One of the quality of life issues Assemblywoman Nily
Rozic (left) worked on in her first term were community
clean-ups, working with residents in her district to beautify
different areas. Photo by Steven J. Ferrari.
BY STEVEN J. FERRARI
As she begins her second term in the State Legislature, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing) said she was proud of the achievements she managed in her first two years in office.
“We’ve had some great accomplishments both in the community and in Albany,” she said. “I like to pride myself on having a very active legislative agenda and community based agenda.”
Rozic noted that during her first term, she managed to pass nine bills in the Assembly, with six of those being passed into law.
During a conversation with the Queens Tribune to discuss her first term, Rozic touted her successes, including being the prime sponsor on a bill that lowered the age requirement for Community Board members to 16. She called the bill a “new and innovative way” to get teenagers involved in civic life.
“Once you come back from college, you might be disengaged or not care about the community in the way we want,” she said. “I think it really benefits the local community.”
Rozic, who was elected to the Assembly two years ago at the age of 26, noted that there was some push back from some Community Boards on the issue, but felt strongly that getting a diversity of opinions on Community Boards would be beneficial.
“For the City as a whole, it will bring about good change,” she said.
The ability to serve as a representative for younger constituents also led Rozic to put a focus on college-based initiatives. She worked with U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville) on a bill to give $500 in tax credits to students to cover admission and application fees. She said she also sponsored a bill in the Assembly for a Tuition Free New York program, which was similar in scope to President Barack Obama’s recent announcement of free access to community colleges.
“We know that student debt is a greater burden than any kind of credit card debt, and not enough people are advocates for that generation of students, especially in Albany,” she said. “I’m the youngest woman serving in the legislature and I have that responsibility and it weighs on me.”
Her advocacy for students was not limited to higher education, though. Rozic said she would continue to work with the two school districts she represents – Districts 25 and 26 – to improve the quality of learning, which she said would attract more families to Eastern Queens.
She noted she was working with the School Construction Authority to identify potential sites for a new high school in District 26.
With the State Legislature taking up the topic of Mayoral Control of City schools in 2015, Rozic said that while she was not on the Assembly’s education committee, she hopes to see more parental involvement in education.
“I think our [Community Education Councils] always want more of a say, and anything we can do to strengthen engagement and empowerment at that level is important,” she said.
With her second term underway, Rozic will serve on five committees: labor, corrections, corporations and authorities, children and families and environmental conservation.
“I’ve got a good mix. I’m really happy with where I am,” she said.
Within her district, Rozic said there was a large focus on quality of life issues for her constituents, especially homeowners and people who live in rent stabilized apartments. Her office began hosting town hall discussions and tax workshops and found that hundreds of her constituents would come, looking for help with programs like the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption and the Disability Rent Increase Exemption.
“That is something I want to expand and take out into the community, get more people signed up for SCRIE and DRIE, have more people signed up for tax assessments if they think their taxes are too high,” Rozic said.
Another quality of life issue she focused on was affordability, noting that she was encouraged by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to create more affordable housing in the City. She added, however, that it was also important to give people the opportunity to move to Queens and create a situation where they can raise a family and build a life.
“At this moment, I can’t afford to purchase a home in my district, and that’s a huge problem for my generation or young families trying to move to queens and make a life for themselves,” she said. “Affordability is key and how you define it will be what makes it a success or not.”
Reach Steven J. Ferrari at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 122, email firstname.lastname@example.org or @stevenferrari.