Budget treats Queens well

Although nine days late, the $121.7 billion budget state lawmakers agreed upon is getting some high marks from some local legislators.
“I think Queens did really well especially when you look at the core areas of education, health care and housing that are important to Queens residents,” said Assemblymember Rory Lancman.
State leaders approved a budget on Wednesday, April 9 that increased spending by 4.9 percent, which was less than the 6.2 percent increase former Governor Spitzer proposed earlier this year.
“In the face of two crises - one in government and one in our economy - we came together to produce a responsible budget for the people of New York,” said Governor David Paterson.
While the budget increased education funds by nearly $1.75 billion, provided funding for health insurance to children currently uninsured and set aside $1.6 billion for an economic development capital plan, local leaders have trumpeted projects that will affect a number of Queens residents.
State Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith, who represents a portion of southeast Queens, said he was happy to see that the budget included help for residents facing foreclosure.
“With southeast Queens reporting the most sub-prime mortgages compared to any other part of the city, I am especially pleased that $25 million has been identified to assist homeowners affected by sub-prime loans, and for grants to non-profit organizations that will provide counseling, mediation, legal services and negotiations,” Smith said.
Smith also announced he secured $5 million in capital funding that will go towards the York College-City University of New York (CUNY) student services building and classrooms.
Meanwhile, the Queens Museum of Art will receive $15 million for capital needs
and the Queens Borough Public Library system will receive an additional $6 million earmarked to continue to help the system improve its quality service.
“Anyone who goes into the libraries especially on the weekends knows they are bursting at the seams,” Lancman said. “Every year the Assembly majority pumps money into the library system.”
This year’s budget, which was the first one enacted under Paterson’s watch, was nine days late, and although some legislators were willing to overlook that considering the circumstances, some had other problems with the budget process.
“The sad lack of transparency in the budget negotiations was certainly disappointing, even in light of these extraordinary circumstances,” said State Senator George Onorato.

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