Queens County Politics Morning News Bites Dec. 23, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Dromm: Updated Budget includes major wins for NYC

City Council Member Daniel Dromm

City Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst) and Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) announced the council voted to approve the city’s Fiscal 2020-23 Financial Budget Plan Update at last Thursday’s state city council meeting.

The spending plan increases the Fiscal 2020 Budget to $94.39 billion and reduces the Fiscal 2021 gap by $506 million to $3.02 billion. 

For Fiscal 2020, the Plan recognizes modest growth of $482 million in tax revenues and projects an additional $974 million in non-City revenues, when compared to the Adopted Plan of June 2019. 

“This budget update contains many important wins for NYC residents,” said Dromm, chair of the council’s Finance Committee. “From enhancing early childhood education to taking the steps necessary to finally close Rikers Island, there is so much to be proud of in this modification.  It has been a pleasure to work with Speaker Johnson and the administration on this important undertaking. I am proud of the fact that our budget priorities are aligned with our values.”

Several important wins that are reflected in this budget modification include:

– $54 million dollars for Indirect Rate Increases for Human Services Contracts, so that the City’s non-profit partners can better afford to provide the vital services on which our constituents rely every day;

– Pay parity for critical public sector workers, including $29 million dollars for Early Childhood Education Providers and $7.4 million dollars for Legal Service Providers, so that these workers are paid fairly.

The expense budget modification also reflects important shifts in criminal justice funding to further the goal of closing the Rikers Island jail complex and to implement the State-enacted bail reforms:

– $74.8 million dollars for new headcount to support discover reform;

– $16.6 million dollars for expanded supervised release capacity to support bail reform; and

– $22 million dollars in savings from the Department of Correction by the closure of the Brooklyn House of Detention and the Eric M. Taylor Detention Center.

Kim Continues Promoting Inclusive Value Ledger

Assemblymember Ron Kim

Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Whitestone, Flushing, College Point, Murray Hill) yesterday officially launched a series of stories to promote his idea of a digital currency system for taxpayer use dubbed the Inclusive Value Ledger.

The two stories launched on www.inclusive.money/stories feature Diana, a sister in financial debt from taking care of her injured brother, and Eric, who faced eviction as he struggled to care for his sick wife.

“Caring shouldn’t be a luxury afforded to only the wealthy in our society,” said Kim. “We have plenty of resources that could support those who care for others and for our community. We are featuring local stories of individuals who could directly benefit from Inclusive Value Ledger, which would make public benefits and credits far more portable and fluid. In order to provide this much-needed support and compensation to caregivers, we must think outside the box — by making our benefits system more widely accessible on a 100% public and free payment platform.”

Schumer Calls For Fed Investigation Of TJ Max Companies

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) yesterday called for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to investigate TJX Companies Inc., which owns TJ Maxx, Marshalls or HomeGoods, for seeling numerous products that have been recalled for safety and health reasons.

Schumer said a variation of 19 different recall products across more than 3,200 U.S. stores—ranging from clothes, toys and electronics—could be in the hands of unknowing consumers, or wrapped as gifts this holiday season, and that consumers deserve to be notified, refunded and reassured that this will not reoccur.

“It’s unfair to consumers—and potentially dangerous—to know that TJ Maxx stores, including Marshalls and HomeGoods, would sell recalled products in their thousands of stores, and that this went on for years,” said Schumer. “That’s why the feds must investigate this occurrence from top-to-bottom and fully unwrap how holiday bargains were allowed to become dangerous gifts in the first place, making sure it does not happen again. At the same time, I am calling on TJX Companies to work with consumers, alert them to any dangers and promptly deliver any refunds.”

According to the CPSC, TJX retailers like TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods sold 19 different recalled items after they were recalled between the years 2014 and 2019. 

For example, TJX stores continued to sell different rocking inclined sleepers linked to infant deaths, a self-balancing hoverboard reported for bursting into flames, and portable electronics that would explode because the battery could leak hydrogen gas while charging. Also included in the recall list and sold at these stores: glass products that could easily shatter, chairs, barstools for the home, julienne slicers, beer mugs, coffee presses, baby rattles, knives, and holiday decorations. Even clothing, like scarves and children’s cardigans that failed to meet flammable standards or had a choking hazard, were part of the recalled inventory list.  

“It’s not a bargain if it could hurt you, could burn you, could cut you or explode,” added Schumer. “It’s a potential danger that should be in the garbage, not on a store shelf, or worse, wrapped under a tree.”

Miller Gets City Workers’ Compensation Report Bill Passed

Councilmember I. Daneek Miller

City Council Member I. Daneek Miller (D-Jamaica, Cambria Heights, Hollis, St. Albans, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens) last week saw the city council pass his legislation amending the City’s Annual Report of Workers’ Compensation Claims.

The report is a compilation of injury claims administered by the Law Department on behalf of the City of New York, New York City Health and Hospitals, the Department of Education, City University of New York, and the Board of Elections.

When it passed the law enabling the report in 2004, the City Council intended for the report to be comprehensive, and provide information that would promote the development of targeted programs to identify and eliminate potentially hazardous workplace conditions.

However, the reports produced in the years since have yielded basic data of minimal benefit while omitting vital data such as the nature of an injury, the type of injury or diagnosis, and a description of how the injury occurred; exposing deficiencies in the law itself.

Miller’s measure, Intro. 1604, will ensure an extensive amount of information on injuries is gathered, and also require the collection of information about occupational diseases that develop over time in the course of duty, as well as identify injury and illness patterns within specific job titles. It will also compel the city to report annually on its efforts to coordinate with agencies on developing programs to reduce and prevent workplace hazards.

“The passage of Introduction 1604 represents a win for our civil servants and taxpayers alike,” said Miller, Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor. “Unlike the previous law, this legislation will result in a data-rich report that prioritizes the prevention of injury or illness, and helps to save the city tens of millions of dollars in costly workers’ compensation claims. Among the key data points to be found within the revamped summary is the inclusion of occupational diseases, and the knowledge gained through this particular enhancement will better reveal how city employees are getting hurt or sick on the job, enable the identification of patterns within specific titles, and bring about improvements in workplace ergonomics that can keep our workers safe and healthy.”

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