ASSEMBLYMAN ED RA DISCUSSES LOCAL AND STATE ISSUES AT GOLD COAST LIBRARY MEET AND GREET
July 16, 2014 -- New York State Assemblyman Edward Ra (R,I,C – Franklin Square), who represents the 19th legislative district, which includes large sections of Glen Head and Old Brookville (see map), was at the Gold Coast Public Library on Monday evening for a “Meet and Greet event” with constituents.
About six area residents turned out to meet the Assemblyman and discuss a range of topics ranging from individual tax issues; to local matters such as “what is happening to the Sunoco property at the corner of Glen Head Road and Glen Cove Avenue,” concerns that the Seafood Shack restaurant at Tappen’s Beach was being subsidized by taxpayer dollars, and the implications of the ramp-down of the Glenwood Landing Power Plant; to the broader statewide issue of how the Board of Regents is chosen.
With regard to the Sunoco Property and Seafood Shack, he said that those issues fell under the jurisdiciton of town government.
One resident asked the Assemblyman to comment on what he believed to be the likely impact of the decommissioning of the LIPA power plant on local taxpayers. Mr. Ra replied that the state legislature had secured for the district $2.5 million to help offset any shift in tax burden - the amount that the district received in 2013. (This past spring an additional $2.9 million was secured – through Senator Carl Marcellino and Assemblyman Charles Lavine). He then explained that it was important to look at the power needs in the region – that that was the main issue that needed to be addressed and that there have been discussions about building another power plant on Long Island. The resident followed up, asking whether the state law limiting the shift from one tax class to another to 1% would offer protection to residents as the Glenwood power plant is demolished and its assessment reduced. The Assemblyman responded with some background regarding different tax classes within the county and that the purpose of the law is to protect residents from a large tax shift from one class to another, but was unsure as to how much protection it would offer. He said it was impossible to determine how any shift resulting from the plant ramp-down would impact an individual taxpayer, as many variables affect an individual homeowner’s tax rate.
The Assemblyman segued into a brief explanation of legislation that was passed this past spring that creates an escrow fund into which a portion of a commercial property owner’s tax payment would be placed to pay for refunds resulting from successful tax challenges. He also explained the “tax freeze” legislation that was agreed to this past spring that promises property owners in school districts that stayed within the tax cap this year, a tax rebate, although the amount of the rebate was unclear. Additionally, he said, taxpayers with children would be receiving a $350 rebate check later in the year.
A resident asked Assemblyman Ra if he would support legislation that would provide for the popular election of the New York State Board of Regents, rather than having members selected by a majority vote of a joint session of the legislature. Mr. Ra replied that he believes the current system is broken. “It’s supposed to be apolitical,” he said, “but now is anything but.” He cited as an example the recent selection of a Regent who he said was brought in by the Democratic Assembly majority at the 11th hour, and who “refused to express an opinion on anything” before her appointment was approved. He said he was familiar with the bill providing for the popular election of Regents, but that he has proposed legislation that would create an independent, non-partisan screening board for Regents candidates that would make recommendations to the legislature. He said another problem with the process is that it is done at budget time when little attention is given to the appointments. He suggested that the process be pushed into May, so that it can be given the legislature’s and the media’s full attention. He also stated that the Education Commissioner perhaps should not be appointed by the Chancellor and Board of Regents, but perhaps by the Governor.
Following the Meet and Greet, Northwordnews asked Assemblyman Ra his thoughts regarding the Nassau County Republican Committee’s decision to rescind its nomination of Sea Cliff Mayor Bruce Kennedy for the 13th District Assembly seat after Conservative Party leaders raised objections to his having officiated two same-sex marriages. More specifically he was asked whether he supported repeal of the Marriage Equality Act. He replied that he voted against the law in 2011 and did not expect its repeal to come up for a vote anytime soon, since the Assembly is under Democratic control, and as a result could not say whether he would support its repeal. With regard to Mr. Kennedy’s officiating the marriages, Mr. Ra said that he understood his argument for doing so - that he was carrying out the law and applying it equally. When asked whether he thought the Republican Party was inclusive enough to support candidates who support marriage equality, he said that he believed that it was, and cited upstate assemblywoman Janet Duprey's support for the bill as well as four Republican Senators who had voted for the Marriage Equality Act. Only one of those Senators was re-elected in 2012.
Assemblyman Ra said that he holds Meet and Greet events at the Gold Coast Library about every three months.
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