This past week, the governor made a number of proposals in his State of the State address in Syracuse. Among the issues he discussed was the need to invest in education, infrastructure and local manufacturing, all priorities I strongly support.
They say education is the great equalizer, but that’s only true when it’s accessible to all. The proposed Excelsior Scholarship would make SUNY college tuition-free for middle-class families whose households make up to $125,000 per year.
This would increase opportunity for our hardworking students and be a big step in tackling the student debt crisis; however, we should also make sure students are receiving financial assistance to help them pay for textbooks and living expenses, which can be a huge portion of their college expenses.
The road to college, though, begins in our public schools. That’s why I also support the proposal to invest $35 million into after-school programs for students in high-need areas. An investment like this could increase enrollment by 36 percent and would go far in closing the achievement gap and molding our future leaders.
Our education system would be nothing without the dedicated teachers who guide our students, and they deserve to be appreciated and recognized for the invaluable work they do. An extension of the Empire State Excellence in Teaching Awards recognizing an additional 60 teachers would reward teachers who go above and beyond for our children and inspire others, too.
We also need to address our aging infrastructure, especially since many local school districts are finding unacceptable levels of lead in their drinking water. The proposed Clean Water Infrastructure Act would invest a record $2 billion in critical projects to protect community water resources around the state to ensure access to clean, safe water.
Improving our infrastructure is a vital part of fueling economic growth. The governor announced that Hancock International Airport will receive over $35 million in funding for a redevelopment project that will cost $45.1 million. The money will go toward upgrading the aging facility into a modern hub for travelers and will create 869 new local jobs.
In addition, the governor announced that Saab North America will relocate its headquarters of Saab Defense and Security to East Syracuse, creating 258 more local high-tech and advanced manufacturing jobs and saving over 450 existing ones.
These proposals are all positive steps for Central New York, and I’ll be reviewing the fine details carefully in the coming months to ensure that they are the wisest investments of taxpayer money. I’ll continue listening to you and being your voice in Albany. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns by contacting me at StirpeA@nyassembly.gov or at315-452-1115.