Senate & Assembly library chairs to fight $20 million cut to library construction aid in executive budget proposal
On Thursday, New York State Sen. Sean Ryan and Assembly member Kimberly Jean-Pierre announced their plans to fight to restore proposed cuts to library capital funding in the fiscal year 2022-23 state budget. The executive budget proposal released earlier this week would cut library construction aid to $14 million from the $34 million allocated in the FY 2021-22 state budget.
As chairs of the Senate and Assembly Libraries committees, Ryan and Jean-Pierre led the effort to secure a $20 million increase in library construction aid in last year’s state budget. They also fought to restore $7.1 million of library aid. The final FY 2021-22 budget included $34 million in library construction aid and nearly $130 million in total aid to public libraries across New York.
Library construction aid supports the maintenance, renovation and expansion of existing facilities, and new construction of public libraries throughout the state, with a focus on digital equity needs for various communities.
In November, Ryan and Jean-Pierre’s legislation (S.5753A/A.7060A) to expand funding opportunities for New York’s small and rural libraries was signed into law. The legislators embarked on a statewide tour of public libraries last month, during which they heard firsthand about the varying needs of the state’s libraries and the unique challenges faced by libraries in each region of New York.
Ryan said, “During the pandemic, our public libraries have provided internet access and other important services to thousands of people at a time when broadband internet has become increasingly necessary in our day-to-day lives. Their role of keeping people connected has been a lifeline for many New Yorkers, and highlighted just how vital libraries are to their communities. It is imperative that we fund our local libraries in a way that allows them to build for the future and continue to provide a wide range of essential services to the public.”
Jean-Pierre said, “From Buffalo to Long Island and in every corner of New York state, our public libraries have gone above and beyond to provide essential services to our local communities, especially over the last two years amidst some of the most challenging times we have ever faced. Our libraries always step up for us, and it is time for our state to step up for libraries; we must reject any proposed funding cuts, increase library aid and expand the resources needed to allow these critical entities to continue serving the millions of New Yorkers who depend on them for things like reading materials, internet access, employment resources and so much more. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature to make sure we prioritize our libraries in the upcoming FY 2022-23 budget.”