Where the Budget Will Support Our Communities
The budgeting process for New York State is often filled with controversy and lacks the transparency we all know residents and taxpayers deserve. Although budget season is filled with opportunities where we can use our shared public dollars for good, those in power negotiating these budget bills often wedge in pork spending and questionable policy. Each legislator must weigh the good and bad, and decide for each budget bill whether or not to vote for it according to what the wants and needs of their constituents.
This year was no different. I reviewed each bill carefully, and many times I voted down a budget bill because of some troublesome item, like millions in marketing funds for the governorís failed program START-UP NY which he has previously abused or used to create convoluted tax schemes. I also voted against spending growth in legislative operations, as I believe each house must learn to operate more efficiently.
But as I said, the budget does offer opportunities to do some good with the money meant to serve the public. I just wanted to highlight a few of the items I supported in the 2018-19 Enacted State Budget.
First and foremost, it was critical to me that New York continues to invest in the education of our children. Local schools in my district will see a $17 million increase for a total of $360 million. Furthermore, BOCES education will see $931.9 million in aid, so public education may continue to offer a variety of educational options, especially for those wishing to enter skilled career fields.
Additionally, our libraries will see an increase to their state aid as well. Library aid will be nearly $97 million, with an additional $34 million for library construction funding. Libraries are an important hub for continued education for young and old and are deserving of provision from the state.
In the area of human services, I voted to provide a $10 million increase in funds for facilities which provide community or instructional services to those with developmental disabilities, for a total of more than $46 million. New York must make it a priority to aid and come alongside those with developmental disabilities so that their full-potential may be realized.
I voted to secure $892.8 million to be made available to local municipalities to repave and fix roads and bridges in local communities. In the Mohawk Valley and North Country, our roads take a beating from harsh winters and the spring thaw. I know how hard our local municipal highway crews work, and I want to be sure they have the backing and funds to keep our roads safe.
To foster economic growth in our state, there will be $300 million in grants and loans for high-paying technology innovation and economic development infrastructure. We need to make sure our state is ready for the high-paying technology companies that are looking to take advantage of our well-trained and educated workforce. Lagging infrastructure, however, can deter companies from starting or locating here in New York.
In this budget, I fought cuts from the governor from capital improvement funds for local county fairs. This $5 million ensures our local fairs are thriving for years to come, as they are a touch point for the agricultural community to share with others the vital importance farming plays in local economy and culture.
Finally, the heroin and opioid epidemic has been taking a toll on so many people throughout New York. Even here in our small cities and rural communities, opioid use disorders have taken root. It was especially important for me to increase capital funding for substance abuse facilities. From this budget, $79 million will be invested in facilities treating heroin and opioid abuse disorders, a $27 million boost. This will ensure our facilities are prepared to treat as many of those in need of help as possible.
I am proud to serve as your assemblyman. Please know I always keep you and your families in mind with each and every vote I take. I believe these particular programs will support our communities and people well. If you have a question about this or any legislative topic, please contact me. I may be reached at 315-866-1632 or by email at email@example.com.