After months of negotiation, the New York State Budget was approved by the State Legislature on April 9, 2017. This years budget includes funding for many of the projects Assemblywoman Solages has prioritized for the Twenty-second Assembly District. Prioritizing property tax relief: If your S.T.A.R. check is late, the State pays you back. New Yorkers will receive a property tax rebate check in the mail as a provision of this years New York State Budget. Assemblywoman Solages championed a proposal within this years budget that provides for this rebate, as well as an interest payment to any School Tax Relief (S.T.A.R.) check recipient who is not issued their check in a timely fashion. The new provisions include:
- $3 billion in property tax relief through the states S. T. A. R. program,
- Nearly $500 million for another round of rebate checks
$35 million for after-school programs
$2 million for Advance Placement (AP) Test Assistance
$3 million for cyberbullying prevention. Assemblywoman Solages believes there is truly no better investment the state can make than in its children. By giving schools the funding and resources they need, New York can provide students with an education that will allow them to grow and flourish. Leading the way to college affordability: we've made college tuition-free for middle class New Yorkers. The 2017-18 state budget makes a substantial investment in SUNY and CUNY schools and helps expand access to higher education through scholarship and opportunity programs. The state budget provides funding to establish the Excelsior Scholarship, a groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind initiative to make SUNY and CUNY schools tuition-free for New Yorkers who earn less than $125,000 annually. Students who attend a private college in New York and earn less than $125,000 annually would also be eligible for a scholarship award of $6,000. Revitalizing local train stations Residents voiced their concerns regarding the need to improve train and transportation infrastructure, and they were heard loud and clear. Assemblywoman Solages secured funding to revitalize Valley Stream and Stewart Manor train stations. The budget also increases the state Department of Transportation (DOT) Road and Bridge Capital Plan by $130 million. This will help ensure the safety and reliability of our infrastructure, as well as create good-paying jobs in your community. Restoring aid to public libraries Assemblywoman Solages met with local library directors to discuss the importance of funding our libraries. Public libraries at the turn of the 20th century were established as educational institutions, providing equal opportunity in education for all. Libraries = Education enforces the importance of funding self-directed learning. The New York State Budget restores aid to public libraries by $9 million to ensure they can continue to provide services and resources to residents, for a total of $95.6 million in funding. In addition, the budget provides an increase of $10 million in capital funding for a total of $24 million. Protecting the environment: $2.5 billion fund for clean water infrastructure The budget provides $2.5 billion for water infrastructure to help ensure clean drinking water by repairing and replacing old pipes and water mains throughout the state. This funding is also directed toward preventive measures. As Nassau Countys water infrastructure deteriorates and the risk of contamination grows, Assemblywoman Solages continues to fight tirelessly to assure that the Twenty-second Assembly District receives the funding necessary to provide its constituents with safe drinking water. The funding for water infrastructure supports several projects including replacement of lead drinking water service lines and support for a water infrastructure emergency loan fund. Raise the age: removing our youth from the criminal justice system The New York State Budget includes a provision to ensure that young people involved in New Yorks criminal justice system receive fair treatment and are given a better chance to turn their lives around. Raise the Age is an awareness campaign to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York from 16 to 18 years of age. The Assembly Majority has championed this issue for more than 12 years and it has been a key concern for Assemblywoman Solages. The Assemblys efforts in this area concentrated on helping as many young people as possible, as quickly as possible. These new measures represent a major shift in how the state deals with youthful criminal defendants. After a long-fought battle, New York will no longer be one of only two states in the country to prosecute 16- and 17-year-old defendants charged with nonviolent crimes as adults in Criminal Court. Expanding Uber/Lyft across New York State The state budget allows ride-hailing services to operate throughout New York beginning in July 2017. Ride-hailing will not only keep the community moving, it will provide jobs and boost New Yorks local economies. Providing donor breast milk for hospitalized, high-risk, preterm infants Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages has successfully passed a legislative provision for donor breast milk in the 2017-18 budget. This measure provides Medicaid coverage for donor breast milk for hospitalized, high-risk, preterm infants who are unable to receive breast milk from their mothers. New York State will also restore $78.8 million in proposed reductions to Medicaid as well as $37.6 million to various public health programs. New York mothers will now receive the support they need to care for their new family through these vital initiatives. Paying a living wage to direct care workers who support New Yorkers with developmental disabilities Low wages have left direct care workers struggling to get by and provide for their families. These conditions have forced many to leave the field and have resulted in a staffing crisis in this area. After the executive budget was released without any funding for a direct care worker wage increase, the assembly fought to ensure that the final state budgets for 2017-18 and 2018-19 dedicated $14 million and $146 million respectively, to fund a two-year, living wage initiative for direct care workers. This initiative is implemented through the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, the Office of Mental Health, and the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. As a result of these initiatives, direct care workers and direct support staff will receive a 3.25 percent salary increase on Jan. 1, 2018. Additionally, direct care workers, direct support staff, and clinical staff will receive a 3.25 salary increase on April 1, 2018. Combating the heroin epidemic The 2017-18 state budget increases funding by $43 million over last year for a total of $213 million to fight the heroin epidemic and increase access to treatment for New Yorkers struggling with a substance abuse issues. This funding supports a number of treatment and prevention programs, including family support navigators, peer supports, recovery clubhouses and community coalitions, as well as $10 million in additional capital support to increase the number of beds in inpatient treatment facilities.