As a life-long Western New York resident, I am incredibly proud of our state today for the passage of the final 2017-2018 New York State budget. No doubt, this is a historic moment. This budget is a reflection of years of planning and lobbying. It represents thousands of calls and meetings with community leaders and representatives, as well as, elected officials willing to listen and work with their constituents.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo released an Op-ed today in the New York Daily News in which he stated, “We have rejected the politics of division and are forging our own path. With our agreement on a $153 billion budget for 2017, New York State has issued a bold and optimistic statement of our values. We are saying without equivocation: New York is moving forward. This budget agreement invests in our middle class, cuts taxes for working families, strengthens our economy and expands opportunity for all. And it does so even while keeping the rate of spending at an all-time low — held to 2% for the past seven years.”
What was passed in this budget:
- Buffalo Billion 2 (BB2) program to fund important economic development initiatives across Western New York.
- Regulations were passed to ensure ride-sharing services are allowed to operate across Upstate New York.
- The Excelsior Scholarship – a program that will provide tuition-free college to nearly 80% of middle-class New Yorkers. First program for free college tuition in the U.S.
- $2.5 billion increase in funding for the modernization of drinking and waste water systems.
- Capping the price of prescription drug spending in Medicaid to ensure equal access for all.
- The age of adult criminal responsibility will be raised to 18. NYS is the 49th state to finally accomplish this critical component of criminal justice reform.
- Funding to keep refugee resettlement agencies across New York State open if the President’s refugee ban is upheld.
- $10 million committed to the Liberty Defense Project, to ensure all immigrants, regardless of citizenship status, receive proper legal representation.
- Millions toward boosting the wages of direct care workers across the state.
- Extended the Millionaires Tax, bringing in critical revenue and ensuring the wealthiest New Yorkers pay their fair share.
And much more.
The plan is in place, the money has been allocated, now on to implementation.
Congrats, New Yorkers. Now our work begins again.