My colleagues and I have just passed a $138 billion state budget. It’s our fourth consecutive year we’ve delivered a spending plan on time, a feat that hadn’t been accomplished in nearly four decades.
There’s a lot in this budget that will impact those of us living in Lewis, Oneida and St. Lawrence counties. Instead of trying to explain it all in this column, I’m going to devote the next several weeks to detailing how certain parts are going to affect us, for better or worse.
First, I’d like to explain my votes.
I was recently asked: “Why do you vote for a budget that has bad stuff in it?”
I voted for this year’s state budget because it will provide more than $10 billion in tax relief for families and job creators, while creating no new taxes or fees.
This budget sets aside a record $3.4 billion to fully fund our state School Tax Relief Program (STAR) and Enhanced STAR for the benefit of middle-class families and seniors.
This budget also includes a $1.5 billion property tax freeze program that will help 2.8 million homeowners, including 1.7 million upstate. It rewards municipalities and school districts who hold the line on tax increases by sending property tax rebate checks to their residents.
I believe our children deserve equal access to a quality education, regardless of where they live, how much their parents earn or how much the house they live in is worth. I voted for this year’s state budget because it will give children the opportunity for a brighter future.
The budget includes more than $25 billion in total education aid, of which $3.4 billion is dedicated to relief from school taxes. Through our advocacy, education aid increased by more than $1.1 billion, or 5 percent – a larger percentage than any other major component of the budget. The schools in my district will receive a combined $23 million more this year than last year.