Written by Jane K. Dove
Saying “New York state is becoming a model for bipartisanship,” State Sen. Greg Ball, whose 40th District includes Lewisboro and Katonah, came to the Town House on Monday, July 30, on one of his regular town house tours to provide an update on progress being made in the legislature.
“Under the leadership of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, different people from different backgrounds are now working well together,” he said. “In New York state, we no longer have the politics of polarization.”
Sen. Ball outlined a long list of legislative accomplishments, starting with taxes and ending with animal rights.
“Taxes are always the number one issue,” he said. “We have cut taxes and now have a lower middle class tax rate in place, the lowest in 58 years.”
Spending is another issue taxpayers want lawmakers to deal with. “With spending, we want to stop as much of it as we can,” Sen. Ball said. “This is our second year of an early and balanced budget and also the second year the budget does not include any new taxes or fees.”
Sen. Ball also pointed to the new 2% property tax cap he said “is forcing a discussion that was needed about how to control runaway spending.”
Repeal of the MTA payroll tax is another point of pride. “We have eliminated the MTA tax completely for 80% of businesses paying the tax,” he said.
He said pension reform is underway. “We have enacted pension reform that provides substantial relief from one of the most burdensome mandates on local governments,” he said. “We have affected $80 billion in savings for state and local governments and have increased contribution rates.”
Education is not falling through the legislative cracks, he said. “The budget included $20.4 billion in aid to education,” he said. “We also secured $600 million in ‘bullet aid’ for schools in the 40th Senate District.”
On the environmental front, the legislature is maintaining funding for the Environmental Protection Fund; putting money into rehabilitation programs and improvements in 48 state parks; and making repairs to dams and flood plains.
“I am also continue to call for the Property Owners Bill of Rights to protect residents against the dangers of hydrofracking,” Sen. Ball said.
Seniors may be happy to hear that Sen. Ball is behind a new initiative that would freeze property taxes for those 65 and older. “Seniors would see their taxes the same at 75, 85 or 95 as when they were 65,” he said. “This would allow them to stay in their homes for longer. The homes would not be bought by families with two, three or four children going into local school systems and driving up costs.”
Sen. Ball also touched on unfunded mandate relief; the critical need for job creation; a new Women & Families Advisory Council; and a cause dear to his “animal lover’s heart,” new legislation designed to set standards and clamp down on the abuse of animals in the state’s so-called puppy mills.
In response to questions from Town Board members about Lewisboro’s need to repair its infrastructure, especially roads, Sen. Ball assured them he was “going to take a good, hard look at infrastructure and related job projects. We have to make sure we get a fair share of DOT [Department of Transportation] funding for Lewisboro.”
Officials thanked Sen. Ball for his presentation and his support of the town.
“We will continue to put our heads together and come up with some solutions, like the recent grant for the school youth officer,” said Town Board member Peter DeLucia. “We really appreciate all of your work on our behalf.” (ARTICLE)