By Assemblyman Al Stirpe
The COVID-19 pandemic has uprooted all of our daily lives in ways that we couldn’t have imagined and done enormous damage to the economy. That’s why, as my colleagues in the Assembly and I continue to negotiate the state budget, I’ve done all that I can to fight for legislation and funding that will keep the virus under control and help New Yorkers get back on their feet. In the wake of a devastating year, the Assembly budget proposal prioritizes the safety and security of our hardworking families and small businesses.
As the chair of the Assembly Small Business Committee and co-chair of an economic recovery working group, I’m fighting to protect important policy priorities in health care, education and small business relief. To that end, I supported measures in the Assembly budget proposal that would provide $1 billion for the Small Business Reopening and Relief Grant Program. I’m also working to cut taxes on farms and small businesses through proposals to reduce the corporate franchise tax rate for businesses with 100 or fewer employees, increase the existing sole proprietor and farm business income deduction and provide $39 million to expand tax credits and deductions for farmers and other small businesses.
Now more than ever, preventative and affordable health care programs must be protected. The Assembly budget proposal restores more than $376 million to Medicaid and $393 million to public health programs that were cut in the executive budget proposal. This includes funding for a variety of health care programs, including long-term care programs and in-home care programs for seniors. Additionally, the proposal acknowledges the increased need to combat food insecurity and poverty by investing heavily into programs such as Nourish NY and the I Love New York Restaurants Program that provide meals to those that need them, eliminating dental and vision premiums for enrollees of the Essential Plan and rejecting the executive proposal to reduce coverage for some over-the-counter drugs.
Finally, the pandemic has emphasized how essential high-speed internet access is to New Yorkers’ daily life and our economy. The Assembly budget proposal includes $3 million for a statewide broadband availability study, which is all the more critical following the governor’s veto of legislation that would have directed the Public Service Commission to conduct a similar study (A.6679-C of 2020). Reliable internet access will be a key factor in our communities’ recovery.
There’s a lot at stake in the budget negotiations and it’s easy to get lost in the numbers. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the budget and how this year’s spending plan will affect you, please contact my office at StirpeA@nyassembly.gov or at 315.452.1115.