After years of serving in the Assembly, and now in my first year as the State Senator for the 60th District, I’m proud to have passed a budget that continues to show my commitment to the people of Erie County and the district I serve. I can confidently say this year’s budget serves the needs of the people of Erie County and Western New York better than any other I have seen over the years.
As a result of the pandemic, many New Yorkers are struggling financially and have been asking for much-needed relief. The budget provides that relief and invests in our state’s recovery, as we fight to end the pandemic. There are many historic initiatives in this budget, from homeowner and tenant relief to small business grant programs, to investment in our public schools, which will greatly help families here in Western New York.
Tax reform is an important part of the budget. Our new state budget ensures that millionaires and billionaires who have continued to thrive during the pandemic pay their fair share, rather than putting the onus on families who have been struggling. I worked to ensure this budget includes necessary tax relief for middle-class families. The budget institutes a new property tax credit up to $350 for eligible middle-class homeowners, providing tax relief for 1.3 million New Yorkers. The budget also includes $400 million in tax cuts for middle-class families.
The budget invests in our future in many ways, including significant homeowner and tenant relief, $1 billion in direct aid for small businesses, and a historic investment in public schools. Students and educators have faced immense difficulties navigating both virtual learning and, now, the safe reopening of schools. I’ve brought an additional $56 million in Foundation Aid for schools in the 60th district so both teachers and students are set up for success.
I worked tirelessly to ensure that the budget included investments that would specifically benefit communities here in Western New York. The budget invests $3.5 million in funding for legal service providers in Upstate New York to help those who have faced difficulty with housing and unemployment issues. We also invested $3 million for refugee resettlement agencies. This will be a boon to our local economy, which has been transformed thanks to our growing refugee community.
Access to high-speed internet is essential to our modern life, and has been vital to workers, students, and people seeking medical care during the pandemic. I fought to secure $1 million for broadband mapping that will help identify broadband gaps throughout the state, so that we can get to work to ensure reliable, affordable broadband access for every New Yorker.
The last year was a challenge for all of us, but with the budget we passed this year, I am confident that we have laid the groundwork for New York’s economic recovery and prepared Western New York to thrive in the years to come.