One of my tasks today was to write notes of gratitude and appreciation to my New York State representatives: Senator Robert Ortt (62nd district) and Assemblyman Angelo Morinello (District 145). I, along with the New York State library Community are happy with the outcome of the ratified 2018-2019 state budget. Libraries and the communities we serve will see an increase in support.
State Library System Aid
This year’s enacted budget contains the first system aid increase since 2016. Governor Cuomo proposed a $4M cut in system aid in this year’s Executive Budget. The FY2018-19 enacted budget reversed this proposed cut, and allocated an additional $1M – total State Library System Aid will be $96.6M.
State Public Library Construction Aid
In 2016, New York Library Association (NYLA) pursued an increase in construction aid after a decade of stagnant funding at $14M. Despite repeated attempts by the Governor to cut funding for this program, we have successfully fought for increased funding. This year, the Governor proposed a $10M CUT in capital funding – from $24M back to $14M. This would have erased two years of hard-won gains.
The FY2018-19 enacted budget includes $34M in public library construction aid. This is $10M more than we received last year, $20M more than was proposed in the Executive Budget, and in excess of what we asked. Sadly the reduced matching provision (90/10) is NOT included in the budget, and we will continue our efforts on that item as the Session continues.
Finally, there is a sizeable pot of “bullet aid” in this budget, and NYLA will continue helping libraries and library systems claim an increasing percentage of this pot in the coming weeks.
I will admit to feeling that I am a small part of something much bigger. My letters to the editor, op ed newspaper articles, letters to my state reps, Facebook postings and an ultimate visit to Advocacy Day at the State Capitol in Albany is a small contribution but a much bigger collective of library leaders throughout the state. It is a day of elation. A day of celebration. A day to express thanks and gratitude to our state government representatives for demonstrating that they recognize that libraries are engines for empowerment in our communities.