Written by Jack Martins Thursday, 17 April 2014 08:59
Alas, after 21 years of keeping us in good spirits and good company with his “Late Show” humor, David Letterman announced his retirement this past week. In his honor, I’ll share highlights from our state’s new budget in Letterman style with a “Top 10” countdown entitled: Top 10 — I mean 12 — reasons to like the new, New York State budget
12. This year’s budget is the fourth, consecutive, on-time budget we’ve delivered. That hasn’t happened in nearly four decades. For a little historical perspective, that’s further back than the Knicks’ last championship. (Sorry. I couldn’t help it.)
11. Moody’s Investors Service wasn’t so moody after all. They rated the new budget a “credit positive.”
10. Knowing full well that our local hospitals are about to get pummeled by the federal government’s health care policies, we dedicated $1 billion to help them maintain their infrastructures.
9. We took over county Medicaid payments, saving Nassau County taxpayers $80.6 million over the next four years.
8. A record $162 million for the State’s Environmental Protection Fund will help ensure clean air and water and protect our open spaces.
7. We added new “Extreme Winter Weather Assistance” funding to fill those extreme potholes Mother Nature left us this past winter. Overall, Nassau County and her towns, cities, and villages will receive over $20.6 million through this funding and the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program to repair our local roads.
6. Our Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) will cover the prescription drugs of more seniors. Income eligibility is expanded from $35,000 to $75,000 for singles and from $50,000 to $100,000 for married seniors. “Epic” is a pretty accurate description.
5. Taxpayers won’t be forced to pay college tuition for inmates. Governor Cuomo’s “Attica University” plan will receive funding from interested nonprofits and foundations instead.
4. We enacted a $1.5 billion real property tax rebate to provide homeowners with direct property tax relief.
3. We established a record setting $3.4 billion in funding for the STAR property tax relief program.
2. We provided more school aid — a 5.3 percent increase over last year. That means a total of $2.6 billion in assistance to our Long Island children! And for those of us fighting the Common Core, we extracted some reforms before the budget could go forward:
• No standardized tests for students in Pre-K through grade two.
• The state assessment test scores for grades three through eight will not be recorded on a student’s permanent record through 2018.
• School districts cannot make any student promotion or placement decision based solely on the assessment tests for grades three through eight.
• New limits on the amount of time spent on state assessment tests, locally developed standardized testing, and test preparation.
• Privacy protection for personally identifiable information and a parents bill of rights for privacy and security.
• A halt to the state’s relationship with inBloom.
And last but not least...
1. For four years running, we kept spending increases to less than two percent and delivered a fiscally responsible budget with absolutely no new taxes or fees.
To be sure, no one got everything they wanted and there’s unquestionably more work to be done. The good news is that balanced government, Democrats in the Assembly and Republicans in the Senate, negotiated to produce tangible results for you, our constituents.
One of my favorite Letterman bits, besides Stupid Pet Tricks, was his infamous Will it Float? in which random objects were dropped by two models into a tank of water in pursuit of scientific enlightenment. With all of the great things included, there is no question that this budget “floats.”
Wednesday, 20 August 2014 00:00
Sabina Lotlikar never imagined she’d find herself competing in a pageant. The 19-year-old from Hicksville was more used to spending her time cooking, playing video games and working out than walking in heels in front of hundreds of people. But that all changed this year when Lotlikar decided to compete in the Miss LI pageant, an experience she describes as unforgettable.
“It was so nerve-wracking because I’ve never done anything like this, but I’m so glad I went through it and was dedicated to it. It was amazing,” she says.
Sunday, 17 August 2014 00:00
When it comes to photography, it’s been a long road for Hicksville’s John Micheals. What started as a hobby in childhood, has now returned as an irreplaceable form of self expression.
“It’s a way of expressing myself. I’m very comfortable with it. It’s a way of expressing myself and being me without any qualifications,” he said.
Micheals’ journey in photography started with snapping pictures with a Kodak as a kid growing up in Queens. As an undergrad at City College of New York, he took art classes and his photography took a back seat as he became an art teacher. When he retired in 1996, he picked up the camera again, taking classes at Nassau Community College and getting his certificate in photography. He dropped photography again when family priorities arose, and got behind the lens again in 2009.
Thursday, 07 August 2014 00:00
The fields of Kevin Kolm Memorial Park were filled with nearly 200 soccer players on Saturday for the annual ‘Soccer For A Cause’ event. The event was put together by the Mastermind Unit in sponsor of the Michael Magro Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting pediatric patients with cancer and their families.
“The Mastermind Unit is a non-profit organization that was founded by a group of guys who grew up playing soccer together in Hicksville,” said co-founder Bryan Alcantara. “This is our seventh annual ‘Soccer For A Cause’ event at Memorial Park.”
Thursday, 31 July 2014 10:08
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.