“Despite the delay, the state budget delivers on top priorities for our community. Fully funding our local schools, expanding free school meals for 300,000 more children across the state, expanding eligibility for child care assistance, an expansion of the child tax credit, a rejection of any tax on streaming services and increasing support for volunteer fire departments are just a handful of accomplishments in this budget.
“I am pleased that the budget includes several of my funding requests, including: $50,000 for the University at Buffalo Law School’s Family Violence and Women’s Rights Clinic, $125,000 for the Center for Elder Law and Justice, and continued statewide funding for the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP). These organizations provide vital legal services and counseling to vulnerable populations, including domestic violence victims, elderly residents and homeowners at risk of foreclosure. Additionally, I helped secure funding for regional arts councils outside of New York City to support nonprofit and municipally-owned performing arts theaters. This includes $1.2 million for one of Western New York’s landmarks, Shea’s Performing Arts Center. As a passionate supporter of local libraries, I’m happy to report the budget sustains vital aid to public libraries - an allocation of $20 million. The budget also bolsters support for the New York State Council on the Arts with $40 million in additional grants.
“The amendments to the bail laws in past years created some confusion among judges as to what measures could be imposed when determining whether an individual charged with certain crimes would be eligible for bail or detention pending trial. This budget clarifies those situations and provides expanded discretion that judges can use in determining whether to detain someone accused of a serious crime or repeat offenders pending trial. Additionally, a change was made to the Concealed Carry law to clarify that firearms may be used in historical re-enactments, ceremonies, biathlons and educational demonstrations, like those at Old Fort Niagara.
“Another important issue that was addressed during the budget process was a state-wide transition to all-electric buildings. My colleagues and I heard from hundreds of our constituents expressing their concerns and confusion regarding the initial proposal in the Governor’s Executive budget. After much debate, an agreement was reached to prohibit gas hook-ups in new construction starting in 2026, while providing exemptions based on grid capacity. No consumer will be required to shift from gas to electric appliances or retrofit their existing home to electric heat. The new law provides that gas installation will only be prohibited in newly-built structures that are below seven stories and less than 100,000 square feet after 2025, and in all buildings after 2028. There are exceptions for restaurants, medical buildings and certain other uses, as well as outside gas stoves and fireplaces. Significantly, the law also still permits emergency back-up and stand-by power generators in new and existing homes. These exceptions and limitations should alleviate the fears of those worried that they would have to incur significant costs to retrofit their existing homes or be left in the cold during a winter storm.
“My colleagues and I worked tirelessly to deliver a budget that prioritizes New York’s families and bolsters our education system. While the enacted budget touched on critical needs, not all of our funding goals could be met. I believe more can be done for our community. As we continue this year’s legislative session, I will work to ensure that the needs and priorities of our families are heard loud and clear in Albany.”