An expansive public housing plan. Higher pay for families on six-week paternity and maternity leave. Millions of dollars in tax credits to alleviate toll and utility costs.
Senator Jeff Klein is swinging for the fences as he gears up for next year’s state budget talks in Albany.
Klein, whose district includes parts of the Bronx and Westchester, is pushing a legislative agenda that calls for over $1.5 billion spent toward policies he argues will make New York affordable for the middle class.
Klein, who served in the northeast Bronx for ten years as an assemblyman, now serves as co-leader with Senate Republicans through his Independent Democratic Conference, with early indications that GOP co-leader Dean Skelos is supportive of his proposals.
Klein said he crafted his spending-filled plan with struggling Bronxites in mind.
“The Bronx is full of the middle class, the people who make our city run,” he said as he unveiled his agenda in front of Bronx locals at Mercy College Friday, Dec. 13.
“The less we can make New York affordable for them, the more they’ll disappear. “
Klein’s plan calls for New York to join New Jersey and California by offering six weeks of paid leave for working mothers and fathers, as well as investing $750 million over five years in a subsidized public housing program he’s calling “Mitchell Lama 2020.”
Creating home owners
The plan also would provide college graduates who qualify a $5,000 a year tax credit for 10 years to be used toward owning property, something that for most young Bronxites is a mere pipe dream, said Al Carena, president of the Spencer Estates Civic Association.
“We’ve created a situation where young people starting out are up against it,” Carena said. “It’s almost impossible to buy a house.”
Klein’s doozy of a legislative agenda also includes one-time $300 “relief checks” that senior citizens can use to help pay for utilities.
“Utilities are definitely a factor, especially now with the winter coming on,” Carena said. “Those rates can take a pretty good sized bite out of a senior’s budget.”
Rounding out Klein’s plan:
•Requiring daycare centers to post their latest inspection reports in their windows.
•Creating a yearly tax credit of up to $250 out of a New York transportation toll cost.
•Making donations to public and private schools tax deductible.
•Postponing mortgage payments for one year after a damaging storm or flood.
Klein will head up to Albany in January, where he could likely clash with Gov. Guomo. Klein’s plan calls for no tax cuts, while the governor recently appointed a tax commission that suggested $2 million in tax cuts for property and business owners.