State official presents budget at Riverdale Senior Center


The safety of Indian Point, homecare services for Riverdale seniors and pedestrian access to the Hudson River emerged as the key constituent concerns last week during a state budget presentation.

As part of an unprecedented outreach initiative, Governor Andrew Cuomo has been sending cabinet members to all 150 Assembly districts to present his proposed 2012-13 budget and reform plan.

The train made its latest stop in Riverdale last Wednesday when New York Power Authority President and CEO Gil Quiniones visited the Riverdale Senior Center.

Outlining this year’s budget, Quiniones said the deficit would be reduced from $10 billion to $2 billion without gimmicks—state assets will not be sold, and no new taxes or fees will be imposed.

“We need a total change in our thinking. A total paradigm shift,” he said,

“What the governor had said…is that to make government work better for the people, we must re-evaluate the functions of government across agencies.”

Under Cuomo’s proposed budget, funding for education and Medicaid will increase 4 percent, spending for SUNY/CUNY will rise 2.2 percent, and there will be a 2 percent self-imposed cap in government spending.

Job creation and economic development will also be stimulated through the creation of private/public partnerships.

“This budget and reform plan is a pro-economic growth strategy based on fiscal discipline, real reform and entrepreneurial or re-imagination of government that will lead us to a new New York,” Quiniones said.

Although state functions were highlighted during the hourlong presentation, the three dozen guests raised hyperlocal issues during a question-and-answer session.

One senior complained about the high costs of homecare and urged state officials to offer relief.

“Please don’t cut essential funding which would help seniors remain in their own homes,” she said. “To end up in a nursing home, these people will cost the state much more money than if there was some way that they could get some help to stay independent and in their own homes.”

Meanwhile, another elderly woman said she wanted to see public access to the Hudson River and then raised safety concerns surrounding Indian Point.

Cuomo has previously stated he is determined to shutter the nuclear power plant as soon as possible.

“The governor wants and wishes that Indian Point will not be re-licensed,” Quiniones said, adding that the facility’s licenses expire in 2013 and 2015.

“It is located too close to population density and it is a safety issue, but at the same time, the governor has been clear and said that if and when we close Indian Point, we must have adequate replacement electrical capacity so that the lights won’t go out.”

Quiniones vowed to take all of the seniors’ concerns back to Cuomo’s office.

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