Assemblymember Steck: Assembly Budget Proposal Addresses Vital Services for New Yorkers

Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced that he helped pass the Assembly’s 2019-20 state budget proposal, which focuses on maintaining crucial programs and services for New York families (E.164). On the other hand, Steck noted that the State still does not have a long-term plan for funding infrastructure improvements in this State, such as would occur if his bill to restore the Stock Transfer Tax were passed.

“What we’ve crafted in the Assembly is a reasonable plan which that prioritizes programs our families, friends and neighbors rely upon – good schools, support for direct care workers and greater opportunities – are well-funded so our communities can keep moving in the right direction. We have stood tall against many of the Governor’s worst budget cuts and added in areas where the Governor’s proposals were inadequate. But more meaningful change, such as a Green New Deal, cannot be achieved without another major commitment – to a new plan for our State’s infrastructure.”

The Assembly’s proposal includes $28.4 billion for education, an increase of $1.6 billion over last year’s budget. Foundation Aid would be increased by $1.16 billion for a total of $18.9 billion. The spending plan would also fully phase in Foundation Aid over the next three years while rejecting the executive proposal that requires certain school districts to distribute a percentage of their Foundation Aid increase to specific schools.

The Assembly’s plan also supports students overcoming barriers in and outside of the classroom and provides $15 million toward a new aid formula to help pay for additional services for homeless students. Steck noted that this will particularly benefit the Menands School District, which has seen a rise in the number of homeless students in recent years and faces funding shortages since these students often fall outside of traditional education aid formulas and sometimes have developmental disabilities that present additional challenges.[1],[2] Further, the budget proposal allocates $2 million in additional support for students with disabilities enrolled in colleges and universities throughout New York.

To give more students the opportunity to enroll and succeed in college, the Assembly proposal continues to invest in opportunity programs and increases funding by 20 percent. This includes:

  • $41.4 million for the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP);
  • $37.5 million for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP);
  • $21.4 million for Liberty Partnerships;
  • $18.4 million for the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP); and
  • $13.9 million for the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP).

“These investments help ensure local schools and colleges and universities across the state are inclusive and open to all students, no matter their background or financial situation,” Steck said.

As chair of the Assembly’s Task Force on People with Disabilities, Steck’s committed to ensuring all New Yorkers with disabilities have the independence and ability to live full lives and that includes the direct care professionals that look after them have the means to care for their own families.

To do this, the Assembly’s plan provides a $1 million increase for independent living centers, which operate on a self-help model and promote inclusion and integration of New Yorkers with disabilities and their families in all aspects of life.

In addition, the proposal provides $57.4 million for a proposed 2 percent salary increase for direct care 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).