Senate passes state budget

April 1 means the traditional first day of trout season – and it also means time for a state budget.

The state senate has already passed a $120.6 billion 2007-08 state budget that redirects one billion dollars in spending proposed by the governor to achieve the senate's commitment to reject new taxes and provide tax relief, prevent devastating health care cuts, provide a fair aid distribution to all school districts, invest in job creation and make college more affordable.

Education, health care, tax relief, jobs these have been the Senate’s priorities all along because they are our constituents’ priorities. We have heard a clear and consistent message from the people that they don’t want money cut from their local hospitals, they don’t want their school district shortchanged on state aid, they want greater property tax relief and they want a stronger economy. The senate budget delivers on all these issues and more.

We are moving forward with a public process to resolve the differences between the budgets proposed by the senate and assembly and as long as everyone involved is open and willing to negotiate and compromise, there is no reason we can’t have a budget in place before April 1.

Highlights of the senate’s proposed 2007-08 budget:

Rejects new taxes and fees. Rejects more than $800 million in new and increased taxes and fees this year, growing to over $2 billion next year, including tax increases on hospitals, nursing homes and financial services.

Provides property tax relief. Provides $2.6 billion in property tax relief that would triple the size of direct tax rebate checks to all homeowners, growing to $3.4 billion next year.

Provides tax relief to business to create jobs. The senate plan cuts taxes for small businesses ––which the governor left out of his budget. We offer more than $723 million in business tax relief this year to create new jobs, growing to more than $1.8 billion next year.

> Business tax cuts include:

– eliminating income and corporate franchise taxes on manufacturing;

– $350 million in tax credits to help small businesses afford rising energy costs

– $150 million in direct property tax rebate checks for small businesses.

Helps schools. The senate budget adds $358 million to the governor's plan for local schools to ensure a fair distribution of school aid to districts throughout the state. The senate plan will help our teachers and students achieve more in the classroom. It's the largest school aid increase in the history of New York, and will provide school districts with a fair, transparent and predictable aid program that properly reflects the needs of students and taxpayers across the entire State.

Makes college more affordable. The senate budget includes $129 million to expand eligibility for the state tuition assistance program (TAP) and increase awards, including doubling the minimum TAP award, enhancing the tuition tax credit for families, establishing a student loan debt relief program, and offers assistance to veterans with their college tuition.

Protects access to health care. The senate budget includes a net restoration of $544 million for Medicaid and health programs for hospitals and nursing homes. Because the senate is opposed to any new taxes or fees, the senate budget rejects the governor's proposed hospital tax.

Stem cell research. The senate rejects the governor’s proposal to establish a stem cell corporation and instead provides $100 million this year for a stem cell innovation program to support biomedical research and emerging biotechnology.

Local government assistance. Restores $2 million in state aid through the AIM program to 81 towns and villages cut by the governor and adds $13 million in CHIPS highway funds.

Upstate flood relief. The senate budget proposal includes $10 million in financial assistance to help counties hurt by the devastating floods in June and November of 2006.

Senator Seward’s office web site is

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