ALBANY: The Honorable Jack McEneny noted that the last time
he had vegetarian lasagna was when he had the pleasure of giving
John Wolcott, long-time Pine Bush advocate, an award from the
NYS Legislature. He was glad to be back at the May veggie lasagna
dinner at the First Presbyterian Church to speak about the
happenings in the NYS Legislature.
Legislation,” he began, “justifies my salary.” First,
Mr. McEneny described what happened to the Environmental Protection
Fund (EPF). The budget originally proposed to “off-load” Department
of Environmental Conservation (DEC) staff operating costs onto
the EPF, reducing the amount of money available for EPF programs.
On-going operating expenses of DEC should come from the general
fund, not the EPF. The Legislature was successful in removing
the DEC operating funds from the EPF, keeping the Environmental
Protection Fund intact.
Mr. McEneny discussed other environmental issues the Legislature
is considering, including adding money to the superfund,
brown field legislation, and waste tire management (what should
done with the 8.1 million scrap tires discarded every year).
The big issue is the schools, public schools, and higher
education. The legislature put $1.4 billion back in the
budget, but public
funding of education is still at risk. Mr. McEneny feels
that every four-year-old has a right to go to school, and
to put back in the universal pre-K funding that the Governor
had knocked out of the budget.
Currently, in the courts, is the case regarding whether
or not the State of New York is obligated to provide
public education beyond the eight grade. The lawsuit was initiated
the inequities in how schools were funded. The NYS Supreme
Court (lowest court in New York) said that there were
in school funding. Governor Pataki appealed the ruling.
Appellate Division said that there was no obligation
on the part of the State to provide education beyond the 8th
but that the school funding formula is unequal. This
has been appealed to the highest NYS court, the Court
Mr. McEneny believes that however the Court of Appeals
decides the case, that we win. If the Court decides
for the plaintiffs,
then the State must develop a plan to provide equal
funding for all public school students of all ages. However,
if the plaintiffs lose, then the Court will mandate
for education through eighth grade. Either way, we
get equal funding of education for the initial, important
would hard to imagine that once equal funding for education
through the eighth grade, that taxpayers would allow
the legislature not to continue funding through high
After reviewing the current legislative session, Mr.
McEneny spoke about the history of the Pine Bush.
asked him many questions, and kept him quite late.