Continuing to focus on a path to the middle class for struggling New Yorkers, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Herman D. Farrell, Jr. today released details of the Assembly's 2012-13 budget proposal that includes a tax cut for low wage workers, increased support for community colleges, and a resumption of Foundation Aid for New York's neediest schools.
The $132.7 billion budget proposal provides for no change in All Funds spending from the State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2011-12 level. The Assembly plan's General Fund spending is $55 million below the Executive proposal, with State Funds spending growing by 1.78 percent above SFY 2011-12 levels, and is $150 million above the Executive proposal. The Assembly plan closes the estimated $3.5 billion gap for SFY 2012-13 in a prudent and responsible manner and lives up to our commitments to increase health and education spending for the coming fiscal year.
"Last year, during one of the worst economic downturns New York has ever faced, we crafted a responsible budget that called for a great deal of sacrifice," said Silver. "It's time to ensure that hardworking men and women have a ladder to the middle class, the backbone of our economy. To that end, our budget proposal funds key programs in education, housing and human services, and makes investments to promote economic growth."
Earlier this year, Speaker Silver unveiled the Assembly's proposal to raise New York's minimum wage to $8.50 an hour and index it to inflation, calling it the first rung in the ladder to economic security. The Assembly's budget proposal continues to build the ladder by lowering tax rates to zero for taxpayers that are married filing jointly with incomes below $25,000 and cutting taxes for workers earning less than $30,000. It also increases state support for SUNY and CUNY community colleges by 10 percent.
Re-starting Foundation Aid & Providing the First Increase in Three Years
As part of the Assembly's longstanding commitment to quality education, the Assembly addresses the funding challenges facing school districts across the state by increasing funding allocated to the school aid formula by $178 million. This will allow for the re-starting of the phase-in of the Foundation Aid formula and honors the two-year commitment made in 2011-12 to increase school aid by approximately four percent. In addition, the Assembly plan would also fund important educational programs including: $10.2 million for Teacher Centers; $1 million for Adult Literacy Programs; and $1 million in additional support for the Comprehensive Attendance Program for non-public schools.
Higher Education: Improving Access and Affordability
With more people looking to community colleges for a new path to a better life, Speaker Silver is committed to investing in higher education. The Assembly budget increases aid to SUNY and CUNY community colleges for the 2012-13 academic year by $57 million. Under the Assembly plan, community colleges will receive $2,327 for every Full Time Equivalent, a $205 increase per student. This will be the first base aid increase in five years and will strengthen the state's commitment to community colleges and lighten the financial burden on local governments, property taxpayers and students.
"Education is the key to a secure financial future and for too long New York has not been meeting its obligation to fund our community colleges," said Farrell. "With a combined enrollment of nearly 350,000 students, community colleges are a primary source of higher education opportunities for so many and offers a pathway to a career in many critical fields, including high-tech training, nursing, and medical technology programs."
The proposal also provides more than $93.3 million for the state's Opportunity Programs, an increase of $7 million. These programs ensure that disadvantaged students have access to higher education and can achieve academic success.
In addition, recognizing the importance of SUNY Downstate Health Science Center, Upstate Medical University and Stony Brook Health Science Center, the Assembly provides an additional $27.8 million in state support for these institutions.
Building on the Executive recommendation for $1.6 billion in capital projects appropriations at SUNY and CUNY, and the $110 million in capital appropriations for NYSUNY 2020 appropriated to Empire State Development, the Assembly provides an additional $170 million in capital support for CUNY projects.
In recent years, the ladder to success has fallen into disrepair and our middle class is dwindling. It is time to provide New Yorkers with the tools they need to attain financial security.
Tax Cut for Low Income Workers
The Working Families Tax Cut will reduce tax rates to zero for married filing jointly taxpayers earning less than $25,000 phased out at $30,000. The same rates will apply to head of household filers at $18,750, phased out at $22,500 and to singles at $12,500, phased out at $15,000. This investment in our working families and economy will reduce revenues by $62 million in 2012-13 and $160 million annually thereafter.
Back to Work NY Economic Development Program
In an effort to help the long-term unemployed re-enter the workforce, the Assembly proposes a new program, Back to Work NY. The program will offer vocational training and internship placement, important first steps for jobless individuals looking to make a fresh start. This $20.25 million program will help the long-term unemployed transition from unemployment to new careers.
The NY Youth Works program is an important initiative that provides disadvantaged youth with job opportunities, rewarding businesses who hire eligible youths with tax credits. The Assembly budget proposal extends the deadline by six months so businesses who hire disadvantaged youth can earn up to $4,000 in tax credits thru December 31, 2012. In addition, $750,000 in support of the Career Pathways job training and education program is provided. Designed to improve economic prospects for low-income workers, including young adults ages 18-24, Career Pathways links basic education to occupational training. When combined with integrated support services, it helps participants climb the career ladder to living wage jobs.
Public assistance programs are essential to economic security and self-sufficiency for vulnerable New Yorkers. Therefore, the Assembly rejects the Executive proposal that will delay implementation of the public assistance grant increase. As an alternative, the Assembly proposal provides $24 million for full implementation of the 10 percent public assistance grant increase on July 1, 2012. Also, more than $13.3 million in critical human services programs are restored including:
For working families struggling with their monthly finances, quality affordable housing is important. The Assembly budget proposal restores $8.5 million to the Neighborhood Preservation Program and $3.5 million to the Rural Preservation Program. These initiatives provide for the preservation of existing affordable housing, and new construction and rehabilitation of older housing stock while bolstering services to avoid homelessness.
We must also commit greater resources to prevent homelessness and in many cases this means foreclosure prevention. The Assembly plan also provides $20 million for the Foreclosure Prevention Program. This new money will provide counseling and other support services to individuals involved in foreclosure proceedings.
Health and Medicaid
The Assembly accepts the proposal to provide for a phased-in state assumption of the three percent growth in the local share of Medicaid expenditures for all counties and New York City. Although the Assembly modifies the state takeover of the local administration of the Medicaid program by requiring implementation of a revised plan developed in consultation with stakeholders and the creation of a labor-employee advisory group. In addition, the Assembly makes the following investments:
Promoting Economic Growth
Re-building the bridge to the middle class will lead more New Yorker's back to financial security, a place where they can make an investment in their future and invest in our economy along the way.
The 2012-13 Assembly budget proposal provides nearly $67 million in funding for various Empire State Development projects to help promote business growth, ultimately leading to job creation and thriving communities throughout New York State, including:
NY WorksIn the spirit of the Works Progress Administration, which put millions of Americans to work rebuilding the nation's infrastructure during the Great Depression, the Assembly maintains an appropriation of $1.6 billion to fund New York Works projects. These projects will create jobs for New Yorkers, strengthen our transportation network, help prevent flood control and coastal erosion, and enhance the parks and destinations that make New York a top tourist destination.
A capital investment in New York is an investment in economic development and job creation. The Assembly builds on the Governor's proposal by adding an additional $255 million for new capital initiatives, including: