Assemblywoman Vivian E. Cook
Reports to the People
Summer 2008

Dear Neighbors:

I am pleased to provide this news report to the residents of the 32nd Assembly District. This year marks the 231st Legislative Session that began on January 9, 2008 and will reconvene at the call of the Speaker. Despite the events of this extraordinary Legislative Session we were able to pass a New York State $121.61 billion budget which was signed into law by Governor David Paterson on April 9, 2008. The budget includes measures to improve health care, a prescription drug program, and investments in higher education, and continues its commitment to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) for NYC school children. The budget also implemented a number of housing initiatives to help create additional affordable housing while giving greater protections to tenants. In this regard the Assembly included in the budget $54 million in funding for the Mitchell-Lama Rehabilitation and Preservation (RAP) and all Affordable Housing Programs. Given the current sub-prime mortgage industry nationwide housing foreclosure crisis, the Assembly provided in the state budget $25 million in grants through the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) Sub-Prime Prevention Services Program. The program provides legal services and financial counseling to homeowners facing default and foreclosure. As a member of the NYS Assembly Ways and Means Committee and Housing Committee I voted for and supported these initiatives, which will benefit the residents of Southeast Queens. I am also pleased to announce that Baisley Park Gardens will receive $20 million to finance capital improvements that will help keep this 212 unit complex safe and affordable. These housing initiatives are good news for the district.

In closing, I would like to thank you for taking the time to write me and share your thoughts on matters that are important to you. It is my continued goal to fight for funding in the New York State Budget, and allow your voice to be heard by voting for laws or opposing issues that would not be in the best interest of those I represent. Please know that protecting the children and families of our community, as well as the safety and prosperity of our neighborhoods, is what compels me to keep fighting and doing the work of the people. Let’s continue working together, keeping our sidewalks and streets clean for the betterment of our communities and this great State of New York.

If I may be of any assistance to you, please feel free to contact me at (718) 322-3975. Best wishes for a safe and happy summer.

Vivian E. Cook

Cook Announces Baisley Park Gardens
to receive $20 million for Capital Improvements

I am pleased to report that Baisley Park Gardens located at 125-30 Sutphin Boulevard in the district I represent will receive $20 million for Capital Improvements. A total of $742 million in grants and financing to build and renovate affordable housing units in New York State was approved by the boards of the New York State Housing Finance Agency, New York State Affordable Housing Corporation and with the support of the Legislature. As a member of the Assembly Housing Committee, I have fought many years for affordable housing for the residents of Southeast Queens. I am pleased that Baisley Park Gardens is on the list to receive funding that will help to renovate this development while keeping it affordable. I will continue working to protect and support more affordable housing programs for the residents of Southeast Queens.


Assemblymember Cook has worked tirelessly to make sure the district she represents receive its fair share in state funding to help support important programs that provide needed services to the community. This funding is vital to these organizations; without these special efforts, these services may have been jeopardized. The community has expressed their thanks to Assemblymember Cook for her efforts to secure funding to help organizations with programs that benefit the families of the 32nd Assembly District.

National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS

Angeldocs, Inc.

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)

Brooks Senior Center, Inc.

Caribbean Cultural Center

Child Center of New York, Inc.

Civil Legal Services

Queens Health Care Center

Criminal or Civil Legal Service Providers

Cultural – Public Library Services

CUNY Law CLRN Community Legal Resource Network

Displaced Homemaker Program

Family Planning Services

Friends of Rochdale Village Adult Learning Center

Homeless Veterans Outreach Program

Inside Broadway at PS 223

Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, Inc.

Latino Commission on AIDS

LP FAM’S Youth Organization, Inc.

Medgar Evers Centers

Metropolitan New York Coordinating Council on Jewish Poverty v Movement of the Children Dancenter, Inc.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Neighborhood Housing Services of Jamaica, Inc.

Parents Information Network

Positive Direction of Queens County, Inc.

Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York

Queens Legal Services Corporation

Restoration of Provider Reimbursement Rate

Robert Couche Senior Center

Rochdale Village Social Services, Inc.

Special Ed: Pre-K 4410

Southern Queens Park Association, Inc.

United Black Men of Queens Foundation, Inc.

photo Assemblymember Cook joins Speaker Sheldon Silver and Governor David Paterson welcoming the Consul General of Israel Asaf Shariv to the NYS Assembly.

Budget Highlights

Cook: State Budget ‘Keeps the Commitment’ through $622 million aid increase for NYC schools

Assemblymember Cook announced the final state budget increases education funding by a record $1.75 billion, with a total investment of $21.4 billion. The spending plan includes a $622 million foundation aid increase for New York City schools, and continues the Assembly’s deep commitment to education, despite a daunting economic climate, Assemblymember Cook said.

“This budget is a realistic plan that provides important funding to New York City schools,” Assemblymember Cook said. “The Assembly has helped devise a budget that fulfills our unwavering promise to give all children a sound, basic education.”


Assemblymember Cook said the final state budget continues a commitment to the four-year Campaign for Fiscal Equity plan.

“The budget moves toward the full implementation of the school foundation formula, which calls for stable and transparent funding for school districts,” Assemblymember Cook said. “And it reflects a second year of record school aid increases and continues our commitment to the tenets of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit – placing the focus on high-need school districts.”

Assemblymember Cook added that the final budget folds the Academic Achievement Grant for New York City into foundation aid.


The final budget rejects the 18-month lag for New York City building aid, instead seeking to ensure that building aid estimates are more accurate and that aid is issued in a timely manner. A proposal to offset New York City operating aid with increases in reimbursable aids was also rejected.

“If our children are to receive the quality education they deserve, we must ensure that they have adequate facilities in which to learn,” Assemblymember Cook said. “By cutting through the red tape, we help get the money where it’s needed most, when it’s needed most.”


“It’s important that funding be provided to help public libraries and other learning centers statewide,” Assemblymember Cook said.

The final budget adds $85 million for additional programs and restorations, including adult literacy education, independent living centers and libraries. The aid will also support programs that provide needed services to disabled adults.


The final budget allocation for Universal Pre-K totals $450 million, an increase of $96 million over 2007-08. This expands the number of 4-year-old children attending pre-K from 93,000 up to 121,000, bringing New York even closer to achieving Universal Pre-K.

“All New York children should reap the lasting benefits of attending pre-K,” Assemblymember Cook said. “Studies show again and again that pre-K gives our children an advantage in student achievement, college enrollment and future earnings.


The executive budget cut $500,000 from the Education Department’s Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability – which handles background checks for school personnel, Assemblymember Cook said. The final budget restores that cut and includes $600,000 more for a total add of $1.1 million. This funding will assist school districts across the state in conducting fingerprinting and background checks for prospective employees of school districts and certain workers who might come into contact with students.

“Because we want to keep our schools safe, we restored this cut,” Assemblymember Cook said. “The Assembly has helped to ensure that students in high-need city schools do not fall behind, and that all school districts have the tools they require for them to succeed.”


The final budget includes no tuition hikes at SUNY or CUNY and restores $38.4 million in operating aid to SUNY and $19.6 million to CUNY. This funding will help the schools with initiatives like increasing faculty to support growing enrollment and expanding their nursing programs.

In total, nearly $5 million is earmarked for additional nursing education, including nearly $2 million in funding to SUNY nursing schools, nearly $2 million for CUNY schools, and nearly $1 million for nursing programs at private colleges and universities.

In addition, the final budget rejects gubernatorial cuts from community college aid, preserving funding at $2,675 per full time equivalent student, Assemblymember Cook said. That means there will be no reduction in aid for SUNY’s 30 and CUNY’s 6 community colleges.

This represents a $20 million restoration at SUNY community colleges and a $7.5 million restoration at CUNY community colleges.

“In New York’s public university system, thousands of students have obtained a quality education,” Assemblymember Cook said. “Our top priority is to ensure struggling students aren’t forced to shoulder the burden of these tough economic times.”


The budget restores $15.4 million to the Tuition Assistance Program, rejecting a $50 across-the-board cut to all TAP recipients. It also provides a $2.9 million restoration to the TAP program to allow students in default on their federal student loans to continue to receive TAP.


In addition, the final state budget rejects the executive budget cuts to college opportunity programs and funds them at the following levels to ensure New Yorkers have the chance at earning a college degree:

  • $20.4 million in EOP funding

  • $25.2 million in HEOP funding

  • $17 million in funding for SEEK

  • $12.6 million for Liberty Partnership

  • $881,265 for College Discovery

“Educational opportunity programs are instrumental in helping working families afford a college education,” Assemblymember Cook said. “These programs will help strengthen New York’s higher education system and ensure that all students have access to an affordable college education.”


To help veterans afford a college education, Assemblymember Cook said the final budget provides veterans returning from combat with a tuition grant – up to the value of in-state SUNY undergraduate tuition – which can be used at any public or private college or university in the state. The budget funds this initiative at $2 million and expands the scope of the program to cover more combat veterans.

“This state budget reflects our commitment to the future of New York’s college students,” Assemblymember Cook said. “While tough times require tough choices, we must ensure college students have the resources they need to succeed. The funding in this state budget will make certain our public universities and colleges will remain affordable and accessible for all.

Cook Secures Capital Funding for
York College and Queens Library

Assemblymember Cook announced over $7.5 billion for capital projects statewide in the final state budget. It includes $1.5 billion for strategic economic development projects and over $5.9 billion for higher education capital projects.

“These bold initiatives benefit our communities in numerous ways,” Assemblymember Cook said. “First, they make necessary infrastructure improvements and major changes that are sorely needed. Second, they generate economic activity, create jobs and help the state’s struggling economy. The major capital projects funded in the Assembly’s budget will help New York and its hardworking people.”

Assemblymember Cook secured funding for:

  • Queens Public Library - $6,000,000

  • Queens Museum of Arts - $15,000,000

In addition, Assemblymember Cook said that over $4.1 billion in capital project funding for SUNY and $1.8 billion for CUNY is included in the budget, with more than $390 million going to SUNY community colleges and $207 million to CUNY community colleges.

“Not only will these projects improve our campuses and increase learning opportunities for our college students, they create local jobs and help boost the economy,” Assemblymember Cook said.

The budget includes funding for the following local higher education capital projects:

  • York College – Student Services Center/ Classroom Building - $5,000,000

  • York College – Critical Maintenance – $15,223,000

In addition, local SUNY Hospital Stony Brook will receive $150,000,000 in capital project funding.

“In an effort to strategically invest in our communities and state campuses – while creating jobs and bolstering the economy – the final state budget includes significant capital project funding,” Assemblymember Cook said. “These projects will help revitalize our communities and stimulate the economy.”

State Budget Delivers
Over $300 Million
for Housing Needs

The final state budget provides $303 million to help stabilize the state’s housing market, provide more affordable, supportive and workforce housing, and combat sub-prime lending. This reflects an additional $200 million the Assembly was able to secure on top of the executive budget’s proposed $103 million.

“Even in these tough economic times, housing is one area we absolutely cannot skimp on,” Assemblymember Cook said. “Funding sorely needed housing initiatives will improve the quality of life for New Yorkers and provide the groundwork for a strong, healthy economy.”

The funding supports the following programs:

  • Mitchell-Lama Rehabilitation and Preservation (affordable housing) – $54 million

  • Greater Catskills Flood Remediation – $15 million

  • Homeownership and Economic Stabilization for Long Island – $6 million

The budget also supplies $25 million for the Assembly-created Sub-prime Foreclosure Prevention Services Program. The program offers grants to non-profit organizations and legal service providers to provide counseling, mediation and legal representation to victims of sub-prime lending facing default or foreclosure.

“With thousands of New York households in default or foreclosure, inaction is a luxury we simply can’t afford,” Assemblymember Cook said. “This money will help ensure at-risk homeowners have a lifeline.”

An additional $100 million in capital assistance is provided for the following programs:

  • Low Income Housing Trust Fund – $31 million

  • Affordable Housing Corporation – $20 million

  • Homes for Working Families – $10 million

  • Homeless Housing Assistance – $6.5 million

  • Rural Areas Revitalization - $6 million

  • Public Housing Modernization - $5 million

  • Infrastructure Development Demonstration - $5 million

  • Mail Street Program - $5 million

  • Access to Homes - $4 million

  • HOPE/Restore - $4 million

  • Urban Initiatives – $3.5 million

“We need to maximize available housing in New York,” Assemblymember Cook said. “In an uncertain economy, responsible, efficient solutions are critical – and that’s just what these programs provide.”

College Savings Fund Expanded
New Law to Ease Restrictions to State Tuition Savings Program

Assemblymember Cook is pleased to announce that Governor Paterson signed a bill into law that eases restrictions to the New York State College Choice Tuition Savings Program, allowing relatives, employers and others to contribute to state-sponsored college savings accounts (Ch. 81 of 2008). The new law will allow program participants to quickly accrue more money in program accounts, thereby giving families better opportunities to meet college expenses.

Saving for college is serious, and this new law is great news for New York families. With the rising cost of a college education, families need to start saving early, and under this new law they’ll be able to boost contributions to their college savings accounts.

Since its inception in 1998, the New York State College Choice Tuition Savings Program has provided a flexible, low-cost way to save for college: contributions to accounts – called 529 accounts – are tax deductible for New York State residents who open an account, and withdrawals for qualified higher-education expenses are tax free. Until now, however, deposits could be made to accounts only by the person or persons who opened it. The state comptroller’s office, which administers the program, has reported frequent complaints over the years about third-party contribution restrictions. The new law brings New York State in line with more than 30 other states that have similar laws.

Under the new law, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and any other interested party can make contributions to a specific 529 account to help their college-bound loved one get that much closer to realizing the dream of a college education. These generous family members and friends can feel confident knowing that their contributions are going to a safe place and toward a great cause – the education and opportunity for a brighter future for someone they love.

The New York State College Choice Tuition Savings Program currently has approximately 600,000 accounts and has helped New Yorkers save $8.3 billion for college expenses. In the past five years, however, more than 20,000 checks, valued at $57 million, were rejected from program accounts because they were submitted by someone other than the account owner.

This is a common-sense law – considering rising education costs and the importance of a secondary education in the global economy, it’s only right that we provide prospective students with every opportunity to save as much as possible before they head off for college. This new law will be an important tool in helping families manage education costs and may mitigate the staggering loans so many students find themselves saddled with after graduation.

State Budget Passage Bolsters Hospitals and Nursing Homes While Extending Care to More New Yorkers

The final state budget will strengthen New York hospitals, nursing homes and health care programs, furthering New York’s goal to provide quality health care for its residents.

In total, the final state budget for 2008-2009 provides approximately $49 billion for health care in New York State; it restores $453 million in health care reductions, including a restoration of $408 million in Medicaid reductions proposed by the executive.

“Making sure our health care system works is of the utmost importance,” Assemblymember Cook said. “The economic climate in which this budget was drafted is a difficult one, and we’ve had to make tough choices. But we recognize providing affordable, reliable health care is a necessity – so we’ve done everything we can to make sure we protect and improve our health care facilities and programs.”


“An important component to improving our health care is the expansion of health insurance coverage to the uninsured, especially children,” Assemblymember Cook said. “The Assembly is committed to the idea that no child in this state should be without health insurance.”

The final budget rejects a Child Health Plus premium increase, saving families $24 million.

“The health care budget places the focus where it should be – on keeping our families healthy,” Assemblymember Cook said. “We rejected the executive budget’s plan to increase Child Health Plus premiums statewide. Now is not the time to raise health care premiums. Our children’s health shouldn’t be jeopardized simply because some parents bring home a smaller paycheck than others, and the program will remain an affordable option for those who need it.”

In addition, the Assembly rejected the executive budget proposal to make EPIC drugs not covered by Medicare Part D subject to prior authorization, and instead helped shape an alternative program that places the burden on EPIC – not the beneficiary – to appeal Medicare Part D denials. As a result, seniors will be able to continue to get the medications they need without facing unnecessary obstacles.

Cook’s Sexual Predator Bill Overwhelmingly Passes the Legislature
I am pleased to have sponsored a bill in the Assembly that would go after sex predators who ply children with drugs and alcohol to facilitate abuse. Too many innocent children are being victimized by sexual predators in today’s society, and it’s critically important that we punish those who harm them. We must be proactive by passing laws aimed at protecting our children.

Although current law proscribes penalties for the creation, promotion, or possession of child pornography, more still needs to be done to protect our children – the most valuable and vulnerable among us, from sexual predators.

This legislation makes it a class B felony to take advantage of children through the use of controlled substances or alcohol (A.3530). By prohibiting the criminal offense of facilitating a sexual performance by a child with a controlled substance or with alcohol, we will ensure that our children will be safer.

I am committed to protecting our families and neighborhoods from these dangerous criminals. That’s why I sponsored a bill in the Assembly that seeks to punish those who use controlled substances or alcohol to facilitate sexual performances by a child. The bill was the result of a bipartisan agreement between the Assembly, the Senate and the governor.

Sex predators and child pornographers will do almost anything to lure children, and drugging them is a common way for them to gain more control over their victims – reducing or even eliminating the victim’s capacity for resistance. This legislation increases criminal penalties for such predators.

This bill is an important part of the work we’ve done this year to protect kids from sexual predators. The care of children is a sacred trust, and those who seek to profit by exploiting children need to be harshly punished. I will continue to work tirelessly in the Assembly to fight this horrible abuse.

Albany Office: L.O.B. – Room 331, Albany, NY 12248 • office 518-455-4203 • fax 518-455-3606
District Office: 142-15 Rockaway Boulevard, Jamaica, NY 11436
office 718-322-3975 • fax 718-322-4085

Monday – Friday: 9:00 a.m.– 5:00 p.m.
For assistance you are welcome to call or stop by Assemblymember Cook’s Office