Local Civic Leaders, Residents, Blast MTA, State, Over Fare Hikes, Service Cuts, Taxes, And The Increasing Burden Upon John Q. Public
The names and faces were familiar: Pat Nicolosi of the Elmont East End Civic association; Rosalie Norton of West Hempstead Civic: Dottie Werner, a mainstay of the Elmont community.
They all came out on Wednesday, in the shadow of Belmont Racetrack, to protest budget cuts, fare and fee increases, new taxes, and give-backs.
WCBS-TV covered the event, and provides the following report:
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L.I. Furious At Paterson, Albany Over Budget Woes
Reporting Jennifer McLogan
NEW YORK (CBS) ― New York's budget blues are causing anger on Long Island. Residents of Nassau and Suffolk Counties say Albany is trying to balance the budget on their backs. Gathered across from Belmont Park Race Track, taxpayers gave Albany lawmakers an earful about what's troubling them.
"I am sick and tired of the state considering Nassau County and Suffolk County as their cash cow," West Hempstead resident Rosalie Norton says. "I feel like they pick our pockets to spread the money around everywhere else." Norton, a small business owner, thinks Long Island is getting the shaft – an average $2,400 increase in utility, income and sales taxes for a family of four – in the new state budget on its way to Governor David Paterson's desk for signature. She complains about students from SUNY and CUNY being taxed, new taxes on wine and water, cuts to local hospitals and Nassau and Suffolk youth programs, and slashes to Long Island's share of school aid – as much as 60 percent.
"We're living on a fixed income," Elmont resident Dottie Werner says. "I have social security and a small pension from my husband, who is deceased." 85-year-old Werner, who lives alone, has learned her STAR rebate check will be eliminated.
And there's more frustration. "Closing that train station would destroy our plan! [It's] very short-sighted," Patrick Nicolosi, of the Elmont East End Civic Association, says. "The future is that train station. The future is Elmont right now." The Elmont East End Civic Association is up in arms that the planned hub revitalization for Belmont Park seems all but dead. Now residents are learning the LIRR service to and from Belmont will be the first to go if the MTA does not receive financial rescue from Albany, but both political parties continue to bicker.
"I would hope [a bailout is coming], but right now that's up to the Speaker and Majority Leader to put forth plans so that we negotiate them," State Senator Dean Skelos says. "We have not seen a bill." The blame game continues, but people say it's not about party affiliation, it about elected officials working together to save mass transit and the local community.
Meanwhile, SUNY and CUNY students complained about increased tuition in the form of a student tax that's part of the new budget.
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Same old story out of Albany? You betcha!