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North Country lawmakers assess state budget

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As leaders in Albany hammer out the final shape of the state budget, North Country lawmakers are focused on how the changing funding numbers will affect schools, services, and people here.

Senator Joe Griffo of Rome says there's already some good news in the budget.

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Julie Grant
Reporter and Producer

"The most important is that there are no new taxes in this budget, and there are actually tax cuts.  Particularly, for the middle class, there will be a special child tax credit.  The middle class tax rates will continue to be the lowest they've been in 60 years.  There will be some increased funding for libraries and education.  How that is all being distributed is still being worked out." 

Griffo says leaders are also adding money for highways, assistance for struggling counties, and restoring some of the money cut to programs for the developmentally disabled .

Assemblywoman Addie Russell of Theresa says school aid will increase by nearly 1 billion dollars over last year. That’s 110 million more than Governor Cuomo had proposed. But it likely won’t be known until the weekend how that boost will be divvied up among individual school districts.

Russell says she believes state leaders have heard the plea for more school funding, in part because it’s coming from so many parts of the state.

"It’s not just a rural Upstate issue. It’s also plaguing our small cities and our large cities. That’s like two thirds of the school districts in this state that are in the same boat, so I actually do believe that our voices are being heard, and I’m eagerly awaiting more details on what this budget will do in terms of targeting aid to those that really need it the most."

In other issues, Russell confirmed that no prisons would be closed in the North Country. She also said a plan to regionalize psychiatric centers - which could affect the one in Ogdensburg - will not be a part of the budget deal.

David Sommerstein contributed reporting to this story.

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