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Policy Matters March 2015


March 2015

Its’ hard to believe it, but spring is just around the corner and we’re in the home stretch for the state budget! 

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been very busy, combing through the Executive Budget, and the Assembly and Senate one house bills to see where our top budget priorities landed.

Several of our priorities were in the Executive Budget Proposal, as well as the Assembly and Senate one house proposals. Below are some updates for you as we sprint toward passage of the budget.


  • Community Health Advocates (CHA)

Target Funding Level: $5 million – As advocates, one of our top priorities is ensuring that consumers are informed about their health care options, especially when they begin using a new plan, or are grappling with any number of other issues. In the Executive Budget, the Community Health Advocates (CHA), New York State’s designated Health Care Consumer Assistance Program, was funded at $2.5 million dollars as part of the Health Care Exchange, as federal funding for the program is set to end this year.  The Assembly added another $500,000 to bring the program to $3 million.

Unfortunately, the Senate’s one house budget proposal eliminated funding for the program because it was funded as part of the Exchange.  In the final days leading up to April 1, we will be meeting with key policymakers to talk about why this funding is so important to New Yorkers.  We will work to convince both the Governor and the Legislature that they need to support and expand this program, especially with the loss of federal aid.

  • Managed Care Consumer Assistance Program (MCCAP)

Target Funding Level: $1.962 million – Many seniors and people with disabilities need assistance accessing Medicare.  The Managed Care Consumer Assistance Program (MCCAP) has been instrumental in providing these services, in addition to training and technical support to agencies across the state.

Additional funding will help programs serve the growing Medicare population in New York State, a relatively small increased investment of $195,000 would have a huge impact in programs’ ability to keep up with current demand for their services.  While we are still seeking additional funds, we were pleased to see level funding of $1.767 million in the Executive Budget Proposal, and both the Assembly and Senate one house proposals.

DAPWorks for NY!

  • Disability Advocacy Program (DAP)

Target Funding Level: $8 million -  For more than three decades, the Disability Advocacy Program (DAP) has been a great resource for low income and disabled New Yorkers, and also a great return on investment for New York State.  This year, the Governor proposed to fund the program at $5.26 million, the Assembly proposed to fund it at $7.26 million, and the Senate sought to fund it at our target of $8 million!  We are extremely appreciative of the support from both the Governor and the Legislature, and we’re working to get DAP funded at $8 million.

Child Care

One of the biggest costs affecting working families, especially low income families, is the increasing cost of child care. As part of the Winning Beginning NY coalition, we’re continually advocating for increased funds for child care subsidies.  When the Executive Budget Proposal was released, we were disheartened to see level funding.

We were pleased that the legislature recognized the dire nature of the issue and that the Senate included an increase of $20 million in their one house proposal, while the Assembly called for an increase of $25 million for child care subsidies, and $12 million for Facilitated Enrollment.  Additionally, the Assembly proposed a child care work rules waiver, which would shift $5 million from child care for public assistance work programs to child care subsidies for working families.  Along with our colleagues at The Legal Aid Society and The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, we penned a memo on this proposal, as it will open up more child care slots for working families.

Community Restoration Fund

As advocates and local housing counseling agencies work to help homeowners remain in their homes, we believe a creative solution, such as the creation of a Community Restoration Fund (CRF), is key to rebuilding communities across New York State.  By identifying distressed mortgage notes and acquiring them through a community development financial institution in bulk, the fund would be able to either modify or refinance a mortgage and either re-sell to the original owner, transfer to a developer to sell, or rent out as affordable housing.


Targeted Funding: $15 million - The Office of New Americans provides essential English as a second language, citizenship and entrepreneurial training and assistance programs for immigrants, who comprise a growing segment of our state’s population.  We were pleased to see both the Governor and Assembly call for $6.4 million dollars.  The Senate called for a reduction of funding, a three million dollar decrease which we believe would be harmful to efforts to provide essential services for immigrants and unaccompanied minors statewide.  We are hopeful the Executive Budget will include expanded funding to meet the growing demand for services.

A Call for Changes in Policy

In our previous edition, we talked about the importance of re-examining the adequacy of public assistance housing aid, specifically the shelter and fuel for heating allowances.  Even as shelter and heating costs increase every year, the allowances do not.  In some cases, there hasn’t been an increase in almost thirty years!  In some cases, we're beginning to talk to legislators and decision makers, and have solid recommendations on the issue that would help low income families heat and pay for their homes.

On Thursday, March 19th, we will release In the Eye of the Storm: Why the Threat of Foreclosure Damage Continues, a report that explores the ongoing foreclosure crisis in the City of Rochester and Monroe County, and its detrimental effect on neighborhoods of color and municipalities.  The report also offers recommendations to New York State and the federal government, showing them how foreclosures can be prevented and how the problems caused by foreclosures can be mitigated. 

Until The Next Time…

As we expect negotiation and passage of the state budget within the next two weeks, we will keep you up to date with news on our website and on our Facebook  page.  After the budget is passed, we'll be hard at work on our other legislative and administrative priorities until the end of session! Until the next time…

Empire Justice Center's Policy Team


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