Senate Approves Significant Aid Increases For Area Localities

George Winner

March 16, 2006

Albany, N.Y.-- State Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira) today said that the Senate’s 2006-07 budget proposal lays the framework for significant increases in unrestricted state aid to the cities of Corning, Elmira, Hornell and Ithaca.

"This year’s state budget must recognize that our region’s small cities and localities across upstate New York face an ongoing struggle with high property taxes. The Senate budget stakes out a very strong position that increased state aid will help localities reduce property taxes. That’s a very positive and important development heading into our final budget negotiations," said Winner, who served on the budget subcommittee that oversaw the development of the Senate’s aid to localities proposal and strongly advocated for the proposed increases.

Winner also expressed his hope that this year’s state aid increases would be used by local leaders to reduce local property taxes.

"We’re fighting for these significant aid increases because we believe they can be very helpful in the overall effort to reduce local property taxes," said Winner. "I continue to hope that local leaders will recognize the increases in this same spirit and keep property tax relief priority No. 1."

Both legislative houses have finished approving their respective budget plans. Legislators will continue to convene joint budget conference committees today to settle differences and begin final budget negotiations with Governor George Pataki.

The Senate budget proposal, which totals $111.8 billion, calls for more than $6.4 billion in tax cuts over the next three years, no new taxes or fees, a $1.1 billion increase in state aid to education, and the restoration of important health care funding. With the state facing what the Senate believes is a $4 billion surplus, Winner said that he and his colleague across upstate New York believe that the proposed increases in state aid to localities are warranted.

"We’re on track to produce this year’s state budget on time, and we’re underway with a process that strongly recognizes the needs of our local governments and property taxpayers," said Winner. "The Senate budget focuses on a commitment to regional job security and tax relief. It's a priority for local property taxpayers, for future job creation, for the quality of our communities and to keep alive the hope for sustained economic growth in upstate New York."

Under the Senate budget proposal, local small cities would see increases in unrestricted state aid of up to 35% above those proposed by the governor earlier this year. Below are specific increases being proposed by the Senate:

-- The city of Corning would receive an increase of $246,664 over last year. Under the Senate plan, Corning’s total aid would rise from last year’s $1,230,213 to $1,476,877 in 2006-07. The governor’s budget proposal called for a $79,964 increase for Corning;

-- Elmira’s aid would increase $980,184, from $3,330,288 last year to $4,310,472 this year. Pataki called for an increase of $366,332;

-- Hornell’s aid would increase $311,816, from $1,089,383 to $1,401,199. The governor proposed an increase of $119,832; and

-- Ithaca would see a $653,422 increase, from $1,905,116 to $2,558,538. Pataki proposed a $209,563 increase.