Hand in hand
New York State already is seeing some political disruptions from the coronavirus.
—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
NY’s eco warrior
One of the boldest proposals in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposed budget was his pitch for a $3 billion environmental bond act.
With the spending plan due April 1, members of his administration have been circulating around the state, holding roundtables and other events, looking for feedback from environmentalists, business representatives, farmers and labor unions. The campaign brought Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Basil Seggos to Long Island Friday to talk to the Long Island Association.
Seggos told The Point that the bond act is part of Cuomo’s fight against climate change. While extreme weather has produced $26 billion in damages in New York over the last 10 years, it is projected to cost $50 billion over the next 10 years, Seggos said. That’s why initiatives like restoring wetlands, which protect against storm surge, and removing river dams, which add to flooding woes, are among the problems being targeted by the bond act.
One big issue is how to write the bond act, which would go to voters for approval in November. Should it dole out funds by region, by problem, or by program? And how specific should its regulations be?
“If the buckets for funding are too specified, you’re stuck,” Seggos said. “If the buckets are broad enough that we can fit certain concepts in them, then I think you’ve succeeded.”
Seggos said suggestions he received at the LIA include such time-tested favorites as investments in open space, farmland protection, and high-tech septic systems to help remove nitrogen from groundwater, as well as what he called improved habitat connectivity — like opening up the 130 river systems on Long Island that he said are impaired by dams or other barriers.
As for requests from around the state that the bond act be larger than $3 billion, Seggos said, “We’re hearing that. The governor and legislature will have to take that up together.”
—Michael Dobie @mwdobie
Movie of the year
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A millennial revolution in NY?
The Constitution says you have to be 25 years old to be in the House of Representatives, but most members give it a couple decades to be safe.
The median age in the House has been generally ticking up since the 1980s, with a recent mean high of 57.8 at the beginning of the 115th Congress in 2017.
But some young'uns are clamoring at the gates, with New Yorkers of both parties in the vanguard.
A particularly big shift could come in New York’s 2nd Congressional District, where Rep. Pete King (75) is retiring. Two Republicans vying for the seat are 35 years old (Andrew Garbarino) and 29 (Michael LiPetri), both in the Assembly. Democrat Jackie Gordon is no millennial but still two full decades younger than King at 55.
One of the Democrats primarying Brooklyn Rep. Yvette Clarke — Adem Bunkeddeko, who nearly beat her in 2018 — is 32.
This mirrors a shift in the current Congress, as well. The mean age of newly elected representatives was a recent low of 47.9 years, according to the Congressional Research Service, helped along by Empire State residents: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the Bronx and Max Rose of Staten Island were 29 and 32, respectively, upon being sworn in, the youngest and third-youngest in the House.
Upstate Rep. Elise Stefanik, who was 34 at the beginning of the 116th Congress, is the sixth-youngest.
Of course, the revolution hasn’t quite made it to the race for the White House. The septuagenarian New Yorkers in that neverending clash — President Donald Trump and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, formerly of Brooklyn — are older than the state of Israel.
—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano