Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today highlighted significant accomplishments for the North Country from the 2016-17 state budget agreement. In addition to a $15 statewide minimum wage plan, the nation’s strongest paid family leave policy, and a personal income tax cut that will reduce middle class taxes to their lowest rates in 70 years – the budget includes a number of signature investments that grow the economy and create a stronger, cleaner, greener and healthier New York.
Minimum wage: The State Department of Labor projects 43,423 workers in the North Country will experience higher pay as a result of the $15 minimum wage, reinvesting an estimated $278.3 million in the region's economy.
Paid family leave: The State Department of Labor projects 94,553 private sector workers in the North Country will become eligible for 12 weeks of paid family leave.
School aid: School districts in the North Country will be receiving $758 million in school aid – an increase of $32 million over last year. The region will be receiving $3.6 million in community schools funding. This budget fully restores the region's $6.5 million Gap Elimination Adjustment.
Middle class tax cut: The budget's middle class tax cut, when fully phased in, will save 85,977 taxpayers in the North Country a total $50.9 million with average savings of $592 a year.
Additional North Country-specific investments include:
- $50 million URI Runner-Up
- $1 million for the Anti-Poverty Initiative in Watertown.
- $125 million to support Norsk Titanium to Plattsburgh to manufacture airplane parts using 3D printing.
- $12 million for the Clarkson-Trudeau partnership to grow the biotech industry in the North Country.
- $450,000 for environmental protection of Lake George
- $1 million for environmental protection of farmland surrounding Fort Drum
- $1.1 million for the Clayton Riverwalk to construct a new seawall and public walkway.
- $17 million to replace the Parker Street Bridge over the Grasse River
- $34 million in CHIPS funding for local roads and bridges.
- $8 million to reconstruct the Route 28 Bridge over South Inlet Raquette Lake.
- $170,000 for campground improvements at Cumberland Bay State Park.
- $100,000 for Kring Point State Park to improve electric service in a camping area
- $2.5 million for park improvements at Southwick Beach State park.
Downtown Revitalization Initiative
The budget provides $100 million for a new initiative to fund transformative housing, economic development, transportation, and community projects designed to attract and retain residents, visitors, and businesses to downtowns. Ten communities (one in each of the state’s economic development region) that are currently experiencing population loss and/or economic decline will be able to submit revitalization plans for their downtown area, developed in collaboration with policy and planning experts.
Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative
The budget includes $1 million Watertown through the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative. This will bring together state and local government, non-profit and community groups to design and implement coordinated solutions to address poverty. Under the program, New York will provide planning and implementation grants, along with additional funding to address the most pressing issues identified during the planning process. The cities selected for the program were chosen based on concentration of poverty within the municipality.
Other significant initiatives and investments included in the budget that will benefit the North Country include:
$27 billion for Roads and Bridges
The $27 billion for roads and bridges includes: $21.1 billion for capital improvement of highways, bridges, rail, aviation infrastructure, non-MTA transit, and DOT facilities throughout the state. This includes the launch of three new initiatives – BRIDGE NY, PAVE NY, and the Extreme Weather Infrastructure Hardening Program to further improve conditions on state and local roads and bridges, as well as provide resiliency to roadways that are particularly susceptible to weather events. It also includes $4 billion for capital investment for a sixth year, and $2 billion in Thruway Stabilization funding that will support capital improvements on the entire Thruway system and the New New York Bridge, allowing the Authority to freeze tolls on the system until at least 2020.
Regional Economic Development Councils & Upstate Revitalization Initiative
To build on the success of the Regional Economic Development Council and Upstate Revitalization Initiatives, the budget continues this locally-driven economic development approach with $950 million for a sixth round of REDC awards and URI runners-up awards. Round VI of the Regional Council initiative will include $750 million to be split competitively among each of the state’s ten regions, and $200 million to fund top projects for the runners up from last year’s URI.
The Regional Councils were established in 2011 to transform the State's approach to economic development from a top-down model to one that is community-based and performance-driven. The initiative empowers community, business, and academic leaders, as well as members of the public in each region of New York State, to develop strategic plans specifically tailored to their region's unique strengths and resources in order to create jobs, improve quality of life and grow the economy.
Urban Youth Jobs Program Tax Credit
This program encourages businesses to hire unemployed, disadvantaged youth, ages 16 to 24, living in the cities and towns with the highest poverty and unemployment rates. The annual allocation is increased from $20 million to $50 million for hiring years 2016 and 2017, of which $20 million annually may be allocated statewide.
$50 million I LOVE NY investment
The budget includes $50 million for the I LOVE NY campaign in order to continue growing New York’s significant tourism sector – which was responsible for more than 883,000 jobs and an economic impact of $100 billion in 2015.
$54 Million to Expand Law Enforcement Capacities and Help Combat Terrorism
Recent terror attacks have revealed a trend towards coordinated strikes using military-style assault weapons, as well as home-grown extremists committing lone-wolf attacks. These attacks are easier to carry out on American soil and can occur anywhere within New York State. This new normal of terrorism requires an expanded approach to the State’s counter terrorism efforts.
The budget includes a $40 million investment, first proposed in the Governor’s state of the state, to expand the presence of law enforcement agencies statewide, $10 million for safety equipment for local law enforcement agencies, and $4 million investment to provide members of the New York State Police with high-powered rifles, body armor and ballistic helmets to all on-duty uniformed troopers, along with the necessary training to prepare them to respond to this evolving threat of terrorism.
Environmental Protection Fund
The Budget includes appropriations of $300 million for the EPF, the highest level of funding in the program’s history and an increase of $123 million from FY 2016. The increase will provide record funding for stewardship, agriculture programs, invasive species prevention and eradication, water quality improvement, municipal recycling and an aggressive environmental justice agenda. Further, this funding level will establish new programs to help communities adapt to climate change through resiliency planning and capital projects, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions outside of the power sector.
Water Infrastructure Improvement Act
The Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015 provides grants to municipalities for critical drinking water and wastewater system improvements. This year’s budget increases the act’s funding from the $200 million approved in 2015, to $350 million. Grants provided through the act will help local governments advance approximately $2 billion in local drinking water and waste water infrastructure investments while creating an estimated 33,000 construction jobs.
Combat Opioid Abuse
The budget invests $25 million in the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to combat the heroin/opiate crisis, increasing spending from $141 million in FY 2016 to $166 million in FY 2017 (a $51 million increase since FY 2014). Funding will be directed to increase access for prevention, treatment and recovery support services for individuals impacted by heroin, opiate and other substance use disorders. Additionally, to further combat opioid abuse, the budget includes an initiative that will require managed care organizations to implement prior authorization for opioid refills exceeding four prescriptions in 30 days. The initiative will exclude patients with cancer, sickle cell disease or receiving hospice care.
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