|Assemblymember Cahill Announces Completion of 2005-06 State Budget|
Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill (D-Ulster and Dutchess Counties) announced today that the Assembly and Senate have joined together and worked successfully to have the 2005-2006 State Budget finalized by the April 1st deadline. "Our budget means, among other things, that school districts, municipalities and organizations in the Hudson Valley and throughout New York will, for the first time in 20 years, have the resources they need to provide first-rate education and services without the annual challenge of passing budgets not knowing what their state aid component will be," Assemblymember Cahill stated. "I am proud to have been a part of this historic team effort that produced an overall state budget preserving affordable health care for our families and most vulnerable citizens and ensuring that a college education stays within reach of parents and students, all the while holding the line on taxes and responding to the needs of New Yorkers," Mr. Cahill said.
"Despite the unprecedented budgetary powers granted to the Governor by the Court of Appeals, Legislators from both sides of the aisle in both houses were able to come together to publicly debate and craft an on-time budget that meets the needs of our state," said Mr. Cahill. "Instead of obstructing this historic agreement, we hope that the Governor gets on board and helps facilitate its finalization."
A number of provisions in this year’s budget include:
The joint Assembly/Senate Budget Subcommittee on Health reached agreement on a spending plan that will help ensure New Yorkers’ access to quality, affordable health care while easing the burden on local taxpayers. As one of the Assembly’s representatives on the committee, Mr. Cahill played a key role in negotiations.
"Our approach to the health care budget has produced significant savings while preserving the well-being of families who rely on vital Medicaid and Family Health Plus services. Rather than gutting these important programs and imposing the Governor’s unaffordable tax hikes on our health care facilities, our plan will implement responsible cost saving measures such as a preferred drug list with strong consumer protections and the establishment of a commission to undertake a comprehensive regional assessment of the health care providers throughout the state," Assemblymember Cahill added.
The Legislature’s agreement will provide property tax relief by capping the growth of local Medicaid costs and accelerating the state takeover of the Family Health Plus program. "This budget takes a significant step away from the regressive local property and sales tax model we currently use to fund health care services and moves closer to a state takeover where a more progressive broad-based wealth-based funding stream can be applied," continued Mr. Cahill.
The Assembly has put forth a plan that would have implemented a "hard cap" on local Medicaid costs, saving local governments an estimated $466 million more in 2006 than the Executive’s "soft cap" proposal. Governor Pataki and the Senate failed to agree with the Assembly. In an effort to provide at least some relief to local governments, the final budget will implement the Governor’s "soft cap". "I believe the Assembly’s Medicaid relief model is best deal for taxpayers, saving Ulster and Dutchess Counties $4 million and $5 million more respectively, than the Executive cap for years 2006 and 2007. However we do recognize that local governments need assistance now and this compromise is better than nothing," noted Assemblymember Cahill.
Education and Libraries
The joint Assembly/Senate agreement includes a spending plan that will provide over $848 million more in funding to public schools than last year, and about $354 million more than the Governor had proposed. School districts within the 101st Assembly District will see a total of $117,988,658 in school aid, an increase of $10,498,65 in funding over 04-05 -- $6,149,370 more than the Governor proposed. The Kingston City Schools Consolidated District alone will receive an increase of $4,268,618 (Full district by district school aid impact schedule is appended). The Legislature restored the Governor’s cuts to various expense-based aids, funds that local schools already spent that are entitled to state reimbursement. This includes BOCES services, transportation costs and educating students with disabilities. "I have always believed that the best economic investment New Yorkers can make is in our education system," Assemblymember Cahill said. "State aid also has a direct impact on real property tax levies. This budget should significantly relieve some of those pressures, as well."
"This investment includes funding increases for our community libraries. These institutions offer our citizens the opportunity to be lifelong learners and deserve more attention than the Governor has traditionally given them," he continued. Last year, Governor Pataki vetoed significant library funding enhancements added by the Legislature. This year’s budget includes more than $4.4 million in additional aid to libraries, restoring funding to the 2003-2004 level proposed by the Assembly and the Senate. "It is unacceptable to withhold vital aid to libraries, many of which are falling apart because they lack the money to make necessary repairs," Assemblymember Cahill added. "Restoration of these library cuts was essential to ensure the continuation of the important mission of libraries."
The budget passed this week by the Assembly and the Senate rejects Governor Pataki’s egregious cuts to SUNY and fully restores funding to the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and the state educational opportunity programs. The budget once again commits over $10 million towards the rehabilitation and expansion of the Student Union Building at SUNY New Paltz and the much needed renovation of Ulster County Community College’s microbiology lab.
"Perhaps for the first time in his ten years as Governor, George Pataki will take this opportunity to show that he understands that the key to New York’s economic viability is access to quality and affordable education," noted Mr. Cahill. "Our final budget recognizes the value of an educated citizenry and rightly rejects the Governor’s proposal to increase costs while reducing the quality of our public institutions of higher learning."
"Every year the Governor puts forth an Executive Budget that is hostile to college students and working families, either in the form of cuts to SUNY, community colleges, financial aid or tuition hikes. Every year the Legislature has to fight to make restorations. This band-aid approach to higher education funding is a disservice to New Yorkers. A comprehensive multi-year plan must be developed if our public universities are ever to reach their full potential," Mr. Cahill stated.
The budget will bring much needed reform and accountability to the Empire Zones program. The agreement authorizes the creation of 12 new zones while increasing accountability through a new Empire Zones Control Board. This board will be responsible for designating future zones and reviewing all boundary changes. Strict reporting standards will also be implemented to require an independent review of the performance and usefulness of the program as well as a Department of Taxation and Finance analysis of all jobs created and the actual cost of the tax benefits claimed by zone businesses. Standards and benefits for pre-existing zones, so important to the Hudson Valley’s local economy, will be grandfathered in the new Empire Zones plan.
"For years, the Pataki administration has mismanaged this program, giving away millions in tax breaks without a shred of accountability," state Assembymember Cahill. "This budget begins to correct that and reign in Empire Zones by bringing them back to their original mission of revitalizing economically depressed areas while creating a layer of accountability to ensure the creation of quality, good paying jobs."
The budget also provides for a new New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation. The Foundation will team up with local organizations and high-tech firms to create regional job development strategies. "Instead of the current one-size-fit-all approach to job creation we are finally moving towards developing local and regional solutions to take full advantage of all the local resources our state has to offer," Mr. Cahill concluded.
Aid to Local Governments
The bi-partisan budget agreement reached by the Legislature commits over $521 million in state Aid to Municipalities, nearly $56 million more than last year. This includes nearly $9 million in funding for Ulster and Dutchess Counties, an increase of more than $900,000 over last year. "This assistance will help our local governments preserve the safety and quality of life of Hudson Valley families while keeping property taxes down," Mr. Cahill said. Covered by these funds are police and fire protection, garbage pickup, sanitation and even streetlights. "Every year our towns and villages face the challenge of balancing the need for services with keeping taxes affordable. This aid will go a long way towards making the jobs of local governments that much easier," he concluded. Under the agreement, the City of Kingston will receive an additional $262,824 and towns and villages within Ulster County will receive an additional $64,138.
The budget agreement calls for an ambitious $38.5 billion in spending on transportation, with the funding split evenly on improvements to Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) facilities and Department of Transportation projects throughout the state. The package will be partially financed through increases in certain Department of Motor Vehicle fees. Counties residing within the MTA service region, including Dutchess County, will see a 0.05 percent mortgage recording tax increase. An MTA sales tax surcharge of .25 percent, scheduled to sunset this year, will instead be reduced to .125 percent to provide additional revenue for MTA improvements. In November, voters will asked to approve a $2.9 billion bond act which will serve as the final funding piece to the transportation plan. "The additional fees levied to finance this plan are unfortunate, but unavoidable, if we are able to make much-needed improvements to our infrastructure," said Mr. Cahill. "A reliable first class transportation system is essential to maintaining a vibrant economy." Details on how this funding will impact roads, bridges and local transportation services remain to be developed and negotiated.
Taxes and Revenue
The 2005-06 budget will hold the line on income taxes while providing $213 million in business tax cuts including the adoption of a single sales factor apportionment, increasing the Enhanced Investment Tax credit for research and development, a small business rate reduction and an additional $60 million enhancement to New York's Certified Capital Company (CAPCO) program to allow for increased technology investments. The CAPCO program uses a tax credit incentive to increase investment in New York’s venture capital markets. Insurance companies operating in the state can earn tax credits by making investments in small companies that frequently have difficulty accessing traditional funding sources. CAPCO funds are targeted specifically for Empire Zones, and underserved areas of the state where there is less venture capital available. "I am proud to announce that out tax plan will allow businesses to operate in a more comfortable economic environment, fostering job creation without dipping into the bank accounts of our hard working families," Mr. Cahill concluded. "The tax relief provided to business will encourage much- needed investments in economically distressed areas throughout the state."
The budget also rejects the Governor’s proposed tax break for those earning over $500,000 a year. "In the face of the Governor’s proposed cuts to colleges, hospitals and nursing homes we felt that a tax cut for the wealthiest of New Yorkers would be unfair to the working families who depend up on the programs the Legislature’s budget agreement aims to restore," added Mr. Cahill.
"All in all, the agreed state budget includes significant measures from economic development to enhanced school funding and from continued support for health care to relief for our counties. Many of these agreements reflect positions and legislation for which I have advocated. Certainly, there is more work to do, but this solid, on time budget is a significant step forward," concluded Assemblymember Cahill.
See the chart for State School Aid to the 101st Assembly District
State School Aid for the 101st
OVER EXECUTIVE PROPOSAL
|101 AD Total||107,490,193||117,988,658||10,498,465||6,149,370|