Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Herman D. Farrell, Jr. today announced the Assembly's 2017-18 Families First budget proposal of $153.8 billion.
The proposal would restore fairness to our tax structure, ensure that juveniles accused of a crime are adjudicated in family court, take critical steps towards college affordability, and make significant investments in education, particularly for our neediest schools.
The Assembly proposes General Fund spending of $73.6 billion in SFY 2017-18. This is an increase of $3.9 billion or 5.6 percent over SFY 2016-17. The proposed spending is $1.2 billion higher than the Executive Budget proposal.
"The Assembly's budget is an investment in creating opportunities for all New Yorkers. Our proposal will raise the age of criminal responsibility - removing children from adult prisons and giving them the opportunity to thrive and make meaningful contributions to our state. We are investing in public and higher education, health care, housing, transportation, and creating opportunities for working families. We will do so by asking everyone to pay their fair share through a more progressive tax structure. As we move forward with budget negotiations, these priorities will be unwavering," said Heastie.
"This is a progressive spending plan that delivers critical revenue to support changes to our criminal justice system, funding for our neediest students, assistance for families facing homelessness and resources for our seniors," said Farrell. "I want to thank my colleagues in the Assembly Majority for their help in crafting a balanced, fiscally responsible budget that meets the needs of all New Yorkers."
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When the current rates on high income earners expire after 2017, taxpayers earning over $300,000 would return to a tax rate of 6.85 percent. The Assembly proposal maintains the current rate structure for those earning below $1 million, and reestablishes higher surcharges on millionaires and multi-millionaires.
This proposal fiscally compliments New York's SFY16-17 budget which included a gradual reduction in personal income taxes for middle class earners. When fully phased in, the tax cuts will benefit an estimated six million New Yorkers.
Under the new tax structure, the state would generate $5.6 billion in additional revenue and would affect an estimated 66,134 taxpayers. The new rates would take effect in 2018.
The plan also increases the Earned Income Tax Credit from 30 percent of the federal credit to 35 percent of the federal credit over two years to give low-income families a helping hand.
The spending plan allocates $26.5 billion in school aid, which is an increase of $1.8 billion or 7.4 percent over the 2016-17 School Year (SY).
The Assembly rejects the Executive's repeal of the Foundation Aid formula. The budget provides initial funding for a four-year phase in of the State's obligation for our neediest schools pursuant to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, bringing all school districts to at least 50 percent of their total Foundation Aid.
The budget also makes critical investments in community schools, which offer a holistic approach to educating students by acting as community hubs and offering wraparound services. The plan also includes funding for prekindergarten and My Brother's Keeper, a program initiated last year to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.
The Assembly proposal promotes college affordability by increasing funding for opportunity programs, expanding the Tuition Assistance Program and providing for the enactment of the DREAM Act. The proposal also earmarks more than $1.4 billion for capital investments at public colleges and universities and includes a new refundable credit for interest on student loans and a directive to explore options for refinancing student loan debt for New York residents.
In keeping with its promise to build and maintain access to higher education for middle and low-income families, the Assembly budget provides $48 million to restore and increase opportunity programs over SFY 2016-17 funding levels.
The Assembly proposal also includes modifications to create more flexibility to the Executive proposal for free tuition at SUNY and CUNY schools. The plan would adjust credit requirements, create accommodations for special needs students, adjust the program's tuition reimbursement rate to keep up with tuition increases, and increase income eligibility.
For years, the Assembly Majority has recognized that treating children like adults in our criminal justice system is ineffective and often results in lifelong negative implications. New York is one of only two states (New York and North Carolina) to mandate that all youth ages 16 and 17, charged with any offense, be prosecuted and sentenced in adult criminal court. The Assembly proposal includes a plan to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility for most offenses from 16 to 18 and prohibit the placement of anyone under the age of 18 in an adult jail or prison.
The Assembly proposal supports this measure by allocating funds for probation aid and capital improvements to local detention facilities. The plan also provides 100 percent state reimbursement to counties for any unfunded costs generated for county services, probation or voluntary programs.
The Assembly proposal also includes an initial $45 million toward a six-year plan to create a living wage for direct care workers. These professionals care for the state's most vulnerable populations, yet recent increases in minimum wage and an overall improving economy have made service providers unable to compete with other private sector jobs. As a result, service providers have experienced extreme difficulty recruiting and retaining quality direct support professional staff. This critical support will enable these providers to offer compensation that is above minimum wage to ensure that facilities are adequately and safely staffed and can continue to deliver these essential services.
The Assembly proposal invests more than $79 billion in the state's public health systems and provides a new $70 million to combat heroin and opioid addiction. The plan also includes numerous funding restorations to promote the accessibility and affordability of care across the state.
The spending plan would earmark $700 million in capital funding for the state's health care providers and community based providers. The Assembly also provides a contingency appropriation of $20 million to support family planning services and Planned Parenthood affiliates in the event of federal funding cuts.
The Assembly proposal includes funding for essential services for children and families, heroin addiction treatment and prevention, and veterans services.
The budget also includes a new five year plan to better address the homeless crisis in New York State by helping to keep vulnerable New Yorkers in their homes. Under the Home Stability Support Program, public assistance recipients would receive a rental supplement to be paid on top of the current shelter allowance to bring the combined assistance closer to the actual rent cost and, in turn, prevent evictions and homelessness.
The budget also provides funding for vital social services programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the restoration of Federal Title XX funds that counties use for a variety of human services programs, like senior centers.
The Assembly proposal provides a plan for the investment of $2.5 billion in funding that was dedicated for supportive and affordable housing development in last year's enacted budget including, but not limited to:
The plan also includes a new rental assistance program for low income seniors funded by a surcharge on multimillion dollar real estate transactions in the City of New York. The Elder Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) would provide rental assistance to eligible seniors, including SCRIE recipients, whose household income is less than 80 percent of AMI.
The Assembly proposal provides funding support to programs that benefit local governments, including a $50 million increase above the Executive's proposal for a total of $765 million for the Aid and Incentive to Municipalities Program (AIM).
The Assembly provides funding for several key transportations programs, including an additional $50 million in funding for Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPs) to help localities keep their roads and bridges in good repair. This funding is in addition to allocations for Pave NY, which assists municipalities with the rehabilitation and reconstruction of local highways and roads.
The proposal includes $508 million in operating aid for upstate and non MTA transit systems and $114.5 million for the Department of Transportation's Capital Plan for non-MTA downstate and upstate capital transit projects, an increase of $3 million above the Executive proposal.
The Assembly continues critical state fiscal support for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) by restoring $65 million to the MTA to update and maintain transit equipment. An additional $1.65 million is provided to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge Staten Island Rebate Program to help offset toll increases.