NYS Budget Wrap Up
As you may know, the NYS legislature recently passed the FY 2016-17 budget. I heard from hundreds of my constituents during the budget process and I thank you for your input.
I believe the budget provides significant benefits for our schools, our environment and our families. These are some of the highlights of the enacted budget.
Your advocacy on behalf of our schools worked — the 2016-17 state budget includes $24.7 billion in funding to General Support for Public Schools, an increase of $1.4 billion, or 5.9%, over last year. Most importantly for school districts in the 88th A.D., the budget fully restored the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) by providing $434 million in funding for SFY 2016-17. Other additional funding is earmarked for struggling schools, 4201 Schools for the Blind and Deaf, non-public schools and Community Schools. The budget rejects an increase in tuition for SUNY and CUNY colleges and universities, and adds funds to invest in these important institutions. Overall, I believe that this year’s budget acknowledges the challenges our schools face each year to provide an excellent education for each and every student.
Energy & the Environment
As Chair of the Assembly’s Energy Committee, I spearheaded an important provision to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As cars are chief contributors of these emissions, we created an incentive and rebate program for Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEVs) and related infrastructure. The Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) will fund an initiative to provide municipalities with a rebate of up to $250,000 for clean vehicle infrastructure and a rebate of $750 to $5,000 for each eligible ZEV purchased by the municipality, based on the vehicle’s range. NYSERDA will administer a program that will provide rebates of up to $2,000 to consumers who purchase ZEVs.
The budget includes $14 million to establish a Climate Change Account within the EPF. This account is designed to address greenhouse gas reduction, flood mitigation and to aid communities with climate change planning.
The budget makes a strong investment to improve bridges, roads and public transportation throughout New York State. It funds the DOT five-year capital plan with $27 billion for infrastructure improvements and non-MTA transit systems – including Westchester’s Bee Line bus. The budget also invests in the MTA capital program which includes Metro North’s rail service in Westchester. Finally, the budget helps local governments pay for road and bridge improvements by increasing funding by $400 million over four years for CHIPS (Consolidated Highway Improvement Program).
Investment in Families
Paid Family Leave will support New York’s families by gradually providing up to 12 weeks of paid leave for workers to care for an infant or a family member with a serious health condition. By the time the program is fully phased in, an employee will receive 67% of the employee’s average weekly wage. This ensures that families will be able to take the time to care for their loved ones and still be able to provide for them financially. The program will be funded entirely through a small payroll deduction from each employee.
Establishing the lowest middle class taxes in over 70 years, the budget begins dropping taxes in 2018. Over a period of five years, the tax rate for households earning under $149,000 will drop to 5.5% and to 6% for those households earning between $150,000-$300,000.
The budget raises the minimum wage to $15, which will be phased in gradually. For workers in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties, the minimum wage will grow to $10 by the end of 2016, then by an additional $1 each year until reaching $15 an hour by 2021. The higher minimum wage will provide employees with increased financial security and opportunities.
Heroin and Opioid Abuse
As part of a commitment to address the tragedy of heroin and prescription drug abuse, the budget allocates $166 million to expand treatment opportunities and public awareness.
If you have any specific questions about the budget, please do not hesitate to contact my office by email, Paulina@assembly.state.ny.us, or by calling 914.723.1115.