Phillips touts plan for senior affordability

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State Senate candidate Elaine Phillips last week released her plan to make living on Long Island more affordable for senior citizens.
“For the more than 287,000 Nassau County seniors who’ve spent their lives helping to build Long Island, being able to afford to live here during their retirements has become a mighty struggle,” said Phillips, a Republican running for the 7th Senate District seat. “With this plan, we will help more seniors stay in their homes and enjoy their years in the communities they love.”
Her plan is separated into three sections: reducing income and property taxes, assisting with heating costs and tax relief for families caring for elder family members.
Phillips, the Flower Hill Village mayor, calls for doubling the exemption on pension income up to $40,000 and restoring the Enhanced STAR “instant” rebates. The STAR property tax relief program, she said, was changed recently and prevents seniors from receiving an instant reduction to their tax bill.  Instead they have to wait for a rebate check from Albany.
The plan also calls for seniors 70 years old and older to have their school tax bills frozen, with the state reimbursing districts for any increase in tax rates.
Phillips’ plan calls for $100 million in funding for the HEAP program, which gives fixed-income seniors and other low-income residents an annual check to assist with heating costs.
She also wants to expand “weatherization and efficiency programs” so more seniors can reduce heating and cooling costs.
 A state program provides free or reduced price assistance for high-efficiency windows, lighting and insulation, but it restricts who can receive the aid based on income, according to Phillips’ campaign.
Her “Senior Savings Plan” also calls for doubling of the dependent care credit for middle-income families that provide care for an aging relative.
“No one wants to be a burden to his or her children or family members, but today more than ever, many seniors must rely on loved ones for some level of care,” Phillips said. “My proposal would help ease the burden by providing tax credits to help with some of the costs of elder or family care, making it possible for more seniors to stay in their homes, or close to relatives here on Long Island.”
She is set to face off on Nov. 8 against Democrat Adam Haber, an East Hills businessman and Roslyn school board trustee, to replace outgoing state Sen. Jack Martins.
The 7th Senate District includes the Town of North Hempstead and parts of the Towns of Hempstead and Oyster Bay.

By Joe Nikic

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