Assemblymember Bronson: Assembly Budget Proposal Invests in Education, Mental Health Services and Workforce Development

“The last two years have truly shown the strength and resiliency of our communities. Times have been tough, which is why I worked with my colleagues to produce an Assembly budget proposal that delivers critical funds and resources for local families. From increasing support for our schools to providing workers with the skills they need to get the jobs they need to support their families, the Assembly budget proposal would provide important resources for local families.

“Students and teachers have faced a host of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, including adapting to remote learning and other disruptions to their normal routines. To better support students at this critical juncture, the Assembly plan would provide a historic $30.9 billion – a 7% increase over last year’s budget – in school aid, a $1.5 billion increase in Foundation Aid, and $150 million for universal prekindergarten. It also allocates $100 million over two years for the Recover from COVID Schools Program (RECOVS), which provides matching funds for enhanced education or mental health support for students and restores $5 million in funding for Advantage After School Program, which provides structured activities for youth.

“Caring for and investing in our community’s mental health and wellness has long been overlooked, which is why I fought to ensure mental health services were adequately funded in the Assembly’s budget proposal. This includes increasing funding for children’s mental health programs under the state Office of Mental Health (OMH) by $53 million and allocating $35 million to establish the 988 Crisis Hotline, which would provide centralized and easy access to state resources. This funding will dramatically improve services for those battling mental illness at any age, which will ultimately save lives.

“The plan also includes $50 million for localities and nonprofits to expand access to mental health and substance abuse providers and $5 million for Crisis Intervention teams, which serve as an alternative to hospitalization for children experiencing emotional distress. And, to bolster services for disabled individuals, I secured an additional $10 million – for a total of $25 million – for the Independent Living Opportunities program in the budget proposal.

“To make sure local workers have the skills they need to succeed in a variety of fields, the Assembly budget proposal provides $320 million for the NY Works Economic Development Fund, $250 million for Restore NY communities and $150 million for Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs). This funding will help create good-paying jobs and drive further investment into local communities. The Assembly plan also provides critical support for working parents by investing $3 billion in childcare, including $2 billion to maintain current subsidies and expand eligibility from 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL) to 400% of the FPL. Pandemic-related challenges forced many parents to decide between providing care for their children or earning a paycheck, and it’s important that we make significant investments to address this troubling trend.

“As the April 1 budget deadline approaches, I’ll remain focused on passing a state budget that improves the lives of local families and moves us forward.”