After weeks of negotiation, we in the legislature recently passed a state budget that provides our community with the resources necessary to thrive today and into the future. I was proud to help pass a budget that addresses several priorities for families, including comprehensive funding for local schools, investments in public safety, and environmental initiatives.
For the first time since the inception of Foundation Aid in 2007, New York State is fully funding the school aid formula to further close the learning gap in our state. The budget also includes $135 million to expand eligibility for free school meals to those in need and $150 million in new funding for universal pre-K. Opportunities for learning outside of the classroom are also bolstered, with more than $99 million in funding for libraries across the state.
Keeping our families safe is paramount, and that’s why this year’s state budget includes $25 million in funds for volunteer fire departments statewide, offering them increased incentives to better recruit and retain members. The budget also invests $110 million into public safety programs that will work to promote anti-gun violence measures. Additionally, the budget includes a clarification to the bail laws that provides judges with more discretion when determining whether to detain someone accused of a serious crime or repeat offenders pending trial.
Protecting the environment and improving the sustainability of our communities is always a priority. To that end, the budget includes record investments in environmental stewardship, including $400 million for the Environmental Protection Fund. To start a transition to sustainable energy sources, the budget also includes a new law limiting the use of gas appliances and furnaces in newly constructed buildings after 2025. There was a great deal of misinformation circulating around the idea of “all electric” buildings prior to the enactment of the budget. It is important to stress that this law does not require any consumer to shift from gas to electric appliances or retrofit their existing home to electric heat. Even after 2025, if you need to replace your existing stove or furnace, you can replace it with a new gas stove or furnace. Houses built after 2025 will be able to install a gas line for emergency and standby power generators, outdoor gas grills and fireplaces.
Throughout budget negotiations, I fought for our community’s fair share. This year, I secured significant funding for several community organizations, including the Center for Elder Law and Justice, which provides legal services for survivors of elder abuse, and the University at Buffalo Law School’s Family Violence and Women’s Rights Clinic, which supports survivors of domestic violence with legal and counseling services. To support the arts and culture in our community, I helped secure $1.2 million for Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo so that it can continue to attract touring Broadway performances and support local creative endeavors.As New Yorkers begin to see the improvements that will come from the enacted 2023-24 state budget, it’s important to remember that there is always more that can be done to support job creation, housing opportunities, and affordability. As this year’s legislative session continues, I will keep advocating for what is best for our families and community. If you have any questions or concerns concerning the budget, or any other issue of community concern, do not hesitate to contact my office at (716) 634-1895 or Mcmahonk@nyassembly.gov.