A SUMMARY OF THE NEW YORK STATE 2017-18 FINAL BUDGET
The Governor, Assembly, and Senate have reached an agreement and finalized the SFY 2017-18 budget. All Funds spending is $153.1 billion. Of this amount, $1,465,123,000 is in the OMH section of the Aid to Localities budget and $2,283,857,000 is in the OMH section of the State Operations budget.
The final budget provides flexibility to react to potential loss of federal aid. Given the looming threats from Washington, the SFY 2017-18 budget provides this flexibility to allow the state to adjust spending during the fiscal year to account for any significant loss of federal aid. If federal support is reduced by $850 million or more, the New York State Director of the Budget will develop a plan to make uniform spending reductions. This plan would take effect automatically unless the legislature passes their own plan within 90 days.
The following are some of the highlights that are included in the budget:
Office of Mental Health:
- $10 Million to Enhance Support for Existing Residential Programs: The final budget increases funds for all OMH single-residence occupancy programs (CR-SROs and Support-SROs) throughout the state, as well as downstate supported housing. Specifically, it will provide a $750/year increase for downstate CR-SRO and SP-SRP programs, a $650/year increase for upstate CR-SRO and SP-SRO programs and a $500/year increase to the Supported Housing rate for New York City, Long Island, Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties. The budget did not include any other rate enhancements for existing OMH residential programs. ACL will continue to advocate for enhancements for ALL residential programs in the years to come.
- 3.25% Enhancement for Direct Care and Direct Support Staff in OMH, OASAS, and OPWDD Systems: $1.7 million in state funds is being added to cover a 3.25% increase for workers in the community mental health system that are considered Direct Care and Direct Support positions, which is defined as any position that is reported in the CFR on the 100 and 200 lines. This increase will occur on January 1, 2018. The amount will annualize to approximately $6.8 million in state dollars. It will also include a federal match for programs that rely on Medicaid resulting in a total of approximately $10.7 million. There also is a promise of a second 3.25% enhancement for Direct Care, Direct Support, and Clinical Staff on April 1, 2018. Once both increases are implemented and the federal Medicaid match is added, it will result in a total of approximately $50 million in additional funding to the community mental health system. The second increase is only a promise and would have to be included in the 2018-19 final state budget.This enhancement was the result of a coming together of the Behavioral Health Advocacy groups. The Developmental Disability community had a very successful campaign (Bfair2DirectCare) asking for increases for their Direct Care Workforce. The mental health and substance abuse communities came together at the end of the budget negotiations and 12 associations and advocacy groups worked together to make sure there was parity between behavioral health and developmental disability workforce increases. We will work with our colleagues over the next few years to not only ensure that the promise of a second 3.25% enhancement is honored, but to push for further workforce and system-wide increases to the community mental health budget.The increases for licensed residential programs will be based on data obtained from the 2015 CFRs and will be based on the actual salaries paid that year. The increase will include a 3.25% adjustment for mandatory fringe benefits which is calculated at approximately 14% of salary. For OMH Supported Housing the increase will result in a stipend enhancement that will be specific to each county, regardless of what the actual worker’s salaries are in these programs.OPWDD and OASAS programs will receive the same increases.
- $2.9 Million to Address the December 31, 2017 Increase to the Minimum Wage: This is in addition to the 3.25% direct care workforce enhancement. A total of $17 million was included in the final budget to meet the December 31, 2017 minimum wage thresholds for OMH, OPWDD, and OASAS. Last year a total of $900 thousand ($600,000 State and $300,000 Federal match) was provided to meet the December 31, 2016 minimum wage thresholds for OMH community programs. This year’s final budget includes $2.9 million in state funds for OMH to bring the hourly wages of employees earning under the December 31, 2017 minimum wage threshold up to the new minimum wage levels. There will be a federal match to programs that rely on Medicaid, so the final gross amount for minimum wage will be approximately $4.4 million for OMH.
- Deferral of the Statutory COLA: The 3.25% direct care workforce enhancement is replacing the statutory Human Services COLA this year. The final budget included a deferral of the statutory human services COLA until 2019 for OMH, OWDD, and OASAS. The statutory COLA has now been deferred for seven out of the past eight years. This year’s COLA would have been an additional 0.8%.
- Fund 280 Additional Supported Housing Community Beds: OMH will reconfigure 140 state operated residential beds, which are less integrated, costlier to operate, and whose clients are not eligible for HCBS due to the final settings rule; replacing them with funds to develop 280 community-based, scattered site supported housing units and Treatment apartments in the same geographic area. This will result in a savings of approximately $5.3 million for OMH. ACL has been advocating for years that it would be a better use of money to turn over some of the state-operated community residential programs to the not-for-profit providers. Although this does not turn-key them to us as we suggested, it does close them and open other residential opportunities for our clients that are more integrated in communities.
- $11 Million in Additional Community Reinvestment: The final state budget includes $11 million in new community reinvestment funds that will become available when 100 state operated hospital beds close over the next year. In recent years, the Regional Planning Councils (RPCs) were given the authority to decide how new reinvestment would be spent. Although the budget doesn’t say the RPCs would be involved, it does say “This money would be used to expand community services based on regional needs reflecting stakeholder input, and is expected to reduce the need for costlier inpatient beds in FY 2018”.
- Transform OMH State-Operated Outpatient Clinics: The final budget agreement calls for OMH to review clinic treatment services at all 85 State-operated facilities to reduce any overlap of services and ensure that clinics are operating at optimal patient capacity to address community need. This will allow each facility to redesign its clinic system and maximize its impact on the community it serves. Reductions will be targeted to low-performing facilities, which will enable remaining resources to be directed to clinics with higher productivity and capacity. This initiative will result in a savings of approximately $4 million for OMH.
- Veterans: The New York State Senate pushed to include funding in the final budget agreement to support a Veterans Mental Health initiative. Over $3 million is included in this year’s budget for the Joseph Dwyer Veterans Mental Health Peer to Peer program. The program provides peer-to-peer veterans services in over a dozen counties throughout New York State.
- Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT): There is $1.4 million in the final budget agreement identified for CIT funding. These funds will be used to train law enforcement to work with families and individuals to identify how to respond to an individual in crisis.
- Suicide Prevention: The final budget provided $250,000 to Sources of Strength, a suicide prevention initiative for youth. This program has been a successful intervention for educating youth about suicide in schools. In addition, there is $200,000 in the budget for the Comunilfe Project developed by Dr. Rosa Gil in response to the suicide prevention needs of youth in Puerto Rican/Hispanic Communities.
- Prescriber Prevails: The legislature rejected language that would have precluded Prescriber Prevail across all disease states in Medicaid formularies. Although the Governor’s budget proposal included language to continue prescriber prevails for medications to treat mental illnesses, the proposal would have eliminated prescriber prevails for health-related issues for people with mental illness. The Senate and Assembly struck this language from the final budget agreement.
- Health Care Facility Transformation Program: Previously, the Health Care Facility Transformation Program did not include HCBS designated providers in the funding for the Health Care Facility Transformation Program. The final budget agreement modifies the program allowing the legislature and community stakeholders (including HCBS providers) to put forward new project types and applications for $200 million of the $500 million of the Healthcare Facility Transformation Program. $75 million of the $200 million is set aside specifically for not-for-profit providers.
- $2.5 Billion for Supportive and Affordable Housing: Governor Cuomo and the legislature included the $2.5 billion for supportive and affordable housing in the final budget agreement. They did away with the need for the MOU that was required in the SFY 2017-18 budget; $1 billion will be released to create the first 6,000 of the 20,000 supportive housing units promised by Governor Cuomo. ACL worked with the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing for over two years to ensure this money was released. Many ACL members assisted in activities to advocate for these funds. This initiative will help address the statewide homeless crisis and create new housing opportunities for many people with mental illness. The $2.5 billion will be distributed as follows:
- Supportive Housing. $950 million for the construction of 6,000 or more supportive housing units throughout the State;
- New Construction. $472 million for new construction or adaptive reuse of rental housing affordable to households that earn up to 60 percent of area median income (AMI);
- Senior Housing. $125 million for developing or rehabilitating affordable housing targeted to low-income seniors, aged 60 and above;
- Rural and Urban Community Investment Fund (CIF). $45 million for mixed-use affordable housing developments that may include retail, commercial, or community development components;
- Middle Income Housing. $150 million for new construction, adaptive reuse, or reconstruction of rental housing affordable to households that earn up to 130 percent of AMI;
- Affordable Housing Preservation. $146 million for substantial or moderate rehabilitation of affordable multi-family rental housing currently under a regulatory agreement;
- Mitchell-Lama Rehabilitation. $75 million to preserve and improve Mitchell-Lama properties throughout the State;
- Public Housing. $125 million for substantial or moderate rehabilitation and/or the demolition and replacement through new construction of public housing authority developments outside of New York City;
- Small Building Construction. $62.5 million for rehabilitation and/or the demolition and replacement through new construction of buildings of 5 to 40 units;
- Home Ownership. $41.5 million for promoting home ownership among families of low and moderate income and stimulating the development, stabilization, and preservation of New York communities;
- Mobile and Manufactured Homes. $13 million for mobile and manufactured home programs;
- Main Street Programs. $10 million for stimulating reinvestment in properties located within mixed-use commercial districts located in urban, small town, and rural areas of the state;
- New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). $200 million for projects and improvements related at housing developments owned or operated by NYCHA.
- New York City Preservation and Development. $100 million for preservation of multifamily housing with a preference for not-for-profit agencies with community development experience.
- Raise the Age: The Governor and the Legislature included Raise the Age legislation in the final budget agreement. New York State has finally joined the rest of the nation is having 16 and 17-year-olds remain in the juvenile justice system when facing charges for most criminal offenses. Many of our colleagues in the mental health advocacy community have been pushing for this change. Glenn Liebman, CEO of the Mental Health Association in New York State said “This will help create an environment much more conducive to getting help and support as opposed to incarceration. This is a great step forward but we will continue to need prevention and early intervention efforts so that youth with mental illness get age appropriate services so that they do not end up in the adult mental health system. We thank the leadership of the Governor and the Legislature for their efforts. This was a long campaign driven by families and individuals who were incarcerated for minor crimes at the ages of 16 and 17”. ACL supports this change and congratulates New York State in passing this much-needed change.
- The FY 2018 Budget builds on last year’s budget by investing over $200 million to support prevention, treatment, and recovery programs targeted toward chemical dependency, residential service opportunities, and public awareness education activities.
- Public School Education Aid: The FY 2018 Budget increases Education Aid by $1.1 billion, including a $700 million increase in Foundation Aid, bringing the new Education Aid total to $25.8 billion or an increase of 4.4 percent. Under Governor Cuomo, education aid has increased by $6.2 billion, or 32 percent, over six years.
- Provides Tuition-Free College for Families Making up to $125,000 & Investing in E-Books: The Budget enacts the Governor’s landmark Excelsior Scholarship program to make college affordable at SUNY and CUNY two- and four-year colleges for working- and middle-class families. The program provides free tuition to families making up to $125,000 per year, and nearly 940,000 New York families are eligible for the program. The new initiative will be phased in over three years, beginning for New Yorkers making up to $100,000 annually in the fall of 2017, increasing to $110,000 in 2018, and reaching $125,000 in 2019. The Excelsior Scholarship is a ‘last mile’ program, which extends the state’s existing generous aid programs, including the nearly $1 billion Tuition Assistance Program and any applicable federal grants, and fills in any remaining gaps to cover the full cost of tuition. New Yorkers must be enrolled in college full-time, averaging 30 credits per year and completing their degree on-time. The program includes built in flexibility, allowing students to pause and restart the program due to a hardship, or take fewer credits one semester than another. Students must also maintain a grade point average necessary for the successful completion of their coursework. Under the program, New Yorkers will be required to live and work in-state for the number of years they received the Excelsior Scholarship. The Budget also includes a generous Maintenance of Effort to assist in meeting the operational needs of SUNY and CUNY
- Cost of Prescription Drugs: Under the FY 2018 Budget, New York will cap the growth of prescription drug spending in its Medicaid program, which has grown 25 percent over the past three years. The agreement provides the Department of Health with a range of tools to lower the cost of prescription drugs, including the
ability to drive down the cost of certain drugs whose price is high relative to its therapeutic benefits. This agreement enables the Medicaid program to allocate more resources for other essential health services.
- Extends Tax Rate on Millionaires: 45,000 taxpayers will be impacted, 50 percent are non-residents, preserving $3.4 billion in revenue next year.
- Begins Middle-Class Tax Cut: This will save taxpayers $250 on average next year, and 6 million New Yorkers $700 annually when fully effective.
- Enacts Workers’ Compensation Reform: The Governor’s press release claims that the “Budget includes meaningful workers’ compensation reforms that provide cost savings for businesses and better protections for injured workers.” These reform measures will take time to work themselves through the system. The last major WC reform claimed that there would be similar benefits that never materialized. The challenges with WC include: an aging workforce which equals more serious claims, longer disability time, and more medicine; the cost of medical treatment is rising faster than inflation and; wage growth is increasing, pushing up the indemnity portion of claims.
- Ride Sharing Across New York: The FY 2018 Budget authorizes Transportation Network Companies (TNC), such as Lyft and Uber, to operate across New York and creates uniform licensing standards. The Department of Motor Vehicles will have broad oversight of rideshare companies and will ensure compliance with all laws, rules, and regulations required as part of a TNC’s operational license. TNC companies will be required to maintain minimum insurance coverage levels of $1.25 million while a TNC driver is traveling to pick up a passenger and until the drop-off is completed. The state will also establish minimum standards to ensure passenger safety, including mandatory background checks, ongoing monitoring for traffic safety, anti-discrimination protections, and zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policies. The Budget also establishes a statewide task force to study and deliver recommendations on accessibility needs to protect and provide transportation to vulnerable populations. Necessary workers’ compensation coverage will also be provided to rideshare drivers through enhancements to the Black Car Fund. Finally, a statewide board will be established to review the impact of this newly authorized industry across the state.
***A downloadable version of the Budget Summary can be found here.