BUFFALO, N.Y. — In this year's executive budget proposal, Gov. Kathy Hochul included $2 million for New York State Enhanced Service to Refugees Program.

Assemblyman Jon Rivera said that's actually a cut and instead, the Legislature is calling to increase the funding to $10 million.

"Our state budget this year's projected to be around $223 billion. To ask for $10 million to assist four or five of these great upstate cities who do really interesting, unique work that truthfully, I'd imagine other state governments in other parts of the country are regretting that they're not investing in, only seems to be sort of a no-brainer," he said.

At a press conference Thursday in Buffalo, the region's five resettlement agencies spoke about the importance of the program. Jewish Family Services CEO Dr. Molly Carr said there's only a 90-day window for agencies to spend federal funding, and the money from the state is crucial to filling in the gaps the rest of the year.

"After the limited federal funding is exhausted for these families, one of the biggest things that can help them build, not only rebuild their lives in Western New York, but to continue to build capacity for themselves and their family is to be able to sustain and maintain the safe and affordable funding," Carr said.

Hochul's budget does include nearly $2.5 billion to help the state's migrant crisis. The agencies also work with that population, but note the money does little to help refugees who have different federal statuses.

"Funding that's set up in both the federal and the state system will specify the criteria for who is eligible for the funding," International Institute Executive Director Jennifer Rizzo-Choi said.

The chair of the Assembly Task Force on New Americans, Brooklyn lawmaker Phara Souffrant Forrest, traveled to Buffalo to discuss its recent report which prioritizes the funding. She said investments in refugees get a good return.

"In funding this program and all the programs included in the task force priority report, we secure a future for both refugees and our beloved state," she said.

State Sen. Sean Ryan said Buffalo has already seen the benefit. According to the most recent census, the city's population grew for the first time in decades primarily due to refugees.

"Every year we give out billions of dollars to companies to help to lure people, but we don't keep focus on is the economic balance of investing in people," Ryan said.