2018-19 Human Services Budget Testimony
Published on February 6th, 2018
Submitted by Michael A. Lawler, Director for Catholic Charities, New York State Catholic Conference, at the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing regarding the 2018-2019 Human Services Budget.
February 6, 2018
Senator Young, Assembly Member Weinstein, distinguished members of the Senate Finance Committee and the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, ladies and gentlemen:
My name is Michael Lawler and I am the Director of Catholic Charities for the NYS Catholic Conference. Thank you for the opportunity to share our thoughts on the FY 2019 Executive Budget as it pertains to Human Services.
On January 16, 2018, the Executive Budget for FY 2019 was released and the NYS Council of Catholic Charities Directors were disappointed that critical investments for the nonprofit human services sector were not included in the proposed spending plan. As the NYS Legislature reviews the executive proposal and formulates its own priorities for FY 2019, we want to reiterate that these concerns for the vulnerable be addressed in the enacted spending plan.
Invest in the Human Services Sector
The NYS Council of Catholic Charities Directors is an advisory member of the Strong Nonprofits for a Better New York campaign, a statewide coalition of more than 350 nonprofit human services providers, calling for increased State investment in the sector’s workforce and infrastructure. Working under contract with the State, human services agencies provide crucial services to uplift New Yorkers from all walks of life. The State must ensure these organizations can continue their vital work.
Human Services agencies have not been receiving adequate state reimbursement to cover the full cost of providing essential services in the state. Without sufficient support for this sector, many nonprofit organizations will be faced with cutting services, reducing staff, or closing their programs.
Strong Nonprofits and the NYS Council of Catholic Charities Directors calls for the following investments to the nonprofit human services sector:
- $65 MILLION (per year for 2 years) to provide a 3.25 percent salary increase for workers who have not seen an increase in over 8 years, and were not covered by the FY2018 increases for direct care workers at an equivalent 3.25% per year for two years;
- $23 MILLION to fund the minimum wage increase for State contracts not yet adjusted to reflect the increased cost of service provision, leaving nonprofits to fill the gap of another unfunded mandate; and
- $100 MILLION to continue to fund the Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program (NICIP), a crucial fund for nonprofits to address necessary building repairs, technology upgrades, and other capital needs not supported by current contracts.
Invest in Child Care Subsidies
The NYS Council of Catholic Charities Directors is also teaming up with Winning Beginning New York and the Empire State Campaign for Child Care to call for a much-needed investment in child care.
New York State needs a clear plan (both short- and long-term) to provide equitable access to quality child care for all New York children and working families, and a family sustaining income for child care providers. Too many working families who qualify for child care assistance are being turned away. Too many children are being shuffled around in make-do informal arrangements of non-professional caregivers. Too many working parents are being forced to reduce hours, or drop out of the work force all together. Too many providers are not able to retain qualified staff or meet the rising costs of providing quality care. And too many employers are dealing with problems of worker recruitment, retention and productivity related to child care.
While we work on the long-term plan, we must increase investments now to at least restore short-term stability to both the child care provider and subsidy systems. We must help put New Yorkers back to work, strengthen our child care infrastructure, and keep more children from falling through the cracks before they even learn to walk. This is a health, education and business imperative.
Therefore, we call on the New York Legislature and Governor Cuomo to increase our State investment in child care by at least $100 million in 2018. This investment can be drawn from several different areas of the budget and should be directed specifically to:
–Increase State funding to counties for child care subsidies by $31 million in order to:
- Restore the child care subsidy program to the funding level established in 2016, adjusting for both the 2017 cut of $7 million and two years of inflation; and
- Assist counties that regularly exhaust their child care funding allocations before meeting the needs of all eligible families, to expand the number of qualified families served.
–Increase State funding further to stabilize the child care workforce and infrastructure, and to ensure equitable access to quality care. Specifically, the state should:
- Reinstate the 75th percentile formula to establish reimbursement rates expected to change in October 2018 to ensure that all children have equal access to high-quality care; and
- Allocate funds to assist child care centers and group family day care providers that receive child care subsidies to cover increased wage costs (increases in minimum wage).
–Direct a portion of Economic Development funding dollars to further reduce the number of qualified families who are currently denied subsidy assistance, and to stabilize the child care workforce.
- If directed toward expanding access to quality child care, such investment can remove barriers to broad workforce participation, support worker productivity, and bolster the local child care industry.
- Increase State funding for the Child Care Facilitated Enrollment Projects in order to expand access to subsidies available to working families at higher income eligibility levels;
- Expand and adjust the child and dependent care tax credit for maximum benefit. Adjusting the CDCTC to be allocated on a monthly or quarterly basis will help low-income families who live paycheck to paycheck to cover the costs of child care.
We appreciate the opportunity to submit testimony on the Human Services segments of the FY 2019 Executive Budget.