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.
About John G. Testa
Former District 1 County Legislator, John G. Testa is served five terms at the Westchester County Board of Legislators, spending the last 3 terms as BOL Minority Leader.
John G. Testa is a lifelong resident of Peekskill who first entered elected public service as a member of the Peekskill Common Council in 1998 and then served three terms as Mayor. He previously served on the Conservation and Parks Advisory Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. John became an elected official eager to improve the City in which his family has lived for more than a century and quickly earned a reputation as a strong, independent, nonpartisan voice for fiscal responsibility.
John received a BS degree in Technology from SUNY Oswego, where his academic achievements gained him induction into Epsilon Pi Tau, the International Honorary Fraternity of Technology. He earned his MS degree in Technology from the City College of New York. He began his teaching career in 1980 at Peekskill High School, his alma mater, as an instructor in Technology and Social Studies, retiring in 2013 after 33 years teaching.
John has been a leader in support for the Arts Community in Westchester. He presided over the construction of the Peekskill Art Lofts, the establishment of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, and the complete restoration of the Paramount Center for the Arts, originally a 1930’s movie house and helped bring critical funding to many Westchester programs. Legislator Testa received the “Advancing the Arts in Westchester Award” by ArtsWestchester.
John has a been a leader on environmental issues for two decades and has a long record of initiatives he has supported and spearheaded. His active involvement in developing and promoting environmentally friendly policies began as mayor and continued throughout his time as Westchester County Legislator. His efforts consistently earned John the endorsement of the NY League of Conservation Voters.
John’s most recognizable accomplishment has been his promotion and preservation of local history and historic landmarks, bringing an unprecedented focus on the region’s rich history, and its legacy of historic Victorian architecture. His roots in historical preservation stem from his experience as a Revolutionary War re-enactor and member of The Brigade of the American Revolution for 50 years.
John was instrumental in securing the preservation of the Lincoln Depot, now the Lincoln Depot Museum, where he now serves as President. The museum was recognized in 2015 as one of The Best Museums in Westchester. He also secured the preservation of historic Fort Hill as parkland, a 40-acre parcel that was originally a Revolutionary War encampment site. Under his leadership, the United States Dept. of the Interior declared Peekskill a “Preserve America Community.”
John was able to establish a record number of National Register designations of local structures, including the first Downtown and Neighborhood Historic Districts and supported the preservation of the historic Miller House in North White Plains. In 2017 John was named a “Champion of History” by the Lincoln Society in Peekskill.
John and his wife of 37 years, Nancy, live in Peekskill and have two adult children, John, Jr. (fiancé Courtney Kelly) and Katy (husband Mike Mearon). John and Nancy recently welcomed the arrival of their first grandchild, Lacey Mae, in 2019.
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