Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-Tompkins/Cortland) is calling on Governor Pataki to make the right choice and sign the Legislature’s bipartisan budget.
"The budget developed by the Legislature means more for New York’s working families," Lifton said. "The bipartisan budget was not only passed on time, but it invests in health care, education, job creation and stronger communities. However, all of that could be jeopardized if the governor makes the wrong choice and vetoes our budget."
The Legislature’s budget includes:
- A cap on local Medicaid costs – an immediate savings in 2005 of $637,309 for Cortland County, and $571,447 for Tompkins County, in 2006 Cortland County will see a savings of nearly $1.5 million and Tompkins County will save $1.6 million;
- Funding for vital health care services and programs;
- Increasing school aid over last year – providing schools in the 125th Assembly District with more than $5.1 million more than last year and helping maintain programs like BOCES and educating students with disabilities;
- A restoration of the aid for local library systems vetoed by the governor last year, that has cost the Finger Lakes Library System $67,837 in state assistance, as well as a loss in federal aid that would have matched these funds;
- Increased aid for local community colleges, which will mean $333,500 for Tompkins-Cortland Community College (TC3);
- $3 million in vital capital for the ILR Facility Wing Restoration at Cornell University and $10.6 million for the TC3 Master Plan/Athletic Complex;
- Crucial economic development incentives such as 12 new Empire Zones across the state – helping pave the way for an Empire Zone in Tompkins County – and a $213 million business tax cut; and
- For communities in the 125th Assembly District, $169,378 more in municipal aid for Cortland County and $324,417 more for Tompkins County to help provide services such as fire and police protection.
Lifton also urged the governor to resubmit the language of the Legislature’s agreed-to provisions for the Environmental Protection Fund, a crucial environmental protection program, and the Help America Vote Act, which helps make the voting process more accessible and effective. Due to a December 2004 Court of Appeals’ decision, it is up to the governor to finalize this funding by resubmitting the legislature’s budget language that enables the money to be included in the budget.
Lifton added that rather than embracing the consensus reached by the Assembly and Senate, the governor has been pushing for a tuition increase at SUNY with automatic increases for each and every year, and deeper health care cuts as well.
The bi-partisan budget creates twelve new Empire Zones which are also in danger of being vetoed by the governor. Lifton is fighting to bring one of these new zones to Tompkins County.
"We approved a fair and timely bipartisan budget. I strongly urge the governor to join the Legislature in passing this budget so that the needs of New York’s working families are met," Lifton said. "It would be more than a mistake for the governor to veto the Legislature’s budget – it would devastate crucial services, reduce school aid, jeopardize health care and force local property taxpayers to pay more."