New York State legislators passed a state budget for 2019-20 early Monday morning that will ban single-use plastic bags statewide, bring congestion pricing to New York City, eliminate bail and pretrial detention for a number of misdemeanor and non-violent felony crimes and raise education funding by $1 billion, among many other initiatives in a $175.5 billion spending plan, including monies earmarked specifically for the East End.
On Monday, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. released a flurry of statements supporting the adopted budget specifically for aspects of the spending plan that support initiatives on the East End.
According to Mr. Thiele, the enacted state budget will include an additional $500,000 for East Hampton and Southampton towns for the South Fork Commuter connection to provide “last mile” shuttle service for commuters from South Fork train stations to downtown centers. This builds on $500,000 added to the 2018 state budget for the same service for a total of $1 million in funding for the Commuter Connection, which provides transportation between Speonk and Montauk.
The state budget also contains $100,000 for East Hampton Town to continue its successful shuttle service in downtown Montauk this summer for a third year through the Hamptons Hopper. In 2018, 22,285 rides were provided during the 68 days of service, an average of 327.7 rides per day, which represents an increase of 9.2% from 2017, when 20,715 rides were provided over 69 days of service, according to Mr. Thiele’s office.
“The East End needs more public transit,” said Mr. Thiele. “This year’s state budget provides funding to support the seasonal shuttle in Montauk, as well as $1,000,000 in state funding for bus connections in association with the South Fork Commuter Connection.”
Other funding included for the East End in the state budget includes $250,000 for the SUNY Stony Brook Southampton campus to develop academic and student program space on the Southampton campus and $175,000 to continue the South Fork Community Mental Health Initiative. The North Fork Mental Health Initiative also received $175,000 this year. The Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreational Center was one of a number of youth programs to benefit from $1.5 million in state funding.
“Bridgehampton CCC and Colonial Youth both have demonstrated track records in their communities for providing services to families in need,” said Mr. Thiele. “There can be no doubt that the demand for services continues to increase while resources are harder and harder to come by for these not-for-profit agencies. I am pleased that the State can assist these grassroots agencies that are critical to meeting the needs of local families. They are a part of the safety net that insures that all children in our community have the chance for a successful future.”