Albany, NY - The final pieces of the 2018-19 New York State budget, which ballooned to more than $168 billion, passed the New York State Senate on Friday. Approving the measures over the past two days ensured the State's budget was approved on time.
State Senator Terrence Murphy said, "This year's budget was one of the toughest since being elected to the New York State Senate. Just like families across the Hudson Valley, legislators were forced to make some tough sacrifices and decisions in order to ensure the budget was approved on time while protecting critical services, enhancing programs and keeping within the self imposed 2% spending cap."
$24 MILLION FOR INDIAN POINT COMMUNITIES
First and foremost, after more than a year since the announcement of the planned closure of Indian Point, Senator Murphy has secured $24 million to assist local taxpayers of Westchester County, local municipalities and the Hendrick Hudson School District with the projected loss of revenue.
"This took a great amount of effort, determination and partnership to achieve," Murphy said. "I thank leaders like Westchester County Executive George Latimer, Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi, Buchanan Mayor Theresa Knickerbocker and Hendrick Hudson School Superintendent Joe Hochreiter for their unwavering advocacy. This bipartisan coalition proved to the people of New York State that politics can be overcome in order to get the job done."
TACKLING SEXUAL HARASSMENT & ASSAULT
Several key initiatives were approved through this budget including the most sweeping and comprehensive sexual harassment policies in the nation. The legislature approved vast improvements for sexual assault victims including funding to establish Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Telehealth programs, preservation of unreported rape kits for 20 years and provisions to ensure rape survivors will never have to pay any costs for a rape examination or hospital visit.
"Protecting victims of sexual harassment and assault has been on the forefront of our minds and has remained a priority throughout this legislative session," Murphy explained. "The provisions included in this year's budget put New York miles ahead when it comes to protecting those who have experienced such terrible acts. Our heart goes out to them and now the weight and power of the State of New York stands by their side."
ADVANCING THE WAR ON HEROIN & ADDICTION
Since arriving to the New York State Senate, Senator Murphy has been a fierce advocate and driving force behind New York's efforts to win the ongoing war on heroin and addiction. This year is no different with another record amount of funding allocated to help our neighbors battling this terrible scourge. Additionally, for the first time in state history, an insurance ombudsman was created to help navigate the insurance barriers to streamline services. Synthetic cannabis and fentanyl were also added to the controlled substances schedule.
"Our mission to win the war on heroin and addiction has not slowed down," Murphy stated. "With more than $245 million in this year's budget, New York is upholding its commitment to helping our vulnerable neighbors who are battling this terrible disease. We will not back down, we will not give up, and we will continue to support our neighbors and their families."
INVESTING IN EDUCATION
As the father of three children attending public schools, Senator Murphy has always recognized the need for strong public education. This year's budget invests an incredible $35 billion in public education which is $1 billion more than last year's record allocation. Foundation Aid has increased by $615 million for school districts across the State with more than $120 million in total coming to the schools of the 40th Senate District.
"Whether in Pawling or Peekskill, Chappaqua or Brewster, every child deserves a quality education," Murphy explained. "This year's investments in public education for our region is more than $368 million. High need districts, such as Peekskill, will receive more than $1.5 million in new money, including more than $1 million in foundation aid as compared to the previous year - the most in the 40th Senate District. We still have work to do, but considering the projected budget constraints and the Governor's original proposal, we made great progress."
LOCAL ROADS MATTER
Having safe and reliable roadways is a critical component of a thriving economy. This year's budget protects and fully restores the extreme winter recovery funds to the tune of $65 million. Combined with the Consolidated Local Streets and Highway Program (CHIPS), the final budget maintained more than $500 million for local roads.
"From Sleepy Hollow and Mohegan Lake, to Waccabuc and Holmes, addressing our infrastructure is a critical need to improving our economy. When we have safe roads and thoroughfares we have an economy that can move and thrive. Working with municipal leaders and highway department officials such as Dave Paganelli, Peter Sciliano and Mike Simone, we were able to preserve and deliver critical dollars to help fix our crumbling roads."
The 2018-19 budget protected needed investments in vital infrastructure for our schools. Critical services such as summer school special education, BOCES programming and funding for security enhancements in schools were all restored in the final budget. The Environmental Protection Fund was restored to last year's amount of $300 million and library construction capital has been increased statewide. The Hudson Valley's first Center of Excellence located at Valhalla's New York Medical College, which focuses on emergency preparedness and precision medicine, continues to do great work and received additional funds to the tune of $750,000. Lastly, the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans' Peer to Peer Services Program for our local veterans in Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester Counties were all fully funded for an additional year.
"As we all know, no budget is perfect and tough decisions have to be made. However, by working together we were able to overcome a $4 billion deficit to preserve essential services, protect critical programs for our most vulnerable neighbors and deliver vital resources to help local taxpayers in the 40th Senate District. This wasn't about politics, this was about getting the job done. The devil is always in the details but I will remain laser focused on building needed partnerships that give everyone the opportunity to succeed."