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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

You could say Darren Butler has quite the entrepreneurial disposition. The Hicksville resident not only founded a church, but invented a doorstop that does not require screwing any holes into your wall or door. The device simply clamps on to the bottom of any sized door without requiring tools.

“I never envisioned myself as being an inventor,” explained Butler. “I became one by accident and out of frustration.”

After Butler and his wife purchased their home, they wanted to decorate and maintain it.  “We have four children and at the time we wanted to minimize the damage that occurs from doors slamming into walls because as young children do; they have a tendency to aggressively open doors, and as a result the door knob created holes in our wall,” said Butler. “We purchased conventional doorstops so at the very least we could minimize that reality if not eliminate it all together.”

The Hicksville Fire Department hosted the Nassau County Parade and Drill Championships this past Saturday, an event that was entertaining for both guests and participants.

The Motorized Drill competition held in the morning had 16 participating fire departments. The drill included eight events and each racing team was judged based on how fast they completed each event. Events included the Three Man Ladder, Motor Hook and Ladder, Motor Hose, Efficiency, Motor Pump, and Buckets. The Hicksville Hicks came in fifth place and received a trophy.


Sports

Madeline Huffman, a fourth grade student at Our Lady of Mercy School in Hicksville, recently became the New York State Free Throw Champion in the Knights of Columbus Free Throw Competition, 9 Year Old Girls Division at the United States Military Academy, West Point.

Huffman’s journey to the state championship began at her home parish, Our Lady of Mercy Roman Catholic Church in January. The local qualifier was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Joseph F. Lamb Council #5723. Boys and girls ages 9 through 14 competed, each receiving three warm up shots and 15 free throw attempts.

This November, Hicksville resident Marlo Signoracci will head to Florida for Ironman, a demanding, long-distance triathlon that includes biking, running and swimming. Here, she shares her story as she prepares for one of the most physically challenging athletic events out there.

“I meet my goals and maintain my health. I stay mindful of what is important to me and seek balance in all endeavors. With gratitude, I am fully present to this moment in time.”


Calendar

Hicksville Street Fair

July 20

Blood Drive

July 23

Our Lady Of Mercy Family Festival

July 30 - August 3



Columns

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

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com