We all need affordable and quality healthcare! Our current for-profit healthcare insurance system, with expensive premiums, deductibles and co-pays is bankrupting families, crippling small businesses, and withholding critical treatment based on a patients "lack of eligibility." The New York Health Act will provide comprehensive healthcare for all New Yorkers. In eliminating insurance industry profits and wasteful administration costs, New York State will save $45 billion a year, also reducing property and school taxes. Instead of having to negotiate administrative tasks, health care providers will be able to focus on patients, instead of what insurance policies do or do not cover. The NYHA has passed the Assembly for three years in a row, and needs one more Senate Co-Sponsor. As your State Senator, I will be that Co-Sponsor: to make Sustainable Healthcare for All New Yorkers a reality.
Environment/Climate Change Protections
Staten Island and South Brooklyn communities still recovering from the devastation of Super Storm Sandy know all too well that Climate Change is a reality. I will ensure that New York State follows through on promised funding to our neighborhoods for continued re-building and resilience. In the meantime, our beautiful water communities also face the threat of the Williams hydro-fracking Pipeline. Pumping methane gas under New York Harbor is NOT the way to create energy for New Yorkers. Building a renewable energy program IS the way to build new energy sources for SI and South Brooklyn. We must invest in protections from Climate Change, and a renewable energy program, which will bring 21st century Green Jobs to our communities. This is why I fully support The New York State Climate and Community Protection Act, and will work to pass it into law. https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/s7971
The state of public education for our precious children is in a serious crisis. All children in New York State deserve a sound, quality public education. Public education is one of the critical pillars of our Democracy and has important implications for our economy. Yet, New York State owes our neighborhood public school children over $42 million dollars. (When legislation authorizing this funding came up for a vote in 2017, Diane Savino chose to walk out.) As your state senator, I will fight for our children and to ensure that all our schools receive the funding and support necessary for all our children to stay in school and to excel. Our children deserve to have all the resources and facilities they need to master skills that will give them a leg up on 21st century job opportunities when they are adults. School Facilities and Transportation also need to include modifications for children with learning differences, and children who are physically disabled. Traveling to and from school should not be a difficult task. The whole child is part of the learning child - and our public schools must be well staffed with counselors and social workers to help bridge a child's emotional well being with academic learning success. Currently, our public schools are under threat by charter schools syphoning off public funds for their exclusionary practices: They do not include children with diverse learning styles. Tax dollars belong to Public Schools, not privatized charter schools. Neither do we want to raise a generation of fill-in-the boxes Standardized Test Takers. We want to raise children who think creatively and critically. Our children are our future.
Sensible Gun Legislation
I stand with the many advocacy groups who have demanded that abusive spouses turn over their weapons. Our voices were finally heard when this legislation was mandated in the 2018 budget and signed into law by Governor Cuomo. https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/s8121. However, I am very disappointed that the Republican Majority has blocked additional common sense gun legislation as sponsored by the Democrats. This package of bills includes: Extreme risk protection orders that builds on the strong foundation of the SAFE Act and empower families and police to take action to prevent individuals likely to harm themselves or others from accessing guns. Additionally, these bills requiring background checks and banning bump stocks for assault weapons can stop mass shootings, interpersonal violence and suicide. The Republicans' solutions of installing (more) metal detectors and arming classroom teachers is not the way to prevent gun violence. I will push hard to move widespread common sense gun legislation into law. We must stand up to the Gun Lobby and make it clear to them that they do not own our state. https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/articles/andrea-stewart-cousins/senate-democratic-leader-stewart-cousins-remarks-senate
It's time for New York State Senate Legislators to codify the Reproductive Health Act - (the RHA). The RHA should be enacted into law. There are many factors that affect pregnancy and maternal health choices; health history and risk factors, income, marital/partner status and the strength of a supportive family and community or the absence of this. A woman's choice should be decided between herself and her doctor.
Criminal Justice Reform
No person should sit in jail because they cannot make cash bail. Too many low-level nonviolent offenders who are no threat to their communities are being warehoused in our prisons at taxpayers' expense. This is devastating to their families and exorbitantly costly to our state: $60,000. per year, per inmate. Our young people who are struggling with opioid and other drug addictions must be provided with comprehensive rehabilitative care, and training for career opportunities -- not dead end punishment. https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/s3579/amendment/a
As a proud Afro-Latina, I am deeply connected to our immigrant communities. These communities are precious cultural and economic resources for our district and state. They contribute $50 billion to New York State’s economy. Hardworking business owners and families should not be interrogated about their status, nor should they be detained because of questions about documentation. The important work of our public safety officials can only be carried out with the trust and support of the communities they serve. That is why I will fully support the Liberty and Dream Act Senate bills as your state senator. Now, more than ever, we need to rise up for our immigrant neighbors and reassure them that they are an important component of the communities we all belong to. The New York State Dream Act: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/A3039
Erica Garner's vigil in January was a powerful influence on my decision to enter this race. While grieving with family, neighbors and other residents, I witnessed so many people in despair as they said, "elected officials do not care about us. They only come to community of color protests when they need our vote or a photo opportunity." My challenge to incumbent Diane Savino is the way I am moving my activism to another level.
A career in law enforcement is not an easy one, and police officers face tremendous risks on a daily basis. I recognize that there are some good people in law enforcement -- however -- we have an epidemic of senseless and excessive shootings of our people of color at local, state, and national levels. During these police encounters, people of color are being killed at a higher rate than our white counterparts. I am tired of elected officials offering condolences, and not actions. These condolences do not heal our losses of Eric and Erica Garner, Sandra Bland, Stephon Clark, and most recently, Saheed Vassell, who was killed for carrying a "pipe with some sort of knob." The list goes on.
Say their names.
We have reached a crisis level.
I am deeply connected to the vulnerable communities in my district, and as your State Senator, will bring a full-throated call for action to address the critical Social and Economic Injustice Issues that exist here in 23. I will introduce and sponsor legislation that will change that landscape. Here are some of the following steps I will take to protect our communities of color and our vulnerable neighbors:
-- I will open pathways for police and community groups to have more dialogues, and, often. I will work to legislate programs that ally with local government to cultivate strong community alliances between law enforcement and residents. There are so many ways to build these alliances -- through education and civil engagement. We have everything to gain in building this together.
-- We must empower Civil Complaint Review Boards and other oversight committees. NYPD needs to do a better job with training. Why is it necessary to shoot someone multiple times or to use excessive force? We deserve advocates and allies.
-- I will introduce and sponsor bills that push at local and state levels of government to prosecute police misconduct.
-- I will push for more systematic investigations when agencies are suspected of engaging in a patterned practice of violations and discrimination.
-- I will push for an end to "broken windows" policing.
In the meantime, I will continue to march and protest -- through the September 13 Primary Day and on after that.
From demonstration to legislation is where I march.