Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Herman D. Farrell, Jr. today announced the Assembly's 2014-2015 budget proposal of $143.4 billion provides tax relief for working families and it bolsters funding for education, tuition assistance, health and human services.
The Assembly budget proposes an increase in All Funds spending by $2.6 billion. This is a 1.8 percent increase from the State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2013-2014 level.
The Assembly proposes General Fund spending of $64.6 billion in SFY 2014-15. This is an increase of $3.1 billion or 5.1 percent over SFY 2013-14. The proposed spending is $213 million higher than the Executive Budget proposal.
"As we do every year, the Assembly has taken into account the overall concerns and financial burdens that families in New York face every day," Speaker Silver said. "The resulting budget is a fiscally responsible agenda that provides much-needed relief for middle class and working families. At the same time our budget invests in high-quality educational programs and preserves the programs and services that New Yorkers rely on to make ends meet."
"This year's budget builds on the Assembly's commitment to the success of all New Yorkers in a smart, responsible way," Farrell said. "It addresses issues that affect everyone, from homeowners and students to small business owners and those are working to get back on their feet as we slowly climb out of recently tough economic times. I applaud the Speaker and all of my colleagues for their hard work on a comprehensive yet progressive one-house budget."
Tax Relief for New York's Families
The Assembly proposal would provide relief through revisions in the estate tax. The threshold for the tax would now apply to estates worth more than $3 million. The tax rate would remain at 16 percent.
A circuit breaker personal income tax credit in this year's budget would take into consideration property tax burdens in relation to a homeowner's income. The circuit breaker tax credit does not make the much-needed relief to homeowners contingent on the cost-cutting and shared-services actions of local officials.
The tax credit would apply to homeowners earning less than $200,000. Homeowners would be eligible for the tax credit if their property tax bills exceed a percentage of their income. Residents of New York City and Yonkers would also apply the total they pay in local personal income tax in determining the total tax burden.
The property tax circuit breaker, which will cost $1.1 billion, will be phased in over three years. The maximum credit earned would be $1,000.
Similarly, the Assembly proposal would establish an enhanced circuit breaker credit for renters which would not be tied to local government participation. The tax credit would be eligible to renter's earning less than $200,000 and whose property tax equivalent exceeds a certain percentage of income. Renters must meet the threshold based on a percentage of their rental payments. Residents of New York City and Yonkers can also apply the total they pay in local personal income tax in determining the total tax burden. The average renter's tax credit would be approximately $400.
The Assembly proposal would eliminate the Temporary State Energy and Utility Service Conservation Assessment (Temporary 18a) on all residential customers this year. The assessment is levied on utilities and is passed on to ratepayers through a 2 percent assessment on their gas and electric bills. The elimination of the phase out for residential customers would save New York families approximately $200 million this year. All other customers would see a decrease of this rate beginning next year. The assessment, which was implemented in 2009 during a period of financial crisis, will be entirely phased out in the 2017-18 state fiscal year.
The Assembly budget proposal provides an additional $280 million in assistance to local governments. This would increase total funding for the Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) Program to $995 million.
Supporting Children, Families and Caretakers
The Assembly budget proposal restores a two percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) for human services workers at state-funded human services agencies. The $105 million proposal, which was agreed to in 2008 but delayed each year since, will provide the first pay increase for care providers in more than five years. The COLA would be implemented for programs funded by the State Offices for Aging, Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, Children and Family Services, Mental Health, People with Developmental Disabilities and the Department of Health.
The Assembly budget proposal commits more than $28 million to preserve safety net programs and $132.8 million for services that support children and families.
The Assembly has made a $400 million commitment over the next four years to fund child care subsidies and quality improvement measures. This initial investment of $106 million includes funding that:
The Assembly budget commits an additional $4 billion in education funding over the next four years. The first investment of more than $1 billion for School Year (SY) 2014-15 brings the state allocation for school aid to $22.2 billion, which reflects an increase of $970 million in formula aids over SY 2013-14. Included in the increase is $335 million for Foundation Aid and $367 million for Gap Elimination Adjustment. The Assembly budget expands the $2 billion Smart School Bond Act by an additional $317 million.
The Assembly would authorize New York City to impose a personal income tax surcharge to fund Universal Pre-K (UPK) and after-school programs. The surcharge of .534 percent will be applied to those earning more than $500,000. The Assembly proposal also commits $100 million to fund UPK which targets high needs districts. The sustainable grant program is a multi-year commitment that provides significant funding to expand full day UPK in all parts of the state.
The Assembly budget proposal for higher education includes a $300 increase in Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) awards, bringing the maximum TAP award to $5,300 per full-time student (FTE). This increases the state's TAP support by $47 million to students across the state. Additionally, $3.1 million is allocated to restore SUNY and CUNY child care centers, invest in SUNY health science centers and increase aid to higher education opportunity programs. Combined, the one-house proposal provides nearly $88 million to improve the accessibility and affordability of a college degree in New York State.
For the third straight year, the Assembly budget proposal provides a base aid increase. This year's proposal includes an increase of $50 per FTE at SUNY and CUNY community colleges, bringing the total base aid amount to $2,472 per FTE.
Once again the Assembly budget includes $25 million to fund the New York State DREAM Act (A.2597-A). The DREAM Act would provide certain immigrant students with access to TAP, scholarships and opportunity programs. It would also allow immigrant families who have a taxpayer identification number to open a New York 529 family tuition savings account.
The budget proposal appropriates $11.14 million to implement the Fair Elections Act. The Assembly legislation would establish and provide for optional public financing for statewide and State legislative offices as well as constitutional convention delegates. It also requires expanded disclosure of independent expenditures and electioneering communications. Finally, it strengthens campaign finance enforcement by creating and empowering a new Fair Elections Board and independent enforcement counsel at the State Board of Elections.
The Assembly budget also would increase the authorization for the state's Superfund program by $1 billion which would include Governor Andrew Cuomo's $100 million Superfund commitment for SFY 2014-15.
The Superfund program cleans up sites that represent a significant threat to the public health or environment and require immediate action. In addition, for the first time, municipally-owned Environmental Restoration Projects would be eligible for funding. Cleaning up these contaminated sites is important to revitalizing communities and strengthening local economic development efforts across the state.
The Assembly proposal would restore $40 million for operations of the Mass Transit Authority. These funds could be used to offset fare increases, restore services cuts, or help fund the capital plan.