Assemblyman Jones: State Budget Invests in North Countrys Future
After many debates and hearings, the state budget has been enacted. This budget increases education funding and supports critical programs and initiatives for hardworking families. Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) worked tirelessly to ensure that the budget fairly funds North Country priorities to help forge a brighter, stronger future.
A high-quality education opens countless doors and can help students to secure good jobs, said Jones. To ensure all North Country students have the resources they need to thrive in the classroom, the budget provides $27.8 billion in education funding, an increase of $1 billion over last year. With this increase, students can develop a better lifelong love of learning to fuel dreams and goals.
The budget also invests heavily in public transit systems, which will have a direct economic impact on the North Country. These investments help to lead to new contracts from the MTA and other transit agencies at the NovaBus and Bombardier Transportation facilities in Plattsburgh, which boosts local economy and creates more jobs said Jones. The relationships we have forged with these companies are a testament to the efforts spearheaded by the North Country Chamber of Commerce to enhance the Quebec- New York Corridor as an economic engine. That is why I was proud to secure $200,000 for the Chamber to continue fostering these efforts.
Overall, Jones secured $1.7 million for local North Country projects, such as the North Country Veterans Association as well as Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA). Additionally, the budget funds the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program which provides essential services to farmers in New Yorks six northern most counties. Other local initiatives funded in the budget include the Older Americans Technology Services (OATS), which supports the Senior Planet computer training center in Plattsburgh and Malone. Statewide, Jones was also able to advocate and secure funding for local Offices of the Aging to help address their unmet state needs, to ensure our seniors have access to the resources they need to stay healthy and happy in their homes.
To help repair and replace aging roads and bridges, the budget provides $438.1 million for the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Program (CHIPs) and $39.7 million for the Marchiselli Program. By investing in our infrastructure, pedestrian and driver safety improves, local businesses reach new markets and more good-paying construction jobs are created, said Jones. Unfortunately the Capital Budget has not been completed, and I will continue to fight for more funding to help enhance and improve our local infrastructure.
Jones also fought hard against the executive budget that proposed a $59 million cut to Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM), a critical source of state funding for local governments. Additionally he advocated against the 30 day amendments which further threatened AIM funding. This funding helps to ensure that local governments arent forced to slash essential services, lay off employees or raise local property taxes, said Jones. While I am pleased that funding will be returned to cities, towns and villages, I voted against the proposal that modified how our rural communities receive this funding, and I will continue to push forward legislation that supports our North Country municipalities.
The spending plan also authorizes the governor to close up to three correctional facilities. The governor is required to provide at least 90 days notice before any closure. I have opposed this measure since it was included in the executives proposal in January, and I will continue fighting to protect the facilities and jobs in my district, said Jones.
Overall, the annual budget funds many critical initiatives that move the region forward. Although there were some challenges, I am very pleased with the funding I secured for many local and statewide initiatives. As we move forward, I will continue to fight for the needs of our region.