ALBANY – The Senate and Assembly majorities have worked hard to pass a 2022-23 state budget that provides economic and middle-class tax relief, funding for workforce development programs and invests in our health care and education systems. I also fought to include other critical initiatives in the budget, including funding for refugees and environmental initiatives that will position our state as a leader in green energy.
In the wake of a deadly pandemic and rising inflation, my colleagues and I worked to pass a comprehensive state budget that brings home real results for New Yorkers. This year’s budget provides critical funding to support those most impacted by this ongoing financial crisis while also investing in the state’s future. I’ll always fight to help provide Erie County with resources and programs that support our families and strengthen our communities.
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of people have fled to nearby European nations. Ukrainian refugees will likely begin seeking shelter in the United States in large numbers. For this reason, I fought to include an additional $2 million for refugee resettlement in the budget, for a total of $6 million, which will go to the New York State Enhanced Services to Refugees Program (NYSESRP). This funding will ensure refugee families are supported, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and resettlement agencies are equipped to provide effective services.
Ensuring Erie County students receive a quality education remains a top priority for me. The final budget increases funding for higher education programs, providing SUNY with $200 million in additional state operating support funds while also expanding access to the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to part-time students and eliminating the “TAP gap” – the difference between TAP funding for students and actual tuition costs. For the younger generation of students the budget includes $31.2 billion in state school aid, including a $1.5 billion increase in Foundation Aid, delivering on the commitment made last year to fully fund Foundation Aid within three years.
This year’s budget will position New York State as a leader in green energy for generations to come. The budget allocates $4.2 billion to the Environmental Bond Act of 2022, which will be on the ballot for voter approval in November and includes:
- $1.5 billion for climate mitigation
- $1.1 billion for restoration and flood risk reduction
- $650 million for open space conservation and recreation
- $650 million for water quality projects
The budget also boosts child-care funding by $5 billion over the next several years as well as $375 million for pre-Kindergarten so that more school districts can start programs. Nearly every aspect of life — from the drive to work, to kids at school, to affordable child care for middle-income and low-income families, to safety on the streets — has been affected.
The pandemic, in addition to recent geopolitical instability, and the subsequent effects on the wallets of New Yorkers must not go unresolved.
In response to rising gasoline prices, the Senate and Assembly majorities fought to suspend certain state taxes on gas from June 1 until the end of the year. That will allow New York motorists to save roughly 16 cents per gallon at the current price of gas, now somewhere over $4 per gallon. The move will save individuals and businesses an estimated $585 million.
Additionally, the budget certifies a proposal made by Gov. Hochul in her State of the State address earlier this year that would speed up tax cuts worth $1.2 billion for more than six million New York residents.
The state had begun phasing in a middle-class tax cut in 2018, but the reduction wasn't set to be put into place fully until 2025. The tax cuts will be fully phased in for the 2023 tax year instead, benefitting 6.1 million people.
In the coming weeks, I look forward to touting many budget victories specific to Western New York as well initiatives and funding revenues that I fought hard to include.
I’m proud to have fought for these initiatives that will help to ease the many burdens that New Yorkers have shouldered for more than two years, and I’ll continue to work in Albany to bring about legislative changes that will result in tangible benefits for residents in Erie County.