NYS Has a Budget Deal: What We Know So Far

NYAPRS Note: In reaching an agreement on the proposal to ‘raise the age’ of criminal liability from 16-18, the Cuomo Administration, the Senate and Assembly have broken the logjam and have been passing final 2017-18 budget bills from last night into later today. Only a few of the 10 budget bills have been passed as of this time. Here’s what we know so far. More later today…

Governor Cuomo, Legislature Reaches Budget Agreement
Legislators Passing Bills into Today

A few highlights as we understand them now:

OPWDD/OMH/OASAS WORKFORCE HIKE
As per previous agreements, the 3 sides have agreed to

  • increase salaries for direct care, direct support professionals who work in OPWDD, OMH and OASAS funded programs by 3.25% this January 1, 2018 and by another 3.25% in April 1, 2018.
  • Increase salaries for clinical staff working in those same community agencies by April 1, 2108.

The goal of these increases is “to help alleviate the recruitment and retention challenges of direct care staff, direct support professionals and clinical staff employed in eligible programs and to continue and to expand efforts to support the professionalism of the direct care workforce.”

In an earlier statement by the Governor, “These increases will help state-funded non-profits that specialize in the care of vulnerable New Yorkers not only recruit and retain employees, but continue to provide the same level of excellent care that have made them the backbone of New York’s developmentally disabled and behavioral health system.”

Building on the terrific work of advocates for those serving New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, an 11 member coalition of state/regional behavioral health advocacy groups (http://www.nyaprs.org/e-news-bulletins/2017/015519.cfm) feverishly worked in the remaining weeks of the session to add OMH and OASAS workers into the agreement. Great thanks are due to representatives of both houses and the Governor and to all of our respective members for their impassioned calls, marches and meetings! Special thanks are due to NYAPRS/MHANYS lobbyist Kevin Cleary.

MINIMUM WAGE RELATED INCREASES
The Governor provided $3.5 million in his original budget proposal to keep pace with raising the salaries of the lowest paid OMH funded workers. We believe this is in addition to the broader wage hike above.

RAISE THE AGE
Another top NYAPRS priority, here’s a description of the agreement via the NY Post:

“All misdemeanors would go through family court,” said Sen. Patrick Gallivan, who played a key role in negotiating the bill. “Violent felonies would stay in a criminal court, youth part. All other felonies would go to family court unless the DA objected and that would have to meet a standard.”

Instead of relying on existing state laws that say it’s violent to rob someone by shoving them and grabbing their property, judges will first use a three-part test and the judgement to determine whether a youth crime is violent.

That test includes whether injuries were caused in the commission of their crimes, whether deadly weapons were used and whether the defendant committed a sexual crime.

District attorneys would also have leeway to argue that “extraordinary circumstances,” outside of the three factors warrant youth criminal court, instead of family court, sources said.

In some counties with tough district attorneys that could mean a large drug bust of a dealer whose stash has killed other teens in the community may be considered “extraordinary,” and therefore violent, sources said.

Finally, the provision requires 16-and 17-year-olds to be housed away from adult inmates — either in different facilities or in jails that manage to keep the populations completely separate at all times.”

CRISIS INTERVENTION TEAMS, DIVERSIONARY SERVICES

The budget includes another $1.4 million to fund CIT and criminal justice diversion services, a special priority for both houses over the past 4 years for which we are extremely grateful.

MILLIONAIRE’S TAX EXTENDED
People who make more than $1 million a year will not, as scheduled, see their tax rates fall in the coming year. Instead, they will pay a marginal top rate of 8.82%, instead of dropping to 6.85%, for two years, one year shorter than proposed by Cuomo. Senate Republicans bowed to the idea as a revenue-raising move, though they beat back an attempt by Assembly Democrats to boost the tax rates even higher on high-income earners. There are roughly 45,000 millionaires in the state who pay money under that tax rate.

MEDICAID PRESCRIPTION CAP
A cap on what the state will pay for certain prescription drugs for Medicaid enrollees was approved. The legislation states that the state has a “significant public interest” in controlling drug costs and is one that “ensures patient access while providing financial stability for the state and participating providers.’’