For the second time in two months, the executive branch of the New York State government visited the Five Towns Community Center in Lawrence.
Courtney Burke, the New York State commissioner for the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, presented the regional state of the state and budget message to more than 40 attendees on Jan. 24. Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to the center on Nov. 21 to help hand out more than 500 turkeys and 500 individual Thanksgiving meals in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
The core elements of Cuomo‚Äôs budget include producing jobs, restoring New York as the progressive capital of the nation, and creating a world-class education system, according to Burke‚Äôs presentation. ‚ÄúThe governor is looking to expand pre-kindergarten from an average of two and a half hours a day to five,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúEarly education is critical for long term success as studies show students who attend full-day pre-K perform better on exams and are more likely to graduate from high school.‚ÄĚ
Barbara Waldrop, an Inwood resident, agrees that a student‚Äôs recipe for success starts at an early age. ‚ÄúEducation is really important,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúThe governor‚Äôs plan [for universal pre-K] is very good.‚ÄĚ
The governor seeks to enact a provision that would end the prejudice against renting to those who are enrolled in the federal Section 8 housing assistance program. Former Inwood resident Patrick Morrison said many landlords don‚Äôt want to rent to those who receive rental assistance from Section 8 programs. ‚ÄúWe need to end that type of discrimination,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúLandlords lock people out and it happens all the time. Everyone‚Äôs suffering.‚ÄĚ
Cuomo wants to put together a safe and fair gun policy, Burke said. Prompted by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Gov. Cuomo signed the ‚ÄúSecure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act of 2013,‚ÄĚ, on Jan. 16, which will strengthen the ban on assault weapons, regulations on ammunition and ensure universal background checks throughout the state.