New York State Assembly Albany, New York 12248


Assemblywoman
Michele R.
Titus:

Historic Budget Accord is
a Victory for Working Families


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Assemblywoman Titus nys seal

Dear Neighbor,

In the total absence of leadership from the governor and recognizing the seriousness of New York’s budget crisis, the Assembly and Senate have put aside partisan differences to do what’s right for the people of our state.

Since releasing his budget proposal in January – with its massive cuts to education and health care, and $6.7 billion in tax and fee hikes – the governor has shown a complete unwillingness to undo the wrong choices he’s made. The Legislature had no alternative but to move forward, with or without him, to adopt a budget that helps lead our state forward.

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At the time this was written, the Legislative budget accord was pending before the governor, who has until May 14 to act on it.


Quality Education and Health Care Preserved
Pataki’s Property and Sales Taxes Blocked

The Legislature passed a responsible, fair budget that restores $1.9 billion of the governor’s $4 billion in devastating cuts and blocked Governor Pataki’s property tax hike – the largest in state history. The Legislature’s agreement will:

  • give our students – from Pre-K to MBA – the resources they need;

  • provide vital health services and protect our already-fragile health care industry; and

  • pave the way for a renewed competitiveness through successful job creation programs.

Saving our schools and protecting our future

Year after year, the governor tries to slash education funding, and, year after year, the Assembly fights to protect our schools. In fact, prior to this year, the Assembly has successfully restored $2.8 billion of the governor’s education cuts.

This year is no different. The governor wants to cut $1.4 billion from schools. The Assembly and Senate came together to make a better choice, paring the governor’s cut by $1.1 billion for the coming school year. As a result, effective education programs will be spared and school districts will get the boost they need to stave off the massive property tax hikes, teacher layoffs, and elimination of programs that many districts would have been forced into under Governor Pataki’s proposal.

Because of the restorations, pre-kindergarten and universal full-day kindergarten – both of which are cited by experts as critical in a student’s development – will be saved, as will class size reduction initiatives and after-school programs.

Protecting quality, affordable health care

Under the governor’s plan, the state’s health care system faced funding cuts of more than $2 billion – a body blow to an already reeling industry. In addition to jeopardizing quality care, the governor’s proposal could have jeopardized 48,000 jobs in the health care industry – New York’s largest employer.

Again, the Legislature stepped up to block another bad choice from the governor, restoring $782 million in state funds for Medicaid, public health, and Health Care Reform Act programs. These restorations will ensure for many New Yorkers that they’ll continue to receive the kind of quality, affordable care they need when they need it.

Specifically, the Legislature’s bipartisan plan will:

  • drive $1.1 billion in Medicaid funds for critical health care programs;

  • protect vital county health organizations, which serve as a front line against emerging diseases like SARS and potential bioterror attacks;

  • keep open the psychiatric and research institutes across the state that the governor wanted to shutter;

  • allow adult day care, meals for seniors, and Alzheimer’s initiatives to keep providing valuable services;

  • reinstate $156,100 in funds to Breast Cancer Support and Education Services that the governor wanted cut;

  • pass on the $14 monthly cost-of-living adjustment to the disabled and seniors receiving federal Supplemental Security Income, which the governor wanted to deny them;

  • protect seniors from fee increases in the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Program;

  • restore more than $5.5 million in funding for AIDS programs that the governor wanted to cut;

  • restore $252,000 worth of the governor’s funding cuts to Rape Crisis Services; and

  • restore the $27 million the governor wanted to take from the pockets of state retirees and employees for higher health insurance premiums.

Improving Public Security

The Assembly also has fought to make life-saving improvements to local 911 systems. Earlier this year, the Assembly passed legislation to help localities purchase state-of-the-art equipment that would allow emergency dispatch centers to pinpoint emergency calls from wireless phones.

Tragedies like the one we saw earlier this year – where four teenage boys perished in a sinking boat on Long Island Sound while trying to describe their location to 911 dispatchers – once again highlighted the need to develop wireless telephone locator systems.

Now the Senate has joined with the Assembly to direct $100 million in funding to implement New York’s enhanced E-911 system.

Creating a more competitive workforce through higher education

The governor’s budget would have been disastrous for our state colleges and universities, affecting both the students attending them in hopes of building a better future and the local economies that depend on them. Under the Administration’s original plan, SUNY students would have seen their tuitions rise $1,400, the Tuition Assistance Program cut by a third, and opportunity programs cut in half. Base aid to community colleges also would have fallen by $345 per student, forcing property tax hikes and tuition increases.

By rejecting the governor’s short-sighted budget that would have undermined the educational foundations of New York’s emerging high-tech economy, the Legislature chose to fully restore the cuts to TAP, opportunity programs and community college base aid, and rolled back the governor’s proposed tuition increase by a third. All in all, nearly $400 million of $703 million in cuts were restored to higher education.

Building a stronger economy

Over the past nine years, New York has suffered because of the governor’s failed economic development policies. Even at the height of the nation’s economic boom in the late ‘90s, he failed to adequately capitalize on our assets. In fact, had we created jobs in New York at the same rate as the rest of the country during that time, we would have 476,000 more jobs statewide – as many jobs as there are people in the entire state of Wyoming.

This year is no different, as once again, the governor has failed to provide the state with the leadership we need to move our state forward. Even worse, his initial budget proposal would have wiped out the Assembly’s Empire Zone program, which his Administration acknowledged is the most successful economic development program in the history of the state. The governor eventually advanced a $3.5 million cut in the program’s operation – which would have still effectively killed the program. Once again, it fell upon the Legislature to undo the governor’s wrong choice, which it did by restoring more than $2.3 million of his cut, protecting this vital program and the jobs it creates.


Assemblywoman
Michele R. Titus

19-31 Mott Avenue, Room 301
Far Rockaway, New York 11691
(718) 327-1845

titusm@assembly.state.ny.us


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