Empire Justice Center Testimony at the 2015 Human Services Joint Legislative Budget Hearing

Empire Justice February 04, 2015

Empire Justice Center is a statewide legal services organization with offices in Albany, Rochester, White Plains, Yonkers, Mount Vernon and Central Islip (Long Island).  Empire Justice provides support and training to legal services and other community based organizations, undertakes policy research and analysis, and engages in legislative and administrative advocacy.  We also represent low income individuals, as well as classes of New Yorkers, in a wide range of poverty law areas including health, public assistance, domestic violence and SSI/SSD benefits.

Our testimony today will span three agencies: the New York State Office for the Aging, the Office of Children and Family Services, and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, and will call for:

  1. Support for the Managed Care Consumer Assistance Program (MCCAP) appropriation with an additional legislative investment for a total of $1.962 million.
  2. Provide an additional $100 million investment in child care subsidies to create 13,000 new child care slots.
  3. Cap the child care copayment at 10% of gross income.
  4. Require social service districts to pay for children’s absences, just as private pay parents do.
  5. Provide a total investment of $8 million for the Disability Advocacy Program.
  6. Address the inadequacy of Public Assistance shelter and fuel for heating allowances.
  7. Eliminate asset limit tests for Public Assistance eligibility: 529 college savings accounts, retirement accounts and vehicles.
  8. Introduce legislation to better identify disabilities by requiring the use of the “Modified Mini Screen” and making it available upon application for public assistance benefits.
  9. Support efforts to expand access to SNAP benefits for college students and disabled individuals, and adopt seamless transfer of SNAP cases between counties.

Read the full testimony.