Yonkers Residents Make Their Voices Heard at Community Budget Forums
Yonkers, NY – On Wednesday, February 7th and Tuesday, February 13th, State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assemblymembers Gary Pretlow and Shelley Mayer gathered at the Grinton I. Will Library and Yonkers Riverfront Library, respectively, to offer community members, advocates, and other interested parties the opportunity to make their voice heard on the proposed 2018-2019 NYS Budget.
Participants had multiple opportunities to testify for five minutes in front of the Yonkers state legislative delegation about the Governor's proposed budget. If someone was unable to attend, concerned individuals had the option of emailing their testimony to the legislators ahead of the Community Budget Forums.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who was once a member of the Yonkers state legislative delegation, joined the February 7th Community Budget Forum to testify on the County's needs in the 2018-2019 NYS Budget. Among other things, he spoke about the need for investment in mass transit and expressed a commitment to revisit potential savings from shared services.
Many residents, including a representative on behalf of Yonkers City Council President, Mike Khader, spoke about issues ranging from arts funding, particularly for ArtsWestchester, education funding and specifically special education funding, public transportation, and resources and funding for adults with disabilities. An underlying theme throughout the Community Budget Forums was a concern about the $4 billion budget gap New York State is facing and effects of potential federal budget cuts.
"The State Budget isn't just a fiscal plan," said Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-35). "It shows what we as New Yorkers value most and gives us the chance to make life better for everyone in the State. Input from the community lets us know the issues that matter most and is vital to the Budget planning process."
"I am pleased to work with my colleagues on organizing multiple Community Budget Forums to empower our constituents to make their voices heard regarding the New York State Budget," said Assemblymember Shelley Mayer (D-90). "Input from residents is invaluable as we go back to Albany and advocate for the issues most pressing in our constituents' lives. It's clear from the testimony given that many people have a great deal of anxiety surrounding how federal budget cuts will affect us locally. The legislature, the Governor, as well as our local elected leaders, are working to get ahead of these concerns. As has been the case in the past, state funding for our public schools here in Westchester will continue to be one of my top budgetary priorities, as well as more public transportation funding, and the resources to properly implement early voting in New York State."
"As negotiations begin on the Governor's proposed budget, our work of fighting on behalf of those we represent in Yonkers and across Westchester County continues. This forum is significant as it serves as a great opportunity for the public to share critical information as well as gives my colleagues and me the opportunity to answer any questions or concerns that are of great importance to the community," said Assemblymember J. Gary Pretlow (D-89).
The deadline for the New York State Budget is on March 31, 2018. The last 6 out of 7 budgets under Governor Andrew Cuomo's tenure have all been passed on time.