Assembly Jenne: State Budget Funds Initiatives That Will Benefit the North Country
April 10, 2017
Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne said the 2017-18 state budget passed Saturday by the New York State Assembly will benefit North Country schools and college students, provide necessary funding for clean drinking water projects. The assemblywoman said the spending plan also opens the door for ride-sharing services in the region, adds dollars for a multi-faceted approach to fight the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic and makes additional dollars available to raise wages for direct care workers taking care of our states most vulnerable residents. She said the budget also includes the monies necessary to implement a middle class tax cut that was part of last year's budget and extends a millionaire's tax that was set to expire this year. "It was clear early on this was going to be a challenging budget year. There were a number of areas - from school funding and college affordability to criminal justice reforms - where there were dramatic philosophical differences among the members of the two houses and the governor," she said. "This budget reflects the compromises that were reached by the governor, the state Assembly and the state Senate. That is what governing is all about," according to the assembly member. The assemblywoman said the 2017-18 budget also includes funding for programs targeted specifically to the North Country including $300,000 for the second year of the North Country Farm to School Program; $250,000 to the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries at Clarkson University; and $30,000 to the city of Ogdensburg for its police department and $200,000 for the North Country Farm Academy in Canton. Assemblywoman Jenne said 16 schools from St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties participated in the first year of the farm to school program bringing fresh, locally grown foods to cafeterias in an effort that benefited both schools and local growers. She said the funding for Clarkson will be used for the operation of the River and Estuary Observatory Network (REON) and the Sensor Development Laboratory located on the Clarkson University Downtown Campus. These funds will help support a specialized research infrastructure that is a real-time Environmental Observatory consisting of 30 monitoring stations distributed throughout the Hudson River watershed including the Mohawk River watershed. The sensor development laboratory will continue to develop sensors, sensor deployment strategies, and robotic systems used to conduct automated data collection and field maintenance processes to meet the primary objective of improving environmental observatory cost performance. This developed technology will be evaluated for general applicability and efficacy through other water sheds as well. "They are working on cutting edge technology and these funds will allow them to do more in the region and help us understand how best to protect our local waterways," Assemblywoman Jenne said. She noted the $30,000 allocation to the City of Ogdensburg will allow the police department to purchase equipment that supplements funding for the agency in the city budget. "This funding will be utilized to purchase a new vehicle. We know the city is under financial stress, and we want to make sure they have the resources they need as they battle with a drug use epidemic in the city. It is part of our partnership with the city to help keep the city's streets safe," according to the state assembly member. She said the funding for the farm academy operated by St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES at the Cooperative Extension Learning Farm in Canton is an important program aimed at growing the next generation of farmers in the North Country. "Our farmers in this region and state are aging, and succession plans for many of our farms in this state pose serious concerns. The ag academy provides a great opportunity for high school students with a serious interest in careers in the agriculture sector," Assemblywoman Jenne noted. Public Libraries She said North Country communities will also benefit from the restoration of $9 million for local libraries to bring funding up to $95.6 million and increased capital funding for libraries by $10 million to hike the allocation to $24 million. "I have been a long-time advocate for our local libraries. While their role is changing as they respond and adapt to changes in technology, our local libraries remain jewels in our communities. They offer everything from books and educational materials to technology and job search tools to community programs," Assemblywoman Jenne said. "It is important we continue to provide the financial resources these libraries need to remain vital community institutions. We also know many of our libraries in this region date back to the early 20th and late 19th centuries, and those capital project dollars are critical for the future of those buildings," she noted. Middle Class Tax Cuts The budget implements previously approved middle-class income tax cuts. It also enhances the Child and Dependent Care Credit for taxpayers earning between $50,000 and $150,000. The credit is based on a sliding income scale for working parents who pay for child care or those who live with a spouse or dependent who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care. Heroin Epidemic Despite increased media attention and legislative action, the heroin and opioid epidemic continues to rage in communities across New York State. Between 2010 and 2014, the number of heroin- and opioid-related deaths increased by 47 percent. "Unfortunately, the North Country is seeing this epidemic in our neighborhoods on a nearly daily basis, and too many lives in St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties and around the country have already been lost or destroyed as a result of this epidemic. It is not a battle that can be won overnight, but we know we need to have resources available to assist those seeking to turn their lives around. We want to make sure to set the stage for more success stories and less obituaries," Assemblywoman Jenne said. The 2017-18 state budget increases funding by $43 million over last year – for a total of $213 million – to fight the heroin epidemic and increase access to treatment for New Yorkers struggling with a substance abuse disorder. This funding supports a variety of treatment and prevention programs, including family support navigators, peer supports, recovery clubhouses and community coalitions and $10 million in additional capital support to increase the number of beds in in-patient treatment facilities. Protecting Affordable Care The final budget restores funding for Medicaid and other public health programs and addresses rising drug and health insurance costs so that more New Yorkers have access to the health care they need. “We know when we make an investment in public health it makes New York stronger. I want to make sure local families have access to affordable health care. I will also continue to advocate for universal health care in this state," Assemblywoman Jenne said. The budget restores $78.8 million in proposed reductions to Medicaid and restores $37.6 million to public health programs. The measures:
- Restore $20.2 million 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;
- Allocate $14.6 million to restore the Essential Plan and reject proposed co-payment and premium increases;
- Provide $6.3 million to reject the executive proposal to limit coverage for over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and increase OTC co-payments; and
- Provide Medicaid coverage for donor breast milk for hospitalized, high-risk preterm infants who can’t receive breast milk from their mothers.
- $1 million for Community Health Advocates, which helps New Yorkers understand their health insurance and access the health care services they need;
- Over $1 million for HIV/AIDS Community Service Programs (CSPs) and Multi Service Agencies (MSA);
- $750,000 for Family Planning Services; and
- $500,000 for New Alternatives for Children.
- $2.7 million to prevent limiting Managed Long Term Care eligibility to only those eligible for nursing homes; and
- $750,000 to restore nursing home bed hold payments for therapeutic leave.
- To protect seniors’ hard-earned and well-deserved property tax relief, the budget rejects the executive proposal to change the Enhanced STAR program by requiring all seniors eligible for the Enhanced STAR program to register with the state and participate in the Income Verification Program. Currently, though, seniors are able to register with their local assessor or register when they file their income tax returns – a process that is far easier and causes fewer headaches.
- $1 billion for supportive housing to construct 6,000 or more units statewide, including $50 million in operating aid;
- $150 million for the Middle-Income Housing Program;
- $125 million for public housing authorities outside New York City;
- $125 million for senior housing;
- $45 million for the Rural and Urban Community Investment Fund Program;
- $41 million for home ownership programs;
- $13 million for the Manufactured Homes Program; and
- $10 million for the Main Street Program, which helps fund preservation efforts in historic neighborhoods.
- 10 million in capital support for children’s behavioral health;
- $1.3 million to reject jail-based competency restoration, which would allow a defendant to be restored to mental competence in a jail facility rather than a hospital; and
- $1 million restoration for crisis intervention teams.