I am especially pleased that in his 2006-07 executive budget, Gov. Pataki today proposed a financial plan that focused on increased resources for education, support of educational programs, proposals for controlling property taxes and his most important initiative Ė passing a civil confinement law to further protect families.
The governorís budget provides further impetus for an effective civil confinement policy through allocation of $192 million to construct a modern facility to house and treat sexually violent predators. This vital measure provides a strong base on which to pass civil confinement legislation, an issue I believe is essential to protecting all New Yorkers.
The proposed budget also provides for more than $1.1 billion in new business tax cuts that would benefit all regions of the state through job creation, and it develops a new pro-family tax cut package that cuts the income tax rate, eliminates the marriage penalty and estate tax, and provides a $500 heating tax credit for lower-income seniors. The tax credit is extremely important when we factor in this winterís skyrocketing home heating costs.
There also are new, wide-ranging, anti-fraud Medicaid initiatives to combat waste, fraud and abuse, important steps in the battle to ensure the proper use of Medicaid by those who really need it. This would help to greatly reduce the burden of Medicaid costs, thereby protecting homeowners from constant surges in property taxes. Along with this, the governorís METROSTAR plan counteracts how inflation takes a bite out of the School Tax Relief program by creating a retroactive indexing of the program for seniors.
The budget also provides $16.9 billion in state aid to public schools, increases basic education aid by $375 million and provides a $500 refundable education credit to income-eligible families in school districts with underperforming schools.
Finally, the budget increases aid to local governments, including cities and towns, in an effort to assist property taxpayers with the local tax portion and to generally ease their burden.
The governorís spending plan shows we are prioritizing the allocation of our tax dollars, and thatís a good thing. Attracting new jobs and discouraging families from leaving our state is essential for us to maintain competitiveness. It is now our job as elected public officials to build on the governorís provisions and assemble fiscal legislation that best serves the citizens of New York state.