Assemblywoman touts allocation of state funds for local projects

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UTICA — Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, D-119, Marcy, said that the state’s newly-enacted 2022-23 budget addressed many of her budget priorities and invested in local projects. But, she said, the budget also included some measures that were unacceptable and was marred by last-minute, late-night proceedings.

“In this atmosphere of deep ideological division and partisanship, compromise has become an underappreciated idea,” said Buttenschon in a statement. “However, through debate and compromise, we can reach legislative solutions that have the greatest possible benefit while balancing fiscal realities.”

“Sadly, this year’s budget, which was derailed by last-minute changes and tweaks, did not allow for proper deliberation or compromise. While there was funding for our schools, first responders and infrastructure, it’s painfully clear that we must work to improve our budget process going forward,” the Marcy Democrat said.

Among many goals, the state spending plan did include support for emergency first responders, especially fire departments which have costly state mandates and longstanding recruitment issues; a gas tax holiday from June 1 to December 31, 2022, saving motorists approximately $585 million; removal of a highway surcharge tax to help facilitate the expansion of much-needed, high-quality broadband services and an increase in funding for CHIPS, Pave-NY and Bridge NY.

In addition, Buttenschon said, the budget provides a significant investment in public higher education; more funding for child care and economic development; expanded mental health services for all New Yorkers; increased support for veterans’ programs and services, and the establishment of a new state Department of Veterans’ Services; greater support for small-business owners and small landlords; increased pay for invaluable home care workers by $3 an hour over two years; and increased funding for police and prosecutors to comply with new state criminal justice mandates.

The state budget also provided support for a host of local organizations and initiatives, including:

-$1 million for the continued redevelopment of the former Griffiss Air Force base;

-$500,000 for the region’s Anti-Poverty Task Force;

-$150,000 for the Oneida County Youth Bureau;

-$105,000 for veterans’ mental health programs;

-$100,000 for local youth projects;

-$85,000 for Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Farm Bridge Program;

-$50,000 for local arts programs; and

-$10,000 for Veterans Memorial Park in Rome.

“Another last-minute budget change that Buttenschon could not support was the $600 million in taxpayer funds pledged to the new Buffalo Bills stadium. As families face historic inflation and rising prices of essential goods, this funding is simply beyond the pale. And the fact that this request was made so late into the budget process prevented fair and open discussion of this issue,” a statement from her office notes.

Additionally, Buttenschon said that bail and discovery reform changes did not go far enough, as they did not restore judicial discretion. Judges need greater discretion to address the surge in violent crime and New York must do more to support our police and prosecutors, she said.

“As we look ahead to next year and future budgets, I’ll work tirelessly to get policy out of the budget process, strengthen New Yorkers’ voice in this critical process and restore fiscal restraint to the People’s House,” said Buttenschon.

“We cannot continue to debate a multi-billion dollar spending plan in the middle of the night and we need detailed fiscal analyses of all proposals that we’re voting on. Anything less is irresponsible,” the assemblywoman added.

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