Governor’s Tuition-Free College Proposal Would Benefit 7,000 Families in City of Syracuse, 38,000 Families in Central New York – 93 Percent of Families in Syracuse Qualify
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced over that last few weeks, a number of highlights for the Central New York Region as part of the proposed FY 2018 Executive Budget. The Budget builds on the state’s fiscal discipline over the last six years while strengthening the middle class, reducing taxes, and making smart investments in New York’s future. From sweeping investments in Hancock International Airport to new actions to grow New York’s burgeoning industrial hemp industry, the Executive Budget will build on the state’s bottom-up economic development approach and keep each region of New York moving forward. More information on the FY 2018 Executive Budget is available here.
“This year’s budget will drive growth throughout Central New York by helping the middle class and advancing our progressive values, all while continuing our record of fiscal discipline. From making college more affordable and revitalizing our infrastructure, to cutting the cost of prescription drugs and doubling the child care tax credit, the budget drives smart economic growth and generating opportunity throughout the region,” Governor Cuomo said. “These sweeping investments will grow good-paying jobs, improve access to high-quality education, and protect our environment – creating a brighter, stronger Central New York region for all.”
Highlights of the FY 2018 Executive Budget:
- State Operating Funds spending is $98.06 billion in FY 2018 – an increase of 1.9 percent. (State Operating Funds exclude Federal funds and capital).
- All Funds spending $152.3 billion for FY 2018.
- Increases Education Aid by $1 billion for a total increase of 4.1 percent, including $961 million for School Aid, bringing the new School Aid total to $25.6 billion.
- Increases State Medicaid spending under the growth cap (3.2 percent) to $18.3 billion.
- Invests $163 million to make college tuition free for middle-class families at SUNY and CUNY, including 38,000 families in Central New York.
- Caps price of prescription drugs sold to Medicaid by state review board at no cost.
- Expands Buy American provisions to all procurement over $100,000, protecting our state’s manufacturing and construction sectors.
- Invests $2 billion over five years for the Clean Water Infrastructure Act.
- Supports New York’s middle-class families by doubling New York State Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.
- Begins Middle Class Tax Cut for six million New Yorkers – saving households $250 on average next year and $700 annually when fully effective.
- Extends tax rate on millionaires – 45,000 taxpayers impacted, 50 percent non-residents.
Increasing Access to Higher Education
Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, New York State provides more than $7 billion in total support for colleges and universities—an increase of $1 billion since 2012. This investment includes more than $5 billion for SUNY state-operated campuses and CUNY senior colleges, and more than $700 million for community colleges. New York State also provides over $1 billion in financial assistance to students through the Tuition Assistance Program, various scholarships and loan forgiveness programs.
- Tuition-Free College for Middle-Class Families through Excelsior Scholarships: Governor Cuomo proposes making college tuition-free for New York’s middle-class families at all SUNY and CUNY two- and four-year colleges. New York’s tuition-free college degree program, the Excelsior Scholarship, is the first of its kind in the nation and will help alleviate the crushing burden of student debt while enabling thousands of students to realize their dream of higher education. Under the program, tuition-free college would begin immediately for students of families making up to $100,000 annually, and phase in over the next two years to those making $125,000 annually. Once fully phased in, the program is estimated to cost $163 million per year. 38,000 families in Central New York and 7,000 families in the City of Syracuse will be eligible for this program.
Jumpstarting Phase II of the Transformation of the New York State Fairgrounds:
At an event in Syracuse today, the Governor presented Phase Two of the historic redesign and transformation of the New York State Fairgrounds and endorsed the State Fair Task Force recommendation to expand the fair to 13 Days in 2017. Phase Two of the capital program will develop the fair into a year-round destination includes $50 million to develop an 80,000-square-foot, multi-use Exposition Center and an Aerial Gondola to connect visitors to the fairgrounds and Onondaga County’s Lakeview Amphitheater. In addition, a $20 million investment from the Upstate Revitalization Initiative will allow for the construction of a new on-ramp to I-690 West and other improvements to the Orange parking lot, while other fair enhancements will include constructing a new Aerial Sky Ride and offering new, diverse events to attract visitors year-round. More information is available here.
Driving Economic Growth and Revitalizing New York’s Infrastructure
The FY 2018 Executive Budget continues Governor Cuomo’s focus on revitalizing New York’s economy, creating well-paying jobs and investing in key capital projects across the state. The Governor is also delivering on his historic commitment to revitalize New York State’s infrastructure, and in partnership with public authorities, and local and federal governments, the state is investing $100 billion in transformative projects across New York.
- Driving Forward a $45.1 Million Transformation of the Syracuse Hancock
International Airport: The Syracuse Hancock International Airport will receive $35.8 million in funding to drive forward a $45.1 million transformation of the airport. This investment will turn an archaic facility into a state-of-the-art transportation hub that meets the needs of the 21st century traveler. The overhaul of the airport’s aging infrastructure includes a wide-scale redesign of the grand hall, food, beverage and retail concessions, and the exterior façade. In addition, a new Regional Aviation History Museum, glass pedestrian bridge, and eco-friendly roof will be built along with new flooring and furniture to provide a welcoming atmosphere for travelers from across the world. The project is expected to create more than 850 construction jobs.
Stimulating Industrial Growth
Expanding Saab in Central New York: Saab, a multi-national company with world-leading products, services and solutions within military defense and civil security, will invest $55 million to relocate the North American headquarters of Saab Defense and Security USA, LLC, to East Syracuse, Onondaga County. The move, in conjunction with other planned activities, will result in the creation of nearly 260 new, high-tech jobs, as well as the retention of Saab’s existing local workforce of more than 450 employees in Central New York. Saab’s significant investment, job creation and retention in New York is supported by an incentive package aimed to encourage Saab’s efforts to stimulate industrial growth in Central New York.
The current limitations on the availability of ridesharing services has meant that millions of New Yorkers are not only missing out on an alternative form of transportation, but thousands more are being prevented from pursuing new flexible job opportunities as rideshare drivers.
- Transportation Network Companies to Operate Outside New York City: The FY 2018 Executive Budget authorizes Transportation Network Companies, such as Uber and Lyft, to operate throughout the state and creates uniform licensing requirements.
Delivering Real Property Tax Relief and Relieving Local Government Mandates
New York residents face some of the highest property tax burdens in the nation – with tax bills averaging $11,346 in Westchester, $10,718 in Nassau, and $8,926 in Suffolk counties. In New York, a typical homeowner pays 2.5 times more in property taxes than what they pay in state income taxes. Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has focused on fighting this burden by capping property taxes, improving local government efficiency and restructuring distressed local governments.
Governor Cuomo has also made mandate relief a priority and has eliminated dozens of burdensome requirements for local municipalities. After decades of local government calls for change, the Governor implemented reforms to the binding arbitration process for police and fire unions which require these panels take into account a municipality’s ability to pay certain local contracts. Additionally, the Governor’s reforms to the state’s pension system are saving the state, local governments, and school districts more than $80 billion over the next 30 years.
- Countywide Shared Services Property Tax Savings Plans Initiative: The FY 2018 Budget continues the Governor’s efforts to relieve the property tax burden by proposing a new initiative for voter-approved county-wide shared services plans. Counties will be required to work with the other local governments contained within their county, as well as with the community and civic leaders, to develop these plans. The plans must generate real, recurring savings for taxpayers by eliminating duplicative services and proposing coordinated services to enhance purchasing power, such as sharing expensive transportation or emergency equipment. Taxpayers will then vote on these cost-saving plans in a referendum in the November 2017 general election.
Implementing Buy American Act
Each year, New York State spends billions of dollars on the procurement of goods and services. However, existing regulations place little emphasis on ensuring this spending power is leveraged to support all American manufacturing, many which are right here in New York State.
Under the Governor’s “Buy American” plan, all state entities will be required to give preference to American-made goods and products in any new procurements more than $100,000. This measure would implement the nation’s strongest mandate for the purchase of American-made products by state entities.
Curbing the Cost of Prescription Drugs
The Governor’s Executive Budget continues efforts to control the rising cost of prescription drugs. In Medicaid, gross prescription drug costs have grown by $1.7 billion or approximately 38 percent over the last three years. The Governor is therefore advancing a three-point plan to protect consumers and taxpayers from the health and economic consequences of the rapidly rising cost of prescription drugs. The comprehensive plan includes:
- Creating a price ceiling for certain high cost prescription drugs reimbursed under the Medicaid program by requiring a 100 percent additional supplemental rebate for any amounts in excess of a benchmark price as recommended by the DOH’s Drug Utilization Review Board. The plan will also limit year-over-year price increases for generic drugs paid for by the Medicaid program.
- Imposing a surcharge on high-priced drugs when they are sold into the state. The proceeds collected from the surcharge will be reallocated to insurers to lower insurance premiums for New Yorkers the following year so the cost is not passed on to consumers.
- Regulating Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) to protect consumers and ensure that PBMs are not contributing to the rising costs of prescription drugs through unfair business practices.
In 2016, the Governor signed into law a comprehensive plan to end the heroin and opioid epidemic in New York State. The FY 2018 Budget builds on this progress by investing $200 million to support prevention, treatment and recovery programs targeted toward chemical dependency, residential service opportunities, and public awareness and education activities.
The Governor’s plan includes the following measures:
- Eliminate prior authorization requirements to make substance use disorder treatment available to all.
- Add fentanyl analogs to the New York controlled substances schedule to subject emerging synthetic drugs to criminal drug penalties.
- Increase access to life-saving buprenorphine treatment by recruiting health care providers to become prescribers.
- Establish 24/7 crisis treatment centers to ensure access to critical support services.
- Require emergency department prescribers to consult the Prescription Monitoring Program registry to combat “doctor shopping.”
- Create New York’s first recovery high schools to help young people in recovery finish school.
Protecting the Environment
The FY 2018 Executive Budget initiates an unprecedented investment in clean water programs, increases capital funding for environmental and recreational facilities, maintains historic funding levels for the Environmental Protection Fund, and continues state funding for core environmental, parks and agricultural programs.
- Clean Water Infrastructure Act: To ensure that current and future New Yorkers have access to clean water, the Budget initiates the $2 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act. Funded at $400 million per year over five years, this historic investment will support critical drinking water, wastewater, and source water protection initiatives.
- Empire State Trail: The Budget invests $53 million for Phase I of the Empire State Trail to develop and connect fragmented stretches of the Hudson River Valley Greenway and Erie Canalway. When complete, the trail network will stretch through the Hudson Valley and Adirondacks from New York City to the Canadian border and along the Erie Canal from Albany to Buffalo. This investment will create the largest state multi-use trail in the nation, attracting new tourists to explore New York’s diverse landscapes and rich history.
Under Governor Cuomo, New York’s finances have made a dramatic turnaround since the depths of the recession and the preceding high-spending eras. Before Governor Cuomo took office, the annual State Budget grew faster than income 60 percent of the time (or three out of every five budgets), and spending over the entire period grew at an average rate of approximately 7.0 percent, compared to income growth of 6.2 percent. With the adoption of the two percent spending benchmark, the unsustainable trend has been reversed. The FY 2018 Executive Budget continues this trend of fiscal responsibility and builds on the Governor’s commitment to expand opportunity and grow New York’s economy.
- State Spending Growth Held Under 2 Percent For Seventh Consecutive Year: The Executive Budget holds annual spending growth in State Operating Funds to 1.9 percent.
- State’s Outstanding Debt Set to Decline for a Fifth Straight Year: State-related debt outstanding will have decreased during this administration from $56.4 billion in FY 2012 to $50.8 billion by the end of FY 2017. This will be the fifth consecutive year the State’s outstanding debt level has declined.
- New York’s Credit Rating Has Improved: The state now has its highest credit rating since 1972.
- General Reserves Increased: Another planned deposit of $150 million will bring reserves to $2.5 billion – highest levels on record.
- Spending for State Agency Operations Held Flat: Since the Governor took office, Executive State agency operating costs have essentially remained flat through ongoing state agency redesign and cost-control efforts