UJA-Federation of New York congratulates Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature for the passage and enactment of the 2016 – 2017 State Budget that will greatly enhance the lives of all New Yorkers. UJA is grateful for the efforts of so many elected officials who advocated for funds to support vulnerable New Yorkers. In particular, UJA wants to thank Governor Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan.

UJA recognizes the progressive actions of the Governor and Legislature for passing a number of landmark policies that will impact working and middle-class families, including the paid family leave program and raising the minimum wage.

UJA commends the outstanding leadership of Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz, chair of the Assembly Committee on Aging; Senator Martin Golden; and Senator Sue Serino, chair of the Senate Committee on Aging for their commitment to updating statutory requirements for New York’s naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs) and neighborhood NORCs, and protecting and enhancing funding for these vital programs that allow seniors to age in place. Without their commitment and collaboration with UJA and other stakeholders, 11 NORC and neighborhood NORC programs statewide would have been forced to shut down. Their efforts restored more than $950,000 of proposed program cuts and, with the assistance of Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, added an additional $700,000 in program funding for a total of $1.65 million, helping ensure that thousands of New York’s seniors, many of whom are served by the UJA network of agencies, will receive the services they need to continue to age in place, avoiding unnecessary hospitalization or nursing home placement and remaining independent and active in their homes and communities.

UJA also applauds the Governor’s and Legislature’s recognition of the capital needs of human-service nonprofits by including $50 million in continued funding for the Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program. Due in large part to the efforts of UJA and its partners, Human Services Council and United Neighborhood Houses, this appropriation will allow nonprofits to apply for much-needed funds to maintain and upgrade their infrastructure so as to provide better services to vulnerable, low-income New Yorkers. UJA is appreciative for the two-year extension of the social work licensure exemption, which will allow UJA agencies to continue to provide crucial and effective mental-health services to New York’s most vulnerable individuals. UJA also recognizes the increase in funding for adult education, the highest level since fiscal year 2009.

This year’s budget, with the leadership of Assemblyman Joe Lentol and Senator Joe Robach, as well as Assembly members Michael Simanowitz, Sean Ryan, Shelley Mayer, Nily Rozic, Peter Abbate, and Steve Cymbrowitz, also affords New York’s Holocaust survivors $200,000 for specialized health and mental-health programs. This new funding stream will assist this particularly vulnerable population, members of which often experience complications beyond the normal scope of aging.

Finally, we are pleased that religious and independent schools throughout the state received an additional $72.5 million in funding overall. This includes $10 million for safety and security grants, and an increase of $60 million over two years through the Mandated Services Reimbursement (MSR) program, which can be used to bolster funding for Comprehensive Attendance Policy (CAP) requirements. Additionally, the Governor and Legislature have committed to establishing an Office for Religious and Independent Schools, funded at $2 million, which will provide important resources and support for program administration.