There’s no question that the past year has been extraordinarily difficult for all of us. The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged our state and forced many people to the financial brink, uprooted every aspect of our daily lives and caused unspeakable loss. This week, my colleagues and I in the Assembly passed a $212 billion state budget that makes investments critical to Central New York’s economic recovery. While no budget is perfect, this year’s agreement makes historic strides in education funding, invests in small businesses and helps rebuild our economy.
As chair of the Assembly Small Business Committee, co-chair of an Assembly working group focused on New York’s economic recovery from COVID-19 and proud representative of many entrepreneurs whose businesses shape the state’s economic landscape, I fought for a state budget that invests in relief programs for our small businesses.
Mom-and-pop businesses are the backbone of our economy, so I worked throughout the budget process to ensure we made important, necessary investments so our families and small businesses can build back from this pandemic stronger than before. The final budget includes $1 billion in grants and tax credits, including $800 million for the Small Business Recovery Grant program. This program, to be administered by the Empire State Development Corporation, will provide grants and technical assistance to small businesses of fewer than 100 employees, with a particular focus on minority- and women-owned business enterprises, veteran-owned businesses, businesses in economically challenged regions and microbusinesses with fewer than 10 employees. These businesses are often overlooked by other government programs, so I’m proud we were able to target them with this funding.
I ensured that the budget also targets sectors hit especially hard by the pandemic. This includes $100 million for New York theater tax credits; $40 million for not-for-profit arts and cultural organizations; $35 million for Restaurant Return-To-Work tax credits; and $25 million for the NY Restaurant Resiliency Grant Program for restaurants that offered food to the needy during the height of the shutdown.
Some sectors’ needs have changed since the pandemic and show no signs of bouncing back, which is why the NYS budget also includes $50 million for the COVID-19 Recovery Workforce Initiative; this initiative will re-engage and upskill workers who have been disproportionately impacted by the economic fallout from the pandemic.
To support our students who were forced into virtual learning, the budget includes a multi-year commitment to fully fund Foundation Aid over the next three years and a $105 million investment in prekindergarten.
In fact, Fabius-Pompey, Fayetteville-Manlius, Jamesville-Dewitt and Tully are among the school districts in our Assembly district receiving first-time pre-k funding. The budget also provides $3 billion in state and federal relief for struggling tenants and homeowners. Further, to ensure every New Yorker has access to reliable internet access during this time of social disconnect, the budget provides affordable broadband access to low-income New Yorkers while working to expand broadband access to rural communities.
The pandemic also highlighted the need for investment in childcare. We included separate support for the childcare sector, allocating $2.4 billion in federal aid to ensure our local social services districts are able to fully fund subsidies provided to eligible families at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level statewide. This will help more families enroll in childcare, alleviate some pressure from working parents and deliver critical resources to the entire childcare sector.
As we move forward, I’ll continue doing all I can for our hardworking families and local mom-and-pop businesses that bring so much to our communities every day. For more call my office at 315.452.1115 or email StirpeA@nyassembly.gov.