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COLUMN: Budget misses opportunity to move state ahead

— Further, there were a number of “sweeps.” For example, this budget authorized that $90 million be directed from the Power Authority of the State of New York to the general fund. The Mortgage Insurance Fund also directed monies into the general fund to balance the budget. This is unfair to those who are charged and pay certain taxes – that the money is not being used for a designated purpose – and begs explanation or refund of taxes from the powers that be.

Good parts of the budget

The good news is this budget does increase funding for Consolidated Local Street and Highway Program (CHIPs) by $75 million. This is something my colleagues and I fought for in Albany, to help ease local property taxes and keep funding in line with increased costs for fuel, asphalt and materials. This will help localities maintain local roads and bridges, which includes 87 percent of New York’s roads and about half of our bridges.

Education was also allocated more funding. The budget provides $20.8 billion in total school aid – a $936.6 million increase. We increased funding for community colleges and increased library aid as well.

We also reduced the tax rate for qualifying manufacturers, so that within six years, this tax rate will be reduced by 25 percent. This is a good measure and a much-needed reform. I was pleased to see this in the final budget.

I was also pleased that funding for agriculture programs, such as the Northern New York Agriculture Development Program, will keep its funding. This program directly assists farmers with many aspects of operations – from growing produce to manufacturing value-added products. The New York Farm Viability Institute will see an increase as well – a similar imitative that provides a critical link between farming and manufacturing and jobs. This is good news for agriculture in our state.

There are many aspects to the budget and this is column provides only a brief overview. I plan to outline in further detail in upcoming columns more about this year’s budget.

Assemblyman Will Barclay represents residents of Assembly District 120, which includes Lysander. He can be reached by mail at 200 North Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by phone (598-5185).

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