Gov. Cuomo’s budget calls for investment in the Finger Lakes

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a number of regional highlights for the Finger Lakes as part of the proposed FY 2018 Executive Budget. The Budget builds on the state’s fiscal discipline over the last six years while strengthening the middle class, reducing taxes, and making smart investments in New York’s future. For the seventh consecutive year, the Budget is balanced and holds spending growth below two percent.

From investing $20 million in a new REMADE Institute at RIT and developing a state-of-the-art welcome center to providing $20 million to advance the creation of supportive housing in Rochester and launching a new craft beverage week to showcase the state’s world-class beer, wine, cider and spirits – the Executive Budget builds on key accomplishments and keeps the Finger Lakes region moving forward for decades to come. More information on the FY 2018 Executive Budget is available here.

“This year’s budget will drive growth across the Finger Lakes by helping the middle class and advancing our progressive values, all while continuing our record of fiscal discipline. From making college more affordable and revitalizing our infrastructure, to cutting the cost of prescription drugs and doubling the child care tax credit, the budget drives smart economic growth and generating opportunity throughout the region,” Governor Cuomo said. “These sweeping investments will grow good-paying jobs, improve access to high-quality education, and protect our environment – creating a brighter, stronger Finger Lakes for all.”

Highlights of the FY 2018 Executive Budget:

  • State Operating Funds spending is $98.06 billion in FY 2018 – an increase of 1.9 percent. (State Operating Funds exclude Federal funds and capital).
  • All Funds spending $152.3 billion for FY 2018.
  • Increases Education Aid by $1 billion for a total increase of 4.1 percent, including $961 million for School Aid, bringing the new School Aid total to $25.6 billion.
  • Increases State Medicaid spending under the growth cap (3.2 percent) to $18.3 billion.
  • Invests $163 million to make college tuition free for middle-class families at SUNY and CUNY, including 55,750 families in the Finger Lakes region.
  • Caps price of prescription drugs sold to Medicaid by state review board at no cost.
  • Expands Buy American provisions to all procurement over $100,000, protecting our state’s manufacturing and construction sectors.
  • Invests $2 billion over five years for the Clean Water Infrastructure Act – building on the $38.5 million the state already provided for water infrastructure in the Finger Lakes since 2015.
  • Supports New York’s middle-class families by doubling New York State Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.
  • Begins Middle Class Tax Cut for six million New Yorkers – saving households $250 on average next year and $700 annually when fully effective.
  • Extends tax rate on millionaires – 45,000 taxpayers impacted, 50 percent non-residents. In Monroe County, a tax cut for 195 millionaires could be used to fund a tax cut could be used to fund a tax cut for 145,100 middle class families.
  • Continues 2 percent property tax cap, saving New York homeowners $16 billion, including $1.45 billion in the Finger Lakes – with the typical homeowner saving $2,100.
  • Investments in infrastructure are paving more than 10,200 miles of roads and repairing 2,650 bridges across New York, including $593 million for roads and bridges in the Finger Lakes region.

Developing State-of-the-Art Finger Lakes Welcome Center

Last year, New York opened the Long Island Welcome Center – featuring the state’s largest Taste NY store and immersing visitors in regional history, guiding travelers to new destinations and showcasing New York’s world class food and beverage products. As tourism and agriculture are critical drivers of New York’s economy, the state is bringing the success of the Long Island Welcome Center across New York.

Under the Governor’s FY 2018 Executive Budget, New York will transform the Geneva visitors’ center into a state-of-the-art Finger Lakes tourism hub. The 5,500 square foot Geneva Welcome Center will undergo a transformation of its interior and guide travelers in maximizing their experience in the region. The welcome center will feature I Love NY Kiosks with videos and directions to the Finger Lakes renowned tourism destinations as well a Taste NY gift shop showcasing wine, beer, cider and spirits sourced from across the Finger Lakes. To pay tribute to the Finger Lakes hometown and historical heroes, the state will also build a walk of fame leading up to the new welcome center, including George Eastman, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Abby Wambach.

The new Geneva Welcome Center will also include the following world-class features:

  • Solar-powered electric car charging stations
  • Outdoor picnic area
  • Modernized facilities and vending
  • Security cameras and lighting on the premises

The new Finger Lakes Welcome Center is expected to open in fall 2017. The state will also invest $5 Million as part of I Love NY Campaign to promote Finger Lakes wine.

Providing $20 Million to Advance Creation of Supportive Housing and Combat Poverty in City of Rochester

To advance Rochester’s anti-poverty initiative, the state will be allocating $20 million for the creation of supportive housing for the city as part of a memorandum of understanding. In 2016, Governor Cuomo put forward a sweeping $2 billion blueprint to combat homelessness and advance the creation of 1,200 units of supportive housing across New York State. The new units will provide an array of services for vulnerable individuals, including employment training, counseling, and assistance in obtaining and maintaining primary and mental healthcare.

The funding will work to ensure all New Yorkers have a safe, affordable place to call home and build on the state’s efforts to combat poverty in the Finger Lakes region. These efforts will augment the nearly $16 million in funding the Governor announced last year to support and grow three Rochester-based projects aimed at reducing poverty, including:

  • Monroe Community College’s new Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center at Eastman Business Park.
  • The Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative’s new “Mentors for Success” pilot program.
  • The long-standing Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection program.

Together, these initiatives will advance a holistic, integrated approach to alleviating poverty in the region – building new units of supportive housing, developing cradle-to-career workforce readiness initiatives and advancing “Pathways to Prosperity” for all.

Investing $20 Million in Establishment of New, Innovative REMADE Institute at RIT

New York State has committed to providing $20 million to support the creation of the Reducing Embodied-Energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) Institute. The state-of-the art research hub will focus on developing clean energy technology, including waste reduction and recycling.

The Golisano Institute for Sustainability at the Rochester Institute of Technology was chosen last week to lead this national effort by the U.S. Department of Energy, part of the agency’s Manufacturing USA initiative which is working to find green manufacturing solutions.

  • Reducing Embodied-Energy and Decreasing Emissions Institute: The REMADE Institute, under the RIT-led Sustainable Manufacturing Innovation Alliance (SMIA), will leverage up to $70 million in federal funding that will be matched by $70 million in private cost-share commitments from more than 85 partners.

RIT was tapped to take the lead on the project by the DOE thanks in large part to the multi-million dollar commitment from New York State. Empire State Development will allocate the $20 million for the initiative over five years.
Establishing New Innovative $10 Million Photonics Venture Challenge

Under the proposed FY 2018 Executive Budget, New York State will establish a $10 million, multi-year Photonics Venture Challenge in Rochester. This business competition will aim to support start-up companies that commercialize rapidly developing technologies through a business accelerator program.

The program is modeled on the cutting-edge 43North initiative which has seen widespread success in attracting new and emerging companies and top talent to Western New York. Like 43North, the winners of the Photonics Venture Challenge must commit to locating in the Rochester region for at least one year after the award.

The Photonics Challenge will include a panel which will select 10-15 startups to receive $125,000 each, and the most promising business incubator will be awarded a $1 million grand prize. There are currently no accelerator programs in the world with a photonics focus and the Rochester region is uniquely poised to build a nationally, or globally, recognized program.

The basic elements of the Photonics Venture Challenge are as follows:

  • Participants will go through a 4-6 month structured accelerator program where they will build products, access customers and refine their business models, and gain initial market traction. The program will provide work space in the Rochester region, access to regional assets, resources, labs, etc., and connections to mentors and industry partners.
  • Each year’s competition will conclude with a large-scale “Demo Day” where all teams present in a public forum to an audience that will include venture capitalists, optics/photonics companies, and other industry players.
  • The three most promising start-ups in the program will compete for additional “best in class” funding investments: $1 million for first prize and $500,000 for second and third prizes, and the remaining winners will receive $125,000 announced at the Demo Day.
  • Award winners must reside and operate in Rochester region for at least one year following their award, ideally within or near the AIM Photonics Testing Assembly and Packaging (TAP) facility at Eastman Business Park or within or near the Sibley Square business accelerator headquarters.

Launching Craft Beverage Week
As part of the FY 2018 Executive Budget, Governor Cuomo proposes a statewide promotion week that will emphasize the diversity and quality that New York’s craft beverages. The New York Craft Beverage Week introduces Upstate producers to the one of the world’s largest markets: New York City. Each of the Finger Lake region’s more than 200 producers are invited to showcase their products during a week in September with the industry’s leading restaurants and distributors.

During the week, restaurant chefs will be asked to pair menu items with local craft beverages. The state will also partner with the Culinary Institute of America and the NYS Wine & Culinary Center to put together pairing recipes for various New York craft beverage products. Participating restaurants, bars, and retail outlets will highlight unique NYS craft beverages they offer by bringing attention to these products in store and on menus.

Investing in the Upstate Revitalization Initiative and Regional Economic Development Councils
Since 2011, the state has awarded the Finger Lakes $1.3 billion through the URI and REDC initiatives in a competitive process to spur job creation and drive economic growth based on regional priorities. This includes $506 million in REDC awards and $500 million in URI funding which has created more than 22,700 jobs in the region since 2010. As a result, the unemployment rate is 4.7 percent down from 8.0 percent over the same period. The Executive Budget includes core capital and tax-credit funding that will be combined with a wide range of existing agency programs for a seventh round of REDC awards totaling $750 million.

Driving Economic Growth and Revitalizing New York’s Infrastructure
The FY 2018 Executive Budget continues Governor Cuomo’s focus on revitalizing New York’s economy, creating well-paying jobs and investing in key capital projects in the Finger Lakes. The Governor is also delivering on his historic commitment to revitalize New York State’s infrastructure, and in partnership with public authorities, and local and federal governments, the state is moving forward with $100 billion in transformative projects across New York.

  • Finger Lakes Roads and Bridges: Across New York State, investments in infrastructure are paving more than 10,200 miles of roads and repairing 2,650 bridges. This includes more than $593 million in funding over the next five years for roads and bridges specifically in the Finger Lakes region. The state will invest $389 million for Monroe County and $26 million for the City of Rochester.
  • 200 New Jobs Through Datto, Inc. Expansion: As part of the FY 2018 Executive Budget, Datto Inc. will create up to 200 new high-tech jobs as part of its expansion into new office space in the Metropolitan Building, in downtown Rochester. This expansion, which will bring the company’s total employment to approximately 350, is being supported through a $2.1 million capital grant through Governor Cuomo’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative.
  • Launching New RIT Center for Urban Entrepreneurship: The RIT Center for Urban Entrepreneurship recently relocated to Downtown Rochester to provide greater small business support across the region. The center, known as CUE, is located in the heart of the city’s downtown innovation zone, and is helping reshape the regional economy and build wealth within the urban community by serving as a hub for urban entrepreneurial programs and research. CUE was awarded $2.6 million from New York State following its selection as a priority project by the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council.
  • New I-390/490/Lyell Avenue Interchange in Monroe County: Governor Cuomo recently announced the first phase of the transformation of the I-390/490/Lyell Avenue Interchange Project in Monroe County. Phase One implements improvements to seven bridges within the I-390/I-390/Route 31 interchange as part of a larger initiative to improve traffic flow at the convergence of Interstates 390, 490, Route 390 and Route 31 in the town of Gates. This corridor serves as a vital link for its nearly 200,000 daily motorists to the Greater Rochester International Airport, Rochester Technology Park and the Eastman Business Park which has been identified as a key to regional economic development by the Finger Lakes Economic Development Council.
  • Greater Rochester International Airport: Governor Cuomo announced $39.8 million in funding to Greater Rochester International Airport last year to activate the airport’s $63.4 million transformation. The airport will be a state-of-the-art transportation hub with sustainable design, an improved passenger experience and increased economic opportunity. The project will overhaul the aging infrastructure of the airport with a wide-scale redesign of the terminal building, incorporating sustainable elements such as solar panels and rainwater collection, new signage, enhanced security measures, new technology to improve accessibility, and premier shopping and dining options for a world-class passenger experience. More information is available here and renderings are available here .
  • New I-390 Ramp Interchange: New exit and entrance ramps opened in fall of last year on Interstate 390 at Exit 16 in the town of Brighton, Monroe County. An important milestone of the $30.7 million Access 390 project, the ramps enhanced safety and eased travel where Route 15A (East Henrietta Road) and Route 15 (West Henrietta Road) meet the interstate. New exit ramps include Exit 16B to allow access to East Henrietta Road heading north; Exit 16A to allow access to East Henrietta Road heading south and West Henrietta Road; and a new entrance ramp from Route 15A to allow access to I-390 north.
  • Rochester Train Station: New York together with our federal partners has invested $29.8 million in the new Rochester Intermodal Station, which will reduce regional delays by expanding track service at the station, increase functionality through a new and redesigned concourse, and enhance the overall passenger experience in the larger, modern station.

Developing the Empire State Trail
Governor Cuomo proposes the Empire State Trail – a 750 mile finished pathway that travels through our parks, valleys, and along our waterways. The Budget invests $53 million for Phase I of the Empire State Trail to develop and connect fragmented stretches of the Hudson River Valley Greenway and Erie Canalway.

When complete, the trail network will stretch through the Hudson Valley and Adirondacks from New York City to the Canadian border and along the Erie Canal from Albany to Buffalo. This investment will create the largest state multi-use trail in the nation, attracting new tourists to explore New York’s diverse landscapes and rich history.

In the Finger Lakes region, the Empire State Trail will bring visitors to a number of places, including:

  • Hinchey Historical House and Park
  • The Sacred Grove in Palmyra
  • Erie Canal Locks 56 & 60
  • Marengo Marsh Nature Preserve
  • Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge; and
  • The Howland Island Wildlife Management Area.

Increasing Access to Higher Education
Governor Cuomo proposes making college tuition-free for New York’s middle-class families at all SUNY and CUNY two- and four-year colleges. New York’s tuition-free college degree program, the Excelsior Scholarship, is the first of its kind in the nation and will help alleviate the crushing burden of student debt while enabling thousands of students to realize their dream of higher education. Under the program, tuition-free college would begin immediately for students of families making up to $100,000 annually, and phase in over the next two years to those making $125,000 annually. Once fully phased in, the program is estimated to cost $163 million per year.

Under the program, 55,750 families in the Finger Lakes and 10,500 families in the City of Rochester will be eligible.

Enabling Access to Ridesharing Across New York State
The current limitations on the availability of ridesharing services has meant that millions of New Yorkers are not only missing out on an alternative form of transportation, but thousands more are being prevented from pursuing new flexible job opportunities as rideshare drivers.

The FY 2018 Executive Budget authorizes Transportation Network Companies, such as Uber and Lyft, to operate throughout the state and creates uniform licensing requirements.

Delivering Real Property Tax Relief and Relieving Local Government Mandates
New York residents face some of the highest property tax burdens in the nation. In New York, a typical homeowner pays 2.5 times more in property taxes than what they pay in state income taxes.

Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has focused on fighting this burden by capping property taxes, improving local government efficiency and restructuring distressed local governments. The FY 2018 Executive Budget continues 2 percent property tax cap, saving New York homeowners $16 billion, including $1.45 billion in the Finger Lakes – with the typical homeowner saving approximately $2,100.

Governor Cuomo has also made mandate relief a priority and has eliminated dozens of burdensome requirements for local municipalities. After decades of local government calls for change, the Governor implemented reforms to the binding arbitration process for police and fire unions which require these panels take into account a municipality’s ability to pay certain local contracts. Additionally, the Governor’s reforms to the state’s pension system are saving the state, local governments, and school districts more than $80 billion over the next 30 years.

  • Countywide Shared Services Property Tax Savings Plans Initiative: The FY 2018 Budget continues the Governor’s efforts to relieve the property tax burden by proposing a new initiative for voter-approved county-wide shared services plans. Counties will be required to work with the other local governments contained within their county, as well as with the community and civic leaders, to develop these plans. The plans must generate real, recurring savings for taxpayers by eliminating duplicative services and proposing coordinated services to enhance purchasing power, such as sharing expensive transportation or emergency equipment. Taxpayers will then vote on these cost-saving plans in a referendum in the November 2017 general election.

In Monroe County, there are 624 local governments, more than 230 local government chief executives, and more than 550 local legislators. Those governments use 810 dump trucks, 78 road building machines, 209 power shovels, 161 utility trucks, 1711 other vehicles and 79 office buildings.

Implementing Buy American Act
Each year, New York State spends billions of dollars on the procurement of goods and services. However, existing regulations place little emphasis on ensuring this spending power is leveraged to support all American manufacturing, many which are right here in New York State.

Under the Governor’s “Buy American” plan, all state entities will be required to give preference to American-made goods and products in any new procurements more than $100,000. This measure would implement the nation’s strongest mandate for the purchase of American-made products by state entities.

Curbing the Cost of Prescription Drugs
The Governor’s Executive Budget continues efforts to control the rising cost of prescription drugs. In Medicaid, gross prescription drug costs have grown by $1.7 billion or approximately 38 percent over the last three years. The Governor is therefore advancing a three-point plan to protect consumers and taxpayers from the health and economic consequences of the rapidly rising cost of prescription drugs. The comprehensive plan includes:

  • Creating a price ceiling for certain high cost prescription drugs reimbursed under the Medicaid program by requiring a 100 percent additional supplemental rebate for any amounts in excess of a benchmark price as recommended by the DOH’s Drug Utilization Review Board. The plan will also limit year-over-year price increases for generic drugs paid for by the Medicaid program.
  • Imposing a surcharge on high-priced drugs when they are sold into the state. The proceeds collected from the surcharge will be reallocated to insurers to lower insurance premiums for New Yorkers the following year so the cost is not passed on to consumers.
  • Regulating Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) to protect consumers and ensure that PBMs are not contributing to the rising costs of prescription drugs through unfair business practices.

Combating the Heroin Epidemic
In 2016, the Governor signed into law a comprehensive plan to end the heroin and opioid epidemic in New York State. The FY 2018 Budget builds on this progress by investing $200 million to support prevention, treatment and recovery programs targeted toward chemical dependency, residential service opportunities, and public awareness and education activities.

The Governor’s plan includes the following measures:

  • Eliminate prior authorization requirements to make substance use disorder treatment available to all.
  • Add fentanyl analogs to the New York controlled substances schedule to subject emerging synthetic drugs to criminal drug penalties.
  • Increase access to life-saving buprenorphine treatment by recruiting health care providers to become prescribers.
  • Establish 24/7 crisis treatment centers to ensure access to critical support services.
  • Require emergency department prescribers to consult the Prescription Monitoring Program registry to combat “doctor shopping.”
  • Create New York’s first recovery high schools to help young people in recovery finish school.

Enacting the Clean Water Infrastructure Act
The FY 2018 Executive Budget initiates an unprecedented investment in clean water programs, increases capital funding for environmental and recreational facilities, maintains historic funding levels for the Environmental Protection Fund, and continues state funding for core environmental, parks and agricultural programs.

To ensure that current and future New Yorkers have access to clean water, the Budget initiates the $2 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act. Funded at $400 million per year over five years, this historic investment will support critical drinking water, wastewater, and source water protection initiatives. This builds on the $38.5 million the state has already provided for water infrastructure in the Finger Lakes since 2015.

Continuing the Trend of Fiscal Responsibility
Under Governor Cuomo, New York’s finances have made a dramatic turnaround since the depths of the recession and the preceding high-spending eras. Before Governor Cuomo took office, the annual State Budget grew faster than income 60 percent of the time (or three out of every five budgets), and spending over the entire period grew at an average rate of approximately 7.0 percent, compared to income growth of 6.2 percent. With the adoption of the two percent spending benchmark, the unsustainable trend has been reversed. The FY 2018 Executive Budget continues this trend of fiscal responsibility and builds on the Governor’s commitment to expand opportunity and grow New York’s economy.

  • State Spending Growth Held Under 2 Percent For Seventh Consecutive Year: The Executive Budget holds annual spending growth in State Operating Funds to 1.9 percent.
  • State’s Outstanding Debt Set to Decline for a Fifth Straight Year: State-related debt outstanding will have decreased during this administration from $56.4 billion in FY 2012 to $50.8 billion by the end of FY 2017. This will be the fifth consecutive year the State’s outstanding debt level has declined.
  • New York’s Credit Rating Has Improved: The state now has its highest credit rating since 1972.
  • General Reserves Increased: Another planned deposit of $150 million will bring reserves to $2.5 billion – highest levels on record.
  • Spending for State Agency Operations Held Flat: Since the Governor took office, Executive State agency operating costs have essentially remained flat through ongoing state agency redesign and cost-control efforts

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