Angry New Yorker

Sunday, April 03, 2005
Steadily Putting Us in the Poorhouse

Our illustrious state legislature, never one to leave a dime unspent, has just finished patting itself on the back for passing the first ontime budget in 21 years. (See Assembly Completes Passage Of Fair, Balanced, On-Time Budget, NY State Assembly, Press Release, Mar. 31, 2005, available at Let that sink in for a minute : an entire generation passed before NY State had an on time budget.

Does this mark a rebirth of The Empire State? Hardly. This $105- to $106,000,000,000 (that's BILLION with a B) dollar budget includes various increases at three-times the inflation rate -- not exactly penny pinching -- and raises a wide variety of "fees." (See E.J. McMahon, Budget Hoax, N.Y. Post, Mar. 30, 2005, available here (detailing fiscal machinations in current budget process)).

If New York State and New York City continue spending on their current trend we predict there will be many more people like Mrs. Helming of Long Island, below, who has thrown in the towel and called it quits. Her letter was printed in the Mar. 21, 2005, issue of Newsday, here, and recently read on the floor of the NYS Assembly during the budget process last week. It certainly speaks to the experience of many people in New York who are screaming "enough!" Not a week goes by without us wondering here at Angry New Yorker if NYS is the best place for our children to work and live when they're grown, and its increasingly difficult each year to convince ourselves it is.

We hope Mrs. Helming doesn't mind if we reprint her letter here, too.

Sad to go, but so long to the cost of LI living,
Jodi Helming lives in Holtsville.

March 21, 2005

Dear Long Island:

We are leaving you. It is sad, but true. First of all, we cannot afford to live here anymore.

My husband and I both work full-time and have two young children. We purchased a three-bedroom home, much in need of a number of renovations, for almost half a million dollars. Our property taxes are so high that our monthly payment has become a financial burden we can no longer manage.

What has cost us half a million dollars here on Long Island will cost less than half of that in other parts of this country. So we must ask ourselves the difficult question: Why should we stay on Long Island when housing is simply unaffordable? [ed. note - this is a question every member of the state legislature in the New York City area should ask themselves daily.]

In addition, the recreational activities in which we'd like to participate all have a cost attached. As we venture out on a Saturday morning, looking for a free or low-cost activity, we notice one thing - fees, fees, fees. Fees to ride the carousel in the mall ($2 per child, two children, at least two rides around = $8). Fees to visit a children's museum ($8 per person = $32 for our family). Fees to go to a petting zoo ($12 for adults, $10 for children = $44). Fees to park our vehicle in a lot to go to the beach or a park ($8, unless you can make it there before 8 a.m. in the summer).

So it is not just about affordable housing. It is about affordable living. [ed. note - another mantra the state legislature should sear into their Albany desktops.]

Life here then too often is fraught with complications and therefore becomes a constant struggle. Our weekdays are already complicated. Since it was nearly impossible to find affordable housing close to where we work, we have a long commute (80 miles round-trip) to work each day. [ed. note - See Americans Spend More Than 100 Hours Commuting to Work Each Year, Census Bureau Reports, Press Release, Mar. 30, 2005, available here (noting "[o]f the 231 counties with populations of 250,000 or more covered by the ACS, Queens (41.7 minutes), Richmond (41.3 minutes), Bronx (40.8 minutes) and Kings (39.7 minutes) – four of the five counties that comprise New York City – experienced the longest average commute-to-work times."); Patrick McGeehan, The Long and Winding Road, to Work: Many Travel 90 Minutes or More, One Way, N.Y. Times, Mar. 31, 2005, available at here (detailing recent Census report's findings that "six of the seven counties in America with the highest concentration of extreme commuters [with one-way commutes of 90 minutes or more] were in New York" and that "[a]mong residents of big cities, New Yorkers had the longest average commutes, clocking in at 38.3 minutes.")]. Since we must both work to manage the financial burden of our monthly mortgage payment, we take our two young children to a day-care center. And so we want our weekends to be simple.

Yet, they are just as complicated as we work to try to find ways to combat the cost of recreation on Long Island (not to mention the traffic).

In many other parts of the country, the living situation is different - much more affordable, much simpler, much less of a daily struggle. Families (who have purchased a home that is most likely much more reasonably priced than one on Long Island) can visit museums, brand new parks with well-maintained, updated, safe playground equipment, clean and new picnic facilities and beautiful gardens - all for free. [ed. note -- again, are you listening Governor, Assembly, Senate?]

We are looking for a better and a simpler life for us and for our children. We think we have found it. So do hundreds of other families whose moving trucks are lined up in back of ours, set to leave Long Island. Give us reasons to stay here, and we will turn our moving trucks around.

Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.

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