Mon, 04 Apr 2011

Groups fear cuts to Nassau youth programs - Newsday

Groups fear cuts to Nassau youth programs
Published: April 4, 2011 10:30 PM

Photo credit: Howard Schnapp | PBA president James Carver with other unions hold a rally against budget cuts outside of the Theodore Roosevelt County Executive Building in Mineola. (April 4, 2011)

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Nearly 100 youth program advocates joined local Democratic legislators Monday to protest what they said were likely cuts to contract agencies that provide services to needy youth.

At a news conference in Mineola, the groups said Mangano plans to cut $1.1 million from the county Youth Board's $6.2-million budget for contract agencies.

"These cuts hit hardest on community agencies within legislative districts represented by Democrats [and] . . . were politically motivated," Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Hempstead) said outside the County Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola.

County Executive Edward Mangano denied that the cuts are politically motivated. He accused Democrats of "circulating a list of Youth Board contract cuts that are far from accurate [and] . . . will not be finalized until April 16."

Mangano is under pressure from a state control board to close a $176-million budget gap, which he says he wants to do without raising taxes.

He said he also is working with state legislators to ensure that a new "red-light camera bill is enacted in order to restore most, if not all, the funding to our Youth Board contracts."

The State Senate has passed a bill that would double the number of red-light camera intersections in Nassau to 100, but the Assembly has not acted. The program netted the county $10.3 million last year and could raise $47 million this year as new cameras are phased in, a Mangano spokeswoman has said.

Speakers at the news conference included the Rev. Reginald Tuggle, pastor at Memorial Presbyterian Church in Roosevelt. The list of cuts provided by the Democrats included a youth project associated with the church. He said, "Our kids are not red [or] . . . blue. They are human beings with hopes and dreams. In the past few days, I have heard from kids and their parents who say in response to these cuts: 'What do I do now?' "

Later at a rally in Mineola against proposed reductions of union workers, Jerry Laricchiuta, president of Local 830 of the Civil Service Employees Association, told some 200 protesters: "This fight has moved from Wisconsin to Nassau County."

Mangano said: "Drama's fun, but saving taxpayer money will get the job done."
He added, "I invite all cool heads to come to the bargaining table to save jobs and services."

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