New state budget affects local programs
ALBANY--The New York state executive budget for 2019 contains several points of interest for local governments. Some key highlights include:
Supporting Local Governments
Grow County-Wide Shared Services Initiative: The state will build on the progress achieved by taking the next step forward to provide local governments with new tools to put money back in the pockets of middle-class families. The budget includes $225 million to fund the state's match of savings from shared services actions included in property tax savings plans. The budget also makes the county-wide shared services panels permanent and corrects several bureaucratic hurdles that prevent localities from sharing services.
Continue Mandate Relief for Counties: The budget maintains support for the takeover of county Medicaid costs by eliminating required growth over the prior year.
Safeguarding the Environment for Future Generations: The budget renews the funding level for the Environmental Protection Fund, preserves funding for the $2.5 billion clean water program, and supports capital funding plans for environmental and recreational facilities.
Attack Harmful Algal Blooms: Using resources from the Clean Water Infrastructure Act and the Environmental Protection Fund, the state will implement a $65 million initiative to combat harmful algal blooms in upstate New York water bodies. The resources will be used to develop action plans to reduce sources of pollution that spark algal blooms, and provide grant funding to implement the action plans, including the installation of new monitoring and treatment technologies.
Expand Access to New York Grown Agricultural Products: Since its inception in 2013, the Taste NY program has helped 1,100 local companies reach consumers across the globe. The New York Grown and Certified program, since its launching in 2016, has certified over 1,475 farms, representing over 640,000 acres of farmland.
Establish an Opioid Epidemic Surcharge: New York state, like much of the country, is battling a harrowing opioid epidemic. The executive budget imposes a new surcharge of 2 cents per milligram of active opioid ingredient on prescription drugs, directing all proceeds to the Opioid Prevention and Rehabilitation Fund. This new fund will expand prevention, treatment, and recovery services, with the express goal of cutting opioid-related deaths in half by 2021.
Preserving the Children's Health Insurance Program: Congress has yet to pass long-term funding for CHIP, which directs Federal support to Child Health Plus, a successful program that has provided health coverage to approximately 350,000 children in New York state. Should funding be allowed to lapse for the program, many of these children may lose health insurance coverage. The FY 2018 Budget authorizes program modifications, if necessary, to preserve CHIP.
Impose a Health Tax on Vapor Products: The Executive Budget imposes an excise tax of 10 cents per fluid milliliter on vapor products at the distributor level, equalizing the tax treatment of tobacco products and the equivalent products used in e-cigarettes, and continuing the state's objective to reduce the use of tobacco products.
Study a Regulated Marijuana Program: The budget includes funding to conduct a study in consultation with state agencies on a regulated marijuana program in New York state to determine the health impact, economic impact, criminal justice impact and consequences to New York state resulting from legalization in surrounding states.
Require Outreach and a Comprehensive Homeless Services Plan from Each Local Social Services District: Homelessness is on the rise and street homelessness is the most difficult problem to solve. Gov. Cuomo will require that local governments have an effective outreach program to address street homelessness as a condition of receiving state funding for homelessness services. The state will also require social service districts to engage with the state's ongoing efforts, set reasonable goals that are data-driven and uniquely tailored to the needs of its communities, and to report regularly on progress made. The state will provide technical assistance throughout the planning process by releasing guidance related to best practices and policies that can facilitate success.
Remove Firearms from Domestic Abusers: The FY 2019 Budget includes legislation that remove firearms from domestic abusers. To ensure that all domestic violence offenders are held to the same standard, the legislation will make it to so all domestic violence misdemeanors on the list of prohibited offenses are included among the offenses that prohibit firearm possession.
Advance the Child Victims Act: Under current law, child sexual abuse offenses cannot be prosecuted after five years from their occurrence and civil lawsuits for this conduct must be brought within three years from the victim's 18th birthday. Legislation advanced in the budget eliminates statutes of limitation for all felony sexually-related criminal cases when committed against a person who is less than 18 years of age, and extends the statute of limitations for civil claims to 50 years from the date of the offense. For any victim who is still unable to bring a lawsuit, the Governor would open a one-year window in which these victims are able to commence their claims.
Funding the Judiciary Budget: The FY 2019 Budget seeks a 2.5 percent increase for the judiciary budget--the only entity above 2.0 percent. Currently, a backlog of cases is keeping people in jail. To increase accountability and efficiency in the branch, there must be no half-day courts and trial judges must certify their courts are operating from 9 to 5.
Continue the Successful Regional Economic Development Councils: The Executive Budget includes core capital and tax-credit funding that will be combined with a wide range of existing agency programs for an eighth round of REDC awards totaling $750 million.
Launch Next Round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative: The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is transforming downtown neighborhoods into vibrant communities where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live, work and raise families. Participating communities are nominated by the state's 10 REDCs based on the downtown's potential for transformation. Through two rounds of awards, each winning community was awarded $10 million to develop a downtown strategic investment plan and implement key catalytic projects that advance the community's vision for revitalization. The FY 2019 Executive Budget provides $100 million for the Downtown Revitalization Program Round III.
Create Photonics Attraction Fund in Rochester: New York state will dedicate $30 million to a Photonics Attraction Fund, administered through the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, to attract integrated photonics companies to set up their manufacturing operations in the greater Rochester area. Thanks to the world-renowned AIM Photonics consortium, the Finger Lakes is already a leader in photonics research and development, and this additional state funding will help leverage this unique asset to bring the businesses and the jobs of tomorrow to New York state.
Expand and Promote Tourism: The budget includes additional funding to support the state's tourism campaign and attract visitors from around the world. The program includes a sixth round of $15 million in competitive funding through the Market NY initiative to support tourism marketing plans and projects that best demonstrate regional collaboration among counties to promote regional attractions. Tourism is New York's fourth largest employment sector.