By Senator Patty Ritchie
Last week, the State Senate and Assembly finished work on the most family, and Middle-Class friendly, state budget in a generation.
As your state senator, I’m proud to report that this new budget holds the line on spending and for the third year in a row, the budget spends less than inflation, while at the same time providing urgently needed tax relief for the Middle Class, as well as critical support for family farmers, and investing in education, job creation and a stronger economy.
Here are some of the highlights of the 2013-14 State Budget:
Help for the Middle Class
· Extends recently enacted Middle Class tax rates that are the lowest in 60 years
· Fulfills my pledge to restore tax rebates for Middle Class families, with a $350 rebate check to families in 2014
· Increased investment in property tax relief through the popular STAR program
· Cuts electric bills for households, farms and businesses with the phase-out of a 2009 energy tax
Improving Educational Opportunities
· Includes the largest one-year increase in aid to public schools—5.6% to 48th Senate District schools
· Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence county schools receive an increase of $25 million, $7 million more than in the Governor’s proposal
· Changes to the state aid formula I sought drive more aid to rural and poorer Upstate districts
A Boost for Farmers
· First increase in funding for key agriculture support programs, a key goal of my recent “Grown in NY” plan
· New and restored agriculture program funding totals $4.27 million
· New marketing programs to help farmers grow their businesses
While the spending plan does a lot of good, it is by no means perfect.
There are many issues, most notably in the areas of public health and services for people with special needs.
I am committed to working to find ways to soften the impact of budget changes and advocate for those who are in most need of assistance.
If you have any questions concerning the new State Budget, please don’t hesitate to call my office or email me at [email protected]
I also encourage you to visit my website: www.ritchie.nysenate.gov where you’ll find a wealth of information on the new spending plan, including information on individual budget bills, full details on school aid funding and more.