With the legislative session winding down in Albany, here is the Top 5 items from the last month.
1. Mailers, phone calls create confusion on proposed education tax credit:
Recently, many of my constituents have received multiple mailers and a number of robo-calls criticizing my lack of support for the Education Investment Tax Credit (EITC), now known as the Parental Choice in Education Act. It is a top priority for the Governor as we end our legislative session. Unfortunately, these communications are designed to confuse rather than provide information that would help you to better understand the issue. Below is a detailed list of the main components of the legislation in question. I am open to portions of the proposal that will help students, but I am troubled by the potential shift of substantial sums of public money to wealthy interests.
In the first year, the EITC provides $150 million in tax credits for the following:
·$70 million for families who send their children to nonpublic schools. Families with income under $60,000/year would be eligible for a credit of $500 for tuition expenses.
·$50 million for individuals and businesses who donate to private schools. A tax credit of 75% would be available for donations up to $1 million.
·$20 million for individuals and businesses who donate to public schools. A tax credit of 75% would be available for donations up to $1 million.
·$10 million for public school educators. A $200 tax credit would be available to reimburse the purchase of instructional materials and supplies.
As I mentioned, the portion of the proposal I have the most concern with would provide a tax break to wealthy individuals for making donations. This 75% write-off could result in an up-to $750,000 tax break versus the $500 and $200 benefits received by the average family and public educator. As we wrap up this legislative session, my main objective through the debate on this bill will be how this affects my constituents and all of our school districts.
2. Top priority for AARP passes both houses:
The Assembly passed a bill just this week that will provide millions of at-home caregivers with vital information and training. Every day, residents across the state provide critical health care to friends and family in the comfort of their own homes. This includes everything from every-day tasks such as feeding and getting dressed, to more difficult forms of care like administering medication and operating medical equipment. The CARE Act, a bill I was the prime co-sponsor of, will enable patients to designate a person as a caregiver; upon their discharge from the hospital this caregiver will be provided with information and offered certain training so that they can provide the best possible care. This legislation is critical as it will lower hospital re-admission rates and save millions of dollars in associated health care costs. The bill has already passed in the State Senate and now goes to the Governor for his consideration.
3. Local volunteers honored in Albany:
On May 4th, seniors from across New York were honored at the Capitol for work in their communities. I was pleased to meet and personally congratulate Dorothy Blasko and Donna Turnbull for their tireless volunteer efforts in Broome County. Their work helps to create more opportunities and better quality of life for seniors across the region.
Assemblywoman Lupardo meets with Broome County honorees Dorothy Blasko (left) and Donna Turnbull (right) during New York State Senior Day.
4. Assembly acts on bill to limit big money in political campaigns:
On May 12th I voted in favor of Assembly bill A6975, which would close the ‘LLC Loophole.’ While current election law limits the amount a single person can donate to a candidate, many donors take advantage of a loophole which allows them to make multiple contributions by funneling the money through Limited Liability Companies (LLCs). This bill, which I co-sponsored, would treat LLCs like corporations, and assign them the same contribution limitations. I’ve heard from many constituents who want to see ‘big money’ like this eliminated from politics. This would be another step in leveling the playing field for all candidates. Unfortunately, the bill has not been voted on in the Senate as of yet. Unfortunately, the new Majority Leader in the Senate, Sen. John Flanagan, does not seem interested in addressing this issue.
5. Farmers Markets ready for business:
As summer approaches, we have a number of local farmers markets and vendors selling some of the best products New York has to offer. Producers in the Southern Tier offer a variety of fresh and healthy choices to put on our tables. Below is a list of farmers markets in our district and their hours of operation:
Binghamton West Side Farmers Market – American Legion Post 80; 76 Main St., Binghamton; Thursday, 11:00 AM-6:00 PM.
Downtown Binghamton Farmers Market – Collier St., Binghamton; Friday, 9:00 AM-2:00 PM.
Endicott Farmers Market – Endicott Visitors Center, Lincoln Ave.; Thursday 4:30 PM-7:00 PM.
Highland Park Farmers Market – Upper Parking Lot, Hooper Rd., Endwell; Tuesday 4:00 PM-7:00 PM.
Otsiningo Park Farmers Market – Bevier St., Town of Dickinson; Saturday, 9:00 AM-1:00 PM.
Vestal Farmers Market – Vestal Library Parking Lot, Vestal Parkway; Wednesday & Saturday, 9:00 AM-1:00 PM.