Assemblyman Jeffrion L. Aubry
Jeffrion L.
Reports to the People
Fall 2011
35th A.D. • Queens County

   Revised Final Budget Overview

2011-12 State Budget
Closes $10 Billion Deficit

All funds disbursements for the enacted State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2011-12 Budget are projected to be approximately $131.7 billion, a decrease of $3.1 billion or 2.3 percent from SFY 2010-11. This budget cuts state spending, closes the state’s $10 billion deficit, restores vital programs and focuses on job creation. Very difficult choices had to be made to close a deficit of this magnitude. We worked with Governor Cuomo to ensure that the state’s fiscal burden did not fall disproportionately on working families.


Investing in Education

The final budget increased education funding by $272 million over the executive budget proposal. The restorations include $230 million for general support to public schools statewide, including $53 million for New York City schools bringing the total to $19.6 billion in the 2011-12 school year. The final budget also includes a two-year appropriation for school aid, providing an $800 million increase in the 2012-13 school year.

I fought for restorations to soften the sharp cuts because we simply cannot afford to abandon our public schools. We owe our children the best possible opportunities, which is why I support a two-year appropriation for school aid that provides for at least an $800 million increase in next year’s budget.

Protecting Universal Pre-Kindergarten

The Assembly continued its long-standing commitment to Universal Pre-Kindergarten by maintaining funding in the final budget at $384 million in 2011-12 and 2012-13. It’s been proven time and time again that early learning gives children a leg up for years to come, that’s why the Assembly remains committed to preserving and improving this vital program.

Special Education Cost-Shift Rejection Brings Relief to School Districts

The 2011-12 budget rejected the executive 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 a cost shift to school districts and taxpayers.

In addition, the budget restored $57 million to the Summer School Special Education program, which reflects an $86 million restoration to school districts on a school-year basis.

The budget also restored $34.6 million in state support for the Committee on Special Education residential placements, reducing the burden placed on school districts by the executive budget.


New York State Health Benefit Exchange will
Increase Access to Affordable, Quality Health Care

The Assembly passed legislation (A.8514) that establishes the New York Health Benefit Exchange in compliance with the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama last year.


Preserving Higher Education Investments

The 2011-12 state budget made key investments in SUNY and CUNY, ensuring New York’s colleges and universities can continue to provide a quality, affordable education while gainfully employing thousands. The budget restored $18.1 million for base aid to community colleges, $12.9 million for SUNY and $5.1 million for CUNY for a 40 percent restoration. Our public colleges and universities are high-quality and affordable. This budget builds on that reputation, keeping New York a leader in public higher education.


The final budget restored $60 million to SUNY hospitals to continue graduate medical education training and boost critical health care services for surrounding communities. The budget also restored 39 percent of the proposed base aid cut, or an $88 per Full Time Equivalent restoration, for a total of $13 million for SUNY community colleges. In addition, the budget provides new procurement guidelines for SUNY that will allow SUNY colleges and the SUNY Construction Fund additional authorization to purchase services without prior approval from the attorney general or the state comptroller.


The final budget restored 39 percent of the proposed base aid cut, or an $88 per Full Time Equivalent restoration, for a total of $5.1 million for CUNY community colleges. In addition, the budget provided new procurement guidelines for CUNY that will allow CUNY colleges and the CUNY Construction Fund additional authorization to purchase services without prior approval from the attorney general or the state comptroller.

The final budget ensured that students who attend public community colleges receive the maximum award from the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). TAP awards annual grants of up to $4,000 to eligible New York residents. The grants are based on income and do not have to be paid back. The budget also restored $900,000 to the High Needs Nursing Program, $653,000 for SUNY childcare centers and $544,000 for CUNY childcare centers. Every day, New York’s higher learning institutions provide top-notch education to our students, helping them create their own paths to successful careers. It is vital that we continue to grow and improve our colleges and universities so we can ensure that each student is acquiring the best education possible.


Assembly Strengthens Rent Regulations with Boldest Improvements in Nearly 30 Years

Rent regulation is at the heart of ensuring middle-class and lower-income families can afford to stay in their homes. With the state’s economy in recovery and tenants struggling to afford skyrocketing rent prices, now more than ever, we needed to enhance – not simply extend – rent regulations.

In an effort to protect tenants from unreasonable rent hikes, the Assembly passed a law I supported reflecting a bipartisan agreement to strengthen New York’s rent-regulation laws, the boldest improvements in nearly 30 years (A.8518 / S.5856; Chapter 97 of 2011). The law includes many of the measures championed by the Assembly in previous years, and enacts these new protections until June 15, 2015.

Between 13,000 and 40,000 apartments are decontrolled every year, making it harder for individuals and families to stay in apartments or find an affordable place to live. Without this new law, it is estimated that more than 100,000 additional apartments would be lost to decontrol over the next few years. Instead of allowing rent regulations to expire or just simply extending them, we were able to create a ground-breaking law that works on closing loopholes and makes it increasingly difficult for landlords to raise rent and remove apartments from rent control, making sure that the rights of all tenants are not compromised.

The previous law allowed landlords to remove an apartment from rent control when a tenant vacates an apartment that rents for $2,000 per month, or when the apartment rents for $2,000 or more per month and a tenant’s annual income exceeds $175,000. But the new law raises the vacancy deregulation threshold to $2,500 per month and the high-rent threshold to $2,500 per month, while increasing the income threshold to $200,000 per year, protecting more renters from being unfairly priced out of their homes and neighborhoods by powerful, deep-pocketed landlords.

How improvements for individual apartments are calculated and verified will also be changed under the law, ultimately reducing a landlord’s ability to use renovations as a way to force apartments out of the regulation system. Instead of allowing landlords to pass 1/40th of the costs of renovations to individual apartments on to the tenant, the law lowers this rate to 1/60th of the cost.

In the past, such loopholes have allowed unscrupulous landlords to eliminate tens of thousands of rent-regulated apartments and keep the profits for themselves. This process has severely restricted access to affordable housing for working families, seniors and other vulnerable New Yorkers, and something had to be done.

One of the primary goals for the Assembly this legislative session was to reverse the losses of affordable housing in New York, and this law moves us closer to that goal. Enhancing rent regulations puts us on a new path, which is a significant improvement over the current system. I will continue fighting for greater access to affordable housing for all New Yorkers, giving more families peace of mind in their homes.

Preserving Vital Housing Programs

The 2011-12 budget restored $4.2 million to the Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP). Established in 1977, the NPP allows the Division of Housing and Community Renewal to contract with not-for-profit, community-based housing corporations to perform housing and community-renewal activities. The budget also rejected an executive proposal to merge the Neighborhood Preservation Program with the Rural Preservation Program, a move that would have negatively impacted the effectiveness of each program.

We need to make sure that New York City families have access to affordable housing. That’s why we fought to ensure this housing program remained funded and intact. Also included in the final state budget is $15 million for a new program for homeless individuals and families in New York City.


Supporting Summer Job Opportunities for Youths

The final budget restored $15.5 million to the Summer Youth Employment Program. In 2010, the program helped 35,725 young adults find jobs in 5,800 worksites throughout New York City. It would have been irresponsible to balance the budget by cutting off job opportunities for motivated young adults seeking to gain professional work experience. Furthermore, it would have been economically counterproductive to keep these youths from contributing to their local economies and helping to provide for themselves or their families.

Creating Jobs Through Targeted LocalEconomic Development

The 2011-12 budget provided funding for Regional Economic Development Councils across the state. The councils, chaired by the state’s lieutenant governor, will help create a region-based approach to allocating $130 million in state funds over two years for economic development.

The goal of these new Regional Economic Development Councils is to speed up the creation of jobs and get New Yorkers back to work. Each region of the state has its own economic strengths and weaknesses. Region-based councils can better support economic development and business-assistance programs that fit the needs of each area.

The final budget also restored or maintained funding to a number of targeted economic development initiatives, including:

Excelsior Jobs Program Provides an Additional $1.25 Billion in Needed Tax Credits

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 2011-12 budget strengthened the program by enhancing tax credits and improving the program’s responsiveness. The budget extended the program’s tax benefit period from 5 to 10 years and provides a jobs tax credit equal to the product of gross wages paid and 6.85 percent.

$55.4 Million Measure to Grow Small Businesses and Create Jobs Becomes Law

The Assembly passed legislation that would give small businesses greater access to capital in an effort to create jobs and better the business climate in New York (A.8452; Chapter 103 of 2011). Specifically, the bill allocates $55.4 million in federal State Small Business Credit Initiative funds to the New York State Capital Access Program (CAP), the Innovate NY Fund and the Bonding Guarantee Assistance Program.


Providing a Living Wage for Homecare Workers

Also included in the budget is a three-year phase-in to provide home-care workers with a local living-wage in counties where living-wage laws are enacted. Homecare workers provide an invaluable service to the sick and the elderly, yet many of them struggle just to pay their bills and put food on the table. They deserve to make a fair income and have access to the same rights that other health care workers are provided under state law.


New York Helps Lead on Marriage Equality

In a historic and bipartisan vote, New York joined Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia to become the 6th and largest state to legalize same-sex marriage. Starting on July 24, 2011 New York began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples for the first time in the state where the gay rights movement began 42 years ago (A.8354; Chapter 95 of 2011). I applaud the work of Governor Cuomo and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in passing this measure and extending marriage rights and responsibilities to all New Yorkers, regardless of sexual orientation.


Final Budget Restored EPIC Premium Assistance

For 25 years, the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program has helped New York seniors on fixed incomes afford their prescription drugs. Charged with closing a $10 billion budget gap, we had to make a lot of tough choices. But protecting seniors’ access to affordable, quality health care has always been a top priority for me, and it will continue to be a priority, regardless of the economic circumstances.

The Assembly helped ensure that the 2011-12 state budget restored $22.3 million - a 65 percent restoration - for lower income EPIC participants’ Medicare Part D premiums. Participants who were formerly in the comprehensive coverage portion of EPIC, with an annual income less than or equal to $20,000 for individuals and an income less than $26,000 for married participants – will continue to receive assistance in paying their Medicare Part D premiums.

For participants who were formerly in the lower-income range of the catastrophic coverage portion of EPIC - individuals with annual income less than or equal to $23,000 and married participants with income less than $29,000 - premium assistance is enhanced with the removal of the deductible to be on par with the coverage offered to comprehensive enrollees.

Even in periods of economic strength, it is difficult for older New Yorkers on fixed incomes to make ends meet. In the aftermath of the economic downturn, it is especially important to make sure that seniors can afford to put food on the table and get the medicine they need. Providing premium assistance for lower-income seniors preserves this vital lifeline for the thousands who depend on it. For additional information, please contact the EPIC hotline at 1-800-332-3742.

Saving Senior Centers

New York City senior centers have played a key role in improving the lives of seniors in communities throughout the city. That’s why the 2011-12 budget restored $25 million of Title XX discretionary funds to these centers. We had to make a lot of tough decisions in this budget, but protecting the quality of life for our seniors is vital. We have an obligation to care for those who have made lifelong contributions to our communities and we must continue providing them the services they need and deserve. There are currently over 300 senior centers in NYC. These establishments provide nutritious meals, health and wellness activities and social events for seniors. It’s crucial that we provide adequate funding to help those citizens most in need, including seniors, at-risk youths, and children with special needs. I believe that the health and well-being of the most vulnerable members of our society should never be sacrificed.


Assembly Bill Increases the Number of Taxis in NYC

The Assembly passed legislation that would allow the city of New York to issue up to 1,500 additional taxicab licenses (A.8496). Along with the creation of the 1,500 taxicab medallions, the bill allows the city to issue up to 30,000 hail privilege permits to for-hire vehicles which should provide residents in all neighborhoods outside the central business district in Manhattan even more options when looking for ground transportation. The new permits would cost $1,500 each.


Legislation Helping Provide Confidentiality for
Domestic Violence Victims Becomes Law

The Assembly passed legislation that requires New York’s secretary of state to establish an address confidentiality program for domestic violence victims who need to maintain secrecy of their location (A.628-A; Chapter 502 of 2011). This measure provides a substitute address for victims in the program to use, while keeping their real mailing addresses confidential. The secretary of state will have the authority to receive and process mail on behalf of the program’s participants, making sure that the addresses of the victims and their children cannot be traced by an abuser.

Public Protection Budget Highlights

Prison Closures

The SFY 2011-12 enacted budget provides for the closure of several state correctional facilities due to the decline in the prison population. In December, 1999, the New York State prison population was 71,500. Since that time, the prison population has declined by more than 15,000, or 21%, to a current population of approximately 56,000. The declining prison population is due to a drastic drop in the crime rate over the last ten years in addition to progressive criminal justice policies enacted by the legislature that offer mostly non-violent offenders early release as an incentive for good behavior and program achievements, including the Shock Incarceration, Work Release, Comprehensive Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment (CASAT), Willard Drug Treatment Campus, Merit Time and Limited Credit Time Allowance programs. Further, the historic reforms of the Rockefeller Drug Laws that divert more drug offenders into alternatives to incarceration have had a great impact on the declining prison population. Despite the elimination of five minimum security prisons and six prison annexes since 2008, the system still maintains more than 7,900 vacant beds. Therefore, the 2011-12 enacted budget provided the Governor with the authority to close correctional facilities after providing at least sixty days notice to the legislature. Pursuant to this authority, on June 30th, the Governor announced the closure of seven correctional facilities reducing approximately 3,800 excess beds and saving $72 million in SFY 2011-12 and $112 million in SFY 2012-13. The seven facilities to be closed include four male minimum security facilities: Buffalo Work Release (Erie County), Camp Georgetown (Madison County), Summit Shock (Schoharie County) and Fulton Work Release (Bronx County); and three male medium security facilities: Arthur Kill (Richmond County), Mid-Orange (Orange County) and Oneida (Oneida County).

As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Correction, I am very concerned that the Governor chose to close work release and shock facilities which provide vital re-entry programming to inmates. Further, the closure of the Mid-Orange and Arthur Kill facilities is troubling given their relatively close proximity to New York City where a majority of inmates will return. We know from experience that inmates who maintain relationships with family and friends, or reconnect with them before release, are much more likely to succeed when released from prison. Throughout the budget process, I urged the Governor to consider certain criteria, including the existence of specialized re-entry programs and the proximity of facilities to the communities where inmates return, in choosing which facilities to designate for closure. I am disappointed with some of the selected facilities and will continue to advocate with the Executive about the importance of maintaining strong re-entry programs and moving inmates closer to their home communities prior to release.

Merger of the Division of Parole and the Department of Correctional Services

As part of the SFY 2011-12 budget, the Division of Parole and the Department of Correctional Services were merged into a new Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS). The Board of Parole, which is empowered to make discretionary release decisions for people serving indeterminate sentences, is maintained as a separate entity housed within the new Department for administrative purposes. Further, the Parole Board will maintain its independent authority over parole revocation proceedings and the establishment of conditions of parole supervision. The new DOCCS will be responsible for the supervision of all persons released on parole or post-release supervision, most decisions to discharge persons from supervision and the issuance of Certificates of Relief from Disabilities and Certificates of Good Conduct.

The reason for the merger is to enhance the successful reintegration of offenders returning to the community following incarceration and to avoid duplicative re-entry functions and related staff. Further, consolidation of staff under one agency will help to ensure that the important work of preparing a person to return to the community following incarceration will begin immediately upon admission to the prison system. It is anticipated that the merger will save $6 million in SFY 2011-12.

Funding for Criminal Justice Programs

Although not included in the Governor’s proposed budget, the legislature was able to fund several vital criminal justice programs including:


Juvenile Offenders Compact

Establishes New York State’s membership in the new Interstate Commission for Juveniles (ICJ), which oversees, supervises and coordinates the interstate movement of juvenile offenders, non-adjudicated juveniles, absconders and runaways. Further, thanks to the strong advocacy of the Assembly Correction Committee, the legislation includes important due process protections for juveniles detained under the Compact. (AUBRY – A.55 / S.2551-A; Chapter 29 of 2011)

Sex Offender Verification

Establishes procedures in the event a sex offender fails to mail a signed verification within 20 calendar days of receiving the annual verification form from the Division of Criminal Justice Services. (GUNTHER – A.424 / S.2595; Passed Assembly and Senate – awaiting action by the Governor)

Payment of Parolee Fees

Terminates the current practice of requiring parole officers to collect supervision fees from parolees. To better address parole officer safety and enhance the supervision of parolees, the bill would require that such payments be collected at a central location. (JEFFRIES – A.1363-B / S.296-B; Passed Assembly and Senate – awaiting action by the Governor)

Discrimination Against Ex-Offenders

Allows persons discriminated against by a public agency based on their criminal record to file a complaint with the Division of Human Rights. Currently, the only recourse for a person suffering such discrimination is to file an Article 78 proceeding in court. (JEFFRIES – A.1874 / S.968; Passed Assembly)

Sex Offender Registry Information

Requires the type and length of supervision for sex offenders be disclosed on the sex offender registry. (COLTON – A.2565 / S.4146; Chapter 507 of 2011)

Sex Offender Employment Information

Requires level 2 sex offenders to register their employment address and updates the manner in which Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) makes the electronic directory of offenders available to law enforcement. (MILLER – A.7950 / S.5775; Chapter 532 of 2011)

Unlawful Surveillance Crime

Requires individuals convicted of attempted unlawful surveillance to register as a sex offender with the state. The measure also authorizes local law enforcement agencies to provide communities with vulnerable populations with the exact address of a Level 2 sex offender. (WEISENBERG – A.5661 / S.1521; Chapter 513 of 2011)

Local Jails Authorized to House Out-of-State Inmates

Authorizes local correctional facilities to enter into agreements to house out of state inmates. The bill permits New York State municipalities to enter into contractual agreements for the boarding-in of certain inmates from local correctional facilities outside of New York State. (AUBRY – A.8238 / S.4946-A; Chapter 573 of 2011)

Assemblyman Jeffrion L. Aubry
35th Assembly District • Queens County • Chair, Assembly Standing Committee on Correction
My offices are here to serve you. If you have a question, problem or an idea,please do not hesitate to call or drop by and we will do our best to try to assist you.

Mis oficinas están aquí para servirles. Si tienen alguna pregunta, problema o idea, llámennos o visítennos y nosotros haremos todo lo posible por ayudarlos.

District Office: 98-09 Northern Blvd., Corona, NY 11368 • 718-457-3615, FAX: 718-457-3640
Albany Office: Room 526, LOB, Albany, NY 12248 • 518-455-4561, FAX: 518-455-4565