Category Archives: New York State politics

Highlights of NYS $212 Billion Budget

Mario Cuomo Bridge, which replaced the aging Tappan Zee Bridge, demonstrated New York State’s “can-do” infrastructure program. The FY 2022 budget that was just adopted supports Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $311 billion infrastructure plan – the largest in the nation and the most expansive in state’s history – that will create thousands of jobs across the state. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

$311 Billion Infrastructure Plan – Largest in the Nation & Most Expansive in State’s History – Will Create Thousands of Jobs Across the State

First-in-the-Nation Program to Make Broadband Internet Affordable – $15 Broadband Plans Must Be Offered to Low-Income Families

Enhances Public Safety by Authorizing the Withholding of 50 Percent of State and Federal Funds from Jurisdictions that Fail to Produce a Police Reform Plan; Requires the Attorney General to Appoint a Monitor to Ensure Safe Policing

Directs $2.3 Billion in Federal Child Care Resources to Expand Availability, Quality and Affordability of Child Care Across the State; Enacts Employer Child Care Credits

$29 Billion in Public and Private Green Economy Investments

Establishes Prevailing Wage & Buy American Requirement

Protects Renters by Creating $2.4 Billion Rent Relief Program

Enhances Quality of Care at Nursing Homes with Patient-Centered Reforms

Provides $1 Billion in Small Business and Arts Relief and Recovery Assistance

Enacts Middle Class Property Tax Credit and Continues Middle Class Tax Cut; Expected to Save 4.8 Million New Yorkers Over $2.2 Billion This Year

$29.5 Billion School Aid, 11% Increase, Record Funding

Governor Led National Effort for State and Local Federal Funding with New York State Receiving $12.6 Billion; Budget Closes Remaining Gap; Adds $3.5 Billion in Tax Revenue and Invests in COVID Response and Recovery

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced highlights of the FY 2022 Enacted Budget to reimagine, rebuild and renew New York in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Budget supports the Governor’s $311 billion infrastructure plan – the largest in the nation and the most expansive in State’s history – that will create thousands of jobs across the State.

The Budget establishes a first-in-the-nation program to provide affordable internet by requiring internet service providers to offer an affordable $15 per month high-speed internet plan to qualified low-income households.

The Budget enhances public safety by authorizing the withholding of up to 50 percent of State and Federal funds from jurisdictions that fail to produce a police reform plan and comply with the Governor’s Executive order. The Governor may require that the Attorney General appoint a monitor over the police force until the plan is adopted.

The Budget directs $2.3 billion in federal child care resources to expand availability, quality and affordability of child care across the state, and enhances the Employer Provided Child Care Credit to provide meaningful incentives to employers to help them provide child care to their employees.

The Budget supports $29 billion in public and private green economy investments to create 12,400 megawatts of green energy – enough to power 6 million homes – helping to fulfill the goals of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and also spur the COVID economic recovery. The investments include the largest offshore wind program in the nation, plans to make New York a global wind energy manufacturing powerhouse, constructing a green energy transmission superhighway, a public-private partnership to build nearly 100 renewable energy projects and supporting transit agencies’ transition to electric busses.

The Budget ensures that New York uses Buy American principles in manufacturing of renewable components. The Budget also requires prevailing wage for construction labor peace agreements for operations and manufacturing.

The Budget ensures access to fair and safe housing and protects renters by establishing a $2.4 billion rent relief program using Federal and State funds.

The Enacted Budget includes comprehensive nursing home reform legislation to help ensure facilities prioritize patients over profits, establishing minimum thresholds for nursing home spending on direct resident care and staffing, and investing $32 million annually to implement the reforms, while capping profits and performing related party transactions to drive funding to where it matters most, the patients.

The Budget enacts small business and arts relief and recovery assistance, a robust $1 billion relief package for small businesses, arts, entertainment and restaurant relief to help them recover from the impacts of the pandemic. It includes $865 million in grants and $139 million in tax credits.

The Budget also continues the phase-in of the middle class tax cut, which is expected to save 4.8 million New Yorkers over $2.2 billion this year.

From the beginning of the pandemic, Governor Cuomo led the national effort to secure Federal funding for state and local governments, with New York State receiving $12.6 billion in aid to help offset devastating revenue losses caused entirely by the pandemic. With this Federal funding and additional revenues, including $3.5 billion in new tax revenue that rises to $4.3 billion in FY 2023, the Enacted Budget closes the deficit and invests in the ongoing response to the pandemic and recovery efforts.

“New York was ambushed early and hit hardest by COVID, devastating our economy and requiring urgent and unprecedented emergency spending to manage the pandemic,” Governor Cuomo said. “Thanks to the State’s strong fiscal management and relentless pursuit to secure the federal support that the pandemic demanded, we not only balanced our budget, we are also making historic investments to reimagine, rebuild and renew New York in the aftermath of the worst health and economic crisis in a century. This budget continues funding for the largest-in-the-nation $311 billion infrastructure plan, establishes a groundbreaking program to provide affordable internet for low-income families and enhances public safety through police reforms, all while continuing to provide relief to New Yorkers and small businesses as we recover from the pandemic. I thank the legislative leaders – Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Heastie – for their partnership in helping make this critical budget a reality and delivering results for the people of this state.”

Fiscal Highlights of the FY 2022 Enacted Budget:

  • State Operating Funds spending is $111 billion
  • All Funds spending $212 billion for FY 2022
  • Applies $5.5 billion in federal aid
  • Provides $29.5 billion in School Aid, a $3 billion, 11% increase.
  • Provides $7.7 billion in State support for higher education in New York

2022 REIMAGINE | REBUILD | RENEW ENACTED BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS 

$311 Billion Infrastructure Plan: New York’s $311 billion infrastructure plan includes the Governor’s $211 billion 2020-24 plan and his $100 billion 2015-2019 plan. The evolving plan increased by $36 billion in the budget with the inclusion of new, key elements of the Midtown West Redevelopment of New York City beginning with Penn Station, Belmont Station Redevelopment, a $3 billion environmental bond act, transportation programs, and additional supportive, affordable, and public housing support, along with incremental adds to existing capital programs.  

First-in-the-Nation Affordable Internet for Low-Income Families: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget includes first-in-the-nation legislation requiring internet service providers to offer an affordable $15 per month high-speed internet plan to qualifying low-income households. The State will also require providers to advertise this plan to ensure programs reach underserved populations across the State. To further bridge the gap, the State has partnered with Schmidt Futures and the Ford Foundation to launch ConnectED NY, an emergency fund to provide approximately 50,000 students in economically disadvantaged school districts with free internet access through June 2022. 

Police Reform Plans: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget authorizes the withholding of up to 50 percent of state and federal funds from jurisdictions that fail to produce a police reform plan and comply with the Governor’s Executive Order 203, the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative. It also requires the Attorney General to install a monitor until the jurisdiction is compliant, if the Governor directs.

Expand Child Care Availability and Affordability: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget directs $2.3 billion in Federal child care resources to expand the availability, quality and affordability of child care. Increases in child care subsidies will expand access, co-pays would be lowered to not more than 10% of family income above the poverty level and essential workers would receive child care tuition support. Child care providers would receive $1.3 billion in stabilization grants to support expenses, as well as additional funds for cleaning and safety. Further investments would be made to increase capacity in child care “deserts” and help parents find the child care provider that’s right for them.

Enact Employer Child Care Credits: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget enhances the Excelsior Jobs Program and Employer Provided Child Care Credit, providing meaningful incentives to employers to help them provide much needed child care to their employees. The Excelsior Jobs Program is enhanced to allow for an expanded up to five percent Investment Tax Credit component and a credit up to six percent of ongoing net child care expenditures provided by the credit recipient. The Employer Provided Child Care Credit is also enhanced by doubling the current credit percentages to 50 percent of qualified child care expenditures and 20 percent of qualified child care resource and referral expenditures while increasing the per taxpayer cap from $150,000 to $500,000.

$29 Billion in Public and Private Green Economy Investments: Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York will embark on an ambitious Green Energy program that will spur more than $29 billion in public and private investment across the state and create 12,400 megawatts of green energy – enough to power 6 million homes. These investments will not only shift the state to a carbon neutral economy, fulfilling the goals of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, but also spur the COVID economic recovery. The investments include the largest offshore wind program in the nation, plans to make New York a global wind energy manufacturing powerhouse, constructing a green energy transmission superhighway, a public-private partnership to build nearly 100 renewable energy projects and supporting transit agencies’ transition to electric busses.

Provide $2.4 Billion to Protect Renters: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget creates a $2.4 billion Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) to ensure New Yorkers can make rent and remain stable in their homes. The program will support households in rental arrears that have experienced financial hardship, are at risk of homelessness or housing instability and that earn less than 80 percent of area median income. The program would prioritize those with the lowest incomes, the unemployed and other vulnerable populations. Renters in the program will also be eligible to receive relief for utility arrears. The program is funded by $2.3 billion in Federal resources and $100 million of State resources to supplement the core program and target those facing hardship that may not otherwise be eligible. The program will be structured to enable coordinated efforts between the State and the local governments that opted to receive funds directly – leveraging resources, gaining efficiencies and preventing fraud.

Enhancing Nursing Home Quality of Care: The Enacted Budget includes comprehensive nursing home reform legislation to help ensure facilities are prioritizing patient care over profits.  These reforms establish minimum thresholds for nursing home spending of 70 percent of revenues on direct resident care and 40 percent of revenues on resident-facing staffing, capping profits at five percent, and targeting unscrupulous related party transactions. Excess revenues recouped by the State will be deposited into the existing nursing home quality pool for further investments for nursing homes to meet high quality standards. Now, more than ever, it is important that nursing homes are staffed to provide high quality care and safety for their residents. These initiatives will have a positive impact on nursing home residents and staff, delivering the quality of care needed for the most vulnerable New Yorkers in a safe environment. 

$1 Billion Small Business and Arts Relief and Recovery Assistance: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget includes a robust $1 Billion small business, arts, entertainment and restaurant relief package to help businesses and other organizations recover from the impacts of the pandemic:

  • COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program: Provides $800 million in grant fundingfor small businesses including for-profit arts and cultural institutions impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • New York Restaurant Resiliency Grant Program: $25 million in grant funding to support restaurants that provide meals to distressed and under-represented communities.
  • Arts and Cultural Organization Recovery Grant Program: $40 million to provide grants through the New York State Council on the Arts to eligible arts and cultural nonprofit organizations to assist in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Restaurant Return-To-Work Tax Credit: Provides up to $35 million in tax credits to support restaurants hard hit by the pandemic through 2021.
  • New York City Musical and Theatrical Production Tax Credit: Provides up to $100 million in tax credits to jump start the industry and support tourism activity in the City.
  • Extend and Enhance the Musical and Theatrical Production Credit for Four Years: In order to support musical and theatrical productions that occur in the State but outside of New York City, the Budget extends this credit for four years through 2025 and increases it by $4 million to $8 million.

Continuing Middle Class Tax Cuts: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget continues to lower Personal Income Tax rates for middle-class New Yorkers. In 2021, the fourth year of the multi-year tax cuts enacted in 2016, income tax rates have been lowered from 6.09% to 5.97% for taxpayers filing jointly in the $43,000-$161,550 income bracket, and from 6.41% to 6.33% in the $161,550-$323,200 income bracket. These cuts are expected to save 4.8 million New Yorkers over $2.2 billion this year. When the cuts are fully phased in, middle class taxpayers will have received an income tax rate cut up to 20 percent, amounting to a projected $4.2 billion in annual savings for six million filers by 2025. As the new rates phase in, they will be the State’s lowest middle-class tax rates in more than 70 years.

Enact the Real Property Tax Relief Credit: The Budget provides a personal income tax credit for New York resident homeowners with incomes up to $250,000 if their total property tax exceeds a fixed percentage of their income. This framework will target New York families with the highest property tax to income burden. The calculation of this credit is capped at $350 per STAR-eligible household, while also utilizing a $250 credit minimum to further target homeowners impacted the most by high property taxes. It is expected that claims will average about $340. Qualified homeowners will be able to claim this new Property Tax Relief credit for taxable years 2021, 2022, and 2023. 

Striking a Balance on Revenue

The FY 2022 Enacted Budget includes new revenue resources that provide the revenues needed to make the investments that will support New York’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic and New York’s recovery from it, including:

  • Hard Won Federal Support: The Budget deploys the first $5.5 billion of the $12.6 billion provided for in the federal American Recuse Plan Act 2021. These funds are integrated throughout the budget in accordance with available federal guidelines. Remaining funds will be used in future budgets over the four years that the funding is available.
  • Secured Federal Support for Local Governments: The Budget includes appropriation authority for local governments to receive Federal support that Governor Cuomo fought tirelessly for. The historic package of $10.8 billion in Federal aid for local governments is a lifeline to localities, helping to support essential workers and government employees, assist the vaccination efforts, boost local economies and support the network of local government services that New Yorkers depend on.
  • Personal Income Tax Surcharge: The Enacted Budget implements a surcharge on high earners through Tax Year 2027 that sets a top rate of 10.9% for all filers earning more than $25 million. The surcharge raises $2.8 billion in FY 2022, rising to $3.3 billion in FY 2023.
  • Corporate Franchise Tax Rates: The Enacted Budget implements a surcharge on corporate tax rate that increases the business income tax rate from 6.5% to 7.25% for three years through tax year 2023 for taxpayers with business income greater than $5 million. It also increases the capital base method of liability estimation to 0.1875% from the 0.025% rate in effect last year.   The capital base method increase continue to exempt qualified manufacturers, qualified emerging technology companies, and cooperative housing corporations. These changes raise $750 million in FY 2022 and $1 billion in FY 2023.
  • Mobile Sports Wagering: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget authorizes mobile sports wagering. Once fully phased in, legalization will provide more than $500 million in much needed revenue for the State to help rebuild from COVID-19 and grow what could be the largest sports wagering market in the U.S. into a profitable industry long-term. Under the legislation, the state will issue a Request for Applications and must select at least two platform providers who must work with a total of at least four operators or skins. Once fully phased in, the program will provide $5 million annually to youth sports, and $6 million to combat problem gambling, doubling the resources currently available. The remainder of this new revenue will be dedicated to education.

Education

$29.5 Billion in School Aid: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget provides $29.5 billion in State funding to school districts for the 2021-22 school year through School Aid, the highest level of State aid ever, supporting the operational costs of school districts that educate 2.5 million students statewide. This investment represents an increase of $3.0 billion (11.3 percent) compared to the 2020-21 school year, including a $1.4 billion (7.6 percent) Foundation Aid increase. Approximately 75 percent of this increase is targeted to high-need school districts 

$13 Billion in Federal Aid to Public Schools: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget programs $13 billion of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief and Governor’s Emergency Education Relief funds to public schools. This funding, available for use over multiple years, will help schools safely reopen for in-person instruction, address learning loss, and respond to students’ academic, social, and emotional needs due to the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Budget allocates $629 million of these funds to school districts as targeted grants to support efforts to address learning loss through activities such as summer enrichment and comprehensive after-school programs. In addition, the Budget uses $105 million of federal funds to expand access to full-day prekindergarten programs for four-year-old children in school districts statewide in the 2021-22 school year.

$500 Million in Emergency Federal Assistance to Nonpublic Schools: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget includes $500 million of federal funding for emergency assistance to nonpublic schools, prioritizing schools that serve high proportions of low-income children and have been most severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds will support pandemic-related costs such as personal protective equipment, educational technology, and redeveloping instructional plans for remote or hybrid learning and to address learning loss.

Authorize Aid for Pandemic-Related School District Transportation Costs: Under the FY 2022 Enacted Budget, school districts will be reimbursed for the cost of delivering school meals and instructional materials during pandemic-related school closures in spring 2020 and for the costs of keeping transportation employees and contractors on standby during the initial short-term closures prior to the announcement in May 2020 that school buildings would be closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year

Defeating COVID and Strengthening Health Care Delivery

Telehealth: The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the healthcare delivery system as methods for accessing care have expanded. Accordingly, the State enacted a comprehensive package of telehealth reforms that will increase access to telehealth services. These include:

  • In the Enacted Budget, these include: increasing access to services through comprehensive reform by allowing certain unlicensed staff (e.g. Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselors) to deliver substance use disorder services; expanding covered telehealth providers; eliminating obsolete location requirements..
  • The Reimagine New York Build Back Better initiative will include a $3 million capital grant program matching state and private funding to support telehealth infrastructure needs of rural providers and those serving vulnerable populations

Expanding Nation-Leading COVID-19 Diagnostic Capacity:  The FY 2022 Enacted Budget will continue to support the expansion of the State’s world-leading testing program, performing over 200,000 COVID-19 tests daily, on average, to identify disease and mitigate community spread. This includes leveraging the research expertise of Wadsworth laboratories, which was the first public laboratory in the United States to have a non-Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 test approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The State will also continue to operate a network of 22 regionally located drive-through and walk-in testing locations available to all New Yorkers completely free of charge, and will establish a network of rapid testing locations by partnering with testing companies to allow business and entertainment centers to safely re-open.

Strengthening Public Outreach for Communities Disproportionately Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget includes $15 million to strengthen communication, expand public education and enhance ongoing outreach efforts for communities that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. A portion of these funds will be awarded directly to community-based organizations across the state to increase COVID-19 awareness and promote vaccine confidence in the Latino community. Remaining funds will be used for the development of a vaccine awareness media campaign and enhancements to the COVID-19 hotline, which has served as an important source of information to the public with questions or concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Launch a New York State Infectious Diseases Resiliency Commercialization Fund: As part of Governor Cuomo’s Life Science Initiative, Empire State Development will create a new $40 million New York State Infectious Diseases Resiliency Commercialization Fund led by Empire State Development and advised by the New York State Department of Health and other private experts to capitalize on New York’s substantial research and development assets and expertise in life sciences, biotechnology and biodefense. The fund will focus on accelerating the growth of companies to fast track the development of innovations that address emerging infectious diseases, public health threats and support economic growth.

Continue COVID Response and Implementation of Vaccine Distribution: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget will support the implementation of a statewide COVID-19 vaccination program that will be available to all New Yorkers within the year, ensuring a fair and equitable distribution to vulnerable and underserved communities within all regions of the state. The vaccine program will cover nearly 20 million residents at no cost, driving New York towards becoming the nation’s first COVID-safe state and accelerating the State’s re-opening effort.

Create the New York Public Health Corps: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget supports the New York Public Health Corps, which will assist in supporting COVID-19 vaccination and pandemic response operations and establishing a best-in-the-nation emergency response public health capacity that lasts beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Fellows selected for the New York Public Health Corps will include students in undergraduate and graduate public health programs, nursing schools and medical and pharmaceutical schools, recent graduates, retired medical professionals, volunteer first responders and other New Yorkers who will receive an intensive public health training curriculum developed by Cornell University. After the COVID vaccination program is completed, New York will leverage this Public Health Corps model workforce by continuing to recruit and train public health professionals to be available and prepared to serve the State in any future public health crisis.

Eliminate Health Care Premiums: The Enacted Budget eliminates premiums for Essential Plan coverage for more than 400,000 New Yorkers earning between $39,300 and $52,400 for a family of four and expands coverage to include dental and vision by eliminating dental and vision premiums and cost-sharing for Essential Plan 1 and Plan 2 members currently paying out-of-pocket.

Enhancing Social Service Crisis Intervention: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget includes $10 million to support of social service crisis intervention programs and providers disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic. These funds will provide much needed financial relief to social service crisis intervention providers who have continued to maintain a quality of care despite the financial burden imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Improving Data Collection Efforts for the Public Health Needs of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget provides support to organizations with the capability of collecting health care related demographic information, specifically for New York State’s Asian and Pacific Islander American populations. The information collected as part of this Data Disaggregation program will be used to identify the specific health care needs of the Asian and Pacific Islander American populations and address shortfalls in the State’s healthcare system in effectively serving these portions of the population.

Enhancing Access to Health Care Services for Holocaust Survivors: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget provides $1 million in additional support for the Holocaust Survivors Initiative. These funds will be used to increase access to health care related case management services for those who suffered in the Holocaust. Case Management services include, but are not limited to, mental health services, trauma informed care, crisis prevention, legal services and entitlement counseling, emergency financial assistance for food, housing, prescriptions, medical and dental care, socialization programs, training and support for caregivers and home health aides working with survivors and end of life care including hospice and ethical wills.

Establish Urgent Care Centers for mental health and addiction services:  The Budget authorizes the launch of Urgent Care Centers for mental health and addiction services. On average, more than 100,000 individuals per year benefit from crisis intervention services. These centers will be open 24/7/365 and accept all admissions without referral, including direct drop-offs by law enforcement and other first responders. This effort will streamline stabilization and reintegration for individuals in crisis.   

Human Services Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA): The FY 2022 Budget includes $46.2 million to provide a 1 percent COLA to not-for-profits licensed, certified, or otherwise authorized by OPWDD, OMH, and OASAS. These additional resources will support the community-based programs that provide essential services and supports to people with developmental disabilities, mental illness and/or substance use disorder. The Budget also provides $5.6 million for a 1 percent COLA increase for other human services agencies, including SOFA, OTDA, and OCFS.

Post-Partum Eligibility: The Enacted Budget extends coverage for pregnant women between 200% and 223% of the Federal Poverty limit from 60 days after pregnancy to one year. Postpartum persons will maintain 60 days of coverage under Medicaid, and on day 61 they will get coverage under a qualified health plan. This will eliminate the benefit cliff for persons with incomes too high to qualify for Essential Plan coverage

Delay Transition of Medicaid Pharmacy Benefit: The FY 2021 Enacted Budget transitioned the Medicaid pharmacy benefit from Managed Care to fee for service to increase transparency, maximize rebates and reduce administrative costs. Savings were reinvested to 340B entities no longer receiving excess reimbursement for 340B drugs under Managed Care. The FY 2022 Enacted Budget delays the transition of the Medicaid pharmacy benefit by two years, until April 1, 2023.

Jumpstarting New York’s Economic Recovery

Educate and Train Workers for In-Demand Jobs: Along with an unprecedented increase in unemployment, the pandemic has caused a massive shift in the type of jobs available and who is looking for work. The FY 2022 Enacted Budget includes several initiatives under which New York’s colleges and universities will help rebuild New York’s economy by educating and training workers for in-demand jobs:

  • Pathways Pledge: In partnership with Governor Cuomo’s Reimagine New York Commission, New York is launching a Pathways Pledge among New York’s leading employers, both public and private, to create more inclusive workforces and provide more workforce development opportunities.
  • SUNY’s Free Online Training Center: Governor Cuomo is expanding SUNY’s free Online Training Center so New Yorkers can enroll in additional employment certification programs for quality jobs in high-demand growing industries like health care and advanced manufacturing.  The Training Center will give more New Yorkers in every region of the state — from rural communities to urban centers — another opportunity to receive free job training certifications and then automatically be admitted to any one of SUNY’s 30 community colleges for future career advancements.
  • SUNY Stony Brook Offshore Wind Institute: New York’s accelerated renewable energy development program is creating thousands of well-paying jobs. In order to make sure New Yorkers benefit from these opportunities, the FY 2022 Enacted Budget supports a $20 million investment in a new Offshore Wind Training Institute based at SUNY Stony Brook and Farmingdale State College. In 2021, NYSERDA and SUNY will issue the first solicitations for advanced technology training partners, leveraging our SUNY and CUNY system to train the first phase of an estimated 2,500 workers beginning in summer of 2021.
  • Priority Access for Nurses in SUNY and CUNY Programs: In 2017, Governor Cuomo signed into law “BSN in 10” to enhance the quality of patient care and elevate the nursing profession. It requires all nurses who complete an Associate Degree in New York State to complete a Baccalaureate of Science Degree in Nursing within 10 years to maintain licensure by the State. Beginning in Fall 2021, SUNY and CUNY will implement priority admission to nursing programs so the 40,000 nurses and nursing candidates in need of completing their baccalaureate credentials can receive a quality and affordable education within the state.

Advance the Economic Recovery through Workforce Development: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget enacts a COVID-19 Recovery Workforce Initiative, which invests $50 million for training in high-growth industries, employer-driven training for low-income workers and funding for small businesses to re-train and hire furloughed, laid-off or new employees. The investments will provide durable skills that lead to high-quality jobs and support the growth of small businesses recovering from COVID-19 impacts.

Support the Unemployed and Protect Workers: Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Department of Labor has paid out more than $75 billion in benefits to over 4 million New Yorkers – more than 30 typical years’ worth of benefits. The Budget supports reforms to the unemployment system, including upgrades to modernize technology, allowing work search activities to be performed via video conference and online, and creating a centralized virtual portal for workers to file wage, discrimination, retaliation, and other workplace violation claims.  

Support Excluded Workers: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget creates a $2.1 billion program to provide cash payments to workers who have suffered income loss due to COVID but who are ineligible for Unemployment Insurance or related Federal benefits due to their immigration status or other factors. Such workers must be low-income and provide sufficient documentation to establish work-related eligibility and residency in the state.

Continued Investment in Tourism: The COVID-19 pandemic caused a precipitous drop in travel, hitting New York’s tourism industry particularly hard. As New York State advances its scientific-based reopening efforts, the FY 2022 Budget includes additional funding to attract visitors from around the world and boost the tourism economy. The program includes a ninth round of $15 million in competitive funding through the Market NY initiative to support marketing projects that promote regional attractions.

New Round of Regional Economic Development Councils: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget includes core capital and tax-credit funding that will be combined with a wide range of existing agency programs for REDC awards totaling $750 million and will target assistance to impacted industries and allow for job creation and retention.

Expand Opportunities for New York’s MWBE Program: Governor Cuomo has been a champion of the Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises. In 2014, he set the utilization goal in State contracting at 30 percent to ensure all New Yorkers have the opportunity to take part in New York State’s growing economy. New York State now has the highest MWBE contract participation in the nation. In fact, state contract spending with MWBE firms has grown from less than $100 million in 2010 to $3.14 billion as MWBE in FY 2020. To build upon this success, the Empire State Development Corporation, in partnership with the Reimagine New York Commission, is launching the “Entrepreneurship Navigator” to provide customized services and streamlined access to start-up programs to help incubate minority and women entrepreneurs in the technology and innovation sector.

New York Works Economic Development Fund: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget includes a sixth round of investment equaling $220 million for the New York Works Economic Development Fund that will provide additional statewide capital grants to support projects that facilitate the creation of new jobs or retain existing jobs, or fund infrastructure investments necessary to attract new businesses or expand existing businesses in support of economic recovery

Downtown Revitalization: The pandemic has kept New Yorkers at home to save lives, disrupting the flow of commerce in the downtown communities across the State.  These areas need support now more than ever. To that end, the FY 2022 Enacted Budget provides $100 million for another round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, which has beentransforming downtown neighborhoods into vibrant communities where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live, work and raise families.

Recovery Grants for Nonprofit Arts and Cultural Organizations: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget includes a new $40 million fund that will provide general operating support to assist nonprofit arts and cultural organizations as they recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Budget also includes an additional $20 million for new capital grants to help arts and cultural organizations comply with COVID-19 health regulations, including outdoor performance space projects, flexible seating, HVAC and filtration upgrades.  Combining this new funding with the State’s annual $40 million arts grant program, the Enacted Budget will include over $100 million in grants for arts and cultural organizations through the New York State Council on the Arts. 

Ensuring Fair and Safe Housing

Affordable and Homeless Housing Capital Plan: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget continues the $20 billion, comprehensive five-year investment to create or preserve over 100,000 units of affordable housing and create 6,000 new units of supportive housing. The State is well on track toward meeting affordable housing goals and has already exceeded the supportive housing. To date, New York has financed the new construction and preservation of more than 66,500 affordable housing units and more than 7,000 units of supportive housing units that provide stability for some of the state’s most vulnerable populations, including veterans, victims of domestic violence, frail or disabled senior citizens, young adults aging out of foster care, and New Yorkers identified as homeless with special needs, conditions or other life challenges. With this success, the Governor has continued the State’s commitment to supportive housing. The goal is now to create 20,000 units over 15 years, and the Budget includes $250 million in additional capital funding to continue making progress in FY 2022.

Support New Homeless Housing: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget continues $128 million for the Homeless Housing and Assistance Program, a level achieved when funding for the program was doubled in FY 2021. This investment will create more housing for individuals and families who are homeless and unable to secure adequate housing without special assistance.

Create Statewide Transitional Rent Supplement Program:  The FY 2022 Enacted Budget creates a new $100 million rent supplement program for low-income households who are homeless or facing an imminent loss of housing. Participants will have their rent contribution capped at 30 percent of income. The program will be provided at local district option, and funds will be available to households earning at or below 30 percent of area median income with districts given flexibility to extend supplements to households earning up to 50 percent of area median income.

Public Housing Remediation: The budget includes $325 million in capital appropriation for critical maintenance projects including weatherization, heating needs, elevators, and lead remediation for public housing throughout the State.

Adaptive Reuse Affordable Housing Program: The Budget includes a $100 million capital appropriation to finance the adaptive reuse of commercial and hotel properties located in New York City to create permanent affordable housing. 

Transportation and Infrastructure

Transformational Midtown West Macro Development:

  • Empire Station Complex: As part of the Transformational Midtown West Development and with the completion of the Moynihan Train Hall, the State will turn to the existing Penn Station, launching a comprehensive $16 billion project to expand and reconstruct the existing station. The fully renovated Penn Station, including the iconic new Long Island Rail Road entrance on 7th Avenue that opened on December 31, 2020, will comprise a widened and completely reconstructed 33rd Street LIRR concourse and an expanded and completely transformed station. Additionally, at least eight new tracks will be constructed south of the existing Penn Station to add capacity, cut down on delays, and improve operations. This will be a signature transportation project creating nearly 60,000 direct jobs and involving the federal government, Empire State Development, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak.  New York State stands ready to work with New Jersey Transit and the Federal government to share in this historic investment for the future of the region.
  • High Line Extension to Moynihan Station: As part of the Transformational Midtown West Development, the FY 2022 Enacted Budget includes funding to support the Governor’s proposal to extend the High Line in Manhattan to give pedestrians seamless access to the elevated pathway from the recently opened Moynihan Train Hall. As part of a public-private partnership, Brookfield Property Group will partner with Empire State Development, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Friends of the High Line to build an L-shaped connection from the 10th Avenue terminus of the High Line to Brookfield’s Manhattan West public space. 

Record DOT Capital Plan: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget provides $6.2 billion for the second year of a record $12.3 billion, 2-Year DOT Capital Plan that will facilitate the improvement of highways, bridges, rail, aviation infrastructure, non-MTA transit and DOT facilities.  Compared to the final two years of the last DOT Capital Plan, this is an increase of $3.4 billion, or 38 percent.

$1 Billion for Strengthening Local Highways and Bridges: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget builds upon Governor Cuomo’s record commitment to funding local highway and bridge projects. Funding for the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) and the Marchiselli program increases by $100 million to $577.8 million and funding for Extreme Winter Recovery is $100 million.  The Enacted Budget also provides $100 million of new funding to localities responsible for State Touring Routes, increases highway aid through the PAVE NY program by $50 million to $150 million, and maintains funding of local bridge projects through the BRIDGE NY program at $100 million.  This represents an overall year-to-year increase of $285 million and brings funding for local highway and bridge projects to more than $1 billion. These programs will play a vital role in improving conditions on State and local roads and bridges and rebuilding New York.

Supporting Parks and DEC Capital Projects: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget allocates $110 million in New York Works capital funding for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation. This funding will aid the ongoing transformation of the State’s flagship parks, and support critical infrastructure projects. The Budget also includes $75 million for the Department of Environmental Conservation to address a variety of capital needs to improve access to State lands, rehabilitate campgrounds.

Clean Water Infrastructure Investment: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget adds a $500 million appropriation to support clean water, raising the State’s total investment to $4 billion and continuing to fulfill the Governor’s $5 billion clean water commitment. 

Renew Record Funding for the Environmental Protection Fund: TheFY 2022 Enacted Budget continues EPF funding at $300 million, the highest level of funding in the program’s history. Appropriations include $40 million for solid waste programs, $90 million for parks and recreation, $151 million for open space programs and $19 million for the climate change mitigation and adaptation program. This investment will provide funding for critical environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, enhanced recreational access, water quality improvement and an aggressive environmental justice agenda.  

Restore Mother Nature Bond Act: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget authorizes the Governor’s $3 billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act. If approved by voters in the November 2022 general election, this historic environmental initiative will make significant investments across the state to combat climate change, reduce flood risk, invest in resilient infrastructure and revitalize critical fish and wildlife habitats. It will do this by connecting streams and waterways, right-sizing culverts and dams, restoring freshwater and tidal wetlands, reclaiming natural floodplains, restocking shellfish populations and upgrading fish hatcheries, preserving open space, conserving more forest areas, replanting more trees, reducing contamination from agricultural and storm water runoff and expanding renewable energy.

Olympic Regional Development Authority Capital Improvements: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget includes $105 million in new capital funding for Olympic Regional Development Authority, including $92.5 million for a strategic upgrade and modernization plan to support improvements to the Olympic facilities and ski resorts with a focus on preparing for the 2023 World University Games, $10 million for critical maintenance and energy efficiency upgrades and $2.5 million appropriated from the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation budget as part of the New York Works initiative.

Making New York a Leader in the Green Energy Economy

Largest Offshore Wind Program in the Nation: The state will contract with Equinor Wind US LLC for the development of two new offshore wind farms more than 20 miles off the shore of Long Island, in what is the largest procurement of renewable energy by a state in U.S. history. Upon completion, the two offshore wind farms will yield a combined 2,490 megawatts of carbon-free energy, spurring another $8.9 billion in investment.  

Global Wind Energy Manufacturing Powerhouse: New York has secured commitments from companies to manufacture wind turbine components within the state and build the nation’s largest offshore wind program. Plans to make New York State a global wind energy manufacturing powerhouse include upgrades to create five dedicated port facilities. These projects include: the nation’s first offshore wind tower-manufacturing facility to be built in the Port of Albany; facilities at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal; greater activity at Port Jefferson and Port of Montauk Harbor in Long Island. Together, the projects will leverage almost $3 of private funding for every $1 of public funding, for a combined $644 million investment in these port facilities.

Construct New York’s Green Energy Transmission Superhighway: New York State will construct a new green energy superhighway of 250 miles. The $2 billion project will create opportunities to maximize the use of renewable energy for the parts of the state that still rely on polluting fossil-fuel plants. Construction has already started on the New York Power Authority’s 86-mile Smart Path project from Massena to Croghan and key projects in Western New York, Mid-Hudson and the Capital Region.  

Public-Private Partnership to Build Nearly 100 Renewable Energy Projects: New York will contract for another 24 large-scale renewable energy generation projects in 2021, to bring the State’s total clean energy build-out to nearly 100 projects. The 23 solar farms and one hydroelectric facility will be the most cost-efficient clean energy construction to date in New York, producing more than 2,200 megawatts of clean power, generating more than $2.9 billion of investment and creating 3,400 jobs in 16 counties Upstate. 

Support Electric Buses: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget provides non-MTA transit systems with another $20 million of capital aid, for the second installment of a $100 million five-year program to support transit agencies’ transition to electric buses. Under this program, five of the largest upstate and suburban transit authorities will electrify 25 percent of their fleets by 2025 and 100 percent by 2035.

Addressing Systemic Injustices

Strengthen Policing Profession: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget strengthens hiring and background investigation standards for police officers through the establishment of a certification process. All police departments will be required to certify their compliance with minimum hiring and background investigation standards. This legislation prevents officers who commit serious or criminal misconduct from serving as officers in another police department.

Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes (SCAHC): The FY 2022 Enacted Budget adds $25 million to the Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes grant program. This program boosts safety and security at New York’s nonpublic schools, community centers and day care facilities at risk of hate crimes or attacks because of their ideology, beliefs or mission. This new funding may also be used to safeguard against cyber related hate crimes or attacks.

Liberty Defense Fund: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget authorizes $10 million for the Liberty Defense Fundto provide free legal consultations and screenings to help undocumented New Yorkers.

Support Raise the Age Implementation: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget includes a $250 million appropriation to support continued implementation of the Raise the Age initiative.

Elections Infrastructure and Voting Reforms: The Enacted Budget includes $25 million in capital funding to modernize and secure State and local voting infrastructure. The Budget also provides $2 million in local funding and $1 million in State Board of Elections funding to support the implementation and oversight of voting reforms, including early voting.

Tackling Food Insecurities: The FY 2022 Enacted Budget adds $50 million to Nourish New York for a total $85 million investment to extend the program through 2021. This critical program helps people who are food insecure access the nourishment that they need, leveraging the vast agricultural industry of New York State to connect food banks and providers to purchase locally grown and produced food.

Higher Education

Over $7.7 Billion for Higher Education: The Enacted Budget provides over $7.7 billion in State support for higher education in New York, an increase of $283 million, or 3.8 percent, from FY 2021. New York has increased funding for higher education by more than $1.7 billion, or 29 percent, since FY 2012. In addition, the Enacted Budget provides over $1 billion in new capital funding to SUNY and CUNY.

Use Federal Stimulus Aid to Support Our Neediest Students: New York’s colleges and universities are expected to receive an estimated $5.4 billion in direct Federal stimulus aid, including over $3.4 billion for public colleges and close to $2 billion for private colleges. SUNY and CUNY have almost $3 billion in remaining stimulus funds to spend over the next 2-3 years. A substantial portion of this funding will be used to provide financial aid grants to students with exceptional need, such as students who receive Pell grants.

Provide Record Support for Higher Education Opportunity Programs: The Enacted Budget includes a historic $247 million in State funding to provide academic and financial support to economically and educationally disadvantaged students through opportunity programs and training centers. The Budget adds $30 million for a 20 percent increase in funding for higher education opportunity programs and $4 million in additional aid for Education Opportunity Centers. Since 2012, funding for these programs has increased by $112 million or 83 percent.

Increase Maximum TAP Award by $500: The Enacted Budget includes $88 million to raise the maximum TAP award from $5,165 to $5,665, increasing TAP awards for approximately 185,000 New York residents attending public and private colleges in New York.

Enact a TAP Gap Funding Plan: The Enacted Budget includes a four-year plan to fund the gap in financial aid between TAP and tuition that is covered by SUNY and CUNY tuition credits. The plan gradually increases State support to fully cover an estimated $158 million in annual TAP tuition credits by the 2024-25 academic year.

Increase Aid to Community Colleges by $50 Per Student with a Funding Floor: The Enacted Budget increases community college formula aid from $2,947 per student to $3,197 per student and includes a funding floor at 98 percent of prior year formula aid. These changes will provide an additional $25 million in State support to over 200,000 community college students in the 2021-22 academic year.

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NYS Passes Budget With REcord School Aid, Green Economy Investments, Rent Relief, ChildCare, Small Biz

The newly opened Moynihan Station, New York City. New York State has just adopted its budget which continues historic investments to “reimagine, rebuild and renew New York in the aftermath of the worst health and economic crisis in a century,” and continues funding for the largest-in-the-nation $311 billion infrastructure plan and shift to a green economy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie today announced an agreement on the FY 2022 New York State Budget. The final budget accomplishes major legislative priorities, including:

  • A record $29.5 billion in aid to schools aid;
  • $29 billion in public and private green economy investments;
  • $2.4 billion for rent and homeowner relief;
  • $2.4 billion for child care;
  • $2.1 billion for excluded workers;
  • $1 billion for small business recovery;
  • A first-in-the-nation plan to make broadband internet affordable;
  • Legalizing mobile sports betting; and
  • Implementing comprehensive nursing home reforms.

Additionally, the Enacted Budget closes the deficit and invests in the ongoing response to the pandemic and recovery efforts.

Spending

The budget agreement includes spending in the following categories:

  • Total State Operating Funds: $111 billion
  • All Funds spending $212 billion
  • School Aid: $29.5 billion, a $3 billion increase.

“New York was ambushed early and hit hardest by COVID, devastating our economy and requiring urgent and unprecedented emergency spending to manage the pandemic,” Governor Cuomo said. “Thanks to the State’s strong fiscal management and relentless pursuit to secure the federal support that the pandemic demanded, we not only balanced our budget, we are also making historic investments to reimagine, rebuild and renew New York in the aftermath of the worst health and economic crisis in a century. This budget continues funding for the largest-in-the-nation $311 billion infrastructure plan, establishes a groundbreaking program to provide affordable internet for low-income families and enhances public safety through police reforms, all while continuing to provide relief to New Yorkers and small businesses as we recover from the pandemic. I thank the legislative leaders – Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Heastie – for their partnership in helping make this critical budget a reality and delivering results for the people of this state.”

“New York State approached this year’s budget with many challenges and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “However, driven by a commitment to long-term equity and prosperity for all, we have accomplished a great deal. I am proud of the strides we have made in funding our schools, helping businesses rebuild, and protecting New York’s most vulnerable. Working and middle-class taxpayers will receive the relief they desperately need, while the wealthiest New Yorkers will help their neighbors. This budget makes New York better for all. In the remaining months of session, the Senate Majority will continue to deliver results that are reflective of our progressive values and priorities.”

“Budgets are a statement of values, and in my two decades of service to the people of New York I can’t think of a more far-reaching and impactful budget than this,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said. “It meets longstanding goals of our Assembly Majority and addresses the historic inequities that have existed for too long. My colleagues and I have worked tirelessly to deliver a budget that will help New York rise from this health crisis and recover from its devastating economic impacts while upholding our commitment to putting New York families first. I am particularly proud that we have been able to make historic investments in our schools, keep higher education within reach, deliver the relief that our small businesses need to get back on their feet, and provide critical funding for child care that families need. I thank all my colleagues, especially Ways and Means Committee Chair Helene Weinstein, for their tireless efforts and advocacy in crafting a budget that truly meets the needs of all New Yorkers.”

New York State Legalizes Adult CannAbis

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation to legalize adult cannabis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.854-A/A.1248-A) legalizing adult-use cannabis, fulfilling a key component of his 2021 State of the State agenda. The bill establishes the Office of Cannabis Management to implement a comprehensive regulatory framework that covers medical, adult-use and cannabinoid hemp. The bill also expands New York State’s existing medical marijuana and cannabinoid hemp programs. The legislation provides licensing for marijuana producers, distributors, retailers, and other actors in the cannabis market, and creates a social and economic equity program to assist individuals disproportionately impacted by cannabis enforcement that want to participate in the industry.

The bill signing comes after the Governor, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced this past Sunday, March 28, that an agreement had been reached on the legislation.

The development of an adult-use cannabis industry in New York State under this legislation has the potential to create significant economic opportunities for New Yorkers and the State. Tax collections from the adult-use cannabis program are projected to reach $350 million annually. Additionally, there is the potential for this new industry to create 30,000 to 60,000 new jobs across the State.

“This is a historic day in New York – one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State’s economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits.” Governor Cuomo said. “This was one of my top priorities in this year’s State of the State agenda and I’m proud these comprehensive reforms address and balance the social equity, safety and economic impacts of legal adult-use cannabis. I thank both the Leader and the Speaker, and the tireless advocacy of so many for helping make today’s historic day possible.”

“Today, New York stepped up and took transformative action to end the prohibition of adult-use marijuana,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “This legislation is a momentous first step in addressing the racial disparities caused by the war on drugs that has plagued our state for too long. This effort was years in the making and we have finally achieved what many thought was impossible, a bill that legalizes marijuana while standing up for social equity, enhancing education and protecting public safety. I applaud Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes for their commitment and leadership on this issue.”

“Passage of this bill will mean not just legalizing marijuana, but also investing in education and our communities, and it brings to an end decades of disproportionately targeting people of color under state and federal drug laws,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “I thank Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes for her years of advocacy and efforts to make this bill a reality. My colleagues and I knew it was important to do this the right way – in a way that would include those targeted and frequently excluded from the process. Now, this legal industry will create jobs across our state, including for those who have had their lives upended by years of unjust drug laws.”

“I’m extremely humbled, proud and honored to have passed the historic Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act with my partners in government Senator Liz Krueger and Governor Cuomo. This social justice initiative will provide equity to positively transform disenfranchised communities of color for the better,” said Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “I believe this bill can serve as a blue print for future states seeking inclusive cannabis legalization. I would be remiss not to thank all of my family, colleagues, advocates and supporters over 8 long years.”

The Governor has included legalizing adult-use cannabis in his last three budget proposals.

The New York State Cannabis/Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act contains the following provisions:

Establish the Office of Cannabis Management

The Office of Cannabis Management will be charged with enforcing a comprehensive regulatory framework governing medical, adult-use cannabinoid hemp. It will be governed by a five-member board, with three members appointed by the Governor and one appointment by each house. OCM will be an independent office operating as part of the New York State Liquor Authority.

Medical Cannabis

The legislation will allow people with a larger list of medical conditions to access medical marijuana, increase the number of caregivers allowed per patient, and permit home cultivation of medical cannabis for patients.

Adult-Use Cannabis

The legislation will create a two-tier licensing structure that will allow for a large range of producers by separating those growers and processors from also owning retail stores. The legislation creates licenses for producers and distributors, among other entities, and the legislation will implement strict quality control, public health and consumer protections. A social and economic equity program will facilitate individuals disproportionally impacted by cannabis enforcement, including creating a goal of 50% of licenses to go to a minority or woman owned business enterprise, or distressed farmers or service-disabled veterans to encourage participation in the industry.

The Bill implements a new cannabis tax structure that will replace a weight-based tax with a tax per mg of THC at the distributor level with different rates depending on final product type. The wholesale excise tax will be moved to the retail level with a 9 percent state excise tax. The local excise tax rate will be 4 percent of the retail price. Counties will receive 25% of the local retail tax revenue and 75 percent will go to the municipality.

Cannabinoid Hemp

The legislation permits the sale of hemp flower in the cannabinoid hemp program, and allows for smokeable forms only when adult use retail stores are operational.

Adult-Use Cannabis Tax Revenue

All cannabis taxes will be deposited in the New York state cannabis revenue fund. Revenue covers reasonable costs to administer the program and implement the law. The remaining funding will be split three ways:

  • 40 Percent to Education
  • 40 Percent to Community Grants Reinvestment Fund
  • 20 Percent to Drug Treatment and Public Education Fund

Municipal Opt-Out

Cities, towns, and villages may opt-out of allowing adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licenses by passing a local law by December 31, 2021 or nine months after the effective date of the legislation. They cannot opt-out of adult-use legalization.

Traffic Safety

The New York State Department of Health will work with institutions of higher education to conduct a controlled research study designed to evaluate methodologies and technologies for the detection of cannabis-impaired driving. After completion of the research study, DOH may create and implement rules and regulations to approve and certify a test for the presence of cannabis in drivers.

The legislation includes additional funding for drug recognition experts and law enforcement to ensure safe roadways.

The use of cannabis by drivers will remain prohibited and will carry the same penalties as it does currently.

Personal Possession and Home Cultivation

The following conditions apply to growing cannabis at home and personal possession of cannabis outside the home:

  • Personal possession outside of the home: up to 3 ounces cannabis and 24 grams of cannabis concentrate
  • Home possession: amends limits of what is permitted in the home, which must be kept in a secure location away from children
  • Home grow: permitted under the bill subject to possession limits in 18 months after first adult-use sales begin for adult recreational use and subject to regulations of the Medical Program being promulgated no sooner than 6 months:
  • 3 mature plants and 3 immature plants for adults over 21
  • 6 mature plants and 6 immature plants maximum per household

Criminal Justice and Record Expungement

The cannabis penalty framework will be restructured to avoid the criminalization seen in prohibition. Reduced penalties will be implemented for possession and sale.

  • Creates automatic expungement or resentencing for anyone with a previous marijuana conviction that would now be legal under the law and provides necessary funding
  • Adds cannabis to the clean indoor air act which establishes a baseline on where cannabis can be smoked or vaped
  • Municipalities and local governments are permitted to make laws that are more restrictive than the CIAA. Contains various provisions to ensure that cannabis is treated as a lawful substance and to prevent discriminatory enforcement

Protections for the Use of Cannabis and Workplace Safety

Unlawful discrimination will be prohibited and workplace safety protections will be implemented.

Public Health and Education Campaign

OCM will establish a robust public health and education campaign and work with neighboring states and associations to coordinate actions and policies to protect regional health and safety.

This legislation builds on years of work to understand and decriminalize cannabis for adult use. In 2018, the Department of Health, under Governor Cuomo’s direction, conducted a multi-agency study, which concluded that the positive impacts of legalizing adult-use cannabis far outweighed the negatives. It also found that decades of cannabis prohibition have failed to achieve public health and safety goals and have led to unjust arrests and convictions particularly in communities of color. 

In 2019, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to decriminalize the penalties for unlawful possession of marijuana. The legislation also put forth a process to expunge records for certain marijuana convictions. Later that year, the Governor spearheaded a multi-state summit to discuss paths towards legalization of adult-use cannabis that would ensure public health and safety and coordinate programs regionally to minimize the cross-border movement of cannabis products.

Governor Cuomo’s 2021 Agenda for New York State: Reimagine, Rebuild, Renew

Governor Cuomo, in his 2021 agenda, said he would build upon the opening of the $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall,  New York’s most ambitious transportation and infrastructure upgrade in decades, to complete the build out and connectivity of Midtown West with a bold transit-oriented development plan. The $51 billion plan will create 196,000 jobs, new outdoor spaces, affordable housing, improved public transit and pedestrian connections, and bring commercial and affordable housing opportunities to the burgeoning Manhattan neighborhood. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Cuomo’s Agenda is Focused on Defeating COVID-19 and Reopening the State Safely; Jumpstarting the Economy; Creating a Fairer, More Just State; Leading the Development of the Green Energy Economy; and Building and Strengthening the State’s Infrastructure 

Proposals Include the Largest Off-Shore Wind Program in the Nation; Five Dedicated Port Facilities to make New York a Global Wind Energy Manufacturing Powerhouse; Building a Green Energy Transmission Superhighway; Creating a new 1,000 person Public Health Corps; Safely Reopening Businesses and Bringing Back the Arts; Legalizing Adult-Use Cannabis and Online Sports Betting; First-in-the-Nation Affordable Internet for All; Expanding Early Voting; and $306 Billion Infrastructure Plan – Largest in the Nation – to Update Airports and Transportation Infrastructure and Redevelop Manhattan’s Midtown West Neighborhood

2021 State of the State Book Available Here

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2021 agenda – Reimagine | Rebuild | Renew – features nation-leading proposals to not only defeat COVID-19, but also tackle critical issues facing New York and the country, including jumpstarting New York’s economic recovery; creating a fairer, more just state; reopening the state; becoming a leader in the growing green energy economy; and rebuilding and strengthening New York’s infrastructure. Proposals include legalizing adult-use cannabis and online sports betting; first-in-the-nation affordable internet for all; safely bringing back the arts with pop-up performances and events; the largest off-shore wind program in the nation; five dedicated port facilities to make New York a global wind energy manufacturing powerhouse; building a green energy transmission superhighway and; The largest infrastructure plan in the nation to update the state’s airports and transportation infrastructure, including a new Port Authority bus terminal, and redevelop Manhattan’s Midtown West neighborhood.

 “There are moments in life that can change a person fundamentally – sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Likewise, there are episodes in history that transform society and COVID is one of those moments. We see the risk and peril, but we also see the promise and potential of this moment.” Governor Cuomo said. “This next year we will see economies realign and reset around the world and New York will lead the way. In a moment when nagging insecurity can either limit your potential or give way to the energy of urgency, necessity, and innovation. We know the direction we are headed – it is our state motto, Excelsior- ever upwards.”

Governor Cuomo continued, “New York is different – our DNA is different, our character is different. What COVID did to us is different and how we responded to COVID is different. We have a confidence born from accomplishment. We know what we must do and we will do it. We will win the COVID war and we will learn and grow from the experience.After the war, reconstruction begins. That is when progress is made. We must start our post COVID war reconstruction now. We can and we will build back a better and stronger New York. We have done it throughout history, we did it last year, and we will do it again. It is our legacy.”

2021 REIMAGINE | REBUILD | RENEW HIGHLIGHTS 

DEFEATING COVID-19, JUMPSTARTING THE ECONOMY, AND CREATING A FAIRER, MORE JUST STATE

New York State Governor Cuomo at Northwell Health on Long Island. The governor’s 2021 agenda is focused on defeating COVID-19 and reopening the state safely. In addition to expanding accessibility to vaccinations, he is pushing to pass the Medical Supplies Act and expand telemedicine. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Passing the Medical Supplies Act: The United States was ill-prepared for a global pandemic when it came to our shores in 2020. At the outset of the COVID-19 crisis, New York State, along with the rest of the country, faced a severe shortage of basic Personal Protective Equipment, leaving our frontline health care professionals vulnerable to contracting the disease that we so desperately needed them to fight. To ensure that hospitals had the supplies needed to protect their patients and workers, New York was forced to compete with other countries — and even states — to secure critical products from overseas.

To promote domestic manufacturing of critical medical equipment and to reduce dependency on overseas products, Governor Cuomo is proposing that New York pass the Medical Supplies Act to prioritize buying American-made PPE and medical supplies. As the Buy American Act, made permanent last year, did for American-made structural iron and steel, this new policy will help create and retain local jobs while ensuring the health and dependability of a crucial sector for years to come.

Comprehensive Telehealth Legislation: The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the inequities in our healthcare system and showed that telehealth is a critical tool to expand access and lower costs for low-income communities, especially for behavioral health support. During the crisis, the Governor took executive action to expand access to remote care. These proposals codify and build on those successful reforms.

In partnership with the Reimagine New York Commission, the Governor will enact comprehensive telehealth reform to help New Yorkers take advantage of telehealth tools and address existing roadblocks. These reforms will address key issues like adjusting reimbursement incentives to encourage telehealth, eliminating outdated regulatory prohibitions on the delivery of telehealth, removing outdated location requirements, addressing technical unease among both patients and providers through training programs, and establishing other programs to incentivize innovative uses of telehealth.

Ensuring Social and Racial Justice for the Vaccination Effort: In order to ensure the vaccine is distributed equitably, especially in communities of color, Governor Cuomo created the New York Vaccine Equity Task Force. Chaired by Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, Attorney General Letitia James, National Urban League President & CEO Marc Morial, and Healthfirst President & CEO Pat Wang, the Governor’s Equity Task Force will assist in overcoming existing barriers to vaccination and increase access to vaccines in Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, rural, poor, and public housing communities, as well as other health care deserts.

To support the vaccine rollout, the Task Force was directed by the Governor to build trust and acknowledge the pervasive structural inequities that have contributed to existing health and social disparities, address language access issues, ensure protections of privacy and confidentiality, and develop outreach efforts and community engagements that are regionally placed, culturally responsive, and representative of all communities. As vaccine availability increases from the federal government, the State will establish in partnership with private entities and localities, public clinics to reach vulnerable and underserved communities.  

New York State Public Health Corps: While working to make New York the first COVID-19-safe state in the nation through widespread vaccination, we must also prepare for future public health crises. To support New York’s massive effort to vaccinate nearly 20 million New Yorkers and support other public health emergency responses, Governor Cuomo is proposing the launch of the nation’s first public health corps. As part of the effort, up to 1,000 fellows will be recruited to assist with vaccination operations. These fellows will include students in undergraduate and graduate public health programs, nursing schools and medical schools, recent graduates, retired medical professionals, and laypeople who will receive an intensive public health training curriculum developed by Cornell University. Bloomberg Philanthropies, Northwell, and our Department of Health will manage and coordinate the Corps.

After the vaccination program is completed, New York will build on this Public Health Corps model by continuing to recruit and train public health professionals to staff State and county health agencies and this Corps will be available and prepared to serve the state in any future crisis.

Free Citizen Public Health Training: To empower and educate New Yorkers to be prepared for the next public health crises, the State will develop a free citizen public health training program with Cornell, offered online, to educate and certify thousands of New Yorkers to be prepared to volunteer to help their communities the next time there is a health emergency.

Fight for Overdue Federal Support to States Fighting COVID-19: New York was blindsided by the virus in early spring. Despite vast agencies tasked with monitoring health threats, and months of warning, the federal government failed to respond to — or even notice — the growing global pandemic. When they finally took notice, the federal government was solely focused on China such that they allowed 3 million travelers from Europe — where the virus was rapidly spreading —to enter New York City-area airports and others. This was an act of gross negligence by the federal government. New York State led the nation in its response. Left to fend for itself by the federal government, New Yorkers bent the curve and, with a science-based approach, re-opened much of the economy while maintaining some of the lowest infection rates in the nation.

However, even as portions of the economy have bounced back, many sectors have seen significant job losses and remain severely impacted, all contributing to New York’s significant fiscal challenges. The State is contending with a $15 billion budget gap created entirely by the pandemic. For too long, New York has been asked to unfairly subsidize the federal government. As the federal government’s number one donor, New York already leads the nation in sending more money to Washington than it gets back in return. On top of that, Washington has relentlessly abused this state, providing the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rate in the nation, starving infrastructure funding, and curtailing the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction, which raised New Yorkers’ taxes and starved New York of $30 billion over three years. After all of this, New York cannot also afford to pay the bill for the federal government’s incompetence.

Governor Cuomo will fight to ensure that the federal government takes responsibility and delivers the fair funding New York and other states are owed.

Pass a Comprehensive Adult-Use Cannabis Program: In 2019, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to decriminalize the penalties for unlawful possession of marijuana. The legislation also put forth a process to expunge records for certain marijuana convictions. Later that year, the Governor spearheaded a multi-state summit to discuss paths towards legalization of adult-use cannabis that would ensure public health and safety, and coordinate programs regionally to minimize the cross-border movement of cannabis products.

Building on that important work, the Governor is proposing the creation of a new Office of Cannabis Management to oversee a new adult-use cannabis program, as well as the State’s existing medical and cannabinoid hemp programs. Additionally, an equitable structure for the adult-use market will be created by offering licensing opportunities and assistance to entrepreneurs in communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Cannabis legalization will create more than 60,000 new jobs, spurring $3.5 billion in economic activity and generating more than $300 million in tax revenue when fully implemented.

Enabling Online Sports Betting: The sports gambling market is evolving rapidly. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court in Murphy v. NCAA overturned a federal law prohibiting most states from authorizing sports wagering. Sports wagering is now legal online in 14 states, including the bordering states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, while it is only legal in New York at four Upstate commercial gaming facilities and Native American gaming facilities. An industry study found that nearly 20 percent of New Jersey’s sports wagering revenue comes from New York residents, costing the State millions of dollars in lost tax revenue.

Under Governor Cuomo’s proposal, the New York State Gaming Commission will issue a request for proposals to select one or more providers to offer mobile sports wagering in New York. The Commission will also require any entity operating mobile wagering apps include safeguards against abuses and addiction. 

Create a Rapid Testing Network as a Tool to Help Businesses Reopen: Over the past several months, Governor Cuomo’s New York Forward reopening plan has paved the way for many businesses to resume operations safely through a phased approach and in accordance with public health protocols. While this has unleashed the ingenuity and creativity of New York businesses — such as new outdoor dining spaces and delivery options — it has also created significant financial struggles for these industries.

New York has been at the forefront of developing testing capacity throughout the COVID-19 crisis and will use that experience to help support the reopening of businesses. The State will continue to scale up the availability of testing to help businesses safely reduce capacity restrictions, as well as work with testing companies to stand up a network of convenient testing sites in city centers, starting with New York City. New York will also work with local governments to cut through any red tape to set up this critical infrastructure quickly. With this new network of rapid testing locations, a customer can stop into a new rapid testing facility, get tested, and 15 minutes later be cleared for dinner or a movie. This will provide an added layer of protection and confidence as New Yorkers resume economic activity.

Calls to divest police at Black Lives Matter protest in suburban Long Island and throughout the state prompted Governor Cuomo to demand localities work with communities to come up with police reform or lose state aid © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Facilitating Policing Reforms: This year, Governor Cuomo took swift and aggressive action to respond to community concerns and rebuild public trust in the law enforcement profession following the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daniel Prude, and far too many others. The Governor signed the “Say Their Name” reform agenda which repealed 50-a, banned chokeholds, prohibited race-based 911 calls, and codified his 2015 Executive Order that appointed the Attorney General as an independent prosecutor for police involved deaths of unarmed civilians. He also signed legislation creating the Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office within the Attorney General’s Office to investigate complaints of misconduct filed against law enforcement agencies.

However, unrest and distrust continued to roil communities in New York and across the nation. Maintaining public safety is imperative; it is one of the essential roles of government, and communities require mutual trust and respect between police and the communities they serve. In recognition of this, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 203 creating the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative. This collaborative process requires all local governments and police forces to develop a plan to modernize their policing strategies and strengthen relationships with the communities they serve. Localities are required to engage their community and ratify a plan by April 1, 2021. Failure to complete this process will result in loss of State funding.

Facilitating the Creation of Statewide Childcare Options: The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how a lack of access to affordable childcare can disrupt low-income families and force caregivers, primarily women, to choose between putting food on the table and caring for their children. While affordability serves as a barrier to families securing child care, there is also a lack of general accessibility of child care programs, as well as insufficient high quality provider capacity across the state which can inhibit families from accessing child care. 

To make child care more affordable and equitable for our most vulnerable children and their parents, Governor Cuomo will invest $40 million to reduce the burden of parent subsidy copays to help approximately 32,000 working families. This will ensure that no New York family pays more than 20 percent of their income above the federal poverty level for a child care subsidy co-pay, with the rest of the cost of care being covered by the subsidy.

To ensure that all families have access to high-quality child care, New York State will invest $6 million for start-up grants to create programs in child care deserts; increase the value of the New York State Employer-Provided Child Care Credit by expanding the amount a business can claim for qualified child care expenditures to up to $500,000 per year; create a new toolkit to provide guidance and assistance to businesses looking to subsidize and facilitate access to child care for their employees; and establish permanent child care sector workgroups within the Regional Economic Development Councils REDCs to guide and inform council decisions. The Governor will also establish a new Excelsior Child Care Investment Tax Credit available to recipients of the Excelsior Tax Credit as a bonus incentive to create and provide child care services for employees and their families.

To ease administrative burdens and make it easier and less costly to provide child care services, Governor Cuomo will adopt the Child Care Availability Task Force recommendations to standardize and modernize the child care subsidy system to eliminate waste, duplication, and confusing rules for families. Specifically, the Governor will direct the Office of Children and Family Services and the Council on Children and Families to examine federal and state statutes and regulations to identify opportunities for reform and streamlining; eliminate redundant background checks that increase administrative burdens and costs for providers; and advance legislation to eliminate the requirement that individuals seeking employment at OCFS or in New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene regulated programs submit a new Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment clearance form when they move to a new program.

Streamlining and Enhancing Work to Address Gender-Based Violence: Ending domestic violence and sexual assault has been at the top of New York’s agenda since Governor Cuomo first took office. Throughout his time as Governor, Governor Cuomo has signed extensive legislation relating to ensuring safety for girls, women, and all survivors of domestic trauma and abuse, including legislation in the FY 2021 budget authorizing law enforcement to remove guns from the scene of a domestic violence incident, and requiring judges to consider the effects of domestic violence while determining distribution of marital property. The Governor also signed the Enough is Enough law in July, 2015 to address sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking on college campuses.

The Governor is now proposing to take this work a step further through a comprehensive package of initiatives to combat domestic violence and gender-based violence. The package includes a proposal allowing courts to require abusers to pay for damages to housing units, moving expenses, and other housing costs related to domestic violence, as well as a proposals to create a domestic violence misdemeanor label to close the domestic violence gun-purchasing loophole to ensure abusers cannot obtain weapons who are convicted of misdemeanor assaults on a domestic partner. 

Additionally, the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence will be transformed into a reimagined agency, the Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence, and will be tasked with addressing the intersection of the many forms of intimate partner violence, including domestic violence and sexual violence, in a survivor-centered and comprehensive manner.

Providing Rent and Mortgage Relief for Tenants and Small Business Owners: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented economic dislocation across the United States, and New York is no exception. The financial hardships arising from business closures and resulting unemployment touch on every aspect of life but are perhaps most acutely felt by New Yorkers in danger of losing their homes or businesses because they can no longer afford to pay their mortgage or rent.  

The Governor has already signed legislation placing a moratorium on residential evictions until May 1, 2021 for tenants who have endured COVID-related hardship. Taking this effort a step further, Governor Cuomo will codify his Executive Order banning fees for late and missed rent payments during the pandemic and allowing tenants to use their security deposit as immediate payment and repay the deposit over time, keeping those protections in place through May 1. The Governor will also codify his Executive Order to establish a statewide moratorium on commercial evictions until May 1 for commercial tenants who have endured COVID-related hardship.

Eliminating Health Care Premiums for Low-Income New Yorkers: The COVID-19 pandemic showcased the persistent, staggering healthcare disparities in this country and in New York State. Blacks, Latinos, Asians and poor communities paid the highest price for COVID-19. Higher rates of underlying conditions were a major driver of these disparities. Increasing access to affordable healthcare will help address these disparities and help ensure that New York emerges from the pandemic stronger and more equitable.

Through New York’s successful health insurance exchange, the New York State of Health, low-income families qualify for the state’s Essential Plan for free or with a maximum premium of $20 a month per person. However, families and individuals still struggle with the expense. To make coverage more affordable for low-income New Yorkers, Governor Cuomo will eliminate these monthly premiums for over 400,000 New Yorkers, saving families nearly $100 million per year in premiums and enrolling 100,000 New Yorkers who are currently uninsured. 

Continuing New York’s Liberty Defense Project: Launched in 2017 under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the first-in-the-nation Liberty Defense Project has provided more than 45,000 vital legal services to immigrants and communities in need — particularly those who have been targeted by federal immigration enforcement tactics, including those in Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals or Temporary Protected Status. The project is administered by the Office for New Americans and runs in partnership with law firms, legal associations, advocacy organizations, colleges, universities, and bar associations across the state. The Liberty Defense Project provides free legal consultations and screenings for immigrants throughout New York, direct representation in deportation proceedings and other cases, assistance in applying for naturalization and employment authorization, and other education and support, including connection to social services and health care.

This year, Governor Cuomo will continue to support the Liberty Defense Project to keep fighting for immigrants seeking a better life for themselves and their families. New York’s strength, character, and pride are found in the diversity and rich culture that makes us the Empire State. We will continue to support and defend all who call New York home.

Strengthening and expanding access to elections is part of Governor Cuomo’s 2021 agenda (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Strengthening and Expanding Access to Elections: Building from New York’s previous landmark election reforms, Governor Cuomo has put forth a transformational proposal that continues to expand access to voting and improves procedures to speed up vote counting and add additional time for early voting. Specifically:

         Expand Access to Early Voting:Governor Cuomo will advance legislation that extends early voting hours from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm on weekends as well as on a minimum of three week days during the ten-day early voting period.

         No-Excuse Absentee Voting for All New Yorkers:In 2019, Governor Cuomo celebrated the Legislature’s passage of a resolution beginning the process of amending the state constitution to make no-excuse absentee voting a reality in our state. In 2021, the Governor will call on the Legislature to act quickly to pass the resolution again so that the proposed amendment can go on the ballot to be ratified by the voters.

         Allow More Time for Voters to Request Absentee Ballots: The state’s election law currently prohibits voters from requesting their absentee ballots more than 30 days prior to Election Day. Particularly in elections with large numbers of absentee voters, this timeline may make it difficult for county boards of elections to process ballot requests in a timely and efficient manner. This, in turn, provides voters with less time to receive their ballots, vote, and mail them back. Governor Cuomo will advance legislation allowing voters to request absentee ballots 45 days prior to the election, ensuring they can be mailed as soon as the ballot is finalized and approved by the Board.

         Speed Up the Counting of Absentee Ballots:New York State’s election law does not facilitate the speedy counting of large numbers of absentee ballots – the law only requires that boards of elections meet to process and count ballots within two weeks of a general election and within eight days of a primary election. To ensure that New York State counts absentee votes quickly and efficiently after each election, Governor Cuomo will introduce legislation requiring county boards of elections to process absentee ballots as they are received and to begin counting and reporting those ballots on Election Day.

Creatively Repurposing Underutilized Commercial Space for Additional Housing: As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded, New York, like states across the country, has seen an increase in telework and a reduction in travel. New York City must, and will, remain a global commercial hub, by ensuring that its central business district remains the paramount location for the world’s most innovative and successful businesses and their employees. Reduced demand for office and hotel space has created an opportunity to repurpose formerly commercial space that has far greater potential for use as housing, including affordable and supportive housing, to create dynamic, 24/7 walk-to-work neighborhoods.

Governor Cuomo will propose legislation to allow property owners to convert office buildings and hotels in New York to residential use. Stimulating housing conversion will create thousands of good-paying jobs, increase housing affordability, and support long-term economic growth by helping New York’s employers attract and retain talent. 

Ensuring Safe Shelters and Providing Sustained Care for Homeless on the Street: Governor Cuomo has been a leader in protecting and serving homeless New Yorkers throughout his entire career, and he took action during the COVID-19 crisis to ensure they received the support and care they need. In September, Governor Cuomo directed the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to issue guidance to all social services 

REOPENING SAFELY AND SMARTLY FOLLOWING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Safely Bringing Back the Arts with Pop-Up Performances and Events: New York is the cultural capital of the world. Our unique cultural assets — Broadway, museums, film, comedy, dance, and music — are fundamental to both the economy and the spirit of New York. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the $120 billion arts and cultural sector accounted for nearly eight percent of the state’s economy, and nearly 500,000 jobs. In less than a year, over two million jobs in the creative arts were lost nationally, including tens of thousands of jobs in New York.

New York State will launch a public-private partnership that will organize “pop-up” performances and arts events across the state beginning in February. More than 150 world-class artists including Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, Renée Fleming, Wynton Marsalis, and Hugh Jackman will participate, along with arts organizations such as the Ballet Hispanico, Ars Nova, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the National Black Theatre, Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake, and many others supported by New York State Council on the Arts, which works with over 2,000 arts organizations across the state.

Supporting New York Artists Through the Creatives Rebuild Initiative: The State will partner with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to launch a Creatives Rebuild initiative. Developed in partnership with the Reimagine New York Commission, this initiative will put back to work 1,000 artists who have been impacted by the crisis and will invest in dozens of small arts organizations that make our towns and cities so dynamic. Arts have a multiplying effect on the economy. Creatives Rebuild will provide New York artists support so they can help build more vibrant communities across New York.

First-in-the-Nation Affordable Internet for All Low-Income Families: When the COVID-19 virus first came to New York and then quickly began to spread throughout our communities, students and adults alike had to adapt to remote learning and remote work to keep each other safe. Immediately, it became clear that universal broadband was a prerequisite for success in a remote world. Currently, a basic high-speed internet plan costs, on average, more than $50 a month. Governor Cuomo will propose first-in-the-nation legislation requiring internet service providers to offer an affordable $15 per month high speed internet plan to all low-income households. The State will also require providers to advertise this plan to ensure programs reach underserved populations across the State. To further bridge the gap, the State will partner with Schmidt Futures and the Ford Foundation to launch a new hardship fund to pay for internet subscriptions for our most in need students who cannot afford $15 per month during this crisis. 

After nearly $500 million dollars invested to expand broadband internet to 98 percent of the state, New York will also lead the nation in making broadband affordable. Without affordable broadband, people are not only disconnected, they are disenfranchised. The Reimagine New York Commission reported to the Governor that high-quality, affordable broadband must be available to everyone and in New York we will make sure it is.

Partner with New York Businesses to Invest in Workforce Training, Expand Apprenticeships and Mentorships, and Reform Recruitment and Promotion Policies: The COVID-19 health emergency has pushed many New Yorkers out of work, with the greatest losses impacting lower and middle-income households. Equally important is the demand side of the workforce equation: Businesses must help design programs to meet skill gaps and commit to hiring workers once training is complete. 

In partnership with the Governor’s Reimagine New York Commission, New York is launching a Pathways Pledge among New York’s leading employers, both public and private, to commit to reforming their talent recruitment, investment, and promotion policies and ensure more equitable workforces post-COVID-19. To date, 16 companies have made the pledge, affecting more than 120,000 workers in New York State. In 2021, New York State plans to triple that commitment. 

Participating employers have committed to at least two of the following: Investing in workforce retraining; creating apprenticeship opportunities for underrepresented populations; providing additional supports for low-income trainees in the form of child care or transportation subsidies; removing high school or postsecondary degree requirements for new hires; scaling relationships with existing workforce development partners to provide adequate time off for interviews and professional development opportunities, and develop new relationships with New York State providers serving underserved communities.

Provide Scholarships to Low-Income Workers for Workforce Training Programs: While many in the New York community colleges, nonprofits, or business training providers offer workforce training, workers who do not qualify for current college subsidies must pay the full cost. This can be a barrier to entry into the training opportunities needed to achieve higher wages and break into growing industries.

As New York builds back better, Governor Cuomo is announcing nearly $5 million in scholarships to create more opportunities for low-income, working New Yorkers to enter the middle class. Like the successful Excelsior Scholarship which launched in 2017, this program will make high-quality credential programs free for low-income New Yorkers, empowering them to earn credentials that will lead to middle-class jobs in high-demand industries.  

Expand SUNY’s Online Training Center to Close Skills Gaps and Fill High Demand Jobs: The COVID-19 public health crisis has led to an economic crisis across New York State and the world. The working class was particularly hard hit with leisure and hospitality, trade and logistics, and retail industries facing unprecedented revenue losses. As workers seek new job opportunities, non-degree certification credential programs can be an important way to close skills gaps and fill high demand jobs.

Governor Cuomo will expand SUNY’s free Online Training Center so New Yorkers can enroll in additional employment certification programs for quality jobs in high-demand growing industries, like health care and advanced manufacturing. The Training Center will give more New Yorkers in every region of the state — from rural communities to urban centers — another opportunity to receive free job training certifications and then automatically be admitted to any one of SUNY’s 30 community colleges for future career advancements

Convene a Commission on the Future of New York’s Economy: Governor Cuomo will establish the Commission on the Future of New York’s Economy to put forth a roadmap to address the underlying inequities exposed by the COVID-19 crisis, — including the socio-economic disparities that the crisis exacerbated — get New York back to work in jobs that pay well and continue to attract people from around the world to live and work in New York. The Commission will be composed of leading members of the nation’s academic, business, labor, and civil society leaders. NYU Wagner School of Public Service Dean Sherry Glied will serve as Executive Director of this Commission. 

GROWING THE GREEN ENERGY ECONOMY

Long Islanders protest to win LIPA’s approval of offshore wind farms in 2016. Governor Cuomo announced two of the largest offshore wind projects in the nation that will are being built off Montauk and the south shore of Long Island that will produce 2490 megawatts of carbon-free energy and $8.9 billion in investment © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Largest Offshore Wind Program in the Nation: In 2021, New York will continue to build out its nation-leading green economic recovery and accelerate renewable energy development programs. The state will contract with Equinor Wind US LLC for the development of two new offshore wind farms more than 20 miles off the shore of Long Island, in what is the largest procurement of renewable energy by a state in U.S. history. Upon completion, the two offshore wind farms will yield a combined 2,490 megawatts of carbon-free energy, bring another $8.9 billion in investment, and create more than 5,200 jobs. 

Once the large-scale renewable and offshore wind farms are complete, more than half of New York’s electricity will come from renewable sources, putting the state ahead of schedule toward reaching its goal of 70 percent renewable energy by 2030.

Global Wind Energy Manufacturing Powerhouse: New York has secured commitments from companies to manufacture wind turbine components within the state and build the nation’s largest offshore wind program. Plans to make New York State a global wind energy manufacturing powerhouse include upgrades to create five dedicated port facilities, including:  

         The nation’s first offshore wind tower-manufacturing facility to be built at the Port of Albany. 

         An offshore wind turbine staging facility and operations and maintenance hub to be established at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. 

         Increasing the use of the Port of Coeymans for cutting-edge turbine foundation manufacturing, and

         Buttressing the ongoing operations and maintenance out of Port Jefferson and Port of Montauk Harbor in Long Island.

The projects will leverage almost $3 of private funding for every $1 of public funding, for a combined $644 million investment in these port facilities, and will ultimately yield 2,600 short- and long-term jobs in the offshore wind industry.

Construct New York’s Green Energy Transmission Superhighway: As New York builds substantial capacity to generate clean energy Upstate, the next challenge is to create a modern transmission system capable of delivering this electricity efficiently to high-demand areas Downstate. Last year, New Yorkers utility bills reflected approximately $1 billion in unnecessary “congestion costs” because of bottlenecks on our antiquated transmission grid. 

 In 2021, New York State will construct a new green energy superhighway of 250 miles. The $2 billion project will create opportunities to maximize the use of renewable energy for the parts of the state that still rely on polluting fossil-fuel plants. Construction has already started on the New York Power Authority’s 86-mile Smart Path project from Massena to Croghan, and construction will soon start on several key projects in Western New York, Mid-Hudson, and the Capital Region. 

New York has issued a Request for Proposals for transmission arteries to bring renewable energy from Upstate and Canada to New York City. Supercharging the new transmission superhighway will be vital to completing New York’s nation-leading green economic recovery and accelerating renewable energy development programs. Current and planned investments will result in more than 1,000 jobs and $5 billion of public and private sector investment.

Solar panel array on a farm in the Finger Lakes, New York. Cuomo is advocating public-private partnerships to build nearly 100 renewable energy projects © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Public-Private Partnership to Build Nearly 100 Renewable Energy Projects: New York’s clean energy transformation has accelerated rapidly over the past five years. During this period, the State has contracted for the construction of 68 new large-scale renewable energy facilities including solar farms, onshore wind farms, and three offshore wind farms that are among the largest in the nation. These investments in renewable energy have brought economic activity to 34 distinct counties, will add 6,100 megawatts of clean energy capacity to the state’s infrastructure, and generate investment of more than $12 billion.

To build on this remarkable progress, New York will contract for another 24 large-scale renewable energy generation projects in 2021, to bring the State’s total clean energy build-out to nearly 100 projects. The 23 solar farms and one hydroelectric facility will be the most cost-efficient clean energy construction to date in New York, producing more than 2,200 megawatts of clean power, generating more than $2.9 billion of investment and creating 3,400 jobs in 16 counties Upstate. 

Energy Storage Projects: New York will continue to develop and deploy state-of-the-art renewable energy storage technology and facilities to generate electricity, build the capacity for storage, and help the state achieve its ambitious climate plans. To that end, the New York Power Authority has already begun construction on a large-scale, 20-megawatt battery storage project in Northern New York, one of the largest storage projects in the State’s growing portfolio of almost 1,000 megawatts of contracted storage projects. These projects will help meet the electricity demands of 1.2 million New York homes using renewable energy. In addition, these projects will help continue propelling this fast-growing job sector.

Train the Green Energy Workforce: New York’s accelerated renewable energy development program is creating thousands of well-paying jobs.  To make sure all New Yorkers benefit directly from growth in this sector, the State is investing $20 million in a new Offshore Wind Training Institute based at SUNY Stony Brook and Farmingdale State College. The Institute will train at least 2,500 New Yorkers for good-paying jobs in wind and renewable. energy. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the State University of New York has issued the first solicitation for advanced technology training partners to leverage our SUNY system and train the first group of workers beginning in the summer of 2021.

New York is also investing $700 million in building electrification solutions for approximately 130,000 buildings in the state, including a variety of heat pump technologies, and the training of 14,000 workers for the new heat pump markets.. Approximately 25 percent of the workers trained will be from disadvantaged communities or priority populations. 

Combined with our efforts in the buildings and transportation sectors, our entire green economy recovery will create 12,400 megawatts of green energy to power 6 million homes, directly create over 50,000 jobs, and spur more than $29 billion in public and private investment, while delivering to environmental justice communities and benefiting all New Yorkers by securing our carbon-free climate future.

BUILDING AND STRENGTHENING NEW YORK’S INFRASTRUCTURE

Governor Cuomo said he would build upon the opening of the $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall,  New York’s most ambitious transportation and infrastructure upgrade in decades, as an example of New York State’s “can-do,” forward-looking attitude fundamental to his “Reimagine, Rebuild, Renew” agenda © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Midtown West Redevelopment in New York City: New York State has long led some of New York City’s most successful and transformational macro-development projects, from Battery Park City to Roosevelt Island, to the transformation of Times Square. This year, the Governor has already announced the opening of the $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall,  New York’s most ambitious transportation and infrastructure upgrade in decades, and plans to extend the High Line to Moynihan Train Hall.  In 2021, New York State will build on that progress to complete the buildout and connectivity of Midtown West with a bold transit-oriented development plan. The $51 billion plan will create 196,000 jobs, new outdoor spaces, affordable housing, improved public transit and pedestrian connections, and bring commercial and affordable housing opportunities to the burgeoning Manhattan neighborhood. The multi-faceted plan includes:

         Replacing the Port Authority Bus Terminal:The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will replace the outdated terminal with a new state-of-the-art facility to better serve the over a quarter million daily passengers. The project will not only reduce congestion on city streets and improve air quality but will transform mass transit to and from the West Side of Manhattan. Renderings of the future bus terminal are available here.

         Developing the Empire Station ComplexWith the completion of the Moynihan Train Hall, which opened to the public on January 1, 2021, the State will turn its attention to the existing Penn Station, just across the street. The State will start on a comprehensive $16 billion project to reconstruct the existing station and add track capacity. By acquiring property south of Penn Station, we can expand the complex to 40 percent more train capacity and at least eight additional underground tracks to cut down on delays and improve operations for the more than 600,000 passengers it serves daily. Renderings for the reconstruction of the existing station can be found here.

The signature transportation project will create nearly 60,000 direct jobs, and New York State stands ready to work with New Jersey Transit, Amtrak, and the federal government to share in this historic investment for the future of the region. The transformation of Penn Station also anticipates the Gateway Project, including two tunnels to bring more trains across the Hudson from the west and the renovation of the two existing tunnels, for a total of four train tunnels from New Jersey and beyond.

         Affordable Housing and Community Restoration: With the new transportation complex as a cornerstone, the Midtown West development will also include new housing and commercial development opportunities in the area. In total, the area spanning from Broadway to the Hudson will include up to 14 buildings that will yield more than 20 million square feet of retail, commercial, and residential development and provide up to 1,400 much-needed units of affordable housing in a transit, job, and amenity-rich community.

         New Waterfront Park at Pier 76: Located west of the Javits Center and 36th Street, the State will transform Pier 76 from an NYPD car tow pound to a 5.6-acre expansion of Hudson River Park. In the short term, it can become a magnificent public space that allows visitor access to the waterfront while the Hudson River Park Trust develops plans for the Pier’s long-term future. Renderings of Pier 76 are available here.

         Javits Center Expansion: The 1.2 million-square-foot, $1.5 billion expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Center will be completed in 2021, increasing capacity of the nation’s busiest convention center by 50 percent. The expansion will include a rooftop pavilion and outdoor terrace for 1,500 people; a one-acre rooftop farm; a 54,000-square foot special event space with Hudson River views; 90,000 square feet of new exhibition space that will create 500,000 square feet of contiguous exhibition space; and a truck marshaling facility to reduce congestion and pollution.

Modernizing New York Airports:

         Continue to build the new LaGuardia Airport: New York will continue the historic $8 billion transformation of LaGuardia Airport. Upon receipt of a positive record of decision from the federal government, New York State will continue work on the $2 billion AirTrain LaGuardia. In addition, the vast majority of the roadway network will be completed this year and marks significant progress on Delta’s new state-of-the-art terminal and concourses on the east side of the airport. When complete, the new LaGuardia will be the first new major airport built in the United States since 1995. The new LaGuardia will serve more than 30 million passengers per year and will have created 14,000 jobs.

         Continue the transformation of JFK Airport: New York State will continue the $13 billion plan to transform John F. Kennedy International Airport into a modern airport built for the 21st century. When complete, the brand new JFK will safely and efficiently serve more than 75 million passengers per year. The project is also slated to create nearly 30,000 jobs. As part of the JFK Airport transformation, the State is modernizing the Kew Gardens Interchange, which serves more than 200,000 vehicles daily. The final phase of this $700 million project will be complete in 2022.

Albany International Airport. New York State has invested $200 million in revitalizing upstate airports. Cuomo is committing $100 million more (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

         Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization: Building on a $200 million investment through the Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Competition, the Governor will commit an additional $100 million in round two funding for continued renewal and modernization. Funding will include enhanced securityscreening, expanded and rehabilitated terminals, stateofthe-art boarding concourses and concession areas, and innovations in contactless technology.

Improving Mass Transit for Millions of New Yorkers:

         Phase II of Second Ave Subway Extension: The MTA remains in desperate need of further federal funding so it can continue its essential role in supporting the region. That said, it is committed to implementing its historic $51.5 billion 2020-2024 Capital Plan. Upon resolving funding uncertainty caused by COVID-19, MTA will get this program back on track with repair projects, signal modernization, and ADA accessibility projects progressing in 2021. Other projects supported include upgraded stations, thousands of new buses and train cars, and critical maintenance and upgrades for bridges, tunnels, and other infrastructure. In addition, with necessary multi-year federal support, MTA will further extend the Second Avenue Subway, from 96th Street to 125th Street.

         LIRR Third Track Project:The Long Island Rail Road’s historic and transformative third track project will complete a new third track along a critical 9.8-mile section of LIRR’s Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville to increase track capacity, improve reliability, and significantly enhance service for LIRR customers. The $2.6 billion project also includes the construction of additional parking garages, the renovation of stations, new and renovated bridges, and modern track and signal infrastructure. By the end of 2021, MTA will have completed all eight of the grade crossing eliminations on the mainline, six of which will have new vehicular underpasses.

Updates to Highways, Roads and Bridges:

 

During 2020, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Cuomo cut the ribbon on the new Mario Cuomo Bridge which replaced the Tappan Zee across the Hudson, with a stunning recreational path. The project was one of the largest infrastructure projects in the United States© Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Access to Hunts Point: New York State will invest $1.7 billion to create direct access to and from the Bruckner Expressway and Sheridan Boulevard for trucks serving the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center. The highway redesign will take traffic off local roadways, significantly reducing both noise and air pollution in a borough with high asthma rates. The entire project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2025. 

I-390/490 Interchange Improvements: In 2021, the State will complete a $150 million project to ease access and improve traffic flow along Route 31, Route 390, and the Interstate 390/490 Interchange in Monroe County. This interchange will serve as a vital connection for nearly 200,000 motorists daily.

Re-deck the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge: The State will continue work on the Newburgh Beacon Bridge to complete a full deck replacement on the north span of the bridge over the Hudson River. Re-decking will improve roadway safety, drivability, and durability. This $95 million investment will be complete in 2022, nine months ahead of schedule.

Replace the Syracuse I-81 Viaduct: The State will conduct an environmental and public review of its proposal to replace the Interstate 81 viaduct in Syracuse. This $1.9 billion project will connect communities and create opportunities for new residential and commercial development. The project is expected to break ground in 2022. 

Governor Cuomo also announced progress on a number of major infrastructure updates across New York State that invest in communities to open new public spaces, attract tourism, and create jobs.

Buffalo Skyway: Governor Cuomo initiated a large-scale planning and design effort to maximize waterfront access and free up to 45 acres for development through the removal of the Skyway Bridge in downtown Buffalo and transform it into a spectacular park. New York State will complete the environmental review process this year and, with federal approval, will be ready to break ground this year.

Albany Skyway Conversion: Through an $11.4 million partnership with the City of Albany, the State is converting an underutilized interstate exit ramp into an iconic linear park with a landscaped promenade, event spaces, and an accessible shared-use path connecting downtown Albany with the Arbor Hill and Sheridan Hollow neighborhoods, Albany’s warehouse district, and the Corning Riverfront Park. Construction will be completed this year.

Binghamton University Health Sciences Campus: In 2021, Binghamton University will complete construction of its transformational, $287 million, 13-acre Health Sciences Campus in downtown Johnson City. This includes the 108,000 square-foot Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences, which will welcome hundreds of students this Spring; a new 105,000 square-foot school of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences with more than 350 faculty, staff, and students; a new eldercare teaching clinic in partnership with Lourdes Hospital; and a pharmacological R&D facility. Overall this project will have created more than 225 new jobs and involved more than 200 construction jobs.

New Mohawk Valley Health System Hospital in Utica: This year, work will continue on Mohawk Valley Health System’s $548 million new state-of-the-art hospital in downtown Utica. The 672,000-square-foot, nine-story, 373-bed facility is projected to be completed by 2023.

Complete the Belmont Arena: The Belmont Park Redevelopment is replacing 43 acres of underutilized parking lots with a 19,000-seat arena that will bring the New York Islanders hockey team back home to Long Island. The arena includes a world-class retail village, and a new hotel. New York Arena Partners is leading the 350,000-square-foot development, bringing $1.3 billion in private investment to the 115-year-old horse-racing facility. The project also includes the renovation of two nearby community parks, new community space, and the first new LIRR train station in 40 years. Construction is well underway, with completion of the arena slated for the 2021-2022 NHL season; east-bound LIRR service to open in fall 2021. In total, this project will create more than 12,000 direct and indirect jobs throughout construction and once completed.  

Bay Park Reconstruction: The State has been working with Nassau County on the $439 million Bay Park Conveyance Project to reduce nitrogen pollution by more than 50 percent and to connect the plant to an existing ocean outfall. This $1.2 billion-plus investment will result in dramatic improvements in the water quality while stemming the rapid degradation of the marsh islands that provide a natural barrier for flood protection for southern Nassau County. In 2021, construction will begin on the Bay Park outflow system. Renderings of the Bay Park project are available here.

ROC the Riverway: The Riverway Rochester redevelopment project, supported by a $50 million New York State investment, will achieve several key milestones in 2021 with more than half its projects reaching completion, including the expansion of the Blue Cross Arena Exchange Expansion and the West River floodwall projects, as well as the continued construction of the major overhaul to Charles Carrol Park. 

LEGOLAND: The 150-acre LEGOLAND theme park in Orange County will open this year. The $420 million investment will draw tourists back to New York after the pandemic and create approximately 1,000 jobs.

New Whiteface Mid-Station Lodge: The Whiteface Mountain rebuilt a $14 million mid-station lodge following a devastating fire in 2019. The new lodge is open for the 2020-21 ski season with limited services and will be completed this year.
 

NYS Gets $18 Million Federal Grant to Train Workers, Support Entrepreneurs During, After COVID-19 Pandemic

Announcing an $18 million federal grant for to train workers for in-demand jobs and support entrepreneurs during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “Our workforce is the bedrock of our economy, and I know that this funding will help bridge the gap between education and industry, allowing us to build back better by uplifting both individuals looking for jobs and small businesses across the state.”  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State has been awarded an $18 million federal grant to fund educational opportunities that train New Yorkers for in-demand jobs, support entrepreneurs, and help small businesses recover from the coronavirus pandemic. New York was one of just eight states to receive the funding – made available through the CARES Act – and received the most of any state that was awarded a grant. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo made the announcement during Workforce Development Awareness Week.

“The coronavirus pandemic is far from over, and as we continue to fight against this deadly virus, we must also respond to the economic devastation it has caused. With millions of Americans out of work, we must use every resource available to train New Yorkers to compete – and succeed – in this difficult economic situation,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our workforce is the bedrock of our economy, and I know that this funding will help bridge the gap between education and industry, allowing us to build back better by uplifting both individuals looking for jobs and small businesses across the state.”  

“We are making success accessible ensuring New Yorkers have the training and skills they need to seek new jobs and opportunities as we continue to battle this pandemic,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.”Our ongoing workforce development initiative is supporting efforts to improve the economic security of women, youth and other groups that face significant barriers by making job placement more inclusive and leaving no New Yorker behind. We are sending a clear message to New Yorkers that they will have the training and skills they need to succeed as we build back better, smarter and stronger for the future.”

The New York State Department of Labor will partner with the Office of Workforce Development, Empire State Development, New York’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils, the State University of New York, and the City University of New York to allocate the federal grant funding on programs that support New York’s continued economic recovery. 

Educational programs will focus on developing the skills needed to succeed in emerging growth industries like tech, logistics, and advanced manufacturing, and supporting entrepreneurs. New York’s multi-pronged approach will include four elements:

1) Education for Hard-Hit NYC: In New York City, which was among the worst-hit COVID-19 communities, the CUNY system will assist in training residents with the digital skills needed for in-demand sectors such as data analytics, cybersecurity, advanced logistics/supply chain, digital marketing and communications, and software development.  

2) “Stay Near, Go Far” at SUNY: At 30 community colleges across the State, SUNY will leverage its existing “Stay Near, Go Far” initiative to train New Yorkers in high growth industries, including technology, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing, and provide them with the entrepreneurial skills needed to open their own businesses. 

3) Entrepreneurship Boot Camps: Building on its existing resources, Empire State Development will host a series of intensive workshops and boot camps to train entrepreneurs and small business owners on how to run their own business during – and after – the pandemic.  

4) Industry Focus, Regional Results: The Department of Labor will issue a competitive Request for Proposals and work with New York State’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils to identify industry-driven programs that either train job seekers to meet current local employment needs or are designed to address future economic and workforce development needs. 

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said,”The COVID-19 public health emergency has changed nearly every facet of our lives – including our workplaces and workforce. We have a responsibility to prepare New Yorkers to succeed in, during, and after the pandemic, and these new training opportunities will give them the skills needed to get back to work and help small businesses thrive.”

“Workforce training has long been a fundamental part of ESD’s mission and will be a key towards helping our State’s businesses build back better,” Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said. “This funding allows us to develop, in partnership with and supported by the strength of New York’s top-tier public universities, workshops and boot camps that will connect entrepreneurs with the skilled talent needed to meet the challenges of this new economic environment.”

State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras said, “The Pandemic has challenged us to identify and pursue bold, creative, outside-the-box strategies for stimulating the economy and getting people back to work. Connecting people with the specific skills needed for in-demand jobs right in their own communities is crucial to rebuilding the economy and ensuring that New Yorkers who have fallen on hard times can find new, meaningful opportunities that support themselves and their families. The Reimagine Workforce Preparation Grant will provide a major boost to that important effort.”

“CUNY is committed to helping all New Yorkers navigate and access high quality upskilling opportunities that are connected to jobs that are growing, as our City and State continue to recover economically,” CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said. “This grant will enable CUNY to serve thousands of New Yorkers in important areas like digital marketing, data analytics, software and web app development.”

Congressman José Serrano said, “We have to make sure New York’s labor force has the skills necessary to access opportunities as we recover from COVID-19.  This initiative will expand access to free or low-cost support, education and training in the state of New York – one of only eight states selected for this investment. Made possible thanks to the CARES Act approved in Congress, this timely effort will ultimately help local workers, entrepreneurs and small businesses find opportunities, remain in business,  and emerge stronger during and after COVID-19.”

Congressman Joseph Morelle said, “COVID-19 has left more than a million New Yorkers out of work and businesses across every sector struggling, profoundly altering the future of our economy. We need bold investments in workforce development to rebuild and recover from this pandemic, and I’m proud to have helped secure critical funding through the CARES Act to make this initiative a reality and give workers and businesses the support they need. I’m grateful to Governor Cuomo for his steadfast leadership throughout this crisis and his commitment to ensuring New York emerges safe and stronger than ever.”

This federal grant comes as New York State recognizes its second-annual Workforce Development Awareness Week, which runs September 28 to October 4. During this week, New York State spotlights job training and higher education strategies that will help meet business and industry workforce needs, improve regional talent pipelines, enhance the flexibility and adaptability of local workforce entities, and expand workplace learning opportunities for the diverse cross-section of people who remain the bedrock of the state and nation’s workforce. These efforts take on even more importance as the state continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, continues the state’s economic reopening, and begins the process of building back better. 

Politicos, Officials, City Workers Join WorldPride NYC 2019 March

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo was joined at the WorldPride 2019 parade by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Chris Quinn, Randi Weingarten, Adriano Espaillat, Jim Gaughran, Jen Metzger, David Weprin, Amy Paulin. Chad Griffin, Alphonso David, Counsel to the Governor, State Senator Brad Hoylman, who’s been a champion, Kristen Browde, Dolores Nettles, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, as well as Cuomo’s three daughters Cara, Mariah, Michaela. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

What a difference 50 years makes – from the Stonewall Uprising when the forces of government were marshaled against the gay and lesbian community, to today, when government officials and even members of New York City’s Police Department, flocked to take part in WorldPride NYC 2019, the largest Pride event in history.

US State Senator Charles Schumer, with his familiar bullhorn, declared,, “I was the first US Senator to march, and I won’t be the last.”

US Senator Charles Schumer. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, revved up the crowd to chant “ERA, ERA” and Congressmembers Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velazquez joined the parade.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State officials were there in force, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, who appropriately crowed about the gains a progressive legislature accomplished, NYS’s first black woman Attorney General Leticia James, Comptroller Thom DiNapoli, and a score of state senators and assemblymembers..

NYS AttorneyGeneral Letitia James. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Cuomo did not come empty-handed: he used the occasion to sign into law legislation banning the gay and trans panic legal defense (S3293/A2707), fulfilling his pledge to ensure nobody uses this abhorrent legal defense strategy in the State of New York. The Governor signed the measure, a key component of his 2019 Justice Agenda, on WorldPride and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. The Governor also vowed to double down next legislative session on his campaign to legalize gestational surrogacy, which the Assembly failed to take up this year.

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The gay and trans panic defense is essentially a codification of homophobia and transphobia, and it is repugnant to our values of equality and inclusion,” Governor Cuomo said at a press conference on the street before joining the parade. “This defense strategy isn’t just offensive – it also sends a dangerous message that violence toward LGBTQ people is somehow OK. It’s not, and today we’re sending this noxious legal tool to the dustbin of history where it belongs.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, who is running for the Democratic Nomination for president, marched with the city’s First Lady Chirlane McCray.There were also the NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer with his family, Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams, members of the City Council including Speaker Corey Johnson,

There were contingents from just about every city agency, from Sanitation to Transportation, the Department of Social Services, to the Bar Association and teachers.

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“In the month of June, we celebrated 50 years of Pride here in New York State and around the world,” stated New York’s Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul. “We marched in parades from Buffalo to Albany, and finished the month with World Pride in New York City this past weekend.

“We celebrated how far the LGBTQ+ community has come since the Stonewall Uprising in 1969, and reflected on the progress we still have to make.

“Throughout this legislative session over the last six months, we made history. GENDA is now the law of the land, ensuring permanent protections for transgender New Yorkers. Young people are now protected from the barbaric practice of conversion therapy. Finally, with the stroke of a pen, we ended the legalized hatred that was once allowed by the gay and trans ‘panic’ defense. 

“I am always proud to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and continue the fight for equality.”

LGBT Bar NY applauds the victory of New York State banning conversion therapy. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here are more highlights:

US Senator Charles Schumer. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Congressman Jerry Nadler. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
State Senator Brad Hoylman. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
State Assembly Member DickGottfried. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and family. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

See more photos:

Record Numbers Turn Out for WorldPride NYC 2019, A Celebration of Pride & Joy

See also:

At WorldPride NYC Parade, NYS Governor Cuomo Signs Law Banning Gay, Trans Panic Legal Defense

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© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

At WorldPride NYC Parade, NYS Governor Cuomo Signs Law Banning Gay, Trans Panic Legal Defense

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo did not come empty-handed to the WorldPride NYC 2019 parade, perhaps the largest LGBTQIA+ Pride event in history: Cuomo used the occasion to sign into law legislation banning the gay and trans panic legal defense © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo did not come empty-handed to the WorldPride NYC 2019 parade, perhaps the largest LGBTQIA+ Pride event in history: Cuomo used the occasion to sign into law legislation banning the gay and trans panic legal defense (S3293/A2707), fulfilling his pledge to ensure nobody uses this abhorrent legal defense strategy in the State of New York. The Governor signed the measure, a key component of his 2019 Justice Agenda, on WorldPride and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. The Governor also vowed to double down next legislative session on his campaign to legalize gestational surrogacy, which the Assembly failed to take up this year.

“The gay and trans panic defense is essentially a codification of homophobia and transphobia, and it is repugnant to our values of equality and inclusion,” Governor Cuomo said at a press conference on the street before joining the parade. “This defense strategy isn’t just offensive – it also sends a dangerous message that violence toward LGBTQ people is somehow OK. It’s not, and today we’re sending this noxious legal tool to the dustbin of history where it belongs.”

At a press conference before joining the parade, Governor Cuomo said, “What a great, great day this is. New York is so proud. New York is so, so, so proud to host WorldPride. 

“New Yorkers are just New Yorkers. Look, all New Yorkers should be very proud because New York has always been the home of the LGBTQ equality movement, always. It all started here. It started at Stonewall, it started when we hosted the first Pride Day ever. And we’ve kept that legacy alive. This is the leading State in the United States of America for LGBTQ equality. And we don’t just say it, we do it. We prove it here in New York.

“What was the first state to address AIDS and announce the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic? New York. What was the first state to end discrimination against transgender people? New York. What was the first big state to pass marriage equality and send a message across the nation? New York. What was the first state to pass GENDA and end discrimination against transgender people? New York. What was the first state to ban conversion therapy? New York.

“And today, we’re going to sign a bill that ends the codification of homophobia. Because we have now as a law in this state, something called the gay and trans panic defense. That a person can argue – they were so emotionally disturbed when they found out a person was gay or trans that that is actually a justification or an excuse for murder. Not in this state. We are going to – not in this state. Not in this state. Not in this state. Not in this state. Not in this state. And we are going to end the gay and transpanic defense and we are going to do it right now. I will sign this now and end this law. It is now over.

“Congratulations, New York. Let’s lead once again.”

The gay and trans panic defenses allow those accused of violent crimes against LGBTQ people to receive a lesser sentence, and in some cases, avoid conviction, by placing the blame on a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The passage of this bill would close a loophole in state law that currently allows individuals to use the gay and trans panic defenses after attacking another person based upon a perception, or discovery of, that victim’s gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Senator Brad Hoylman said,”By banning the so-called gay and trans panic defense, New York is sending a message to prosecutors, defense attorneys, juries and judges that a victim’s LGBTQ identity shouldn’t be weaponized against them. I’m proud to be a member of a legislature that protects the rights of LGBTQ New Yorkers and thank Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Assemblymember O’Donnell for their leadership on this critical issue. As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, I am extremely grateful to Governor Cuomo for signing this critical piece of legislation into law and look forward to continuing to work with him to make New York a more inclusive, equitable home for the LGBTQ community.”

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo was joined at the WorldPride 2019 parade by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Chris Quinn, Randi Weingarten, Adriano Espaillat, Jim Gaughran, Jen Metzger, David Weprin, Amy Paulin. Chad Griffin, Alphonso David, Counsel to the Governor, State Senator Brad Hoylman, who’s been a champion, Kristen Browde, Dolores Nettles, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, as well as Cuomo’s three daughters Cara, Mariah, Michaela. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Delores Nettles said, “In 2013, my daughter Islan was killed in Harlem for being who she was. Her attacker used the discriminatory ‘trans panic’ defense. I am so grateful that New York is banning this legislation so that no mother has to go through this again. We must keep fighting so that all trans people can live free from violence and discrimination. Thank you to Governor Cuomo for advocating tirelessly for this bill and for signing it into law today.”

“Banning the “gay and trans panic” defense in New York is an important and long overdue step toward treating the LGBTQ community equitably,” Ethan Rice, Senior Attorney, Fair Courts Project at Lambda Legal. “LGBTQ people in New York should never have to experience violence. When it happens, LGBTQ people certainly should not be faced with blame for this violence. These “defenses” have no place in our justice system. Lambda Legal commends the Governor for signing this bill today and for his ongoing advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community.”

NYC’s Pride Center celebrating at WorldPride NYC 2019. There was much to celebrate: Governor Cuomo had just signed legislation banning the gay and trans panic legal defense © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Glennda Testone, Executive Director of NYC’s LGBT Community Center said, “New York State government has taken another great step in the right direction, legally halting some enduring elements of homophobia and transphobia ingrained in our society. After establishing marriage equality, passing GENDA and ending conversion therapy in our state, Governor Cuomo showed that he is not done fighting for LGBTQ equality, and neither are we. We thank him for taking the gay and trans panic defense out of New York’s court system and for his commitment to equal rights for all people.”  

“Using an individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender as a defense for violent behavior is abhorrent and will not stand in the State of New York,” Harlem Pride and The NYC Black and Latino LGBTQ Coalition said. “We applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership and dedication to protecting the LGBTQ community and closing the legal loophole keeping this archaic practice in place.”

Guillermo Chacon, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS and founder of Hispanic Health Network said,”As we celebrate LGBT Pride and the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall uprising we recognize that outlawing the gay and trans panic defense is long overdue in New York.  We appreciate that this legislation will be signed to ensure this can never happen again and that people impacted by homophobia and transphobia are no longer taking the blame for this antiquated loophole. We thank Governor Cuomo for advancing this important issue and I look forward to him signing this law to increase protections for the LGBTQ community.”

Rod Townsend, Community Leader said, “A person’s gender identity or sexual orientation is never a justifiable reason for violent attack, and Governor Cuomo closes the loophole in state law that allowed for it in cases of first degree murder today.  We look forward to seeing justice for individuals impacted by these crime and will fight to further limit the use of this appalling “blame the victim” strategy in cases of violence against LGBTQ people everywhere.”

Amanda Babine, Director of Policy & Programs at the New York Transgender Advocacy Group said,”Banning the ‘gay and trans panic’ defense was a huge win for the LGBTQI community, especially for our Transgender, Gender-Non-Conforming, & Non-Binary siblings. This year alone, ten Transgender women of color have been found dead, one right here in New York. The New York Transgender Advocacy Group stands with pride next to Governor Cuomo as he continues to be a champion for the LGBTQI community here in New York State.”

Brooke Malloy, Executive Director, Rockland County Pride Center said, “New Yorkers do not tolerate hate. We are a state of love and inclusion, and hold firm to our belief in equality for every person. The fact that there ever was a legal defense for crimes committed against the LGBTQ community, specifically based on their actual or perceived gender identity or sexual orientation is disgusting. Thank you to Governor Cuomo for his leadership in ending this abhorrent law, and for always speaking up and protecting LGBTQ New Yorkers.”

Kelly Metzgar, Executive Director, Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance said,”New York State prides itself on being an inclusive, progressive state, where every person can feel safe and welcome. With his work to end the gay and trans panic defense, Governor Cuomo continues to ensure that everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, receives equal protection under New York State law. I wish to personally thank Governor Cuomo, on behalf of residents in the Adirondack North Country for his relentless work to defend the rights of all who call this beautiful state our home.”

Christopher Goodwin, Supervisor of The MOCHA Center Rochester said, “We at The MOCHA Center and Trillium Health applaud Governor Cuomo for taking swift, progressive action to protect and uphold the rights of LGBTQ New Yorkers. Thanks to his efforts, a dangerous loophole rooted in hate has been erased from our criminal justice system. The gay and trans panic defense should never have been allowed. LGBTQ New Yorkers are grateful that we can now feel safer knowing that we are one step closer to having our lives equally valued and represented under the law.”

Jeff Rindler, Executive Director, Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center said, “This revision to our legal system has been long overdue. The human rights of LGBTQ New Yorkers are non-negotiable, and now this hateful excuse will no longer be a permissible defense for homophobic and transphobic hate crimes, which are on the rise. For transgender women of color who experience higher rates of violence, this law is the next step in solidifying protections for our community. I applaud and thankGovernor Cuomo and all the advocates and legislators who worked tirelessly to pass this legislation.”

Kelsey Louie, CEO, GMHC said, “The beginning of the Stonewall rebellion was in New York City and it was in reaction to hate-fueled actions. Fifty years have passed since the beginning of our LGBT rights movement and New York has been a model for LGBT equality, setting a national standard that the rest of the country must follow. We thank Governor Cuomo for closing a loophole which permitted the murder of gay and trans New Yorkers due to their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. This ensures that justice will be served for LGBTQ New Yorkers who are the victims of homophobia and transphobia.”

Kristen Prata Browde, Board President, LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York and Co-Chair Board of Directors, National Trans Bar Association said,”This shows the kind of change that good government can and should bring. Banning the trans and gay panic defense is a huge step towards equality for LGBTQ New Yorkers. Governor Cuomo not only recognized the absurdity of giving someone a lesser sentence or even a pass after murdering someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, he fought hard for the ban. As the Governor signs the bill he is once again showing that New York truly is a beacon to the world and to every LGBTQ person.”

The Governor also released a new video for social media featuring Delores Nettles, the mother of Islan Nettles, a transgender woman who was brutally murdered in Harlem in 2013 and whose assailant used the gay and trans panic legal defense in court. Watch the video here.

Cuomo Takes Bow in Delivering on Justice Agenda, Calling Legislative Session ‘Most Productive in Modern Political History’

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo took a deserved bow in delivering on the Justice Agenda he laid out at his inauguration, calling this year’s Legislative Session “the most productive in modern political history.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo took a deserved bow in announcing historic progressive accomplishments during this year’s Legislative Session, delivering on his 2019 Justice Agenda first laid out in December, and calling it “the most productive in modern political history.”

“These sweeping reforms will ensure social and economic justice for all New Yorkers, address the devastating impact of climate change, support New York’s ongoing commitment to workers’ rights, modernize transportation systems across the state, and enhance the Empire State’s nation-leading commitment to gender equity and LGBTQ rights. All of this was done while enacting fiscally responsible policies including holding spending growth to 2 percent for the ninth consecutive year, enacting a permanent property tax cap and cutting taxes for the middle class,” the governor’s office stated.

“Six months ago we laid out our 2019 Justice Agenda – an aggressive blueprint to move New York forward – and today I’m proud to say we got it done,” Governor Cuomo said. “At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what you accomplish, and this was the most progressively productive legislative session in modern history. The product was extraordinary, and we maintained our two pillars – fiscal responsibility and economic growth paired with social progress on an unprecedented and nation-leading scale.”

Here’s a synopsis:

Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act: This legislation enacts the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, creating the most aggressive climate change program in the nation with goals to: reach zero carbon emissions in the electricity sector by 2040; install 9 GW of offshore wind by 2035; 6GW of solar by 2025; 3 GW of energy storage by 2030; and directs state entities to work toward a goal of investing 40 percent of clean energy and energy efficiency resources to benefit disadvantaged communities. Additionally, the law creates the Climate Action Council comprised of the leaders of various state agencies and authorities as well as legislative appointments to develop a plan outlining how the state will achieve an 85% reduction in GHG emissions from 1990 levels by 2050, and eventually net zero emissions in all sectors of the economy. 

Permanent Property Tax Cap: Made permanent the 2% property tax cap, building upon the approximate $25 billion in taxpayer savings since it was implemented in 2012.

MTA Money and Management: Funded the MTA with an estimated $25 billion raised through Central Business District tolling, a new progressive mansion tax, and the elimination of the internet tax advantage. Implemented overdue MTA reforms including the developing a reorganization plan, modifying MTA Board appointments to align with appointing authority, requiring the MTA to undergo an independent forensic audit and efficiency review, and calling for a major construction review unit made up of outside experts to review major projects.

Advancing LGBTQ Rights: Governor Cuomo is enacting transformative legislation in support of LGBTQ rights, including the elimination of the gay and trans panic defense—closing a loophole in state law that allowed individuals to use the gay and trans panic defenses after attacking another based upon that victim’s gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The Governor also enacted into law the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and a ban on LGBTQ conversion therapy.

Establish a Farmworkers Bill of Rights: This legislation established a farmworkers bill of rights, granting overtime pay, a rest day and the right to unionize.

Enact Additional Sexual Harassment Protections: This package of reforms will lower the high bar set for employees to hold employers accountable under the New York Human Rights Law for sexual harassment by amending the requirement that conduct be “severe or pervasive” to constitute actionable conduct; extend the statute of limitations for employment sexual harassment claims filed with the Division of Human Rights from one year to three years; and protect employees’ rights to pursue complaints by mandating that all non-disclosure agreements in employment contracts include language stating that employees may still participate in government investigations conducted by local, state, and federal anti-discrimination agencies

Expand Statutes of Limitations for Rape: Statutes of limitations on rape cases impose a ticking clock on how long victims are able to come forward if they want to seek charges. Over the last year, victims who have suffered in silence for decades have bravely spoken about their abuse, and also have laid bare the state’s limited ability to prosecute their abusers due to the passage of time. In recognition of this fact, states across the country are lengthening or eliminating the statutes of limitations on crimes of sexual violence. This legislation extends the statute of limitations for Rape in the Second Degree and Third Degree, and expand the civil statute of limitations for claims related to these offenses, allowing victims greater opportunity to obtain justice.

Closing the Gender Wage Gap: Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has fought aggressively to increase safeguards for women in the workplace and close the gender pay gap in New York. This package of reforms includes legislation to expand the definition of “equal pay for equal work” to prohibit unequal pay on the basis of a protected class for all substantially similar work and to close any loopholes employers try to use to pay people less on the basis of their gender, race or other protected classes; as well as a salary history ban, which prohibits employers from asking or relying on salary history of applicants and employees in making job offers or determining wages.

Reauthorize and Expand the MWBE Program: The Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise program has been highly successful since its inception, establishing the highest goals for MWBE participation in the entire nation and awarding thousands of state contracts to minority-owned and women-owned businesses. This legislation reauthorizes the MWBE program and extends the provisions of law relating to the participation of MWBEs in state contracts to ensure this effective program continues.

Tenant Protections: This package of reforms, known as Housing Stability and Tenant Protection act of 2019, enacts the most sweeping, aggressive tenant protections in state history, safeguarding affordable housing for millions of New Yorkers.

Remove the Non-Medical Exemptions for Vaccines: The United States is currently experiencing the worst outbreak of measles in more than 25 years, with outbreaks in pockets of New York primarily driving the crisis. As a result of non-medical vaccination exemptions, many communities across New York have unacceptably low rates of vaccination, and those unvaccinated children can often attend school where they may spread the disease to other unvaccinated students. This new law will remove non-medical exemptions from school vaccination requirements for children and help protect the public amid this ongoing outbreak.

Ensuring Quality Education: School aid increased by over $1 billion, bringing total school aid to a record $27.9 billion. In addition, new reporting requirements will address imbalances in the distribution of resources by prioritizing funding at the individual school level in order to advance a more transparent, equitable education system.

Makes the Jose R. Peralta DREAM Act a Reality: Finally opens the doors of higher education to thousands of New Yorkers by giving undocumented New York students the same advantages given to their citizen peers, including access to the Tuition Assistance Program and state administered scholarships such as Excelsior.

Expands Eligibility for the Excelsior Scholarship Free Tuition Program: As the state’s successful free tuition program enters its third year, students whose families make up to $125,000 annually will now be eligible to apply for the program, allowing more than 55 percent of full-time, in-state SUNY and CUNY students—or more than 210,000 New York residents—to attend college tuition-free when combined with TAP assistance.

Criminal Justice Reform: Sweeping criminal justice reform was delivered by eliminating cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent offenses, ensuring the right to a speedy trial, and transforming the discovery process.

Continued Investment in Infrastructure: Builds upon the Governor’s unprecedented commitment to invest $150 billion in infrastructure projects over the next five years.

Delivering on the Gateway Tunnel Project: This legislation establishes the Gateway Development Commission and creates a comprehensive rail investment program for purposes of the project. This bi-state effort, in cooperation with New Jersey, represents significant progress on a crucial project for our nation’s economy and security while restoring our role as a global leader in infrastructure.

Protecting the Environment: The launch of the Green New Deal—the most aggressive environmental protection initiative in the nation, the ban of single-use plastic bags, launch of the food waste recycling program and investment of an additional $500 million in clean water infrastructure, increasing the State’s historic investment to $3 billion, all of which serves to protect New Yorkers while combatting some of the most pressing threats to the environment.

Keeping New Yorkers Healthy: By codifying provisions of the Affordable Care Act, New Yorkers can rest assured that their health needs will be covered, regardless of Washington’s actions.

Supporting Workers’ Rights: Extended Janus protections to all local governments and guaranteed the right to organize and collectively bargain.

Promoting the Democracy Agenda: To boost New York’s voter turnout and ensure that New York’s elections remain fair and transparent, the following initiatives were enacted this year: synchronized federal and state elections, pre-registration for minors, early voting, universal transfer of registration, and the advancement of no-excuse absentee voting, and same-day registration.

Common Sense Gun Reform: Building upon the SAFE Act—the strongest gun control legislation in the country—additional measures were enacted this year to ensure guns were kept out of the wrong hands, including the Red Flag Bill, ban on bump stocks, and extending the background check waiting period.

Signing the Child Victims Act: The signing of this long-awaited legislation provided necessary relief to child victims of sexual abuse by amending New York’s antiquated laws to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions, regardless of when the crime occurred.

Closing the LLC Loophole: Closed the LLC loophole by limiting political spending by an LLC to a total of $5,000 annually, which is the same limit as corporations. The new law also requires the disclosure of direct and indirect membership interests in the LLC making a contribution, and for the contribution to be attributed to that individual.

2019 Women’s Justice Agenda Accomplishments: With the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, Comprehensive Coverage Contraceptive Act, and the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, as well as the ban on revenge porn, and strengthened protections for breastfeeding in the workplace, Governor Cuomo continued his commitment to ensuring fairness and equality for women across New York State.

New capital funding investments this year include:

  • Full Funding for Extreme Winter Recovery: $65 million in State funding for the Extreme WINTER Recovery program. Provides enhanced assistance to local governments for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of local highways and roads impacted by New York State’s harsh winter weather. This unprecedented infrastructure investment in local roads and bridges is in addition to the $478 million in State funding provided through the CHIPS and Marchiselli programs, and $200 million for PAVE-NY and Bridge NY.
  • $120 Million Public Housing Investment: Building on the State’s unprecedented $550 million investment in the New York City Housing Authority, the Governor and Legislature are providing an additional $100 million in capital funding to help support its ongoing transformation while providing $20 million to support housing authorities and other housingoutside of New York City.
  • $100 Million for the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative: The Governor and Legislature are providing $100 million in capital funding to support the State’s up to $300 million commitment to communities impacted by Lake Ontario Flooding. Launched last month, the REDI Commission is working with localities along the shoreline to identify and support projects that will reduce the flooding risk to infrastructure while strengthening the region’s local economies.
  • $20 Million for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority: A $20 million capital appropriation is provided to support the first year of a five-year $100 million commitment from the Governor and Legislature to theNFTA to fund a five-year capital plan for maintenance and improvements of Metro Rail.
  • Penn Station 33rd Street Entrance: $425 million in capital funding will support the Penn Station 33rd Street Entrance project, and others associated with improvements to the Long Island Railroad. Just last month, the Governor unveiled final design renderings for the new main entrance to Penn Station located at 33rd street and 7th Avenue, which will provide much needed direct access to the LIRR Main Concourse and the New York City Subway.
  • $20 Million Investment in Public Libraries: A $20 million capital appropriation to public libraries will help libraries across New York State as they continue to transform into 21st century community hubs.
  • $30 Million for Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program: A $30 million capital appropriation will support the Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program, which under the Governor’s leadership is enabling independent colleges across the state to make critical investments in their infrastructure and equipment by providing matching capital grants.
  • $25 million Security Investment to Protect Against Hate Crimes: A $25 million capital appropriation is included for security projects at nonpublic schools, community centers, residential camps, and day care facilities at risk of hate crimes because of their ideology, beliefs, or mission.

Governor Cuomo Holds NYS Budget Hostage Without Permanent Property Tax Cap; I Object

Voting on a school bond referendum, Great Neck, Long Island. New York State’s property tax cap removes local control over spending for education and local services including parks and libraries © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he won’t sign the state budget unless it makes permanent the property tax cap.

“The highest tax in the state is the property tax and it is a killer,” Governor Cuomo said.”We want to reduce economic pressure on families by making sure government is not aggravating the problem with increased expenses. We’re going to cut your state income tax and we’re going to cap your property taxes so you know it’s not going higher than 2 percent. And I will tell you this as sure as I am before you today: if we do not have the permanent property tax cap in that state budget, this hand will never sign that state budget until it’s in there.”

From the very beginning, I have objected to this trampling off local control with an arbitrary and unreasonable constraint designed to hamstring and ultimately destroy local governments. Cuomo’s original intent was to force school districts and other local governments to cannibalize their reserve funds; the second was to force consolidation and dissolution of local governments and the third was to use local taxes as the bogeyman, so politicians could appear to be on the side of taxpayers.

Of course the property tax is the largest state tax and of course school taxes are the largest component. Something has to be “largest”. What should be? But local property taxes are spent where they are used, and local people have the greatest ability to participate in spending decisions. In fact, school and library taxes are the only taxes we taxpayers directly vote.

What the property tax cap does, though, is remove local control. Communities should have the right to decide if they want to improve their schools or parks. The property tax cap which basically keeps the annual increase to 2% or the rate of inflation whichever is less says: we don’t want any growth or improvement or new investment in your community. We want the status quo, and if that means deterioration, so be it. (Little known fact: the property tax cap incentivizes bonding because the debt service isn’t counted toward the cap.)

Somehow, and fairly ingeniously I think, the Great Neck Public School district has managed to continue to be among the best in the country and still average only 1.8 percent increase in the tax levy since the property tax cap was implemented in 2012, despite increasing enrollments and unfunded state mandates. This year, though, through the complicated formula, the school district could have raised taxes by 4.09 percent and still fall within the cap, is only seeking 1.94 percent increase. .

I resent the property tax cap by which the Governor and state legislators can declare themselves champions of reducing or controlling taxes.

But here’s the thing: New York State’s property taxes are not the highest in the nation; Nassau County’s taxes are not the highest; and both of these do not take into account that Long Island and New York’s incomes and our housing values are higher.

According to a survey by Wallethub, a financial services company, New York State ranks 8th (not first) in property taxes. New York ranks 43rd in its real estate tax rate, at 1.68 percent. You know which states are higher? Nebraska (1.80), Texas (1.83), Vermont (1.83), Wisconsin (1.94), Connecticut (2.07), New Hampshire (2.20), Illinois (2.31), and New Jersey (2.44) (See the study: https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-highest-and-lowest-property-taxes/11585/)

Even so, do you want to be Alabama, which is #2 on the list for lowest taxes, where the median home value is $132,000 and the tax is $558 (0.42%), or Louisiana, #3, where the median home value is $152,900 and median tax is $795 (0.52%)? Louisiana ranks 51st in health care, Alabama is 48th. New York is 17th (fourth most physicians per capita)

USA Today ranks New York’s public education 9th noting, “Between 2003 and 2015, the achievement gap between eighth graders living in poverty and their wealthier peers narrowed by the largest amount of all states…Annual public school funding totals $18,665 per pupil in New York, the third highest expenditure of all states.” (Top three are Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont). Alabama ranks 43rd (14th lowest in public school spending at $10,142). Louisiana is 46th, Mississippi is 48th.

Yes, total taxes are high: New Yorkers spend 17.07 percent of income on taxes, second highest after Connecticut (17.65 percent). But New York State is spending billions on a 21st century infrastructure and racing toward 50:50 clean energy by 2030. This is where I want to live. So do 20 million others, a number that is increasing, even as unemployment rates are at the lowest ever and the number of jobs is at an all-time high.

We pay a lot in taxes because our incomes are higher and our housing values are higher, what is more, we get more for our money, making for a higher quality of life.

The states that don’t charge an appropriate amount of state and local taxes – that is related to the cost of providing services and public investment – depend on federal handouts. New York is one of 11 states that send more money to the federal government than it gets back, in fact the #1 donor state, sending $36-$48 billion more to the federal government than it gets back. Alabama is 4th “most federally dependent state”; Louisiana is 10th.

New York sends the second highest amount in federal taxes, $133 billion (California sends $227 billion), and is fourth in the average amount of federal taxes per adult ($8,490), behind Connecticut $10,279), Massachusetts ($9,445), and New Jersey ($8,811).

(Here’s an idea: New York should do what tenants do in a landlord dispute and put that $36 billion into escrow until the SALT deductibility issue is fixed.)

But we shouldn’t be punishing our localities because of the criminality of Republicans to use the tax code as political weapon – according to State Comptroller Tom Dinapoli, the SALT deduction cap has driven down tax receipts by $2.3 billion, as wealthiest New Yorkers choose other places for primary residency.

But the tax cap is also a political weapon.

The larger objective is to eliminate local municipalities entirely – to force villages to consolidate into towns, towns into counties, school districts into larger school districts. But the fallacy in that is all that it saves is a few administrative positions. Villages and school districts already have cooperative purchasing, mutual aid; school districts even cooperate on transportation where feasible. Our school district spends 4 percent of its budget on administration, the lion’s share, 75 percent, on instruction (12 percent on building, grounds & capital projects, 6 percent on transportation). (To see where your schools spend every penny, come to Great Neck South High School this Saturday at 9:30 am for the line-by-line budget review.)

The state boasts that since implementation the tax cap has “saved” taxpayers $24.4 billion statewide – that works out to $1000 per capita, divided by 7 years, or $142 a year. I’m not sure that’s worth giving up local control.

But just as Cuomo and the Congressmembers decry Trump’s disparity in federal spending for blue states versus red states and the attack on state control over its ability to raise revenue and spend, it is the same thing with local spending: there is gigantic  disparity in the level of state aid to school districts, with the result that New York City only has to raise 50 percent of its school budget from property taxes, while Great Neck, which gets just 4 percent from the state, has to raise 95 percent through property taxes. Here’s another measure: Roosevelt, with 3270 enrolled students, gets $53 million in state aid; Great Neck, with 6399 enrolled students, gets $10 million – the difference made up from property taxes. That’s just the way it is.

What the property tax cap means is that virtually all Great Neck’s school spending is governed by the cap; other districts have much less that is controlled by the tax cap.

The responsibility for determining if our elected representatives are properly handling our tax appropriations is on the community, not an arbitrarily selected cap enshrined in law.

We see what our school taxes (and park and library and sewer district) pay for and I don’t want the state – or some politician looking to score points – deciding we can’t have low class size or a robotics club or a fencing team or an opera performance (Great Neck South High marks its 50th anniversary full-scale opera production, April 12). This community has decided these things are just as important to our district’s mission of helping every child fulfill their full potential as cramming the latest incarnation of ELA and math or operating school buildings as if they were prisons. Our mission has been to instill a love of life-long learning. And the investment this community has made in public education has brought solid ROI day after day.

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© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Sierra Club Applauds Cuomo Commitment to Advancing Clean, Renewable Energy in State of State

Governor Andrew Cuomo reiterated his support for offshore windpower project off Long Island in his 2019 State of the State address © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Environmentalists are hailing energy and environmental legacy initiatives in New York State  proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in his his annual State of the State and budget address.

“Governor Cuomo made historic commitments today supporting the advancement of clean energy throughout the state,” stated Lisa Dix, Senior New York Campaign Manager for the Sierra Club. “With a mandate to source 70 percent of the state’s energy through renewables by 2030, doubling New York’s distributed solar target and quadrupling the current offshore wind targets, the Governor has proven that he is a national leader determined to make New York a 21st century, renewable energy, economic powerhouse. Through massive investments in offshore wind ports and clean energy job training centers, New York will be the regional hub for the offshore wind industry. Working with the administration, climate-affected communities and labor, we will create long-term, family-wage jobs, while supporting a robust supply chain and multiplying economic development opportunities for New Yorkers.”

The initiatives include commitments to:

New York’s “Green New Deal”: The Governor restated his December goal of making New York 100 percent carbon neutral by 2040. The Administration will map how New York will achieve carbon neutrality, while providing a just and fair transition for communities and workers. This initiative includes a $10 billion “Green Future Fund” that supports climate priorities and emissions reduction goals and $70 million to provide initial funding for communities affected by the clean energy transition.

Increased Clean Energy Standard Target: New York is now the second state after Hawaii with the most ambitious clean energy targets in the nation, with a new goal of sourcing 70 percent of New York’s electricity from renewable energy by 2030, including the most ambitious off-shore windpower program in the country. This doubles the current targets for energy storage, distributed solar, large scale solar and wind and quadruples the offshore wind targets.

Increased Green Infrastructure and Jobs: With the Governor committing to building nearly four times more offshore wind by 2035 than he initially stated, this is the most ambitious offshore wind generation commitment in the country. New York will nearly triple the offshore wind commitment any state has made before. Additionally, about $200 million of the budget will be invested in building offshore wind ports and clean energy job training centers.

Clean Transportation and Congestion Pricing: The Governor urged the legislature to pass congestion pricing legislation to make the Metro Transit Authority (MTA) more reliable for years to come. Through congestion pricing, the state would make $15 billion to invest back into the MTA. The Governor also committed to over $3 billion in funding for clean energy and clean transportation infrastructure for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. The Governor, however, fell short in setting an enforceable commitment to reducing emissions from New York’s transportation sector, the economic sector responsible for the most climate/carbon pollution in New York State.