Governor Cuomo recently laid out his budget proposal which includes many of the issues I have been fighting for. This proposal not only closes a $2 billion budget gap, but it does so with no new taxes or fees and no state borrowing.
Governor Cuomo included a major mandate relief proposal in his budget, which has long been a top priority of mine. Year after year Rockland County has struggled with the burden of unfair state mandates. The cost of these mandates is then passed on to local taxpayers who struggle with ever increasing property taxes. That’s why last year I sponsored Assembly Bill A.8234, which capped increases in Medicaid costs for Counties. I am thrilled that the Governor included this concept in his budget to cap each county’s growth in Medicaid expenses. Under this proposal, over a five-year period, the State will take over all increases in Medicaid Costs which is projected to save New York State counties $1.2 billion. This takeover will finally provide some relief at the local level.
The governor’s budget proposal also includes plans for the New York Funds Infrastructure Investment program. The project, which is intended to rehabilitate New York State’s deteriorating infrastructure and spur job growth throughout the State, has a total funding of $15 billion. Included in this package is $5 billion to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge, which is more good news for Rockland County. This long awaited project will bring good-paying jobs to our region. This employment opportunity comes at a time when the hardworking families of our community need them most. In addition to its economic impact, a new bridge will alleviate congestion and make commuting easier. Our next step is to make a firm commitment and plan for a mass transit component.
The Governor also fulfilled our commitment to increase education funding to local schools. Maintaining excellence in Rockland Schools is a top priority of mine and I have consistently fought for increased education aid. After years of cuts that I opposed we are finally turning the corner and providing an $800 million increase to NY schools at a time they need it most. Although I don't agree fully with the Governor's funding formula, the increase is a step in the right direction and during budget negotiations I hope to maximize aid to Rockland schools.
As we move through the budget process I will continue to fight for the needs of Rockland County families and ensure we pass an on time and fiscally responsible budget. I welcome my constituents to contact me at any time throughout the process with their thoughts and concerns.