mailmanAfter several weeks of difficult negotiations, I was proud to support and help pass the 2017-2018 state budget, which offers a detailed and comprehensive plan to invest in New York's future.

Every budget is a compromise, of course, but this budget builds on past achievements and contains much that will improve the lives of New York's working families. From strengthening our kids' education, to investing $2.5 billion in capital funding for clean water projects around the state, to finally 'Raising the Age,' to ensuring that the wealthy pay their fair share, this budget reaffirms the state's commitment to progressive values and a society in which everyone, not just the wealthy, are able to succeed. I was proud to stand with my Assembly colleagues in support of it.

Highlights of the 2017-2018 New York State budget include:

  • A $1 billion increase in education aid for a total of $25.7 billion, a 4.1 percent increase over last year’s budget. The state budget increases Foundation Aid by $700 million for a total of $17.2 billion. The Assembly Majority also beat back a proposal supported by the Governor and the Senate Majority that would have diverted an enormous amount of money from local school districts to nontransparent, unaccountable charter schools.
  • A $9 million restoration of aid to public libraries to ensure that they can continue to provide services to residents, for a total of $95.6 million.
  • Funding to establish the “Excelsior Scholarship,” an initiative to make SUNY and CUNY schools tuition-free for New Yorkers who are going to college fulltime and whose families make less than $125,000 annually. Students who attend private college in New York would also be eligible for a scholarship award of $6,000.
  • $100 million in capital funding for SUNY to support maintenance and expansion programs. The state budget also allocates $450 million for SUNY and $224 million for CUNY for critical maintenance. Finally, the state budget allocates $6.2 million to SUNY community colleges and $3.1 million to CUNY community colleges for an increase of $50 per full-time equivalent student, though the Assembly Majority had been pushing for $100 per FTE.
  • An extension of the state’s millionaire’s tax for two years, to ensure that New York’s wealthiest pay their fair share.
  • An increase of $43 million over last year’s budget, for a total of $213 million, to fight the heroin epidemic and increase access to treatment for New Yorkers struggling with a substance abuse disorder.
  • The release of a long-awaited and hard-fought $2.5 billion to combat homelessness across the state and fund programs for the creation and preservation of affordable housing.
  • Dedication of $14 million in 2017-18 and $146 million in 2018-19 to fund a two-year, living wage initiative for direct care workers, such as those at the Franziska Racker Centers.
  • An allocation of $2.5 billion for water infrastructure improvements to help ensure clean drinking water by repairing and replacing old pipes and water mains, as well as preventative measures, such as source water land acquisition, to keep water from becoming polluted.
  • An expansion of ride-hailing operations, such as Uber and Lyft, throughout the state.
  • A measure to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York from 16 to 18 years old, ensuring that young people who encounter New York’s criminal justice system are treated fairly and given a better chance to turn their lives around.

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton
(D/WFP-125AD, Tompkins/Cortland)