March 31, 2011

Silver and Farrell Release
Summary of Conference Committee Agreements

New Book Outlines 2011-12 Budget Decisions

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Ways and Means Chair Herman D. Farrell, Jr., today released the Assembly Majority's Summary of Conference Committee Agreements for the 2011-12 budget. This new publication, which can be found here, outlines the $133 billion fiscal plan by agency.

"This budget cuts state spending by $3 billion, closes the state's $10 billion deficit, restores vital programs and spurs economic development," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "Working with the Governor and Senate, we were able to craft a budget that ensures the state's fiscal burden is shared by all New Yorkers, not just our working families. From education to Title XX funding, the Assembly Majority fought to protect our must vulnerable citizens."

"Despite our dire fiscal reality, we must continue to invest in education and economic development programs," said Farrell (D-Manhattan). "From universal prekindergarten to teachers mentoring programs, SUNY and CUNY to adult education, we worked hard to restore funding that will prepare an educated workforce."

The final budget increases education funding by $272 million over the executive budget proposal, including $230 million for general support to public schools, bringing the total to $19.6 billion in the 2011-12 school year. The final budget also includes a two-year appropriation for school aid, providing an $800 million increase in the 2012-13 school year. The Assembly also continues its longstanding commitment to Universal Pre-Kindergarten by maintaining funding in the final budget at $384 million in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

The 2011-12 budget rejects the executive proposal to reclassify state-supported schools for the blind and deaf as approved private schools for students with disabilities, which would include changing their funding structure, appointment process and student-evaluation procedures, as well as a cost shift to school districts and taxpayers. This is a full reimbursement from the state.

In addition, the budget restores $57 million to the Summer School Special Education program, which reflects an $86 million restoration to school districts on a school-year basis. The budget also restores $34.6 million in state support for the Committee on Special Education residential placements, reducing the burden placed on school districts by the executive budget.

The 2011-12 state budget makes key investments in SUNY and CUNY, ensuring New York's colleges and universities can continue to provide a quality, affordable education while gainfully employing thousands. The budget restores $18.1 million for base aid to community colleges, $12.9 million for SUNY and $5.1 million for CUNY for a 40 percent restoration. The final budget restores $60 million to SUNY hospitals to continue graduate medical education training and boost critical health care services for surrounding communities.

A permanent replacement for the Power for Jobs program is included in the final budget legislation approved by the Assembly. Recharge New York is a sustainable and predictable energy program for businesses and not-for-profits designed to protect and create jobs, and encourage new capital investments.

Under Recharge New York, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) will provide 910 megawatts of low-cost power to businesses and not-for-profits that commit to job creation and retention and capital investment goals. Qualified applicants will receive power purchase contracts of up to seven years, providing the certainty needed by businesses to make long-term investments and workforce commitments. To ensure energy efficiency, Recharge New York customers will be required to undergo energy audits. Current Power for Jobs customers who don't qualify for an award of Recharge New York power will be phased out over a four-year period.

The budget extends the Excelsior Jobs program's tax benefit period from 5 to 10 years and provides a jobs tax credit equal to the product of gross wages paid and 6.85 percent. Over the next decade, the program will double, which will give businesses the stability they need and provide $2.5 billion in total relief. The final budget also increases the Excelsior Research & Development tax credit from 10 percent to 50 percent of the taxpayer's actual federal research and development credit, and bases the Excelsior Real Property tax credit on the value of a property after improvements.

The 2011-12 budget provides funding for Regional Economic Development Councils across the state. The councils, chaired by the state's lieutenant governor, will help create a region-based approach to allocating $130 million in state funds over two years for economic development.

The final budget also restores or maintains funding to a number of targeted economic development initiatives, including: Main Street Program ($2.2 million), Community Development Financial Institutions ($1.5 million), Entrepreneurial Assistance Program ($1.3 million); and Minority and Women-Owned Business Development Lending Program ($635,000).

The final budget also restores $3.9 million for employment and training programs, including the Displaced Homemaker Program and the Jobs for Youth Program. Also restored is $15.5 million for the Summer Youth Employment Program, which last year supported 10,154 summer jobs for young people statewide.

The final budget restores funding to a number of targeted State Office for the Aging (SOFA) initiatives, including Congregate Services Initiative ($403,000), Elderly Abuse Education and Outreach ($245,000), Retired and Senior Volunteer Program ($216,500),

Community Empowerment Initiative ($122,500), Enriched Social Adult Day Centers ($122,500), EAC/Nassau Respite ($118,500), Regional Caregiver Centers for Excellence ($115,000), Foster Grandparent Program ($98,000), NY Foundation Home Sharing ($86,000), Long Term Care Senior Respite ($71,000) and Patients' Rights Hotline ($31,500). The final budget also provides for a full restoration of the NY Connects program that would have been eliminated in the executive budget.

New York City senior centers have played a key role in improving the lives of seniors in communities throughout the city. The 2011-12 budget restores $36 million of Title XX discretionary funds to these centers. These establishments provide nutritious meals, health and wellness activities and social events for seniors.

The final budget has $9.4 million in restorations to the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance initiatives, including Child care demonstration projects ($3.3 million), Wage Subsidy Program ($950,000), Settlement Houses ($500,000), ACCESS - Welfare to Careers ($250,000), Supplemental Homelessness Intervention Program ($205,000), Emergency homeless ($176,000), Refugee resettlement ($102,000), Disability Advocacy Program ($98,000) and Caretaker relative/kinship ($51,000).

Funding for four homeless housing-support programs, Homeless Intervention Program, Homelessness Prevention Program, Single Room Occupancy and Operational Support for AIDS Housing, will be consolidated, with a total appropriation of $25.9 million. Also included in the final state budget is $15 million for a new program for homeless individuals and families in New York City.

Critical funding is restored to the Office of Children and Family Services. The final budget includes restorations in prevention programs, including Home Visiting, which allows New York State to maintain eligibility for federal funding from the health care reform package ($23.2 million), Youth Development & Delinquency Prevention/Special Delinquency Prevention Program ($14.1 million), Community Offices Preventive Services ($12.1 million), Runaway and Homeless Youth ($2.3 million), Settlement Houses ($450,000) and Kinship ($338,000).

The final budget restores $4.2 million to the Neighborhood Preservation Program and $1.7 million to the Rural Preservation Program, ensuring critical housing, economic development and community renewal efforts aren't neglected when they're needed most. The budget also rejects an executive proposal to merge the Neighborhood Preservation and Rural Preservation programs, a move that would have negatively impacted the effectiveness of each program.