Barclay: Budget must keep middle class tax cut, fund local roads and libraries

PULASKI, NY — There is a little less than a month before the 2019-20 New York State budget is due.  Last week, I joined some of my Assembly colleagues in Albany to push for priorities we would like to see in the budget.  These priorities include keeping the middle class income tax cut, restoring funding for libraries and helping families, localities, and small businesses. Here is a detailed list.

Preserve the middle class tax cut.  In 2016, the state passed a budget that included a state income tax cut for middle income earners.  It is critical that these income tax cuts remain as intended and work to provide the cumulative $4.2 billion in tax relief through 2025 as promised.  The state has a history of adding to the tax burden when budget shortfalls are predicted instead of finding ways to cut spending.  I am pushing for this to be preserved through budget negotiations.

Restore AIM funding. For decades the state has provided assistance to towns and villages with Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM).  This year the Governor proposed to slash $59 million from AIM.  After public outcry, the Governor amended the budget proposal to mandate counties provide this funding to towns and villages with revenue expected from sales tax.  A new county mandate is not a solution to a state aid cut.  The final budget needs to restore the state aid and end this gimmickry.

Relief for unfunded mandates. Counties in New York are required to pay for more than 40 state-mandated programs–9 of which consume 90% of local property taxes.  Our localities need mandate relief in this budget and the state could start by agreeing to take over the local share of Medicaid which is the most costly mandate for local property taxpayers.  Additionally, any new mandate imposed on local governments–such as the one associated with early voting–should be paid for by the state.

Restore library funding. Our libraries provide critical services to their communities and this year the proposed budget is going in the wrong direction–cutting $5 million from the 2018-19 levels.  Funding should be increased to assure that libraries can continue to provide a wide range of materials, technology, and services.

Increase funding for local roads. The weather this winter has been extremely cold and snowy in Upstate yet the budget eliminates funding for extreme winter weather recovery for local roads.  I am pushing for the restoration of these funds. In addition, the state needs to provide more resources to localities that maintain 87% of the state’s roads and bridges. By increasing funding over 5 years with the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement (CHIPs) program, we reduce the local tax investment and enable cities, towns and villages to better plan for necessary road repairs.  In many cases, CHIPs is the only way localities can afford to fix and maintain local roads.

In addition to these budget priorities, I recently wrote about the importance of direct care workers.  These workers care for some of our most vulnerable residents and adequate funding for their work is critical.  Another recent article outlined a plan to provide small businesses relief from regulations which could be achieved in the budget. I will also continue to advocate for quality education for our youth, increasing college tuition assistance for middle class families, lowering the cost of doing business, and making New York more affordable. If you have any questions or comments, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail, or by calling (315) 598-5185.