Political Odds & Ends, Dec. 21, 2021


City Council Approves Stavisky-Braunstein Bill Extending the J-51 Property Tax Exemption 

State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky
Assemblymember Edward Braunstein. 

Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D- Queens) and Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Queens) last week saw the City Council Committee on Housing and Buildings overwhelmingly approve their state legislation extending the J-51 property tax exemption and abatement program. 

J-51 relief is given to property owners for renovating a residential apartment building, rental, co-op or condo or for converting commercial structures into residential units. The bill, which passed the state legislature in June, authorized the council to extend the exemption to June 30, 2022 so more property owners can take advantage of it. 

The measure will also apply retroactively to qualifying projects that occurred after the June 29, 2021 expiration. This tax exemption provides relief by utilizing the assessed valuation (the property tax rate is based on the assessed valuation) prior to construction. The tax abatement reduces the tax owed at that time. 

“The J-51 program was designed to help property owners make necessary improvements to their property. It incentivizes property owners to modernize their buildings for the health and safety of its residents. These incentives enhance affordable housing and improve our neighborhoods. I thank the City Council for approving this extension before the year-end deadline,” said Stavisky.

“For years, the J-51 tax abatement has provided modest property tax relief to eligible New York City co-op owners, including many families in the outer boroughs who pay higher effective property tax rates than other homeowners. The program also helps to ensure that buildings are maintained, improved, and most importantly, kept safe for residents. I thank Speaker Johnson and the City Council for recognizing the importance of the program and Senator Stavisky for joining me on this effort to protect affordable co-op housing in the City of New York,” said Braunstein.

Malliotakis Expresses School Safety Concerns to Incoming NYCDOE Chancellor

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis. Photo from her Congressional website.

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) led the entire Staten Island elected city and state delegation in sending a letter yesterday to incoming DOE Chancellor David Banks expressing concerns about school safety throughout New York City Schools.

The letter came following a meeting with officials from the NYC Department of Education (NYCDOE), NYPD, Susan Wagner High School, and the Office of School Safety to address a number of recent incidents that have occurred at Susan Wagner High School.

Of the concerns, the lawmakers specifically called on Banks to focus on addressing the shortage of school safety officers, develop a notification system to better communicate with parents, and reevaluate school discipline policies to establish consequences and interventions for negative behavior.

“Many parents have expressed concerns about weapons being brought into school and have communicated a desire to have metal detectors on a case-by-case basis,” the lawmakers wrote. “Notification of incidents occurring in schools must be communicated more quickly to avoid misinformation from being spread through school communities and social media.”

Malliotakis added: “What’s been happening in and around our schools is extremely troubling, particularly for students, staff, and the surrounding community. We’re collectively asking Chancellor Banks to reverse Mayor de Blasio’s policies that have only exacerbated disruption and violence in our schools, establish policies to restore school safety immediately, and give power back to teachers and principals to control their classrooms.”

Gianaris Announces $1.6m in State Funding for Arts Orgs in Western Queens

Senator Michael Gianaris

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) announced yesterday that the the New York State Council on the Arts has awarded $1,602,500 to 38 artists and arts organizations throughout western Queens. 

The funding will help artists and organizations continue bringing performances and visual arts to western Queens and across New York. 

“Arts are critical to our community and a key part of New York State’s economic recovery. I am pleased to represent so many diverse, talented artists and organizations,” said Gianaris. “Arts were the first entities to shut down and among the last to reopen. To recapture the dynamic spirit of New York, we must ensure our artists can work, grow, and thrive.”

The full list of organizations and their awarded funding is available here.

Addabbo, Stavisky Lead Successful COVID-19 Antibodies Test

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.

Queens State Senators Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. and Toby Ann Stavisky, brought in over 60 residents to the Bukharian Jewish Community Center in Forest Hills to test their COVID antibodies last Sunday. 

“I want to thank Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. and Valhalla Medics for enabling Queens’ residents to determine their COVID-19 status,” said Stavisky. “Senator Addabbo and I both represent Rego Park and Forest Hills but COVID does not care about political boundaries. The tests are an important weapon in fighting the surge and our communities will benefit immeasurably.” 

“These COVID antibody testing events continue to prove to be some of the most popular events of the year,” Addabbo added. “My thanks go out to Senator Stavisky for co-sponsoring this great event in the Forest Hills community, to Valhalla Medics for another successful event, as well as the Bukharian Jewish Community Center for providing us with the space and to Diana with Yesodot for her help in organizing the event.” 

Felder: Insulin Prices Need Fed Approval  

State Sen. Simcha Felder

State Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) last week joined with members of the NYS Legislature to express their support for a federal cap on insulin co-pays, which was included in the Build Back Better Act passed by Congress (sections 27001, 30604, 137308 and 139401 of HR 5376). 

With the bill now coming before the U.S. Senate, fifty-five NYS Senators and Assemblymembers urged U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to support passage of the national $35 cap on insulin co-pays for commercial insurance plans, ERISA plans and Medicare Part D. 

“It is simply unacceptable to have people in the U.S. rationing a life-saving medication that has been around for 100 years,” said Felder. “To effect broad change and help seniors on Medicare who are living with diabetes we need federal partners, so I am grateful to Senator Gustavo Rivera for coordinating this effort. With costs rising through the roof, now is the time to ensure that insulin is easily affordable.”  

Advocacy groups report that diabetics can spend as much as $1,200 a month on insulin supplies, and despite life-threatening results, nearly a quarter of Type 1 diabetics in the U.S. ration their insulin to save money. 

Spurred by the rising cost of insulin, NYS lawmakers have previously taken action with legislation capping co-payments for insulin at $100 and ensuring diabetic New Yorkers have access to emergency insulin. A bill to further cap the co-pay at $30 (S-1413) is currently before the state. However, only federal law can cover this broad range of insurance carriers.