Thursday, February 6, 2014

Coalition to ask Albany for more state aid, more child care funding

Posted By on Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 5:43 PM

For the ninth straight year, a coalition of business, community, and government leaders is asking the powers that be in Albany to revamp the state's municipal aid formula.

During a press conference this afternoon, the Rochester Community Coalition laid out its 2014 state legislative priorities — the issues they'll press state legislators and officials on during the ongoing state budget process.

Many of the items ought to sound familiar, such as the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities formula. For years, community and city leaders have pointed out that Rochester gets shortchanged on aid. Buffalo, Syracuse, and Albany receive more on a per-capita basis. If the formula is altered to achieve parity, said city budget director Chris Wagner, the city would be able to better support its services.

When the coalition members head to Albany, they'll also ask legislators to boost state funding for child care subsidies. County Executive Maggie Brooks said the coalition will ask for a $6.5 million funding boost, which would cover an additional 982 slots. That would bring the number of slots available through the county back to 2010 levels, and would give more parents the chance to work and strive for self-sufficiency.

"This is a quality-of-life issue," Brooks said. "It's an issue for children and families."

Coalition members will also push for legislators to authorize the second phase of the Rochester City School District's Facilities Modernization Program. The project would create up-to-date facilities for city school students and would also provide construction jobs, said Ken Warner, UNICON executive director.

They'll also ask for additional funding for the University of Rochester's Center of Excellence for Data Science, RIT's Center of Excellence in Sustainable Manufacturing, and the University of Rochester graduate medical training programs. And they'll request continued funding for the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute at RIT.

The coalition will stress that substantial state assistance is needed for Eastman Business Park, whether Kodak decides to manage the large research and manufacturing park or not, said Joel Seligman, UR President and co-chair of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council.

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