“As a decades-long educator and steadfast advocate for veterans’ welfare, I know that our state’s education and veterans’ benefits systems need a great deal of resources to properly serve New Yorkers. That’s why I’m pleased the Assembly proposal includes significant funding for free school meals, universal prekindergarten, higher education and veterans.
“The Assembly proposal provides critical funding for our state’s education system, including $280 million for a Universal Free School Meals program that would provide free meals for all public-school students. It also provides $75 million for Statewide Universal Full Day Prekindergarten (SUFDPK) programs, allowing more families to enroll their preschool-aged children in a publicly funded education program. This allocation brings the total funding for pre-K programs in the 2023-24 school year to $200 million.
“It’s also critical that the path to higher education remains accessible to middle and working-class people, especially the SUNY system. The Assembly proposal includes an additional $200 million for SUNY schools to remove tuition increases, including $100 million in additional operating assistance and $100 million to create a Campus Excellence Fund to support students with disabilities and fight campus hunger. Furthermore, the budget proposal would restore $738,000 for the Liberty Partnerships Program and provide a $1.2 million increase for a total of $26.2 million, as well as restore $636,000 for the Science Technology and Entry Program (STEP) and provide a $1.1 million increase over last year for a total of $22.6 million.
“Finally, as a former Vice-Commander of Sons of the American Legion Squadron 1796 of New Windsor and former member of the 18th Congressional Veterans Advisory Board overseeing benefits and the welfare of veterans throughout the Hudson Valley, I fought for the Assembly proposal to restore the 14% cut to veterans appropriations that the executive proposed.
“Last but not least, the Assembly plan rejects the executive’s plan to increase the payroll mobility tax (PMT), and instead provides these resources to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). This is a critical win for our district, which already pays an unjust amount to the MTA in taxes without parity in services.
“As we work to pass the 2023-24 state budget, I’ll continue to put our families first. I’ll fight for our primary and higher education systems to have the resources that best prepare our children and young adults for a bright future and ensure that our veterans are well taken care of for their sacrifices.”