Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs (D-Flatbush) announced that the 2009-2010 state budget fully restores New York City’s 2009-2010 Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) funding, for a total of $328 million. The funding will help support local projects and programs essential to the well-being of New York City residents and will help offset cutbacks in city services, such as police and fire protection, garbage pickup and sanitation.
The budget also restores $15.7 million in Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPs) funding for maintenance of the city’s streets and $2 million in transit aid that will absorb a significant portion of the city’s transit funding burden.
“The crisis on Wall Street has battered the city’s economy and left the state with a massive budget gap, so it’s clear that we needed to make some changes,” Jacobs said. “Still, the Assembly remained steadfastly dedicated to providing meaningful aid to New York City and fought to restore its funding in the final budget.”
Education & Higher Education Aid
The budget provides nearly $8.5 billion in state funding for New York City schools, restoring the executive’s $362 million cut and rejecting the proposal to shift the cost of special education to the New York City Department of Education – saving taxpayers $97 million. The final budget delivers nearly $1 billion in additional funding to New York City schools.
In addition, the budget creates new reporting requirements for New York City regarding its Five Year Class Size Reduction Plan to include detailed information by school on the number of classrooms and teachers that existed prior to receiving CFE funds and the number of new classrooms and new teachers created with funds; actual average class sizes for each year funding was received; and those that received CFE funds and did not reach class-size reduction goals and the actions to be taken in those schools to reduce class sizes.
Ms. Jacobs said the Assembly recognizes that CUNY is a huge economic development tool for New York City. That’s why the budget invests $144.4 million more to CUNY than last year, providing it with $1.9 billion.
“CUNY institutions already have significant economic impacts on the city,” said Jacobs. “We must ensure the budget makes the necessary investments so these schools can continue to play an important role in our future.”
The budget also makes a needed funding adjustment to Medgar Evers College. Founded in 1969, the college is named after Medgar Evers, a civil rights leader from Mississippi who was assassinated in 1963, after years of work registering black voters and organizing boycotts of segregated businesses. In 1994, Medgar Evers College was officially designated as a four-year college academic institution, but continued to be funded as a community college. Consequently, due to the college’s designation, the city argued that it should not be required to provide 50 percent of capital costs. The state budget finally requires the state to completely fund capital projects at Medgar Evers College, after nearly 15 years in which the state has only partially funded critical improvements at the school.
“Education is the key to our state’s success, and that’s why the Assembly will continue to fight for the funding needed for all New Yorkers to receive the high-quality education they deserve,” said Jacobs.
Supporting New York City’s Families in difficult times
The budget makes critical investments in housing, providing $3 million to the New York City Housing Authority for operating costs and $74 million for the Homeless Prevention Program to help provide eviction-prevention services to families in the city. In addition, the federal stimulus provides $504 million to the state for the Public Housing Capital Fund to help address housing needs, neighborhood stabilization and homeless prevention.
Extending a Helping Hand
The budget will also raise – beginning in July – the non-shelter portion of the public assistance grant 10 percent each year for the next three years, providing much-needed help to New York’s most vulnerable families. The grant will result in a $96-per-month increase in the basic allowance when fully implemented in January 2012. Assemblywoman Jacobs noted that the basic grant of $291 per month for a family of three has not been raised since 1990. The final budget will pick up the local share for this initiative for the next three years, which will save the city $3.5 million.
New York has been hit especially hard by the economic downturn, a fact reflected in the growing number of unemployment claims. The budget directs federal stimulus funds to aid unemployed workers by:
- increasing benefits by $25 per week;
- continuing through Dec. 31, 2009, the extended unemployment benefits program, which grants eligible applicants a total of 59 weeks of benefits; and
- paying 65 percent of COBRA premiums for nine months for eligible workers.
The final budget preserves $24 million in funding for the Youth Services Block Grant (YSBG), which will support programs such as Youth Development and Delinquency Prevention (YDDP), Special Delinquency Prevention Program (SDPP), the Runaway Homeless and Youth Act (RHYA), as well as alternatives to detention and alternatives to residential placement programs.
Continuing Medicaid and Family Health Plus Relief
The final budget continues the Assembly’s effort to reduce the Medicaid burden on New York City taxpayers and will see a savings of $137.6 million. The budget also will continue the Assembly’s longstanding commitment to cover the total cost of the state’s Family Health Plus program. As a result, New York City will realize an additional $315 million in savings.
Rejecting Pesky Fee Increases
The final budget for 2009-10 rejects the executive proposal to remove sales tax exemptions for cable television, satellite television and radio, store coupons, digital products, motor fuel costing more than $2 per gallon, and entertainment-related consumer spending, saving New York City residents an estimated $190.5 million. Other rejections include proposed taxes on:
- flavored malt beverages;
- non-diet soft drinks;
- haircuts, nail salon visits and other personal services items; and
- a 4 percent sales tax increase on clothing and footwear under $110.
The final budget also:
- rejects new fees, ranging from $5 to $40, for processing or obtaining birth, death and marriage certificates from the city Clerk’s Office or the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; and
- rejects a fee increase from $10 to $50 that the city can impose on owners participating in the rent-stabilization program.
Helping New York City meet its Financial Challenges
The final budget accepts the executive’s appropriation of $170 million to help retire New York City’s debt by paying for the prior refinancing of the Municipal Assistance Corporation (MAC) bonds. These funds are paid through the Local Governments Assistance Corporation.
Protecting Jobs in a key industry
The budget also expands the Film Tax Credit for television programs and movies produced in New York City by $350 million.
“Now more than ever, New York City needs help balancing its budget,” Jacobs said. “Bolstering aid for local programs creates a stronger, healthier New York, and we’ll do everything we can to ensure agencies and organizations in the city are able to continue operating the many programs and services that are invaluable to preserving our safety and quality of life.”