Welcome to our 2017 Budget Wrap. As you are likely aware, this year’s state budget process was a challenging one. It was haunted by the specter of pending federal actions that would have dramatically changed the contours of New York’s health insurance programs, creating uncertainty about how the state would manage the $4 billion hole that Governor Cuomo estimated would emerge should repeal of the Affordable Care Act occur.
Every day New Yorkers and policymakers alike struggled to fathom the vast implications of what funding cuts to a myriad of federal programs could mean to public and private bottom lines. Indeed, with so many questions about how changes in domestic policy could impact New York’s finances, Governor Cuomo and State Legislators included in the final budget agreement a contingency plan that will allow them to act mid-budget year if adjustments are needed.
Ultimately, the uncertain climate at the federal level resulted in New York taking steps to provide additional assistance to those already feeling the impact of the new Administration’s priorities – increased funding to assist immigrants facing deportation and other legal challenges and the establishment of a Hate Crimes Task Force, are two examples.
Other support from Governor Cuomo and Legislative Leaders, along with much advocacy from Empire Justice Center and our many colleagues across the state, resulted in many programs that provide essential services being continued at the same or somewhat higher funding level in this year’s budget. Very good news in a tight budget year.
However, other fundamental programs that assist low income and marginalized New Yorkers sustained reductions in funding in the face of growing and already unmet need. Most notably, Empire Justice Center is very concerned about the $7 million reduction in child care funding for working families, which Susan Antos writes about in this Budget Wrap issue of Policy Matters. With so many families currently eligible but unable to access this vital assistance due to lack of adequate funding, this cut will be hard felt in communities around the state.
So while we celebrate the gains that have been achieved, we remain vigilant in monitoring the impact of losses and we will stay true in our advocacy to make the law (and the state budget) work for all New Yorkers.
Read our budget wrap, detailing the wins and losses of the 2017 budget season.
And take a look at what’s next: our State Legislative and Administrative Agendas!
The Policy Team at Empire Justice Center