Palumbo Highlights Local Victories in the Budget
Budget negotiations this year were long and drawn out, but after a few late nights of debating, we passed an on-time budget. Overall I was very happy with the outcome for my district. We secured two initiatives that I have been pushing for, and provided the necessary funding for our schools, as well as money to combat the heroin epidemic sweeping our state.
The North Fork Mental Health Initiative is a program I am very proud to introduce to the North Fork. This initiative dedicates $175,000 to schools on the North Fork to ensure students have access to mental health services, including counselors. The initiative was necessary, as the East End unfortunately had limited resources with respect to mental health for our school-age children. With this Initiative in place, our students now have immediate access to mental health professionals for immediate diagnosis and treatment. Early intervention is key, particularly in light of the growing opioid epidemic which also has a significant mental health component. This was crucial to the North Fork and Iím glad we were able to deliver this year.
I was also very pleased to expand the Long Island Pine Barrens by over 875 acres in Shoreham. Most importantly, the state will purchase the land with no repercussion to taxpayers or the school district. With regard to future use and development, not only will this diverse piece of land be preserved and made available for public use and recreation, but the best and most acceptable use will be determined through public hearings so stakeholders and residents will be part of the process. This too is a win-win for the Second Assembly District.
This yearís budget also secured over $227.7 million in funding to combat the heroin epidemic that is sweeping through our communities. For too long we have seen our loved ones fall victim to addiction. $27 million will be dedicated to updating, acquiring and properly equipping drug treatment centers around the state; ensuring people struggling with addiction have access to the proper treatment.
School Foundation Aid was increased by $618 million this year, while total School Aid was increased by $859 million, ensuring our children throughout New York have access to a proper education. Our libraries received $96.6 million this year, an increase of $1 million from last year.
Although many great initiatives and funding were secured in this yearís budget, I know we cannot stop here. More work needs to be done. This budget neglected ethics reform measures and continued investment into economic development programs that have done nothing for our state. I will keep up the fight for some more tax relief measures, and to keep helping make Long Island more affordable.