Assemblywoman Buttenschon: Final Budget Must Address Mohawk Valley Priorities

Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon (D-Utica) announced that her top priorities as she helps craft this year’s state budget are: securing fair funding for Mohawk Valley students; protecting emergency medical services in rural areas; improving upstate transit systems; protecting funding for local towns and villages; and investing in local infrastructure.

“I’ve spent my entire life working to ensure folks in the Mohawk Valley have access to the resources and support they need, and now that I’m in Albany, I’m doubling down on those efforts,” said Buttenschon. “By investing in programs and initiatives that support working families, we can ensure our communities continue to grow and thrive.”

The Assembly budget proposal increases education funding by $1.6 billion over last year, for a total of $28.4 billion. This increase is $644 million more than the executive budget proposal. The Assembly’s plan also provides a total of $18.9 billion in Foundation Aid, which marks an increase of $1.16 billion over last year’s funding level and $823 million more than the executive proposal.

“A comprehensive education lays the foundation for a bright future, and it’s critical that our schools get the resources they need to make this a reality,” said Buttenschon. “I’ll make sure that upstate schools, particularly those in rural districts, get their fair share of education funding to ensure all our children have the tools they need to succeed.”

She is also pushing for increased funding for affordable child care services so more working parents can rest assured that their kids are in good hands while balancing their careers with their home lives.

During her time overseeing public service and emergency preparedness at MVCC, Buttenschon also saw the importance of ambulance services in rural regions with large Medicaid populations. In some areas, people in dire need of medical treatment have to wait nearly an hour for an ambulance.[1] The executive’s proposed cuts would lower the Medicaid reimbursement rate by an additional 22 percent, despite the fact that the current rate is already well below the rates offered by Medicare and private insurance.[2]

“No one should ever have to wonder how they’re going get to the hospital when emergency strikes,” Buttenschon said. “Rural communities like ours are already suffering as it is without the proposed cuts in the executive budget. We can’t take away funding from emergency services – the stakes are just too high.”

The Assembly budget proposal provides $226.5 million – an increase of $8.8 million over the executive proposal – for upstate transit systems, including the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority (Centro). This funding boost will help ensure Mohawk Valley residents can get where they need to go and improve Centro’s fiscal outlook, noted Buttenschon.

In addition, the Assembly plan restores the executive’s $59 million proposed cut in funding to Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM), bringing total AIM support to $715 million. The governor’s proposed change would completely eliminate this funding for the towns of Floyd, Frankfort, Marcy and Whitestown and the villages of Frankfort, New York Mills and Oriskany.

“Our local municipalities that are already facing tight budgets simply can’t afford to lose a vital source of state funds,” said Buttenschon. “I’ll work with my Assembly colleagues and our Senate partners to ensure full AIM funding is included in the final budget.”

The Assembly budget proposal also provides $438.1 million for the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPs) to help repair and replace aging roads, bridges and culverts in the Mohawk Valley.

[2] Ibid.