Assemblymember Cahill: Responsible Budget Puts Education, Health Care And The Economy First

State Budget Boosts Spending on Education, Health Care and Infrastructure Government Efficiency and Medicaid Reform Keep Overall Costs Level
April 9, 2012
(Albany, NY) Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) announced the passage of the 2012-13 State Budget. The final spending plan closes a multi-billion dollar deficit and significantly increases aid to education and health care, while funding important job creation and infrastructure programs. The budget continues the lowest middle-class tax rate in nearly 60 years, which cut taxes for 99 percent of New Yorkers in December.

“This year’s state budget puts the needs of hard working families first with no new taxes or fees. It will deliver real benefits to our communities and the economy through resources dedicated to strengthening education, health care, job growth and our social safety net.

“Financially strapped school districts, local governments and property taxpayers are receiving much-needed relief from increases in the state’s share of aid to education and Medicaid, and other measures easing the burden on localities. Initiatives to consolidate and streamline state operations will provide more efficient services and help keep spending growth under two percent for the second consecutive year.

“This is the way the process is supposed to work. The Governor outlined his budget proposal. The Assembly and Senate amended and improved upon it through an open process of public hearings, joint conference committees and individual legislators advocating for the priorities of their communities. In the end, we produced a sound and balanced on-time budget that helps further New York’s economic recovery.”

2012-13 STATE BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS

Education

The budget increases school aid by $805 million, four percent more than last year. That includes a $111.5 million increase in Foundation Aid, a $400 million increase in the Gap Elimination Adjustment restoration and a full restoration of $239 million for expense-based aids. Ulster County schools will see a $4.6 million boost compared to last year’s budget, bringing its total of state aid to $167 million.

The final budget also:

  • restores $10.2 million to teacher resource and training centers
  • increases non-public school aid by $7 million, for a total of $123.6 million
  • increases aid to public libraries by $3.9 million, providing $82.9 million in total funding
  • increases adult literacy education by $1 million for a total of $5.2 million

“The budget agreement we worked out with the Governor will help ease some of the burden by sending more aid directly to the districts that need it most. We came through on our promise to increase school aid because our children deserve the educational resources that will best prepare them for a rapidly changing world.”

Health Care

The enacted budget includes a four percent increase in state spending on health care initiatives. It implements a cap on the growth of county Medicaid expenses and continues the process of the state takeover of the program’s administrative costs.

The budget also:

  • restores $30.6 million to EPIC, a program that helps seniors pay for medication expenses
  • maintains funding for the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program at $41.5 million, an increase of $5 million over the Executive’s proposal
  • requires pharmacies to translate and interpret medication instruction and warning labels for individuals of limited English proficiency

“Access to affordable and quality care is a top priority, and this year’s budget reflects that by strengthening our hospitals, nursing homes and health care initiatives with increases in state resources. The hard cap on the growth of local Medicaid costs, an idea the Assembly has been pushing for years, is going to provide significant property tax relief in the long run.”

Relief for Working Families

The 2012-13 State Budget continues new tax brackets first established last December in which rates were cut for 4.4 million people. The following measures have been included to provide additional relief for individuals and families still struggling to recover from the economic downturn:

  • elimination of the state sales tax on clothing and footwear under $110
  • eliminate the MTA payroll tax for schools, both public and private, qualifying small businesses and self proprietors earning less than $50,000
  • $6.5 billion for unemployment insurance benefits
  • $16 million to increase public-assistance grants by ten percent
  • $25 million for the Foreclosure Prevention Program

“As the economy slowly improves, it is important to make sure that the people who are still struggling are not left behind. These measures are designed to provide relief to those thousands of New Yorkers still dealing with the impacts of the recession and housing market collapse.”

,b>Transfer of Belleayre Ski Center to the Olympic Regional Development Authority

The management of the Belleayre Ski Center will be transferred to the Olympic Regional Development Authority. The legislation ensures local representation, budget resources for year-round operations and protections for current Bellearye employees.

“The final agreement on Belleayre is much better than the original proposal. I was able to work with the Governor and the Senate to win changes that will guarantee meaningful local representation, resources comparable to the ski centers in the Adirondacks and job security for the current employees. Associating Belleayre with the Olympic brand has the potential to bring great benefits the Ski Center and the Catskill Region.

“This is a start, but much more needs to be done to overcome the Bellearye’s budgetary challenges. I am going to closely monitor the implementation of the transfer and make sure the Authority is held accountable for providing the resources and attention needed to assure the Center remains a vibrant center for tourism throughout the year.”

Higher Education

The final budget increases support for SUNY community colleges, for the first time in five years, by $22.1 million. SUNY four-year colleges will receive an additional $113 million.

“Community colleges will receive their first increase in funding in five years. Investing in these institutions and their valuable workforce development programs is one of the most effective ways to rebuild our economy. We kept our commitment to SUNY, allowing them to reduce class sizes, strengthen programs and retain more full-time professors. Most importantly, the budget keeps public higher education accessible and affordable so students have the opportunity to obtain the skills and knowledge they need to compete in the global economy.”

Economic Development

The final budget includes funding for capital projects, helping to rebuild our state’s crumbling infrastructure and support for a second round of the Regional Economic Development Grants to help put people back to work:

  • $1.6 billion for repairing and rebuilding parks, roads and bridges through New York Works
  • $220 million for Regional Economic Development Council grants
  • $75 million for the New York Works Economic Development Fund
  • $20 million for the Empire State Economic Development Fund

“Investing in our aging structure is critical to our economic future. Rebuilding roads, bridges, parks and dams will produce jobs and make our state a more attractive place to do business. Projects in flood prone areas will be prioritized, providing much needed security and relief to communities in the Catskills and Hudson Valley Regions that have been hit with major floods almost annually.”

Conclusion

“This is fiscally responsible on-time state budget that puts hard working New Yorkers first and strengthens our economy by improving education, health care and job creation programs, while continuing the tax cuts we enacted for 99 percent of New Yorkers.”