June 22, 2016

Governor Cuomo Highlights Achievements of 2016 Legislation Session

Governor Cuomo Highlights Achievements of 2016 Legislation Session

Governor Releases 2016 End of Session Report - Available Here State Enacting a $15 Statewide Minimum Wage, 12 Weeks of Paid Family Leave, Record Investments in Infrastructure and School Aid, End to the Gap Elimination Adjustment and Lowest Middle Class Tax Rate in 70 Years The 239th Legislature Also Passed Legislation to Implement Ethics Reforms, Combat the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic, Improve Safety at Rail Crossings, Expand Breast Cancer Screening, Modernize the State's Alcohol Laws, and Require Lead Testing in Schools

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today released the 2016 End of Session Report detailing achievements of the 239th Legislative Session. The FY 2017 Budget, for the sixth consecutive year, keeps spending below 2 percent – enabling the State to make strategic investments in infrastructure and education while implementing the lowest middle class tax rate in 70 years. In times of great national uncertainty, Governor Cuomo again brought divided houses together – passing a $15 statewide minimum wage, 12 weeks of paid family leave, reforms to combat the devastating effects of the Citizens United decision and a comprehensive plan to end New York's heroin and opioid epidemic.

"This progress achieved throughout this year's Legislative Session will have a real impact on the lives of millions of New Yorkers across the state," Governor Cuomo said. "From the ground-breaking achievements in the budget to the major legislative agreements in the last few weeks, New York continues to show a nation accustomed to gridlock what is possible when government works.”


Raising the Statewide Minimum Wage to $15
The minimum wage is designed to provide a worker with a decent living – yet today, a full-time worker who has a family of four and is earning the minimum wage is automatically below the poverty line. The FY 2017 Budget includes a historic increase in the minimum wage, ultimately reaching $15 an hour for all workers in all industries across New York.

· Workers in New York City employed by large businesses (those with at least 11 employees) will see the minimum wage rise to $11 at the end of 2016, then another $2 each year after, reaching $15 on 12/31/2018.
· Workers in New York City employed by small businesses (those with 10 employees or fewer) will see the minimum wage will rise to $10.50 by the end of 2016, then another $1.50 each year after, reaching $15 on 12/31/2019.
· Workers in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties, will see the minimum wage will increase to $10 at the end of 2016, then $1 each year after, reaching $15 on 12/31/2021.
· Workers in the rest of the state will see the minimum wage will increase to $9.70 at the end of 2016, then another $.70 each year after until reaching $12.50 on 12/31/2020 – after which it will continue to increase to $15 on an indexed schedule set by the Director of the Division of Budget in consultation with the Department of Labor.

More than 2.3 million workers are projected to experience higher wages, injecting $15.7 billion in the economy.

ATTN TVs: Video detailing New York’s journey to a $15 statewide minimum wage is available HERE.

Enacting the Nation’s Strongest Paid Family Leave Program
No one should be forced to choose between a paycheck and caring for a loved one. The United States is one of the only industrialized countries that does not have a nationwide paid family leave law. The FY 2017 Budget includes the longest and most comprehensive paid family leave program in the nation.

When fully phased-in, employees will be eligible for 12 weeks of paid family leave when caring for an infant, a family member with a serious health condition or to relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service. Benefits will be phased-in beginning in 2018 at 50 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage, capped to 50 percent of the statewide average weekly wage, and fully implemented in 2021 at 67 percent of their average weekly wage, capped to 67 percent of the statewide average weekly wage. This program will be funded entirely through a nominal payroll deduction on employees so it costs businesses – both big and small – nothing. Employees are eligible to participate after having worked for their employer for six months.

ATTN TVs: Video detailing New York's achievement of the nation's most robust paid family leave program is available HERE.

Investing in the $100 Billion Infrastructure and Development Plan
A core priority of Governor Cuomo’s 2016 agenda is the Built to Lead infrastructure and development program – an unprecedented and ambitious initiative to transform our state and set the stage for success into the next century. With $100 billion in projects moving forward, New York is modernizing JFK, Stewart and Republic Airports, constructing a new airport at LaGuardia, increasing the capacity of its public transportation systems, renovating Penn Station, expanding the Javits Convention Center, building a new Tappan Zee Bridge, and investing in more in roads, bridges and tunnels than ever before – all to keep New York’s economy growing into the next century while creating 250,000 construction jobs.

Record Investments in Transportation
Resilient and efficient transportation infrastructure is vital to ensuring New York State’s economy continues to grow into the next century. The FY 2017 Budget supports an unprecedented $55 billion State transportation investment plan – including $27.14 billion for the Department of Transportation Capital Program and Thruway programs, and $27.98 billion for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Capital Program. The investments will construct stronger roads, bridges and airports across the state, and modernize much of the public transit system in the New York City region.

Building Opportunity Through Education
The strength of New York State’s economic future depends on the abilities of our next generation. The FY 2017 Budget provides $24.8 billion in School Aid, the highest amount in history and a 6.5 percent increase over last year. The funding will support almost 700 school districts and 2.8 million students in Pre-K through 12th grades.

The FY 2017 Budget also includes $175 million to transform failing schools and other high-needs schools into community schools; increases support for charter schools statewide by up to $430 per pupil; and completely eliminates the $434 million Gap Elimination Adjustment.

Cutting Taxes
The middle class tax cut continues New York State’s record of significant tax relief under the leadership of Governor Cuomo. The FY 2017 Budget cuts middle class tax rates in New York State. The new lower tax rates will save New Yorkers nearly $6.6 billion in the first four years, with annual savings reaching $4.2 billion by 2025. Approximately 4.4 million filers will initially benefit, growing to 6 million once fully phased in who save an average $698 per filer. The new tax cuts will begin in 2018.

Once fully phased in, the new middle class tax rates will be the lowest in more than 70 years. New York also has the lowest corporate tax rate since 1968 and lowest manufacturers tax rate since 1917.

Protecting Our Environment
Governor Cuomo is committed to investing in environmental protection and energy programs that protect open space in New York while growing the state’s economy. The FY 2017 Budget increases funding of the Environmental Protection Fund to $300 million – the highest in state history – for farmland and open space conservation, municipal recycling and waterfront revitalization. The FY 2017 Budget also includes $200 million to support communities’ water infrastructure; $130 million to enhance State parks and lands; and funding to train a generation of clean energy workers who will support New York State’s unprecedented commitment to go coal-free by 2020.

ATTN TVs: Video detailing New York's environmental leadership is available HERE.


Combating Citizens United and Passing Ethics Reforms
Governor Cuomo fought for, and achieved, first-in-the-nation legislation to curb the power of independent expenditure campaigns unleashed by the 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. Additionally, the State Legislature has passed legislation requiring elected officials and policy makers convicted of corruption to forfeit their pensions and strengthening disclosure requirements for lobbyists, political consultants and 501(c)(4) organizations.

Investing in Affordable Housing and Combatting Homelessness
Secure housing for all New Yorkers is a central pillar to maintaining vibrant communities and keeping New York State’s economy strong. This Legislative Session, the Governor and Legislative Leaders agreed to make more than $570 million in State resources available to advance capital construction and operating on the first 1,200 units of supportive housing under the plan.

The capital and operating funding complements the recently-released request for proposals for services and operating awards; together, the capital, services and operating funds will ensure timely completion of the first 1,200 units of the State plan to create 6,000 units of supportive housing over the next five years, 20,000 units of supportive housing over the next fifteen years, and creating or preserving 100,000 units of affordable housing over the next five years.

Combating the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic
Heroin and opioid addiction is a national epidemic that continues to plague families in communities across New York State. Heroin overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in New York State. Governor Cuomo has made it a priority to enact the nation’s most aggressive plan to combat heroin and opioid abuse, and secured nearly $200 million in the FY 2017 Budget to get it done.

This Session, working with Governor Cuomo, the State Legislature passed a package of bills that attack the root of the problem and ensure greater care for those who are addicted. The legislations includes provisions to limit the over-prescription of opioids and remove insurance barriers for inpatient treatment and medication.

Increasing Access to Breast Cancer Screening and Treatment
Screening for breast cancer, which includes mammography, can increase the detection of the disease at an early stage, when treatment is most effective. However, structural barriers, such as lack of convenient office hours, have a significant impact on a woman’s ability to be screened. This Session, working with Governor Cuomo, the State Legislature passed new legislation to extend screening hours at 210 hospital-based mammography facilities and eliminate burdensome insurance hurdles for mammograms and other diagnostic imaging procedures. Together, these sweeping initiatives will help more women across the state gain access to the health care services they need and deserve.

Improving Safety at Rail Crossings
To improve safety at rail grade crossings and reduce the risk of collisions between trains and motor vehicles in New York State, new legislation requires coordinated and more frequent inspections of traffic control devices at grade crossings, increases fines for railroad companies who fail to report incidents, aligns state law with federal reporting requirements with respect to railroad bridge inspections, and increases penalties for repeat offender drivers who ignore safety laws and requirements. The Governor will also launch a pilot program to improve driver awareness and behavior at railroad grade crossings across the state.

Modernizing the Alcohol Beverage Control Law
To modernize New York State’s 80-year-old Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, new legislation amends the law allowing alcohol to be sold earlier on Sundays and streamlining licensing, and also includes common sense provisions to increase sales, such as allowing producers to sell wine in refillable growlers and liquor stores to sell gift wrapping.

The legislation builds upon Governor Cuomo’s progress made over the past five years, including enacting the Craft New York Act that simplifies regulations for the beverage industry and has resulted in an unprecedented, three-fold increase in licensed wineries, breweries, distilleries, and cideries over the last five years.

Testing School Water for Lead Contamination
Lead poisoning is extremely harmful to young children and may cause permanent brain damage. Schools in New York are not currently required to test their drinking water for lead, or notify parents or government officials of results. Legislation passed this Session makes New York the first state in the nation to put a requirement in statute that mandates periodic testing of drinking water in schools, reporting to parents and local and state entities, and provides guidance for remediation to ensure availability of clean and safe drinking water in every school. The State will fund a portion of the testing and remediation costs and will reimburse these costs on an expedited schedule in emergency situations.

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