Sen. Griffo wants to spend $4 billion ‘windfall’ on infrastructure, schools, tax relief
Tuesday, August 5, 2014 - 5:31 pm

New York State is about to receive more than $4 billion in settlements and fines for wrongdoing from large financial institutions, and some ideas about how to spend it are popping up.

State Sen. Joe Griffo (R-Rome) has sent out a press release with some ideas of his own, such as helping public schools recoup some of the funds cut from their state aid, which will no doubt be followed soon by more ideas from more people, in and out of government.

The Citizens Budget Commission of New York (www.cbcny.org/) says the $4.3 billion “windfall” could be used to reduce long term state debt, increase “pay-as-you-go” capital, investments to avoid borrowing costs, and increase the state’s reserve fund, among other ideas.

Sen. Griffo, whose 47th Senate District includes the towns of Massena, Brasher, Norfolk, Stockholm, Potsdam, Pierrepont, Russell, Clifton, Fine, and Pitcairn in St. Lawrence County, plus Lewis and Oneida counties, placed similar priority on debt and reserve funds, but had some other ideas, too.

He is calling for $1.05 billion to be invested in each of three key areas: infrastructure, education and tax relief. The remaining $1.05 billion should be placed in reserve, and prioritized toward paying down existing debt.

“While this settlement won’t resolve the chronic underfunding of infrastructure at all levels of government, it will ensure that more people are kept healthy and safe – surely a laudable goal,” he said in a press release.

“These settlements also provide an opportunity to right a wrong. The state Legislature, over my objection and that of my Republican colleagues, reduced aid to schools by $1.5 billion during the 2009-10 fiscal year to eliminate a gap between state revenues and costs. This Gap Elimination Adjustment forced schools to increase class sizes, eliminate sports and extracurricular activities, cut staff, reduce Advanced Placement offerings, reduce or eliminate pre-K and summer school and forgo some needed repairs. It’s time to end the GEA once and for all.”

Griffo also called for tax relief, which could stimulate business growth.