Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs (D-Flatbush) announced passage of a fiscally responsible Assembly budget plan that, while closing the $10 billion budget deficit, restores vital funding for children, seniors and working families severely impacted in the executive budget. Unlike the governor’s budget, which leaves New York with a $2 billion deficit next year, the Assembly plan is balanced.
“Working off of the governor’s plan – and accepting 95.5 percent of his spending reductions – the Assembly addresses the state’s budget problems, while also protecting vital programs hardworking New Yorkers rely on,” Ms. Jacobs said. “We lost $7 billion in federal funds and had to make harsh cuts that will hurt – that’s why rejecting a multi-billion dollar tax cut for millionaires was a no-brainer.”
Rejecting a Tax Cut for Millionaires
The Assembly rejects the executive’s millionaire tax cut that would put them in the same tax bracket as an individual making $20,000, or a family of four making $40,000.
“We need all New Yorkers – not just the middle-class and lower-income families – to bear the burden of our state’s fiscal crisis. To provide millionaires a tax break at this time is not only grossly unfair, it’s fiscally unsound,” Jacobs said.
The budget legislation supported by Assemblywoman Jacobs rejects the executive’s willingness to drop millionaire tax rates down 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.
Supporting Employment and Training Programs
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.
“Everyone understands that state government has to tighten its belt,” said Jacobs. “But we also understand that the only way out of this recession is by expanding employment opportunities and moving New Yorkers out of the unemployment lines and into good-paying jobs. These programs will help put families back to work and will help put the state back on the path to prosperity.”
Restoring $15.5 million for the Summer Youth Employment Program is a top priority for the Assembly. The program helps a group hit especially hard by the economic downturn – young adults in urban and rural communities – find entry-level employment.
Investing in Education and Easing the Burden on Taxpayers
The Assembly restores nearly $467 million in executive budget cuts for the 2011-12 school year, $363 million over the current fiscal year. Restorations include $200 million for general support to public schools, bringing the total to nearly $19.6 billion in the 2011-12 school year. In addition, the Assembly budget provides $32.5 million for teacher centers and $9 million to fund Regents exams.
“We owe our children the best possible opportunities, and that means providing them with the basic building blocks for a quality education,” Ms. Jacobs said.
Overall growth in school aid will be determined by the growth of personal income in the state. In addition, the Assembly plans to restart the phase-in of foundation aid beginning in the 2012-13 school year.
“We softened the blow to education funding,” said Jacobs. “Our economy will recover, and having an educated workforce is critical to the strength and speed of that recovery.”
Continuing its longstanding commitment to Universal Pre-Kindergarten, the Assembly maintains funding at $393 million.
Rejecting Special Education Cost Shifts to Local School Districts
The Assembly rejects the executive budget proposal to reclassify state-supported schools for the blind and deaf 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.
In addition, the Assembly restores $86 million to the Summer School Special Education program.
Also rejected is a proposal to make school districts responsible for the maintenance costs of room and board for students placed in certain residential schools. Under the Assembly’s plan, school districts would only pay more if they place a child in an out-of-state facility. The Assembly restores $48 million to this program for in-state placements.
Restoring 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.
“New York State has one of the best Early Intervention programs in the country, and that doesn’t happen by chance,” said the Assemblywoman. “It happens because we make the needed investment to protect our most vulnerable children.”
Preserving Higher Education Investments
The Assembly budget holds the line on SUNY and CUNY tuitions for the 2011-12 academic year, attempting to ensure that an affordable education remains within reach for all during these hard economic times.
“Our public colleges and universities are noted for their value, offering a first-rate education at a modest cost,” said Ms. Jacobs. “This budget continues that tradition, maintaining the affordability that New York’s public colleges and universities are known for, without compromising quality.”
This year’s Assembly budget proposal maintains SUNY undergraduate tuition at $4,970. It also restores $64.3 million to SUNY hospitals to stabilize these major employers in their communities. This restoration represents a 50 percent restoration over the executive proposal.
- Community colleges: The Assembly restores 50 percent of the executive proposal’s base aid cut, or a $113 per-FTE restoration. State support under the executive proposal would be $2,034; the Assembly’s proposal increases support to $2,147 per-FTE student for a total of $16.6 million for SUNY community colleges.
The Assembly also maintains the CUNY undergraduate tuition rate at $4,830.
- Community colleges: The Assembly budget restores 50 percent of the executive proposal’s base aid cut, or a $113 per-FTE restoration. State support under the executive proposal would be $2,034; the Assembly’s proposal increases support to $2,147 per-FTE student for a total of $6.6 million for CUNY community colleges.
Funding Senior Centers
New York’s senior centers are vital to our neighborhoods’ quality of life. That’s why the Assembly restores $22 million and rejects the executive budget proposal to redirect Title XX discretionary funds typically allotted to these centers to local child welfare services.
“We can’t balance the state budget by cutting services to vulnerable citizens,” Assemblymember Jacobs said. “We must protect those who have made lifelong contributions to our communities and continue providing them the services they need and deserve.”
Protecting Senior Services
Several senior programs slated for elimination in the executive budget are protected under the Assembly proposal, which restores 75 percent for programs like:
- Elderly Abuse Education and Outreach ($367,500);
- Retired Senior Volunteer Program ($324,750);
- Enriched Social Adult Day Centers ($183,750);
- EAC/Nassau Senior Respite ($177,750);
- Foster Grandparent Program (147,000);
- Long Term Care Senior Respite ($106,500); and
- Patients’ Rights Hotline ($47,250).
The Assembly’s longstanding tradition of championing quality health care for seniors continues through support of $34 million in restorations to the executive’s proposed cuts to Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) – a program providing secondary coverage for prescription drug costs.
“This cut was shortsighted. We had to reverse it,” Jacobs said. “Many older Brooklyn seniors are on fixed incomes, making any reductions to EPIC especially disastrous. We can’t put seniors in a position where they must choose between putting food on the table and the medicine they need.”
Assembly budget legislation helps protect the over 300,000 enrollees by ensuring that no program benefits are eliminated. Specifically, the Assembly’s proposal rejects the governor’s plan to force all EPIC participants, regardless of financial hardship, to join a Medicare Part D drug plan. It also continues “wraparound” prescription drug coverage for medicines not in the Medicare formulary, as well as state payment assistance for Part D premiums and deductibles.
Preserving Vital Family and Disability Programs
The Assembly provides $27.8 million and modifies the executive proposal that would delay the third and final phase of the public assistance grant increase from July 1, 2011, for one year. The new effective date would be Nov. 15, 2011.
The Assembly also restores $36.3 million for various programs, including:
- Child care demonstration projects ($5.3 million);
- Wage Subsidy Program ($5.2 million);
- Settlement Houses ($1 million);
- Child care SUNY/CUNY ($949,000);
- Supplemental Homelessness Intervention Program ($581,000);
- Emergency Homeless ($500,000);
- Refugee resettlement ($289,000);
- Disability Advocacy Program ($279,000);
- ACCESS – Welfare to Careers ($144,000); and
- Caretaker relative/kinship ($144,000).
The Assembly also restores funding for prevention programs in the Office of Children and Family Services that includes:
- Youth Development & Delinquency Prevention/Special Delinquency Prevention programs ($14.2 million);
- Runaway and Homeless Youth ($2.4 million);
- Settlement Houses ($451,000); and
- Kinship ($339,000).
In addition, the Assembly restores $3 million for the Safe Harbour program.
“It’s crucial that we provide adequate funding to help support New York’s struggling families – especially those who have children with special needs,” said Ms. Jacobs. “The health and well-being of our children should never be sacrificed.”
Retaining Housing Programs
A restoration of $8.4 million to the Neighborhood Preservation Program and $3.5 million to the Rural Preservation Program is included in the Assembly proposal. These restorations bring both programs to their 2010-11 funding levels, preserving the vital work that they do in the areas of affordable housing, economic development and community renewal.
Creating Good-Paying Jobs
The Excelsior Jobs Program was established in 2010 to boost job creation and provide investment incentives to businesses in strategic industries across the state, such as manufacturing, high-tech and clean-energy jobs. The Assembly budget strengthens the program by enhancing tax credits and improving the program’s responsiveness.
The Assembly extends the program’s tax benefit period from five to 10 years and bases the job tax credit on the projected income tax revenue for each new job. The budget also increases the Excelsior Research & Development tax credit from 10 percent to 50 percent of the taxpayer’s actual federal research and development credit, and bases the Excelsior Real Property tax credit on the value of a property after improvements.
“Strengthening the Excelsior Jobs Program is an essential step toward creating a more business-friendly environment in New York,” said Jacobs. “By encouraging more businesses to expand and locate here, we are providing more opportunities for hardworking New Yorkers to find good-paying jobs.”
Funding Economic Development Projects
The Assembly budget maintains vital funding for several economic development projects throughout the state, including several Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) initiatives:
- $13.8 million for the Centers for Advanced Technology;
- $6.2 million for the Empire State Economic Development Fund;
- $5.2 million for the Centers of Excellence ($872,333 per center);
- $4.6 million for the High Technology Matching grants program;
- $3.4 million for the Urban and Community Development Program in economically distressed areas;
- $3 million for Focus Centers;
- $1.5 million for the Training and Business Assistance Program;
- $1.4 million for the Technology Development Organization Matching Grants program;
- $921,000 for the Industrial Technology Extension Service; and
- $490,000 for the Entrepreneurial Assistance Program (base appropriation).
“One of the best ways to speed up our economic recovery is to invest in economic development, and that’s exactly what our budget does,” said Jacobs. “These investments will create good-paying jobs in places that need them the most, and will pave the way for New York State to become a global leader in the innovation economy.”
The Assembly restores or maintains funding to a number of targeted economic development initiatives, including:
- $1.4 million for Community Development Financial Institutions;
- $1.2 million for the Entrepreneurial Assistance Program; and
- $635,000 for the Minority and Women-Owned Business Development Lending Program.
The Assembly also funds the following capital projects:
- $130 million for the Regional Economic Development Councils;
- $100 million for the Economic Transformation Program; and
- $25 million for the Economic Development Fund.
“Investments like these serve a number of important functions. They drive job growth in important sectors of the economy, create a more business-friendly environment in the state and give New York a competitive advantage in essential fields like science and technology,” concluded Jacobs.