Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell: Assembly Advances Budget That Protects Working Families
Addresses largest budget gap in state history through responsible cuts and asking wealthy to temporarily pay a little more
March 30, 2009
Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell (D-Theresa) announced the Assembly will begin passage of the 2009- 2010 state budget on March 31. Budget bills have been introduced and are currently aging on legislators’ desks. Noting the extraordinary economic challenges facing the nation, Russell said the budget being advanced holds the line on state spending while preventing drastic cuts and protecting those most vulnerable during this economic hardship, and added that this years budget will spend less in general funds than the previous year. The Budget will close a projected $17.65 billion gap by implementing $5.1 billion in necessary spending cuts, raising $5.2 billion in revenue, utilizing $1.1 billion in non-recurring revenues and maximizing $6.2 billion in federal stimulus dollars. “We ensure the budget is not balanced on the backs of working families by rejecting over $1 billion in nuisance taxes and fees as proposed in the executive budget and preserves the Basic and Enhanced STAR exemptions to continue providing property tax relief for homeowners,” Russell said. Russell added that the budget prevents the deepest cuts to schools, reverses some damaging cuts in health care, and begins implementation of permanent health care spending reforms that will lead to $1.6 billion in savings this year and billions more in future years. Ensuring working families do not shoulder the tax burden Russell said that faced with the largest budget gap in New York’s history, the budget imposes a three-year temporary income tax increase on high earners that will raise $4 billion and prevent deep cuts to education, health care and services for seniors, children and the disabled. “Currently in New York it does not matter if you make $40,000 or $40 million – you pay the same tax rate. That puts a greater burden on the middle class,” Russell said. “In addition, most high earners live either outside of New York State or in New York City. This surcharge will give the North Country a fighting chance.” The budget also provides $3.5 billion in property tax relief by preserving the STAR exemption. The Assembly rejected proposals in the executive budget worth $1.3 billion to raise the sales tax on clothing, increase the gas tax, and impose dozens of small taxes and fees on services that middle-class families depend on. “I have heard from constituents in every corner of my district who are concerned with these proposed taxes,” Russell said. “Their messages to me where carried to Albany with me every day. Clearly this is no time to create additional burdens for families struggling every day to make ends meet.” Restoring $1.1 billion to school districts The 2009-2010 state budget continues the Assembly’s commitment to providing a quality education for New York State’s children despite tough economic times. The budget stabilizes aid to schools and reduces the burden on taxpayers by restoring $1.1 billion to school districts. “The budget could have been a disaster for schools, students and taxpayers,” Russell said. “In preparation for state cuts to school aid, many Jefferson and St. Lawrence County school districts were slated to lay off staff, cut services, sports and after school activities while still needing to raise taxes. The aid provided in the budget will help alleviate some of these measures.” Overall, schools will benefit by an estimated increase of $403 million over the 2008-2009 school year. Foundation aid for the 2009-2010 school year will remain at current levels. The Assembly continues its historic commitment to foundation aid by phasing in full funding over three years, a year earlier than the executive’s proposal, starting in 2011-2012. The budget also uses federal funds to help local school districts over the next two years, including:
- $906 million in Title 1 funds, which is financial assistance for schools with high percentages of disadvantaged children, to help ensure all children meet the state’s academic standards; and
- $794 million under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), ensuring that mandatory early intervention, special education and related services are provided to children with disabilities.
- $31 million to reject the reduction of TAP awards relative to the amount of credits taken;
- $6.5 million to reject arbitrary academic eligibility standards;
- $5.7 million to provide award enhancements for families with multiple children in college;
- $3.7 million restoration for awards to students in default of federal student loans not guaranteed by the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC); and
- $3 million to provide awards to graduate students.
- $23 million for farmland protection;
- $12.2 million for agricultural non-point pollution control efforts, an increase of $3.3 million over the executive’s budget proposal; and
- $450,000 for agricultural waste management.