Political Odds & Ends, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021

Chalk loudspeaker and inscription odds and ends on black chalkboard
Black chalkboard with drawing of a loudspeaker and inscription odds and ends

Suozzi, Meeks Push for Repeal of SALT Cap

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi
U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Queens/Long Island) and Gregory Meeks (D-Queens) along with Southeast Queens County residents last Friday, Oct. 29 made an urgent call for the social infrastructure package under negotiation in Washington, DC to repeal the cap on the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction.

The homeowners told stories of how the SALT cap has increased their taxes and impacted their ability to live the American Dream. The lawmakers said beyond hurting middle-class families, the SALT cap has gravely undermined the ability of state and local governments to provide robust public service and social assistance programs that help New York residents most in need.

“We are in a battle to save New York! Every day the SALT cap remains in place, New York residents are hurt,” said Suozzi, the lead advocate in Congress to repeal the SALT cap. “Higher-income residents are fleeing our state for lower-taxed states that don’t provide the same level of services. As New York loses population, we also lose influence in the Congress even though we are the largest net donor to the federal government. We must and we will repeal this unfair cap that has hurt so many of our residents.”

“New Yorkers need action and they need it now. The SALT cap has financially crippled families across the country especially in New York where we are paying the most in federal taxes. This damaging policy hurts middle-class New Yorkers the most and needs to end,” said Meeks.

For a New York resident, before the cap was repealed, the average deduction was $23,637 – which is well above the $10,000 cap. Below is a breakdown of how many filers in different regions across New York claimed the SALT deduction:

Queens County: 361,840
New York City: 1,388,120
Nassau County: 366,910
Suffolk County: 369,060
New York State: 3,418,170

Tish James Gets Endorsements for Governor’s Race

Attorney General Letitia James

New York Attorney General Letitia James‘ bid for governor picked up momentum the day after she announced last Friday with endorsements from Democratic nominee for Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, Democratic nominee for Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, State Senators Kevin S. Parker (D-Brooklyn) and Jessica Ramos (D-Queens), and Assembly Members Nathalia Fernandez (D-Bronx), and Alicia Hyndman (D-Queens).

The diverse group of New York lawmakers praised Attorney General James’ long history of accomplishments and said she is the change-maker New York needs to take on the special interests and stand up for vulnerable New Yorkers.

“I am honored to earn the support of these elected officials who have done so much to uplift our communities,” said James. “Throughout their careers, this diverse group of leaders has fought tirelessly for millions of New Yorkers, and as governor, they know that I will continue to fight for their communities and be the change that New York needs.”

Felder supports State Action Against Ben & Jerry’s

State Sen. Simcha Felder

State Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) applauded State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli for pulling the state’s $111 million in pension investments out of the firm that owns Ben & Jerry’s because of the ice cream maker’s boycott of Israel’s occupied territories.

DiNapoli, the sole manager of the $263 billion state Common Retirement Fund, said Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop selling ice cream in the disputed Israeli-Palestinian territories in July violated his office’s policy against the boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) movement against Israel.

“I am very pleased that New York State is taking action to end the hateful and intolerant BDS campaign and uphold our longstanding support of Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East. I applaud NYS Comptroller DiNapoli for his bold actions against the hateful and intolerant act by Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company Unilever, which sows hate and encourages violence against Jewish people everywhere. New York State has sent a clear message that these bigoted actions will not be tolerated. I hope to hear that New York City will follow suit and do the right thing,” said Felder.

Colton says Another Homeless Shelter Coming to District

Assembly Member William Colton

Assemblyman William Colton (D-Brooklyn) yesterday alerted the community that the city is planning to build another homeless shelter at 137 Kings Highway in Brooklyn.

“I was informed by the NYC Department of Social Services that Homelife, a non-profit social services provider, is in the process of opening another homeless shelter at 137 Kings Highway in early 2024. This is in addition to a proposed shelter in our community at 2147 Bath Avenue. All we know so far is that the city intends to build an additional homeless shelter and that the local community was not surveyed and again no public hearing was conducted to hear community concerns regarding this project. As I’ve mentioned before, building more homeless shelters does not provide a permanent solution to solving the problem of homelessness,” Colton said.

““I am alerting the community to this proposal and would like to hear feedback from you. Anyone who would like to show their concerns and thoughts about the proposed homeless shelter at 137 Kings Highway can contact my office by calling 718-236-1598,” Colton Added.

Meng Applauds Emergency Connectivity Funding Inclusion in Build Back Better Framework

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) and U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) applauded the inclusion of $300 million for the E-Rate Emergency Connectivity Fund within the Build Back Better framework.

“Right now, 12 to 17 million students in the United States do not have internet access at home and are unable to complete their homework or participate in distance learning. To help close this ‘homework gap,’ we worked to create the Emergency Connectivity Fund within the American Rescue Plan and fought to include these additional funds in the Build Back Better Framework,” said the lawmakers.

“The Emergency Connectivity Fund will give students the tools they need to succeed in their education by providing Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and internet-enabled devices, as well as internet service through such equipment. The Emergency Connectivity Fund has already provided new opportunities to millions of students, and this additional funding will help keep our most vulnerable children connected. But the need to permanently close the homework gap remains: that’s why we intend to continue fighting for additional funds to replenish the Emergency Connectivity Fund for the next academic year and beyond, and for Congress to pass our Securing Universal Communications Connectivity to Ensure Students Succeed (SUCCESS) Act.”

In July, Meng, Markey and Van Hollen introduced the SUCCESS Act to build on the Emergency Connectivity Fund created under the American Rescue Plan, and provide schools and libraries with $8 billion a year over five years – for a total of $40 billion – to continue to connect students to the internet following the coronavirus pandemic.