Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Plattsburgh) announced that the Assembly budget proposal includes funding for programs having a direct impact on the North Country.
The One House Senate proposal included language to support a statewide broadband study; the One House Assembly proposal allocates $3 million for the state Department of Public Service to study broadband service access statewide and $900,000 for broadband and internet in state-operated facilities. “I am proud to have fought for the allocation that was included in the Assembly proposal. I am hopeful that the Senate and the Executive will come to the table to include this vital funding and I will fight to ensure that this is included in the final version of the budget to fulfill the state’s promise of broadband for all,” said Jones.
The Assembly budget proposal also includes $200,000 in funding for the Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) Senior Planet North Country. OATS supports programs across the North Country that enable older adults to easily access and effectively use broadband technology to improve their lives. Since 2015, OATS has had a huge impact on the North Country, providing programming to more than 16,000 people, including 15% of residents ages 60 and over.
“I’ve long fought to support this critical nonprofit and I’ll keep working to ensure OATS is properly funded in the state budget. During a public health crisis that has forced many older adults to stay confined or isolated for long periods of time, it’s important that they can stay connected to friends and family as well as learn new ways to work, create and thrive in the digital age.”
The Assembly budget proposal also includes $300,000 in funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program. A farmer-driven small grants program funding high priority, cutting-edge research and technical assistance for all sectors of agriculture in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.Nearly 100 farmers representing the diverse agricultural sectors in NNY and farm enterprises of all sizes identify needs and opportunities for projects that will produce practical, real-world results than benefit farms, agricultural businesses, and the communities of the six-county NNY region.
The Assembly budget proposal also increases education funding by $3.1 billion, including an additional $1.4 billion in Foundation Aid for a total of $19.8 billion. “We also included funding to help more students access internet services, ensure districts could be reimbursed for transportation costs incurred by delivering food or educational materials and increase support for our local libraries. Our children’s education shouldn’t suffer under the weight of this pandemic. I’ll continue working to ensure that North Country school districts get their fair share of funding to provide our kids with a top-notch education, even during the most tumultuous of times,” Jones noted.