Assemblywoman Woerner: State Budget Invests in Well Being, Future of New Yorkers

Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) announced that she secured several investments to benefit local families and businesses in the 2021-22 state budget, including economic development initiatives, funding to bolster transportation and a plan to strengthen broadband infrastructure.

“Following the unprecedented challenges over the past year, I fought to ensure this year’s state budget addresses the needs of our families, supports local businesses and fuels our economic recovery,” Woerner said. “The funding and initiatives in this year’s budget strengthen our efforts to support communities and help them build back stronger than before. These are more than stopgap measures that get our communities through the next few months but are instead smart investments in the long-term future of our state.”

To help New Yorkers recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the state budget combines federal and state efforts to provide $2.3 billion for rental assistance as well as $100 million in state aid to provide for hardship cases for landlords and renters that are outside of federal eligibility. It also establishes the COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program, which offers $800 million in flexible aid for small-business grants. The budget further helps local families by investing in economic development initiatives, including:

  • restoring $58.25 million in public health cuts, including $3.17 million for the Rural Health Care Access and Network Development Program;
  • providing $1 million for the Public Service Commission to conduct a study of the availability, cost and reliability of high-speed internet and broadband services in New York State, and to publish a detailed internet access map of the state;
  • restoring Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) Aid to the city of Saratoga; and
  • requiring service providers to offer a $15 per month broadband internet plan to low-income New Yorkers, exempting certain small providers.

The 2021-22 state budget also includes funding to help improve local infrastructure by increasing funding for the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPs) by $100 million, for a total of $538.1 million in state aid. Additionally, it expands the Historic Rehabilitation Credit by increasing the eligible reimbursement from 20% to 30% for projects under $2.5 million, which encourages private investment in our historic downtowns like Schuylerville, Mechanicville, Hudson Falls, Fort Edward, Greenwich, and Salem. Providing funding for aging infrastructure not only encourages economic development within our local communities, but improves the lives of all New Yorkers, Woerner noted.

In addition, the budget invests in New York’s environmental health and agricultural industry. A $3 billion “Restore Mother Nature” environmental bond act will be on the ballot for voter approval in 2022, which invests in resilient infrastructure, open space conservation, water infrastructure, shoreline protection, and climate change mitigation projects. Woerner also helped secure $35.78 million for Agricultural Aid to Localities, $8.37 million more than the executive proposal and $3.8 million more than the 2020-21 budget. These increases include:

  • $1 million for the New York Farm Viability Institute;
  • $500,000 for Farmland for the New Generation;
  • $400,000 for Cornell Equitable Farm Futures Initiative; and
  • $336,000 for Cornell Farm Family Assistance (FarmNet).

Additional environmental and agricultural funding include:

  • $500 million appropriation for clean water infrastructure;
  • $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), including $18 million for Farmland Protection – a restoration of $1 million – and $1 million for Municipal Electric Vehicle Fast Chargers; and
  • a three-year extension of the Farm Workforce Retention Credit, which is a refundable tax credit for farm employers and owners of farm employers.

“From stabilization funding for community colleges to assistance for food insecure New Yorkers, this year’s state budget also includes several wins for our local communities,” said Woerner. “The well-being of our families and future of our region are my top priorities. I’ll continue working to ensure we receive our fair share and pushing for measures that address the concerns of my constituents.”

To that end, the state budget provides $24 million to increase community college base aid by $50 per full-time equivalent student and to reestablish the 98% guaranteed funding base level for community colleges statewide. It also allocates $50,000 each for Pitney Meadows Community Farm and Comfort Food Community, which will help expand these facilities to support food insecure communities.