Senator Martin Malavé Dilan and colleagues passed a $156 Billion spending plan on April 1 that incorporates long-held Democratic Conference priorities, commits additional funding to schools, and supports New York’s working families.
The 2016-17 State Budget continues in the tradition of serving as a policy road map in addition to a spending plan. The budget includes a plan to phase in a statewide $15 minimum wage and enacts the most comprehensive paid family leave program in the country. The final product did fall short however, as attempts to include ethics reforms were rejected soon after debate opened late on March 31.
“This year was marked by a troubling lack of transparency, much more so than the three men in a room negotiations of the past. Whomever was included in talks and where ever they did it, was far from the public and press corps’ reach,” said Senator Dilan. “When 600 or so page budget bills began showing up moments before they were to be acted on, only then did I see that some things I had been advocated for years were included in some form.”
The inclusion of Senator Dilan and conference colleagues’ priorities in this year’s budget is proof that measures like an increased wage floor and paid family leave are widely-supported in New York. If final negotiations had been open to Senator Dilan, Democratic Leader Stewart-Cousins and conference colleagues, “ethics reforms, a more immediate indexed minimum wage, and additional resources to affordable housing efforts and enforcement would have been strongly pressed,” Senator Dilan said.
A $15 Minimum Wage, The Strongest Paid Family Leave Program in the Country! Read More
Senate Approves $15 Minimum Wage
"Among the hardest fought and most contested provisions of the 2016-17 State Budget, was the fight for a $15 per hour minimum wage. I have long fought for an increase in the minimum wage that reflects the financial realities of today’s working families and a living wage that is indexed to inflation. However, like in 2011, this budget deal failed to index the wage."
While the momentous increase will make an impact for New York City workers, it will come in 2018. Nearly 400,000 Brooklyn workers will have to wait until then. And unfortunately counties north of Westchester won’t see a minimum wage of $12.50/hr until 2021; after which wage increases will be indexed to inflation, ultimately capping at $15/hour.
In New York City the minimum wage will increase to $11/hour beginning December 31. Every year after the hourly rate will increase $2 until it reaches $15/hr in 2018. For city businesses with ten or less employees the wage is increased to $10.50/hour on December 31 and increases $1.50/hr every year after until reaching $15/hour in 2019. In Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties the wage increase to $10/hr on December 31, 2016 and increases $1/hr every year until reaching $15/hr in 2021.
- Farm workers are included in the minimum wage plan. Also included is a refundable tax credit per farm employee for farms which earn at least two-thirds of their gross income through farming.
- Similarly, the budget allows for the Department of Budget to adjust spending projections under the Medicaid Spending Cap with regards to increased wages.
The Strongest Paid Family Leave Program in the Country!
Acting on Governor Cuomo’s mission to pursue “equality and dignity in both the workplace and the home,” my colleagues and I enacted the most comprehensive and compassionate paid family leave benefit in the country.
Under the plan, working New Yorkers will be entitled to 12 weeks of paid leave to bond with their new child or tend to an ill loved one. The program will be phased in over the course of four years, beginning with eight weeks of leave in 2018. Every year after, two additional weeks will be added until reaching the full 12 weeks in 2020. Employees qualify after working 6 months.
“No one should have to choose between caring for a loved one or missing a day’s pay. I’m proud to have helped New York recognize this right and I’m hopeful it will be enacted nationally.”
New Resources for Struggling Schools, Increased Aid, City Spared $500M CUNY Hit Read More
Gap Elimination Adjustment Eliminated, Foundation Aid Increased
The Legislature eliminated the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) that was put in place following the 2007 recession. The Governor’s proposal was to completely eliminate the GEA by the 2018 school year. However, my colleagues and I opted to restore full funding to school districts effective immediately.
Following the 2007 housing bubble burst and subsequent recession, the State Legislature was forced to reduce aid to school districts. What aid was allocated was done using an adjustment formula (Gap Elimination Adjustment) that took into account the state’s revenue shortfall at the time, federal aid and base need of school districts statewide.
Eliminating the GEA was widely welcomed, however the state’s commitment to provide for a “sound basic education” and “meaningful high school education” in accordance with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity suit has yet to realized. Schools, especially New York City schools, remain under-funded.
$627M Foundation Aid Increase
The Senate approved a four percent increase in School Foundation Aid, increasing the Governor’s proposal by $625 million. The Foundation Aid Formula is used to help direct operational funds to school districts with high-need students. For the 2016-17 fiscal year, New York City schools will receive $6,774,784,194. This figure does not include the increase in Community School Aid.
Community Schools Aid Set-Aside
The approved Senate proposal allocates an additional $175 million for schools deemed “persistently struggling” and “struggling” by education officials. This funding is not figured into these school’s base foundation aid, offering additional resources for students in need.
This will help ensure that issues of poverty can be addressed with communities working together to ensure that every student is prepared, safe, healthy and ready to learn. This investment is critical to providing students early opportunities to build positive future and breaking the trend of higher crime rates among underserved youth.
My Brother's Keeper
It was good to see support for President Obama’s ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ initiative in the budget and I was more than happy to vote in favor of allocating $20 million to the program. New York State will be the first in the nation to implement the President’s plan “to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color.”
No DREAM Act
As great as it is to see the last of the 2007 austerity measures lifted from our school district’s shoulders, and an increase in aid for struggling students, again the State Budget does not include funding for The DREAM Act. The act would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for state college tuition assistance.
“Passage of the Dream Act guarantees that future generations can continue their studies at colleges and universities, laying the foundations for a long and prosperous life, in the state they have and will call home.”
$485M Cost Shift to CUNY Rejected
"My colleagues and I rejected the Governor’s proposal to shift 30 percent of CUNY’s state-paid operation costs and debt payments to New York City. The proposed $485 million shift would have been disastrous for the City University system, resulting in loss of programs, faculty, and opportunities for thousands of college students; not to mention the city’s overall budget."
SUNY/CUNY Tuition Freeze
We also rejected the proposed $300 annual tuition increase for CUNY and SUNY students over the next five years. Instead, in-state students will have their tuition frozen for the 2016-17 school year.
Record $8.2B Commitment to MTA Capital, 2nd Ave Phase II Restored Read More
"In the weeks leading up to the April 1 passage of the budget, I regularly voiced my displeasure with proposals to essentially fund state and city transit and transportation capital plans with an $8.3 billion IOU. In the end, $55 billion of the State budget has been committed to transportation investments statewide, along with a record $8.3 billion commitment to the MTA capital plan; $2.3 billion of which was allocated."
The 2016-17 State Budget allocates $4.7 billion to the MTA for day-to-day operational expenses, a 3.5 percent increase over last year’s spending.
As agreed to previously, state funding for the 5-year capital plan will total $8.3 billion; the city has agreed to allocate an additional $2.5 billion. The 5-Year state Department of Transportation Capital Program has been set at $25.15 billion.
- The budget restores $1.5 billion for Phase II of the Second Avenue Subway.
- This year’s budget includes a $7.5 million increase in freight rail funding, $3 million of which the MTA will use to upgrade LIRR diesel train engines to improve emissions standards as well as $1 million for other diesel train engine retrofit uses.
No dedicated Bike-Pedestrian Money
In the interest of improving safety and expanding upon transportation alternatives made available to New Yorkers, I joined with advocates in calls for an increase of $20 million for each year of the 5-year capital plan. The money would be dedicated solely to pedestrian and bicycling friendly projects. Sadly, it was not included.
No Increase in CHIPS
Localities throughout New York State rely on capital grants offered through the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS). The reimbursement program is critical to local infrastructure upkeep and improvements. Funded at $379 million for 2016-17, the program saw no increase in funding.
The Tenant’s Watchdog, Local Housing Advocates Awarded Read More
"Housing has always been a contentious issue in Albany. When it comes to the budget, no amount seems to be enough. That’s why it’s of critical importance to empower the agencies, organizations and authorities we entrust to preserve affordable housing, protect New York’s tenants and pursue those who undermine the right to live in the communities of their choosing."
This year the budget provides more than $40 million in support of the critical work of the state Department of Homes & Community Renewal (HCR). Out of this funding comes the Tenant Protection Unit. Created in 2011 the TPU is the teeth of New York’s fight to preserve affordable housing throughout the state.
Saving the Tenant’s Watchdog
Efforts this year to establish the Tenant Protection Unit as an independently-funded law enforcement office within HCR failed. Expanding the TPU’s ability to curtail patterns and practices of landlord fraud and harassment through audits, investigations, and impactful legal actions, was of critical importance to me.
Considering that the Senate Majority’s initial one-house budget proposal attempted to eliminate funding for the TPU all together, inclusion of $40 million to HCR in the final budget is big win for Brooklyn tenants. Given the TPU’s recent successes, it’s only a matter of time before the value in funding it independently is acknowledged. I was happy to stand with my colleagues in the calls to do so and will continue to do just that.
Money to Local Tenant Advocacy Groups
Tenant advocacy groups have long been a mainstay in the fight for affordable housing in Brooklyn. This year’s budget includes funding for two organizations that have been among the loudest of advocates for Brooklyn tenants; Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A ($250,000) and Make the Road New York ($150,000).
- I voted yes to extend the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) another four years. Both programs are extremely important to residents on limited or fixed incomes.
- The budget increases funding to the Neighborhood Preservation Programs ($12.7 million), Supportive Housing Program ($600,000), as well as Solutions to End Homelessness Program, and support for AIDs Housing.
8-Year, $6.6 Billion Middle Class Tax Cut Plan to Begin 2018 Read More
The 2016-17 budget includes an ambitious, 8-year plan to cut Personal Income Taxes by 20 percent for New Yorkers earning between $20,000 and $150,000. A separate reduction applies to earners between $75,000 and $300,000.
By 2025, the plan will have cut the 2012 reduction of 6.45 percent for similar earners, down to 5.5 percent. According to the Governor’s figures, the reduction will save middle class New Yorkers nearly $6.6 billion over the course of four years, with annual savings reaching $4.2 billion by 2025. When fully phased in, the Governor estimates 6 million middle class tax filers will be impacted.
- A Brooklyn household of four, filing jointly and earning between the county and city Average Medium Income can expect to see savings of between $50 and $110 in 2018.
The Tax Plan breaks down as follows:
Individuals and businesses filing under the personal income tax (PIT) eligible for tax rate reductions of 20 percent (6.85 percent to 5.5 percent) when fully implemented include:
- Single filers with taxable income between $20,000 and $75,000;
- Heads of households with taxable income between $30,000 and $100,000; and,
- Married joint filers with taxable income between $40,000 and $150,000.
Individuals and businesses filing under the PIT eligible for tax rate reductions of 12.5 percent (6.85 percent to 6 percent) when fully implemented include:
- Single filers with taxable income between $75,000 and $200,000;
- Heads of households with taxable income between $100,000 and $250,000; and,
- Married joint filers with taxable income between $150,000 and $300,000.
Record $300M Environmental Investment, Dilan Clean Vehicle Tax Credit Language Mirrored in Budget Read More
Environmental Protection Fund
"With great pleasure I voted in favor of allocating an unprecedented $300 million to the Environmental Protection Fund. The fund is the state’s primary source of grant money to projects that improve conservation, open space efforts throughout New York."
Electric Vehicle Tax Credit
"Language similar to a bill I sponsor in the Senate has been included in the final budget that will give New Yorker’s a $2,000 tax rebate towards the purchase of zero-emission vehicles. This is yet another step towards improving our environment by moving away from fossil fuels and to clean, renewable resources and technologies. I will continue to support similar measures in the future."
Ethics Reforms Fail to Make Final Budget, Dilan Vows Continued Fight Read More
Long before the March 31 budget deadline, our calls to include meaningful ethics reform initiatives, were ignored. Albany has been battered by scandal after scandal recently. To not have one ethic measure included in the budget—limiting outside income or closing the LLC campaign contribution loophole—is incredibly frustrating. My colleagues and I have every intention of continuing the fight through to the conclusion of session in June.