New 2018-19 Budget Enhances Quality of Life for New Yorkers, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz Says
The newly enacted $168.3 billion New York State budget increases education funding by nearly $1 billion, helps middle-class taxpayers and includes $250 million for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to make capital repairs, including replacing and updating heating equipment, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) announced.
Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, Chair of the Housing Committee, said the budget will allow 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.
“Many NYCHA tenants have experienced utility outages and disruption to their daily lives, and there’s something extremely wrong with that,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said. “That’s why this budget invests in NYCHA. Safe, affordable housing is a right.”
The 2018-2019 budget provides a total of $26.6 billion in education funding, 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.
The spending 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. The budget also restores $92 million in state operating support for SUNY hospitals.
Noting the importance of a college degree in landing a good-paying job, the budget 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.
In addition, the budget includes $15 million for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) instruction in non-public schools, a 200 percent increase over the $5 million in last year’s budget. “With the number of STEM jobs rising every year, we owe it to our students to equip them with the skills they need to compete for these positions,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said.
The budget continues the state’s affordable and homeless housing and services initiative championed in 2017 by Assemblyman Cymbrowitz during his first year as Housing Committee Chair. 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.
Additionally, the new budget provides $18.19 million in funding for Neighborhood and Rural Preservation Programs, local assistance housing providers whose programs, services, and activities help neighborhoods and communities increase housing opportunity.
The state budget includes the establishment of a program in New York City 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.
As refugees continue to face stricter admission laws from the federal government, New York State continues to welcome those from other countries. The budget allocates $2 million for refugee resettlement agencies to bridge the gap in federal funding.
To support at-risk youth and help young people achieve success, the budget provides $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.
As part of the State’s continuing effort to combat opioid/heroin abuse, begun while Assemblyman Cymbrowitz chaired the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee, the budget 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.
To further help curb the opioid epidemic, the budget allocates $100 million for the establishment of an Opioid Stewardship Fund. The fund will create a partnership with the pharmaceutical industry to expand prevention, treatment and recovery programs for individuals with substance use disorder.
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 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.
As former chair of the Aging Committee, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz achieved long-awaited funding increases for Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) and Neighborhood NORCs. This year’s budget expands on this success by investing $2 million in NORCs and NNORCs and allows the Office for the Aging to expend last year’s $2 million Mortgage Insurance Fund (MIF) allocation, which brings total additional funding for the programs to $4 million.
The budget funds a number of programs that provide important resources for seniors, including $31.2 million for the Community Services for the Elderly program which supports personal care, home delivered meals, transportation, senior centers and other important services; $100,000 for the Statewide Senior Action Council Patients’ Rights Hotline; $86,000 for the Foundation for Senior Citizens Home Sharing and Respite Program; and $250,000 for the Older Adult Technology Center.
The budget 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.
“Saving for the future can be an uphill battle when more and more families are struggling just to make ends meet,” said Assemblyman Cymbrowitz. “These families deserve a break, which is why this year’s budget continues these vital tax cuts.”
To help private-sector employees plan for their future, the spending plan establishes the New York State Secure Choice Savings Program. The program allows for a voluntary-enrollment payroll deduction IRA for employees of private employers that do not already offer retirement savings plans. Many business owners, particularly small-business owners, currently face barriers to providing retirement savings plans because of complicated setup and maintenance procedures and limited budgets, noted Assemblyman Cymbrowitz.
The 2018-19 state budget fully 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. 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.
“The final budget includes so many of the important issues and policies we have been fighting for to strengthen the quality of life for the hardworking people of my district and throughout New York State,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said.