Assemblymember Jim Brennan
Assemblymember
Jim
Brennan

Reports to the People
Spring 2012

416 Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215 • 718-788-7221 • 1414 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn, NY 11226 • 718-940-0641
Room 422, LOB, Albany, NY 12248 • 518-455-5377 • Email: brennanj@assembly.state.ny.us

FREE
MAMMOGRAM SCREENINGS
on June 6th and June 7th, 2012
10 AM – 4 PM

For women 40 and older who have not had a mammogram in the past year

You must call 718-788-7221 or 718-940-0641 to schedule an appointment by May 16th

Assemblymember Brennan has joined with the American-Italian Cancer Foundation (AICF) to offer FREE mammography screenings to women who are 40 years and older who have not had a mammogram in the past year.

A mobile mammography van will be available on Wednesday, June 6th in front of Assemblymember Brennan’s office at 416 7th Ave. and on Thursday, June 7th in front of his office at 1414 Cortelyou Road. An appointment is necessary; please call one of his offices by May 16.

There will be no charge or co-pay required for the screening, but women who have health insurance should bring their health insurance cards to the screening.

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I joined these youngsters at the 78th Precinct Youth Council basketball championships. Many thanks to the coaches, volunteers, and supporters of the Council and the many other youth leagues in our communities.


On-Time State Budget Brings
First Education Aid Increase Since 2008

The State budget was adopted on March 30, one day earlier than the deadline for the beginning of the State fiscal year on April 1. At last, public schools got an aid increase, with New York City public schools slated for a $292 million increase, about 3.8%. In order to achieve this, the Legislature and the Governor approved the retention of a tax on multimillionaires last December that was a significant factor in stabilizing the State’s finances. The slowly improving economy, too, was a factor.

Community Colleges and Libraries Got Increases Too

There was good news for community colleges and libraries. State aid for community colleges (both CUNY and SUNY) got a 6% increase, the first increase since 2007. Additional funding has been desperately needed as tens of thousands of people have been drawn to these institutions during the recession to improve their skills. And State aid for libraries received a 5% increase, from $78 to $82 million, reversing a downward trend since the recession.

New Help for Housing, Foreclosures

Housing help received a funding shot in the arm as a result of the National Mortgage Settlement, which resulted in New York State receiving over $90 million in a settlement of litigation against the banking industry over foreclosure abuses. As a result, several major State housing, foreclosure, and neighborhood assistance programs have gotten increased or continued funding. This was a big turnaround from a few months ago, when Governor Cuomo proposed to eliminate the Neighborhood Preservation Program and cease funding for foreclosure counseling services that have helped thousands stay in their homes.

The Neighborhood Preservation Program provides core funding for the Flatbush Development Corporation, the Fifth Avenue Committee, Brooklyn Housing & Family Services, the Ocean Parkway Development Corporation, and dozens of similar programs across the State. Instead of being eliminated, as the Governor had proposed in January, the programs will get their first increase in years, with the base funding at $68,000 for each group. And the National Mortgage Settlement will enable the State to continue funding foreclosure counseling and legal services (frequently provided by the same organizations) at $25 million over the next several years.

The State will also increase funding for housing for very high-needs special populations like the mentally ill and the developmentally disabled.

Adequate Funding?

While the increases are good news, the three years of recession produced major across-the-board cutbacks in many programs since 2008. Although the State retained about $1.5 billion in revenue by maintaining a higher rate on taxpayers making $2 million or more, taxpayers with incomes between $500,000 and $2 million had their tax rate drop from 8.97% to 6.85% on January 1st as the recession surcharge expired. Had we retained all or part of these increases and closed certain generous corporate loopholes, schools and other basic services could have done better.

Community Forum to Save Hospitals

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My office organized a community forum to fight back against possible hospital closures in Brooklyn at the Ocean Parkway Jewish Center in Flatbush. Speaking is Judy Wechsler of the Commission on Public Health. Also joining me were Patricia Baker, New York Public Employees Federation V.P., and SUNY Downstate President John LaRosa.

Two hundred local residents attended a community meeting on March 11 at the Ocean Parkway Jewish Center sponsored by my office to inform local residents about major risks to health care in Brooklyn. A state report issued in November suggested possible closures of up to five hospitals in Brooklyn, including SUNY Downstate and Kingsboro State Psychiatric Hospital. My office is working closely with my Assembly and Senate colleagues to save these hospitals. In the recently adopted budget, the Legislature blocked a proposal to close Kingsboro Psychiatric, although the facility remains at risk. We also believe that SUNY Downstate is not immediately at risk, but the consolidation with Long Island College recommended by the November Berger report remains a serious concern.

My office is working with the Save Our Safety Net Campaign, a community-based health care coalition also working to save Brookdale, Interfaith, and Wyckoff hospitals from closure. You can contact this organization at 718-643-8258.


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Colonel Donald Cook Square
Veterans’ Memorial

My office helped organize the rehabilitation of a Veterans’ Memorial, Colonel Donald Cook Square, at Ft. Hamilton Parkway and McDonald Avenue. Joining me were Marine Corps Veteran Ed Schloemann, neighborhood resident Mike Dolce, and members of Troop 237, who provided volunteer assistance. Thanks also to Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey and Chief-of-Staff Marty Maher who approved and directed the project.

Mass Transit Gets Increased Aid

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I am speaking at the Transportation Budget Subcommittee meeting defending the importance of funding the MTA capital plan. Pictured with me are other members of the subcommittee from the Assembly.
After years of State cutbacks, the MTA received $200 million, which represents a 5% increase in funding. A year of pushback by advocates for mass transit, supported by my office, resulted in the State fully appropriating the MTA’s dedicated tax revenue. The MTA also received approval for the funding of its capital construction program, which includes rehabilitation of tracks and stations, as well as major projects like the Second Avenue subway.

Brennan Role in Budget

The Joint Budget Conference Subcommittee on Transportation is a budget-negotiating body composed of members of the Assembly and Senate. As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions, I led the Assembly’s mass transit advocacy on this Subcommittee.

This Subcommittee negotiated and recommended the details of the State’s transportation funding, including both mass transit and roads and bridges. There was a bit of a surprise when the Senate initially recommended the defunding of the MTA capital plan, but after pointing out that would put 25,000 construction jobs at risk we ultimately approved the plan.

Save The G Train

My office is urging the MTA to preserve the G train extension providing valuable service to subway passengers at the five Culver line stations between Fourth and Church Avenues. It would be a serious blow to small businesses and thousands of residents if G service were rolled back to pre-2009 levels. I hope you can raise your voice, too.

“My office is urging the MTA to preserve the G train extension providing valuable service to subway passengers at the five Culver line stations between Fourth and Church Avenues.”

In July 2009, the MTA extended the G line to Church Avenue when the Smith/9th Street station closed for major structural repair as part of the Culver Viaduct project. Before that closure, the Smith/9th Street station was the Brooklyn terminus of the G. Now the extension is an integral part of the subway network and an economic and cultural boon as it links neighborhoods throughout the Brooklyn-Queens corridor.

I have written MTA officials to support the continued extension of the G line and have spoken directly with MTA Chair Joseph Lhota to highlight the economic importance of the extended G train line for neighborhoods and passengers throughout Brooklyn and Queens. In addition, I have joined the Save the G Coalition, a group of civic and advocacy organizations dedicated to improving and extending service on the G line.

The extended G line connects thriving neighborhoods from Flatbush to Park Slope, Clinton Hill, Bed Stuy, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Long Island City communities in North Brooklyn and Queens. The popular extension now brings G train service to 4th Avenue, where passengers can connect to the R train, 7th Avenue, 15th Street, Fort Hamilton Parkway, and Church Avenue.

To voice your support of the extension, you can write directly to the MTA:

Joseph J. Lhota
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, MTA
347 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017-3739
http://mta-nyc.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/mta_nyc.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php


I joined Flatbush Food Co-op members and food activists at the beginning of the Right-to-Know March on Washington to demand labeling of genetically modified foods. Manager Tom Valentino was also on hand.

Budget Restores Critical Funding for EPIC Program

In a significant victory, the New York State Legislature has restored funding for EPIC’s co-payment assistance. This means that EPIC (Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage) will keep enrollees’ co-payments for prescription drugs to only $3 to $20. This important change will take effect January 1, 2013.

“EPIC (Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage) will keep enrollees’ co-payments for prescription drugs to only $3 to $20.”

To participate in EPIC, low- and middle-income seniors must enroll in a Medicare Part D plan. EPIC coverage will cap at $20 all copayments for drugs that are included in an EPIC participant’s Medicare Part D formulary.

EPIC enrollment is free. To join EPIC, you must be a resident of New York State who is 65 or older, with annual income of up to $35,000 if single or $50,000 if married. If you dropped your EPIC enrollment when the EPIC program was cut in 2011, you should reenroll. If you are eligible but you have not yet enrolled, you can do so now.

The EPIC application and information can be downloaded from http://www.health.ny.gov/forms/doh-3409.pdf. Or you can call my Park Slope (718-788-7221) or Cortelyou Road (718-940-0641) office, and my staff will be glad to help you apply.

I am pleased that EPIC will again protect senior citizens from soaring drug bills, and will limit their co-pays to $20 at the most. But don’t forget: The restoration of the EPIC co-payment assistance program will not take effect until January 1st, 2013.



Sales Tax Break

The sales tax break on clothing and shoes has been restored. Effective April 1, 2012, clothing and footwear that are sold for less than $110 each are exempt from the state’s 4% sales tax. Combined with the New York City and MTA sales tax exemption, shoppers in New York City will see a total of 8.875% savings.


Prospect Park Zoo
The Prospect Park Zoo has a new Australian walkabout exhibit featuring four wild Australian dogs, known as dingoes. I joined a group of Brownies on opening day of the exhibit with Dacu in the background.

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Assemblyman Jim Brennan’s Offices:
416 Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215 • 718-788-7221
1414 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn, NY 11226 • 718-940-0641
Room 422, LOB, Albany, NY 12248 • 518-455-5377
Email: brennanj@assembly.state.ny.us