Monday, April 10, 2017

IDC delivers Raise the Age & historic immigrant legal aid fund in this year’s budget

State Budget Changes New York for the Better with higher wages, increased education funding & college affordability plans

Members of the Independent Democratic Conference delivered for all New Yorkers in this year’s state budget — with a measure to Raise the Age of criminal responsibility to end the cycle of mass incarceration of 16- and 17-year-olds and meeting the urgent need of New York’s immigrant communities with a historic $10 million commitment to legal services.

The eight-member conference, who rolled out their Changing New York agenda in January, highlighted other key achievements they fought for including raised wages for direct care workers, a record investment in education funding and college affordability measures.

Major budget victories include:
  • Raise the Age: Most 16- and 17-year-olds will wind up in Family Court where they will receive the services they need to set their lives on the right track. This major reform includes moving teens out of Rikers Island by 2018.
  • Immigrant Legal Services: A record $10 million legal aid fund will be established to help immigrants with legal services, green card application processing, job training and more.
  • A Record $1.1 Billion in Education Aid: The state increases Foundation Aid by $700 million this year, bringing it up to $1.1 billion, and that’s money that our public schools deserve. The IDC fought for $50 million for community schools, and those funds can be used for dual language programs, more mental health services and after school programs. The funds will also create new community schools.
  • A Raise for Direct Care workers: The state dedicates $55 million for the state’s nonprofits to give our direct care workers a raise. Direct care workers take care of New York’s most vulnerable citizens and deserve higher wages.
  • Preservation of the Millionaire’s Tax: The state’s highest earners will continue to pay their fair share in taxes with a raised tax bracket to help fund New York’s most vital programs that help all residents.
  • College Affordability: The state provides first year funding of $86 million, $125 million when fully phased, for the implementation of the Excelsior Scholarship for SUNY and CUNY students. Students receive $5,500 including TAP, with a fully phased in income eligibility of $125,000. The state also provides enhanced tuition awards for independent colleges and universities, with students receiving up to $6,000 including TAP.
  • NYCHA funding: $200 million will go towards making critical repairs at NYCHA buildings, which provide critical affordable housing for New York City residents.
  • Middle Income Housing: $150 million will help preserve Mitchell-Lama buildings and other middle income buildings which provide affordable housing to individuals like teachers, bus drivers and firemen.
  • Improving Water Infrastructure: The state appropriates $2.5 billion for water infrastructure and clean water initiatives to ensure that what happened Hoosick Falls does not happen again.
  • Enhances Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit: lowers the out-of-pocket expenses of childcare for even more hardworking families.
  • Manufacturer’s Apprenticeship Program Expansion: After a successful launch in Syracuse, this IDC created program will branch out with a $750,000 award to help cut red tape on training programs for small- and medium-sized manufacturing companies.
  • Pre-K consolidation
  • Protecting Consumers Utilizing Reverse Mortgages: Often utilized by seniors, protections include settlement conferences in cases where the default was triggered by the death of the last surviving borrower and allowing the last surviving borrower’s spouse or successor who has a claim to ownership to engage in settlement conference.
  • Revitalizing Our Communities: $1 million for the establishment of community land trusts, nonprofits that buy land to convert to affordable housing, to increase homeownership and affordable rentals in reach for those frozen out of the market. The state also provides $500,000 towards lead abatement efforts for land banks to rehabilitate foreclosed and abandoned properties.
  • $10 million for Foreclosure Prevention Programs: Funding for these crucial services that keep people in their homes were about to run dry. With $10 million, these important services can continue.

“When the IDC announced our Changing New York agenda in January, we committed to making the lives of all New Yorkers better. With the passage of this budget we honor that commitment. We have Raised the Age to move the vast majority of 16- and 17-year-olds to Family Court and keep them out of adult prisons. We stand behind our immigrant communities with crucial funding for legal services so that they are protected from deportation and receive assistance in applying for citizenship. And we have created a college affordability program to help all of our young people continue their education. I am proud to have worked with Senator Flanagan, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Governor Cuomo to continue to move our state forward,” IDC Leader Jeff Klein.

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