Senator Joe Robach, 56th Senate District, Announces Italian Collegiate Scholarships

New York State Senator Joe Robach (56th Senate District) announced today that the New York Conference of Italian-American State Legislators is now accepting applications for four $2,000 scholarships, which will be awarded on June 9th at their Annual Legislative Conference Day.

“Given the high costs of college, every opportunity must be made by students and their families to meet their required expenses with scholarships, student loans, financial aid and personal contributions,” said Robach. “Our conference is very proud of our role in promoting higher education and assisting students in reaching their academic goals and full potential for future success.”

This year, the Italian-American State Legislators Conference will be awarding four $2,000 scholarships to four current or future college students from New York State. Eligibility will be based upon the student’s grade point average, interest in pursuing a higher education, involvement in the local community as well as individual financial need.

The Conference is a bipartisan organization of New York State Assembly and Senate members who are actively involved in promoting and celebrating the state’s Italian-American community. The Conference mission is to work hard to elevate and highlight Italian-American contributions to the State of New York and beyond, in all aspects of society, including literature, the arts, architecture and politics. The conference also tries to dispel negative stereotypes of Italian-Americans.

Students may request an application by contacting Joe Robach’s Senate office.

Joe Robach, New York State Senate Budget Resolution Highlights

Senator Joe Robach joined his colleagues in the State Senate in voting for a bipartisan budget that balances the budget without raising taxes or fees, increases school aid funding and provides significant business and property tax relief. The one-house spending plan was approved by a vote of 36-19.

“This bipartisan budget resolution will provide needed tax relief for hardworking families, businesses and manufacturers throughout New York, and continues to control state spending, something I take very seriously,” said Senator Joe Robach. “I applaud my colleagues in the State Senate for recognizing the needs of New Yorkers, and the importance of creating a more business-friendly atmosphere so we can create more jobs and improve our state’s economy.”

Other highlights from the Senate One-House Budget include:

EDUCATION
• Increases school aid by $811.9 million over last year.
• Restores $541 million of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), a controversial budget maneuver enacted by the previous Senate Democrat Leadership. Under this plan, the GEA will be completely eliminated in two years after a total restoration of $1.1 billion – helping our schools and property taxpayers.
• The Senate budget provides $145 million to school districts outside New York City for Universal Pre-K expansion, while also giving school districts flexibility to use the funding for kindergarten and GEA restoration.

PROPERTY TAX RELIEF
• In addition to the $811.9 million increase in state school aid, the resolution includes the Senate’s “Freeze-Plus NY” program – a property tax freeze that would provide $1.4 billion in additional property tax relief over two years.
• The program – a simpler alternative to a tax freeze proposed by the Governor – would also make the property tax cap permanent, strengthen the STAR program, and help local governments and school districts keep within the property tax cap.

TAX CUTS AND JOB CREATION
• The Senate budget expands tax relief statewide for manufacturers and accelerates the elimination of the job-killing 18-a energy tax surcharge on businesses so they can use the resulting savings to hire new workers and grow.

HIGHER EDUCATION
• The Senate is proposing the College Affordability Plan which would help middle-class families afford higher education, pay off their student loan debt and encourage graduates to start a career in New York State.
• Specifically, it increases tuition assistance for low- and middle-income taxpayers, makes more students eligible for TAP, creates a low-interest revolving loan fund to help students pay off loan debt, and establishes a new tax credit for graduates who stay and work in New York.
Under the Budget Reform Act of 2007, both houses of the State Legislature will now convene in open conference committees to resolve differences in their one-house budget resolutions. The state’s new fiscal year begins April 1.
For more information on the Senate plan, contact the office of Joe Robach.

SENATE PASSES BILL, SONSORED BY JOE ROBACH, TO HELP PREVENT ENVIRONMENTAL CRIMES

The New York State Senate today passed legislation that would prosecute those who intentionally or recklessly damage the environment while committing another crime. The Senate bill, sponsored by Senator Joe Robach (R-C-I, Rochester), would hold criminals accountable for financial and environmental damage caused by their actions when they contaminate or destroy the quality of water, soil, or air.

During one incident that took place in August 2010, criminals broke into a spare electrical transformer owned by Rochester Gas and Electric in the Town of Greece, Monroe County, and stole copper to resell for profit. During the process of accessing the copper, 4,800 gallons of oil was drained from the transformer, causing land and water contamination of the surrounding environment at an estimated remediation cost of over $1 million. There are no current Criminal Mischief statutes that adequately address environmental devastation.

“So often, when a crime is committed, we are so focused on seeking justice that we tend to forget about the long-term effects the crime could have on our environment,” said Senator Joe Robach. “With appropriate penalties, I hope this bill will hold criminals accountable for damaging the environment or contaminating our water, soil or air.”

This bill would make crimes that result in large-scale environmental damage – either intentionally or recklessly – a class C felony.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly. For more information, please contact the office of Joe Robach.

JOE ROBACH SENATE | SENATE FORECASTS $353 MILLION IN ADDITIONAL STATE REVENUES

Senate Republican Leader Dean G. Skelos, Senate Independent Democrat Conference Leader Jeff Klein along with Senator Joe Robach released a revenue forecast by the Senate Finance Committee that estimates additional General Fund revenues above the Executive’s projection. The Senate report, supported by Joe Robach, projects revenues of $265 million more than the Executive’s estimate for Fiscal Year 2015, and $88 million more for the remainder of state fiscal year 2014.

The revenue projection, based on an economic forecast by the Senate’s nationally recognized fiscal consultants IHS Global Insight, shows that the total two-year General Fund revenue surplus is $353 million.

The revenue forecast report cites strong stock market growth in 2013, as well as improved business growth, as factors in projecting additional revenues over the two fiscal years.

“The additional state revenues should be used to further reduce taxes to create more job opportunities for all New Yorkers,” Joe Robach (56th Senate District) said. “The state’s fiscal condition is stronger as a result of three consecutive early budgets that kept state spending under control and lowered taxes. The new budget should build on that record.”

The revenue forecast report is posted on the Senate web site at — http://www.nysenate.gov/report/economic-and-revenue-review-sfy-2014-15

JOINT STATEMENT FROM SENATE EDUCATION CHAIRMAN JOHN FLANAGAN, SENATE FINANCE CHAIRMAN JOHN DEFRANCISCO AND ROCHESTER AREA SENATOR JOE ROBACH

As members of the New York State Senate, we are deeply offended by Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s recent assertion that the children in New York City are more deserving and more in need of early childhood education than the 4 and 5-year-olds in the communities we represent.

We know Mayor DeBlasio has a lot on his plate, but he may be interested in learning a few facts about the rest of the state.  All four of the big city school districts, including Rochester Syracuse and Buffalo, are poorer than New York City, and 70 percent (471) of the school districts across the state – - serving more than 1.2 million students – - are less wealthy than the one he represents.

In addition, 20 percent of the school districts in New York State have a greater percentage of students with higher needs than New York City, and many of those districts are worse off than the worst parts of New York City.  Meanwhile, the City of Rochester has the fifth highest poverty rate among all U.S. cities.  In fact, during legislative budget hearings we heard testimony from many Upstate mayors about the difficulties their cities are facing.

We have a responsibility to provide every student in this state with the same opportunity to learn and to succeed, not just the students in New York City.

For more information about this statement from Senate members, please contact the office of Joe Robach.

Senate Passes Bill, Supported by Joe Robach, to Prevent Welfare Cards from Buying Tobacco, Alcohol and Being Used at Liquor Stores, Casinos and Strip Clubs

The New York Senate, supported by Joe Robach, passed the “Public Assistance Integrity Act” which would prohibit welfare benefits from being used to purchase alcohol and tobacco, or to be used at liquor stores, casinos and strip clubs in New York.

Parts of the Public Assistance Integrity Act were also added to Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget Proposal. The provisions added would make it illegal to use EBT Cards at liquor stores, strip clubs and casinos.

When people sign up for welfare, they are issued an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which works like a cash card at any ATM or like a debit card at a store. The card accesses two separate accounts: Food Stamps and Cash Assistance. Food stamps are tightly regulated – but Cash Assistance is not.  Public records and investigative reports by the news media have shown widespread abuse of the EBT cards. Cards are used to buy beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets, or at liquor stores, strip clubs and casinos.  The Senate crafted the Public Assistance Integrity Act to address that issue.

That taxpayer money is designed to go toward helping families in need purchase things like toothpaste, toilet paper, diapers, school supplies and clothes.

New York faces an important deadline: By Feb. 22, the state must show the federal government how it will prevent welfare fraud and abuse from EBT cards. If it doesn’t, New York stands to lose more than $120 million in federal Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF).

The State Senate voted, along with Joe Robach, to pass the Public Assistance Integrity Act overwhelmingly – three times, in fact. To date, the state Assembly has refused to take it up.

For more information about this or any other senate initiative, please contact the office of Joe Robach.

NYS SENATE | JOE ROBACH HOSTS EARTH DAY POSTER CHALLENGE

Joe Robach and the NYS Senate are hosting a poster contest for local students to celebrate Earth Day.  Since the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, over 20 million Americans have participated, helping to improve the quality of air we breathe and the water we drink. In addition, landmark legislation has been passed to help support this effort, such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Joe Robach and The New York State Senate take this opportunity to celebrate the great strides New York has made in helping to improve our environment. From expanding the bottle bill to promoting green energy, New York is helping to make a difference.

To celebrate and honor Earth Day this year, Joe Robach and the New York State Senate are sponsoring a poster contest for children in grades K – 6. The theme of the Earth Day celebration is “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” All entries will be displayed on Joe Robach’s website, with the winning poster being featured. Students are encouraged not only to be creative in their project, but also to convey a real commitment to making the environment a better place.

For more information, contact Joe Robach.

NYS Senate | Joe Robach Urges Precaution During Extreme Temperatures

Joe Robach (56th Senate District) wants residents to take precaugtion during the extreme weather conditions.  When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.

Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.  Joe Robach and the NYS Senate want you to recognize the signs of hypothermia and what to do in case you, or someone you love, is suffering from it. 

Victims of hypothermia are often (1) elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating; (2) babies sleeping in cold bedrooms; (3) people who remain outdoors for long periods—the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.; and (4) people who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs.

Warnings signs of hypothermia include:
Adults: shivering, exhaustion;  confusion, fumbling hands; memory loss; slurred speech; drowsiness.  Infants: bright red, cold skin, very low energy

  • If you notice any of these signs, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95°, the situation is an emergency—get medical attention immediately.
  • If medical care is not available, begin warming the person, as follows:
  • Get the victim into a warm room or shelter.
  • If the victim has on any wet clothing, remove it.
  • Warm the center of the body first—chest, neck, head, and groin—using an electric blanket, if available. Or use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
  • Warm beverages can help increase the body temperature, but do not give alcoholic beverages. Do not try to give beverages to an unconscious person.
  • After body temperature has increased, keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible.

A person with severe hypothermia may be unconscious and may not seem to have a pulse or to be breathing. In this case, handle the victim gently, and get emergency assistance immediately. Even if the victim appears dead, CPR should be provided. CPR should continue while the victim is being warmed, until the victim responds or medical aid becomes available. In some cases, hypothermia victims who appear to be dead can be successfully resuscitated.  For more information, contact the Senate office of Joe Robach.

SENATE REPUBLICANS, JOE ROBACH, ISSUE REPORT ON TAX REFORM

State Senate Republicans, supported by JOE ROBACH, issued a comprehensive report on state taxes that calls for personal income taxes, business taxes, estate taxes and local property taxes to be reformed, simplified and reduced. The report makes sweeping recommendations for reducing the tax burden on all New Yorkers. The plan recommends enacting a permanent two-percent state spending cap and dedicating surplus revenues to tax reductions.

The report was developed based on testimony at a series of statewide public hearings conducted by the Senate Majority. The report will be shared with the tax reform commissions established by Governor Cuomo for their review.

“It’s unacceptable that New York ranks 50th in business tax climate and first in population loss. Senate Republicans are recommending strong and dramatic actions to improve our business climate, create good jobs, and give families the opportunities they need to stay in New York,” said Joe Robach. “We are proposing a plan to greatly reduce the tax burden on New Yorkers at every level, making it more competitive for businesses to locate and grow here. There is nothing more progressive than empowering the private sector to create good-paying jobs.”

Highlights of the recommendations made in the preliminary Senate report include, among other things:

  • Enact a permanent two-percent cap on state spending growth and dedicate every dollar of surplus savings to tax reduction;
  • Create an optional simple personal income tax calculation;
  • Make inflation adjustments for income brackets permanent so a taxpayer’s tax burden is not increased simply due to normal wage growth;
  • Eliminate unfair tax treatment by making all retirement income tax-free to encourage seniors to stay in New York;
  • Dramatically reform and reduce property taxes to provide relief for hardworking families;
  • Accelerate reductions in the 18-a utility tax surcharge to two years, fully eliminating the surcharge in SFY 2016-17;
  • Reform New York’s onerous Estate Tax to protect family farms and small businesses and eliminate the incentive to transfer wealth to other states;
  • Reduce corporate tax rates with the goal of elimination;
  • Eliminate the corporate tax on manufacturers;
  • Eliminate the MTA payroll mobility tax on government entities to prevent double taxation; and
  • Eliminate the MTA-region car registration and driver’s license fee increases enacted in 2009.

Over the past two months of public hearings, the committees heard testimony, received written communications and met with New York’s business leaders and stakeholders across the state. There were consistent themes that emerged from job creators: the need for broad-based tax reductions in corporate and personal income taxes, with the inclusion of some of the more important tax credits, and the need for simplicity in the tax code.

The report outlines some of the Joint Committee’s initial findings and outlines a plan that will make it easier for businesses, residents and retirees to stay and thrive in this state.
It will be used to help guide the Senate Republican Conference’s efforts as the 2014 Legislative Session and the 2014-15 State Budget process gets underway.

 

 

NYS SENATE | JOE ROBACH ANNOUNCES HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM OPENING NOVEMBER 18

Joe Robach of the NYS Senate today announced that households across the state can begin applying for heating assistance this winter through New York’s Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) on Monday, November 18. HEAP, which is overseen by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), is a federally-funded program that provides up to $650 for eligible households to pay for energy costs in order to keep their homes warm during the winter.

For the first time, anyone living outside of New York City who is seeking a regular HEAP benefit, which assists households that pay a high proportion of household income for energy, will be able to submit applications online at myBenefits.ny.gov starting on November 18.

Joe Robach (56th Senate District) said “As temperatures begin to drop, I encourage residents who are struggling with their heating bills to check out the HEAP program.  People can apply on mybenefits.gov.”

For the 2013-14 HEAP heating season, the maximum regular benefit a household could receive is $650. Eligibility for HEAP is based on income and household size.  For more information, please contact the Senate office of Joe Robach.