To my surprise and disappointment, when Governor Cuomo recently came out with the 2018 NYS Budget he did not include any new funding for the closing of Indian Point. The Cessation Mitigation Program is a mechanism in the budget that helps communities gradually adjust to the tremendous negative fiscal effects of a plant closing. This program is already utilized by the two other NYS plants in the process of closure, so whatever funding is presently in the program is not sufficient for the Indian Point closure. The Governor must help plan ahead to help the communities surrounding Indian Point that will be devastated economically by the plant’s closure. Combined, the Village of Buchanan, Hendrick Hudson School District, Town of Cortlandt, County of Westchester, as well as the local library and fire department will see a $32 million reduction in tax revenue.
Once I learned the proposed budget did not include new funding I immediately called for additional funds to be added to the budget, dedicating a specific line item in the Cessation Fund budget solely for the Indian Point area. We need to start gradually building up the dedicated fund now, three years in advance of the possible plant closure. It can’t be done all at once at the end of the process.
Senator Terrence Murphy felt the same way and, along with Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, successfully added $24 million to the Cessation Mitigation Program funding in the final budget that was signed by the Governor. Just as important, the funding was included as a dedicated line item specifically earmarked for the Indian Point closure. My colleagues on the Westchester County Board of Legislators supported my efforts to include the request for this funding as part of the Annual Legislative Packet that is sent to our Westchester State Delegation who deliberate on the NYS Budget. By including the request in our packet, it demonstrated to all state representatives how important the issue was to a large portion of the state and the tremendous number of people it will affect. Not only will the taxpayers of the area be impacted, but so will the 1,200 families whose jobs are in jeopardy along with local businesses who will lose a significant portion of their customer base and revenue.
I was happy to stand in a bipartisan manner with Senator Murphy on April 11, 2018 along with Assemblywoman Galef, Buchanan Mayor Knickerbocker, Hendrick Hudson School District Superintendent Hochreiter, Cortlandt Supervisor Puglisi and other local representatives and union officials to announce the additional Cessation Mitigation Program Funding and thank those involved with making it happen. We have a long way to go in planning for a future without Indian Point but this was a positive and significant accomplishment that we can build on going forward.