NYAPRS 1st Look at Legislative Budget Proposals: Minimum Wage, Criminal Justice, Reinvestment

NYS Senate and Assembly Release Budget Bills: NYAPRS 1st Look

The NYS Assembly and Senate released their respective budget proposals, demonstrating each house’s priorities as they go into negotiations with Cuomo Administration representatives aimed at reaching an April 1 budget agreement.

Here’s an initial look at how our NYAPRS and related priorities have fared:

Minimum Wage

The Assembly creates a $200 million reserve fund to help offset increased labor costs to nonprofits funded by the Office of Mental Health, Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, Department of Health, Office of Children and Family Services, Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, State Office for the Aging and the Department of Labor. Like the governor’s plan, the minimum wage would be increased to $15 per hour in New York City by 2018 and 2021 in the rest of the state. Unlike the governor’s plan, the Assembly requires that the minimum wage be adjusted every year after 2021 to the rate of inflation.

The Senate, which has been generally opposed to such a fund, is silent on the issue.

Investments in Mental Health Service Sector

Reinvestment: The Senate puts up $2.5 million to restore about half of the Governor’s $5.5 million cut to Community Reinvestment funding. NYAPRS and MHANYS are continuing efforts to increase state investments in community mental health service infrastructure and expansion. Look for our next posting.

Criminal Justice

Crisis Intervention Teams: for the 3rd year in a row, the Senate adds funding ($500,000) to launch additional CIT programs to improve police and community response to people with mental health conditions in crisis. The Assembly re-appropriates its $1 million to expand CITs and related initiatives. Our advocacy has helped create a total of $2.4 million in new CIT initiatives over the past 3 years.

Medicaid Presumptive Eligibility: the Assembly bill requires the state to apply for federal approval to restore Medicaid benefits to individuals 30 days out before they are scheduled to be discharged from state prisons or county jails. This proposal only applies for those who were receiving Medicaid before their incarceration and is intended to pay for a variety of services, including medical, prescription and care coordination for ‘high needs’ individuals.

We are continuing to gather information on how other NYAPRS priorities have been treated by the Legislature, most notably increasing OMH housing rates and supportive housing beds, intensive outreach and engagement initiative that is the alternative to expanding civil commitment, restoration of prescriber prevails and Raising the Age of criminal liability to 18. Stay tuned for details.

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Here’s more on proposals of interest to NYAPRS:

Fighting Heroin and Opiate Epidemic

The Assembly puts up $30 million for the expansion of heroin and opiate abuse treatment and support programs, as follows:

  • $15 million for treatment and preventative services, which would include an expansion of heroin treatment services to specifically target underserved areas and underserved populations.
  • $9 million to post-treatment community-based recovery services.
  • $6 million would be used to fund patient engagement programs which help individuals find treatment options and support them on their road to recovery.

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion

The Assembly proposes that the state Division of Criminal Justice Services work with OASAS to “develop best practices regarding law enforcement assisted diversion and a procedure for diverting individuals with substance use disorders to treatment in lieu of arrest.”

Paid Family Leave: the Senate’s proposal would allow employees — starting in 2018 — to be eligible for 50 percent of their average weekly wage, not to exceed 50 percent of the statewide average weekly wage. By 2021, it would eventually rise to 67 percent of an employee's average weekly wage, not to exceed 67 percent of the statewide average weekly wage. Both the Senate and Assembly’s proposals would be funded through employee payroll deductions.

Spousal Refusal: Both the state Senate's and Assembly's one-house budget proposals reject Gov. Andrew Cuomo's effort to end New York's spousal refusal program. If lawmakers succeed in defending the program, it would mark the 26th consecutive year a governor has tried to cut the program, and the Legislature has kept it in place. Spousal refusal allows one spouse to protect assets by refusing to pay for long-term home care for a sick spouse, who is then enrolled in Medicaid.

Creation of Office of Community Living A.9479 (Weprin)

Legislation has been advanced to create a new Office of Community Living “to advise and assist the governor in developing policies designed to help meet the needs of persons with disabilities and to encourage the full participation of persons with disabilities in society.” The OCL would would bring together disability programs currently housed in other agencies, including the Independent Living Centers from the Department of Education, Access to Home from the Division of Homes and Community Renewal, the TRAID program from the Justice Center, and community integration programs from the Department of Health. The Office would also assume coordination of the Most Integrated Setting Coordinating Council (MISCC) currently under the auspices of the Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).