UJA thanks the Legislature and Governor for funding important human services programs, particularly the investment of $15 million to fund the minimum wage increase for state contracted nonprofit human services organizations. This funding, which directly impacts many of UJA’s partners, illustrates the State’s commitment to the nonprofit sector, and recognizes the vital role of nonprofit workers in New York. Funding the minimum wage further helps ensure the continuation of high quality human services programs in communities throughout the state.
UJA appreciates the expansion of the State and Municipalities Facilities Program (SAM) to include nonprofits as eligible entities for these capital funds, along with municipalities, schools, libraries, and fire departments. This expansion, along with the investment in minimum wage takes significant steps towards right-sizing human services provider contracts and providing appropriate capital funding opportunities.
UJA is encouraged by the State’s continued support for nonpublic schools, particularly the support of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. The State allocated $15 million—a 200% increase over the FY 2017-2018 budget—for this important educational enhancement, which allows government reimbursement for teachers dedicated exclusively to secular curriculum. The new budget also includes increased funding for the Comprehensive Attendance Policy and Mandated Services programs (CAP and MSR) and maintains $15 million for the nonpublic school security program. In total, New York State’s support for nonpublic schools amounts to approximately $254 million.
Two of UJA’s most important issue areas that assist seniors were also addressed in the budget. Funding for the Holocaust Survivor Initiative was maintained and $4 million was added for Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs). NORCs and Neighborhood NORCs help thousands of New York’s seniors — many of whom are served by UJA’s nonprofit partners — receive the services they need to continue to age in place, avoiding unnecessary hospitalization or nursing home placement while remaining independent and active in their homes and communities.
We are grateful that the State fully restored funding for the Advantage After School program. The full funding amount of $22.3 million includes a $5 million increase over the Executive Budget proposal, and a $2.5 million increase for the program over last year’s enacted budget. Without this budget restoration, 1,800 students would not have been able to attend Advantage After School programs throughout the state.
Funding for the Empire State After School program was also increased by $10 million, bringing the total investment in the program to $45 million. Program eligibility was further expanded to include both school districts and nonprofit community based organizations. Previously, only school districts had been eligible for this funding source.
UJA is pleased that the final budget restored $1 million and invested an additional $500,000 for the Adult Literacy Education (ALE) program, bringing the total funding for FY 2018-2019 to $7.8 million. ALE funds English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Adult Basic Education (ABE) and High School Equivalency (HSE) preparation classes. In New York City alone, there are an estimated 2.2 million adults that lack English proficiency, a high school diploma or both. UJA is encouraged by the State’s support and understanding of the importance of ALE funding and programs, which strengthen the abilities of adults to compete in the job market and improve their financial well-being across New York State.
Access to food was also recognized as a priority in the FY 2018-2019 budget. The State restored $500,000 for the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAHP), bringing the total investment to $35 million. HPNAP provides funding to improve the quality of food at approximately 2,500 Emergency Food Relief Organizations (EFRO) in New York State. These EFROs include food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens and emergency shelters which have provided more than 239 million meals each year to people in need. Many of UJA’s core partners that run food pantries benefit from this funding.
We look forward to continuing our work with the Governor and Legislature to strengthen the nonprofit human services sector statewide.