Long Islanders deserve a government thatís responsive to their needs. Thatís why Iím proud that, for the first time in nearly three decades, the Legislature has delivered an early budget that puts the focus back on the needs of the people and not the wallets of Albany politicians. The 2012-13 State Budget reins in the out-of-control state spending that, for too long, has been characteristic of New York stateís past, while still delivering the aid Long Island needs and deserves. Most importantly, the budget does not include any new taxes, fees or gimmicks, and keeps state spending in line with the same limits placed on local governments.
Ensuring Long Island school districts received their fair share of education aid was my number one priority in this yearís budget. Our children deserve a bright future, and this yearís spending plan provides schools in our communities with nearly $7 million in additional school aid from last year. In addition, the budget reaffirms our commitment to higher education by expanding the SUNY2020 program to campuses outside of the big four.
In this yearís budget, we remain focused on spurring job growth for Long Island. Weíll soon see work begin to repair the deck of the Hempstead Turnpike Bridge leading into Belmont Park. This $2.2 million project, utilizing funding from the NY Works program, means not just a smooth commute for families visiting the park, but also creates new jobs for the local construction industry. The budget also includes a second round of funding for the Regional Economic Development Councils. We have a skilled and capable work force that is ready, willing and able to get to work. I look forward to partnering with the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council to promote initiatives that will create good-paying jobs here in our community.
As we reconvene for the remainder of the legislative session, there is still much that needs to be done. This yearís budget does not go far enough in providing mandate relief for local governments. We need to take up legislation that will help ease the burden on local governments and school districts operating under the two percent property tax cap. This has the potential to save county governments and local taxpayers millions each year. I also remain a vocal supporter of a full repeal of the MTA Payroll Tax. Weíve eased the burden for small businesses but we need to include libraries and local municipalities as we work toward a full repeal. As session proceeds, I will continue to support meaningful legislation that brings relief to Nassau County taxpayers.
I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to create a sustainable, pro growth, private-sector economy by reversing detrimental regulations and abolishing onerous taxes like the MTA Payroll Tax. Letís make New York the Empire State once again.