New York State Senator James Skoufis announced today that Orange County residents scored “big wins” from the state budget that was approved this week.
As negotiations among legislative leaders and Governor Kathy Hochul went into overtime, Skoufis stood firm on two key priorities: making a critical revision to the state’s bail reform laws that will give judges more discretion to assign detention for dangerous defendants, and blocking a controversial housing proposal that would have given the state an unfettered ability to override local zoning.
According to Skoufis, portions of the budget will “meaningfully improve quality of life for Orange County residents. Those items include:
- Historic education and universal pre-kindergarten funding, including a state aid boost of approximately 19% (or $2,500 per student) across Orange County’s school districts, and an additional $125 million for full-day pre-kindergarten programming, marking New York’s swift adoption of truly universal UPK statewide.
- Creation of a state monitor to rein in wasteful corporate tax breaks offered by the Orange County IDA that have long deprived our communities and school districts of needed revenue– a primary reason why property taxes are sky-high.
- Expanding the Empire State Child Tax Credit for kids under four years old, and allowing for retroactive enrollment in the Child Health Program to the first of the month.
- Providing free breakfast and lunch to all students in schools where at least 25% of the student population lives under the poverty line.
- Advancing a 4% cost-of-living increase for those in the human services sector, including mental health workers, and increasing the minimum wage for homecare workers.
- Expanding eligibility for TAP recipients so middle-class families have greater access to financial aid, and defeating the Governor’s proposed tuition hikes at four-year SUNY and CUNY schools.
- A $60 million increase in funding for local road repair, and an additional $40 million for Touring Routes, the program that provides funding to cities to maintain state roads in their communities.
- Restoring loan forgiveness for New York’s young farmers, providing $1 million for beginner farmers, and allowing farmers to claim a refund of excess Investment Tax Credits.
- Exempting Orange County businesses from having to pay an unjust increase to the MTA payroll mobility tax.
- Maintaining the lowest middle-class income tax rates in 70 years.
“Heading into this year’s budget negotiations, my single biggest priority was to protect our Orange County communities,” said Skoufis. “To that end, I fought hard to make common sense fixes to the state’s bail reform laws and ensure judges have enhanced discretion to keep dangerous defendants out of our neighborhoods. I also went to the mat to block the Governor’s ill-conceived housing proposal that would have overridden local zoning and local priorities. I’ll never stop pushing to bring home the resources our constituents need and deserve, ensuring that Orange County always gets a fair shake in Albany.”