WOODBURY, N.Y. -- State Assemblyman James Skoufis (D-Woodbury) said the 2016-17 state budget agreement provides a significant increase in education funding, addresses local transportation issues and puts families first.
“Families in the Hudson Valley deserve quality schools, safe roads and healthy families,” said Skoufis. “This year’s state budget goes a long way toward making this a reality, with millions for infrastructure, over a billion for education and critical support for families – this budget works for the Hudson Valley.”
The assemblyman added that he expects the Exit 131 interchange upgrade to be included in the Department of Transportation capital program that will be finalized post-budget.
“The Exit 131 project has been stalled for too long,” said Skoufis. “Alleviating the congrestion near the Woodbury Common shopping center is a project that’s long overdue – one I’ve been working for years to get underway – and I expect this will be the year the project becomes reality.”
Other issues Skoufis supported included the following:
- Education: $1.5 billion more in overall funding, which includes a $627 million increase in Foundation Aid and $434 million to eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) once and for all. Locally, this includes an almost $30 million increase in funding for our schools in the Assembly District. Additionally, the budget includes a SUNY tuition freeze for the coming academic year.
- Minimum wage increase: In the Hudson Valley, the increase would be gradual and would be phased in to $12.50 per hour by 2021. Following this increase, the minimum wage would be indexed to inflation with a cap at $15 per hour to help families keep up with the ever-rising cost of living.
- Paid family leave plan: Under the new plan, employers will not be required to pay for the program; it will be financed by a nominal employee contribution per week. The measure will give all workers the opportunity to take a maximum of 12 weeks of paid family leave at two-thirds of their salary – up to 67 percent of the state’s average weekly wage – and ensure employment security during the absence.