I am very excited to report Friday, April 1st, we will have an on-time budget for the new State fiscal year.
The New York State Legislature has passed an on-time budget this week, something my Senate colleagues and I have been fighting for over the years. I remember when passing the budget wasn't news, but a simple occurrence that happened every year on April 1st. It has been extremely difficult and frustrating to watch the budget process deteriorate. From 1985 right up to 2005, the Senate has taken the lead in proposing and passing legislation that would reform every step of the budget process. The goal of every reform plan has been the same -- to put an end to late budgets and ensure that a new budget is in place, on time, every year.
What made this year different? I believe it was the New York State residents. It was refreshing to watch as the public -- both community leaders and taxpayers -- voiced their opinions of wanting an on-time budget. Thanks to this call from the public, my colleagues and I in the Senate were able to drive home the need for everyone in Albany to have the same goal of fixing the process and getting back on course for an on-time budget. Not only did we succeed in this goal, but we were able to have open meetings on budget negotiations with much input from the public.
I am pleased with this budget. Not only were we able to restore the cuts to hospitals and nursing home funding, we were also able to help the Counties who asked for help with Medicaid costs by implementing a three percent cap on that program's spending.
The Senate also pushed for extra aid to our distressed cities. This budget includes increased aid to local governments throughout the State by $57 million over last year. My colleagues and I successfully fought for a 3.75 percent aid increase for towns and villages, along with a minimum increase of $500 to ensure each locality receives a reasonable hike in aid. For Gloversville in Fulton County, I was able to increase aid from $1,458,102 in fiscal year 2004-05 to $1,644,010. Johnstown, also in Fulton County, will see an aid increase from $947,805 in 2004-05 to $1,068,650 in fiscal year 2005-06. Montgomery County's Amsterdam will have an aid increase from $1,878,844 to $2,118,397 in 2005-06. Saratoga Springs, Saratoga County, will increase from $1,187,241 to $1,451,364. The City of Schenectady will have an increase in 2005-06 as well, expanding from $7,096,122 to $8,000,878.
These initiatives, along with legislation to speed up the State takeover of the Family Health Plus program, will provide the much needed relief our local governments desperately need.