Pearl River – As state budget negotiations enter their final phase, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) today highlighted funding restorations in the Assembly budget proposal she is pushing for inclusion in the final budget measure, as well as the fact the Assembly budget recognizes New York's economic realities by cutting $3.1 billion in year to year spending and closes the state's $10 billion budget deficit.
“In confronting our budget challenges, the Assembly budget proposal meets our fiscal responsibility, restores key funding to programs critical to our future, and seeks to protect seniors, children, students and the most vulnerable New Yorkers through human service, school aid and community college restorations,” Jaffee said. “This budget also puts more people back to work by strengthening economic development initiatives and maintaining vital funding for job creating projects.”
Highlights from the Assembly-approved budget include:
No Tax Breaks for Millionaires: The Assembly budget legislation rejects lowering the millionaire tax rate to 6.85 percent – the same rate as someone making $20,000 a year – and instead maintains the current rate of 8.97 percent through 2012. The Assembly plan also directs 30 percent of the proceeds to the Educational Assistance Fund, while offering a lifeline to other important initiatives that middle-class families, seniors and lower-income families depend on.
Ensures Children Have Access to Quality Education: The Assembly restores nearly $467 million in executive budget cuts for the 2011-12 school year, $363 million over the current fiscal year, which includes funding for BOCES and special education programs. Restorations include $200 million for general support to public schools, in addition to $32.5 million being provided for teacher centers and $9 million to fund Regents exams. Continuing its longstanding commitment to Universal Pre-Kindergarten, the Assembly also maintains funding at $393 million.
Protects Seniors’ Drug Coverage Through EPIC: The Assembly budget restores $34 million in funding to the executive’s proposed cuts to Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) – a program providing secondary coverage for prescription drug costs, helping protect over 300,000 enrollees by ensuring that no program benefits are eliminated.
Strengthens the Excelsior Jobs Program: The Assembly budget improves the Excelsior Jobs Program by increasing the program's responsiveness, extending the program's tax benefit period from five to 10 years, and basing job tax credits on the projected income tax revenue for each new job.
Stands Up for Special-Needs Individuals and Students: The Assembly rejects the proposal to reclassify state-supported schools for the blind and deaf (4201 schools) as approved private schools for students with disabilities, which would include changing their funding structure, appointment process and student evaluation procedures, as well as representing a cost shift to school districts and property taxpayers. This is a $90.8 million restoration. Independent of the Assembly budget proposal, Jaffee is pushing for both Speaker Silver and the Budget Conference Committee to restore funding to the state Office of People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) in the final joint budget proposal.
Keeps A College Degree Within Reach: The Assembly budget holds the line on SUNY and CUNY tuitions for the 2011-12 academic year, helping ensure that an affordable education remains within reach for all during these hard economic times.
Defends Our Community College System: The Assembly budget recognizes the job training value of SUNY and CUNY Community Colleges by restoring $31 million of the proposed executive cut, rejecting a proposed base aid cut and restoring 50% of this funding for full-time equivalents (FTE), and increasing the maximum TAP award to $5,000.
Restores Summer Youth Employment Program: The Assembly budget returns $15.5 million to the youth summer employment program, which helps young people in urban and rural communities find entry-level employment, and restores funding to other programs for at-risk youth.
Supports Displaced Homemaker Training: The Assembly restores $36.3 million – over 50 percent – of executive budget cuts to funding for employment and training programs, including the Displaced Homemaker Program and the Jobs for Youth Program.
Restores Early Intervention (EI): The Assembly budget restores Early Intervention (EI) reimbursement rates at their current levels, rejecting an executive proposal to reduce rates by 10 percent. The total restoration for EI is $11.6 million for 2011-12 fiscal year.
"Moving forward, I remain committed to working with Governor Cuomo, Speaker Silver, my colleagues, and the budget conference committees to enact a timely state budget that meets the needs of working families while at the same time taking into account the economic challenges we face," Jaffee added. “In this pursuit, I believe the Assembly-passed budget represents the best chance we have for negotiating the strongest final budget possible.”