Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte New York State 2018-2019 Budget Invests in Programs and Services to Better Our State

Albany – Friday, March 30th, 2018, the New York State Assembly passed a $168.3 billion budget for 2018-2019 that includes a nearly $1 billion increase in education funding, invests in infrastructure and transportation repairs, protects New Yorkers from federal tax changes and institutes meaningful sexual harassment policy reforms.

"As with every budget that passes, there difficult decisions that have to be made" said Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte. "This year, we made it priority to stand strong for New Yorkers; the family, the student, the tenant, for small businesses and MWBE's, for Veterans, for those in need and for those who need to be protected. This budget sets in place the framework for more significant reform in much needed areas going forward".

Some of the 2018-2019 budget highlights include:

Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE)

  • The Budget reauthorizes and extends the Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) program (Article 15-A) for one year up until December 2019 and makes no changes to the program. The budget also gives priority to recapitalizing the MWBE Investment Fund.
  • The spending plan provides an additional $365,000 in funding for the Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) Development and Lending Program for a total of $1 million.

Investing in Public Education

The 2018-2019 state budget builds on the Assembly's commitment to ensuring every New York student receives a quality education by provides a total of $26.6 billion in education funding. That's an increase of $914 million - or 3.6 percent - over the previous year and a 36 percent increase since 2012. This includes a $618 million increase in Foundation Aid for a total of $17.8 billion.

  • $50 million increase to help high-need schools - including struggling schools, districts with large numbers of English language learners (ELLs) and districts with increasing numbers of homeless students - become community schools.
  • In addition, the budget increases the minimum community schools funding amount from $10,000 to $75,000;
  • $2.8 million in increased support for students who face language barriers, as well as $2 million for bilingual education grants for a total of $17.5 million and $770,000 for training programs to increase the number of teachers providing bilingual and multilingual education;
  • It also invests $10 million in a second round of Empire State After School awards, providing after-school care for over 6,000 students. The funding will be directed to districts with high rates of childhood homelessness so that more children have a safe place to learn and grow outside of the classroom;

Expanding opportunity programs

  • The spending plan also restores $23.8 million to college opportunity programs, including:$35.5 million for the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), which is $5.9 million more than the executive budget proposal;
  • $32.2 million for the Education Opportunity Program (EOP), which is $5.36 million more than the executive proposal;
  • $28.1 million for Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK), which is $4.68 million more than the executive proposal;
  • $18.4 million for Liberty Partnerships, which is $3.06 million more than the executive proposal;
  • $15.8 million for the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP), which is $2.6 million more than the executive proposal;
  • $11.9 million for the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP), which is $1.99 million more than the executive proposal; and
  • $1.3 million for College Discovery, which is $225,000 more than the executive proposal.

Supporting public and community colleges

The 2018-19 state budget also invests heavily in SUNY and CUNY schools, as well as community colleges across the state. The plan:

  • allocates $12.1 million to SUNY, and $6.3 million to CUNY, to increase community college base aid by $100 per full-time equivalent (FTE) student, bringing the total rate to $2,847;
  • restores $1.1 million to SUNY, and $902,000 for CUNY, to Child Care Centers;
  • restores $2.5 million to the CUNY Accelerated Study in Associate Program (ASAP);
  • restores $5 million for Educational Opportunity Centers (EOCs), for a total of $60.04 million;
  • restores $2 million to Advanced Technology Training Information Networking (ATTAIN) labs for a total of $6.5 million; and
  • restores $92 million in state operating support for SUNY hospitals.

Protecting Public Libraries

  • The budget continues New York's commitment to local libraries, providing a total of $96.6 million, an increase of $1 million over last year. Libraries not only lend books, they also offer resources ranging from adult literacy classes to job search resources and provide a community hub for everyone from the youngest children to retirees, noted Assemblymember. In addition, the budget provides $34 million to support library capital projects across the state.

Making Higher Education more affordable

  • the 2018-19 state budget invests $7.6 billion in higher education, an increase of $1.2 billion - or 25 percent - since 2012.
  • Also allocates $118 million to support the approximately 27,000 students in the Excelsior Scholarship program, which makes SUNY and CUNY schools tuition-free for New Yorkers who earn less than $110,000 this year. When fully phased in, the program will enable more than half of all full-time students at public colleges and universities to attend school tuition-free.

Protecting NYCHA Tenants

  • The budget provides $250 million for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to make capital repairs, including replacing and updating heating equipment, as well as weatherization and other critical maintenance projects.
  • It also allows NYCHA to use the design-build procurement process, which would expedite boiler replacements and other construction and repair projects by consolidating both the design and construction of a project into a single contract.
  • Eighty percent of NYCHA residents were without heat at some point between Oct. 1 and Jan. 22.[1].

Fighting against homelessness

  • Homelessness is a crisis in New York State, and the budget continues the state's affordable and homeless housing and services initiative. The funding will continue to support the creation or maintenance of the program's 100,000 units of affordable housing and 6,000 units of supportive housing.
  • The state budget includes the establishment of a program in New York City and the city of Rochester for families and individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Under the program, individuals and families would be offered a rental supplement up to 100 percent of the fair market rent for up to four years.
  • The Office of Mental Health and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance will work alongside Assertive Community Treatment teams to provide services and assistance for individuals with mental illness living in homeless shelters. Additionally, on-site substance use disorder treatment services will be made available in 14 existing shelters across the state by the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS).
  • Under this year's state budget, it is required that all local social services districts develop and implement an approved outreach and services plan to address street homelessness.

Providing a safety net for those in need

The state budget provides $18.9 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs that provide educational opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities, assist low-income residents with employment and help strengthen families, including:

  • $8.5 million for Facilitated Enrollment to expand eligibility for child care assistance, allowing parents to stay employed while their children are cared for;
  • $4 million for Advanced Technology Training and Information Networking (ATTAIN) labs, which provide technology and access to education and workforce development training;
  • $2.85 million for Career Pathways, which helps train low-income young adults for jobs in high-growth sectors;
  • $1.57 million for Preventative Services to keep families together and children safe;
  • $800,000 for ACCESS, which links educational opportunities to internships and job placements;
  • $475,000 for the wage subsidy program, which helps develop job opportunities for recipients of public assistance and low-income individuals;
  • $334,000 for SUNY/CUNY Child Care to address compliance issues, including background checks, training programs and inspections;
  • $200,000 for the Fatherhood Initiative, which helps fathers reconnect with their children and develop essential parenting skills; and
  • $144,000 for Wheels for Work, which helps low-income individuals secure reliable transportation to and from work.
  • $1.5 million for the Disability Advocacy Program (DAP), which provides legal representation when federal disability benefits have been denied or discontinued.
  • $1.62 million for the Displaced Homemakers Program to help people who have been displaced from their careers as unpaid homemakers and provide services to get them back into the career field.

Providing support for refugees and others uprooted from their homes

  • $2 million for refugee resettlement agencies to bridge the gap in federal funding. Refugee resettlement agencies provide assistance to refugees and their families as they acclimate to life in the United States or prepare for a safe departure from the United States to their home country.
  • $350,000 in assistance for nonprofits dedicated to resettling individuals and families from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Support for At-Risk Youth

  • $22.3 million for the Advantage After School Program, providing structured activities for kids to help them succeed academically, which is $5 million more than the executive budget;
  • $15.6 million for the Youth Development Program - $1.5 million more than the executive budget - which builds relationships between children and their communities;
  • $2.45 million for settlement houses, which provide educational, recreational and other social services to the community;
  • $2.2 million for Kinship Care, which is $1.9 million more than the executive budget; and
  • $320,000 for Kinship Navigator - $100,000 more than the executive budget - which provides a support system for relative and non-relative kinship caregivers;
  • The state budget also provides $3 million in funding for Safe Harbour to help support victims of childhood sexual abuse overcome the unspeakable trauma they have suffered and $758,000 to reduce caseloads for child protective workers.

Strengthening child care for New York State families

The budget invests close to $80 million to ensure safe, affordable child care, including:

  • $31 million for pre-licensure and annual licensing inspections for child care providers;
  • $17 million for conducting background checks on child care providers and staff members;
  • $15 million for infant and toddler care quality efforts;
  • $12 million for ongoing training on health and safety programs; and
  • $2 million for staffing system changes.
  • The state budget also provides a minimum of $10 million for new subsidized child care slots.

Combating the opioid crisis, substance use disorders

  • The $100 million Opioid Stewardship Fund seeks to help curb the epidemic by creating a partnership with the pharmaceutical industry to expand prevention, treatment and recovery programs for individuals with substance use disorder.
  • The state budget also allocates nearly $250 million in funding to address the heroin and opioid crisis, including an increase of $26 million to support the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) in improving educational and awareness campaigns, prevention, treatment and recovery programs and residential service opportunities. The funding supports a variety of treatment and prevention programs, including family support navigators, peer supports, recovery clubhouses and community coalitions.

Protecting affordable health care

The budget addresses rising drug and health insurance costs so that more New Yorkers have access to the health care they need. It restores $29.13 million for pharmacy initiatives, including:

  • a $17.4 million restoration to existing prescriber prevails provisions, which ensure patients and their doctors have the final say in choosing medication in managed care and fee-for-service plans; and
  • $11.28 million to reject the executive budget proposal to limit coverage for over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and increase OTC co-payments.
  • The budget also protects the hospitals and facilities that provide critical care to New York's most vulnerable. It provides:
    • a total of $525 million in health transformation capital funding;
    • an increase of $15 million for enhanced safety-net facilities that provide care to large Medicaid populations, for a total of $25 million; and
    • an increase of $15 million for critical access and sole community hospitals, which provide services in rural communities, for a total of $25 million.
  • $9.19 million to protect 30 public health programs from consolidation.
  • $5 million to expand programs to support individuals with Hepatitis C.
  • restores $25.82 million to protect Managed Long Term Care (MLTC) and adult day health care transportation services.

Supporting our Seniors' health

The state budget restores $8.16 million to support long-term care. It also restores $7.81 million to preserve spousal refusal, ensuring couples do not lose their life savings in the event a spouse becomes ill and needs nursing home care, and rejects the proposal to limit the amount of resources a community spouse is allowed to retain.

Additionally, the budget restores $13.99 million in hospital and nursing home reductions, protecting hospital and nursing capital reimbursements. It also restores $12 million in managed care reductions.

Looking out for our youngest New Yorkers

The budget provides crucial funding for children's health initiatives, including:

  • $15 million to ensure that the expansion of children's mental health services is not delayed;
  • $3.82 million to restore School Based Health Centers; and
  • $2.55 million to restore Early Intervention programs, which provide invaluable services to children with disabilities and their families.

Investing in communities to create good jobs

  • the state budget invests $1.36 billion to enable local businesses to grow and thrive and attract new businesses to the state. The funding will be distributed through the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC);
  • It also establishes a new Consolidated Funding Application to help businesses find and hire talented workers and expand apprenticeships, especially in growing industries like clean energy and technology. The program will also focus on efforts to improve the economic security of women, young people and other populations that face significant barriers to career advancement;
  • The state budget also allocates $100 million for the third round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), which awards $10 million to 10 communities across the state that are struggling with population loss or economic distress. These awards will help create good-paying jobs, boost local economies and turn downtown communities and neighborhoods into economic engines where future generations of New Yorkers want to live and work;
  • $11.9 million in operating support for the Centers of Excellence - an increase of $3.2 million. This will allow the 13 centers to promote further technological developments and ensure New York remains a prized destination for emerging industries;
  • The budget also provides $609,000 in additional support to Technology Development Organization Matching grants, for a total of $2 million.

Protecting New Yorkers from federal tax changes

The state budget includes measures designed to blunt the impact of the federal tax plan, which increases taxes on many middle-class families by restricting state and local tax deductibility.

One measure creates state-operated charitable contributions funds designed to help improve health care and educational outcomes for all New Yorkers. Taxpayers who donate to the funds can claim these contributions as deductions on their state and federal tax deductions, as well as claim a state tax credit equal to 85 percent of the donation amount. School districts and local governments would be allowed to create similar charitable funds that would offer local property tax deductions equal to a percentage of the contribution amount.

  • The budget also creates a new Employer Compensation Expense Tax (ECET) that employers would have the option of participating in. The ECET is a 5 percent tax on all annual payroll expenses in excess of $40,000 per employee, and would be phased in over a three-year period. The new tax would cut personal income taxes on earnings and a new tax credit would ensure that employees subject to the ECET do not see a decrease in take-home pay.

Tax cuts for middle-class families

  • The budget also continues phasing in middle-class tax cuts, which are projected to save families $4.2 billion annually by 2025. The plan reduces the state income tax rate from 6.45 to 5.5 percent for those earning between $40,000 and $150,000 and from 6.65 to 6 percent for those who earn between $150,000 and $300,000. Families will see average savings of $250 this year and, when they're fully phased in, 6 million New Yorkers will save $700 each year.
  • The budget also continues the local property tax relief credit, which will provide an average reduction of $380 to 2.6 million taxpayers in 2018. Next year, the tax credit will offer an additional $1.3 billion in property tax relief and save the average New Yorker $530.

Supporting Small Businesses

Small businesses employ more than half of all employees in the private sector,[4] and it's critical that these economic drivers have the tools and resources they need to succeed. The 2018-19 state budget allocates $1.67 million for local economic development initiatives.

The budget also:

  • provides $500,000 to create the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) /Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Technical Assistance Program to promote technological advancement and the commercialization of innovations developed through federally funded research; and
  • allocates $400,000 to the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund and an additional for a total of $1.8 million, to support Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs).

Helping New Yorkers achieve economic security

The state budget establishes the New York State Secure Choice Savings Program to help private-sector employees plan for their future. The program allows for a voluntary-enrollment payroll deduction IRA for employees of private employers that do not already offer retirement savings plans.

Funding the MTA Subway Action Plan

  • The 2018-19 state budget funds the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) Subway Action Plan - for a total of $836 million - to make emergency repairs and enhance subway performance. New York State and New York City will share the responsibility of funding the initiative;
  • The plan also expands select bus services throughout the city so residents can get around more easily and reach their destinations on time. And, to establish a long-term funding stream for New York City public transportation, the budget enacts a $2.75 surcharge on for-hire vehicles, $2.50 for yellow cabs and $0.75 for pooled trips below 96th Street in Manhattan. Additionally, the plan provides funding to install no less than 50 new traffic monitoring cameras on Transit Authority buses to reduce congestion and increase safety on our roads.
  • The state budget also provides more options for commuters and tourists by investing $8 million in the Lower Hudson Transit Link for bus services along the Governor Mario M. Cuomo/Tappan Zee Bridge this year.

Ensuring access to legal counsel for immigrants and the indigent

The 2018-19 state budget includes the first installment of funding for a six-year plan enacted in 2017 to increase the state's investment in public defense legal services to ensure that all New Yorkers have equal access to quality representation.

  • Specifically, the budget includes an increase of $50 million for public defense services. When fully funded in 2023, the state's investment will increase funding to counties and New York City for public defense services by approximately $250 million annually. This investment will vastly improve the quality of public defense services and will ensure defendants have counsel at arraignment, establish new caseload standards so that attorneys can devote sufficient time and attention to each case, and ensure that attorneys receive effective training and have the necessary qualifications and experience.
  • $5 million in additional funding for the Liberty Defense Project to provide vital legal services to immigrants;
  • $4.5 million in additional funding for civil and immigrant legal services;
  • $750,000 for Prisoners' Legal Services;
  • $600,000 for the Public Utility Law Project, which provides legal representation for low-income utility consumers; and
  • $500,000 for additional alternatives to incarceration programs

Ensuring a complete and accurate Census count

The 2018-19 state budget includes a measure creating a commission to ensure that the people of New York State are accurately counted in the 2020 U.S. Census. Undercounts during the 2000 Census and 2010 Census helped cost New York two congressional seats as well as tens of billions of dollars in federal aid.[5]

Standing against Sexual Harassment

The state budget that takes overdue steps to address and combat sexual harassment and provide more recourse for victims.

"We are beginning to make real progress" said Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte. "Sexual harassment and sexual misconduct in any workplace will no longer be tolerated. This kind of behavior has been part of the culture for far too long. As a legislator, it is my responsibility to ensure that we put every protection in place for victims, and that we place more pressure on potential transgressors. With stronger anti-harassment legislation in place, we are accomplishing just that".

It includes legislation to ensure that employers across the state have comprehensive policies to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. Moreover, the measure bars confidentiality clauses in any settlement except when specifically requested by the victim. It also allows a state or local government that has paid a victim for a sexual harassment claim on behalf of a public employee to recover payment from the employee responsible for the harassment. Further, it would ban mandatory arbitration agreements for claims of sexual harassment.

Protecting the Environment

  • The 2018-19 state budget continues the Assembly's commitment to protecting and preserving the environment. That includes the continuation of New York's multiyear commitment to funding $2.5 billion for the Clean Water Infrastructure Act to ensure all New Yorkers have access to clean drinking water. It also provides $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). A $65 million initiative, to be funded from both the Clean Water Infrastructure Act and the EPF, will be used to fund programs to help combat harmful algal blooms, which are threatening water bodies. The budget also provides $2 million for the Brownfield Opportunity Area program to help municipalities and community groups engage in planning efforts to revitalize communities with brownfields.

Honoring and Supporting our Veterans

To support our veterans, the final state budget provides a total of $1.96 million in community initiatives. These programs provide essential services to help lift up veterans and their families in their transition back to civilian life as well as support current active-duty personnel and their families.

  • $500,000 for the New York State Defenders Association;
  • $200,000 for Helmets to Hardhats;
  • $200,000 for Warrior Salute;
  • $125,000 for Veterans of Foreign Wars of New York;
  • $100,000 for SAGE Veterans Project;
  • $100,000 for the Veterans Justice Project;
  • $50,000 for Vietnam Veterans of America, NYS Council;
  • $50,000 for the Research and Recognition Project; and
  • $25,000 for the Veterans Miracle Center.

The state budget also extends the Hire a Veteran Tax Credit for two years. Eligible employers can receive a credit of up to $5,000 for each veteran hired, but that amount rises to $15,000 for each veteran with a disability that is hired.

Investing in Agriculture

  • $9.28 million for the Agriculture Migrant Child Care program;
  • $5 million for capital improvements at local fairs;
  • $5 million for capital improvements at pounds, shelters and humane societies;
  • $1.9 million to the New York Farm Viability Institute, a resource that helps farmers become more profitable, an increase of $1.5 million over the executive budget;
  • $872,000 for FarmNet, to help farm families resolve financial issues, an increase of $488,000;
  • A $600,000 restoration to Harvest NY;
  • $500,000 in operating support for local fairs, an increase of $160,000; and
  • $400,000 for Farmland for a New Generation, which provides resources for new farmers as well as help ease the transition of farmlands to new generations.