Guest Op-Ed: State budget delivers for New Yorkers

I am proud to report that New York State has adopted an on-time budget for the fourth consecutive year. This budget was successful in addressing a variety of key issues including education, benefits for our senior citizens and tax relief.

One of the most notable achievements of this year’s budget was the inclusion of $300 million to provide Universal Pre-K for every four-year-old in New York City. The Senate also pushed to protect charter school children and the budget, as enacted, ensures these schools have access to space in our city.

This budget increases the amount of state aid allocated to our schools by $400 million and provides $103 million in foundation aid for after-school programs. Additionally, we have authorized the issuance of $2 billion in bonds to provide our schools with the technology they require, with 40 percent of the revenue going directly to New York City schools.

I am proud of what we have accomplished in this year’s budget for early education, as well as higher education, providing $25.7 million for the Tuition Assistance Program, to make a quality college education more affordable.

During these budget negotiations, I was committed to easing the burden of the cost of living for New York’s seniors. This year was historic in that the SCRIE income eligibility was increased, for the first time since 2009, to $50,000 a year starting July 1.

We also expanded the income eligibility for the EPIC Prescription Drug Program, to S75,000 for singles, and $100,000 for married seniors. Additionally, this budget allocated $5 million to the Community Services for the Elderly program to reduce wait times for meals on wheels, case management, and more.

Ensuring that New York State remains a haven for the working and middle class remains a top priority of the State Senate. I am pleased the budget recognizes the burdens that taxes place on the budget of New Yorkers. The tax credits in this budget for both homeowners and renters alike will save city residents hundreds of dollars a year.

We also recognize the need to remove obstacles which stifle business growth, and that is why we have approved a phase out of the energy tax surcharge and eliminated the corporate tax for manufacturers.

Finally, I share in the disappointment of many over the failure to adopt the Education Investment Tax Credit and to provide Verrazano Bridge toll relief for Brooklyn residents. I am proud of the direction New York has taken with the adoption of this budget and will continue the fight for important causes that were left out of this budget.

State Senator Marty Golden represents the 22nd Senate District.

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