Jacobs Says Final State Budget Reduces Sharp Cuts to NYC Seniors & Working Families
March 31, 2011
Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs (D-Flatbush) announced that the 2011-12 state budget reduces spending, while maintaining critical funding for those New York City residents who need it most. “Despite the state’s fiscal problems, we could not, in good conscience, accept all of the proposed cuts to programs affecting seniors, the homeless and students,” Jacobs said. “The term shared sacrifice has been popping up a lot during budget discussions, but there are certain groups of people who are disproportionately affected by drastic reductions to programs and services.” Keeping Senior Centers Open Our senior centers have played a vital role in improving the lives of seniors in communities throughout the city. That’s why the 2011-12 budget restores $25 million in New York City Title XX discretionary funds to these centers. “We are in the midst of tough fiscal times, but we can’t let our treasured older New Yorkers suffer,” said Jacobs. “We need to provide seniors with the resources they need to continue living happy, healthy lives.” Investing in Education The final state budget restores $230 million in general support to public schools statewide, including $53 million for New York City schools. In addition, restorations for state-supported schools for the blind and deaf and the Summer School Special Education program reduced the cost shift to NYC by $95 million. “I fought for restorations to soften the sharpest cuts because we simply can’t afford to abandon our public schools,” Assemblywoman Jacobs said. “We owe our children the best possible opportunities.” Preserving Vital Housing Programs The 2011-12 budget restores $4.2 million to the Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP). Established in 1977, the NPP allows the Division of Housing and Community Renewal to contract with not-for-profit, community-based housing corporations to perform housing and community-renewal activities. The budget also rejects an executive proposal to merge the Neighborhood Preservation Program with the Rural Preservation Program, a move that would have negatively impacted the effectiveness of each program. “We need to make sure that New York City families have access to affordable housing,” said Ms. Jacobs. “That’s why I fought to ensure this housing program remained funded and intact. With rent-regulation laws still remaining to be extended this year, my work will continue on the issue of affordable housing for our families.” Also included in the final state budget is $15 million for a new program for homeless individuals and families in New York City. Restorations for CUNY The budget also restores 49 percent of the proposed base aid cut, or an $88 per Full Time Equivalent restoration, for a total of $5.1 million for CUNY community colleges. In addition, the budget provides new procurement guidelines for CUNY that will allow CUNY colleges and the CUNY Construction Fund additional authorization to purchase services without prior approval from the attorney general or the state comptroller. Additionally, we were able to restore $334,000 to help provide child care for students working to get their degree. Supporting Summer Job Opportunities for Youths The final budget restores $15.5 million to the Summer Youth Employment Program. In 2010, the program helped 35,725 young adults find jobs in 5,800 worksites throughout New York City. “It would have been irresponsible to balance the budget by cutting off job opportunities for motivated young adults seeking to gain professional work experience,” Ms. Jacobs said. “Furthermore, it would have been economically counterproductive to keep these youths from contributing to their local economies and helping to provide for themselves or their families.” Providing a Living Wage for Homecare Workers Also included in the budget is a three-year phase-in to provide homecare workers with a local living wage in counties where living-wage laws are enacted. $30 million Restored for “prescriber prevails” Protections Recognizing that physicians should have the final say when it comes to prescription drug decisions, the final budget upholds the “prescriber prevails” protection for certain Medicaid patients. Without this, the New York State Health Department would have precedence over doctors with respect to the pharmaceutical determinations of the neediest New Yorkers. In addition, $28.3 million is provided to maintain the right of “spousal refusal” – to ensure people in need of long-term care are not unnecessarily institutionalized – $5.5 million is appropriated to restore half the cuts to Early Intervention and $7.5 million is included to reject the executive proposal to increase or modify co-payments for Medicaid, Family Health Plus and Child Health Plus.