This budget season was a challenge.
Love or hate Governor Andrew Cuomo, he has made passing budgets on time a hallmark of his administration. This year though, the budget process got complicated — and was ultimately late due to friction in a couple of specific areas.
The fight to ‘Raise the Age’, which Senator Pam Helming (R, C, I-54) called a ‘common sense’ proposal will ensure that “Criminals who commit heinous crimes will be held accountable for their actions, regardless of their age.”
The measure will create a special lane in the New York court system to handle offenders that are 16- and 17-years-old. However, the passed measure differs from the one proposed initially by downstate legislators, according to Helming.
Speaking to the budget as a whole, Sen. Helming added, “I am pleased to report the final budget pushes to the forefront many of these priorities and includes significant investments for our region.”
She expressed relief that several of the Governor’s non fiscal policy and spending proposals that would have been detrimental to the wellbeing of our upstate communities were substantially modified or eliminated altogether.
There were other wins for upstate New Yorkers, according to Sen. Helming, though.
The Senator continued, “With significant funding for CHIPS and other key transportation infrastructure funding included in the budget, our municipalities will finally have a fighting chance to get caught up on road, bridge and culvert repairs.”
She went on to add, “And the $2.5 billion investment in water will help us address our aging infrastructure problems, update sewer and water treatment facilities and protect our drinking water sources.”
Other areas of success included the inclusion of budgeted funding to strengthen prevention, treatment, recovery and education services to fight the heroin epidemic.
Sen. Helming said, “Almost every one of us knows of a family tragically impacted by drug addiction.”
She is a member of the Senate Heroin & Opioid Task Force.
Upstate agriculture also saw a win in the budget, as Helming saw a piece of legislation she sponsored make it into the final product. “The final budget includes a program I was proud to co-sponsor; the ‘Farm to Foodbank’ program. This will allow farmers to claim a tax credit for donating fresh, New-York farm products to programs that feed the hungry in our neighborhoods,” Sen. Helming added.
The budget also fully-funds the STAR program, blocks Gov. Cuomo’s proposed cap on taxpayer’s STAR savings, and protects the middle-class income tax cut that was created last year.
State Senate was the final legislative body to vote on the budget after the initial deal was made — making it the official New York State budget.