Assemblywoman Jean-Pierre: State Budget Provides Vital Resources for Long Island Families

Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Wheatley Heights) announced that she helped pass the 2019-20 New York State Budget, which includes measures and funding vital to Long Island communities such as increased funding for local schools and more affordable child care options for families.

“I am certainly satisfied with many of the components of this state budget, from crucial investments in our schools to affordable child care options to sweeping reforms of New York’s criminal justice system, we are funding important priorities and advocating for the issues that matter most,” Jean-Pierre said.

To provide students with a quality education that gives them avenues to explore their interests and develop goals, the state budget provides a total of $27.8 billion in education funding, an increase of $1 billion over last year. Local school districts will receive:

  • $27.3 million for the Amityville Union Free School District, a 3.49% increase over last year;
  • $59.7 million for Copiague Union Free School District, a 1.66% increase over last year; and
  • $52.8 million for Lindenhurst Union Free School District, a 1.37% increase over last year.

“At the same time, I want to make clear that we still need to fight to fully fund Foundation Aid, which has continued to fall flat,” Jean-Pierre continued. “This year’s budget constraints put us in a tough position, but that won’t stop me from continuing to fight for the increases in public education funding that our children deserve.”

Combating addiction

Fighting the opioid crisis should be one of New York’s biggest commitments, with too many lives already lost to this epidemic and even more loved ones in the throes of addiction, Jean-Pierre noted.

To combat the opioid addiction, the final state budget includes $450,000 for services and expenses of an opioid drug addiction, prevention and treatment program. Additionally, $272,000 is allocated for funding an opioid overdose prevention program for schools.

Making the property tax cap permanent

Too many Long Island families are being priced out of their homes by high property taxes. With the current administration capping the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT) on federal income taxes, Long Islanders have seen their federal income tax bills shoot up due to the area’s high property and income taxes.[1]

The 2% property tax cap was set to expire next year, but the 2019-20 final state budget makes the cap permanent, limiting the annual growth of local property taxes to 2% or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. The budget also continues the phase in of middle-class tax cuts.

“I can’t stand by and watch as people are being forced out of their neighborhoods because they can’t afford the astronomical property taxes,” Jean-Pierre said. “That’s why I fought to ensure the 2% property tax cap was made permanent so Long Islanders, particularly young and working-class families, didn’t see their taxes skyrocket after next year. This means more money in the pockets of homeowners and more investment into our local communities.”

Sweeping criminal justice reform

The 2019-20 budget advocates for a more fair and just legal system in New York. One such measure targets the state’s cash bail system, which has put thousands of low-income individuals behind bars for months or years awaiting trial because they couldn’t afford the thousands of dollars in bail.[2] The final state budget eliminates cash bail for misdemeanors, excluding sex offense misdemeanors, and non-violent felonies, allowing individuals to be released on their own recognizance or under non-monetary conditions.

The 2019-20 state budget also reforms New York’s discovery procedures to assure the expeditious, fair and equitable exchange of information and documents in criminal cases. The legislation removes the requirement for the prosecution or defense to make a demand for discovery, instead providing automatic, routine and scheduled disclosure. Further, the legislation retains strong oversight and involvement by the court throughout the pre-trial discovery process, allowing the judge to condition, deny or limit discovery, or grant a protective order barring disclosure when appropriate.

“Too many people have sat in jail waiting for months, sometimes years, for a trial to get started or a plea deal to be offered,” Jean-Pierre said. “These reforms show New Yorkers that our state is working for them, not letting them get lost in a long, drawn-out legal process that can cause irreparable damage to their futures.”

Additionally, to ensure the right to a speedy trial is upheld, the budget allows the court to inquire as to whether the prosecution is, in fact, ready for trial when the prosecution claims readiness, thereby stopping the speedy trial “clock.” The legislation also requires that the prosecution’s statement of readiness be accompanied by a good faith certification by the prosecution that it has complied with its discovery requirements.

Making affordable child care available to more families

The final state budget provides vital child care funding to help offset rising costs by allocating $832 million for child care subsidies – an increase of $26 million over last year’s final budget. The budget also includes $334,000 to support SUNY child care. Additionally, it creates the New York State Employer-Provided Child Care Credit, which is equal to 100% of the federal credit, for employers who provide child and dependent care facilities to their employees.

“How can working families expect to get ahead when they can’t find a safe, reliable and affordable child care option?” Jean-Pierre said. “When they’re at work, parents need the peace of mind of knowing their children are in good hands. Funding quality child care is the least we can do for our families.”

Jean-Pierre has worked tirelessly to increase access to quality and affordable child care, championing the development of a new community center in Wyandanch, providing residents with more options for care, creating jobs and offering resources to families.

Protecting the environment

New York will become the second state to implement a ban on plastic bags, joining California in the fight to protect the environment for future generations.[3] The state budget includes a plan to ban single-use plastic bags consumers get at grocery and retail stores. The proposal also authorizes counties and cities to impose a 5-cent fee on paper carryout bags, with 40% of the fee going back to the municipalities to help distribute reusable bags and 60% going toward the Environmental Protection Fund. Low-income New Yorkers who qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) services will be exempt from the paper bag surcharge.