Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas praised the passage of the 2016-2017 State Budget, which includes a middle-class tax cut, an increase to the State's minimum wage, paid family leave, and increased funding for education and mass transit.
"This is an historic budget that puts funding right where it needs to be – helping working families who struggle to achieve brighter futures and good education for their children," Simotas said. "This budget uses tax dollars wisely, compassionately, and comprehensively by increasing the minimum wage, providing paid family leave and investing more in education."
The budget increases school aid by nearly $1.5 billion, which includes termination of the Gap Elimination Adjustment, restores proposed cuts to CUNY and freezes SUNY tuition for one year for in-state students.
"Education is an integral part of the foundation for keeping our state's economy strong and our local communities vibrant," Simotas said. By increasing school aid, we give children and young adults a quality education that prepares them for the challenges of the evolving 21st century economy; and we make the dream of college education a reality, not just for the wealthy but for all New Yorkers."
Under the new budget, the minimum wage in New York City would increase to $15 per hour by December 2018, going up $2 per hour in each of the next three years.
"Raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do. It will transform lives by giving low-wage workers a shot at lifting themselves and their families out of poverty," Simotas said.
"Paid Family Leave makes 'family values' more than just buzzwords. It will allow women and men to care for a new child or a sick relative without fear of losing a paycheck or even their jobs. I'm proud that Albany has taken this historic step. It's compassionate, progressive and in the long run sound economic policy," Simotas said
The budget also: supports improvements to mass transportation through a robust investment in the MTA's capital plan; ensures State support for New York City's Medicaid costs; maintains support for Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities, which allows seniors to stay in their homes as they age; and it provides a tax exemption for a clean energy source -- fuel cells -- which was first proposed in a bill by Assemblywoman Simotas.
Following the language of her bill, the budget gives state tax exemptions for the sale, installation and use of a wide range of commercial fuel cell electricity generating equipment. It would give municipalities the option to eliminate local taxes.
"By removing sales tax burdens we make the use of fuel cell technology more affordable and create incentives for its use. The benefits are environmental and economic. This measure has the potential to reduce our reliance on foreign oil, create green jobs and move New York closer to meeting clean energy goals," said Assemblywoman Simotas.
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