Budget Highlights: Public Protection And General Government

George D. Maziarz



Legislation Keeps Prisons Open; Keeps School Resource Officers in Place

The New York State Senate passed the 2008-09 public protection and general government budget legislation (S.6800-D, S.6806-C) that restores funding to keep four correctional facilities operating, and rejects the proposal in the Executive Budget to remove School Resource Officers from schools across New York State.

The legislation restores $10.7 million for the full and continued operations of Camp Pharsalia in Chenango County ($1.8 million), the Camp at Mount McGregor located in Saratoga County ($1.1 million), Camp Gabriels in Franklin County ($2.8 million) and the Hudson Correctional Facility, a medium security facility in Columbia County ($5 million).

Closing prisons hurts the economy, it hurts the employees and their families, and it hurts our correctional system. We are able to keep these important correctional facilities operating, for the second year in a row. This legislation will also keep School Resource Officers in our schools, and restores and maintains funding for critically important initiatives to keep our communities safe, and keep local governments running efficiently.

The legislation rejects the proposal in the Executive Budget that would have removed 92 State Troopers from more than 100 school districts across New York State.

The legislation also rejects the "car tax" proposed in the Executive Budget, which would have raised the Motor Vehicle Law Enforcement from $5.00 to $20.00 and made the fee, set to expire in 2008, permanent. This bill extends the current fee of $5.00 for one year only.

New Yorkers are already paying higher gasoline costs, higher Thruway tolls, and higher prices on milk and grocery staples. This was a misguided tax that hardworking, overburdened New Yorkers cannot afford. I am pleased the final budget rejects this tax that would have placed an unnecessary, additional burden on residents throughout the State.

Other Highlights of the 2008-09 Public Protection and General Government Budget Legislation Include:

> $77.6 million for the Crime Victims Board, a two percent ($1.6 million) increase;

> $17.1 million for Operation IMPACT, a program where State Police work with local police and community leaders to reduce crime in high-crime areas;

> $1.5 million for the District Attorney Retention and Recruitment Program;

> A restoration of $1 million to fund a Pilot Project for GPS tracking of sex offenders in Westchester and Onondaga Counties;

> Additional funding of $3.1 million for Alternatives to Incarceration programs; and

> Rejection of $4.9 million for Universal Broadband Access grants. The Legislature strongly advocates efforts to encourage broadband deployment in rural and underserved areas. However, $5 million in grant funding from the SFY 2007-08 Adopted Budget which were just released in mid-March, mitigating the need for a new round of funding at this time.