Assemblyman David F. Gantt Assemblyman
David F.
Gantt

Reports to the People


SUMMER 2008


Dear Neighbor:

Once again, it was an absolute pleasure to represent you in the New York State Legislature as your Assemblyman. This year has been one of the most productive years that I can remember. I have worked diligently and consistently to ensure that you and all New Yorkers are getting your fair representation in Albany.

Among my accomplishments this year includes a 17% increase in state aid for the City of Rochester and a 3% increase for the Town of Gates. In addition, I delivered record dollars for the City of Rochester School District and Gates. As a state we are feeling the financial crush as gas prices rise and foreclosure rates increase. However, we in the Assembly worked hard to give taxpayers and homeowners relief. We passed legislation that tackles the subprime lending crisis and assists overwhelmed homeowners.

In addition, I supported $60 million dollars for the Consolidated Highway Improvements Program to make sure that our local bridges and highways are safe. Our local universities received unwavering support for their capital improvement projects, which includes Sustainability Institute for RIT and $50 million for the University of Rochester’s Clinical and Transitional Sciences Building.

I have worked with a strong passion to secure more dollars for our schools and our seniors through the STAR program. It is always a delight to serve you in Albany and I will continue to represent you to the best of my abilities.

Sincerely,
signature
David F. Gantt
Member of Assembly
Representing the 133rd District




Gantt Secures Vital Funding for Local Governments

Assemblyman Gantt helped stabilize local property taxes by increasing revenue sharing and rejected shifting the cost to local municipalities. With the current state of New York’s economy, including a multi-billion dollar state deficit, it is clear that some changes are needed. Property taxes are too high, leaving many New Yorkers struggling to stay afloat. That’s why the Assembly has dedicated itself to providing real relief through substantial local aid that will allow municipalities to meet their needs and avoid crippling property tax increases.

The budget reflects a total increase of $293.4 million in Aid and Incentives to Municipality programs over the last year. In total, support for the program in municipalities outside New York City will increase by $67.5 million including a 17.4% increase for the City of Rochester. This level of increase was more than any other City received in this fiscal year. I have heard Mayor Duffy’s call for increased funding and I am working very hard to increase aid because I understand that these are tough economic times and hardworking New York families need relief.

The budget also rejected a number of cost shifts to counties. The Assembly restored $40 million, rejecting a two percent public assistance cost shift from the state to the counties. In addition, the attempt to shift the burden of secure and non-secure youth detention centers onto localities was rejected, saving local taxpayers $35.4 million.

I understand that now more than ever local governments need help to provide for their communities and ease the burden on taxpayers. In the face of our large budget deficit, bolstering local aid programs means a stronger, healthier New York and a lower tax burden for hardworking families.


Assemblyman David Gantt at the NYS Thruway Authority Hearing.



Gantt Votes on the Final Budget that Provides Over One Billion Dollars in Upstate Funding to Spur Economic Revitalization

The final state budget addresses the tough challenges facing upstate New York by providing over $1 billion for upstate communities, continuing the Assembly’s longstanding goal of revitalizing upstate New York. One of the biggest problems facing upstate New York is the struggling economy. The final budget provides $120 million for an upstate Regional Blueprint Fund, which identifies targeted investments that capitalize on each region’s assets and potential to spur economic development. The budget also provides for $145 million for city-by-city initiatives to fit local needs and jumpstart urban areas.

The Restore New York Initiative, which the Assembly created to cleanup and revitalize blighted, aging neighborhoods and restore hope in New York’s distressed communities, has also received $113 million in continuing capital support. Dilapidated, vacant buildings diminish property values, reduce the tax base, discourage commercial development and foster criminal activity. By restoring these run-down structures, we empower ailing communities to dust themselves off and flourish. The budget includes funding for the Upstate Agribusiness Fund, Empire State Development Corporation Job and Investment Program, Housing Opportunity Fund, Parks Capital Program, NYSTAR Program for High Technology, Investment Opportunity Fund, Universal Broadband Access and Upstate Business Marketing.

Assembly member Gantt fully supported the Upstate Revitalization Fund and its commitment to upstate. The final budget ensures that upstate New York has the funding it needs to get back on track.


photo Mayor Robert Duffy, Sandy Parker, Rev. Marlowe Washington, Mike Keane, Darryl Porter and other members of the Rochester’s Fair Share Coalition. photo Jamone Turner, Esq. Senior Legislative Director and the Rochester Center for Disability Rights.



Gantt Committed to Education

The final state budget increased funding by $1.75 billion, with a total investment of $21.4 billion in our schools. This increase continues the Assembly’s deep commitment to education despite a daunting economic climate. The budget provides important school funding to the most critical areas of need. The Assembly once again helped devise a responsible fiscal plan that fulfills our unwavering promise to give all children a sound, basic education.

All districts, both the Rochester City School District and Gates, received at least a three percent increase in foundation aid under the final budget. The budget also continues to hold true to the Assembly four year Campaign for Fiscal Equity Plan. The budget that Gantt supported moves toward the full implementation of the school foundation formula, which calls for stable and transparent funding for school districts to deliver a quality education for our students by using resources to implement reform and achieve results.

BOCES Aid was maintained at its current funding level despite attempts to cut its funding. Also included in the final budget was additional school aid for high-cost school districts that are highly taxed but have comparatively lower wealth than neighboring districts. It is also important that funding was provided to help public libraries and other learning centers. Gantt is committed to making sure anyone that wants to learn has that opportunity, rather young or old. The final budget restored aid to Adult literacy education, independent living centers and libraries; it also supports programs that provide services to disabled adults.

The state Universal Pre-K program received and increased so that more children can start learning at an early age. Now over 20,000 more four-year-old children will be eligible to receive Universal Pre-K support. All New York children should reap the lasting benefits of attending Pre K. Studies have shown repeatedly that Pre K gives our children an advantage in student achievement, college enrollment and future earnings. The Assembly stopped the cost shift for special education preschool evaluation by not shifting the mandate to already overburdened school property taxpayers.

Safety is one of Gantt’s number one concerns. The Education Department’s Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability, which handles background checks for school personnel, will be restored. This funding will assist school districts across the state in conducting fingerprinting and background checks for prospective employees of school districts and certain workers who might encounter students.

Providing every child with the education they need to succeed in the economy of the 21st century – especially those in high-need districts – is our most important priority.




Gantt Votes to Protect Taxpayers

Despite tough economic times, the Assembly was able to preserve the STAR property tax rebate program and increase Enhanced STAR rebates 40 percent, coming through with meaningful property tax relief for New York families. This $1.25 billion rebate plan helps them deal with a rising cost of living.

The additional benefits will be provided in rebate checks on top of Basic and Enhanced STAR benefits homeowners currently get in the form of a credit that reduces the amount of property tax owed. In the new budget we continued providing property tax relief totaling nearly $5 billion. This includes $2.8 billion for property taxpayers and $1.1 billion for senior taxpayers.

Assemblyman Gantt realized that New York residents are being hit hard at the pumps as it is and the last thing we need is more taxes on fuel or property. Levying arbitrary costs on New Yorkers is not the answer to the state’s economic bind. The final state budget rejects that proposal and saves New York drivers $145.4 million.




photo Cheryl Jackson, Shetara Lynch, Governor Paterson, Tennile Conyers, Assemblyman David Gantt and Elizabeth Peterson.

Gantt Congratulates
2008 Black History Contest Winners

I believe it is extremely important that students, when learning of the history of the United States, understand that the histories of its entire people are important. With this understanding in mind, students must also be aware of the fact that many different heritages have found home in the United States and that together we have a shared history. It is also important that students understand not only the facts and dates that make American history, but also how history has affected the lives of African-Americans.

Along with my staff, we congratulate Shetara Lynch, Tennille Conyers, and Cheryl Jackson as our 2008 Black History Month Essay Contest Winners. Shetara Lynch is a 4th grade student in Mr. Lewis’ class at School #3. Shetara wrote her essay on the activist Rosa Parks. Tennille Conyers is a 5th grade student in Mrs. Ebner and Standinger’s class at School #16. She wrote her essay on her great grandmother McCantes who was the first black unit secretary at Strong Memorial Hospital. Cheryl Jackson is a 6th grade student in Ms. Lombardo’s class at School #14 and she wrote her essay on Ruby Bridges.

We admire these students for their efforts in recognizing many of the influential leaders of the past and of today. These students mirror the qualities of fortitude and consistency, which define the essence of the Black experience in America. These students will undoubtedly be future leaders of their communities. Again, on behalf of my staff and me, we salute you and congratulate you and your families on your efforts. Through your shared and sustained commitment to Black History, Shetara Lynch, Tennille Conyers and Cheryl Jackson have unselfishly advanced the spirit of the African American experience.




Gantt Protects Elderly

Gantt helped pass a new law that increased penalties for assaulting a person 65 years or older to up to 7 years in state prison. This new statute will keep our seniors safe while punishing violent criminals. Gantt also supported legislation that helped protect seniors by increasing penalties if more than one elderly person is victimized by a scam artist, adding an experienced elder law attorney to the State Crime Victims Board and requiring that the New York State Police develop educational materials for law enforcement on elder abuse.

Gantt said. “We cannot tolerate criminals who target and assault the elderly. These new laws will help protect seniors from violence and scam artists.”

Gantt also helped pass legislation that assisted vulnerable New Yorkers by preventing debt collectors from seizing Social Security Disability, Supplemental Security and veteran’s benefits in bank accounts up to $2,500. In addition, New York’s power of attorney statute was rewritten to protect designated agents from defrauding the designator.





Gantt Helps Tackle Subprime Lending Crisis

With Gantt’s support the Assembly passed a package of bills that addressed the sub prime lending crisis and assisted homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgages. “For too long lenders have been taking advantage of homeowners by offering adjustable rates and lending money regardless of the borrowers’ ability to pay,” Gantt said. “This package of bills increases lender accountability while offering assistance to New Yorkers who are in danger of losing their homes.”

The Responsible Lending Act of 2008 requires lenders to verify borrowers’ income and ability to repay loans, address in current sub-prime predatory lending practices, including balloon payments, negative amortization and prepayment penalties. It also subjects violators to pay damages and sets in place a 6-year-long statute of limitations for actions against a lender or broker and establishes a reporting regime enabling the State Banking Department to track defaults and foreclosures filed in county clerk offices throughout the state.

“The sub prime lending crisis is crippling communities across the state, adversely affecting homeowners’ ability to save their homes,” Gantt said.

The Foreclosure Preventions Lending Act of 2008 measure creates a fund to be administered by the Division of Housing and Community Renewal that assist certain homeowners in default or foreclosure. Homeowners would receive assistance to engage with their lenders or loan services to develop “workout” arrangements or loan modifications. Payments would be capped at an amount equal to three months of mortgage payments and the Banking Department and the Consumer Protection Board would inform homeowners of the availability of financial services.

The Mortgage Applicant’s Bill of Rights ensures that mortgage applicants have all the necessary information needed to make an informed decision about a home loan, including how to file a complaint with the Banking Department and the Department of State. Another bill permits courts delay the transfer of title on a property for one year, allowing homeowners to work out a payment schedule that would be equitable and just for both parties.

This package builds on the Assembly’s commitment to help homeowners. “This money is essential to help the thousands of homeowners throughout the state currently in default or foreclosures get back on track,” Gantt said.




Gantt Salutes the
2008 Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year

photo Assemblyman David Gantt, Dwane Bruce and Dwayne Mahoney, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club.
This is the second year that Dwane Bruce of Rochester has won the award for Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year. This year Dwane placed third out of 21 area youth in the Western New York Youth of the Year competition.

Dwane Bruce, a member of the Club for 12 years, is the Club’s 2008 Youth of Year. He is a senior at Marshall High School and will attend the University of Buffalo on a full football scholarship. He plans to study sports management and hopes to become a personal trainer.

“Dwane exemplifies everything that today’s youth should represent. He is a hard worker, dedicated to his education and to playing football. He is very personable and friendly. We need more young men like him in our communities,” Gantt said.




Gantt's Summer Reading Challenge

Just because school is out doesn’t mean we have to stop learning. Studies have shown that children who continue to read during the summer perform better in school in the fall. To encourage our children to continue reading during the summer, I have set up a summer READING CHALLENGE.

I challenge students of all ages to read at least 10 books this summer. When you have read 10 books or more, your child has earned a New York State Assembly Excellence in Reading Certificate. Just fill out the bottom of this form and return it to me with a list and summary of the books you have read and I’ll see that your child receives a certificate.

A good source for reading material is the local public library. Thank you and Happy Reading.

Summer Reading Challenge Information Form


Name of Child


School Grade


Parent’s Name


Street Address City or Town\Zip Code

Name of Books Read:












book
Return Form To:
Assemblyman David F. Gantt
Summer Reading Challenge

74 University Avenue, Rochester, NY 14605
(585) 454-3670 FAX: (585) 454-3788
**Click here for a printable view**

Assemblyman
David F.
Gantt
ALBANY OFFICE:
Room 830 LOB
Albany, New York 12248
518-455-5606
Fax: 518-455-5419
DISTRICT OFFICE:
74 University Avenue
Rochester, New York 14605
585-454-3670
Fax: 585-454-3788
ganttd@assembly.state.ny.us

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