Two plus years of battling the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all physically, emotionally and mentally. And now, families in Central New York and across the state are feeling the effects of soaring inflation – whether at the pump, at the grocery store or when paying monthly utility bills – that’s making it harder to make ends meet. To support New York’s recovery, I helped pass a state budget that provides significant tax relief for middle-class families and businesses and invests in critical infrastructure. While there’s always more work to do, this year’s budget addresses the challenges we’ve faced and sets us on a path to a brighter future.
To help homeowners struggling with high property taxes, the state budget provides $2.2 billion for one-time property tax rebate checks for households that are eligible for School Tax Relief (STAR) or Enhanced STAR and earn less than $250,000 a year. It also establishes a $250 million utility arrears fund to help residents pay back utility bills. Due in part to the financial fallout of the pandemic, New Yorkers owe about $1.7 billion in utility arrears and this fund will help keep families safe and in their homes. The state spending plan also includes $35 million for the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP), which helps homeowners avoid foreclosure by connecting them with free, qualified mortgage assistance services. To provide greater savings to families, the state budget suspends a portion of the state tax on gasoline from June 1 to Dec. 31, saving motorists approximately $585 million.
As the Assembly Small Business Committee chair and former small-business owner, I know how difficult it is to turn an idea into a profitable business in normal times, let alone during a global pandemic. To support our local mom-and-pop shops, the state budget provides $250 million to create a refundable tax credit program to help small businesses cover COVID-related expenses. The minimum credit offered is $1,000 per business. The budget also reopens and expands the Restaurant Return-to-Work Credit, allowing employers to claim a credit of up to $50,000 for adding between 10 and 20 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions. To help new and existing ventures, the budget adds $5.2 million for the Centers for Advanced Technology (CAT) Program, which includes $1.25 million for the Center for Advanced Systems and Engineering (CASE) at Syracuse University.
In addition to supporting families and small businesses, the state budget invests in our roads and bridges as well as our broadband infrastructure. It includes $538.1 million for the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPs), $100 million for the Extreme Winter Recovery program to help municipalities recover after harsh winters and severe weather and $100 million for a new “Pave our Potholes” local program. To help New York State achieve its 100% broadband connectivity goals, the budget creates a new Division of Broadband to administer ConnectALL grants. These grants will be awarded to entities that plan, engineer and construct accessible broadband infrastructure. It also ensures prevailing wage will apply to all grants, repeals the state Department of Transportation right-of-way fiber fee and allows the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to lease excess fiber to municipalities, which would help provide service to unserved and underserved areas.
The state budget makes historic investments in communities across our great state at a time when relief is greatly needed. As corporations celebrate record-high profits and inflation eats into New Yorkers’ bottom line, I made sure our state budget provided significant relief to working families.
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