1. Local Anti-Poverty Task Force reconvenes
As we continue work to improve our local economy, a major component of our effort includes addressing poverty. In Broome County, 18% of residents live below the poverty line; in the City of Binghamton, there is a 34% poverty rate. Those numbers are even higher – 25% and 50% respectively – for children. Last year I was able to secure $100,000 to establish a local anti-poverty initiative. On May 26th, I joined the United Way and other local representatives to discuss new funding for the task force’s work.
The 2016-17 State Budget includes $1.5 million to help the group address specific strategies. Since the task force’s inception last year, 25 individuals have completed training to facilitate local poverty simulations. As a result, two simulations were held and attracted a total of 146 participants. Training to support culturally aware and trauma informed professionals has also been completed. Additional simulations and trainings are already scheduled, and a strategic plan is currently being compiled to guide the task force.
Among the top priorities for the State Legislature is combatting the growing opioid epidemic in New York. Recently, the Governor convened a statewide task force to develop specific policies and solutions. After I requested a stop in the Southern Tier, the task force led by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, conducted a listening session at Binghamton University on May 31st. Their goal was to gather ideas and recommendations that will help those battling addiction. Some themes that emerged from the session at BU included expanding insurance coverage for treatment, improving treatment options, and a stronger focus on prevention and education. I have been following this issue closely and have been working with my colleagues to find long-term solutions to help those struggling with addiction. The Legislature plans to pass bills to address this crisis before our session ends later this month.
3. Smart Electronics Manufacturing Lab opens at BU
Binghamton University’s reputation as a leader in research and innovation in electronics manufacturing continues to grow with the opening of its Smart Electronics Manufacturing Lab on May 19th. I joined Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger, Kwang Koh, President of Koh Young Technology which donated equipment for the lab, and local elected officials for the grand opening of the lab.
The lab will conduct research that will allow defects detected by testing equipment to be repaired by ‘smart communication’ between the tools used to make the product and the machines used to inspect the product. This will result in faster and more efficient production of electronics. We have seen significant progress locally when private industry and academia have worked together and I’m looking forward to the positive results this newest partnership will bring to our community.
Assemblywoman Lupardo learns about equipment at the Smart Electronics Manufacturing Lab at BU.
4. Fire Ops gives lawmakers chance to be a firefighter
On May 3rd, I had the chance to see what our firefighters experience on a daily basis. The Albany Fire Department hosted Fire Ops 101, a program that allows lawmakers to suit up and take part in a series of training simulations. Scenarios included truck and ladder operations, search and rescue, and vehicle extraction.
These exercises allow participants to better understand and appreciate the dangerous work firefighters take on each day. We are lucky to have such great professional and volunteer departments in Broome County that risk their lives to keep us safe. I’d like to thank organizers of the event, as well as the Binghamton Fire Department for helping me get outfitted, and the Endicott and Johnson City firefighters who helped me through the activities.
Assemblywoman Lupardo participates in a rescue exercise as part of Fire Ops 101.
5. Study: Women less prepared for retirement
A recent survey conducted by AARP shows that women feel less prepared for life after they finish working. A few of the key factors that contribute to this ‘savings gap’ include women being more likely than men to work part-time as well as taking time out of the workforce to care for children and aging family members, both of which reduce their earnings and future retirement benefits; older women being less likely than men to be married, therefore more likely to have lower family income; and women, on average, living longer than men.
I joined AARP and Senator Diane Savino on May 17th to draw attention to this issue and discuss ways to help New Yorkers get ready for retirement. Among the potential solutions: a bill I co-sponsor, A8332, which would enact the Secure Choice Savings Program Act. This bill would create a self-sufficient retirement savings program in the form of an automatic enrollment payroll deduction IRA, and establish an administrative board responsible for promoting greater retirement savings for private sector employees. As more Baby Boomers and Gen Xers approach retirement age, we need to explore all options that will help them live comfortably.
Assemblywoman Lupardo speaks at an AARP rally detailing the retirement savings gap.