ALBANY — Working late into the night, the New York State Legislature passed the 2019-2020 state budget on time, sending it to the Governor’s desk for signature. In her first year as the representative of the 42nd District, Senator Jen Metzger successfully fought for a number of programs and initiatives that are important to the communities she represents.
“I worked hard for the inclusion of budget priorities that are important to our communities in the Hudson Valley and Catskills, and I’m proud of what our Senate leadership was able to achieve in negotiations, given the very real fiscal constraints under which we are operating,” said Senator Jen Metzger, referring to the $2.4 billion revenue shortfall expected this year. “While tough decisions were made in the course of negotiations, we were nonetheless able to secure important funding for our schools, hospitals and nursing homes, clean water infrastructure projects, and programs to address the opioid crisis, among other priorities,” said Metzger. “This is a fiscally responsible budget that remains within the two-percent voluntary spending cap.”
Some of the important programs and initiatives Senator Metzger advocated for, and that are incorporated in the final budget, include:
- Local government: Full restoration of $59 million in state funding for Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) to help villages and towns pay for essential services. In addition, the villages of Delhi and New Paltz will each receive $200,000 to help pay for the added costs of hosting SUNY four-year colleges, including policing and emergency services.
- Election costs: Funding for early elections and electronic poll books to offset the costs of early voting, passed earlier in the session.
- Economic relief: $20 million in foreclosure prevention services to help people stay in their homes.
- Education funding: A $1 billion increase in School Aid statewide, including an increase of $32 million to schools in the 42nd Senate district.
- An increase in funding to community colleges of $100 per full-time student, and a floor in funding levels to provide needed predictability in the face of changing enrollment from year to year.
- Full restoration of Educational Opportunity Programs for SUNY students, which provide educational opportunities to students from economically or historically disadvantaged backgrounds.
- Full restoration of medicaid funds to hospitals, nursing homes and EMS: The cuts that had been proposed by the Governor would have meant the loss of tens of millions of dollars to hospitals, nursing homes, and Emergency Management Services in the 42nd district, and Senator Metzger advocated relentlessly for their restoration.
- Addressing the opioid crisis: The budget directs $100 million to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) for critical opioid treatment, recovery, prevention and education services.
- Environmental protection: Additional $500 million in funding for local clean water infrastructure improvements, including sewer and stormwater systems.
- The budget also includes $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), which funds a wide range of local environmental projects, from combating algae blooms in waterways to programs that support environmental justice.
- Agriculture: Over $33.2 million in funding for important research, educational, and marketing initiatives, farm-to-school, and other programs that support farmers and agricultural businesses in the region and statewide. The budget also extends the agricultural workforce tax credit to help offset a portion of rising minimum wage costs.
The 2019-2020 budget also contains a number of policy initiatives supported by Senator Metzger, including:
- Taxpayer Relief: Making permanent the 2% property tax cap, limiting the tax burden on local property owners, including farmers.
- Making it Easier for Upstate Voters: Senator Metzger’s bill to expand upstate primary election voting hours to begin at 6 a.m. instead of noon, making it easier for voters in rural areas to participate in primaries.
- Protecting Healthcare: Codifies the Affordable Care Act – serving over 4.7 million state residents – into New York Law, ensuring that the Federal government cannot take away people’s healthcare in New York.
- Protecting Our Environment: Protects wildlife and the environment by banning single-use plastic bags and initiatives that will greatly reduce food waste, both major sources of pollution and emissions in New York State.
- Addiction Recovery: Removes obstacles to effective treatment of substance use disorder, prohibiting prior authorization and concurrent review for four weeks or 28 visits of outpatient treatment.
Jen Metzger represents the 42nd Senate District, which includes all of Sullivan County and parts of Delaware, Orange, and Ulster Counties. Senator Metzger serves as Chair of the Agriculture Committee and sits on the Environmental Conservation, Education, Health, Energy and Telecommunications, Local Government, Women’s Issues, Domestic Animal Welfare, and Legislative Commission on Rural Resources Committees.
–The Office of State Senator Jen Metzger
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