Economic Opportunity For All
Improve and Reform Our Education System
Ensure Justice in Perception and in Reality and Restore Public Trust
February 18, 2015
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today delivered his regional “2015 Opportunity Agenda” at the Bronx House in the Bronx where he addressed key issues affecting the borough, including his recently announced ethics reform proposal to renew the public’s trust in state government.
Last month, the Governor laid out his full legislative agenda and Executive Budget for the year, which is designed to restore economic opportunity, improve and reform our education system, and return confidence and trust in our justice system.
The Governor today called on all New Yorkers to get involved and help make his Opportunity Agenda a reality, which can be done by visiting www.NYGetInvolved.com.
The Governor’s full 2015 Opportunity Agenda policy book is available here.
Among his Opportunity Agenda proposals, Governor Cuomo focuses on the following initiatives affecting the Bronx:
Build New Metro-North Stations in the Bronx and Extend Access to Penn Station: Metro-North access to Penn Station will not only enhance transit between New York City and the surrounding area, but it will strengthen the region’s resiliency in the face of future storms. The Penn Access project will provide new rail service to underserved and growing portions of the Bronx to the West Side of Manhattan and to growing jobs centers in Westchester and beyond. The State will build four new stations in the Bronx – Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester, and Hunts Point – to extend rail access to over 93,000 residents living near the stations. The project will also serve one of the largest concentrations of medical facilities in the United States at the Morris Park station. The cost of the new line and stations is $1 billion, with the State investing $250 million of that funding.
Increase the Minimum Wage to $10.50 Statewide and $11.50 in NYC: The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour, and the minimum wage in New York is $8.75 per hour. In 2013, Governor Cuomo signed legislation increasing the State’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 in 2015 to better align with the cost of living.
The Governor has proposed raising the statewide minimum wage again, to $10.50 by the end of 2016. Additionally, because New York City has one of the highest costs of living in the world, the Governor proposed raising the City’s minimum wage – which includes the Bronx – to $11.50.
Raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility: New York is one of only two states in the nation that has no legal authority to treat 16- and 17-year-olds as juveniles. “Raise the Age” is a movement advocating for juvenile responses to crimes committed by minors.
Appointed by the Governor in April 2014, a Commission was tasked with formulating an actionable plan to improve New York’s outdated juvenile justice laws, including the “Raise the Age” issue, and developing a comprehensive set of recommendations to make New York a national leader in effective youth justice policy. The Commission recently recommended a comprehensive set of reforms that would change how the justice system treats all youths. They are carefully designed to preserve public safety by maintaining District Attorney control over serious crimes of violence; allow for violent felony offenses given Youthful Offender status to be considered in sentencing if the youth continues to commit such offenses; and provide for the capacity to impose longer sentences for the most egregious crimes of violence. The Commission estimates that, if implemented, these reforms will prevent between 1,500 and 2,400 crimes against people every five years across the State.
Governor Cuomo supports the Commission’s recommendations and will introduce legislation to implement them this legislative session. The Executive Budget provides for full State financing for all State and local responsibilities associated with the legislation.
Create Bronx Unemployment Strikeforce: The Governor believes that all New Yorkers should be able to contribute to the state’s economy, and he demonstrated this commitment in May of 2014 by announcing the creation of an Unemployment Strikeforce, a new multi-pronged campaign to target areas of the state with the highest unemployment rate and boost employment. In partnership with Empire State Development, the State Department of Labor, and others, the campaign is designed to strategically focus on areas with the highest unemployment.
The Bronx has the highest poverty rate in New York State, however the Unemployment Strike Force has helped more than 7,000 Bronx residents get jobs and unemployment is below double digits for the first time since 2008. This year, the Governor proposes a $10 million in funding for the Strikeforce to create new jobs and opportunity here in the Bronx as well as in other regions across the State.
Expand Emergency Food Access: The Anti‐Hunger Task Force, established by Governor Cuomo in 2013, emphasized the importance of maintaining a strong emergency food system, since it is often a last resort for hungry individuals and families, and the Governor agrees. In November 2013, after federal SNAP cuts went into effect, the Governor showed his support for the emergency food network and infused an additional $4.5 million into the system. This funding went to 2,600 emergency food providers and helped support the more than 3 million New Yorkers who access emergency food programs each year.
While the State works to address systemic issues related to hunger, the Governor will stay focused on the immediate needs of hungry New Yorkers by providing a second infusion of $4.5 million into the emergency food system.
Invest More Than $486 Million in Housing for Vulnerable New Yorkers: Nearly three million households in New York are financially insecure in their homes, paying over 30 percent of their income on housing costs.
Governor Cuomo proposes to invest more than $486 million in funding to provide housing for the State’s most vulnerable residents. The funding includes:
- $229 million in capital resources for 2015-16 continuing the five-year House NY program, an increase of $32 million over available resources in 2014-15; and
- $257 million from the J.P. Morgan Chase settlement funds to support the following programs over the next several years: construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing, revitalization of neighborhoods, as well as encouraging community renewal activities; improvements to public, seniors and veterans housing; and low-cost financing and access to capital through Community Development Financial Institutions.
In 2013, Governor Cuomo launched House NY, a $1 billion investment over five years to create and preserve 14,300 affordable housing units, augmented by an additional $130 million added by the Governor in 2014. This initiative was the largest housing investment made by the State in at least 15 years.
Additionally, the Governor’s investment of federal storm recovery funds for affordable housing serves as a catalyst to attract private investment to the market—lowering mortgage costs and leading to more affordable rents.
Invest $403 Million in Homeless Services: The homeless population in New York State is 80,590, making up 14 percent of the nationwide homeless population and is the second highest homeless population in the country, according to a 2014 HUD homeless census. There are currently 60,352 homeless people in the New York City shelter system, including 14,519 families, the largest number of homeless families in the country, according to the HUD homeless census. In 2014, the City’s shelter populations were up by 20 percent or more, and more than 20 additional shelters opened that year.
The State currently spends approximately $780 million on homeless service programs administered or overseen by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, including emergency homeless shelters, the development of new homeless housing, homelessness prevention activities, and rental assistance. Continuing this support, Governor Cuomo has proposed to invest $220 million in homeless services over the next several years for New York City rental assistance and other programs that address the City’s growing homeless population.
The State will also use $183 million of the J.P. Morgan Chase settlement funds to support: a new NY/NY IV program to create 5,000 new supportive housing units for populations requiring additional support; and New York City’s LINC 1 rental assistance
program; and a cap on the rent contribution for public assistance recipients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in New York City so they can afford to stay in their homes.
Doubling Funding for the Urban Youth Jobs Program: In 2012, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo launched a new youth jobs program to combat the unacceptably high unemployment rates among inner-city youth in communities across New York. The initial launch of the program included $25 million in tax credits for businesses that hire unemployed and disadvantaged youth and $62 million to support job-training programs. Since 2012, more than 2,000 businesses have hired more than 18,000 youth under this program.
In 2014, the Governor expanded funding for the tax credits to $10 million annually over four years, ending in 2018. Governor Cuomo remains committed to helping the youth in New York’s inner cities obtain employment, believing they can play a central role in New York’s economy. To further enhance the success of the program, the Governor proposes doubling annual funding for this program to $20 million for each tax year from 2015 through 2018 to ensure that at-risk youth in inner cities are appropriately equipped to succeed on the job. This enhanced funding will target localities with the highest rates of unemployment and poverty, including New York City, Utica, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo.
Increase MWBE Opportunities to 30 percent: When the Governor took office, statewide Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises utilization was 9 percent, representing $800 million in State contracts. In 2011, the Governor raised the goal to 20 percent and achieved that goal, representing $1.6 billion in State contracts, and in 2014 he exceeded the goal by reaching 25 percent utilization, representing $2 billion in State contracts – the highest amount in the nation.
Continuing that commitment, the State will increase its MWBE goal to 30 percent, which would represent $2.4 billion in State contracts and would be the most ambitious goal in the nation.
The State has already seen results of the Governor’s aggressive approach to contracting MWBEs: By streamlining certification procedures, the Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development has increased the pool of certified MWBEs, adding 2,123 firms between January 2011 and January 2014, and eliminated an application backlog. Small business and MWBE contractors leveraged $40 million in surety bonding capacity as a result of training, credit facilitation, and surety bond collateral support.
Create a $50 Million Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program: The nonprofit sector provides services to many New Yorkers, including the State’s most vulnerable populations. Many of the services that nonprofits provide on behalf of the state result in long-term cost avoidance and savings by intervening to help avoid crisis situations. To support the work of the State’s nonprofit partners, the Governor will create a one-time $50 million Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program.
The Program will make targeted investments in capital projects that will improve the quality, efficiency, accessibility, and reach of nonprofit human services organizations that serve New Yorkers. Grants will be awarded through a competitive process, with priority given to nonprofits with State contracts that provide direct services in high-need communities, particularly smaller nonprofits and nonprofits that lack access to other capital funding opportunities.
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