It is time for this district to have the representation we deserve. Our state legislature must fully fund our public schools, protect tenants, deliveri property tax relief, provide vital services for those who need it most, including seniors, and fix our crumbling infrastructure. This campaign will be about bringing real and impactful change to the pressing issues facing our neighborhoods.
We have a responsibility to provide critical programs and services to those who need them most.
New York State must have a comprehensive plan to address the needs of millions of New Yorkers who are already, or soon to be, 60 years of age or older. Whether it is planning for senior centers and elder-friendly housing, or providing case management assistance, transportation, and home-delivered meals, or elder abuse prevention, caregiving, and other life-sustaining services, we have a responsibility to provide critical programs and services to those who need them most.
As your Assembly Member, a few of my top priorities will include combating elder abuse, which includes financial abuse; automatically enrolling eligible New Yorkers in the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption “SCRIE” program, which freezes rent for seniors at its current level; preserving and developing truly affordable senior housing; and fighting any Title XX funding cuts, which in last year’s state budget threatened the closure of 65 senior centers.
Fixing the NYC Transit System
As a straphanger, I know that our transit system is running on fumes. We must act to reduce commute times, improve access to good paying jobs, alleviate gaps in the subway system, and ease overcrowding.
BUSES: While New York is known for being a city that never sleeps, our bus system is sadly one of the slowest in the nation. We must give all buses priority at traffic signals by holding green lights for approaching buses and shortening red lights where buses are stopped. Nighttime service must be expanded to meet the diverse needs of our city’s workforce. Additionally, the City must closely monitor the new Select Bus Service along Woodside Boulevard to see if the bus only lanes should remain in place on weekends, along with assessing the synchronization of stop lights.
SUBWAYS: The leading cause of delays on New York City subways are signal failures. Modernizing the signal system is essential to bringing greater reliability, speed, and capacity to all riders. While London and Paris are moving quickly to replace outdated signal systems, the MTA “plan” will take 50+ years to do the same. We need a commitment from the MTA today that it will invest in the subway’s most critical need: upgrading our century-old signal system.
FUNDING: In January 2018, the FIXNYC committee released a report outlining new funding streams to support mass transit and reduce traffic. The report endorsed a series of tolls for drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street, including an $11.25 fee for drivers of private cars and $2-5 levied on for-hire vehicles. While I would support some fee on for-hire vehicles, I cannot support an $11.25 fee for private cars. Public transportation is not easily accessible to everyone in my district, especially in Maspeth and Middle Village, and we need a plan that is equitable across all boroughs, not just Manhattan. Instead, it is imperative that we look into restoring the commuter tax on suburbanites, which state lawmakers eliminated 18 years ago. This year alone, it would have created $922 million in revenue according to New York City’s Independent Budget Office.
As your Assembly Member, I pledge to advocate for a comprehensive transit plan that benefits all commuters and taxpayers and treats everyone fairly.
Addressing the Homelessness Crisis
New York City is facing a debilitating homelessness crisis. We see evidence of it every day on countless streets, in subway stations, and on the trains. As someone who has been homeless before, this issue is very personal to me and I know firsthand the importance of having support systems in place. The city’s surge in homelessness can be traced to 2011, when the state cut funding to the Advantage Program, which was a rental assistance program. One of my top priorities in Albany will be working to pass the Home Stability Support plan, which would create a new statewide rental supplement to help prevent homelessness. It is unacceptable that this plan was dropped from budget negotiations last year.
As residents of Queens, we are very familiar with the ongoing debate around the siting of homeless shelters. With 63,000 homeless individuals citywide, there is no easy alternative to the immediate need for new shelters that provide high-quality services and help move people into more permanent housing. I believe we have a moral and legal responsibility to provide shelter to everyone who needs it.
My concern is that the city’s current shelter plan looks to place facilities in the easiest-to-build locations in order to satisfy the goal of building 90 new shelters by 2022. This means that overburdened communities are seeing additional shelters open just blocks away from existing ones, while other communities provide no shelters at all. I want our district to be a role model for the rest of the city, a place where we each of us does our part to help those in need.
Taxes and the Economy
To combat economic inequality and grow the middle class, we must invest in industries with high wages and job potential.
Washington has launched a direct attack on New York State’s economic future with the new federal tax bill, which eliminates the full deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT). According to the Governor’s office, this will effectively raise state and local income and property taxes 20 to 25 percent for families across New York. Following the passage of the federal tax bill, the state Department of Taxation and Finance prepared a January 2018 blueprint to develop and implement changes to the tax code to shield us from the new federal tax law. Stakeholders, including members of the State Assembly, must explore the options laid out for reducing income taxes and shifting to a statewide employer compensation expense tax along with options for a new statewide unincorporated business tax, which would be offset by personal income tax credits for business owners.
Locally, it is imperative that we spur job creation and growth in Queens with good wages over the coming decade. To combat economic inequality and grow the middle class, we must invest in industries with high wages and job potential. This includes technology, healthcare, and manufacturing. These sectors must be supported with physical space to expand, tax incentives to promote growth, business development investments for early-stage companies, and workforce training to connect New Yorkers to good jobs.
Homeowners (and renters who see property taxes passed on to them) are aware of the critical importance of reforming our property tax system to create more fairness, transparency, and consistency. This is something that is long overdue. Property taxes should be based on market rate after a property is sold because right now the city is failing to tax the most valuable homes at a rate closer to their market value.
The nation’s women’s rights movement took root right here in New York, in Seneca Falls and we’ve never looked back. In fact, New York leads the way with the most comprehensive Paid Family Leave policy in the nation, but there is still more work to be done to advance equality and promote opportunity for women.
In the coming legislative session, we must expand child care options for parents, expose more young girls to STEM to close the gender gap in math and science, enshrine access to reproductive health care into New York State law by passing the Reproductive Health Act, protect employees from discrimination based on their reproductive health care decisions, advance common-sense protections against domestic violence, and work to end sexual harassment in the workplace.
I will be a vocal advocate for these issues in Albany and fight to make sure that in the absence of leadership on these vital issues in Washington, that New York doubles down on efforts to continue leading the way on women’s rights.