can’t do anything about the long, harsh winters but hopefully, in a few years, that will be the only reason anyone leaves New York.

News

Many would consider it rude to play with your food. That is unless, you’re participating in the Long Island Potato Festival. The event, which was held in Cutchogue, NY, included a mashed potato sculpting contest which was dominated by Hicksville’s Sarah Tsang, who won first place in the youth division.

Contestants were allowed to use any tools and materials to help bring their creation to life. Sculptures were left on display throughout the day and voted on by festival goers.

Some students returning to school the first day might see a new face on the bus: Hicksville’s new interim superintendent Dr. Carl Bonuso.

“Every year on the first day of school I ride one of the buses. To see the face of a kindergartener on that first ride just reminds you of why you’re in the field,” he says.


Sports

Somehow LSA, the Levittown Swimming Association, has always been a part of our Hicksville summers. My family’s introduction to the organization in 1975 began when our two older daughters tried out for the Parkway Swim Team, one of the nine teams that competed through July and most of August.

It was no small task for the younger girl, swimming her first full lap in the deep end of the pool to qualify at age six, but both girls made the team and donned the coveted gray tee shirts as the trees cast their shadows over the pool water at the end of practice.

I’m convinced that the soul and the center of Hicksville is Cantiague Park. And why not? Every weekend it’s a beehive of activity ranging from tennis matches, hand ball games, basketball and baseball games, swimming, hockey and of course ‘the beautiful game’ called soccer. Cantiague has two professional soccer fields that are perfectly manicured and begging to be played on. And they were. This weekend was the finals of the East Meadow Soccer Tournament which is one of the largest youth soccer tournaments in the nation, sponsored by the US Soccer Federation. There were 18 boys and girls teams in the finals and a large staff of referees.

Two of the refs were Steven Orozco and Randy Vogt who told me how soccer had been growing and has now become the second most popular participation sport in America with 25 million of us watching this year’s World Cup.  I also met and interviewed Joe Codispoti who along with Tim Bradbury is the head coach of Rockville Centre United, a U16 boys club.  This U16 team has a group of standout players led by  Jack Graziano, AJ Codispoti and Pat Basile who have been playing together for six years.


Calendar

Close Encounters with Benevolent ETs and Ascended Masters

August 29

Adventures in Genealogy

September 4

Greek Festival

September 5-7



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1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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