Senator Ken LaValle said the newly approved New York State budget comprises capital that directly supports Long Islanders.
“Despite being an extremely challenging budget year, we were able to provide new funds for education and rebate checks, preserve more property in the Pine Barrens, and continue to fund the STAR property tax relief program,” LaValle said.
The New York State School Tax Relief program is aimed at reducing school district property taxes for state residents.
The new state budget includes a $1 billion increase in school funding, maintains middle class tax cuts, continues the STAR program, features an increase in property tax rebate checks, and notes a record investment in opioid abuse prevention.
“We continue to invest in Long Island and protect taxpayers to work towards a better future, while maintaining a two percent cap on state spending,” said LaValle.
The education budget includes record support for schools — $26 billion — which represents an increase of $1 billion over last year’s funding.
Other highlights include nearly doubling the Governor’s Foundation Aid proposal, with $281 million in additional funding. This amount includes funding for charter schools, an uptick in capital for STEM programs in nonpublic schools by $10 million for a total of $15 million, and the continuation of $15 million in security grants for non-public schools.
STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach.
“The state budget this year includes substantial funding to ensure students have the proper tools for learning,” said LaValle, a former teacher and principal.
The state budget protects the STAR program, and rejects the governor’s proposed cap on STAR benefits. The Property Tax Rebate Check Program that was instituted over the last few years has also been extended.
In addition, the budget includes a major increase in funding to combat the opioid epidemic, for a new record investment of $247 million.
The new budget allocates $10.6 million to support services including more residential treatment beds, a new recovery and community outreach center, and an Adolescent Clubhouse program to provide peer support activities and events that help maintain a sober and substance-free lifestyle.
Additionally, the budget includes $3.8 million for developing and implementing substance use disorder treatment in local jails. Also incorporated into the budget is $1.5 million for the creation of an independent substance use disorder and mental health ombudsman to assist individuals in receiving appropriate health insurance coverage.
In addition to the funding, the budget includes an initiative to help prevent and address the increased number of babies born addicted to opioids. The budget creates a new program and provides $1 million to further educate and assist health care providers in caring for expectant mothers and new parents with substance use disorders and help ensure they receive appropriate care, with an additional $350,000 provided for infant recovery centers.
To help increase the tools available to law enforcement to get dangerous drugs off the streets, the budget adds two new derivatives of fentanyl and several new hallucinogenic drugs, synthetic cannabinoids, and cannabimimetic agents to the state’s controlled substances schedule.
“Heroin and opioid addiction continue to harm our communities. The new budget provides major increases in funding as we continue to fight this crisis together. While we have made progress over the last few years both legislatively and within the budget, there is still a long way to go,” said LaValle.