2018-04-11 / Front Page

Weprin Announces State Budget Investments for All New Yorkers

Assembly Member David I. Weprin announced that New York State has passed an on-time $168.3 billion 2018-19 state budget that includes a nearly $1 billion increase in education funding, significant investments in infrastructure and transportation, protection for New York’s homeowners from federal tax changes and support for seniors’ health and well-being.

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. The plan also expands select bus services throughout the city so residents can get around more easily and reach their destinations on time. And, 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; averting an executive proposal which would have placed an $11.52 toll charge for all vehicles below 60th Street in Manhattan and over $25 for trucks; resulting in particularly burdensome costs for small businesses and a potential pass-along of increased costs to consumers.

The budget also seeks to limit the impact of the federal tax plan on New York’s homeowners, which increases taxes on many middle-class families by restricting state and local tax deductibility, by creating state-operated charitable contributions funds designed to help improve health care and educational outcomes for all New Yorkers. Taxpayers who donate to the funds will be able to claim these contributions as deductions on their state and federal tax deductions, as well as claim a state tax credit equal to 85 percent of the donation amount, while keeping those funds in New York, to help New Yorkers.

Other highlights of the final 2018-19 state budget include

• $8.16 million to support long-term care for seniors and $7.81 million to preserve spousal refusal so couples do not lose their life savings in the event a spouse becomes ill and needs nursing home care.

• Restorations of $13.99 million to prevent hospital and nursing home reductions and $12 million in managed care reductions.

• $26.6 billion in education funding, including a $618 million increase in Foundation Aid and key allocations to college opportunity programs, including to the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), the Education Opportunity Program (EOP), the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP), the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP), as well as for the Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK), Liberty Partnerships and College Discovery programs.

• $12.1 million to SUNY and $6.3 million to CUNY, as well as community colleges to increase community college base aid. The plan includes funding for CUNY Child Care Centers, CUNY Accelerated Study in Associate Program (ASAP), Educational Opportunity Centers (EOCs), and $92 million in state operating support for SUNY hospitals.

• $35.1 million in critical Bundy Aid for independent colleges, based on degree productivity.

• $15 million for STEM instruction in non-public schools, including parochial schools and yeshivas, for a 200 percent increase over 2016.

• $30 million in operating and capital support for New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) for treatment and recovery programs, residential service opportunities, and public awareness and education activities.

• $100 million for a first-in-the-nation opioid stewardship program with a fund to be used for the ongoing and growing costs of prevention, treatment, and recovery services for individuals with a substance abuse disorder.

• $1 million in additional funding for libraries, providing a total of $96.6 million; including $75,000 for the Queens Library’s Langston Hughes Cultural Center.

• $350,000 in assistance for non-profits dedicated to resettling individuals and families from Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

• A measure creating a commission to ensure that the people of New York State are accurately counted in the 2020 US Census.

• Legislation to ensure that employers across the state have comprehensive policies to combat sexual harassment in the workplace, bars confidentiality clauses in any settlement except when specifically requested by the victim, and banning mandatory arbitration agreements for claims of sexual harassment.

• Legislation prohibiting domestic abusers from possessing both handguns and long guns and prohibiting individuals with an outstanding warrant for a felony or other serious offense from receiving or renewing a firearm license.

As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Correction, Weprin announced that the budget also provides $50 million for the first installment of funding for a six-year plan enacted in 2017 to increase the state’s investment in public defense legal services in addition to $5 million for the Liberty Defense Project to provide vital legal services to immigrants, $4.5 million in additional funding for civil and immigrant legal services, $750,000 for Prisoners’ Legal Services and, $500,000 for additional alternatives to incarceration programs.

“Although we faced a particularly challenging budget year, the final state budget includes significant investments in education, transportation, healthcare and indigent defense funding,” said Weprin.

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