While the $138 billion spending plan for 2014-15 is not ideal, I am pleased with many components of the New York state budget and, accordingly, voted in favor of many of the budget bills.
For one, it restores $602 million of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) for school districts. This is good news for our local school districts. This allocation directly benefits Central and Northern New York and I was pleased to vote in favor of the school-aid bill. Foundation aid for districts also increased. I was also happy to see a library-aid increase.
The final budget included business tax cuts and eliminated the 18-A energy assessment. Manufacturing, estate taxes, and corporate franchise tax cuts are all great starts, and I have advocated for these measures for many years. These changes, which make our state more competitive, were thankfully included in the final budget. The estate-tax cuts will help many residents and especially farmers whose land and assets are their way of life. We need to look more closely at mandate relief if we are to truly lower the tax burden. While I’m always happy to have money go back to residents, the property-tax measures that passed place more responsibility on localities to make cuts rather than address state mandates.
We were able to help farmers as well, not only with the estate-tax cuts but also through restoring proposed cuts for local agricultural-assistance programs. The Northern New York Agricultural Development local-assistance program, apple growers, and maple producers funding was restored in the enacted budget.
We also passed language in the budget that prevents electronic-benefit transfer (or EBT) cards from being used at liquor stores, casinos, and adult-entertainment venues. Penalties were established for violators. I’m pleased that we finally passed these long-overdue provisions.
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. This column is drawn from a statement Barclay issued on April 1. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (315) 598-5185.