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In Buffalo, Cuomo announces Western New York highlights of state budget

Press Release

Tue, Apr 11th 2017 06:00 pm
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, right, signed and announced highlights of the passed 2017-18 executive budget in Buffalo on Tuesday. It included ride sharing, the Middle Class Recovery Act and Excelsior Scholarship Program. The governor arrived at event in first Uber ride in upstate New York. (Photo courtesy of the governor's Flickr page)
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, right, signed and announced highlights of the passed 2017-18 executive budget in Buffalo on Tuesday. It included ride sharing, the Middle Class Recovery Act and Excelsior Scholarship Program. The governor arrived at event in first Uber ride in upstate New York. (Photo courtesy of the governor's Flickr page)
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Press Release created by the Governor's Office

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday announced the Western New York highlights of the 2018 state budget, which builds on the state's fiscal discipline over the last six years while strengthening the middle class, reducing taxes and making smart investments in New York's future. For the seventh consecutive year, the budget is balanced and holds spending growth below 2 percent.

Highlights of the Middle Class Recovery Act in Western New York include:

Extends tax rate on millionaires and preserves $3.4 billion in revenue.

Begins middle-class tax cut for 6 million New Yorkers. In the first four years, Western New York taxpayers will save $350 million - an average tax cut of $1,319. When fully phased-in, the cuts will provide an average single-year benefit of $651 to more than 345,000 taxpayers in the region.

Invests $163 million to make college tuition-free for middle-class families at SUNY and CUNY. There are 68,712 families in Western New York who are eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship.

Increases education aid by $1.1 billion, including $700 million increase in foundation aid, bringing the new education aid total to $25.8 billion, an increase of 4.4 percent.

Doubles the New York State Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, providing 9,600 income tax filers in the Western New York with an average additional benefit of $181, totaling approximately $1.7 million in tax cuts for the region.
Highlights of strategic investments benefitting Western New York include:

•$2.5 billion for the statewide Clean Water Infrastructure Act

•$750 million for Round VII of the successful statewide Regional Economic Development Councils

•$500 million for Buffalo Billion2 - including, in part:

  • $60 million to revive and reinvest blighted areas on the East Side and in Cheektowaga
  • $10 million Workforce Development Fund to support job growth

•$8.3 million to establish the nation's first National Comedy Center in Jamestown

•$213.5 million for municipalities consisting of the following:

  • $212.3 million in aid and incentives for municipalities
  • $1.2 million in video lottery terminal impact aid

•$200 million to create the Empire State Trail, the largest state multiuse trail in the nation

•$170 million for roads and bridges in Western New York

•$70 million to promote statewide tourism through I ❤ New York

•$16 million to combat heroin and opioid addiction in Western New York

•$10 million to revitalize one urban center in Western New York as part of phase two of the $100 million statewide Downtown Revitalization Initiative

"We know that phase one of Buffalo Billion is working. You feel it. You walk down the street you see it on people's faces. You hear it in restaurants, you hear it in bars. You see it in the numbers," Cuomo said.

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The fiscal year 2018 state budget also enables ridesharing statewide. See details on statewide investments included in the state budget here.

Other significant initiatives and investments included in the state budget that will benefit Western New York include:

Investing in Education

Establishing the Governor's Landmark Excelsior Scholarship

The budget enacts the governor's landmark Excelsior Scholarship program to make college affordable for working- and middle-class families making up to $125,000 per year at SUNY and CUNY two- and four-year colleges. 68,712 Western New York families are eligible for the program. In addition, Western New York will receive $55.5 million in capital funding to maintain and upgrade its SUNY higher educational facilities. 

Supporting K-12 Education

The state budget continues the progress made to strengthen educational outcomes and increase access to high-quality learning across New York. The state budget increases education aid by $1.1 billion, including a $700 million increase in foundation aid, bringing the new education aid total to $25.8 billion, or an increase of 4.4 percent. Under Cuomo, school aid has increased $6.2 billion or 32 percent over six years. The state budget increases school aid in Western New York by $90.8 million, including a $50.1 million increase in foundation aid.

Lowering Taxes and Supporting Local Government

Middle Class Tax Cut for 345,000 Taxpayers in Western New York

The state budget begins middle-class tax cuts for New Yorkers. In the first four years, Western New York taxpayers will save $350 million - an average tax cut of $1,319. When fully phased-in, the cuts will provide an average single-year benefit of $651 to more than 345,000 taxpayers in the region.

Middle Class Child Care Tax Credit Doubled for 9,600 Families in Western New York

The state budget enacts an enhanced middle-class child care tax credit that will help more than 200,000 middle-class families make their child care more affordable. The new tax credit would supplement the current New York State Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, and more than double the benefit for families earning between $60,000 and $150,000, bringing the total credit from $169 to $376 per household on average.

The enhancement of the child and dependent care credit will provide 9,600 income tax filers in the Western New York region with an average additional benefit of $181, totaling approximately $1.7 million in tax cuts for the region.

Cutting Property Taxes and Costs of Local Government

The state budget continues the governor's efforts to relieve the property tax burden and builds on the success of the 2 percent property tax cap. The typical New York homeowner pays 2.5 times more in local property taxes than in state income taxes. This budget will empower citizens to control the cost of local government by requiring counties to assemble local governments to find efficiencies for real, recurring taxpayer savings. The shared services plans will be required to go through hearings and a public comment period.

State Aid to Local Municipalities

The state budget maintains $212.3 million in aid and incentives for municipalities for Western New York and $1.2 million in video lottery terminal impact aid.

Providing Budget Flexibility to React to Potential Loss of Federal Aid

Given the looming threats from Washington, the state budget provides flexibility for the state to adjust spending during the fiscal year to account for a significant loss of federal aid. If either federal Medicaid or non-Medicaid federal support is reduced by $850 million or more, the director of the budget will develop a plan to make uniform spending reductions. This plan would take effect automatically unless the Legislature passes its own plan within 90 days.

$500 million for Buffalo Billion2 (BB2)

The first "Buffalo Billion" investment transformed Western New York, ushering in a new era and paving the way for business growth, job creation and an improved quality of life for residents throughout the region. The governor's strategic investments have put the Queen City back on the map as a global destination to live in and work, and, for the first time in decades, millennials are growing roots in Buffalo, taking up high-tech, well-paying jobs, and establishing a home in Western New York. Supporting the highest employment in Buffalo's history, millennials are attracted to the region's affordable property values. Additionally, unemployment has fallen from more than 9 percent to around 6 percent, visitors to Canalside have increased more than tenfold since 2010, and Tesla at Riverbend is rising from the ashes of Republic Steel.

The state budget agreement builds on the success of the past six years of development by extending the Buffalo Billion transformation to the neighborhood level. This unprecedented investment in the Buffalo/Niagara area will strengthen connections between downtown, suburban and surrounding areas by utilizing the bottom-up approach and funding through Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Council Awards process.

Initial BB2-funded projects are outlined below.

Revitalization and Smart Growth Efforts:

•DL&W Terminal: A $20 million investment to redevelop the building and surroundings and extend the Metro Rail to the terminal.

•Extend Metro Rail to Amherst: A $5 million commitment for preliminary studies on an extension to Amherst.

•Outer Harbor Development: Continue to redevelop the Outer Harbor by creating additional recreational opportunities through targeted investments.

•The Buffalo Blueway: Increase waterfront access points by building 18 new docks and boat launches to connect residents and visitors with waterways and historic, cultural and natural assets in the Western New York region.

•East Side Revitalization Initiative: Invest $50 million to reimagine corridors on Buffalo's east side to improve and promote economic and community growth. Building on the Buffalo Billion's original $45 million investment in the Northland Corridor, phase two includes an investment for further site acquisition, brownfield remediation and place-making to accelerate the Northland Corridor's future as a neighborhood with access to training and employment opportunities in the manufacturing sector. The budget includes an additional $10 million investment in zombie property and homesteading to revive blighted areas on the East Side of Buffalo and in Cheektowaga.

•New Life for Neighborhoods: A $10 million investment in zombie property and homesteading to revive blighted areas on the East Side of Buffalo and in Cheektowaga.

•New Industrial Park: A $10 million investment will support Bethlehem Steel's efforts to transform 1,000 acres of land into an industrial park to provide new opportunities for advanced manufacturing.

Strengthening Our Workforce

•Buffalo Manufacturing Works: Buffalo Manufacturing Works will move from its temporary location and establish the Western New York Workforce Training Center for manufacturing and energy in Northland. This transformative project will go a long way toward serving the more than 130,000 underemployed individuals in the region, and is central to fostering economic growth throughout the east side and the greater Buffalo/Niagara area.

•Workforce Development: Create a $10 million workforce development fund to foster job growth and support the demand for manufacturing and other industry needs as Buffalo's business landscape continues to diversify and grow.

•Say Yes to Education: Prepare students for the transition from high school to higher education through the "Say Yes to Education" initiative with an additional $10 million in funding to continue to secure a strong workforce pipeline in Buffalo and throughout Western New York.

Growing Tourism

•Downtown Niagara Falls: Acquire underutilized properties in historic downtown Niagara Falls to redevelop and promote economic growth across the city.

•Niagara Gorge Corridor: Reclaim 135 acres of the Niagara Gorge Corridor to preserve the largest expansion of green space since the late 19th century.

•Ecological Restoration: Invest up to $1 million in the Niagara Gorge Corridor to complete an ecological restoration that will support the sustainability of the gorge for generations to come.

•Outdoor Recreation: Issue an RFP to boost tourism by developing new outdoor recreation activities at the four state parks in the City of Niagara Falls to provide residents and visitors even more reason to enjoy Niagara Falls.

•National Comedy Center: Leverage the region's cultural history and the birthplace of Lucille Ball in Jamestown with a $8.3 million investment to complete the nation's first National Comedy Center.

•Western New York's own Downtown Revitalization Initiative: Similar to 2016 downtown revitalization initiative - invest $20 million in the development of a competitive grant program for place-making strategies to revitalize the downtown areas of suburban small cities, villages and towns in the greater Buffalo/Niagara area.

Encouraging Innovation and Entrepreneurship:

43North, the world's largest business idea competition, has brought new start-up companies, young professionals and life to Buffalo, and phase two of the Buffalo Billion proposes to double down on another five years of the world-renowned 43North competition. The $25 million investment will include enhanced mentorship and continued 43North equity participation.

43North will also be part of an innovation hub, which will be a comprehensive network of entrepreneurial support, leveraging the extensive resources of partner organization to accelerate the growth of life sciences and technology start-ups.

Funding for 43North includes continuing to invest in "The Pitch," a business competition for Buffalo-area minority and women-owned businesses who aspire to innovate and grow their companies.

Supporting Health & Life Science Sectors:

The state budget invests $20 million in the UB Medical School on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to catalyze Western New York's burgeoning life science industry and provide New Yorkers with the best health care possible. Investments will support new and expanded incubator, accelerator, lab and maker space to continue to accommodate the region's growth of start-ups, which are up 105 percent since 2012. This will help to better-commercialize the intellectual property created at colleges and universities as part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. A $10 million strategic investment fund will also fuel public/private partnerships in life science.

Investing in Jobs & Infrastructure

In addition to BB2, the state budget includes the following investments to grow the region's economy:

•The New Western New York Welcome Center: The state budget invests in the new Western New York Welcome Center. Located on Grand Island, it will become a vital component of New York's tourism industry, which has an economic impact of more than $100 billion and supports more than 900,000 jobs.

The welcome center will serve as an anchor for showcasing information on world-class destinations and historic sites in the Western New York region, and continue to drive economic development in the region.
The facility will operate year-round and include regional historical information and interactive tourism kiosks, a children's playground, electric vehicle charging stations, a motorcycle shelter and more.

•$100 Million for Round II of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, Including $10 Million for One Western New York Community: The state budget includes $100 million for round two of the successful downtown revitalization initiative. The initiative was created last year to support transformative housing, economic development, transportation and community projects to attract and retain residents, visitors and businesses to downtowns. The first round awarded $100 million last year to 10 communities that are currently experiencing population loss or economic decline to develop revitalization plans for their downtown area, developed in collaboration with policy and planning experts.

Transportation:

•$170 Million to Strengthen Roads and Bridges in Western New York: Under the leadership of Cuomo, New York is executing the largest infrastructure and development plan in the nation. The state's $100 billion plan is reimagining airports, increasing the capacity of transit hubs, modernizing subway, bus and commuter rail networks, and rebuilding roads and bridges across the state.

The state budget supports the following investments in Western New York's transportation infrastructure:

  • $63.7 million in funding CHIPS, PAVE NY and Extreme Winter Recovery programs
  • $24 million to rehabilitate the State Route 5 Skyway bridge in the City of Buffalo
  • $10.7 million to restore the roadway surface on Interstate 86 from West Almond to the Steuben County line in the Town of Almond, Allegany County
  • $4.1 million to increase mobility and safety by extending Allen Street between Main Street and Ellicott Street in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus
  • $3.3 million to improve safety along the approaches to the intersection of Route 20 and Route 60 in the Village of Fredonia and Town of Pomfret, Chautauqua County
  • $2.7 million to restore the roadway surface on Route 324 from Evans/Hopkins to Route 78 in the Town of Amherst in Erie County
  • $1.5 million to restore the roadway surface on the LaSalle Expressway from Interstate 190 to Williams Road eastbound in the City of Niagara Falls
  • $1.4 million to restore the roadway surface on NY 417 west of Interstate 86 to Olean West City Line and Route 954E from Reed Street to Interstate 86 eastbound ramp in the City of Olean and Town and Village of Allegany

The state budget also provides $52.5 million to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority for bus and light rail services.

Protecting the Environment for Future Generations

•$10.5 Million to Rehabilitate State Parks and Historic Sites in Western NY: The state budget includes $120 million to rehabilitate state parks through the New York Works Program, an increase of $30 million from fiscal year 2017. Based on preliminary plans for fiscal year 2018, Western New York State Parks and Historic Sites are expected to receive $10.5 million in New York Works funding.

•$3.8 Million to Modernize Infrastructure at Allegany State Park: The state budget invests $3.8 million to begin phase one of a project to replace the Red House Bridge and dam, as well as modernize the sewage treatment system serving the Quaker Lake area.

•$3.3 Million to Modernize and Upgrade Utilities at Niagara Falls State Park: The state budget includes $3.8 million to continue the revitalization of Niagara Falls State Park. New York's most-visited state park will modernize and upgrade park utilities to support revitalized facilities, including a new year-round Cave of the Winds Experience Building, which will allow visitors to enjoy new interactive programs featuring the natural and cultural history of Niagara Falls.

•Record Environmental Protection Fund: The state budget continues to support the Environmental Protection Fund at $300 million - the highest level of funding in the program's history. The statewide investment includes $41 million for solid waste programs, $86 million for parks and recreation, $154 million for open space programs and $19 million for the climate change mitigation and adaptation program. Investments also include: 

√Scajaquada Creek: The EPF includes a $1 million appropriation for cleanup of the Scajaquada Creek, located in Erie County.

√Zoos, Botanical Gardens and Aquaria: The budget includes $15 million for zoos, botanical gardens and aquaria statewide in fiscal year 2018. While the awards for 2017 have yet to be determined, in 2016, the following Western New York zoos, botanical gardens, and aquariums received more than $817,000 in grants from this program:

  • Pfeiffer Nature Center and Foundation Inc.
  • Jamestown Audubon Society
  • Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences
  • Zoological Society of Buffalo Inc.
  • Niagara Aquarium Foundation

•Municipal Parks and Historic Sites. The EPF also includes $20 million for municipal parks and historic sites statewide in fiscal year 2018. While the 2017 awards have yet to be determined, in 2016, the following Western New York institutions and localities received more than $2 million in grants from this program:

  • Lockport Locks Heritage District Corp.
  • First Presbyterian Society of the Town of Buffalo
  • Gowanda's Historic Hollywood Theatre Ltd.
  • Town of Canaedea
  • Jamestown Renaissance Corp.
  • Village of Fredonia
  • County of Erie

Investing in Health Care and Wellness

More Than $155.7 Million to Transform and Enhance Health Care Delivery at Western New York Health Systems

The state budget includes re-appropriations of $155.7 million to dramatically transform and enhance the delivery of health care in Western New York, in addition to the state budget's new $500 million statewide capital program under which regional awards will be made later this year. The $155.7 million investments supported by re-appropriations in the state budget fund essential projects and will improve patient care and make facilities more viable in the long term. This funding is a portion of a $3.3 billion commitment made by New York over four years to help health care providers statewide fund critical capital and infrastructure improvements, as well as integrate and further develop health systems.

•$102.6 Million to Advance Roswell Park Cancer Institute: The state budget invests $102.6 million to support Roswell Park Cancer Institute, including $36 million in new capital support, and supports its core functions of cancer research, clinician and researcher education, cancer prevention and education, and patient treatment.

•$16 Million to Combat the Heroin and Opioid Crisis in Western New York: The state budget invests $16 million to combat the heroin and opioid crisis in Western New York communities by supporting prevention, treatment and recovery programs targeted toward chemical dependency, residential service opportunities, and public awareness and education activities. This funding supports: 55 residential treatment beds, 100 opioid treatment program slots, one community coalition, two family support navigators, two peer engagement programs, one adolescent clubhouse, one recovery community and outreach center and one 24/7 urgent access center.

•Direct Support to Leverage $20 Million for Salary Increases for 10,000 Direct Care Workers in the Western New York: The state budget adds new state funding that will leverage $20 million for annual funding for salary increases for direct care staff and direct support professionals in Western New York. The funding increase will support 10,000 employees working in the nonprofit sector who provide services on behalf of the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, the Office of Mental Health and the Office for Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. These providers will also receive funding to support a 6.5 percent salary increase, which will be phased-in over a two-year period. The funding will also help nonprofits mitigate recruitment and retention challenges and promote further professionalism in the industry.

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