I am pleased to report Governor Patakiís 2006 budget would help protect our communities from dangerous sexual predators and provide much-needed tax breaks for working families and low-income seniors.
The central piece of the governorís anti-crime initiative is civil confinement, a measure my Assembly minority colleagues and I have supported for well over a decade. The governor has allocated $130 million toward creation of a dedicated facility to house and treat sexually violent predators beyond their prison release date when they are deemed to be a risk by a unanimous jury verdict after extensive medical evaluation. The budget also increases funding for the state Division of Parole and local probation officers, thus intensifying the supervision of sex offenders already released into our communities. I fully support these measures and echo the governorís message that the minority will take whatever steps necessary to protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers from harm.
I am also encouraged by the family and business-friendly elements of the governorís 2006 budget. A cost-of-living increase in the popular STAR rebate would help seniors afford to stay in their homes, and low-income seniors would receive assistance with their energy bills. Families who own their own homes would benefit from measures to limit school and local property taxes. New York state businesses would benefit from workersí compensation reform and elimination of the alternative minimum tax. An increase in local government aid would help officials in Cayuga, Oswego and Wayne counties combat crime and increase homeland security.
The governor has given us the tools to jump-start this yearís budget process. I look forward to working with my fellow legislators to pass the budget by the April deadline.