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From The Desk Of Senator Jack Martins: April 17, 2014

The Budget Top 10

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.”

News

It was quite a panel at the Hicksville Community Center Oct. 20 as State Senator Jack Martins and Senate Candidate Adam Haber discussed their qualifications and answered public questions about their upcoming election bids in the 7th Senate District. Congressman Steve Israel was on hand as well as 13 District State Assemblyman Michael Montesano and contender Lou Imbroto. The event was hosted by Northwest Civic Association President Joel Berse.

Martins, who previously served as Mayor of Mineola and was elected to Senate in 2011, said that the State of New York is in much better financial shape since he has taken office.

Alan Yu, an external auditor from the firm, Cullen & Danowski LLP gave the findings of the annual district external audit at Oct. 22’s Hicksville Board of Education meeting. Discussed at the meeting were the financial statements of the 2013-14 school year which officially ended June 30.

According to Yu, the Hicksville School district has a fund balance of $34 million. Roughly 26 to 27 percent of the general fund balance comprises the total budget.


Sports

The Hicksville girls volleyball team improved to 7-1 by knocking off Oceanside in three consecutive sets by scores of 25-13, 25-19 and 25-14.

Emily Markakis played terrificly, using a powerful serve to record three aces, seven kills and added nine digs. Nikki Chase added six kills and eight digs. Additionally, Raeann Dong was versatile—recording three aces, seven kills and nine digs.

The Girls Varsity soccer team, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, wore pink uniforms and pink socks in their game on Oct. 8 against MacArthur whom they defeated 1-0. The girls and boys soccer programs at Hicksville High School are selling pink ribbon car magnets with a soccer ball and HHS on it with the words “Kick Cancer” on the ribbon. All the money raised will go to the Sarah Grace Foundation, which is a local foundation trying to beat pediatric cancer. The players plan to raise $1,000 for this organization

— From Hicksville High School


Calendar

Safe Trick or Treat

October 31

Election Day

November 4

Senior Luncheon

November 6



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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