Budget That Puts Families First

Albany, NY – A productive week comes to a close today. After much negotiating, my colleagues in the Assembly and I passed the 2015-2016 State Budget on Tuesday night. Thanks are due to Speaker Carl Heastie for his leadership and his steadfast efforts against the Governor's misguided proposals. This budget is a hard-won compromise that puts families first by restoring much-needed funding for our schools, making it possible for more students to achieve a college education and helping New York's struggling families.

The services funded by the budget include:

Affordable Housing

The budget provides $415.6 million for housing and community development programs, allotting $225 million for repair and rehabilitation programs, including:

  • $100 million for New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) capital repairs, while also requiring the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal and NYCHA to develop a plan detailing how the funds will be used; and
  • $25 million for Mitchell-Lama Repair and Revitalization.

It also provides $34.7 million for community development programs and $155.5 million for affordable housing programs, including $25 million for the Restore NY Communities initiative and $9.7 million for the Main Street Program.

The budget agreement includes $20.3 million for Neighborhood and Rural Preservation programs. And it restores $742,000 in funding to the New York City Housing Authority Tenant Watch Program.

Affordable Childcare

The budget agreement includes nearly $34 million to improve our child care system and ensure more families have access to the quality, affordable child care they deserve. The following measures would be funded at:

  • $5 million to provide support for 600 child care slots;
  • $19.3 million for the Advantage Afterschool Program;
  • $9.3 million for Facilitated Enrollment to expand eligibility for child care assistance to working families with incomes up to 275 percent of the federal poverty level, allowing parents to stay employed while their children are cared for in safe environments;
  • $1.3 million increase for SUNY Child Care Centers, for a total of $2.3 million; and
  • $1 million for CUNY Child Care Centers, for a total of $1.8 million.


Education was a particular point of controversy during budget negotiations. We must ensure our schools are not just test-driven grade factories but palaces of learning and enrichment for every single child in New York. But the Governor's education agenda treats teachers as enemies instead of the vital custodians of our children's future, and his plan would have starved our schools of necessary funding.

The Assembly fought for weeks to prevent the budget from becoming a weapon against public education. Unfortunately, the Assembly fought alone at the negotiating table-the Republican Senate and the Governor were as thick as thieves on this issue. Even so, the Assembly managed to blunt the worst of the damage. The Assembly took the teacher evaluation system away from the Governor and put it in the hands of the Board of Regents, a body entrusted to make education policy decisions. The Assembly was also able to secure a $1.6 billion increase in education aid over last year, for a total of $23 billion. This includes:

  • a $19 million increase to support grants for a total of $90 million;
  • a school aid run increase of nearly $1.3 billion, which includes $428 million for Foundation Aid;
  • $603 million to cover more than 50 percent of the remaining Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA);
  • $269 million to fully reimburse districts for expenses they have incurred such as transportation and BOCES;
  • $75 million in grants for struggling schools;
  • $20 million in grants, including aid for libraries, teacher centers and bilingual education; and
  • $2.3 million to support a rate increase for 4201 schools for a total of $98.5 million.

The funding is tailored to support the schools that need it most, with 68.5 percent going to high-need districts, 25.7 percent going to average-need districts and 5.8 percent going to low-need districts.

To help students attending nonpublic schools, the final budget adds $5 million in Comprehensive Attendance Policy funding. Total nonpublic aid in the budget is $171.4 million.

Additionally, the budget includes a $30 million increase in pre-Kindergarten funding for 3- and 4-year-olds, while protecting last year's pre-Kindergarten investment in New York City.


On the transportation front, the Assembly fought to include funding for Bus Rapid Transit in the Capital Budget, investing in the transit system that so many New Yorkers depend on.

These are vital services that will materially improve the lives of real people.

Ethics Reform

We also achieved progress on tackling corruption and fostering a more ethical and transparent state government. The budget requires public officials to disclose outside income they receive from non-government employment on their annual financial disclosure forms. Public officials will also be required to report any referrals they receive from lobbyists, and officials who provide services related to matters before state agencies will be required to provide additional information regarding their clients and customers, as well as the compensation they receive.

In addition, all public officials in a state or municipal retirement system convicted of public corruption may be required to forfeit their pensions, regardless of when they entered the system. Currently, the law only applies to officials who entered the system in 2011 or after. However, a portion of any forfeited pension may be set aside by the court for their innocent spouse and children.

We've made a lot of progress. But there is still a long way to go to ensure the state fulfills its moral duty to the people and gives them the secure foundation they need to stand tall.

We must extend mayoral control of New York City schools and give Mayor de Blasio the same seven years his predecessor got. We must pass the Dream Act. We must raise the minimum wage. We must raise the age of criminal responsibility. We must pass GENDA. As the representative of the people of the 42nd Assembly District, I will keep working for every one of these goals.

As tonight is the first night of Passover and as Good Friday sunsets into the rise of Easter day, I wish all my constituents and friends of New York State observing, a happy holiday.