On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the right to marriage equality in all fifty states. This was a great and long overdue day for our nation, affirming the rights of LGBTQ Americans to marry who they love anywhere in our country. Our nation was founded on the principle that all are equal under the eyes of the law. With Friday's decision, we are getting closer to that ideal.
As we celebrated marriage equality, the City Council and the Mayor finalized this year's budget. Because the budget affects all of us, I want to keep you informed on the details of the $78.5 billion plan.
This year's budget will make life easier, better and safer for New Yorkers of all backgrounds, now and in the future. Right here on the East Side and Roosevelt Island, I have prioritized funding worthy projects, schools and nonprofits that will strengthen our community.
Citywide, here are some great improvements I was proud to support and fight for throughout the budget season:
- $17.9 million for "breakfast after the bell" to fight hunger for 339,000 children at 530 elementary schools. New York City will no longer be among last for major cities when it comes to participation in nutritious school breakfast.
- $12.7 million for renewal schools that offer city services and support for children that need it most.
- $1.14 million to hire 80 more crossing guards so students can be safer traveling to and from school.
- $170 million for the NYPD so that New Yorkers can be safer in our communities and against threats of terror to add more than 1,000 new officers and to move hundreds more officers from behind desks to the streets.
Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito also invested substantially in our district following my advocacy for key programs:
- $500 million for a Capital Stabilization Reserve to save during good times so we are protected in the long run. I advocated for this smart fiscal approach at multiple budget hearings this season.
Through citywide initiatives, our district will receive:
- $3 million for the East River Esplanade on the East Side and East Harlem to revitalize our open space and ensure all can walk, run, and play along the Esplanade;
- $1.5 million for the Roosevelt Island Public Library for needed renovations;
- $934,000 for the Museum of Jewish Heritage for students to learn the essential lesson of the Holocaust: "Never again";
- $513,000 to fully fund the Asphalt Green pool filtration system.
Here are a few highlights from my local funding:
- $160,000 in Cultural Afterschool Adventures grants to be distributed to eight schools and $20,000 for senior centers;
- $62,500 in Cultural Immigrant Initiative grants to teach New York City children about their heritage;
- $100,000 in NYC Cleanup funds to keep our streets clean;
- $20,000 for district for digital literacy; and
- $343,840 citywide for Student Voter Registration Day in each district, including ours. This program is designed to increase participation among young people and was successfully implemented this year at Eleanor Roosevelt High School. I have been working to help high school seniors get registered for years, and now that we have begun to put it into action, I look forward to helping expand the program to many more schools in the area.
Through participatory budgeting, you determined where $1 million of those funds go. Thanks to all who voted and made their voices heard.
- More than $2 million in green and open space improvements and rooftop play spaces in schools throughout the district. In our neighborhoods, where we have among the lowest amount of green space in New York City, it is essential that our community have access to the outdoors.
- $849,000 for East Side public school STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, including labs, laptops and tech equipment, so students can be prepared for the jobs and knowledge of the future.
- $885,000 for NYCHA improvements, such as better security and green space, in addition to the $33 million in federal funding already being invested in Stanley Isaacs to rebuild and fortify against future storms.
- More than $100,000 for worthy senior programs to help New Yorkers age with health and dignity.
You can see the full budget online at the OMB's website in PDF formats. I am committed to transparency in the budget process, so you can also check my discretionary funding in a searchable and downloadable format at http://www.benkallos.com/budget/results/2015-16
As always, please contact me with any thoughts or questions.