A better budget
Kudos goes to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the entire NYS legislative body for producing new policy and a budget that’s on time and holds the 2-percent cap for the sixth consecutive year. However, despite the cap, it also addresses many important issues and funnels money to where and to whom it’s most needed. Here are some of the highlights:
First, an increase in the minimum wage, which will gradually rise to $15 an hour by Dec. 31, 2018, has been a long time coming for those employed at the bottom of the pay scale and who are struggling to make ends meet.
More money is being spent for education. School aid will see a 6.5-percent growth over last year and there will be a 2-percent growth for spending on higher education as well.
The middle class tax cuts that commenced in 2012 will continue. By 2018, the Personal Income Tax rates are expected to drop to 5.5 percent from where they are now at 6.45 percent.
Family Paid Leave will provide 12 paid weeks off to care for either a new infant, a sick family member or to help ease the family strains of military personnel called to active duty. This benefit will be phased in beginning in 2018 at 50 percent of the employees’ average weekly wage, and when it is fully implemented in 2021, will be capped at 67 percent of their weekly wage.
Infrastructure spending is one of the greatest aspects of this budget. The much-needed improvements to roads, bridges and railroads will be made possible with over $55 billion slated for transportation statewide. It is the largest state transportation plan ever approved.
The Environmental Protection Fund will receive $300 million for many projects that include water quality improvement and recycling programs. Many Long Islanders should reap the benefits of this plan.
In addition, the investment of $25 million for the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services in order to tackle the opiate crisis, which is so prevalent here in Suffolk County in particular, will be a blessing to many families. The funding will be directed to improve prevention, treatment and recovery support services.
Good work, Albany.
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