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mailmanThis was a difficult budget because of an unexpected $2.6 billion drop in revenues that the state has faced, but despite these challenging financial circumstances, we worked hard and did the best we could, and in the end, managed to secure some significant accomplishments in the final budget.

On PreK-12 Education, I continue to be concerned that the state is underfunding our schools and failing to fulfill its constitutional obligation to provide every child in the state with a sound and basic education, but I am pleased that we were able to get a $618 million increase in Foundation Aid to our schools.

On Higher Education, I am pleased that the final budget included a funding boost for community colleges, which increases the base aid rate to $2,947, an increase of $100 per full-time student. We were also able to restore funding for critical opportunity programs, such as the Education Opportunity Program (EOP) and the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP).

Other areas of the final budget that saw improvement include a restoration of critical Medicaid funding to hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare organizations, an increase of $8.8 million for upstate transit, landmark critical justice reforms, additional funding for opioid treatment, funding for electronic polls books and early voting, a restoration of library aid, a statewide ban on plastic bags, and a restoration of state aid for cities, towns, and villages.

The final budget had its share of disappointments as well. In particular, I wasn't happy about the creation of a new commission that will make a recommendation on the public financing of elections, as I believe this is something that should be handled through the standard legislative process. But overall, given the difficult circumstances that were presented to us, I believe this is a budget that moves the needle forward for New York State's working families.

NYS Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton
Ithaca, NY
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