UTICA, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) — New York State Senator Joe Griffo asked Governor Kathy Hochul to consider a new piece of legislation he introduced on Wednesday, November 1, as the legislature begins to consider their priorities for the new legislative year.

The legislation, which is also being introduced in the Assembly by Chateaugay Lake assemblyman Billy Jones, would help fire and police departments gain access to grant funding. Dubbed the Public Safety Investment Act, the bill would provide police and fire departments with access to $300 million in grant funding to help with recruitment and retention efforts. The bill will also provide funding to purchase needed equipment.

The bill is also being supported by Utica assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, New Hartford assemblyman Brian Miller and Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente.

“Throughout New York, many police and fire departments are struggling financially and face significant challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining members and keeping equipment up to date and in working order,” Griffo said in a statement. “Local governments are often forced to raise taxes to address these issues. This bill will strengthen police and fire departments, enhance public safety in the state and help to alleviate the burden on taxpayers.”

The $300 million would be available over a three-year period and departments would be eligible to apply for $100 million a year. That would be split even further, with $50 million available to both law enforcement and firefighting agencies.

“This is a priority and must always be a priority,” Buttenschon said. “We can talk about other issues in New York State, but if we don’t have public safety, none of those issues can be discussed. They are here for us. Those three numbers are called and they come and they provide the protection, the service that we need, no matter what the issue is.”

“We’re on Genesee Street in New Hartford and we hear the alarms go off, the fire whistles go off, and there’s more and more and more need for public safety, law enforcement, the volunteers, the paid departments,” Miller said. “It’s a priority that we need here in New York State. Every day, there’s a fire department, a volunteer fire department calling the office with their needs on buildings, on equipment, on recruitment and retention. This is a great priority.”

The next legislative session is scheduled to begin on Thursday, January 4.