Smith, Titus Listen To Concerns At Town Hall Meeting
State Senator Malcolm Smith and Assemblywoman Michele Titus took part in a Town Hall meeting last weekend at Peninsula Preparatory Academy Charter School to discuss the upcoming state budget with their constituents.
Despite the fact that a preliminary agreement between the governor and leaders of the Senate and Assembly was reached the day before, Smith said the March 26 meeting was still important.
“When the budget gets passed, that’s when things get started,” said Smith, who explained that there is latitude to move money around. He added, “Throughout the year there are ways to move and get money out of the budget. It’s not always easy. I saw it first hand [when I was in a leadership position]. You can move money from one agency to another.”
In discussing the extension of the runways at JFK, Smith said he initially was supportive of the extensions because “the airport has to grow.” But, after hearing residents’ objections to the plan, both he and Titus intend to look further into the matter. “It wasn’t on my radar,” said Smith.
Relating to the Cross Bay Bridge tolls, Smith said that one problem is the fact that the MTA’s new budget is being cut by $100 million.
However, Smith said, the state could release revenue from Cross Bay Bridge related to bonds.
“The release from those bonds, if I’m not mistaken, there’s a period between May and September, that’s a period when they could try to pull that out.” He added that he has invited the MTA’s chair Jay Walder to Rockaway in May in relation to the issue.
Smith also said that the legislature “gave Peninsula Hospital Center $600,000 earlier this year. I don’t expect to lose Peninsula Hospital…. I’m committed to the health of the hospital or a merger.”