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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 5, 2017

Assemblyman Farrell Reports to Community Board 10

Budget Negotiations Stall Amid Raise the Age Fight
Juvenile Justice Reform is Top Assembly Priority

On Monday, April 3, the Assembly and Senate passed an emergency budget extension handed down by Governor Cuomo late during the previous night that will allow State operations to continue while we continue to negotiate juvenile justice reform, education funding and other issues that are critical to the Assembly Majority Conference and the people of this State.

As you may know, by law, we were to have passed a budget for State Fiscal Year 2017-2018 no later than 11:59 p.m. on March 31. That did not happen. Despite repeated assurances that we were close, agreement was not reached on our "Raise the Age" proposal to take underage defendants out of the adult criminal justice system. New York State is one of only two that still do so, and this practice must end. Unfortunately, some of our colleagues in the Senate are engaging in a fear campaign that dishonestly describes what the Assembly is asking for.

Speaker Heastie Sets the Record Straight

For the record, we are not, as Speaker Heastie has said, "coddling murderers and rapists" who happen to be juveniles. What we are doing is taking a stand to ensure that young people who are accused of non-violent crimes do not end up in adult courts, and then adult prisons. The Assembly Majority Conference will continue to fight to divert troubled young people from a life in the criminal justice system. We should be better than this.

Budget Extension Funds State Operations, Infrastructure Upgrades

Returning to the subject of the budget extension, among the things this piece of emergency legislation does is allow about 150,000 State employees to get their paychecks on time today, provides $16.4 billion in new capital funding for projects across the State including $2.5 billion for water infrastructure improvements, caps prescription drug costs for Medicaid recipients, and keeps the promise to grant pay raises to low-paid health care direct support workers.

What the extension does not do is clarify how much State support most public school districts can expect during 2017-2018. As you may know, most districts must pass their budgets by mid-May, but will have to do so without knowing how much State aid they can expect. Because these districts will be held to a property tax cap increase of just over 1%, this uncertainty could lead to program cuts or layoffs that could hurt students' education. With this emergency spending plan in place, Assembly leadership continues to negotiate details of a full budget for State Fiscal Year 2017-2018. Our Conference's priorities are laid out in detail on the following pages.

Negotiations Began With Assembly "One House" Budget Resolution
Assembly Fighting to Increase School Aid

On Wednesday, March 15 I debated the Assembly Majority Conference's "One House" budget proposal, which is a public statement of our priorities and legislative goals but is not law, but which we hope will become law when the budget passes. Our resolution is a $153.8 billion spending plan that includes more than $26 billion in school aid. Passing this resolution allowed us to begin formal negotiations on the budget. Our budget resolution is an important milestone on the road to passing a budget, and this process is laid out in detail in the State Constitution.

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Assemblyman Farrell debates the Assembly Majority Conference's "One House" budget resolution on the Assembly floor Wednesday, March 15 2017.

Assembly Plan Increases School Aid by $887M Over Executive Proposal

Our plan increases school aid overall by $1.8 billion over the current year, and about $1 billion more than the Executive Budget proposal Governor Cuomo released in January. This includes a rejection of the Executive's changes to the Foundation Aid formula and makes a significant down payment on a four-year phase-in of more aid to our neediest districts. We also propose $847 million in funding for pre-Kindergarten programs, $19.2 million to continue the My Brother's Keeper program which assists young men of color, $25 million for career and technical education programs, extending mayoral control of New York City schools for seven years until 2024 and requiring the Division of Budget to immediately release $75 million in aid already approved for persistently struggling schools in the process of reforming their programs.

Higher Education Plan Expands TAP, Helps Dreamers

The Assembly's plan also seeks to expand access to higher education by increasing funding for opportunity programs including the Tuition Assistance Program and provides for the enactment of the DREAM Act, which makes State financial aid available to people who came to the United States as children without paperwork. We also added $1.4 billion for capital improvements at public colleges and universities and a tax credit for student loan interest. Overall, our higher education plan provides $48 million to increase these programs over the Executive Budget plan.

Support for Affordable Housing Programs

The Assembly's proposal provides a plan for investment of $2.5 billion in funding that was dedicated for supportive and affordable housing in last year's budget, including $1 billion for supportive housing, $500 million for NYCHA capital repairs, $125 million for senior housing, $100 million for Mitchell-Lama preservation programs and $50 million for housing for developmentally disabled people. Our plan also includes a new rental assistance program for low-income seniors, which will be funded by Mayor de Blasio's plan to apply a special tax to multimillion dollar real estate deals in New York City.

Plan Includes a Progressive Tax Structure

The Assembly's plan also seeks to rework the "millionaires' tax" that was put into place after the 2007 recession caused Wall Street revenues to fall. At the present time, single filers who earn over $1 million and married filers who together earn over $2 million pay State taxes at a rate of 8.82 percent. Without Legislative action, that special assessment will end, meaning that millionaires will be taxed at a rate of 6.85 percent as are people who earn at least $300,000.

Assembly Budget Plan Extends and Expands "Millionaires' Tax"

Our expansion of this important program could lead to the highest-earning New Yorkers paying more of their fair share. Those earning between $1 million and $5 million will pay 8.82 percent, while those earning between $5 million and $10 million will pay State taxes at a rate of 9.32 percent. Those earning between $10 million and $100 million will pay a rate of 9.82 percent, and those making over $100 million will be taxed at a rate of 10.32 percent. Revenues raised through this program will be used to fund education, health care and other priorities.

Overall, the Assembly's budget resolution forecasts that the Executive Budget proposal low-balled actual revenues by $450 million in Fiscal Year 2017-2018 and $1.485 billion the following year. Interestingly, shortly before our debate began, Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released a report showing that Wall Street revenues were up by 21 percent and cash bonuses rose as well, which is a positive sign that revenues will come in.

Assembly Plan Modifies and Rejects Governor's Proposals

As happens every year, the Governor's budget included many policy changes, some of which the Assembly accepts while others are changed or rejected. Among the changes our Conference agreed to accept are limits on tax deductions for charitable donations, expansion of tax credits for child care expenses, extending tax credits for film productions in the State, closing loopholes to allow the collection of sales tax for on-line sales and other changes.

However, our plan adds changes including an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit which helps families with children, creates a new tax credit for homeowners who add mobility enhancements such as wheelchair ramps and grab-bars and create a food donation tax credit for farmers. Our plan rejects proposals that new State employees not owe outstanding taxes, a requirement that doctors be current on their practice before buying malpractice insurance, or allow the sale of alcohol in theaters. As of now we are pushing to pass a budget as soon as possible, though the Executive would prefer to pass the budget after Easter. Please look to my Web site at nyassembly.gov for the latest on the budget and other Albany happenings.

Yours truly,
Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.




…and this month in Albany
March 16, 2017

Assemblyman Farrell Reports to Community Board 9

Assembly Passes $153.8B "One House" Budget Resolution
Plan Proposes More Than $26B in School Aid

On Wednesday, March 15 I debated the Assembly Majority Conference's "One House" budget proposal, which is a public statement of our priorities and legislative goals but is not law, but which we hope will become law when the budget passes later this month. Our resolution is a $153.8 billion spending plan that includes more than $26 billion in school aid. This resolution allows us to begin formal negotiations on the budget. As we were in the process of passing our resolution, the Senate introduced its' own "One House" resolution. Our budget resolution is an important milestone on the road to passing a finalized budget, and this process is laid out in detail in the State Constitution.

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Assemblyman Farrell debates the Assembly Majority Conference's "One House" budget resolution on the Assembly floor Wednesday, March 15 2017. In the coming weeks, meetings will be held to finalize details of the budget and finished budget bills are expected to be voted into law on or before March 31, the last day of the State Fiscal Year.

Budget Process Enters Final Weeks Ahead of Coming Fiscal Year

Moving forward, leaders of each house will meet in what we call the "Mothership Committee." Members will be assigned to 10 conference committees whose job it will be to reconcile differences between the two houses' budget plans, along with staff from Governor Cuomo's Division of Budget. Each committee includes five Assembly Members and five Senators, representing the majority and minority conferences of each house. These committees will hold meetings until the Assembly, Senate and Governor reach consensus on each of these components of the overall budget. From there, we will debate and vote to pass the budget for State Fiscal Year 2017-2018 by March 31 as the law requires.

Assembly Plan Increases School Aid by $887M Over Executive Proposal

Our plan increases school aid overall by $1.8 billion over the current year, and about $1 billion more than the Executive Budget proposal Governor Cuomo released in January. This includes a rejection of the Governor's changes to the Foundation Aid formula and makes a significant down payment on a four-year phase-in of more aid to our neediest districts. We also propose $847 million in funding for pre-Kindergarten programs, $19.2 million to continue the My Brother's Keeper program which assists young men of color, $25 million for career and technical education programs, extending mayoral control of New York City schools for seven years until 2024 and requiring the Division of Budget to immediately release $75 million in aid promised to persistently struggling schools which are in the process of reforming their programs.

Higher Education Plan Expands TAP, Helps Dreamers

The Assembly's plan also seeks to expand access to higher education by increasing funding for opportunity programs including the Tuition Assistance Program and provides for the enactment of the DREAM Act, which makes State financial aid available to people who came to the United States as children without paperwork. We also added $1.4 billion for capital improvements at public colleges and universities and a tax credit for student loan interest. Overall, our higher education plan provides $48 million to increase these programs over the Executive Budget plan.

Support for Affordable Housing Programs

The Assembly's proposal provides a plan for investment of $2.5 billion in funding that was dedicated for supportive and affordable housing in last year's budget, including $1 billion for supportive housing, $500 million for NYCHA capital repairs, $125 million for senior housing, $100 million for Mitchell-Lama preservation programs and $50 million for housing for developmentally disabled people. Our plan also includes a new rental assistance program for low-income seniors, which will be funded by Mayor de Blasio's plan to apply a special tax to multimillion dollar real estate deals in New York City.

Plan Includes Raise the Age and a Progressive Tax Structure

New York State is now one of only two states that treats juvenile offenders like adults. The Assembly seeks to change that at last by raising the age of adult criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 and prohibit the placement of anyone under the age of 18 in an adult jail or prison. This reform is, most likely, our Conference's most significant legislative priority this year.

The Assembly's plan also seeks to rework the "millionaires' tax" that was put into place after the 2007 recession caused Wall Street revenues to fall. At the present time, single filers who earn over $1 million and married filers who together earn over $2 million pay State taxes at a rate of 8.82 percent. Without Legislative action, that special assessment will end, meaning that millionaires will be taxed at a rate of 6.85 percent as are people who earn at least $300,000.

Assembly Budget Plan Extends and Expands "Millionaires' Tax"

Our expansion of this important program could lead to the highest-earning New Yorkers paying more of their fair share. Those earning between $1 million and $5 million will pay 8.82 percent, while those earning between $5 million and $10 million will pay State taxes at a rate of 9.32 percent. Those earning between $10 million and $100 million will pay a rate of 9.82 percent, and those making over $100 million will be taxed at a rate of 10.32 percent. Revenues raised through this program will be used to fund education, health care and other priorities.

Overall, the Assembly's budget resolution forecasts that the Executive Budget proposal low-balled actual revenues by $450 million in Fiscal Year 2017-2018 and $1.485 billion the following year. Interestingly, shortly before our debate began, Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released a report showing that Wall Street revenues were up by 21 percent and cash bonuses rose as well, which is a positive sign that revenues will come in following recent questionable data.

Assembly Plan Modifies and Rejects Governor's Proposals

As happens every year, the Governor's budget included many policy changes, some of which the Assembly accepts while others are changed or rejected. Among the changes our Conference agreed to accept are limits on tax deductions for charitable donations, expansion of tax credits for child care expenses, extending tax credits for film productions in the State, closing loopholes to allow the collection of sales tax for on-line sales and other changes.

However, our plan adds changes including an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit which helps families with children, creates a new tax credit for homeowners who add mobility enhancements such as wheelchair ramps and grab-bars and create a food donation tax credit for farmers. Our plan rejects proposals that new State employees not owe outstanding taxes, a requirement that doctors be current on their practice before buying malpractice insurance, allow the vehicles of accused cigarette smugglers to be seized, or allow the sale of alcohol in theaters.

Please look to my Web site at nyassembly.gov for the latest news on the budget and other Albany happenings, as well as goings-on here at home in the District.

Yours truly,
Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.




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
 
 




Photo Slide Show:



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