Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman: 2019-20 State Budget Helps New Yorkers Get Ahead, Moves Our State Forward

Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman (D-29) announced that she helped pass a $175.5 billion 2019-20 state budget that builds on the historic progress that’s already been made this year and stays true to the Assembly Majority’s commitment to putting families first.

“An unexpected budget deficit undoubtedly posed some challenges, but we didn’t let that stand in the way of crafting a budget that truly delivers for New Yorkers,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “First and foremost, this budget cares for our most vulnerable and holds true on the Assembly Majority’s promise to create a fairer, more just state for all, where opportunity and success are not reserved only for the lucky few. For the student who goes to school hungry, to the commuter who’s tired of getting to work late because of unreliable service to the innocent New Yorker who’s unfairly sat in jail for far too long, we heard you and we’re looking out for you.”

Increasing fairness in our criminal justice system

The 2019-20 state budget includes sweeping criminal justice reforms to ensure New York treats all defendants fairly and equally.

“New York should be a place where everyone is treated equally,” Assemblymember Hyndman said. “But our current criminal system is deeply flawed, perpetuating racial bias, putting the wealthy above the poor and leaving individuals who can’t afford bail behind bars for months or even years. No matter their circumstances, New Yorkers must be able to trust that the criminal justice system isn’t working against them every step of the way.”

To remedy this ongoing injustice, the final state budget eliminates cash bail for misdemeanors, excluding sex offense misdemeanors, and non-violent felonies, allowing individuals to be released on their own recognizance or under non-monetary conditions. Electronic monitoring will not be available for most misdemeanors, but can be ordered as a condition of release, following a hearing, for felonies, domestic violence misdemeanors, sex offense misdemeanors or a misdemeanor where the defendant had a violent felony conviction within the past five years.

Under the legislation, a cash bail option will be retained for sex offense misdemeanors and most violent felony offenses, excluding felonies classified as “violent” but which do not actually have a violent component, such as second-degree robbery or burglary.

Additionally, the legislation will require police officers to issue desk appearance tickets in lieu of making a custodial arrest for most misdemeanors and Class E felonies. Further, the court will be required to consider the defendant’s financial resources, ability to post bail without undue hardship and set at least three alternative bail or bond methods.

Reforming the discovery process

The 2019-20 state budget revamps New York’s discovery procedures to assure the expeditious, fair and equitable exchange of information and documents in criminal cases. The legislation removes the requirement for the prosecution or defense to make a demand for discovery, instead providing automatic, routine and scheduled disclosure. Further, the legislation retains strong oversight and involvement by the court throughout the pre-trial discovery process, allowing the judge to condition, deny or limit discovery, or grant a protective order barring disclosure when appropriate.

The legislation also clarifies on timing of disclosure and the items to be disclosed, with prosecutors required to provide discovery to the defense within 15 days of arraignment in most cases. Additionally, the bill includes a new mechanism for the defense or prosecution to seek a pre-trial ruling from a single appellate justice when the party disagrees with a trial judge’s ruling on discovery.

Further, since more than 90 percent of cases are resolved by plea negotiations and a guilty plea, prosecutors will have to make certain discovery available before most guilty plea offers under the legislation. If the prosecution fails to provide the required material before the plea offer expires or is withdrawn, and such failure materially affects the defendant’s decision, a court could preclude the evidence admission at trial unless the plea offer is reinstated.

“An individual’s innocence or guilt depends on the evidence presented to the judge or jurors,” Assemblymember Hyndman said. “For the prosecution to withhold material that would completely change the outcome of the trial or plea offer is wrong, plain and simple. That small piece of evidence could prevent someone who’s innocent from accepting a guilty plea deal to spend years of their life behind bars.”

Ensuring the right to a speedy trial

New Yorkers are supposed to have the right to a speedy trial, but that’s simply not the case. Under current law, the prosecution must generally be “ready for trial” within six months for a felony charge and 90 days for a misdemeanor charge. However, prosecutors can declare themselves “ready” and then simply ask for an adjournment at the next court date. During the time between this declaration and subsequent adjournment, the speedy trial clock does not run, meaning defendants often wait much longer than the statute allows.

To ensure the right to a speedy trial is upheld, the 2019-20 state budget allows the court to inquire as to whether the prosecution is, in fact, ready for trial when the prosecution claims readiness, thereby stopping the speedy trial “clock.” The legislation also requires that the prosecution’s statement of readiness be accompanied by a good faith certification by the prosecution that it has complied with its discovery requirements.

Additionally, the bill provides a statement of readiness will not be valid unless the prosecution certifies all the counts on the accusatory instrument are sufficient and those that aren’t have been dismissed. The legislation also allows the defendant to appeal a denial of a motion to dismiss based on a violation of speedy trial even if they’ve entered a guilty plea.

Advocating for fairness and equality

To ensure everyone is being treated fairly under the law, the 2019-20 state budget provides further protection to vulnerable New Yorkers. Budget legislation extends protections of New York’s rape shield law to victims of sex trafficking. The law prohibits evidence of a victim’s sexual conduct from being admissible in a prosecution for an offense and an attempt to commit an offense.[1]

The budget also works to protect immigrants from automatic deportation by lowering the maximum sentence for those charged with Class A misdemeanors from 365 to 364 days. The one-day sentence reduction avoids triggering deportation proceedings, which happen with a sentence of one year or longer.[2]

“By picking and choosing who gets equal protection in a court of law, we’re saying to the rest of the world that justice is not really blind in New York State,” Assemblymember Hyndman said. “No matter their situation or circumstance, everyone must be treated with fairness and given the proper resources they need to defend themselves and navigate the legal system.”

Helping New York’s students reach for the stars

The 2019-20 state budget continues the Assembly’s commitment to expanding opportunity for our youngest New Yorkers by increasing funding for public schools by $1 billion over last year and putting a college degree within reach for more students.

“Our kids need to know that we always have their backs, and a crucial part of that is providing them with stronger schools and a well-rounded education,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “They’re relying on us to prepare them for the future. That’s why I fought for a state budget that helps make sure a student is never defined by their ZIP code, income or the color of their skin, but rather by the motivation they show, the creativity that inspires them and the hard work they put in.”

The state budget provides a total of $27.8 billion in education funding, an increase of $1 billion – or 3.7 percent – over last year. This includes a $618 million increase in Foundation Aid for a total of $18.4 billion. The budget also rejects the executive’s proposal to require certain districts to distribute a percentage of their Foundation Aid increase to specific schools and instead requires those districts to report to the commissioner of education on how they are prioritizing underfunded high-need schools. Further, $30 million of uncollected lottery winnings is earmarked for public schools, and districts are authorized to create a reserve fund to finance contributions to the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System. And to help more kids get started on the right foot, the spending plan also includes a $15 million increase in funding for grants for prekindergarten, for a total of $822 million.

The plan also rejects the executive proposal to consolidate 11 expense-based aids, including BOCES aid, special services aid and transportation aid, and allows them to be reimbursed at their present levels.

To ensure local school districts can adopt teacher and principal evaluation systems best suited to their students’ needs, the budget includes legislation removing the mandate that state-created or administered assessments be used for evaluations. The Assembly has led the way on this issue, spearheading the measure last year and passing it again earlier this year. Assemblymember Hyndman noted that this will help allow teachers to craft lesson plans that are most effective for their students rather than following a cookie-cutter approach that could leave some of our young learners behind.

Opening up more doors to higher education

“Our commitment to New York’s students doesn’t end when they walk across the stage at their high school graduation,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “The next part of their life is just beginning, and each and every one of them deserves the chance to go to college. That’s why we’ve worked so hard to make it affordable for every family – because college should be for all, not just the privileged and wealthy.”

The budget continues the Excelsior Scholarship, which was established in 2017 and makes SUNY and CUNY schools tuition-free for eligible New Yorkers. The income eligibility threshold increases this year to $125,000. Students who attend a private college in New York and have a family income of less than $125,000 this year would also be eligible for a scholarship award of $6,000.

Earlier this year, both the Assembly and Senate passed the Jose Peralta New York State DREAM Act to help the children of immigrants achieve their college dreams. The budget includes $27 million to implement the law and fund TAP awards for eligible “Dreamers.”

“They may not have been born here, but ‘Dreamers’ are New Yorkers,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “The DREAM Act breaks down barriers to ensure all students – regardless of immigration status – are able to pursue a college degree and have the same opportunities to succeed.”

Strengthening public and community colleges

The 2019-20 state budget also invests in SUNY and CUNY schools, as well as community colleges across the state. The plan:

  • allocates $12.1 million to SUNY, and $6.1 million to CUNY, to increase community college base aid by $100 per full-time equivalent (FTE) student, bringing the total rate to $2,947;
  • provides $6 million more for Educational Opportunity Centers (EOCs), for a total of $61 million;
  • restores $2.5 million in funding for the CUNY Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP);
  • provides $1.1 million to SUNY and $902,000 for CUNY for Child Care Centers; and
  • restores $1 million to Advanced Technology Training and Information Networking (ATTAIN) labs for a total of $5.5 million.

The budget also allows SUNY and CUNY schools to reduce or waive tuition for high school students enrolled in college courses, supporting those who want to get a head start on the journey to a college degree.

Additionally, the budget:

  • restores $4.5 million for the Foster Youth College Success Initiative to support foster students on their path to higher education;
  • restores $1.5 million for the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies, formerly known as the Joseph S. Murphy Institute;
  • restores $700,000 for Small Business Development Centers, which offer business counseling and entrepreneurial training;
  • restores $600,000 for Graduate Diversity Fellowships;
  • restores $500,000 for mental health services and telecounseling at SUNY;
  • provides $200,000 for the SUNY Institute for Leadership and Diversity and Inclusion;
  • provides $150,000 for the Hispanic Leadership Institute at SUNY; and
  • allocates $100,000 to the Center for Women in Government.

Supporting college opportunity programs

The Assembly Majority has long recognized how invaluable college opportunity programs are to ensuring disadvantaged New Yorkers are given a fair chance to pursue higher education. This year’s state budget restores $23.8 million to these programs, providing:

  • $35.5 million for the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP);
  • $32.2 million for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP);
  • $28.1 million for Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK);
  • $18.4 million for Liberty Partnerships;
  • $15.8 million for the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP);
  • $11.9 million for the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP); and
  • $1.3 million for College Discovery.

“College opportunity programs give disadvantaged New Yorkers hope for a successful future,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “They provide promising, hardworking students the tools and resources needed to pursue their college dreams.”

Ensuring everyone is counted in the 2020 Census

“The 2020 Census will have major implications on the future of our state,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “Each person not counted costs New York thousands of dollars in federal aid,[3] putting the funding we need to maintain our hospitals, schools and transportation infrastructure at risk, as well as the size of our congressional representation. We need to ensure every person is counted – there’s too much at stake.”

While hurdles are already being put in place by the federal government to make it harder for certain communities to participate in the census – including a proposed citizenship question – the Assembly is taking steps to combat this thinly veiled power grab. To that end, the 2019-20 state budget includes $20 million to promote the census and to assist with funding for local outreach efforts. Neighborhood organizations not only know their communities best, but their members are trusted and will be better able to motivate people to participate, noted Assemblymember Hyndman.

The budget also ensures public libraries are getting the funding they need since they’re going to play a major role in the census, which is being offered online for the first time.[4] The Census Bureau is aiming to receive half of its 2020 submissions online, but this can be a real problem for lower-income households and communities with limited internet access. Libraries bridge this divide. Not only are they the primary channel of internet access for many, but public libraries across the state are hosting programs and setting up census stations to inform communities about the importance of the census and how to participate.

“The census helps determine the path of our nation, state and communities,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “We will continue doing everything we can to protect its integrity and ensure every New Yorker is counted.”

Protecting tenants and ensuring safe, affordable housing

“As the cost of living continues to outpace wage growth, we must ensure our families aren’t priced out of the communities they helped build,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “Our budget makes critical investments to protect and expand affordable housing statewide for homeowners and tenants alike and helps ensure every New Yorker has a safe, affordable place to call home.”

The budget includes $402.14 million for housing, including restoring $12.83 million for Neighborhood Preservation Programs and $5.36 million for Rural Preservation Programs, which help community-based not-for-profits provide safe, healthy and affordable housing throughout the state.

To improve the administration of the STAR tax exemption/credit and make data collection more efficient in manufactured homes parks, the budget will allow park owners to report to the Commissioner of Tax and Finance instead of to Homes and Community Renewal (HCR). Tax and Finance must send the report to HCR within 30 days, and HCR must report annually to the public on data to increase transparency and maintain proper oversight of the parks, as well as determine the best steps to protect tenants.

The budget also includes an $8 million increase for HCR’s Office of Rent Administration – which helps enforce rent regulations and protect tenants from landlord harassment – as well as $5.5 million for its Tenant Protection Unit.

Supporting homeowners and seniors

To help more New Yorkers remain in their homes, the state budget provides $20 million for the Communities First program to fund foreclosure prevention assistance. It also requires lenders to provide 90 days’ notice to homeowners facing foreclosure and makes settlement conferences mandatory.

The budget includes a $15 million increase for Expanded In-home Services Program (EISEP), which offers non-medical in-home services such as personal care and housekeeping, for a total of $65.1 million. To help more seniors remain in the communities they helped build, the budget increases the maximum amount the state can provide a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) from $200,000 to $300,000.

“Seniors helped make New York the vibrant and diverse state that it is today, and it’s our responsibility to support them as they age,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “The budget expands access to critical services to ensure seniors can remain in their homes, surrounded by family and friends, for as long as possible.”

Lifting up our most vulnerable

The budget restores nearly $24 million – for a total of over $99 million – in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding for programs that expand educational opportunities for people with disabilities, help low-income New Yorkers with employment and strengthen families, including:

  • nearly $8.5 million for Facilitated Enrollment to expand eligibility for child care assistance, allowing parents to stay employed while their children are cared for;
  • $4 million for Advanced Technology Training and Information Networking (ATTAIN) labs, which provide technology and access to education and workforce development training;
  • $3 million for non-residential domestic violence services to support the safety and self-sufficiency of domestic violence survivors and families beyond residential services;
  • $2.85 million for Career Pathways, which helps train low-income young adults for jobs in high-growth sectors;
  • nearly $1.6 million for Preventative Services to keep families together and children safe;
  • $800,000 for ACCESS, which links educational opportunities to internships and job placements;
  • $475,000 for the wage subsidy program, which helps develop job opportunities for recipients of public assistance and low-income individuals;
  • $440,000 for the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), which offers up to six weeks of paid work experience for New Yorkers between the ages of 14 and 24;
  • $200,000 for the Fatherhood Initiative, which helps fathers reconnect with their children and develop essential parenting skills; and
  • $144,000 for Wheels for Work, which helps low-income individuals secure reliable transportation to and from work.

“From child care that lets working parents know their kids are in good hands, to training for youth to find good jobs and promising careers, we’re creating opportunities for all New Yorkers to succeed,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “Strong families, better opportunities and improved accessibility are the keys to a better future.”

In addition, the Assembly plan restores $1.5 million for the Disability Advocacy Program (DAP), which provides legal representation to individuals with disabilities when their federal disability benefits have been denied or may be discontinued.

The budget also continues the federal cost of living adjustment (COLA) in 2020 for individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which provides additional support for seniors and people with visual impairments or disabilities who have little or no income, who reside in residential care, family care or enhanced residential care settings.

Further, the budget invests $69 million in Pay For Success (PFS), a program that shifts the way that social services providers measure results and receive funding. PFS aims to ensure that high-quality, effective services deliver measurable results for individuals and communities. The budget also provides $4.5 million for the Empire State Anti-Poverty Initiative.

The enacted budget also removes the requirement that survivors of domestic violence apply for public assistance and contribute for services rendered.

Supporting refugees and displaced U.S. citizens

To support refugee resettlement and offset gaps in federal funding, the budget restores $2 million. It also restores $350,000 in funding to support resettlement efforts for people from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, two U.S. territories that are still recovering from recent natural disasters.

“Whether they’ve had to flee their homes or their home countries, people are hurting,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “From our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to refugees who’ve come here to rebuild and start a new life, it’s our responsibility to lend a helping hand. Washington might be spewing out hate, but New Yorkers know we look out for one another – whether you come from the next block over or the next continent.”

Expanding access to child care, protecting at-risk youth

To ensure more New Yorkers have access to quality child care they can afford, the budget allocates $832 million for child care subsidies – an increase of $26 million over last year’s final budget. The budget also includes $334,000 to support SUNY and CUNY child care. The budget also creates the New York State Employer-Provided Child Care Credit, which is equal to 100 percent of the federal credit, for employers who provide child and dependent care facilities to their employees.

Further, the budget restores funding for programs that help young people – regardless of family or financial background – achieve success, including:

  • over $33 million for the Advantage After School Program, which provides structured activities for kids to help them succeed academically, including $10.8 million to support minimum wage increases and $5 million for additional services;
  • $3 million for Safe Harbour to help support victims of childhood sexual abuse overcome the unspeakable trauma they have suffered;
  • $2.45 million for settlement houses, which provide educational, recreational and other social services to the community;
  • $1.9 million for Kinship Cares and $100,000 for Kinship Navigator, which provides a support system for relative and non-relative kinship caregivers; and
  • $1.5 million for the Youth Development Program, which builds relationships between children and their communities.

“The saying goes that children are our future, but the truth is, it’s what we do in the present that molds them down the line,” Assemblymember Hyndman said. “When we give kids opportunities and support, we’re giving them a chance to rise above their circumstances. No child should have to face hardship, but the sad reality is that far too many do. We can’t just reach out a hand – we need to lift these kids up onto our shoulders so they can see past now and dream about tomorrow.”

To ensure continued eligibility for federal child care funding, the budget includes language to enact various provisions of law required to comply with the health, safety and training standards contained in the federal reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant of 2014. In addition to provisions related to compliance, language was also included to provide due process for individuals newly required to receive state and federal background checks under the federal reauthorization.

Further, the budget limits the circumstances under which detention and placement of youth alleged or adjudicated to be persons in need of supervision (PINS) in foster care agencies is allowed and restores state reimbursements to local social services districts for preventive services available to PINS.

Combating addiction

To help address the ongoing opioid crisis that continues to devastate communities across the state, the budget allocates an additional $1 million to expand jail-based substance use disorder services in county jails for a total of $4.75 million. It also restores $2 million for New York City’s Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention Specialists (SAPIS) program, which provides a host of support services for school-aged children.

“Substance use disorder is a serious and life-threatening issue that breaks families apart, leaves communities in pieces and steals lives too soon,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “Addiction is not a character flaw, or a struggle reserved for a certain subset of people – it’s a disease that spans the spectrum of people we know and those we’ve never met. This disease doesn’t discriminate, and we can’t afford to discriminate against the people it affects. The sooner we recognize this, the sooner we can help those struggling get onto the road to recovery and protect more New Yorkers from addiction’s deadly grasp.”

The budget also creates a new credit for employers of up to $2,000 for each person hired who is in recovery from a substance use disorder.

Taking care of our caretakers

To support the selfless and hardworking professionals who care for New York’s most vulnerable, the budget provides a 2 percent salary increase for direct support professionals and clinical staff employed by the Office of Mental Health (OMH), the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). Direct support professionals would receive a 2 percent increase on Jan. 1, 2020, and direct support professionals and clinical staff would receive another 2 percent increase on April 1, 2020, for a total of $80 million.

“For direct care workers, looking out for those who need it most isn’t just their livelihood – it’s their life,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “These men and women do more than most of us can even imagine in caring for their fellow New Yorkers. New York State should take care of these everyday heroes and their families the way they care for others.”

Supporting working New Yorkers

The budget restores funding to several labor programs, including:

  • $1.62 million to the Displaced Homemakers Program, which provides career and job search assistance to unemployed and underemployed New Yorkers who previously provided unpaid services for their families;
  • $350,000 for the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), a coalition of labor groups and safety professionals dedicated to reducing workplace injury;
  • $150,000 for the Sexual Harassment Prevention Program at the Cornell School of Industrial Labor Relations; and
  • $50,000 for the Criminal Records Discrimination Program at Cornell University.

To provide more workers with on-the-job experience and training, the budget expands the Employee Training Incentive Program (ETIP) Credit for New York businesses by including in-house training, software development and renewable or clean energy internships as part of eligible training activities. The budget also extends the Workers with Disabilities Tax Credit until 2023 for those employing individuals with developmental disabilities.

The Historic Rehabilitation Credit, which encourages job creation in the trades, is also expanded to qualified rehabilitation projects within state parks and historic sites and other state-owned land.

Strengthening public health programs

The Assembly Majority remains committed to making sure residents have access to quality, affordable health care. Part of that commitment includes ensuring New Yorkers are not priced out of insurance and services. With the federal government actively working to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the 2019-20 state budget codifies the ACA into state law.

“It’s a very real possibility under the current administration that the ACA is repealed and not replaced,” Assemblymember Hyndman noted. “That could leave Southeast Queens residents struggling to afford even the most basic medical procedures, let alone vital and important surgeries. New Yorkers shouldn’t have to forgo lifesaving procedures because they can’t afford health insurance coverage.”

The final state budget also protects the health and safety of children statewide with legislation lowering the statutory standard for elevated blood lead levels to reflect the most recent guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It also requires that any future changes to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendations receive immediate state consideration.

To help working mothers, the state budget adopts a measure clarifying that lactation is a pregnancy-related condition and extends certain nondiscrimination protections in the workplace. Breastfeeding is a fact of motherhood for many women and they should never be forced to hide in a storage closet or go out to their car to pump, Assemblymember Hyndman noted.

The budget further strengthens women’s reproductive health and rights by requiring insurance coverage for medically necessary fertility preservation and large group insurance policies to provide coverage for in-vitro fertilization.

It also extends a national diabetes protection program to Medicaid recipients and invests in local hospitals by expediting the award of $300 million in capital funding to support health care facilities.

Additionally, there is a measure creating a study of staffing ratios at hospitals and nursing homes to help ensure patient safety and improve health care outcomes.

“The Assembly has fought for the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act to improve nurses’ working conditions and make sure patients receive the best care possible,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “Including a study of nurse-to-patient ratios in the budget is a huge step forward in achieving safer conditions for both nurses and patients.”

In order to ensure state residents have access to public health resources, the 2019-20 state budget restores $550 million in Medicaid cuts from the executive proposal. This includes $137.8 million to restore cuts to the Indigent Care Pool, $222 million to restore the 2 percent rate increase for hospitals and the 1.5 percent rate increase for nursing homes, as well as $190.2 million to restore the 0.8 percent Medicaid claim cuts across the board.

The budget restores $31 million in pharmacy reductions, including $18.7 million to restore existing prescriber prevails provisions and $12.3 million to reject the executive budget proposal to limit coverage for over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and to increase OTC co-payments.

Additionally, the spending plan restores:

  • $23.6 million in transportation needs;
  • $5.9 million to preserve the right of spousal refusal;
  • $5 million in managed care reductions; and
  • $25.25 million in other reductions.

The budget also provides a $16 million increase for enhanced safety net providers, for a total of $66 million, and establishes a loan program to help financially distressed safety net hospitals. It provides $3.82 million to restore funding for school-based health centers.

“Our public health programs give vital support to some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers, while helping everyone get access to affordable health care,” Assemblymember Hyndman said. “From giving working mothers a safe place to pump, to ensuring that long-term care and medical support are available to everyone, my job in the Assembly is to make sure Southeast Queens residents can afford the care they need to stay healthy.”

Protecting New York workers and unions

To protect the personal information of public employees in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME last year, the state budget prohibits the disclosure of this information unless it relates to union enrollment and employee organization representation or is compelled by a court. This prevents state and local entities from sharing a public employee’s home address, personal telephone and cell phone number or email address with any individual or organization unless sharing such information falls under one of the exceptions.

“After the Janus decision, union members reported being intimidated by people trying to undermine their union,” Assemblymember Hyndman said. “We will not let these actions go unnoticed. By protecting workers’ personal information, we can put an end to the harassment they have been experiencing and protect union members’ safety and privacy.”

Investing in job creation across the state

The budget provides over $900 million for economic development programs and approximately $750 million for the ninth round of REDC awards to fuel economic growth across the state. To better spur technological advancement and foster collaboration between institutions of higher learning and the private sector, the budget allocates $11 million for Centers of Excellence, an increase of $1.4 million over the executive budget proposal. It also provides $609,000 in additional support to Technology Development Organization Matching grants, for a total of $2 million.

Small businesses are the foundation of the state’s economy, providing jobs to approximately 4 million New Yorkers.[5] To help these critical economic engines thrive, the budget allocates an additional $150,000 for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), for a total of $1.65 million. It also provides an additional $365,000 for the Minority- and Women-Owned Business (MWBE) Development and Lending Program, for a total of $1 million.

Ensuring municipalities get full support to protect essential services

The Assembly Majority vehemently opposed the executive proposal to cut $59 million from the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) program, which would have forced localities to scale back on essential services or raise property taxes. The budget ensures that municipalities will receive the full $715 million that AIM currently provides. AIM is a vital source of state aid that sends unrestricted funds to localities to help them fill budget gaps.

“Municipalities rely on AIM funding to balance their budgets, keep taxes down and revitalize their neighborhoods,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “To pull the rug from under them now would’ve had a devastating impact on taxpayers and put vital services and community programs on the chopping block.”

The state budget also establishes a new revenue stream for local governments by requiring internet marketplace providers to collect sales tax on items sold in state and helps level the playing field for local brick and mortar businesses. These changes are expected to generate $280 million in new revenue for counties. Additional changes to the sales tax law will provide an additional $46 million to local governments outside of New York City.

Making the property tax cap permanent, keeping taxes in check

The 2019-20 state budget makes the 2 percent property tax cap permanent, limiting the annual growth of local property taxes to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. Implemented in 2012, the tax cap has saved New York property taxpayers $24.4 billion statewide.[6] Making it permanent will provide taxpayers with predictable tax bills from year to year and guard against skyrocketing double-digit hikes, Assemblymember Hyndman noted. The 2 percent property tax cap was set to expire next year. The budget also continues the phase in of middle-class tax cuts.

“We drew a line in the sand with the cap so that families wouldn’t be priced out of their homes and to make our state more business friendly,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “The cap makes New York more affordable, helps seniors stay in their homes and has saved homeowners thousands of dollars.”

Extending the millionaires tax, raising funds for MTA repairs

The 2019-20 state budget extends the millionaires tax by five years to continue funding important programs that New Yorkers rely on and ensure everyone is paying their fair share. It also implements a progressive and supplemental mansion tax starting on properties valued at more than $2 million at an additional 0.25 percent and ending at a top rate of 2.9 percent for properties in excess of $25 million. The mansion tax is projected to raise $243 million. Additionally, the budget creates a supplemental Real Estate Transfer Tax of 0.25 percent for residences above $3 million and commercial properties over $2 million to raise $122 million. Together they will raise $365 million in financing for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) capital lockbox. The budget also allocates $232 million from internet sales tax revenues to the MTA.

Funding early voting

To help ensure every New Yorker has an opportunity to participate in our democracy, the Assembly passed a law establishing early voting during a nine-day period before any general, primary, run-off primary or special election to make voting more accessible (Ch. 6 of 2019). To offset the costs of additional poll hours for financially strained local governments, the final state budget earmarks $10 million for localities. The budget also makes primary voting hours consistent across the state, requiring all counties to have polling sites open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. This measure addresses a discrepancy that saw most upstate counties provide six fewer hours to vote on primary day than downstate. The budget also includes legislation ensuring that workers receive three hours of paid time off on Election Day.

“Giving New Yorkers more flexibility and time to cast their votes should boost participation in our elections,” Assemblymember Hyndman said. “Voting should be an easy and convenient process. No one should have to jump through hoops to vote or miss out on the opportunity to make their voice heard on vital issues that will impact their life.”

Modernizing our voting system

The state budget enacts an electronic voter registration system through which voters can register and have their application submitted to the appropriate local board of elections online. The state budget also authorizes the use of electronic poll books to administer elections and provides $14.7 million in capital funding for counties to purchase e-poll books and on-demand ballot printers to support the implementation of early voting. Most states and the District of Columbia already use e-poll books,[7] which can reduce crowding at polling sites and get voters in and out much faster, Assemblymember Hyndman noted.

Making progress toward public financing

The state budget also establishes a commission that will examine, evaluate and make recommendations regarding a public campaign financing system in New York. The commission’s findings are to be reported by Dec. 1, 2019, and will be binding unless modified by law within 20 days. The budget also prohibits lobbyists, political action committees, labor unions and independent expenditure committees from making loans to candidates for political office.

Getting the subways back on track and clearing the roads

“If you’ve ever stepped foot on a subway, you know our transit system is a train wreck,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “Any straphanger can tell you that delays and rerouted trains are the rule, not the exception. Fares skyrocket with seemingly nothing to show for it. We need to fix our public transportation so New Yorkers can keep moving forward, instead of getting stalled at every junction.”

To raise funds for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and make critical improvements to public transportation, the budget creates the first congestion tolling program in the country. The congestion pricing zone includes 60th Street and south in Manhattan – excluding FDR Drive and West Side Highway – and spans New York City’s Central Business District. The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) will oversee the program’s creation and operation, working closely with the New York City Department of Transportation. The Assembly fought to ensure that the TBTA would oversee the program – pursuant to a memorandum of understanding with the City of New York – rejecting an executive proposal that would have bypassed local input. Electronic tolling devices would be installed on the perimeter of the Central Business District, with dynamic pricing for tolls. Passenger vehicles would be charged only once per day.

The TBTA will establish a six-member Traffic Mobility Review Board to recommend the price of the tolls and the value of any exemptions or credits. To allow ample time for installation and public input – including public hearings – the program would not go into effect before Dec. 31, 2020. This tolling program is expected to raise $15 billion, which the budget ensures goes entirely toward the MTA capital budget and is prohibited from being used for non-capital spending.

To determine the needs of the MTA and see that the funding is used strategically, the budget takes several steps to improve oversight. This includes requiring the MTA to develop a reorganization plan by June and undergo an independent forensic audit and efficiency review. The budget also modifies MTA Board appointments to align with the appointing authority, creates a unit made up of independent experts to review major projects, increases the competitive procurement threshold from $100,000 to $1 million and establishes a 30-day review notice for comptroller contract approval. And, to increase transparency, the budget also requires public reporting on MTA performance metrics.

Further, the budget would require any Capital Program Review Board member who does not approve of the MTA capital plan to issue a written explanation for their veto. To save both time and money, the budget also allows the MTA to disqualify any contractor that exceeds 10 percent of the contract cost or time on a capital construction project and any MTA capital project over $25 million will be required to use design-build, unless such use would be inefficient or costly.

To supplement funding for the MTA and ensure the wealthy pay their fair share, the budget implements a progressive and supplemental mansion tax starting on properties valued at more than $2 million at an additional 0.25 percent and ending at a top rate of 2.9 percent for properties in excess of $25 million. The mansion tax is projected to raise $243 million. Additionally, the budget creates a supplemental Real Estate Transfer Tax of 0.25 percent for residences above $3 million and commercial properties over $2 million to raise $122 million. Together they will raise $365 million for the MTA capital lockbox. The budget also allocates $232 million from internet sales tax revenues to the MTA.

Supporting upstate transportation

The budget also provides $226.5 million for upstate transit systems – an $8.8 million increase over the executive proposal – by expanding the surcharge on car rentals outside of the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District to include the rest of the state. It raises the surcharge from 5 to 6 percent for all areas and moves the effective date up from Sept. 1, 2019, to June 1, 2019. The fee would raise revenue to support upstate transit systems.

Making our roads stronger and safer

To make sure Southeast Queens residents can get where they need to go safely, the budget provides $438.1 million for the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPs) and $39.7 million for the Marchiselli Program, which helps municipalities complete needed road and bridge maintenance projects.

“Our roads, bridges and highways connect us,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “Whether it’s getting to work in the morning or getting products loaded into a truck and on the road to a buyer, we need roads that keep us going rather than hold us back. The budget invests in infrastructure so New Yorkers can have a safe and smooth ride instead of added stress behind the wheel.”

To keep both drivers and passengers safe on the road, the budget also requires seat belts for passengers sitting in a vehicle’s rear seats.

Helping our veterans get ahead

While the brave men and women who fought for our country have a vast array of skills and invaluable experiences, there are times where they may need assistance when they come home. The 2019-20 budget honors the immense sacrifices made by our veterans by restoring more than $1.6 million to various programs that will help these heroes begin new chapters of their lives. These vital programs help veterans use their diverse skills to find gainful employment, connect them to needed resources and provide legal and other services to low-income active-duty members so that veterans and their families are supported in their transition back to civilian life.

The funding includes:

  • $500,000 for the NYS Defenders’ Association;
  • $200,000 for Helmets to Hardhats;
  • $200,000 for Clear Path for Veterans;
  • $125,000 for Veterans of Foreign Wars; and
  • $100,000 for the SAGE Veterans Project.

Additionally, the budget changes the Alicia Hyndman of the state Division of Veterans’ Affairs to the Division of Veterans’ Services to avoid confusion with the federal department and includes $1.38 million to allow it to fully fund county and city service agencies. It also earmarks $4 million for the Joseph P. Dwyer Peer Support Project, a peer-to-peer program that helps veterans who have returned home and are facing the challenges of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

“Those who put their lives at risk to serve us deserve all the support they need to reintegrate when they come home,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “We owe it to them to extend a helping hand so that they don’t have to worry about where their next paycheck will be coming from or how they will feed their families.”

Investing in agriculture, supporting our farmers

The final budget continues to invest in New York’s agricultural industry, a cornerstone of our economy. This includes $33.2 million for Agricultural Aid to Localities, an increase of $2.7 million over last year’s budget, to help New York farmers grow their businesses.

“When hardworking farmers and their families have the resources they need to succeed, we all win,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “Local farms provide nourishment that keeps our families healthy and provide products and services that fuel our economy. The final budget recognizes the value of our farmers and invests in programs to help them continue contributing to our health and economy.”

The final budget fully restores funding for the following programs:

    • The Agriculture Migrant Child Care program, which provides child care for migrant farm workers;
    • Farm to School, to bring locally sourced food to our kids’ classrooms;
    • Cornell University Farm Family Assistance (FarmNet), to help farm families resolve financial issues; and
    • Harvest NY.

It also supports organizations that help farmers effectively grow and promote their products including the New York State Apple Growers Association, the Maple Wagon, PRO-DAIRY and the New York Wine and Grape Foundation.

Banning plastic bags

The widespread use of single-use plastic bags is wasteful, unnecessary and puts our marine life and our environment at risk. They also take decades to decompose.[8] New York State has been a strong leader in fighting the very real and present threat of climate change, and tackling the scourge of plastic bags is another step the Assembly is taking in protecting our environment.

To clean up our neighborhoods and waterways, the 2019-20 state budget implements a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags given out by grocery stores and other retailers. The proposal also authorizes counties and cities to impose a 5-cent fee on paper carryout bags, with 40 percent of the fee going back to the municipalities to help distribute reusable bags and 60 percent going toward the Environmental Protection Fund. Low-income New Yorkers who qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) services will be exempt from the paper bag surcharge.

“It’s up to us to undo years of damage from pollution so that our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have clean water to drink, healthy air to breathe and fertile land to use,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “This legislation is a strong step in the right direction. I’ll always work to implement policy that protects our natural resources and wildlife now, and for generations to come.”

Protecting the environment

New York is not only home to some of the country’s most beautiful landmarks that we can explore and enjoy, but also natural resources that help our communities and boost our economy. To help keep our environment vibrant and healthy, the final budget renews a record $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), the highest level of funding in the program’s history.

Additionally, the final budget removes personal service language from the EPF that was included in the executive budget. This proposal would have resulted in the loss of $18.5 million for environmental projects in neighborhoods across the state in order to pay for state agency staff.

To ensure all New Yorkers have access to clean drinking water, the 2019-20 state budget builds on the state’s historic $2.5 billion investment in clean water, including an additional $500 million in funding for the Clean Water Infrastructure Act.

Among the water infrastructure initiatives funded in the 2019-20 state budget are:

  • $200 million for the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (WIIA) to address emerging contaminants;
  • $50 million for the replacement of lead drinking water service lines;
  • $40 million for Water Quality Improvement Projects;
  • $25 million for the Intermunicipal Water Infrastructure grant program;
  • $25 million for land acquisition for source water protection; and
  • $10 million for upgrades and replacements of septic systems and cesspools.

Additionally, to cut down on food waste, the budget requires large-scale food scrap generators to separate as much edible food as possible for donation, and separate food scraps for organic recycling if they are within 25 miles of an organics recycler, exempting hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities and elementary and secondary schools. The budget also encourages the use of clean and alternative energy by providing $23 million for clean energy tax credits.

“Cleaning up our water, land and air is an absolute priority,” said Assemblymember Hyndman. “We owe it to our kids and future generations to tackle the consequences of decades of irresponsible environmental practices. This budget takes our health and the health of the planet seriously, because we can no longer afford to ignore it.”