New York City

De Blasio: NYC dodged the bullet in NY State Budget

City residents spared cuts in Medicaid, CUNY, Pre-K

April 1, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders announced a budget late Thursday evening that spared New York City a crippling blow to its finances.

The budget would raise the minimum wage to $15 by the end of 2018 (small businesses would get an extra year, and the rate would rise more slowly outside of the city). It also provides for 12 weeks of paid family leave, cuts taxes for those in the $40,000 to $300,000 income range and provides more school funds, including an increase for charter schools.  The budget maintains funding for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature full day universal pre-K program.

The governor had earlier dangled over the city the threat of $800 million in cuts to Medicaid and CUNY. Those costs, which would have been shifted to the city, did not appear in the final budget agreement, leading city officials to heave a sigh of relief.

“New York City had a tremendous amount at stake in this state budget, from dangerous cuts that would have imperiled key city services, to real opportunities to fight inequality and lift up working people,” de Blasio said in a statement on Friday.

The mayor thanked legislators who spoke up for the city’s interests, “especially Speaker Carl Heastie and the Assembly Democratic Conference for doggedly defending the people of New York City.

“Because proposals to put hundreds of millions of dollars of state liabilities for CUNY and Medicaid on the city were averted, we can maintain vital programs and protect the city against future economic turmoil,” de Blasio said. “We are deeply grateful for the many voices who made themselves heard in the past days and weeks in opposition to these proposed cuts, and to the Legislature for protecting New York City’s access to tax-exempt bonds that are the lifeblood of affordable housing for tens of thousands of low-income New Yorkers.”

De Blasio pushed for further action on increased state support for homelessness and housing.

Transportation, schools and other areas

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The MTA Capital Program includes: $26.6 billion for improvement of facilities in the metropolitan area, and $27.14 billion for Department of Transportation and Thruway programs.

The budget increases support for charter schools statewide by an estimated $430 per pupil.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer called it “a progressive and responsible budget that meets the needs of New York families.”

Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn), however, expressed disappointment that the Education Investment Tax Credit for private and parochial schools was left out of the budget.

Other non-public school funding allocations were included. The budget devotes $2 million towards resources and grants for nonpublic and religious schools; increases security grants to nonpublic schools by $30 million over the next two years; and provides a $60 million increase in state funding over the next two years for a program which provides reimbursements for tracking and enforcing students attendance.

The budget will include an estimated additional $430 per charter school student for schools statewide. 

A SUNY spokesperson said in a statement, “We are disappointed that the final budget will not include Governor Cuomo’s proposed extension of the landmark NYSUNY 2020 reforms, and that the Legislature was unable to provide the resources identified by the SUNY Board of Trustees as needed for our state-operated campuses and community colleges.”

He added, “Despite this setback, SUNY will work together, as a system, to determine how to make up the budget shortfall while not sacrificing educational quality or forfeiting the progress we have made over the past five years.”

Among other items, the budget includes $350 million over the next two years to help upgrade and maintain drinking and wastewater infrastructure, including in New York City.

It also includes $5 million in funding for mobile mammography units that will provide screenings for women.

Also in the budget is a health care facility transformation fund which allocates $200 million to support projects that replace facilities that are outdated or inefficient as part of a merger, consolidation or acquisition.

 

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2016 – 2017 budget details:

 Minimum wage:

– For workers in New York City employed by large businesses (those with at least 11 employees), the minimum wage would rise to $11 at the end of 2016, then another $2 each year after, reaching $15 on 12/31/2018.

– For workers in New York City employed by small businesses (those with 10 employees or fewer), the minimum wage would rise to $10.50 by the end of 2016, then another $1.50 each year after, reaching $15 on 12/31/2019.

The bill provides a safety valve to the increases. Beginning in 2019, the state DOB Director will conduct an annual analysis of the economy in each region and the effect of the minimum wage increases statewide to determine whether a temporary suspension of the scheduled increases is necessary.

Paid family leave

 When fully phased- in, employees will be eligible for 12 weeks of paid family leave when caring for an infant, a family member with a serious health condition or to relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service. Benefits will be phased-in beginning in 2018 at 50 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage, capped to 50 percent of the statewide average weekly wage, and fully implemented in 2021 at 67 percent of their average weekly wage, capped to 67 percent of the statewide average weekly wage. This program will be funded entirely through a payroll deduction on employees.

Tax cuts

The budget lowers Personal Income Tax rates for middle class New Yorkers. The rate will drop beginning in 2018 and will continue to drop to 5.5 percent when the cuts are fully phased in.

Schools

The budget provides $24.8 billion in School Aid, $5.3 billion more than 2011-12. School Aid is increasing by 6.5 percent for the 2016-17 school year.

In addition to traditional School Aid, the budget maintains $340 million in annual funding for the Statewide Universal Full-Day Prekindergarten program and continues the $2 billion Smart Schools program. The Budget fully eliminates the outstanding $434 million Gap Elimination Adjustment. Foundation Aid is increased by $627 million (four percent).

The budget also includes $175 million in funding to transform failing schools and other high needs schools into community schools. The Budget increases support for charter schools statewide by an estimated $430 per pupil.

Transportation

The budget contains over $55 billion of transportation investments statewide, including $27.14 billion for State Department of Transportation and Thruway programs and $27.98 billion for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority programs. The $27 billion MTA Capital Program includes: $26.6 billion for improvement of capital facilities operated by the New York City Transit Authority, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and MTA Bus and major initiatives including $1.5 billion for Phase II of the Second Avenue Subway.

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