Raia Speaks On The 2014-15 Budget
Assemblyman Andrew Raia recently expressed satisfaction regarding the 2014-15 budget. Voting yes on most bills, and no on others, Raia noted that while this year’s budget accomplishes a lot, there is much more to be done over the next few months.
“Investing in our children and securing them a quality education is among the most important parts of our budget,” said Raia. “Common Core and the 2010 GEA education cuts have been devastating to our schools and children. While we do restore funds that were stolen from school districts in 2010, we do little to protect our children from the failed implementation and policies of Common Core.”
This year’s budget includes a number of very encouraging measures, especially with regard to our children. The 2010 cuts, or Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), were a ploy to balance the budget several years ago at the expense of children’s education. $602.1 million, nearly double the amount the governor proposed, is being given back to schools to restore these cuts, putting us on a manageable path to completely restoring the GEA. With education aid being increased by $1.12 billion, the state’s total investment in education has been brought up to $21.8 billion.
This year’s budget also provides strong support for higher education by investing $1.3 million into SUNY Opportunity Programs, which help less fortunate students achieve their dreams of a college education. In addition, this year’s budget includes expansion of the Tuition Assistance Program, increasing support by $16.3 million. Finally, increasing the base aid for community college students will help our local students take advantage of the tremendous resources available in our community.
“SuffolkCounty residents need to see real tax relief and despite some positive provisions, the overall tax burden on our hardworking taxpayers and job creators continues to be too high,” said Raia. “While the budget offers property taxpayers a so-called freeze by providing a personal income tax credit for STAR-eligible homeowners, unfunded state mandates are the true drivers of property taxes, and we won’t truly provide our property taxpayers relief until we eliminate those mandates.”
Finally, the budget offers strong support for Long Island’s senior community. This year, eligibility for the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) was increased as well an additional $5 million in funding for Community Services for the Elderly (CSE). Under the new provisions, prescription drug assistance will be expanded to include seniors making between $35,000-$75,000 for single individuals and for married couples with an income between $50,000-$100,000 in our community.