CS, TU: Still No NYS Budget Deal, SUD Services Investment Expected

NYAPRS Note: There’s still no budget deal here in Albany this morning, leaving the great likelihood that the Governor will have to waive the 3 day ‘aging’ period so that budget bills can be passed on release later this week.

Crain’s Health Pulse noted this morning that “so much effort has gone into getting closure on a minimum-wage compromise that there has been very little time left to address other budget issues. Lawmakers still must identify how much funding the state will provide to pay for the minimum-wage increase in the health and human-services sector.”

Other unresolved issues include Medicaid and education funding, paid family leave and medical malpractice.

It’s not there’s no progress….there are rumors that legislators and the Governor have reached agreement on how to spend the $15 million that has been allocated to the mental hygiene table and that a significant investment in substance use treatment services will be made in addition to that amount (see below). And apparently, the houses began passing some more minor budget bills, including one on debt service..

While negotiations continued, 6 advocates for those with AIDS got arrested at the Capital yesterday, while minimum wage advocates held a vigil nearby.

Stand by….more later.

Heastie: No Deal Yet On Minimum Wage, Major Budget Items

By Jon Lentz City and State March 28, 2016

Facing a preliminary deadline Monday night to stay on track for an on-time state budget by April 1, the Democratic majority in the state Assembly has yet to come to an agreement with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Republican-controlled state Senate.

“I think we’re in some regards able to move forward with this, but there’s still some outstanding issues, particularly how the city of New York comes out of this and other details like that,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said on Monday afternoon. “So there’s still items that are very important to the conference that are still open.”

Heastie, who spoke with reporters after meeting with his fellow Assembly Democrats, said that the minimum wage remained a sticking point in the three-way negotiations, including how to “factor in the cost,” but that the conference is “OK proceeding where we have to go.”

In addition to the push for a $15 minimum wage, a top priority for the governor and the Assembly, paid family leave is “absolutely” part of the budget talks, he added. Education funding, including closing the Gap Elimination Adjustment, is also being discussed, he said, although he added that there were no dollar amounts agreed to on school aid.

State Senate Republicans have raised concerns about a higher minimum wage, although they have joined Democrats in calling for more education funding than the governor proposed in January. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan did not come out and speak to reporters after a conference meeting Monday afternoon.

State Sen. Rich Funke, a Republican from the Rochester area, offered a pessimistic take on the status of budget negotiations in a brief exchange with reporters. "That's the problem," he said. "We don't have agreements on any of it."

Cuomo was not available to reporters during the day on Monday. But on Sunday, Cuomo said during an Easter egg hunt at the governor's mansion that he remains optimistic that the state budget would be approved on time.

"There are significant issues that we're discussing," the governor said. "Minimum wage increase in upstate New York, downstate New York, at what rate, we want to make sure it's calibrated correctly. We want to see working families get paid a livable wage so they can make ends meet."

State higher education and Medicaid funding, which Cuomo initially proposed cutting in New York City, also remain under discussion, Heastie said Monday.

The speaker said some smaller, unspecified items in the budget have been resolved. He declined to say whether he expected a budget agreement to be reached before midnight Monday. Budget bills have to be printed three days in advance, but the governor can choose to issue a “message of necessity” to waive the aging period.

“I don’t know,” Heastie said. “I’m not sure. We’re hoping to still get an on-time budget with no messages. I’d like to let the bills age the normal process, but as the governor said, if need be, he will send messages.”

Later on Monday afternoon, the Assembly began passing budget legislation, starting with the debt service bills. The Senate already passed the equivalent legislation.

Earlier, when a reporter asked about reaction in his conference to reports of a proposal for a lower minimum wage upstate or a longer phase-in, Heastie struck an optimistic tone.

“Albany is the art of the compromise and we’ll see what happens at the end of the day on the minimum wage and on paid family leave,” Heastie said. “But the members are fully aware that, you know, sometimes you have to compromise up here in Albany.”



N.Y. Budget Likely To See Increases For Addiction Services

By Claire Hughes Albany Times Union March 28, 2016

The 2016-176 state budget is likely to lead to an increased investment in addiction services compared to recent years, according to John Coppola, executive director of the Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers of New York State.

The executive budget proposal for 2016-17 included what the governor’s office characterized as a $6 million increase in spending on addiction and recovery services. In light of the ongoing heroin epidemic that is plaguing the state, however, the Assembly and Senate responded with proposed increases of $26 million and $32 million, respectively.

Negotiations are underway to come to some compromise, but Coppola sounded optimistic Monday that the final number will be a positive sign for those struggling with addiction and the treatment providers that he represents.

“This is the first time that I can recall the Senate or Assembly making a recommendation as significantly above the executive as they have,” Coppola said. “If the governor and the leadership publicly state that this is a priority and make a commitment of additional resources, that would send a signal that they’re serious about this, that they’re hearing the cry from families across the state, and they’re going to do something about it.”

The funding comes as heroin abuse strains a system already challenged, due to years of cutbacks, to meet the needs of people addicted to alcohol and other substances, Coppola said.