Assemblymember Frontus: Assembly Budget Proposal Expands Educational Opportunities, Affordable Housing Stock

Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus (D-Brooklyn) announced that she helped pass the Assembly’s 2019-20 state budget proposal, which boosts education spending and increases the state’s investment in affordable housing.

“The Assembly budget proposal invests in the programs that help working families thrive,” said Frontus. “Whether it’s helping more of our students pursue their college dreams, or ensuring families aren’t priced out of the neighborhoods they helped build, our budget proposal allows us to forge a brighter, more equitable future for Brooklyn.”

Education

The Assembly budget proposal provides $14.8 million for CUNY in increased operating support to help offset the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) gap. The TAP gap is the difference between TAP funding for students and actual tuition costs. Since 2011, New York’s public colleges have had to cover this difference for students who qualify for the maximum TAP award, forcing them to dip into their operating budgets. For students who don’t qualify for the maximum TAP award, they’re saddled with that difference themselves and pushed further into debt, especially as tuition continues to rise.

To help close the TAP gap for those students, the Assembly budget proposal includes $15 million for a new “Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship” to cover non-tuition expenses such as housing, meal plans and books and help close the affordability gap for more families across the state.

In addition, the Assembly plan increases funding for college opportunity programs by $23.8 million or 20 percent, including:

  • $41.4 million for the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), which is $5.9 million more than the executive budget proposal;
  • $37.5 million for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), which is $5.4 million more than the executive proposal;
  • $32.8 million for Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK), which is $4.7 million more than the executive proposal; and
  • $13.9 million for the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP), which is $2 million more than the executive proposal.

“Inability to pay should never be the reason a student’s educational journey ends,” said Frontus. “Our proposal expands opportunity and scholarship programs to make higher education more affordable and accessible for Brooklyn families.”

The Assembly budget also:

  • provides $400 million for CUNY for expansion projects;
  • allocates $6.9 million to CUNY for community college base aid, bringing the total rate to $2,947 per full-time equivalent (FTE) student, and ensures no college loses more than 2 percent of its state support in a given year;
  • provides an additional $6 million over the executive proposal for Educational Opportunity Centers (EOCs), for a total of $61 million, and provides $30 million in capital funding;
  • provides $1.2 million for CUNY for Child Care Centers; and
  • provides $2.5 million for mental health counseling services at CUNY and $500,000 to support homeless students at CUNY.

To help K-12 students succeed both inside and outside of the classroom, the Assembly proposal increases funding for mental health grants by $2.5 million for a total of $4 million, including $1 million for mental health technical assistance centers. It also allows building aid reimbursement for health, mental health and dental clinics at schools.

“By investing in mental health care, we can continue to chip away at the stigma surrounding mental illness and ensure our children get the care they need and deserve,” said Frontus.

Housing

“As the cost of living rises ever higher, we must do more to ensure working families aren’t forced out of their communities,” said Frontus. “The Assembly proposal funds critical repairs at NYCHA buildings and invests in affordable housing to ensure all New Yorkers have a safe, healthy place to call home.”

The Assembly budget proposal provides $400 million for public housing capital repairs statewide, allocating $300 million of this funding to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), to be used for heating needs, lead abatement, weatherization, elevator maintenance and other critical projects. This funding is part of New York’s five-year, $1.6 billion commitment to improve the public housing stock across the state. Of the total spending package, $1.2 billion will go toward NYCHA and will be combined with one-to-one matching funds from the City of New York. The plan also allocates $100 million in capital funding for Mitchell-Lama housing across the state.

To help communities still dealing with storm damage from Superstorm Sandy, the Assembly proposal provides $72 million for the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR). It also includes measures to increase transparency within the executive agency to ensure taxpayer dollars aren’t being wasted and are going to assist the families and businesses who need it most.