Assembly One-House Budget Highlights Transportation Funding

This week, a coalition of Assembly colleagues and I held a press conference with advocates for public transportation to promote increased funding for non-MTA transit systems, along with appropriations for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvements throughout communities in New York State.

The increase in funding, noted in the Assembly’s one-house budget resolution, is the result of joint efforts by legislators and advocates. The Assembly one-house resolution includes a big win for transit with $208 million in operating aid for upstate transit systems, which is an increase of $15 million over the executive budget proposal and an increase of $125 million in capital funding over four years.

For the first time, the Assembly budget provides designated bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure funding of $20 million.

The legislators – which included Assemblymembers Mayer, Magnarelli, McDonald, Ryan, Levine, Buchwald, Peoples-Stokes, and Jaffee, who represent various communities across the Empire State, were joined by representatives from CDTA, Parks and Trails NY, AARP, and TSTC.

I joined Assemblymember Mayer and CDTA CEO Carm Basile on Capital Tonight to discuss this important transportation step in the budget. Watch here (available to Time Warner Cable subscribers).

One-house Assembly budget resolution passes. Below are more highlights continued from last week's updates:

+ Higher Education. The Assembly budget proposal includes a $1.7 billion multi-year investment in higher education. The plan restores $485 million in state support for CUNY and freezes tuition SUNY and CUNY tuition for academic years 2016-17 and 2017-18. For the first time in years, the Assembly also proposes a $200 million fund for capital investments across SUNY campuses.

+ Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). The Assembly is providing $5.4 million in additional funding support for EOP this year, for a total of $32.2 million. Thanks to the University at Albany’s EOP students for their dedicated advocacy when Speaker Heastie visited the campus over the summer.

+ Childcare. In an effort to help working families maintain long lasting careers, the Assembly's budget proposal includes an additional $75 million for the creation of 10,000 new child care slots with priority consideration for homeless families.

+ Tax relief. The SFY 2016-17 budget proposal includes a progressive tax reform measure that would slightly reduce the personal income tax burden for more than five million middle class earners. In addition, the income tax rate for the highest earners, or those earning $1 million or more annually, the state would generate more than $2 billion over the current tax rate structure in annual revenue to support schools, aging infrastructure and other public priorities.

+ Affordable housing. The Assembly’s plan also includes measures to address the affordable housing crisis affecting many New Yorkers, as well as the rising number of people living in homelessness. The SFY 2016-17 budget appropriates $2.5 billion over five years to help revitalize and expand affordable housing in the state. The proposal also includes assistance to encourage the development of affordable rental units for low income older adults.

+ Opiate abuse. To confront the heroin epidemic in New York, the Assembly has invested $30 million for the expansion of heroin and opiate abuse treatment and support programs, a significant increase from last year's investment and the Executive's Budget proposal.

+ CHIPs funding. An additional $488 million, a $50 million increase from the Executive's proposal, has been designated to fund the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPs).

+ Climate change. In an effort to combat the climate change crisis and other environmental challenges, the Assembly will invest $32 million, $25.5 to be allocated to fund to fund the Climate Change Action Plan. An additional $4.5 million will be dedicated to municipal planning projects to mitigate climate change and to conduct vulnerability assessments of municipal drinking water, wastewater and transportation infrastructure.

+ Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). The Assembly accepts the Executive proposal of $300 million for the EPF, an increase from the previous $177 million amount.

+ Displaced homemakers. The Assembly restores $1.63 million in funding for the Displaced Homemakers Program, originally eliminated in the Executive proposal.

+ Apprenticeship training. The Assembly provides $2.5 million for a new Empire Apprenticeship Training grant program.

+ Aid to Municipalities (AIM). The one-house resolution increases AIM funding by $100 million for cities, towns, and villages. Each municipality will receive a pro-rata share of the increase, with a maximum increase of $10 million per municipality.

+ Indigent legal services (ILS). The one-house resolution includes language to fund indigent legal services throughout the state (#ILSNY). Encouraging to see the New York State Bar Association continue to lend their support ( to this legislative priority.

Read more about the Assembly’s one-house budget via the Assembly website. Read more about the state budget via

Albany school officials advocate for district funding. Members of the Board of Education joined City School District of Albany Acting Superintendent Kimberly Young Wilkins, Ed.D., in legislative advocacy this month as the district pushes for additional state aid for 2016-17.

With the final state budget – and final 2016-17 state-aid projections – due April 1, the district is faced with a current 2016-17 budget deficit of about $2.1 million before considering any new staffing or programs.

Citizen Preparedness Training. New York State is offering two hour training sessions for residents to have the tools and resources to prepare for any type of disaster, respond accordingly and recover as quickly as possible to pre-disaster conditions. Each family participating will receive a free Citizen Preparedness Corps Response Starter Kit.

Register for the next Capital Region training, taking place Monday, March 21 at the Times Union Center, by visiting

Free File. Residents of the 109th are encouraged to visit and take advantage of free tax preparation and e-filing services available through the IRS Free File program. Powered by The Free File Alliance, a coalition of 13 industry-leading tax software companies partnered with the IRS, the Free File program provides free access to the industry’s most innovative and secure tax software.

Every taxpayer with a 2015 Adjusted Gross Income of $62,000 or less may visit to prepare, complete and e-file their federal tax returns at no cost. Free state return options are also available. In addition, Free File provides basic online e-filing services, called Free File Fillable Forms, to all taxpayers regardless of income. Free File can also be used to e-file an extension for free.

Job Opportunities: New York State has setup a new job portal entitled Jobs Express, where thousands of private and public sector jobs are listed. Visit for more information on how to apply for these opportunities.

As always, for the latest news or for upcoming events, please visit my office online, on Facebook, on Twitter, or my Times Union blog. If you would like to reach my office, please feel free to send us a note.

Sincerely ---