Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-C-I-Lewiston, voted Monday to pass a budget that includes major tax relief initiatives, the remainder of the "Buffalo Billion," increased aid to local school districts, and reforms to the Common Core mandates. Ceretto called this budget, which is the fourth consecutive on-time budget for the state, another step in the right direction for Western New York families.
Other parts of the budget Ceretto helped pass include increased funding for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, property tax relief for victims of last year's floods, and cost of living adjustments for human services workers.
"Today, we took another big step toward making Western New York an affordable place to live with enough jobs for anyone who wants to earn a living here," Ceretto said. "Through a combination of a bold tax relief plan and unprecedented investment with the 'Buffalo Billion,' Western New Yorkers can finally feel optimistic about their future.
"I thank Gov. Cuomo for working with me on this budget, which is a major victory for Western New York residents. It's a bipartisan accomplishment that puts middle-class families first by lowering their tax burden and creating more job opportunities."
Ceretto worked for a tax relief plan that freezes property taxes and encourages local governments to consolidate services to contain costs. The property tax freeze applies to all residents of municipalities and local governments that stay within the 2 percent cap. Increases within the 2 percent cap will be offset by a rebate check sent directly to homeowners. The income tax for manufacturers has been eliminated entirely, which will encourage manufacturing jobs to return to Western New York.
In response to the brutal winter endured by Western New York residents, Ceretto included a measure in the budget that will help reduce home heating bills.
This new budget is also a major victory for students, parents and teachers, Ceretto said. He worked to secure an increase in state aid for every school district within his Assembly district. State funding for school districts that wish to implement universal pre-K was passed, though voters must approve this, because the money is bonded.
Reforms to Common Core were enacted that originated with Ceretto's APPLE Plan. These include prohibitions of test scores being placed on a student's transcript or used in promotion and placement decisions, allowing kids with developmental disabilities to be assessed at developmental level rather than grade level, and improved protections of students' personal information. For college students, state tuition assistance has been increased for the first time in 14 years.
"Delivering the best possible education to our children is one of my top priorities, and this budget is positive for New York's schools," Ceretto said. "The net result of this budget is an increase in state funding of education, ensuring that schools have more resources to give every child the education they need and deserve.
"Also, desperately-needed reforms to the Common Core mandates have been included, relieving many of the concerns of parents, teachers and students who have been struggling because of their implementation."
Other important pieces of the budget include a $46.2 million increase in aid for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, reduced property tax assessments for victims of last year's floods, and 2 percent cost of living adjustments for human services workers. Ceretto called for all of these items during the budget process and was able to work with Cuomo to get them included in the final budget.