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Assemblyman
Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Assembly District 71
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Chair, Ways and Means Committee
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…and this month in Albany
April 1, 2015

Assemblyman Farrell Reports to Community Board 10

Assembly Passes Budget for State Fiscal Year 2015-2016
$150 Billion Budget Increases Funding for Education, Housing

Earlier today, the Assembly passed the final pieces of the budget for State Fiscal Year 2015-2016, which begins today. As you know, my role as Ways and Means Chairman required me to reprise the role I described in my last report to you, when we passed our "one-house" budget resolution. The budget now goes to Governor Cuomo for his consideration and signature.

Assembly and Senate Come to Agreement on Budget Plans

Since my last report to you, led by Speaker Heastie, who was negotiating his first budget, the Assembly and Senate concluded the conference committee process to reconcile differences in our "one-house" budgets. Legislative leadership also engaged with Governor Cuomo to reach three-way agreement on elements of a budget. The final product is a $150.3 billion spending plan that preserves important programs while at the same time expanding programs to help students and New Yorkers who are in need.

More Support for Programs While Spending Responsibly

Our plan, which we began passing several days ago, calls for a State-funds-only spending increase of $1.8 billion, a 2 percent increase over 2014-2015, which falls within the voluntary spending cap that we imposed several years ago. The budget also includes $1.7 billion for Superstorm Sandy recovery and relief and $6.1 billion for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

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Assemblyman Farrell enjoys a lighthearted moment on the Assembly floor while debating the State budget for Fiscal Year 2015-2016.

Education Funding Increases by Almost 6 Percent

The budget also commits an additional $1.6 billion to education, bringing total education funding to $23.5 billion statewide and $9.2 billion for New York City schools. Our budget also makes renewed commitments to higher education by greatly increasing opportunity programs for SUNY and CUNY students and making changes to financial aid rules that are intended to make it easier for students with disabilities to apply for Tuition Assistance Program financial aid.

Working to Undo Recession's Economic Damage to Education

I am happy to announce that the Senate and Governor Cuomo have agreed with the Assembly's position that it is time for a serious effort to roll back the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which is a cut to school funding that we were forced to make after the financial crisis of late 2007/early 2008. This year's budget restores a full 50 percent of the GEA cuts, bringing State funding for public schools nearer where it should be and giving our students more of the resources they need to learn and succeed. We have also succeeded in convincing the Senate and Governor to increase foundation aid to school districts and to make full reimbursement of expense-based aid.

Fighting for Affordable Housing and Homelessness Prevention

The budget also makes a $440 million commitment to homelessness services over the next few years, commits $14 million to additional child care slots to parents pursuing higher education so they can be sure their children are in safe and nurturing hands, makes key restorations to important human services programs and secured $1 billion for road and bridge projects including major restoration projects needed to rebuild or replace aging and crumbling infrastructure.

Budget Agreement Includes Student Debt Relief Plan

Our budget agreement contains an important provision that has not received significant coverage in the press. As you may know, economists have warned for years that student loan debt could be the next "bubble" that damages our economy as did the housing market bubble that is blamed for causing the recession of late 2007/early 2008. Federal government action on this issue has not occurred, so State leaders stepped up to help New Yorkers who are completing their educations and taking the first steps into productive working lives.

The budget for Fiscal Year 2015-2016 includes a program that we believe will assist more than 7,000 recent graduates in its' first year and nearly 25,000 eligible participants by the time this program reaches full strength in 2019. Residents who graduate from college and continue to live in New York State will pay nothing against their student loan debt for the first two years they are out of school. For graduates earning less than $50,000 during their first years in the workforce, this new State program will dovetail with an existing Federal student loan program that allows low-income workers to make payments they can afford against their student loan debt. The amount each participant will benefit will be based on a calculation including their total student loan debt and their adjusted gross income at the time they participate in this program.

For years, many young people have complained of the difficulty of making a strong start in life while carrying the debt accumulated while they earned a degree that allows these students to get a good-paying job. It was a pleasure to cast my vote in order to help these people.

Yours truly,
Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.



…and this month in Albany
March 19, 2015

Assemblyman Farrell Reports to Community Board 9

Assembly Passes Budget Resolution for State Fiscal Year 2015-2016
$150.7 Billion Budget Plan Increases Funding for Education, Housing

On Thursday, March 12 I as chair of the Ways and Means Committee I led the debate and helped to pass the Assembly's "one-house" budget resolution for State Fiscal Year 2015-2016. This vote was a major step toward passing an on-time budget, which by law must occur before April 1.

Our $150.7 billion budget plan increases spending by 5.39 percent over State Fiscal Year 2014-2015 and includes $7.8 billion in Federal funding for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the ongoing recovery from Superstorm Sandy. Our budget also significantly increases funding for education, affordable housing, health care and other priorities over and above the funding levels proposed by Governor Cuomo in the Executive Budget he released earlier this year.

Adoption of the Assembly's budget resolution was necessary in order to set clear priorities and enter the conference committee process with the Senate in order to reconcile differences in our one-house budgets and present the Governor with a unified Legislative budget for his approval.

Assembly Budget Plan Increases School Aid by $1.8 Billion

Among the highlights of the Assembly's budget resolution is a $1.8 billion increase to education funding, which is primarily a $1 billion increase to Foundation Aid and a $456 million restoration of the Gap Elimination Adjustment program. The Gap Elimination Adjustment program began during the financial crisis of 2008 when the State found itself critically short of revenue in the wake of the Wall Street meltdown that began the recent recession.

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The Assembly's budget resolution also includes enacting the Higher Education Road to Success program, an additional $100 million in funding for SUNY and CUNY, adding 3,000 new child care slots to programs for college students who have children in need of care, and raising the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 which is a much needed reform of the juvenile justice system. The Assembly also voted to invest in affordable housing, while also adopting a "circuit-breaker" property tax relief plan, a tax credit for renters in addition to raising the minimum wage.

I noted, during the debate on the Assembly floor that afternoon, that in the past when minimum wage increases were considered, opponents of higher wages always argued that jobs would be lost if low-income workers' wages were increased. However, as it happened, that did not occur and if it had there would be no jobs left in New York, which is clearly not the case. My colleagues in the Assembly Majority Conference and I believe that, especially in New York City where the cost of living is high, workers should be able to make ends meet on the wages paid by a full-time job. We intend to continue to fight for this critical quality of life issue. The Assembly's budget plan also includes $33 million for critical maintenance of New York City streets, a significant increase from the $7 million budgeted for New York City in 2014-2015 when Upstate roads needed much more significant repair and more funding.

Budget Conference Committee Process Has Begun

After the budget resolution debate, which took only two hours to conclude, Speaker Heastie and myself joined Senate leaders in the first meeting of the General Conference Committee (also known as the Mothership Committee). During this meeting, members of the Assembly and Senate were assigned to subcommittees who considered components of the budget and were charged with reconciling the different ways the Assembly and Senate dealt with these budget components. These meetings are ongoing but are expected to conclude in the coming days.

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Speaker Heastie, Assemblyman Farrell and members of the Assembly leadership took part in a General Conference Committee meeting in Albany on March 12, 2015. Pictured are (from left) Speaker Carl E. Heastie, Assemblyman Farrell, Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle, and Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry.

As noted above, when the conference committee process is complete, the Assembly and Senate should have a unified budget to vote upon and pass. While this process is ongoing, legislative leaders will continue to meet with Governor Cuomo to negotiate and come to agreement on details of the final budget. When an overall deal is reached and the conference committees have done their work, each house will vote upon a uniform bill which, when it has been passed, will be delivered to the Governor for his signature. This will complete the budget process. Please look to my Web site at assembly.state.ny.us for all the latest news on the budget as well as other goings-on in Albany as well as here at home in the District.


Yours truly,
Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.



(Back to Top)
March 12, 2015
Assembly Passes Budget Resolution for State Fiscal Year 2015-2016
$150.7 Billion Budget Plan Increases Funding for Education, Housing

On Thursday, March 12 I led the debate and helped pass the Assembly's "one-house" budget resolution for State Fiscal Year 2015-2016. This vote was a major step toward passing an on-time budget for State Fiscal Year 2015-2016, which by law must occur before April 1.

Our $150.7 billion budget plan increases spending by 5.39 percent over State Fiscal Year 2014-2015 and includes $7.8 billion in Federal funding for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the ongoing recovery from Superstorm Sandy. Our budget also significantly increases funding for education, affordable housing, health care and other priorities over and above the funding levels proposed by Governor Cuomo in the Executive Budget he released earlier this year.

Adoption of the Assembly's budget resolution was necessary in order to set clear priorities and enter the conference committee process with the Senate in order to reconcile differences in our one-house budgets and present the Governor with a unified Legislative budget for his approval.

Assembly Budget Plan Increases School Aid by $1.8 Billion

Among the highlights of the Assembly's budget resolution is a $1.8 billion increase to education funding, which is primarily a $1 billion increase to Foundation Aid and a $456 million restoration of the Gap Elimination Adjustment program. The Gap Elimination Adjustment program began during the financial crisis of 2008 when the State found itself critically short of revenue in the wake of the Wall Street meltdown that began the recent recession.

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The Assembly's budget resolution also includes enacting the Higher Education Road to Success program, an additional $100 million in funding for SUNY and CUNY, adding 3,000 new child care slots to programs for college students who have children in need of care, and raising the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 which is a much needed reform of the juvenile justice system. The Assembly also voted to invest in affordable housing, while also adopting a "circuit-breaker" property tax relief plan, a tax credit for renters in addition to raising the minimum wage.

Assembly Supports Raising the Wage to Help Working New Yorkers

I noted, during the debate on the Assembly floor that afternoon, that in the past when minimum wage increases were considered, opponents of higher wages always argued that jobs would be lost if low-income workers' wages were increased. However, as it happened, that did not occur and if it had there would be no jobs left in New York, which is clearly not the case. My colleagues in the Assembly Majority Conference and I believe that, especially in New York City where the cost of living is high, workers should be able to make ends meet on the wages paid by a full-time job. We intend to continue to fight for this critical quality of life issue.

The Assembly's budget plan also includes $33 million for critical maintenance of New York City streets, a significant increase from the $7 million budgeted for New York City in 2014-2015 when Upstate roads needed much more significant repair and more funding.

Budget Conference Committee Process Begins

After the budget resolution debate, which took only two hours to conclude, Speaker Heastie and myself joined Senate leaders in the first meeting of the General Conference Committee (also known as the Mothership Committee). During this meeting, members of the Assembly and Senate were assigned to subcommittees who considered components of the budget and were charged with reconciling the different ways the Assembly and Senate dealt with these budget components. These meetings are ongoing but are expected to conclude in the coming days.

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Speaker Heastie, Assemblyman Farrell and members of the Assembly leadership took part in a General Conference Committee meeting in Albany on March 12, 2015.

As noted above, when the conference committee process is complete, the Assembly and Senate should have a unified budget to vote upon and pass. While this process is ongoing, legislative leaders will continue to meet with Governor Cuomo to negotiate and come to agreement on details of the final budget. When an overall deal is reached and the conference committees have done their work, each house will vote upon a uniform bill which, when it has been passed, will be delivered to the Governor for his signature. This will complete the budget process.



Video Clips:

March 12, 2015
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Farrell addresses questions relating to changes in the Gap Elimination in the Assembly Budget Proposal. E.203
 
 




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