Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-I-Lewiston, today highlighted several areas in this year's state budget - a budget that he was integral in helping to pass - which will help strengthen Western New York's economy and create jobs.
"I am proud to have done my part in passing an early state budget that provides our Buffalo/Niagara region with the financial support we need to begin to turn the regional and state economies around," Ceretto said. "From increasing state aid to our schools, community colleges and universities, to making substantial local economic-development investments, the 2012-13 budget sets the stage for job growth and future prosperity."
In addition to increasing state school aid by $129.5 million for primary and secondary education in Western New York, the budget also increases aid to the region's community colleges and universities. For example, Niagara County Community College will receive an additional $853,000 in state aid as well as $1.5 million in job-creating capital funding under the SUNY2020 program. Niagara University and Niagara County Community College will also receive close to $7 million in TAP funding to help Western New York's students pay for college.
"This budget makes crucial investments in education, which will help provide students with the tools and resources they need to succeed in today's global economy," Ceretto said. "Now we must work to ensure that economic-development funding contained in the state budget is used in a responsible manner, one which creates long-term job growth to ensure that our college and high school students have access to meaningful and local employment opportunities when they graduate."
The 2012-13 budget that Ceretto helped to pass also provides substantial funding for Western New York to promote economic development, create jobs and rebuild the region's infrastructure. This funding includes: $1 billion for the Buffalo/Niagara Innovation Cluster to create massive economic development and new and innovative job opportunities; up to $220 million in Regional Council economic-development funding to be used on local projects; $15 million to help fund the Peace Bridge project and increased state aid for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.
"By making substantial investments in our region's economic growth and transportation infrastructure, we are laying the foundation for a strong and diverse economy, one that will create good-paying jobs and improve our quality of life," Ceretto said. "This funding truly is a once-in-lifetime investment, one that we must take full advantage of in order to turn our region's economy around and chart a new and more prosperous future for Western New York."
To further help the region's economy, Ceretto fought for and secured $25 million in funding for Niagara Falls State Park. Ceretto had several meetings with state Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey after the Niagara Falls Park was described as "shabby" in the New York Times, and continued to work to secure funding for the park during this year's budget process. The funding will be used to restore popular viewing areas and trails, rehabilitate the Cave of the Winds area, design a replacement American Falls Bridge, and rehabilitate the park's roadways and infrastructure.
"Niagara Falls and other nearby state parks draw for tourists from all over the world," Ceretto said. "By investing in our parks, we are working to strengthen a growing and important segment of our economy, which will attract more businesses and tourist dollars to the Niagara region."