From the Desk of Elaine Phillips: Progress made on affordability, tax relief

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We just completed a very productive 2017 legislative session that addresses important priorities I’ve been fighting to deliver for Long Island families, including affordability and tax relief.

Significant progress has been made on these issues since session began in January, and I wanted to update you on what’s taken place.

The first law I authored as a New York State Senator allows Nassau County to restore its senior citizen property tax abatement program.

The program provides hundreds of dollars in much needed property tax savings to local seniors living on fixed incomes.

Working middle-class families will now be able to take advantage of expanded tax credits to help make child care more affordable.

School districts received the largest state education aid investment in New York State history through this year’s State Budget.

Schools in the 7th Senate District are getting over $213 million in state education aid this year, an increase of over 8.7% from last year.

These funds will help them continue to provide children with a top quality education while also easing the burden on local taxpayers.

Clean water remained a priority.

Working in a bipartisan manner, the legislature and the governor made a record $2.5 billion investment to help repair and improve water related infrastructure, expand the use of clean water technology and install sewers to help reduce pollution.

New measures to help deal with new and emerging contaminants such as 1,4-dioxane, which is found on Long Island at higher levels than elsewhere in the country, were also adopted.

Small businesses, nonprofits and local governments will receive meaningful savings through sensible workers compensation reforms that lower employers’ costs while protecting injured workers.

To further facilitate job creation, we made record investments in job training and workforce development initiatives to help people learn the skills needed to fill in-demand jobs.

We strengthened our ethics laws by passing a bill to amend the state’s constitution and allow taxpayer funded pensions to be stripped from politicians convicted of public corruption.

Residents will have the opportunity to vote on the measure this Election Day, Nov. 7.

All of these are positive steps forward.

Many others were taken as well, but to name them all would turn this update into a newspaper itself!

That being said, there is still much more work to do and progress to make.

Government is supposed to be about coming together, finding common ground and making things better for the people it serves.

Policy disagreements and debates are part of the process, but at the end of the day, it’s all about moving the ball forward.

One of the heartening things I’ve seen during my first legislative session is that, more often than not, Republicans and Democrats in the State Capitol work together.

We don’t agree on everything, but we’ve avoided the hyper-partisanship that’s gridlocked Washington for years.

I am committed to ensuring that continues.

Residents expect and deserve nothing less.

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