Assembly, Senate Pass Budget Resolutions: Restores Funding for Senior Centers

The state Assembly and Senate both passed their budget proposals on Tuesday, restoring key cuts from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget and paving the way for future budget negotiations as the April 1 deadline nears.

Cuomo’s proposed executive budget sought to reduce New York’s $10 billion deficit without raising taxes by reducing spending. The Governor proposed consolidating state agencies, reducing Medicaid spending and slashing education spending.

The Assembly’s counter-proposal accepted most of Cuomo’s cuts, with a few key differences. First, it calls for the restoration of the “Millionaires Tax.” The Assembly projects the state’s General Fund to increase by $706 million with the tax.

The Assembly budget also restores cuts to the Eldery Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program and the Summer Youth Employment Program.

One particularly contentious cut in Cuomo’s executive budget was rerouting the use of federal Title XX funding. Mayor Michael Bloomberg claimed without Title XX funds for the city’s senior centers, he would have to close 105 centers.

The Assembly voted to mandate that the Title XX funds go to senior centers.

“The governor proposes to redirect federal Title XX funding, often allocated to senior centers, to offset current state and local expenses for child welfare services,” said Assemblywoman Marge Markey (D-Maspeth). “Our proposal allows New York City to continue using the discretionary funding to support local senior centers and keep them open.”

Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) praised his colleagues’ work in passing a responsible budget and restoring key services. “Working off the Governor’s plan—and accepting 95.5 percent of his spending reductions—the Assembly addresses the state’s budget problems, while also protecting vital programs hardworking New Yorkers rely on … I believe it is a good budget and hope to see it approved by both the Senate and the Governor,” Miller said.

Miller also defended keeping the Millionaires Tax: “In these difficult economic times millionaires and billionaires should pay their fair share in this recovery.”

The Republican-controlled state Senate’s budget resolution also restored several key cuts, but it was closer to Cuomo’s executive budget than the Assembly’s.

The Senate restored Title XX funding, EPIC funding and the Summer Youth Employment programs as well, but unlike the Assembly budget, the Senate does not support a Millionaires Tax.

The Senate budget also includes an amended version of Bloomberg’s supported “Last In, First Out” repeal and also restores some funds for local school districts.

Senator Joe Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said some portions of the budget, such as the restoration of Title XX funding, was needed, but added that “major issues” still remain.

“There is spending that can’t be sustained,” Addabbo said. He said the Senate budget proposal does not have enough ways to increase revenue to justify adding money back to various programs.

Addabbo also criticized Bloomberg for demanding more money from the state and proposing budget cuts in the city budget. “It’s merely a negotiation ploy to get the most money out of our state budget. Traditionally, the city hasn’t gotten its fair share, but even so, the city has enough money to avoid [teacher] layoffs or closing senior centers,” he said.

The Assembly and Senate must now negotiate to present a unified budget proposal to Cuomo so an agreement can be reached by April 1. Cuomo has said he is dedicated to passing the budget on time, and threatened shutting down the state government and employing his executive budget if a compromise can’t be reached.

Written By Eric Yun


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