BPHA Caucus 30-Day Letter To Honorable Andrew Cuomo

Honorable Andrew Cuomo
Executive Chamber
State Capital
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo:

We write to request changes to your state budget and also to highlight specific changes that would support education, the justice system, MWBE, ELL, minimum wage, and school age children. However, we begin by acknowledging our support for a number of your proposals. We appreciate that your budget reflects an increase in minimum wages, as well as a 4.4% growth in education aid. 

We know that the budget for the 2013 fiscal year will be finalized over the next several weeks, and that difficult decisions must be made about how to allocate the State’s limited resources in this time of great need.  Toward that end, as Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus we respectfully request that you include the following items in the Executive Budget through the 30-day amendment process: 

  • Raise the minimum wage to at least $8.75 per hour with an index to account for inflation each year. Indexing the minimum wage to inflation would limit and even erase endless rounds of legislation on the issue unnecessary. 
  • Increase MWBE participation in the procurement of state financed and state economic development projects. Although you announced a goal of 20% MWBE participation by 2012, we are still far from that number and the Caucus is committed to making contract distribution more equitable. 
  • Include an additional $3.5 million for GED testing and preparation. This will ensure that, as the changes for administering this test are implemented, programs are adequately funded to prepare students for taking the exam and mitigate the additional cost for doing so.  This is a statewide initiative that is supported by various city and state groups.
  • $250,000 for the Record Repair Counseling Corps initiative, a program of CSS.  This program recruits community volunteers-who are supervised by CSS staff and attorneys – to help individuals request, understand, and fix errors with their criminal records, putting them in the best position possible to seek and keep employment.
  • Increase Summer Youth Employment Program by 5%. Currently, the program is funded at a flat $25 million and we feel that this amount will not be sufficient to meet the need of unemployed youth in the summer months.
  • Support ELL and ESL programs as a major workforce development strategy for immigrant workers – immigrants recognize that learning to speak English is the single most important thing they can do to succeed, economically in New York.
  • Include $5.5 million of TANF funds in order to maintain the Advanced Technology Training And Information Networking Program (ATTAIN). Since 1999, the ATTAIN program has helped minorities by leveling the educational playing field and providing increased community access to education, training and technology resources. 

By supporting these programs and funding them through your state budget, we can ensure that communities of color have the additional resources necessary to move them out of poverty.

On behalf of the 48 members of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus we ask that you consider this proposal and let us work with your staff to develop solutions that address those issues as soon as possible. Thank you for your consideration. 

Karim Camara