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Heastie statement on enacted budget

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Mon, Apr 1st 2019 02:10 pm

Democrat New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie released the following statement on Monday, pertaining to the budget:

“From the first day of session, the Assembly majority pledged to work with our new partners in the Senate majority to deliver a ‘Families First’ agenda. Despite the financial challenges we are facing, we have never lost sight of that promise. We have worked to ensure that this budget will strengthen the economy, invest in our future and support hard working New Yorkers.

“Since I became speaker in 2015, it has been my personal mission to correct the tilted scales of justice for New Yorkers. In 2017 we passed ‘Raise the Age.’ The reforms we include in today’s budget are the next step in making our criminal justice system work for all New Yorkers. The congestion pricing plan is historic – the only one of its kind here in the U.S. It will help reduce congestion, while investing in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) aging infrastructure. Every year I go on a statewide tour, traveling from Long Island to the Thousand Islands, and I get to see the incredible natural beauty New York has to offer. Banning plastic bags will help keep plastic pollution out of our waterways and litter out of our neighborhoods, preserving the environment for generations to come.

“This budget plan includes priorities the Assembly majority has long championed, but we know our work is not done. We will continue to fight for the most vulnerable among us – for our students striving for a successful future, and for our hard-working families that make up the fabric of our communities.”

Criminal Justice Reform

“It is long past time that we reform our antiquated criminal justice system. This year’s budget plan includes legislation that the Assembly majority has championed in the past, including eliminating cash bail for most misdemeanor and nonviolent felony offenses, because wealth should not determine if a person accused but not convicted of a crime sits in jail while awaiting trial. It also enacts a necessary reform of the speedy trial provisions in New York’s Criminal Procedure Law. And it reforms laws governing the exchange of information in criminal cases – discovery law – requiring early, scheduled disclosure.”

Congestion Pricing

The MTA requires a dedicated, sustainable funding source to keep New Yorkers moving safely and reliably. The enacted budget requires that the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) establish a central business district (CBD) tolling program for roads, bridges and tunnels from 60th Street and south in Manhattan, excluding the FDR and West Side highways, which will provide $15 million for the MTA capital improvements. The plan also requires the establishment of a traffic mobility review board, which will make recommendations regarding the CBD toll amount, and will be tasked with examining traffic and ensuring annual revenues.”

Plastic Bags

“The SFY 2019-20 budget protects our waterways and environment by banning plastic carryout bags, and authorizing counties and cities to impose a 5-cent fee on paper bags. If they choose to opt-in, 40 percent of the funds raised from the fee will help cities and counties purchase and distribute reusable bags, especially in low and fixed-income communities. The other 60 percent will go to the Environmental Protection Fund.”

Higher Education

“The spending plan makes critical investments in college affordability, and funds important opportunity programs in the SUNY and CUNY systems, including $32.2 million for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and $35.5 million for the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP). The plan reflects the Assembly majority's commitment that every student, regardless of their background, should have access to higher education, and includes $27 million to implement the Jose Peralta New York State DREAM Act, as well as $4.5 million for the Foster Youth College Success Initiative.”

Education

“The enacted budget includes $27.86 billion in general support for public schools, a $1 billion increase over the 18-19 school year, and $18.4 billion in foundation aid to help fund the state’s neediest schools. The budget also includes $822 million in funding grants for pre-kindergarten. New York was the first state in the country to implement the ‘My Brother’s Keeper Initiative,’ and this year included $18 million for the program, for a total of $74 million since the program’s creation.”

Health

“The Assembly majority is committed to ensuring New Yorkers have access to affordable high-quality health care. The budget includes $641 million in restorations for Medicaid, which includes funding for hospitals, nursing homes and pharmacy benefits, along with funding to cap reimbursement for deductible, ambulance and psychologist services. The budget also makes investments in public health, including $16 million in contingency funding for potential changes to federal family planning grants and $4 million for prevention of maternal mortality. The budget also requires that three cycles of in-vitro fertilization be covered by insurance in the large group market, and require fertility preservation treatments in all markets.”

Elections

“This year’s budget reflects the Assembly majority’s commitment to expanding voter’s access to the polls, and includes $14.7 million to carry out a number of reforms that were passed earlier this year. The funding will go to counties’ use of electronic poll books, provide uniform polling hours for primary elections across the state, and enact the Voter Enfranchisement Modernization Act, which establishes an online voter registration system. Also included in the budget is language to increase time allotted without loss of pay for an employee to vote, and to prohibit lobbyists, PACs, labor unions and independent expenditure committees from making loans to candidates for political office.”

Human Services

“The SFY 2019-20 budget includes $33.04 million for the Advantage Afterschool Program, which provides youth development opportunities to school-age children and youth for three hours after school. It also provides $1.5 million for the Disability Advocacy Program, $2 million for refugee resettlement support and $350,000 for those who were displaced from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and have settled in New York. To address the heroin and opioid crisis, this year’s budget includes $2 million for substance abuse prevention and intervention specialists in New York City, $4.73 million to expand jail-based substance use disorder services in county jails, and $350,000 for loan forgiveness and scholarship programs to recruit and retain staff in the prevention, treatment and recovery service system. The budget also provides $21.25 million for agency operations and various veterans programs.”

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