BY ADAM LUCENTE
Senator David Carlucci’s (D-Rockland/Westchester) Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) released their 2016 legislative goals to the public recently. Senator Carlucci believes the agenda will help Rockland’s middle class.
“We have to make sure that we’re competitive in terms of economics and quality of life, giving people a reason to want to live in our community,” said State Sen. David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) to Rockland County Times on the new IDC agenda.
The New York 2020 Agenda: A Blueprint for a Better New York, was unveiled by the IDC via press release on January 7. According to the conference, its chief proposals include 12-week paid family leave, investing $550 million in afterschool programs, a zero-interest college loan program, new funds for the New York City Housing Authority and raising state caretaker wages to $15 per hour. The eight page agenda spells out a myriad of other proposals pertaining to education, housing, childcare, labor and senior citizens.
Carlucci believes the bill will help Rockland by “safeguarding” the middle class, who he called “the engine of Hudson Valley.”
“Securing kindergarten, and making sure we have affordable childcare, college affordability-all of these issues relate to making sure we help middle class families,” he said, when asked what parts of the agenda are most pertinent to Rockland.
Another proposal of particular importance to Rocklanders is the commuter toll tax credit.
“Taxpayers would be able to claim credit up to $250 per commuter,” in the agenda’s words.
The Tappan Zee Bridge’s reconstruction effort constitutes a major issue in the county. “If we have this great bridge, but we can’t afford to cross it, that will crush our economy,” Carlucci said. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested cutting tolls earlier this month, leading Carlucci to be confident the commuter credit will be included in the budget.
In terms of the agenda’s impact, Carlucci and other senate Democrats want the agenda’s proposals included in the state budget. If this is unsuccessful, the senator hopes to introduce pieces of it as legislation. The senator claims he worked with the IDC on some parts of the agenda, and the IDC included his remarks in the aforementioned press release. The IDC’s efforts to include the agenda in the budget may run into some opposition in New York’s divided State Senate, however. Republicans currently hold 31 of the chamber’s 63 seats, with one seat vacant.
The IDC, formed in 2011, is comprised of Senators Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, Tony Avella, David Valesky and Carlucci, Democrats currently in a coalition with Republicans in the state senate. Mainstream Democrats have long considered the IDC an anathema, and have criticized their alliance with the Republicans.