April 26, 2006
Alessi Addresses Concerns
First District Assemblyman Marc Alessi joined members of the community at a public forum held last Thursday at Peconic Landing in Greenport. During the question-and-answer session, Alessi spoke out on a number of issues concerning area residents, including school funding and soaring property tax rates, Medicare, and what he considers crucial oversight of the Long Island Power Authority.
"The cost of living on Long Island is one of the major issues for us," said Alessi. "The lack of affordable housing, local property taxes, and energy bills all comprise a cost of living that is forcing people off Long Island."
The issue poses a "serious detriment to our economy down the road if we don't reverse these trends," he said.
The problem, maintains Alessi, is that Long Island school districts are not getting their fair share of state aid from Albany.
The budget of most upstate schools, said Alessi, is comprised of "50% state aid." Meanwhile, he said, "We're lucky if we get 10% in state aid."
The inequity lies in the state aid formula, based on need, performed by actuaries in Albany. Because the formula is taking property values into account, what ensues, said Alessi, is a "skewed formula. Our property values have increased by 80% in the past 10 years. Our incomes have not kept pace with that increase."
The plan, said Alessi, is to fight for a reformulation of the state aid formula. In fact, the assemblyman "bucked my own leadership" and held a roundtable recently in Manorville to discuss the state aid issue.
Following the roundtable, Alessi led a contingent to Albany to lobby.
"The end result was record increases in state aid this year," he said. While it was a winning effort, Alessi said the battle is far from over, with a more predictable state aid formula needed so that Long Island school officials can plan accordingly.
Alessi also outlined the history of LIPA and described his fight to regulate fuel surcharges and maintain consistent costs, as well as oversight for LIPA procedures. Alessi said he is preparing to make an important announcement regarding his effort in this area in the next few days.
Finally, audience members discussed their concerns regarding Medicare and soaring health costs.