Harry Bronson recently voted for the assembly’s 2019-20 state budget proposal, which invests in programs and services that put New York’s families first.
Public education funding: The assembly budget includes $28.4 billion in education funding, an increase of $1.6 billion — or 6 percent — over the previous year and an increase of $644 million over the executive proposal. The assembly budget increases foundation aid by $1.16 billion for a total of $18.9 billion, and also rejects an executive proposal requiring certain districts to distribute a percentage of the foundation aid increase to specific schools.
“It is crucial for the future of our state that all students have access to a high-quality public education. By investing $28.4 billion in our education funding, we are investing in the future success of our children and providing them with access to opportunity,” said Bronson. “As a product of New York’s public schools, I can truly say that education is the great equalizer, and has provided me with the opportunities to be where I am today. I will continue to champion public education and local control so that all children have access to the same opportunities that were afforded to me.”
Increasing access and affordability of higher education: The assembly budget proposal includes $12.8 million for SUNY operating support to help offset the Tuition Assistance Program gap, which is the difference between TAP funding for students and actual tuition costs which colleges have to cover for students who qualify for the maximum TAP award.
“Financial barriers should never prevent a student from obtaining higher education. Year after year, the assembly has fought to make college more affordable and accessible to give every student a fair shot at a degree without forcing them or their families to take on huge amounts of debt,” said Bronson.
The assembly budget also provides a 20 percent increase in college opportunity programs for a total of $23.8 million, including 41.4 million for the Higher Education Opportunity Program, $37.5 million for the Educational Opportunity Program, $18.4 million for the Science and Technology Entry Program and $13.9 for the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program.
Creating job opportunities: “We need to be doing everything we can to ensure economic development initiatives are actually yielding real results, creating jobs and boosting local communities,” said Bronson. “The assembly budget proposal promotes transparency and increases efficiency to help ensure our tax dollars are being spent in a responsible manner.”
The assembly proposal includes a measure requiring Empire State Development and the Department of Economic Development to create a comprehensive, statewide searchable database of funds distributed through these entities. It would also require members of Regional Economic Development Councils to file annual financial disclosure statements and adhere to the code of ethics, open meeting and FOIL requirements of the Public Officers Law.
To better spur technological advancement and foster collaboration between institutions of higher learning and the private sector, the Assembly proposal allocates $11 million for Centers of Excellence and $15 million for the Centers of Advanced Technology — increases of $1.4 million and $1.18 million, respectively, over the executive budget proposal. It also provides $609,000 in additional support to Technology Development Organization Matching grants, for a total of $2 million. And to help promote job growth, the proposal offers tax breaks to investors that invest in certain business funds that help rural businesses.
Restoring AIM funding and protecting STAR Program: The assembly’s budget proposal restores the executive’s $59 million proposed cut in funding to Aid and Incentives to Municipalities, bringing total AIM support to $715 million.
“The misguided proposed cut to AIM funding would squeeze the budgets of municipalities that are already crunched for funding,” said Bronson. “The AIM program helps fund vital programs and services while helping keep property taxes down. I have heard from local governments about the impact this would have on their ability to offer programs and services for our families, and pleas that the assembly has rejected this proposal.”
In another effort to keep property taxes low, the Assembly protects the School Tax Relief Program from proposed changes while increasing state aid for local schools. The assembly’s proposal rejects the executive budget proposal limiting STAR growth and lowering the exemption income-eligibility level, saving property taxpayers $46 million.