Albany Update

State Opens Applications for $325M In Grants For Clean Water Infrastructure Projects

ALBANY—New York State is making $325 million in grants available for clean water infrastructure projects through the next round of the state’s Water Infrastructure Improvement and Intermunicipal Grant programs. Applications and full eligibility criteria will become available at on Mon., Feb. 5.

“New York is committed to funding water infrastructure upgrades because every person has a right to clean water,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul on Jan. 15 when making the announcement. This round of WIIA/ IMG boasts improvements to maximize benefits for rural and disadvantaged communities that include:

  • Additional benefits for rural communities. Even with extensive financial support from the state, some municipalities are left passing a large financial burden to their ratepayers. To alleviate this burden on small, rural, and disadvantaged communities, EFC is directed to increase water infrastructure grants for small rural communities from 25% to 50% of net eligible project costs. This change will support smaller communities, like those in the Adirondacks, which often struggle with accessing clean water grants and delivering affordable projects, state officials said.
  • Expanding community resources to ensure equitable access to funding opportunities. Small, rural, and disadvantaged communities are particularly impacted by deteriorating water infrastructure and emerging contaminants, and often do not possess the resources and capacity necessary to advance a project for infrastructure improvement. Communities can request a meeting, register for upcoming webinars, and learn more at
  • Protecting drinking water. To address the threat of PFAs, awards for emerging contaminant projects will be increased from 60% to 70% of net eligible project costs. This change is intended to help ensure cost is not a barrier for communities working to make life-saving investments that eliminate risks to their drinking water supplies.

The Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) administers the WIIA and IMG programs in coordination with the Departments of Health (DOH) and Environmental Conservation (DEC). The plan is to expand the success of these programs by assisting municipalities that have often struggled with accessing clean water grants and delivering affordable projects.

EFC President and CEO Maureen A. Coleman noted the state is trying to remove barriers that have traditionally held communities back from accessing significant investments in water infrastructure. “The initiatives we’re implementing will help expand the WIIA/ IMG grant programs’ legacy of modernizing aging systems and protecting drinking water. Together, in partnership with local governments, we are taking yet another giant step toward a cleaner, more resilient future that will ensure safe drinking water for all New Yorkers and protect our public health and invaluable natural resources.”

The grant funding announcement builds on the success of New York State’s nation-leading investment in clean water infrastructure, the $4.2-billion Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act, and the continued focus on equity and environmental justice. Gov. Hochul announced $479 million in WIIA, IMG and septic replacement grant awards in December, including the first funding awarded under the Environmental Bond Act. More than two thirds of the funding was awarded to projects serving disadvantaged communities and potential environmental justice areas, underscoring the state’s commitment to awarding grant funding to communities that need it most. 

Siena Poll: Inflation Down; Consumer Index Up in New York State by Over Three Points

LOUDONVILLE, NY—The New York State Index of Consumer Sentiment now stands at 74.1, up 3.6 points from the last measurement in the third quarter of 2023, according to the latest poll by the Siena College Research Institute (SCRI) released on Jan.10. New York’s overall Index of Consumer Sentiment is 4.4 points above the national index of 69.7, despite a 1.6-point national increase.

New York’s current index increased 4.9 points to 71.6 and the future index increased nearly three points resulting in New York’s measure of future expectations moving from 73.0 last quarter to 75.7. Overall confidence remains higher in New York than across the nation. Future confidence in New York is now nearly a point above the breakeven point of balanced optimism and pessimism and 8.3 points higher than national future confidence.

“As the rate of inflation has fallen this year, consumer sentiment has creeped begrudgingly higher. Nationally the index, up a point and a half this quarter, stands 10 points higher than at this time last year. In New York, the index is up 3.6 points this quarter and while only two points higher than a year ago, once again is knocking on the door of optimism overtaking pessimism,” said Don Levy, SCRI’s director. “Still, despite the lessening percentage of New Yorkers saying that either food or gasoline prices seriously impact their finances, other monthly expenses, including housing and utilities, weigh heavily on between 59% to 70%—and the new necessities (home internet, cable and streaming and cell phones) seriously affect the budget of between 33%—44%.” Other results include:

  • 55% (down from 58% last quarter and the lowest since September 2021) of all New Yorkers say that current gasoline prices are having a very serious or somewhat serious impact on their financial condition. Seventy five percent (down from 78% last quarter and lowest since March 2022) of state residents indicate that the amount of money they spend on groceries is having either a very serious or somewhat serious impact on their finances.
  • 7 in 10 (70%) New Yorkers say that housing costs are having a very serious or somewhat serious impact on their financial condition. Additionally, a majority (59%) of residents say that their utility costs are having at least a somewhat serious impact on their finances. Other monthly expenses including the cost of cell phones (33%) and entertainment services including Internet, cable and streaming services (44%) are having a very or somewhat serious impact on New Yorkers’ financial condition.
  • A total of 16% of all New Yorkers are somewhat or very seriously impacted by all six monthly expenses: food, gasoline, housing, utilities, home entertainment and cell phones. The consumer sentiment index among that group of New Yorkers is 66.5, nearly eight points below the statewide reading.
  • Approximately 43% of New Yorkers have a retirement account (like a 401K) that they make contributions to above and beyond any contributions made by their employer. Of those, 82% contributed to their retirement account this year. Close to a third, 29%, withdrew from their account this year. Most, 64%, contributed about the same to their retirement account this year as they did last year while 23% contributed more, according to the Siena Poll.
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