April 1, 2014

State budget: Ed funds up; Chateaugay prison left out

ALBANY — As state lawmakers chiseled away at state-budget passage on Monday, local hurrahs were tempered by some sharp disappointment.

The spending plan restores funding to Teacher Resource Centers in Plattsburgh and Malone, budgets $150 million for the Regional Economic Development Councils and adds a $40 million increase in Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) funding that local communities use for road improvements.

And the budget increases education aid $1.12 billion over last year for a total of $21.8 billion.

While Saranac Central School Superintendent Ken Cringle needed to take a deeper look at revised aid figures, he was initially pleased with the early information he’d received.

“I can certainly state that it has a very positive impact when compared to the governor’s (executive budget) proposal,” he said in an email.


Budget negotiations brought no reprieve for Chateaugay Correctional Facility, pegged to close in July.

“I’m devastated,” Chateaugay Town Supervisor Donald Bilow said when he learned legislators had not funded continued operation of the prison.

The closure will have a huge impact on the town in terms of its tax rate and its many residents who are employed at the facility, he said.

And Bilow was surprised, as well, that the state would tap that prison for closure.

“It’s one of the newest facilities they have, and the operating costs are below average, and it fills a real need that the Department of Corrections has,” he said. 

“I am disappointed (that) neither the executive or Assembly was willing to keep Chateaugay Correctional open,” Sen. Betty Little said in a statement Monday afternoon.

The property will be named a START-UP NY tax-free zone, she said, with economic-development funding allocated to attract private-sector investment.”But that does not mitigate the immediate economic impact the closure will have on the community.”

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