State Budget Voting Expected Wednesday

Buffalo Billion, Increased School Aid Included

Dave Debo
April 05, 2017 - 6:20 am
NYS Senate

AP Photo


 New York lawmakers are poised to pass a new state budget after resolving a stalemate that caused them to blow through a Saturday deadline.

   The state Senate began deliberations on a budget deal late Tuesday night, with the intention of passing it Wednesday, the same day the Assembly plans to take it up.

   The more than $150 billion spending plan keeps taxes flat while increasing public education spending by more than $1 billion. It includes $2.5 billion for water infrastructure upgrades, expanded child-care tax credits and provisions allowing Uber and Lyft to expand upstate.    The budget's details have not yet been released but lawmakers say it will include increased college tuition assistance and a higher age of criminal responsibility so 16- and 17-year-old offenders aren't prosecuted and incarcerated as adults.

  But Governor Andrew Cuomo says there is  no final agreement. He says the two-month budget extension he introduced that was passed on Monday ensures government will continue to function until a final deal is reached in a few weeks.

 Lawmakers have another reason to seek quick resolution: They won't get paid until the budget passes.

\Various local lawmakers have been touting individual local programs that are included in the spending plan. They include:

Tonawanda Huntley Plant Aid: The Ken-Ton School District will receive $2.7 million more aid, the town of Tonawanda will receive an extra $1.8 million and the county an extra $1 million to offset massive property tax losses with the closure of NRG Energy's Huntley power plant on River Road, according to a statement from Sen. Chris Jacobs and Assemblyman Robin Schimminger. The 100-acre plant was assessed at approx. $6 million when it closed in March of 2016. This is the second consecutive year that the state budget included relief for having the operating portion of the coal-fired plant off the tax rolls.  

Buffalo Billion Projects: The budget will include money to study and design a MetroRail extension to Amherst,and will fund new tourism visitor centers on Buffalo's Outer Harbor and a Niagara Falls/Buffalo regional center on Grand Island.  The plan also includes a lodge on Goat Island and related improvements in Niagara Falls, a new high tech manufacturing center for Buffalo's East side and several other initiatives unveiled in Gov. Cuomo's regional state of the state address.

From The Governor's Office here's an outline of the Buffalo-specific projects:

East Side Revitalization Initiative: Invest in targeted place-making improvements on key east side corridors—Fillmore, Jefferson, Michigan and Bailey Avenues—which will help leverage additional investment in key, historic assets such as the Central Terminal, MLK Park, and the Broadway Market. Building on the Buffalo Billion's original $45M investment in the Northland Corridor, Phase II proposes an additional investment for further site acquisition, brownfield remediation and place-making to further secure Northland Corridor’s future as a light manufacturing neighborhood. 

Main Street Revitalization Initiative: Buffalo Billion Phase II proposes a transformative investment along 10 miles of Buffalo's central spine, Main Street, from the Outer Harbor, Inner Harbor and medical campus to the University at Buffalo's North Campus. Priority investments include: place-making and access at the outer harbor, as well as attracting a private developer to reimagine the long-vacant DL&W terminal. 

Connecting Economic Progress by Rail: Develop a new commuter rail and multi-modal station in downtown Buffalo and completing Buffalo’s light rail extension to University at Buffalo’s North Campus will provide 20,000+ students access to downtown Buffalo and the waterfront, as well as connect urban job seekers with suburban employment centers, helping Buffalo to deliver economic inclusion for all the region’s workers. Additionally, a new train station will replace Buffalo’s outdated Exchange Street station which has been in need of repair for some time.

Suburban Redevelopment/Bethlehem Steel: Bethlehem Steel represents the largest manufacturing/industrial land tract in a first-ring suburb. Phase II envisions acquiring up to an additional 250 acres of land to clear the way for future growth.

Downtown Revitalization Initiative: Similar to 2016's Downtown Revitalization Initiative, Phase II would create a competitive grant program for place-making strategies to revitalize the downtown areas of suburban small cities, villages and towns in the greater Buffalo/Niagara area.

The Buffalo Blueway: Create a network of expanded public access points to waterways and historic, cultural and natural assets to spur revitalization and tourism in the Buffalo/Niagara Region.

Erie County's Facilitated Enrollment Child Care Subsidy program will receive $500,000 according to a news release from Sen. Chris Jacobs and Sen. Patrick Gallivan. "The program offers subsidies to parents earning less than 275% of the federal poverty level.  It is designed to support parents who earn too much to qualify for the Erie County Child Care Subsidy but cannot afford quality childcare on their own," the joint statement said.



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