By Senator Patty Ritchie
Last week, I brought you some of the highlights of newly enacted 2013-2014 State Budget.
From critical support for family farmers and providing urgently needed tax relief to the middle class to investments in job creation and education, the spending plan does a lot of good, while at the same time, holds the line on spending.
As a member of the Senate Select Committee on Libraries, I’m also thrilled to announce that the spending plan contains great news for libraries.
In his Executive Budget Proposal, Governor Cuomo proposed to fund libraries at the same level as last year, $81.6 million.
After taking the Governor’s proposal into consideration, the Senate proposed adding $4 million to Library Aid, while the Assembly did not propose any additional funding.
In the final budget, I am pleased to report that the Senate was able to secure the additional $4 million in aid to libraries. This represents a 4.9% increase over last year’s level and builds upon the work my colleagues and I did last year to secure a 3.3% increase in funding.
This aid will go to help the more than 7,000 public libraries in New York State, as well as the more than 50 public libraries in Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties, one of the largest concentrations of public libraries in any Senate district in the state.
Statistics show that this extra boost couldn’t come at a better time.
According to the American Library Association, public libraries are serving more than 96 percent of the total U.S. population; offering everything from the latest bestsellers and movies to job-searching tools and community events.
This week, I’ll be visiting the historical Flower Memorial Library in Watertown, to honor women from Central and Northern New York through the New York State Senate’s 2013 “Women of Distinction” program.
Named after former New York Governor Roswell P. Flower, the building was called “the most beautiful small library in the United States” when it was dedicated in 1904.
It’s a place I always love to visit when I get the chance; to take in the library’s rich history.
I encourage you to visit, and support your local library as well.
To find a library near you, learn more about services local public libraries provide and more, please visit http://ncls.northcountrylibraries.org/