The 2019-20 New York State budget is due at the end of March. I recently joined some of my Assembly colleagues in Albany to push for priorities we would like to see in the budget. These priorities include keeping the middle class income tax cut, restoring funding for libraries, and helping families, localities, and small businesses. Here is a detailed list.
Preserve the middle class tax cut. In 2016, the state passed a budget that included a state income-tax cut for middle-income earners. It’s critical that these income-tax cuts remain as intended and work to provide the cumulative $4.2 billion in tax relief through 2025 as promised. The state has a history of adding to the tax burden when budget shortfalls are predicted instead of finding ways to cut spending. I am pushing for this to be preserved through budget negotiations.
Restore AIM funding. For decades, the state has provided assistance to towns and villages with Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM). This year, Gov. Cuomo proposed to slash $59 million from AIM. After public outcry, the governor amended the budget proposal to mandate counties provide this funding to towns and villages with revenue expected from sales tax. A new county mandate is not a solution to a state aid cut. The final budget needs to restore the state aid and end this gimmickry.
Relief for unfunded mandates. Counties in New York are required to pay for more than 40 state-mandated programs — nine of which consume 90 percent of local property taxes. Our localities need mandate relief in this budget and the state could start by agreeing to take over the local share of Medicaid which is the most-costly mandate for local property taxpayers. Additionally, any new mandate imposed on local governments — such as the one associated with early voting — should be paid for by the state.
Restore library funding. Our libraries provide critical services to their communities and this year the proposed budget is going in the wrong direction — cutting $5 million from the 2018-19 levels. Funding should be increased to assure that libraries can continue to provide a wide range of materials, technology, and services.
Increase funding for local roads. The weather this winter has been extremely cold and snowy in Upstate yet the budget eliminates funding for extreme winter-weather recovery for local roads. I am pushing for the restoration of these funds. In addition, the state needs to provide more resources to localities that maintain 87 percent of the state’s roads and bridges. By increasing funding over five years with the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement (CHIPs) program, we reduce the local tax investment and enable cities, towns, and villages to better plan for necessary road repairs. In many cases, CHIPs is the only way localities can afford to fix and maintain local roads.
William (Will) A. Barclay is the Republican representative of the 120th New York Assembly District, which encompasses most of Oswego County, including the cities of Oswego and Fulton, as well as the town of Lysander in Onondaga County and town of Ellisburg in Jefferson County. Contact him at email@example.com or (315) 598-5185.