By JONATHAN REMACHE
State legislators from Queens on Thursday criticized what they portrayed as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive proposal to cut $17 million in federal funds to senior centers and reallocate the money toward child care.
Cuomo’s proposed budget decrease of the Social Services Block Grant would result in the closing of 65 senior centers across all five boroughs, said the legislators in a press conference at the Clearview Senior Center in Bayside.
“I think we need to be focused on restoring the cuts and not implementing cuts on senior centers and augmenting it elsewhere,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic. “There’s no reason why we can’t continue the same funding as last year.”
Assemblyman Edward Braunstein echoed the opinion.
“We’re not saying we shouldn’t fund childcare as well,” he said. “But in a $160 plus billion state budget we can find the money —$17 million dollars— to keep 65 senior centers open and provide an increase in child care funding.”
In the coming weeks, Braunstein and Rozic said they would issue the assembly’s own executive budget proposal. Braunstein urged the crowded recreation room to express discontent to governor Cuomo via letters and phone calls. It was five years ago when a cut to senior services was proposed by Cuomo, but ultimately the grant was restored following protest by the assembly and members of the senior citizen community.
The Senate Democrat Conference will also offer a similar budget proposal to restore the proposed budget cuts, said Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.
“It’s sad because you are pitting one vulnerable group against another and that is what I think is wrong,” said Stavisky.
The final budget was expected in April.