Assembly Budget Proposal Protects Vital Programs For Our Most Vulnerable

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (I, D, WF-Sag Harbor) announced the Assembly passed its 2013-14 state budget proposal that restores funding to protect vital family and disability programs in an effort to aid New York’s most vulnerable individuals (E.182).

“With so many families continuing to struggle during these tough economic times, we must do everything we can to make sure New York State has programs in place to help people get back on their feet,” Thiele said.

Restoring cuts for mental health and developmental disabilities services

The Assembly budget proposal restores $120 million to not-for-profit organizations that work with individuals with developmental disabilities. The Assembly also provides an additional $20 million to maintain state-operated mental health services.

“Many of these organizations provide around-the-clock care to individuals who reside in group homes or apartments, including home-cooked meals,” Thiele said. “The Assembly’s funding restoration will allow individuals with developmental disabilities to live productive and happy lives.”

Preserving vital family and disability services and programs

The Assembly budget proposal includes an additional $28.7 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) aid for programs that were eliminated in the executive budget proposal, including:

  • $11 million for Facilitated Enrollment to expand eligibility for child care assistance up to 275 percent of the federal poverty level in certain areas. These programs allow parents to maintain employment while their children are being cared for in safe environments;
  • $5.5 million for Advanced Technology Training and Information Networking (ATTAIN) to provide communities access to new technologies, education and job-readiness training;
  • $2.5 million for the Displaced Homemakers program to provide counseling and job training to homemakers;
  • $1.5 million for the Supplemental Homeless Intervention Program for housing location and eviction prevention;
  • $1.25 million for Career Pathways, training for low-income young adults to prepare them for jobs in high-growth sectors;
  • $1.2 million for Non-Residential Domestic Violence Services to assist victims of domestic violence not residing in shelters;
  • $1 million for Settlement Houses to provide services such as job training, early childhood education and citizenship and legal education;
  • $500,000 for the Nurse-Family Partnership to provide services to help ensure health and success for first-time moms and their babies; and
  • $250,000 for the Disability Advocacy Program to provide legal representation for those who have been denied disability benefits.

Additionally, the Assembly budget proposal reinstates $100,000 for homeless housing programs, which includes the Solutions to End Homelessness Program (STEHP) and the New York State Supportive Housing Program (NYSSHP). The Assembly budget proposal also provides $1.7 million to SUNY child care centers, a $653,000 restoration.

“With so many families struggling to make ends meet in this jobless recovery, we simply can’t afford to slash funding to programs and services that help them get by each day,” Thiele said. “The Assembly budget protects these vital programs.”

Protecting workers and the unemployed

The Assembly gradually increases the weekly unemployment benefit from $405 per week to 50 percent of the state’s average weekly wage by Oct. 1, 2026, and increases the minimum weekly benefit for workers’ compensation claims from $100 to $150.

“Our budget proposal comes through for individuals who were hurt on the job and those looking for work when there aren’t jobs to be found,” Thiele said.

Providing aid for the elderly, disabled and working families

The Assembly budget makes sure individuals currently receiving Supplemental Security Income will see their federal cost of living adjustment in 2014.

“With the rising cost of food, gas and clothing, we must ensure that those living on fixed incomes can keep up with the cost of living,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “This adjustment would provide much-needed assistance to the many seniors and disabled individuals struggling to afford daily necessities.”

Additionally, the Assembly budget proposal would allow a 12-month work exemption for households receiving temporary assistance with a child under the age of 1, provided that the commissioner of a social services district is unable to provide all eligible working families with a child care subsidy.

“As local governments are increasingly forced to do more with less, many social services districts don’t have the funding to provide valuable services, such as child care subsidies, to everyone who needs them,” Thiele said. “This exemption takes these unfortunate circumstances into consideration and makes sure eligible families are given additional time to balance finding work and caring for their children.”

Restoring aid for at-risk and homeless youth

The Assembly budget proposal restores nearly $1.3 million for youth development programs for at-risk youth. Additionally, the Assembly reinstates nearly $5 million for the following initiatives:

  • Community Reinvestment ($1.75 million);
  • Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children ($1.5 million);
  • Caseload Reduction ($757,200);
  • Settlement Houses ($450,000);
  • Runaway and Homeless Youth Program ($264,456); and
  • Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES) ($200,000).

“We cannot lose sight of the struggling and at-risk youth who desperately need our help,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “Restoring funding for these initiatives helps ensure there are programs in place to offer these children safer alternatives than the streets, while also providing tangible opportunities for them to grow and succeed.”