Legislators Ra, Sillitti, Martins respond to resident concerns

Legislators Ra, Sillitti, Martins respond to resident concerns
State Sen. Jack Martins speaks with residents at a Lakeville Estates Civic Association meeting. (Photo by Taylor Herzlich)

Assemblyman Ed Ra, Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti and state Sen. Jack Martins responded to resident inquiries and concerns about the paused congestion pricing plan, immigration issues and more at a Lakeville Estates Civic Association meeting Wednesday night.

Martins, a Republican, arrived at the meeting more than an hour late, so he did not respond to the first set of questions, but he did promise to stay as late as residents wanted.

Ra, also a Republican, and Sillitti, a Democrat, both said they were in favor of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s recent pause on the incoming congestion pricing plan

Ra said he opposed the bill when it first passed and called the pause a “good thing.”

“I think it’s clear once again it never had anything to do with the environment,” he said. “It was about money.”

Sillitti agreed and said the congestion tax “wasn’t being done the right way.” She called the pricing plan “wildly unpopular” and “backwards,” claiming the plan’s main goal was to raise $1 billion for the MTA instead of getting cars off the road.

However, Sillitti said a problem that has arisen from the pause is a $1 billion gap in the MTA capital plan which congestion pricing was set to fund.

Both legislators said they will likely need to go back to Albany for a legislative session in July or August.

Ra said the legislative session, which just finished this month, was “light on a lot of major action,” but he pointed out the lawmakers did pass some social media bills designed to “help protect youth from social media and put some parameters in place.”

He said there were not enough measures taken to combat crime, although some proposed provisions increased penalties for retail theft and assaulting retail workers.

Ra turned to immigration.

“The migrant situation continues to be a problem,” he said.

The legislator said more work needs to be done to “shut off the faucet” and deal with “sanctuary policies” in the city.

Sillitti said a big win was the restoration of state aid for school districts.

She said her priority looking toward to next year is making voter rolls more accurate.

The two legislators disagreed on a state law Hochul signed in December that will move most local elections to even years.

Republican Ra disagreed with the move while Democrat Sillitti supported it, a common party-line split on even-year elections.

The Democrat-backed law would make local races line up with gubernatorial and presidential elections. Turnout is highest during these elections and Democrats have a slight turnout advantage, according to The New York Times.

The law is facing a number of legal challenges, including a lawsuit filed by Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman.

Resident concerns included a number of issues, like voter identification during elections, cutting school taxes for senior citizens, local squatter situations and airplane noise.

Ra said voters should have to show a form of identification or their voter card while voting in an election.

One resident asked if school taxes could be cut by 50% for senior citizens. Ra said that there are several proposed bills calling for cuts to seniors’ taxes that have not yet been voted on. He said the best way to cut seniors’ taxes would be to have the state back the difference created by lost senior contributions; otherwise, everyone else’s taxes would rise in the community.

Martins responded to resident concerns about squatters in New Hyde Park.

A house at 109 Evans St. has reportedly been occupied by squatters for months with no end in sight, according to neighbors and Islip-based Homeowners Resource Group. The Evans Street property is less than a 10-minute drive from 39 Brussel Drive, where a pair of Porsche-driving squatters occupied a home for nearly a year before being evicted in early April.

Martins said there is an “inherent conflict between tenants’ rights and then squatters’ rights.”

While Martins said he expects the state Legislature will be able to relieve the squatter situation, he could not give specifics on when and if residents could expect a change in squatters’ rights rules.

The state senator responded to complaints on air traffic noise. He said his office has called the Department of Health every week for months asking for updates on an airplane study to no avail.

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here