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Source: Newsday

Coalition lobbies state for LI's fair share

BY JAMES T. MADORE

Posted: February 11, 2010
Originally Published: February 9, 2010

ALBANY - More than 40 activists from Long Island Tuesday lobbied state leaders on issues they said could benefit the region, including more money for sewers and road improvements, barring the use of pesticides on school land, and creation of a unified bus system.

The Long Island Lobby Coalition, formed last year, consists of 32 groups representing businesses, unions, environmentalists and neighborhoods. It seeks to ensure that Nassau and Suffolk receive an equitable share of state resources.

The group's 2010 agenda focuses on job creation, in part because of high unemployment in the construction industry. It backs Gov. David A. Paterson's call to overhaul tax incentives given to expanding companies so that small, fast-growing firms receive more aid.

Acknowledging next year's projected $8.2-billion budget deficit, Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment said the coalition's agenda was "revenue neutral," but could increase tax collections by creating employment. "This is not an agenda for taxes and more spending," she said. "All we are asking for is that Long Island receive its fair share, that it not be ignored."

She and others decried the bitter partisanship that has engulfed the Capitol for more than a year. The coalition's first lobby day coincided with last June's coup in the State Senate.

John Durso of the Long Island Federation of Labor said, "Everybody is being hurt by this chaos . . . Enough is enough."

Noting joblessness among construction workers has reached 35 percent, Durso urged state leaders to accelerate use of federal stimulus money for road and bridge repairs. "We've been waiting a year for action," he said.

He also said people would be put to work though creation of a regional bus system and transportation hubs at the proposed Lighthouse and Heartland Town Center developments.

The coalition also supports development of wind farms and construction requirements that would make it easier for seniors to remain in their homes.

"We don't always agree on everything but we agree on this agenda," said Eric Alexander of the planning group Vision Long Island, referring to fellow activists. "We intend to use this agenda as a scorecard to get results for the region."