Tag Archives: economic development

Moody’s: Build Back Better Will Add 1.5 Million Jobs a Year, Add $3 Trillion to GDP Over Decade

Moody’s notes that President Biden’s Build Back Better legislation will add 1.5 million jobs a year, add $3 trillion to GDP over a decade and “ease the financial burden of inflation for lower- and middle-income Americans by helping with the cost of childcare, eldercare, education, healthcare and housing for these income groups.” The Moody’s report concludes that, “failing to pass legislation would diminish the economy’s prospects.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

From the White House:

According to a new report from Moody’s this morning, President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure deal and Build Back Better Framework will add 1.5 million jobs per year on average across the whole decade, while accelerating America’s path to full employment and increasing labor force participation.
 
Moody’s also projects that total GDP will increase by nearly $3 trillion relative to the baseline over the next decade.
 
And, the Moody’s report confirms what the President has said for weeks: that these sorts of investments in making our economy more productive will keep prices stable and decrease inflationary pressure.
 
Moody’s notes that, “the legislation is also designed to ease the financial burden of inflation for lower- and middle-income Americans by helping with the cost of childcare, eldercare, education, healthcare and housing for these income groups.” The Moody’s report concludes that, “failing to pass legislation would diminish the economy’s prospects.”
 
Since President Biden took office, there has been historic job growth –  nearly 5 million new jobs, the most in any President’s first eight months on record. The average number of new unemployment insurance claims has been cut by more than 60 percent and small business optimism has returned to its pre-pandemic levels. Independent projections from the CBO, the IMF, the Federal Reserve, the World Bank, the OECD, and many others all forecast America this year reaching the highest levels of growth in decades thanks to the President’s success in getting economic relief to the middle-class and curbing the pandemic. While the American Rescue Plan is changing the course of the pandemic and delivering relief for working families, this is no time to build back to the way things were.
 
This is the moment to reimagine and rebuild a new economy by making transformational investments in our middle-class and economic competitiveness. The President’s bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Build Back Better Framework will rebuild the economy from the bottom up and the middle out, ease the burden of high costs on working families, and deliver one of the biggest middle class tax cuts ever.
 
Read more about the Moody’s report here.

Biden in Tulsa on Centennial of Race Massacre Stands up for Economic Justice, Voting Rights

On the centennial of the race massacre, President Biden visited Tulsa – the first president to acknowledge this horrific atrocity, this gigantic crack in the mirror of American “Exceptionalism” – and advanced an economic justice agenda, including promoting access to homeownership © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via MSNBC.

In moving remarks, President Joe Biden, only the first sitting president to acknowledge the Tulsa Race Massacre of 100 years ago, tackled systemic, institutional racism and laid out a plan for economic justice including improving access to homeownership (the most significant factor in family wealth), investments in minority-owned small businesses and disadvantaged communities, and said he would act to preserve voting rights. He pointed to the most significant threat against domestic tranquility – White Supremacy and the rise of domestic terrorists – drawing a line from the Tulsa Race Massacre a century ago and today, and tackled the latest assault by right-wingers to whitewash history, rather than take responsibility.

We can’t just choose to learn what we want to know and not what we should know.  We should know the good, the bad, everything.  That’s what great nations do: They come to terms with their dark sides.  And we’re a great nation. The only way to build a common ground is to truly repair and to rebuild”

“Only with truth can come healing and justice and repair.” 

Biden said,And there’s greater recognition that, for too long, we’ve allowed a narrowed, cramped view of the promise of this nation to fester — the view that America is a zero-sum game where there is only one winner.  “If you succeed, I fail.  If you get ahead, I fall behind.  If you get a job, I lose mine.”   And maybe worst of all, “If I hold you down, I lift myself up,” instead of “If you do well, we all do well.”  (Applause.)  We see that in Greenwood.
 
“This story isn’t about the loss of life, but a loss of living, of wealth and prosperity and possibilities that still reverberates today.”

He announced significant policies aimed at redressing generational discrimination:

“Today, we’re announcing two expanded efforts targeted toward Black wealth creation that will also help the entire community.  The first is: My administration has launched an aggressive effort to combat racial discrimination in housing.  That includes everything from redlining to the cruel fact that a home owned by a Black family is too often appraised at a lower value than a similar home owned by a white family…

“I’m going to increase the share of the dollars the federal government spends to small, disadvantaged businesses, including Black and brown small businesses” from 10 percent to 15 percent.

Biden laid out a plan to use infrastructure investments to specifically improve lives in historically disadvantaged communities.

Then the President turned to voting rights, which Congressman john Lewis called “precious,” “almost sacred”… “The most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democratic society”.

Biden declared, “This sacred right is under assault with an incredible intensity like I’ve never seen.. It’s simply un-American.  It is not, however, sadly, unprecedented,” and vowed to ”today, let me be unequivocal: we’re going to be ramping up our efforts to overcome again.” He said june would be a month of action, called upon voting rights groups to engage in voter registration campaigns and designated Vice President Kamala Harris as the point-person in his administration to get Congress to pass critical voting rights legislation, including the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. 

But returning to the Tulsa Massacre of 100 years ago, he said that violence resonates again in the rise of White Supremacy, Neo-Nazism, the resurrection of the KKK – the rise of hate crimes and terror against blacks, Asian-Americans, Jews – as was on display in Charlottesville NC that inspired Biden to run for president to “reclaim the soul of the nation.”

“Hate is never defeated; it only hides,” Biden declared. “And given a little bit of oxygen — just a little bit oxygen — by its leaders, it comes out of there from under the rock like it was happening again, as if it never went away. We must not give hate a safe harbor.”

“Terrorism from white supremacy is the most lethal threat to the homeland today.  Not ISIS, not al Qaeda — white supremacists” and promised to soon lay out “a broader strategy to counter domestic terrorism and the violence driven by the most heinous hate crimes and other forms of bigotry.” 
 
Here is a highlighted transcript:

President Joe Biden visits the Greenwood Cultural Center which harbors the history of the Tulsa Race Massacre of June 1, 1921 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via MSNBC.

I just toured the Hall of Survivors here in Greenwood Cultural Center, and I want to thank the incredible staff for hosting us here.  And — (applause) — I mean that sincerely.  Thank you.
 
In the tour, I met Mother Randle, who’s only 56 [107] years old.  (Laughter.)  God love her.  And Mother Fletcher, who’s 67 [106] years old.  (Laughter.)  And her brother — her brother, Van Ellis, who’s 100 years old.  (Laughter.)  And he looks like he’s 60.  Thank you for spending so much time with me.  I really mean it.  It was a great honor.  A genuine honor.
 
You are the three known remaining survivors of a story seen in the mirror dimly.  But no longer.  Now your story will be known in full view.
 
The events we speak of today took place 100 years ago.  And yet, I’m the first President in 100 years ever to come to Tulsa — (applause) — I say that not as a compliment about me, but to think about it — a hundred years, and the first President to be here during that entire time, and in this place, in this ground, to acknowledge the truth of what took place here.
 
For much too long, the history of what took place here was told in silence, cloaked in darkness.  But just because history is silent, it doesn’t mean that it did not take place.  And while darkness can hide much, it erases nothing.  It erases nothing.  Some injustices are so heinous, so horrific, so grievous they can’t be buried, no matter how hard people try.
 
And so it is here.  Only — only with truth can come healing and justice and repair.  Only with truth, facing it.  But that isn’t enough. 
 
First, we have to see, hear, and give respect to Mother Randle, Mother Fletcher, and Mr. Van Ellis.  (Applause.)  To all those lost so many years ago, to all the descendants of those who suffered, to this community — that’s why we’re here: to shine a light, to make sure America knows the story in full.
 
May 1921: Formerly enslaved Black people and their descendants are here in Tulsa — a boom town of oil and opportunity in a new frontier.
 
On the north side, across the rail tracks that divided the city already segregated by law, they built something of their own, worthy — worthy of their talent and their ambition: Greenwood — a community, a way of life.  Black doctors and lawyers, pastors, teachers; running hospitals, law practices, libraries, churches, schools.
 
Black veterans, like a man I had the privilege to giving a Command Coin to, who fought — volunteered and fought, and came home and still faced such prejudice.  (Applause.)  Veterans had been back a few years helping after winning the first World War, building a new life back home with pride and confidence, who were a mom-and — they were, at the time — mom-and-plack [sic] — mom-and-pop Black diners, grocery stores, barber shops, tailors — the things that make up a community.
 
At the Dreamland Theatre, a young Black couple, holding hands, falling in love.  Friends gathered at music clubs and pool halls; at the Monroe family roller-skating rink.  Visitors staying in hotels, like the Stradford.
 
All around, Black pride shared by the professional class and the working class who lived together, side by side, for blocks on end.
 
Mother Randle was just six years old — six years old — living with her grandmom.  She said she was lucky to have a home and toys, and fortunate to live without fear.
 
Mother Fletcher was seven years old, the second of seven children.  The youngest, being Mr. Van Ellis, was just a few months old.  The children of former sharecroppers, when they went to bed at night in Greenwood, Mother Fletcher says they fell asleep rich in terms of the wealth — not real wealth, but a different wealth — a wealth in culture and community and heritage.  (Applause.) 
 
But one night — one night changed everything.  Everything changed.  While Greenwood was a community to itself, it was not separated from the outside.
 
It wasn’t everyone, but there was enough hate, resentment, and vengeance in the community.  Enough people who believed that America does not belong to everyone and not everyone is created equal — Native Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Black Americans.  A belief enforced by law, by badge, by hood and by noose.  
 
And it speaks to that — lit the fuse.  It lit it by the spark that it provided — a fuse of fury — was an innocent interaction that turned into a terrible, terrible headline allegation of a Black male teenager attacking a white female teenager.
 
A white mob of 1,000 gathered around the courthouse where the Black teenager was being held, ready to do what still occurred: lynch that young man that night.  But 75 Black men, including Black veterans, arrived to stand guard. 
 
Words were exchanged.  Then a scuffle.  Then shots fired.  Hell was unleashed.  Literal hell was unleashed. 
 
Through the night and into the morning, the mob terrorized Greenwood.  Torches and guns.  Shooting at will.  A mob tied a Black man by the waist to the back of their truck with his head banging along the pavement as they drove off.  A murdered Black family draped over the fence of their home outside.  An elderly couple, knelt by their bed, praying to God with their heart and their soul, when they were shot in the back of their heads.
 
Private planes — private planes — dropping explosives — the first and only domestic aerial assault of its kind on an American city here in Tulsa.
 
Eight of Greenwood’s nearly two dozen churches burned, like Mt. Zion — across the street, at Vernon AME.
 
Mother Randle said it was like war.  Mother Fletcher says, all these years later, she still sees Black bodies around.
 
The Greenwood newspaper publisher A.J. Smitherman penned a poem of what he heard and felt that night.  And here’s the poem.  He said, “Kill them, burn them, set the pace… teach them how to keep their place.  Reign of murder, theft, and plunder was the order of the night.”  That’s what he remembered in the poem that he wrote.
 
One hundred years ago at this hour, on this first day of June, smoke darkened the Tulsa sky, rising from 35 blocks of Greenwood that were left in ash and ember, razed and in rubble.
 

Greenwood burning. In 24 hours, 1000 homes and businesses in the “Black Wall Street” community – so named for its prosperity – were burned, hundreds massacred, 10,000 left homeless and marched into internment camps by White Supremacists. “Only with truth can come healing and justice and repair,” President Joe Biden declared  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via MSNBC.

In less than 24 hours, 1,100 Black homes and businesses were lost.  Insurance companies — they had insurance, many of them — rejected claims of damage.  Ten thousand people were left destitute and homeless, placed in internment camps.
 
As I was told today, they were told, “Don’t you mention you were ever in a camp or we’ll come and get you.”  That’s what survivors told me.
 
Yet no one — no arrests of the mob were made.  None.  No proper accounting of the dead.  The death toll records by local officials said there were 36 people.  That’s all.  Thirty-six people.
 
But based on studies, records, and accounts, the likelihood — the likely number is much more, in the multiple of hundreds. Untold bodies dumped into mass graves.  Families who, at the time, waited for hours and days to know the fate of their loved ones are now descendants who have gone 100 years without closure.
 
But, you know, as we speak, the process — the process of exhuming the unmarked graves has started.  And at this moment, I’d like to pause for a moment of silence for the fathers, the mothers, the sisters, sons, and daughters, friends of God and Greenwood.  They deserve dignity, and they deserve our respect.  May their souls rest in peace.
 
[Pause for a moment of silence.]
 
My fellow Americans, this was not a riot.  This was a massacre — (applause) — among the worst in our history, but not the only one.  And for too long, forgotten by our history.
 
As soon as it happened, there was a clear effort to erase it from our memory — our collective memories — from the news and everyday conversations.  For a long time, schools in Tulsa didn’t even teach it, let alone schools elsewhere.
 
And most people didn’t realize that, a century ago, a second Ku Klux Klan had been founded — the second Ku Klux Klan had been founded.
 
A friend of mine, Jon Meacham — I had written — when I said I was running to restore the soul of America, he wrote a book called “The Soul of America” — not because of what I said.  And there’s a picture about page 160 in his book, showing over 30,000 Ku Klux Klan members in full regalia, Reverend — pointed hats, the robes — marching down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.  Jesse, you know all about this.  Washin- — Washington, D.C.
 
If my memory is correct, there were 37 members of the House of Representatives who were open members of the Klan.  There were five, if I’m not mistaken — it could have been seven; I think it was five — members of the United States Senate — open members of the Klan.  Multiple governors who were open members of the Klan.
 
Most people didn’t realize that, a century ago, the Klan was founded just six years before the horrific destruction here in Tulsa.  And one of the reasons why it was founded was because of guys like me, who were Catholic.  It wasn’t about African Americans, then; it was about making sure that all those Polish and Irish and Italian and Eastern European Catholics who came to the United States after World War One would not pollute Christianity.
 
The flames from those burning crosses torched every region — region of the country.  Millions of white Americans belonged to the Klan, and they weren’t even embarrassed by it; they were proud of it.
 
And that hate became embedded systematically and systemically in our laws and our culture.  We do ourselves no favors by pretending none of this ever happened or that it doesn’t impact us today, because it does still impact us today.
 
We can’t just choose to learn what we want to know and not what we should know.  (Applause.)  We should know the good, the bad, everything.  That’s what great nations do: They come to terms with their dark sides.  And we’re a great nation.
 
The only way to build a common ground is to truly repair and to rebuild.  I come here to help fill the silence, because in silence, wounds deepen.  (Applause.)  And only — as painful as it is, only in remembrance do wounds heal.  We just have to choose to remember.
 
We memorialize what happened here in Tulsa so it can be –so it can’t be erased.  We know here, in this hallowed place, we simply can’t bury pain and trauma forever.
 
And at some point, there will be a reckoning, an inflection point, like we’re facing right now as a nation.
 
What many people hadn’t seen before or ha- — or simply refused to see cannot be ignored any longer.  You see it in so many places. 
 
And there’s greater recognition that, for too long, we’ve allowed a narrowed, cramped view of the promise of this nation to fester — the view that America is a zero-sum game where there is only one winner.  “If you succeed, I fail.  If you get ahead, I fall behind.  If you get a job, I lose mine.”   And maybe worst of all, “If I hold you down, I lift myself up,” instead of “If you do well, we all do well.”  (Applause.)  We see that in Greenwood.
 
This story isn’t about the loss of life, but a loss of living, of wealth and prosterity [prosperity] and possibilities that still reverberates today.
 
Mother Fletcher talks about how she was only able to attend school until the fourth grade and eventually found work in the shipyards, as a domestic worker.
 
Mr. Van Ellis has shared how, even after enlisting and serving in World War Two, he still came home to struggle with a segregated America.
 
Imagine all those hotels and dinners [diners] and mom-and-pop shops that could been — have been passed down this past hundred years.  Imagine what could have been done for Black families in Greenwood: financial security and generational wealth.
 
If you come from backgrounds like my — my family — a working-class, middle-class family — the only way we were ever able to generate any wealth was in equity in our homes.  Imagine what they contributed then and what they could’ve contributed all these years.  Imagine a thriving Greenwood in North Tulsa for the last hundred years, what that would’ve meant for all of Tulsa, including the white community.
 
While the people of Greenwood rebuilt again in the years after the massacre, it didn’t last.  Eventually neighborhoods were redlined on maps, locking Black Tulsa out of homeownerships.  (Applause.)  A highway was built right through the heart of the community.  Lisa, I was talking about our west side — what 95 did to it after we were occupied by the military, after Dr. King was murdered.  The community — cutting off Black families and businesses from jobs and opportunity.  Chronic underinvestment from state and federal governments denied Greenwood even just a chance at rebuilding.  (Applause.)
 
We must find the courage to change the things we know we can change.  That’s what Vice President Harris and I are focused on, along with our entire administration, including our Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Marcia Fudge, who is here today.  (Applause.)
 
Because today, we’re announcing two expanded efforts targeted toward Black wealth creation that will also help the entire community.  The first is: My administration has launched an aggressive effort to combat racial discrimination in housing.  That includes everything from redlining to the cruel fact that a home owned by a Black family is too often appraised at a lower value than a similar home owned by a white family.  (Applause.)
 
And I might add — and I need help if you have an answer to this; I can’t figure this one out, Congressman Horsford.  But if you live in a Black community and there’s another one on the other side of the highway — it’s a white community; it’s the — built by the same builder, and you have a better driving record than they guy with the same car in the white community, you’re — can pay more for your auto insurance. 
 
Shockingly, the percentage of Black American homeownership is lower today in America than when the Fair Housing Act was passed more than 50 years ago.  Lower today.  That’s wrong.  And we’re committing to changing that.
 
Just imagine if instead of denying millions of Americans
the ability to own their own home and build generational wealth, we made it possible for them to buy a home and build equity into that — into that home and provide for their families.
 
Second, small businesses are the engines of our economy and the glue of our communities.  As President, my administration oversees hundreds of billions of dollars in federal contracts for everything from refurbishing decks of aircraft carriers, to installing railings in federal buildings, to professional services.
 
We have a thing called — I won’t go into it all because there’s not enough time now.  But I’m determined to use every taxpayer’s dollar that is assigned to me to spend, going to American companies and American workers to build American products.   And as part of that, I’m going to increase the share of the dollars the federal government spends to small, disadvantaged businesses, including Black and brown small businesses.
 
Right now, it calls for 10 percent; I’m going to move that to 15 percent of every dollar spent will be spent (inaudible).  (Applause.)  I have the authority to do that. 
 
Just imagine if, instead of denying millions of entrepreneurs the ability to access capital and contracting, we made it possible to take their dreams to the marketplace to create jobs and invest in our communities.
 
That — the data shows young Black entrepreneurs are just as capable of succeeding, given the chance, as white entrepreneurs are.  But they don’t have lawyers.  They don’t have — they — they don’t have accountants, but they have great ideas. 
 
Does anyone doubt this whole nation would be better off from the investments those people make?  And I promise you, that’s why I set up the — a national Small Business Administration that’s much broader.  Because they’re going to get those loans.  
 
Instead of consigning millions of American children to under-resourced schools, let’s give each and every child, three and four years old, access to school — not daycare, school.  (Applause.)
 
In the last 10 years, studies have been done by all the great universities.  It shows that, if increased by 56 percent, the possibility of a child — no matter what background they come from; no matter what — if they start school at three years old, they have a 56 percent chance of going all through all 12 years without any trouble and being able to do well, and a chance to learn and grow and thrive in a school and throughout their lives.
 
And let’s unlock more than — an incredible creativity and innovation that will come from the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  (Applause.)  I have a $5 billion program giving them the resources to invest in research centers and laboratories and high-demand fields to compete for the good-paying jobs in industries like — of the future, like cybersecurity.
 
The reason why they don’t — their — their students are equally able to learn as well, and get the good-paying job that start at 90- and 100,000 bucks.  But they don’t have — they don’t have the back — they don’t have the money to provide and build those laboratories.  So, guess what?  They’re going to get the money to build those laboratories.  (Applause.) 
 
So, instead of just talking about infrastructure, let’s get about the business of actually rebuilding roads and highways, filling the sidewalks and cracks, installing streetlights and high-speed Internet, creating space — space to live and work and play safely.
 
Let’s ensure access to healthcare, clean water, clean air, nearby grocery stores — stock the fresh vegetables and food that — (applause) — in fact, deal with — I mean, these are all things we can do.
 
Does anyone doubt this whole nation would be better off with these investments?  The rich will be just as well off.  The middle class will do better, and everybody will do better.  It’s about good-paying jobs, financial stability, and being able to build some generational wealth.  It’s about economic growth for our country and outcompeting the rest of the world, which is now outcompeting us.
 

President Joe Biden in Tulsa: I’m going to fight like heck with every tool at my disposal” to pass voting rights legislation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via MSNBC.

But just as fundamental as any of these investments I’ve discussed — this may be the most fundamental: the right to vote.  (Applause.)  The right to vote.  (Applause.)
 
A lot of the members of the Black Caucus knew John Lewis better than I did, but I knew him.  On his deathbed, like many, I called John, to speak to him.  But all John wanted to do was talk about how I was doing.  He died, I think, about 25 hours later. 

But you know what John said?  He called the right to vote “precious,” “almost sacred.”  He said, “The most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democratic society”.
 
This sacred right is under assault with an incredible intensity like I’ve never seen — even though I got started as a public defender and a civil rights lawyer — with an intensity and an aggressiveness that we have not seen in a long, long time. 
 
It’s simply un-American.  It is not, however, sadly, unprecedented.  The creed “We Shall Overcome” is a longtime mainstay of the Civil Rights Movement, as Jesse Jackson can tell you better than anybody.
 
The obstacle to progress that have to be overcome are a constant challenge.  We saw it in the ‘60s, but with the current assault, it’s not just an echo of a distant history. 
 
In 2020, we faced a tireless assault on the right to vote: restrictive laws, lawsuits, threats of intimidation, voter purges, and more.  We resolved to overcome it all, and we did.  More Americans voted in the last election than any — in the midst of a pandemic — than any election in American history.  (Applause.) 
 
You got voters registered.  You got voters to the polls.  The rule of law held.  Democracy prevailed.  We overcame. 
 
But today, let me be unequivocal: I’ve been engaged in this work my whole career, and we’re going to be ramping up our efforts to overcome again. 
 
I will have more to say about this at a later date — the truly unprecedented assault on our democracy, an effort to replace nonpartisan election administrators and to intimidate those charged with tallying and reporting the election results. 
 
But today, as for the act of voting itself, I urge voting rights groups in this country to begin to redouble their efforts now to register and educate voters.
  (Applause.) 
 
June should be a month of action on Capitol Hill.  I hear all the folks on TV saying, “Why doesn’t Biden get this done?”  Well, because Biden only has a majority of, effectively, four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate, with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends. 
 
But we’re not giving up.  Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed For the People Act to protect our democracy.  The Senate will take it up later this month, and I’m going to fight like heck with every tool at my disposal for its passage.
 
The House is also working on the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which is — which is critical — (applause) — to providing new legal tools to combat the new assault on the right to vote. 
 
To signify the importance of our efforts, today I’m asking Vice President Harris to help these efforts and lead them, among her many other responsibilities. 
 
With her leadership and your support, we’re going to overcome again, I promise you.  But it’s going to take a hell of a lot of work.
  (Applause.)
 
And finally, we have to — and finally, we must address what remains the stain on the soul of America.  What happened in Greenwood was an act of hate and domestic terrorism with a through line that exists today still. 
 
Just close your eyes and remember what you saw in Charlottesville four years ago on television.  Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, the KKK coming out of those fields at night in Virginia with lighted torches — the veins bulging on their — as they were screaming.  Remember?  Just close your eyes and picture what it was.
 
Well, Mother Fletcher said when she saw the insurrection at the Capitol on January the 9th [6th], it broke her heart — a mob of violent white extremists — thugs.  Said it reminded her what happened here in Greenwood 100 years ago.
 
Look around at the various hate crimes against Asian Americans and Jewish Americans.  Hate that never goes away.  Hate only hides.
 
Jesse, I think I mentioned this to you.  I thought, after you guys pushed through, with Dr. King, the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act — I thought we moved.  But what I didn’t realize — I thought we had made enormous progress, and I was so proud to be a little part of it. 
 
But you know what, Rev?  I didn’t realize hate is never defeated; it only hides.  It hides.  And given a little bit of oxygen — just a little bit oxygen — by its leaders, it comes out of there from under the rock like it was happening again, as if it never went away. 
 
And so, folks, we can’t — we must not give hate a safe harbor. 
 
As I said in my address to the joint session of Congress: According to the intelligence community, terrorism from white supremacy is the most lethal threat to the homeland today.  Not ISIS, not al Qaeda — white supremacists.  (Applause.)  That’s not me; that’s the intelligence community under both Trump and under my administration. 
 
Two weeks ago, I signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which the House had passed and the Senate.  My administration will soon lay out our broader strategy to counter domestic terrorism and the violence driven by the most heinous hate crimes and other forms of bigotry. 
 
But I’m going to close where I started.  To Mother Randle, Mother Fletcher, Mr. Van Ellis, to the descendants, and to all survivors: Thank you.  Thank you for giving me the honor of being able to spend some time with you earlier today.  Thank you for your courage.  Thank you for your commitment.  And thank your children, and your grandchildren, and your unc- — and your nieces and your nephews. 
 
To see and learn from you is a gift — a genuine gift.  Dr. John Hope Franklin, one of America’s greatest historians — Tulsa’s proud son, whose father was a Greenwood survivor — said, and I quote, “Whatever you do, it must be done in the spirit of goodwill and mutual respect and even love.  How else can we overcome the past and be worthy of our forebearers and face the future with confidence and with hope?”
 
On this sacred and solemn day, may we find that distinctly Greenwood spirit that defines the American spirit — the spirit that gives me so much confidence and hope for the future; that helps us see, face to face; a spirit that helps us know fully who we are and who we can be as a people and as a nation.
 
I’ve never been more optimistic about the future than I am today.  I mean that.
  And the reason is because of this new generation of young people.  They’re the best educated, they’re the least prejudiced, the most open generation in American history. 
 
And although I have no scientific basis of what I’m about to say, but those of you who are over 50 — how often did you ever see — how often did you ever see advertisements on television with Black and white couples?  Not a joke. 
 
I challenge you — find today, when you turn on the stations — sit on one station for two hours.  And I don’t know how many commercials you’ll see — eight to five — two to three out of five have mixed-race couples in them.  That’s not by accident.  They’re selling soap, man.  (Laughter.)  Not a joke. 
 
Remember ol’ Pat Caddell?  He used to say, “You want to know what’s happening in American culture?  Watch advertising, because they want to sell what they have.” 
 
We have hope in folks like you, honey.  I really mean it.  We have hope.  But we’ve got to give them support.  We have got to give them the backbone to do what we know has to be done.  Because I doubt whether any of you would be here if you didn’t care deeply about this.  You sure in the devil didn’t come to hear me speak.  (Laughter.) 
 
But I really mean it.  I really mean it.  Let’s not give up, man.  Let’s not give up. 
 
As the old saying goes, “Hope springs eternal.”  I know we’ve talked a lot about famous people, but I’m — my colleagues in the Senate used to kid me because I was always quoting Irish poets.  They think I did it because I’m Irish.  They think I did it because we Irish — we have a little chip on our shoulder.  A little bit, sometimes. 
 
That’s not why I did it; I did it because they’re the best poets in the world.  (Laughter.)  You can smile, it’s okay.  It’s true. 
 
There was a famous poet who wrote a poem called “The Cure at Troy” — Seamus Heaney.  And there is a stanza in it that I think is the definition of what I think should be our call today for young people. 
 
It said, “History teaches us not to hope on this side of the grave, but then, once in a lifetime, the longed-for tidal wave of justice rises up, and hope and history rhyme.” 
 
Let’s make it rhyme.  Thank you.

See also:

Biden Uses Occasion of Tulsa Massacre Centennial to Advance Economic Justice Agenda

White House Releases State-by-State Fact Sheets to Highlight Need and Benefit of American Families Plan in Each State

The White House released fact sheets that highlight the need for and impact of the investments proposed by President Biden in the American Families Plan in states and territories across the country. The lack of affordable, accessible, quality day care has kept millions of women from returning to the workforce, while the availability of two extra years of public school contributes to higher graduation rates and 20 percent higher annual incomes over a lifetime © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The White House released fact sheets that highlight the need for and impact of the investments proposed by President Biden in the American Families Plan in states and territories across the country. The American Families Plan is a once-in-a-generation investment in the foundations of middle-class prosperity: education, health care, and child care.
 
The fact sheets highlight how many families would benefit from free community college and universal pre-K, the high costs of child care, the number of workers who lack access to paid family leave, and the thousands of dollars families and workers would save in tax cuts and credits.

Individual fact sheets for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and other territories are linked below.

These fact sheets are the latest in a series from the White House highlighting the benefits of the American Families Plan for communities, in addition to a series of fact sheets on the American Jobs Plan. Fact sheets on how the American Families Plan advances racial equity and supports rural America have been released in recent weeks.

Fact Sheets by State/Territory:
Alaska
Alabama
American Samoa
Arkansas
Arizona
California
Colorado
Connecticut
District of Columbia
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Guam
Hawaii
Iowa
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Massachusetts
Maryland
Maine
Michigan
Minnesota
Missouri
Mississippi
Montana
North Carolina
North Dakota
Northern Marina Islands
Nebraska
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
Nevada
New York
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Puerto Rico
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Virgin Islands
Washington
Wisconsin
West Virginia
Wyoming
 
Fact Sheets by Issue:
 
Racial Equity
Rural Communities

White House: How American Families Plan Will Support Children, Teachers, and Working Families in Rural America

President Biden knows a strong middle-class is the backbone of America and that rural and tribal communities are essential to the economic growth of our country. Rural communities require targeted investments that meet the needs of their children and families, along with workforce development for those providing childcare and education. The American Families Plan represents a generation-defining investment in rural America, and a commitment to grow the middle-class and expand the benefits of economic growth to all Americans. By extending and building upon the provisions of the American Rescue Plan, the American Families Plan would cut the rural poverty rate by more than 21 percent and the rural child poverty rate by 50 percent, relative to the projected poverty rate for 2022 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The White House issued a fact sheet explaining how President Joe Biden’s American Families Plan will support children, teachers and working families in rural America:

President Biden knows a strong middle-class is the backbone of America and that rural and tribal communities are essential to the economic growth of our country. Rural communities require targeted investments that meet the needs of their children and families, along with workforce development for those providing childcare and education. The American Families Plan represents a generation-defining investment in rural America, and a commitment to grow the middle-class and expand the benefits of economic growth to all Americans. All told, by extending and building upon the provisions of the American Rescue Plan, the American Families Plan would cut the rural poverty rate by more than 21 percent and the rural child poverty rate by 50 percent, relative to the projected poverty rate for 2022.
 
UNIVERSAL PRE-SCHOOL FOR 3- AND 4-YEAR OLDS
 
Low population density, physical isolation, and broad spatial distribution make access to preschool more challenging for low-income families in rural areas. President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Provide free universal pre-school to all 3- and 4-year-olds, benefitting 5 million children. This historic investment in America’s future will first prioritize high-need areas and enable communities and families to choose the settings that work best for them, whether that’s a preschool classroom in a public school, a center, or a Head Start program. The President’s plan will invest in tuition-free community college and teacher scholarships to support those who wish to earn a bachelor’s degree or other credential that supports their work as an educator or their work to become an early childhood educator. And educators will receive job-embedded coaching, professional development, and wages that reflect the importance of their work. All employees in participating Pre-K programs and Head Start will earn at least $15 per hour, and those with comparable qualifications will receive compensation and benefits similar to elementary school teachers.

FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE AND OTHER POSTSECONDARY INVESTMENTS
 
There are approximately 250 rural community colleges across the U.S., with an even greater number of community colleges that serve a primarily rural student population. Colleges and universities are important anchor institutions in rural communities, providing jobs to residents, attracting businesses, and boosting local economies.
 
President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Provide two years of free community college so that first-time students and workers wanting to reskill can enroll in a community college without paying tuition and fees.
  • Increase the maximum Pell Grant award by approximately $1,400 to provide additional assistance to low-income students and also allow DREAMers to access the grant.
  • Provide grants to increase college retention and completion, allowing states, territories, and Tribes to support the adoption and expansion of evidence-based practices and promising solutions that help students complete their degrees.
  • Increase funding to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and institutions such as Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs), Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions (AANAPISIs), and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), and the students they serve. This will provide two years of subsidized tuition, as well as funding to support institutional development and the strengthening of the health care workforce, which will benefit rural areas where the need for physicians, nurses, and other providers continues to limit access to care.

Education and Preparation for Teachers
 
More than 9 million students—nearly one in five students—attend a rural school in the U.S. But these schools face challenges in hiring and retaining teachers, particularly in special education and specialized instruction.
 
President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Address teacher shortages, improve teacher preparation, and strengthen pipelines for teachers of color. President Biden is calling on Congress to double scholarships for future teachers from $4,000 to $8,000 per year while earning their degree and expand it to early childhood educators. The President’s plan would also invest $3.2 billion to cultivate and recruit teachers from the communities that schools serve, provide year-long, paid residency programs, and invest in teacher preparation at HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs.
  • Support the development of special education teachers. There has been a 17 percent  decline in the number of special educators over the last decade. Additionally, while only about half of the students receiving special education services are white, approximately 82 percent of special education teachers are white. The American Families Plan will invest $900 million in personnel preparation funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), funding pathways to additional certifications and strengthening existing teacher preparation programs for special educators.
  • Help current teachers earn in-demand credentials. President Biden is calling on Congress to create a new fund to provide educators with opportunities to obtain additional certifications in high-demand areas like special education, bilingual education, and certifications that improve teacher performance. This fund will support over 100,000 educators, with priority for public school teachers with at least two years of experience at schools with a significant number of low-income students or significant teacher shortages.
  • Invest in educator leadership. President Biden is calling on Congress to invest $2 billion in programs that leverage teachers as leaders to multiply their impact within their school, such as high-quality mentoring programs that leverage current teachers as mentors for new teachers, which improve student outcomes and increase teacher retention rates while keeping great teachers in the classroom.

Child Care
 
Lack of access to affordable, high-quality child care is making it hard for parents to work and provide for their families. Many rural families have to go without care, and without sufficient demand, it can be challenging for centers to afford to operate. Over half of rural families live in a child care desert, meaning there are few or no child care options. In particular, rural families disproportionately lack access to child care centers serving infants and toddlers.  
 
The American Families Plan builds on investments in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and will further expand access to high-quality child care in rural areas.
 
President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Make child care more affordable. Families will pay only a portion of their income on child care based on a sliding scale. For the most-hard pressed working families, child care costs for their young children would be fully covered and families earning up to 1.5 times their state median income will spend no more than 7% of their income on child care for young children.
  • Ensure this child care is high quality. The American Families plan will ensure child care providers, including centers and home-based providers, receive funding to provide the true cost of quality early childhood education—including a developmentally appropriate curriculum, small class sizes, and culturally and linguistically responsive environments that are inclusive of children with disabilities.
  • Invest in the care workforce across rural America. Early childhood educators are among the most underpaid workers in the country and nearly half rely on public income support programs. The typical child care worker earned $12.24 per hour in 2020—while receiving few, if any, benefits, leading to high turnover and lower quality of care.  The American Families Plan will ensure a $15 minimum wage for early childhood educators. Those with comparable qualifications to elementary school teachers will receive comparable compensation and benefits. And, the American Families Plan will ensure educators receive job-embedded coaching and professional development, along with additional training opportunities.

Paid Leave
 
Paid family and medical leave supports workers and families and is a critical investment in the strength and equity of our economy. However, many rural workers lack access to paid family and medical leave programs, particularly low-wage workers. According to one nation-wide survey, over fifty percent of non-metro (including rural) workers said they would very likely face hardship if they had to take a few months of unpaid time off work, compared to 40 percent of metro area workers. Furthermore, many small rural businesses struggle to compete for and retain talent compared to urban areas. These businesses often cannot afford to provide workplace supports like paid family and medical leave. Rural areas are also more likely to have older populations, increasing the need for both medical and caregiving leave. One study found that California’s paid leave program accounted for an 11-percent relative decline in elderly nursing home usage, saving costs for both the state and families.
 
President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Create a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program. The program will ensure workers receive partial wage replacement to take time to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill loved one, deal with a loved one’s military deployment, find safety from sexual assault, stalking, or domestic violence, heal from their own serious illness, or take time to deal with the death of a loved one. It will guarantee twelve weeks of paid parental, family, and personal illness/safe leave by year 10 of the program, and also ensure workers get three days of bereavement leave per year starting in year one. The program will provide workers up to $4,000 a month, with a minimum of two-thirds of average weekly wages replaced, rising to 80 percent for the lowest wage workers. We estimate this program will cost $225 billion over a decade.


Nutrition
 
With higher child poverty rates and longer distances to grocery stores, accessing nutritious food can be challenging for families in rural areas. Eighty-six percent of counties with high child food insecurity are rural, and children in rural areas are 25 percent more likely to be obese than those in urban areas. To foster positive long-term health outcomes through nutrition security, President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Expand summer EBT to all eligible children nationwide. The Summer EBT Demonstrations help low-income families with children eligible for free- and reduced-price meals during the school year purchase food during the summer. The American Families Plan builds on the American Rescue Plan’s support for Summer Pandemic-EBT by making the successful program permanent and available to all 29 million children receiving free- and reduced-price meals. Research shows that this program decreases food insecurity among children and leads to positive changes in nutritional outcomes.
  • Expand school meal programs. Currently, just 70 percent of eligible schools have adopted Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which allows high-poverty schools to provide meals free of charge to all of their students—breaking down barriers for students who may be eligible for school meals but may not apply for them due to stigma or not fully understanding the application process. The President’s plan will allow more schools in high poverty districts to offer meals free of charge to all of their students by reimbursing a higher percentage of meals at the free reimbursement rate through CEP. Additionally, the plan will target elementary schools by lowering the threshold for CEP eligibility for elementary schools. The plan will also expand direct certification to automatically enroll more students for school meals based on Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income data. This will especially help rural schools, which often have limited administrative capacity for food purchasing and accounting.
  • Launch a healthy foods incentive demonstration to further improve the nutrition standards of school meals and support the development of healthy lifestyles throughout the school environment.

 
Tax Cuts for America’s Families and Workers
 
While the American Rescue Plan provided meaningful relief to hundreds of millions of Americans, that was just a first step. Now is the time to build back better, to help families and workers who for too long have felt the squeeze of stagnating wages and an ever-increasing cost-of-living.  Direct assistance to families in the form of tax credits paid on a regular basis lifts children and families out of poverty, makes it easier for families to make ends meet, and boosts the academic and economic performance of children over time. President Biden’s American Families Plan will:

  • Extend expanded ACA premiums tax credits in the American Rescue Plan. Health care should be a right, not a privilege, and Americans facing illness should never have to worry about how they are going to pay for their treatment. No one should face a choice between buying life-saving medications or putting food on the table. President Biden has a plan to build on the Affordable Care Act and lower prescription drug costs for everyone by letting Medicare negotiate prices, reducing health insurance premiums and deductibles for those who buy coverage on their own, creating a public option and the option for people to enroll in Medicare at age 60, and closing the Medicaid coverage gap to help millions of Americans gain health insurance. The American Families Plan will build on the American Rescue Plan and continue our work to make health care more affordable.  The biggest improvement in health care affordability since the Affordable Care Act, the American Rescue Plan provided two years of lower health insurance premiums for those who buy coverage on their own. With those changes, more than three in four uninsured people living in rural areas are now eligible for low-cost health care, and more than four in five current HealthCare.gov enrollees in rural counties are eligible for low-cost health care. The American Families Plan will make a $200 billion investment to make those premium reductions permanent. As a result, nine million people will save hundreds of dollars per year on their premiums, and four million uninsured people will gain coverage.  The Families Plan will also invest in maternal health and support the families of veterans receiving health care services.
  • Extend the Child Tax Credit (CTC) increases in the American Rescue Plan through 2025 and make the CTC permanently fully refundable. Rural child poverty rates are higher than the national average, and more than 200 rural counties qualify as “persistent-poverty counties,” meaning they have experienced poverty rates of 20 percent or higher for at least 30 years.  The President is calling for extending the Child Tax Credit expansion first enacted in the American Rescue Plan, which increases the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child for 6-year-olds and above and $3,600 per child for children under 6. It also makes 17-year-olds eligible for the first time and makes the credit fully refundable, meaning that the nearly half of low-income rural families that historically did not qualify for the full credit because they earned too little, can now receive the same credit as middle-income families. If extended, this would be the single largest contributor to this plan’s historic impact of lifting a projected 620,000 children in non-metro areas out of poverty in 2022 and cutting rural child poverty in half.
  • Permanently increase tax credits to support families with child care needs. To help even more families, President Biden is calling on Congress to make permanent the temporary expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) enacted in the American Rescue Plan. Families will get back as a tax credit as much as half of their spending on child care for children under age 13, so that they can receive a total of up to $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children. Making the American Rescue Plan expansion of CDCTC permanent will also ensure the credit will continue to be fully refundable, making it more equitable by allowing low-income working families to receive the full value of the credit towards their eligible child care expenses regardless of how much they owe in taxes.
  • Make the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) expansion for childless workers permanent. President Biden believes our tax code should reward work and not wealth. And that means rewarding people who work hard every day at modest wages to provide their communities with essential services. Before this year, the federal tax code taxed low-wage childless workers into poverty or deeper into poverty — the only group of workers treated this way. The American Rescue Plan addressed this problem by roughly tripling the EITC for childless workers, benefitting 17 million low-wage workers, many of whom are essential workers including cashiers, cooks, delivery drivers, food preparation workers, and childcare providers. For example, a childless worker who works 30 hours per week at $9 per hour earns income that, after taxes, leaves them below the federal poverty line. By increasing her credit to more than $1,100, EITC expansion helps pull such workers out of poverty. The President is calling on Congress to make this expansion permanent. All told, the expansion will directly benefit more than one in five rural workers without children.


To view this fact sheet in your browser, click here
 

Cuomo Takes Bow in Delivering on Justice Agenda, Calling Legislative Session ‘Most Productive in Modern Political History’

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo took a deserved bow in delivering on the Justice Agenda he laid out at his inauguration, calling this year’s Legislative Session “the most productive in modern political history.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo took a deserved bow in announcing historic progressive accomplishments during this year’s Legislative Session, delivering on his 2019 Justice Agenda first laid out in December, and calling it “the most productive in modern political history.”

“These sweeping reforms will ensure social and economic justice for all New Yorkers, address the devastating impact of climate change, support New York’s ongoing commitment to workers’ rights, modernize transportation systems across the state, and enhance the Empire State’s nation-leading commitment to gender equity and LGBTQ rights. All of this was done while enacting fiscally responsible policies including holding spending growth to 2 percent for the ninth consecutive year, enacting a permanent property tax cap and cutting taxes for the middle class,” the governor’s office stated.

“Six months ago we laid out our 2019 Justice Agenda – an aggressive blueprint to move New York forward – and today I’m proud to say we got it done,” Governor Cuomo said. “At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what you accomplish, and this was the most progressively productive legislative session in modern history. The product was extraordinary, and we maintained our two pillars – fiscal responsibility and economic growth paired with social progress on an unprecedented and nation-leading scale.”

Here’s a synopsis:

Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act: This legislation enacts the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, creating the most aggressive climate change program in the nation with goals to: reach zero carbon emissions in the electricity sector by 2040; install 9 GW of offshore wind by 2035; 6GW of solar by 2025; 3 GW of energy storage by 2030; and directs state entities to work toward a goal of investing 40 percent of clean energy and energy efficiency resources to benefit disadvantaged communities. Additionally, the law creates the Climate Action Council comprised of the leaders of various state agencies and authorities as well as legislative appointments to develop a plan outlining how the state will achieve an 85% reduction in GHG emissions from 1990 levels by 2050, and eventually net zero emissions in all sectors of the economy. 

Permanent Property Tax Cap: Made permanent the 2% property tax cap, building upon the approximate $25 billion in taxpayer savings since it was implemented in 2012.

MTA Money and Management: Funded the MTA with an estimated $25 billion raised through Central Business District tolling, a new progressive mansion tax, and the elimination of the internet tax advantage. Implemented overdue MTA reforms including the developing a reorganization plan, modifying MTA Board appointments to align with appointing authority, requiring the MTA to undergo an independent forensic audit and efficiency review, and calling for a major construction review unit made up of outside experts to review major projects.

Advancing LGBTQ Rights: Governor Cuomo is enacting transformative legislation in support of LGBTQ rights, including the elimination of the gay and trans panic defense—closing a loophole in state law that allowed individuals to use the gay and trans panic defenses after attacking another based upon that victim’s gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The Governor also enacted into law the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and a ban on LGBTQ conversion therapy.

Establish a Farmworkers Bill of Rights: This legislation established a farmworkers bill of rights, granting overtime pay, a rest day and the right to unionize.

Enact Additional Sexual Harassment Protections: This package of reforms will lower the high bar set for employees to hold employers accountable under the New York Human Rights Law for sexual harassment by amending the requirement that conduct be “severe or pervasive” to constitute actionable conduct; extend the statute of limitations for employment sexual harassment claims filed with the Division of Human Rights from one year to three years; and protect employees’ rights to pursue complaints by mandating that all non-disclosure agreements in employment contracts include language stating that employees may still participate in government investigations conducted by local, state, and federal anti-discrimination agencies

Expand Statutes of Limitations for Rape: Statutes of limitations on rape cases impose a ticking clock on how long victims are able to come forward if they want to seek charges. Over the last year, victims who have suffered in silence for decades have bravely spoken about their abuse, and also have laid bare the state’s limited ability to prosecute their abusers due to the passage of time. In recognition of this fact, states across the country are lengthening or eliminating the statutes of limitations on crimes of sexual violence. This legislation extends the statute of limitations for Rape in the Second Degree and Third Degree, and expand the civil statute of limitations for claims related to these offenses, allowing victims greater opportunity to obtain justice.

Closing the Gender Wage Gap: Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has fought aggressively to increase safeguards for women in the workplace and close the gender pay gap in New York. This package of reforms includes legislation to expand the definition of “equal pay for equal work” to prohibit unequal pay on the basis of a protected class for all substantially similar work and to close any loopholes employers try to use to pay people less on the basis of their gender, race or other protected classes; as well as a salary history ban, which prohibits employers from asking or relying on salary history of applicants and employees in making job offers or determining wages.

Reauthorize and Expand the MWBE Program: The Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise program has been highly successful since its inception, establishing the highest goals for MWBE participation in the entire nation and awarding thousands of state contracts to minority-owned and women-owned businesses. This legislation reauthorizes the MWBE program and extends the provisions of law relating to the participation of MWBEs in state contracts to ensure this effective program continues.

Tenant Protections: This package of reforms, known as Housing Stability and Tenant Protection act of 2019, enacts the most sweeping, aggressive tenant protections in state history, safeguarding affordable housing for millions of New Yorkers.

Remove the Non-Medical Exemptions for Vaccines: The United States is currently experiencing the worst outbreak of measles in more than 25 years, with outbreaks in pockets of New York primarily driving the crisis. As a result of non-medical vaccination exemptions, many communities across New York have unacceptably low rates of vaccination, and those unvaccinated children can often attend school where they may spread the disease to other unvaccinated students. This new law will remove non-medical exemptions from school vaccination requirements for children and help protect the public amid this ongoing outbreak.

Ensuring Quality Education: School aid increased by over $1 billion, bringing total school aid to a record $27.9 billion. In addition, new reporting requirements will address imbalances in the distribution of resources by prioritizing funding at the individual school level in order to advance a more transparent, equitable education system.

Makes the Jose R. Peralta DREAM Act a Reality: Finally opens the doors of higher education to thousands of New Yorkers by giving undocumented New York students the same advantages given to their citizen peers, including access to the Tuition Assistance Program and state administered scholarships such as Excelsior.

Expands Eligibility for the Excelsior Scholarship Free Tuition Program: As the state’s successful free tuition program enters its third year, students whose families make up to $125,000 annually will now be eligible to apply for the program, allowing more than 55 percent of full-time, in-state SUNY and CUNY students—or more than 210,000 New York residents—to attend college tuition-free when combined with TAP assistance.

Criminal Justice Reform: Sweeping criminal justice reform was delivered by eliminating cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent offenses, ensuring the right to a speedy trial, and transforming the discovery process.

Continued Investment in Infrastructure: Builds upon the Governor’s unprecedented commitment to invest $150 billion in infrastructure projects over the next five years.

Delivering on the Gateway Tunnel Project: This legislation establishes the Gateway Development Commission and creates a comprehensive rail investment program for purposes of the project. This bi-state effort, in cooperation with New Jersey, represents significant progress on a crucial project for our nation’s economy and security while restoring our role as a global leader in infrastructure.

Protecting the Environment: The launch of the Green New Deal—the most aggressive environmental protection initiative in the nation, the ban of single-use plastic bags, launch of the food waste recycling program and investment of an additional $500 million in clean water infrastructure, increasing the State’s historic investment to $3 billion, all of which serves to protect New Yorkers while combatting some of the most pressing threats to the environment.

Keeping New Yorkers Healthy: By codifying provisions of the Affordable Care Act, New Yorkers can rest assured that their health needs will be covered, regardless of Washington’s actions.

Supporting Workers’ Rights: Extended Janus protections to all local governments and guaranteed the right to organize and collectively bargain.

Promoting the Democracy Agenda: To boost New York’s voter turnout and ensure that New York’s elections remain fair and transparent, the following initiatives were enacted this year: synchronized federal and state elections, pre-registration for minors, early voting, universal transfer of registration, and the advancement of no-excuse absentee voting, and same-day registration.

Common Sense Gun Reform: Building upon the SAFE Act—the strongest gun control legislation in the country—additional measures were enacted this year to ensure guns were kept out of the wrong hands, including the Red Flag Bill, ban on bump stocks, and extending the background check waiting period.

Signing the Child Victims Act: The signing of this long-awaited legislation provided necessary relief to child victims of sexual abuse by amending New York’s antiquated laws to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions, regardless of when the crime occurred.

Closing the LLC Loophole: Closed the LLC loophole by limiting political spending by an LLC to a total of $5,000 annually, which is the same limit as corporations. The new law also requires the disclosure of direct and indirect membership interests in the LLC making a contribution, and for the contribution to be attributed to that individual.

2019 Women’s Justice Agenda Accomplishments: With the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, Comprehensive Coverage Contraceptive Act, and the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, as well as the ban on revenge porn, and strengthened protections for breastfeeding in the workplace, Governor Cuomo continued his commitment to ensuring fairness and equality for women across New York State.

New capital funding investments this year include:

  • Full Funding for Extreme Winter Recovery: $65 million in State funding for the Extreme WINTER Recovery program. Provides enhanced assistance to local governments for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of local highways and roads impacted by New York State’s harsh winter weather. This unprecedented infrastructure investment in local roads and bridges is in addition to the $478 million in State funding provided through the CHIPS and Marchiselli programs, and $200 million for PAVE-NY and Bridge NY.
  • $120 Million Public Housing Investment: Building on the State’s unprecedented $550 million investment in the New York City Housing Authority, the Governor and Legislature are providing an additional $100 million in capital funding to help support its ongoing transformation while providing $20 million to support housing authorities and other housingoutside of New York City.
  • $100 Million for the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative: The Governor and Legislature are providing $100 million in capital funding to support the State’s up to $300 million commitment to communities impacted by Lake Ontario Flooding. Launched last month, the REDI Commission is working with localities along the shoreline to identify and support projects that will reduce the flooding risk to infrastructure while strengthening the region’s local economies.
  • $20 Million for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority: A $20 million capital appropriation is provided to support the first year of a five-year $100 million commitment from the Governor and Legislature to theNFTA to fund a five-year capital plan for maintenance and improvements of Metro Rail.
  • Penn Station 33rd Street Entrance: $425 million in capital funding will support the Penn Station 33rd Street Entrance project, and others associated with improvements to the Long Island Railroad. Just last month, the Governor unveiled final design renderings for the new main entrance to Penn Station located at 33rd street and 7th Avenue, which will provide much needed direct access to the LIRR Main Concourse and the New York City Subway.
  • $20 Million Investment in Public Libraries: A $20 million capital appropriation to public libraries will help libraries across New York State as they continue to transform into 21st century community hubs.
  • $30 Million for Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program: A $30 million capital appropriation will support the Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program, which under the Governor’s leadership is enabling independent colleges across the state to make critical investments in their infrastructure and equipment by providing matching capital grants.
  • $25 million Security Investment to Protect Against Hate Crimes: A $25 million capital appropriation is included for security projects at nonpublic schools, community centers, residential camps, and day care facilities at risk of hate crimes because of their ideology, beliefs, or mission.

NYS Accepting Applications for Luminate Accelerator to Spur Optics, Photonics, Imaging Enterprises, Key Initiative in ‘Finger Lakes Forward’ Revitalization

Former knitting mill being repurposed in Seneca Falls, gateway to the Finger Lakes. New York State is accepting new applications for Illuminate NY, one of  the world’s largest business accelerators for startup firms in the optics, photonics and imaging industries, with a $1 million the top prize. Illuminate is one of the initiatives to revitalize the Finger Lakes economy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State has just announced that Luminate NY – one of  the world’s largest business accelerators for startup firms in the optics, photonics and imaging industries is now accepting applications for Round III of the innovative competition. Selected teams will compete for one of 10 available slots in the third cohort of companies.

The Luminate NY accelerator, located in Rochester, assists promising optics, photonics and imaging companies with advancing their technologies and businesses through the assistance of a six-month mentoring program. Once selected, teams will compete for follow-on funding, including a $1 million top prize; $500,000 second prize; and two $250,000 prizes that will be awarded to two teams. The Luminate NY program is funded by the transformative Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative.

“Luminate NY is a globally recognized competition and resource for the most promising new companies in the cutting-edge fields of optics, photonics and imaging,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “This accelerator represents just one of the many strategic industry investments New York is making to foster new business growth and improve job opportunities as we continue working to propel the Finger Lakes economy forward.”

“Our business plan competitions have proven to be a catalyst for driving great ideas and job growth across the state,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.”Luminate NY is part of our strategy to encourage collaboration and provide support to the growing OPI industry in the Finger Lakes region. As we begin a new round, we remain committed to embracing Rochester’s spirit of innovation to deliver ambitious plans focused on the future.”

Luminate NY, which is administered by NextCorps, is looking for entrepreneurs from around the globe who are interested in solving OPI challenges, including but not limited to: machine vision, inspection, biophotonics, security, surveillance, augmented and virtual reality and autonomous vehicles. The winning teams must commit to remaining in the region for at least 18 months.

Applicants for Luminate NY must be incorporated, have at least two full-time employees and should have proven their core technology, preferably having developed a working prototype. Once admitted, companies will receive assistance, including capital, access to comprehensive lab facilities for technology development, education, and business mentoring. Applications will be accepted now through September 23, 2019.

The recruitment for new OPI-enabled technologies comes just one week before Luminate NY’s second cohort of companies competes for $2 million in follow-on funding. The free “Light Tomorrow with Today” Demo Day event will be held on June 27, 2019, at the CGI Big Tent at the Rochester International Jazz Festival. One company will be awarded $1 million, with the additional $1 million to be awarded to three companies based on judges’ ratings.

Luminate NY continues to build on the region’s historically strong OPI industry sector. Rochester is home to the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics’ Test, Assembly and Packaging facility at Eastman Business Park, the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics, the Rochester Institute of Technology and to more than 100 local OPI companies and 17,000 employees who are building on the region’s legacy as a global imaging leader.

For more information about Luminate NY, click here.

Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward 

Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. New York State has already invested more than $6.1 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan—investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Rochester, Batavia and Canandaigua as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion; and, the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.

Warren ‘Economic Patriotism’ Agenda: Address Climate Change With $2 Trillion Plan for Green Manufacturing and Create 1 Million Jobs

Democratic candidate for President, Senator Elizabeth Warren unveiled an Economic Patriotism Agenda that includes $2 trillion in investment in green manufacturing which would create 1 million jobs © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Charlestown, MA – Elizabeth Warren, Democratic Senator from Massachusetts who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, laid out her vision of economic patriotism, calling for using new and existing tools to defend and create quality American jobs and promote American industry. Warren will continue to release individual plans reflecting how economic patriotism should shape our approach to specific parts of the American economy. She released the first plan: A bold $2 trillion investment of federal money over 10 years in American green research, manufacturing, and exporting — which includes ambitious new ideas to link American innovation directly to American jobs, and focuses on achieving not only the ambitious domestic emissions targets in the Green New Deal, but also spurring the kind of worldwide adoption of American-made clean energy technology needed to meet the international targets of the Green New Deal.

The plan is designed to ensure that American taxpayer investments in combating climate change result in good American jobs. The plan makes a historic $400 billion investment in clean energy research and development, and includes a provision that any production stemming from that federally-funded research should take place in the United States. It also makes a massive $1.5 trillion commitment to federal procurement of clean, green, American-made products over the next 10 years, and requires that all companies that receive federal contracts pay all employees at least $15 per hour, guarantee 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, let employees exercise collective bargaining rights, and maintain fair schedules at a minimum. According to an independent analysis from Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, these provisions ensure that Warren’s Green Manufacturing Plan would boost economic growth and create more than a million new jobs right here at home.

Warren’s plan also includes a Green Marshall Plan — a commitment to using all the tools in our diplomatic and economic arsenal to encourage other countries to purchase and deploy American-made clean energy technology. It creates a new federal office dedicated to selling American-made clean, renewable, and emission-free energy technology abroad, with a $100 billion commitment to assisting countries to purchase and deploy this technology — supporting American jobs while supplying the world with the clean energy products needed to cut global emissions.

Warren’s plan also identifies specific cost offsets that, according to the Moody’s economic analysis, cover nearly the entire cost of her plan: her Real Corporate Profits Tax, ending subsidies for oil and gas companies, and closing tax loopholes that promote shipping jobs overseas.

Warren’s Green Manufacturing Plan comes after her Public Lands Plan, two in a series of proposals as she continues to lay out her vision for how we implement the Green New Deal.

“The climate crisis demands immediate and bold action. Like we have before, we should bank on American ingenuity and American workers to lead the global effort to face down this threat — and create more than a million good jobs here at home,” Warren said.

Read more about Warren’s vision of Economic Patriotism here.

Read more about Warren’s Green Manufacturing Plan here.

Nassau County Executive Candidates Curran, Martins Address Environmental Issues in NYLCV Forum

Eric Alexander of Vision Long Island; Joshua F. Klainberg of NYLCV Education Fund; Adrienne Esposito of Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment; Nick Sifuentes of Tri-State Transportation Campaign; Marcia Bystryn, President of New York League of Conservation Voters; Kathleen Watchorn, coordinator of projects and programs for Adelphi University organized a Nassau County Executive Candidates Forum on Environment & Sustainability © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund hosted the 2017 Nassau County Executive Candidate Forum on Environment & Sustainability at Adelphi University in Garden City on October 15. The format was a panel of three posing questions to the candidates individually and separately, first to Laura Curran, the Democratic candidate, then, in a second session, posing the same questions to the Republican candidate, Jack Martins. With the Trump Administration and Republican Congress pulling back on environmental protection and climate action, the stand that localities take becomes more significant. What follows is a loosely edited transcription, putting the candidates’ replies together after each question—Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Opening Statements:

Laura Curran, Democratic candidate for Nassau County Executive at the New York League of Conservation Voters Nassau County Executive Candidates Forum on Environment & Sustainability © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Laura Curran: I never planned to get involved in politics. I wanted to help my schools, my community, succeed. That sparked my interest to step up and serve the community in a bigger way – I have been in the Nassau County Legislature for four years, I am proud to have worked across the aisle when it was the right thing to do for the people I represent –For example, I was able to restore 10 bus routes that were cut.

As a legislator, I have had a front row seat to the corruption, the mismanagement [of county government]. I know how hard people work, the high taxes we pay. I believe we deserve a government that lives up to us. When I hear about indictments, it’s clear that the machine is breaking down, is not accountable to the people.

Jack Martins: I believe strongly in the Kenyan proverb, we don’t inherit the land from our parents we borrow it from our children. That is motivating. It hasn’t always been the case – water quality, the way we have treated sole-source aquifer historically, the lack of comprehensive sewering, nitrogen outflow to bays and and Sound, have significant environmental issues that is our responsibility to take care of and not simply kick the can down the road. Options for us – priorities, investments in infrastructure – I have had a history of working across the aisle – with Schimel in Assembly – But if there is a critical issue for us here in Long Island it’s water. Environmental sensitivity, wind energy, opportunities for our economy, need to expand bus service.

Jack Martins, Republican candidate for Nassau County Executive at the New York League of Conservation Voters Nassau County Executive Candidates Forum on Environment & Sustainability © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Addressing Nitrogen Loading

 Adrienne Esposito, Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment: You know the first question: nitrogen. The Bay Park sewage treatment plant is responsible for 85% of the nitrogen loading into the western bays and the western bays are dying – depleted fish, closed shellfish beds, wetlands degrading. The solution is to combine Long Beach with Bay Park, take treated effluent, use the water viaduct currently in place, and discharge out the Cedar Creek ocean outfall pipe. Will you expedite the process of hooking up Long Beach to Bay Park to the existing pipe to the ocean outflow pipe – so bays can be restored and thrive? 

Curran: This is a very exciting project. The county was trying to get outflow pipe for bay…. It’s expensive. The county wasn’t able to get (funding?) from the state, federal government. [But] this is an example of how government works well: smart guys had a eureka moment: they realized there is a viaduct under Sunrise Highway,100 years old from an old waterworks, so big, a grown man could stand up in it .What if we bring water up to the viaduct, out to Cedar Creek, 6-7 miles, then there is 2 mile outflow pipe already in Cedar Creek? Altogether it would be half the cost. A viability study showed the plan is viable – they would put a  polymer sleeve inside.

The key is expediting [the plan]. We have to work closely with towns and villages because we’ve got to get the treated effluent from Bay Park up the viaduct and back down. We’ve got to work with communities on either side, so we have to make sure they understand and have buy in –we  don’t want to shove it down people’s throats. It will reduce the amount of nitrogen into the bays immediately, restore the shellfish. It doesn’t take long before nature will rebound. It would be good for economy, too. A win- win.

Jack Martins: There is a critical need on Long Island, how we discharge effluent into South Bay. Right now, both Long Beach and Bay Park go to Reynolds Channel and we know the effect. Someone came up with the ingenious proposal to connect via existing viaduct – the most complicated part is how to connect from Bay Park to the water viaduct…The viaduct is viable, we can move forward immediately…There are a couple of different options. The sooner we close Long Beach sewer treatment plant …Connect Cedar Creek – lateral to plant to outflow – and discharged 3 miles out. It’s important because of nitrogen loading [which] killed the shellfish industry, killed coastal wetlands. We realized after Sandy that those coastal wetlands protect against tidal surge during these 100-year storms. That’s my commitment, that’s what we will do.

Complete Streets 

Eric Alexander of Vision Long Island © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Eric Alexander, Vision Long Island: This issue is on human level: Nassau County has some of most dangerous roads in NYS for pedestrian, bikers, – restaurants, downtowns, growing 55-plus population, growing number of young people who don’t want to drive – what will you do to encourage walkability, ‘Complete Streets’. 

Curran – I often talk about how transit oriented development [TOD] will be what saves us as a region – it keeps young people, empty nesters, creates a tax base, jobs. But [existing] infrastructure doesn’t quite support TOD. There are places where we have to reengineer what already have.

I live in Baldwin in the town of Hempstead. We  won $5 million in funding for a Complete Streets project to redo our main road, Grand Ave, to make it more navigable for bikers, walkers, cars and buses. This is called a “road diet“:  taking two lanes in each direction and turning them into one lane in each for the part of the road that’s in the plan. There is [often] a lot of resistance because people are concerned about change, that it will take longer. But [delays are mitigated by] engineering traffic lights, making turn lanes that fan out so drivers can get to lights in time – that will make it more navigable. But when people can walk around, ride bikes, have alternatives to using a car, people tend to spend more money – they want to stop, shop – which is good for economic development. We’re built up in Nassau County, so we need to reengineer what we already have. That’s what we are doing in Baldwin. I am looking forward to working with zoning municipalities.

Martins: As we consider the next generation of downtown residents, transit oriented development, how we get around safely. I supported Safe Streets legislation in Albany – it made a requirement that when we reengineer streets, we do so in a way that is safe for cars but also pedestrians and cyclists. For us, it’s a question of who we are as a county. We have to have every option for transit – bicycles, pedestrians. We need to make sure we keep roads safe. I represented one of the most dangerous areas in New York State – Hempstead Turnpike – more fatalities – Complete Streets have to be integral to what we do. The county has hundreds of miles of county roads, some of the most heavily traveled in the country. As roads are redesigned, maintained, [we need to be] using Complete Streets [strategies]. That is my commitment. As we stress the need for transit-oriented development, Complete Streets are more important [including] connectivity to train stations.

Improving Public Transportation 

Nick Sifuentes of Tri-State Transportation Campaign © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Nick Sifuentes, Tri-State Transportation Campaign: Transit oriented development requires good transit – something that is slipping. Governor Cuomo announced an advisory council to address dual crises: congestion in/out of New York City, and lack of funding for MTA (including Long Island Railroad). As the future leader of Nassau County what are the policies and proposals you would like to see?

Curran: I would make sure we have strong advocate on the council – Suffolk has a strong guy, Nassau, we don’t even know who it is. I am happy that the third track is on track, because we need to ease getting on/off the island – how trains operate. I would also look to buses and encourage more people to ride the bus even if they don’t have to [instead of driving]. The more choice bus riders, the better we will be. There are interesting examples all over the country: ideas include creating smaller, more flexible routes, more app-based routes to make an appointment to catch a bus. I am excited to pursue these: for every $1 spent on bus transit generates many more dollars in economic activity. It’s not just poor people who need to use buses. It is obviously important for people to take buses to doctors appointments, university, jobs. That’s economic development… Also ride-sharing –I’m glad it’s [now] legal in Nassau County – young people aren’t driving as much.

Martins: Make mass transit more affordable. Use it to make LIRR more affordable, encourage people to leave their cars. As a parent, when I take my children into the city, I have to take out a loan to pay the roundtrip fare. We shouldn’t have that consideration instead of taking car. [Transit] has to be affordable . if they do something with congestion pricing, make it affordable for Nassau County.

Climate Change & Sustainable Development 

Adrienne Esposito of Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Adrienne Esposito: Climate change is real. There is no debate. And Long Island is at the forefront of impacts. New York State set a goal of 50% renewals by 2030 but we can’t get there unless offshore wind is part of the [energy] portfolio. Will you support offshore wind (with site-specific environmental assessment)? 

Curran:  Absolutely. We have to look for renewable energy. Wind is a gift and we should be harnessing it and anything we can do to harness wind. Also renewables are a growing industry, and I don’t want to be on the losing end. I fought against the LNG [Liquified Natural Gas] port off Long Beach.

Solar panels have a really hard time with permitting – people have to deal with towns, villages, all with different permits that expire differently. We have to work hard with partners –because that is right to do for the environment and the economy.

Climate change. I am concerned with the rhetoric of the president that [the US] will be getting out of the Paris Climate Accord– especially being a coastal community, we see the ravages [of superstorms, sealevel rise]. I am heartened that governors and mayors around the country say they will stick to the Paris Agreement, and I have vowed as county executive to do the same.

Trump has said it is no longer necessary to [require that tax money used for infrastructure must take climate change resiliency into account]. I would insure that every penny would be used [would take] climate change [into account, that is, sustainable development].

Martins:  Absolutely. Curious at [the goal of] 50% [renewable] by 2030. I visited Portugal a couple of years ago – toured their renewable portfolio. Portugal gets 60% of their energy from renewable – hydro, wind, solar, voltaics. We should too. I’m a big believer in offshore wind, a great resource for us – the corridor for offshore wind runs from Block Island to south Jersey. We’re in a great position to benefit from cheap energy from wind. I also understand great strides are being made in developing battery technology to store energy at Brookhaven National Labs. That would be an economic boost for us. Right now, the largest project in New York, the east end off Long Island is being staged from Rhode Island. That means jobs are in Rhode Island, economic development is in Rhode Island. It needs to be here on Long Island. If we make a commitment to offshore wind as energy, we should make a commitment to have those jobs here. We live on an island, we have a maritime history. Embrace it, make offshore wind industry here -manufacturing blades, turbines, opportunities for engineering next generation of offshore wind.

IDA Tax Incentives 

Eric Alexander: Sustainability and smart growth, but also economic development. To focus growth in downtowns, the Nassau County IDA over the last 7 years provided tax incentives to thousands of units of affordable housing, mixed-use development by train stations… In an election year, attacking IDA incentives is politically popular but they have been anchors of revitalization efforts such as in Farmingdale’s affordable housing component. Will you continue that policy?

Curran: Farmingdale is a perfect example of transit oriented development.. The biggest problem now is you can’t get parking on a Saturday night. IDAs play a serious role, but are subject to attack because if you have nine self-storage facilities getting tax breaks, they aren’t economic drivers that create jobs. But when done right, [IDA tax incentives] can be real motivator, bring the right kind of development into Nassau County. That involves land use planning, that when we do a deal with a developer or business, that real jobs are being created or real taxes being generated from an enterprise, so the investment of taxpayers is returned. We need more transparency in the IDA – open up meetings to the public, let the public give input. When I talk about getting community buy-in for projects, that’s the way. You can’t force things on communities.

IDA is a real asset but must be used properly and if a developer or business doesn’t do what was promised, that there be a muscular way of addressing that.

Martins: My experience as mayor of Mineola, master plan, transit oriented development, overlay district –I  see the effects when a community comes together – the commitment it has to expand housing stock, providing affordability for senior, next generation housing. The role for county government: it needs to work with local communities to identify areas where TOD makes sense – Hicksville, Farmingdale, Westbury, Glen Cove ….  We as a county could expedite and incentivize. What I would do differently would be to make sure developers who are seeking tax (rebates) make sure they tell communities. Communities feel let down. Developers come before zoning boards and say they need greater density, etc, and then will have the ability to build this, and the community makes a decision to support that request, gives a variance they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. [The community] expects a revenue stream and a tax base that comes back to community. But the first thing is [the developer] goes to the IDA and gets tax credits which undermines what the community expects. So there needs to be transparency, part of the discussion before the decision, not after, that causes so much friction we see.

Generating Revenue for NICE Bus 

Nick Sifuentes: How would you create additional revenue for the NICE bus?

Curran: I have suggested pots where money could come from:  there is money that was borrowed 8 and 10 years ago that hasn’t been spent (that is a one-shot); the fund balance has way more than needs to be (also a one-shot). You are talking about recurring revenue. I propose that a small piece of ride-sharing money, Uber or Lyft – say 25 cents or 50 cents a ride – to go to buses. It makes sense because all are part of transportation. We could use a small portion of MTA tax and put that toward buses. And red light cameras are $12 million over budget – use some of that for buses. That’s also within the theme of transportation.

Laura Curran, Democratic candidate for Nassau County Executive addresses issues of environment and sustainability © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Martins: One of the first things I did in in the senate in 2010 and 2011 – I was identified as one of 50 most influential people on Long Island – my efforts to secure funding for Long Island bus was underpinning – NICE bus has a $130 million budget, $66 million from New York State, $45-50 from the fare box, the county puts in $6 million and the rest from ancillary fees, etc. – unbelievable the County only provides $6 million for a system that is so critical to the economy, when years ago, the county paid $20 million. Our responsibility is to put money in place because most who take bus have no other option – we want them to leave the car home – going to work, school, doctors appointments, that they have access to vibrant bus service. I suggested that for ride hailing, we have a surcharge – Uber, Lyft – that surcharge go toward bus. 10-11 million rides a year, 50c surcharge, would put $5-6 million directly into buses. A 50c surcharge is not only appropriate, but would provide a dedicated, steady revenue for buses.

Protecting Drinking Water 

Audience Question: What is the most Important environmental issue facing the county and how would you address it?

Curran: The aquifer. We get our drinking water from one place: underground. I am concerned New York City is looking to open 70 wells in Queens. We don’t get another source of water but the city does [upstate reservoirs]. They are concerned about flooding basements so they want to bring down the watertable, but the consequences for us could be disastrous: saltwater intrusion, and could cause Grumman and Lake Success plumes [of contamination] to shift [direction. The Grumman plume is 4 miles by 2 miles and 800 feet deep, almost reaching Massapequa. I am glad to see Cngressmen King and Suozzi working together to [get the federal government] to clean it up. The fact this has gone on this long and the Navy and Grumman are not held accountable for decades….

Martins: The most critical issue facing us as a region, Nassau County, is water supply, making sure we protect our sole-source aquifer against all comers. We live on an island, and the aquifer is tied to Suffolk, Queens & Brooklyn. Our responsibility is to protect it. New York City has other options to get water from upstate reservoirs. Our only plan, A to Z is the sole-source aquifer. We haven’t treated it well over the years, with industrial and manufacturing years post World War II, a lot of damage done – Lake Success, Bethpage. We’ve seen the water supply under constant attack. We have great water providers – we do a good job in maintaining water supply –it is as clean as you get from bottled water- but we have a responsibility to do more – responsibility to surface water – protect our coastal waterways, make sure we enhance sewer systems, sewer treatment plants, make sure that years and decades of nitrogen charging, loading into bays are a thing of the past.

Preserving Open Space

Audience Question: How would you preserve open space in Nassau County from development?

Curran: A Great question because pretty much [all of Nassau] is developed. We have to keep what we have green – that is good to recharge the aquifer. We have to use space we have more wisely – in-fill. You sometimes see suburban sprawl – there is already concrete – you can in-fill with transit oriented development, with the buy-in of the community. There is a lot of new technology now. For example, the boat basin parking lot was redone with permeable pavement – that’s expensive, so you can only do it in small places but I hope it will become less expensive down the road. But in this way, it also keeps water coming into the aquifer.

Something I am excited about – with all the potential – is to look to a resiliency officer [for the county] to coordinate all these things, work with Public Works, the IDA, and other departments to coordinate efforts for environment.

Martins: The good news in Nassau County: we don’t have farms any more. We don’t have the kinds of open space issues that perhaps they have out east. We do have open space, it has to be preserved. Most of our development going forward – transit oriented – is reusing space already used, and taking and reassembling parcels. We have seen it in communities with TOD has been predicated on assembling parcels downtown – see it in Westbury, Farmingdale – we are mature communities. That development will take place not on existing open space but existing used space that is being recalibrated and brought into 21st century – to meet energy, parking, density requirements – so we have a more robust selection of housing than we have currently. Nassau County doesn’t have the housing stock, the variety, it needs – a lot will take place in downtowns around train stations to be most effective. Protect open space that exists, protect parks, invest in them, make sure are as good as ever have been.

Future of Renewables in Nassau County

Audience Question: What do see as the future of Nassau County when it comes to solar, wind, charging stations for electric vehicles? 

Curran: We should have charging stations for electric cars. We have a county employee who plugs in and was written a letter to ‘cease and desist’ from the county attorney for ‘stealing county property’. We should start by the county using electric vehicles.

Jack Martins, Republican candidate for Nassau County Executive addresses issues of environment and sustainability © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Martins: Charging stations, infrastructure wise, is easy. If we made a commitment to have more readily available – we can see best practices in other states, countries, where they have taken the initiative so we have more robust use because people trust infrastructure to be there to recharge. We haven’t done it. There is need need for a full array of renewable energy resources. We should look at the entire portfolio and see where it makes sense – voltaic cells as car canopies in parking lots – why aren’t we? Acres and acres of asphalt we can use to create energy and electricity now through EV. We have a corridor of offshore wind east of Long Island. I spoke to Deepwater Wind, no one better positioned than Long Island to build, maintain, develop that offshore wind corridor. Shame on us, New York State, if they aren’t going to prioritize those turbines, and those blades aren’t built here on Long Island. If we are going to spend billions of dollars for commitment to offshore wind, I want to make sure it is here in Nassau County economy.

Communities Impacted by Climate Change

Do you support legislation to provide for equitable distribution of resources to communities impacted by climate change specifically communities of color often left out?

Curran: We have to make sure all communities treated fairly. See the effects of climate change. The south shore still has zombie houses because of Sandy. They didn’t have an adequate advocate to help them rebuild. As legislator, I helped them connect to NY Rising, get small business funds, to get resources to rebuild.

Martins:  Tax money, investment. We have to look at how dealing with county that is predominantly viewed as affluent while understanding we have areas of significant poverty – in places you wouldn’t necessarily think of – people have a home but are struggling to pay mortgage, taxes, raise families because the high cost of living isn’t an accident. We have among highest costs, so we have people relatively wealthy given their home, but still living with challenges. How we take resources, distribute, whether having to do with infrastructure improvements, access to cheap renewable energy, water safety quality, we have that synergy. I have never seen in my experience certain areas cut out of resources that way, but we have to be sensitive to it.

Recycle Treated Effluent

Why not recycle sewage and turn into drinkable rather than dispose into the ocean?

Curran: That’s not so crazy – people who run sewage treatment plants are working on a project – try to explain in not-boring way –to  treat sewage so it looks like water – Sewage treatment plants use hundreds thousands gallons of water a day to do the work of cooling, etc. – Now, they draw that out of the aquifer. Wouldn’t it be better to take treated effluent, treat a little more and use that to do the work of sewage treatment plant, instead of drawing water out of aquifer? We are close to make this happen.

Martins: It’s an interesting point. I was happy to participate in Great Neck Water Pollution Control District – state of art facility – where they treat to a level where potable. I said, ‘You first.’

I had an opportunity to deal with different groups, where sewage can be treated and used for irrigation, plant maintenance and different things where not wasting potable water, can be reused for different purposes –  not quite ‘there’ for drinking water… But if we send [effluent out to ocean] 3 miles – dilution rate for effluent – it will have negligible effect on ocean – it is coastal wetlands that are impacted if released right there – like Reynolds Channel. I would like to see part reused – whether for irrigation. We have to focus on continuing the current process of getting it as far from shore as possible so not to impact coastal wetlands, coastal environment, coastal economy. 

Closing Statements 

Curran:  I want to make Long Island environmentally sound, safe, healthy. I moved to Nassau County 20 years ago before we had kids. I came for the Long Island dream:  single family house, great school down the block, parks, beaches. We knew we would pay high taxes, but that was part of the deal. As a taxpayer, resident, it is frustrating to see money spent on nepotism, bloated contracts when it could be used to develop technology. Your money is being wasted. I’m in this race because want to restore trust in government, make sure I hire people based on what they know, not who they know, that your money is not part of my reelection campaign. I am eager to get to work. Elect me to give Nassau County the fresh start it so richly deserves.

Martins: There are a lot of issues at play in this year’s election . I encourage you to do your homework, read up on candidates. Whether challenges are environment,t economy – up to county to pay for own budget. For 17 years, we have been under NIFA, not elected – make decisions, affects ability for us to make decisions for ourselves. We need to take control of own finances, pay bills, balance budget – get rid of NIFA so we can commit resources ourselves – whether environment, infrastructure, TOD, creating jobs we all want – so our children have the ability to come home, find jobs, rent apartment and stay here. The best years for the county are ahead, but contingent upon us making decisions about taking control of own county – an  idea we haven’t been able to do, so should be shameful to all of us, myself included. Write that check and make that commitment going forward.

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