As state legislative leaders scheduled passage of the final budget bills for today, some information emerged about what is or is not included for the Capital Region.
Among the missing projects is a proposed $36.5 million football stadium at the University at Albany. Assembly Majority Leader Ronald Canestrari, D-Cohoes, who had pushed for the funding, said it would not be included in the final budget.
But Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, said he believed there would be substantial funding included for the new School of Business building at the university, where he is a professor emeritus. Farley said he pushed for the funding even though Albany is not in his district because the project would benefit the whole Capital Region.
Assemblyman Jack McEneny, D-Albany, said he had pressed for both these University at Albany projects and for a student center there, but had not been informed as of Tuesday evening which were or were not in the budget. That’s typical of how the budget process works in Albany, despite last year’s purported reforms. Almost all the negotiating and deal-making is done in secret by leaders and staff, with most legislators kept in the dark until they are presented with bills the same day they get to vote on them.
Farley, for example, did not have specific numbers Tuesday evening for how much University at Albany aid he obtained, although he said he got substantial amounts both for that university and for Schenectady County Community College, which also was seeking capital funding for expansion projects.
Farley said he also expected to deliver the $350,000 in funding he was seeking for the Schenectady Free Health Clinic, but cautioned that the bill had not yet been printed.
The leaders’ plan Tuesday evening was to print the remaining budget bills that night and pass them today. The Legislature passed much of the budget last week, but has yet to pass bills for capital spending, education aid and revenue raising.
Charles “Skip” Carrier, chief spokesman for the Department of Transportation, said one executive proposal that did not make it into the final budget was $7 million for a rail siding between Albany and Schenectady. The current single track between those cities has been described as the worst bottleneck in the state, often disrupting and slowing rail traffic. Carrier said the controlled siding was designed both to alleviate that problem and as the first step toward the long-planned second track between the two cities.
Carrier said the funding for the siding in the executive budget was to have come from the sale of state land next to the Javits Convention Center on the west side of Manhattan. But the Legislature rejected that land sale, he said.
Audubon New York praised the budget for supporting the executive proposal to invest $95 million for capital improvements at state parks. That appears to give the green light for projects at various local parks, including Moreau Lake, Saratoga Spa, Peebles Island, John Boyd Thacher, Schuyler Mansion and Schoharie Crossing.
Farley member items in the budget include $40,000 for the Community Health Center of St. Mary’s Hospital and Nathan Littauer Hospital, for a van and to expand the day care programs and facilities, and $35,000 for highway equipment for the town of Rotterdam.
Categories: Schenectady County