Hinchey announces Hudson Valley priorities in final State Budget

Posted 4/24/24

Senator Michelle Hinchey has announced that numerous initiatives she created and championed are included in the final State Budget for FY’25, which will benefit Hudson Valley communities and …

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Hinchey announces Hudson Valley priorities in final State Budget


Senator Michelle Hinchey has announced that numerous initiatives she created and championed are included in the final State Budget for FY’25, which will benefit Hudson Valley communities and New Yorkers statewide.

“We’ve delivered a state budget that brings substantial funding back to the 41st district, and although not all of our proposals survived three-way negotiations, I’m proud of the positive investments we’ve achieved for the Hudson Valley and New Yorkers across our state,” said Senator Hinchey. “New York makes history as the first state in the nation to offer paid prenatal leave, ensuring pregnant people can focus on their health and family without worrying about losing income. We eliminated costly insulin co-pays to make this life-saving medication more accessible and fought hard for our public schools, making sure that there are no cuts to education funding this year. As part of our work to take action on the housing crisis, we introduced new tenant and homeowner protections while making it easier to build more affordable housing. We continued the lowest working and middle-class tax rates in 70 years and delivered on many key local priorities that we’ll be announcing very soon with community stakeholders. This year’s prolonged process has been an especially difficult one, but we have a budget that lays a good foundation for our Hudson Valley communities, and I look forward to building on the progress we’ve made.”

Highlights of Hinchey’s priorities that made it into the final State Budget include:

SUNY New Paltz Impact Aid — $300,000
Senator Hinchey led the budget push for SUNY New Paltz Impact Aid and secured $300,000. This funding will offer financial relief to Village of New Paltz residents from the costs of meeting the safety needs of SUNY students.

Boosting SUNY Funding & Expanding TAP
As the representative of SUNY New Paltz, Columbia-Greene Community College, and Dutchess Community College, Senator Hinchey helped advance a $60M increase in SUNY Operating Aid, a $60M increase in Capital funding, and $6M for Community Colleges.

For the first time since 2000, the budget increases the Tuition Assistance Program by $53 million to make college more affordable. It increases the minimum award from $500 to $1,000 and adds part-time TAP for proprietary students. The budget also makes it easier for more students to qualify for TAP by raising the income limits:
• For dependent students, the household income limit is increasing from $80,000 to $125,000.
• The income ceiling for married couples without children is being raised from $40,000 to $60,000

• The maximum income limit for individual applicants is being raised from $10,000 to $30,000.

Dutchess Community College Housing & Food Insecurity Program — $300,000
A 2022 survey conducted by Dutchess Community College showed that 4% of students reported being homeless, while 17% identified as housing insecure. Senator Hinchey secured a $150,000 increase in funding for DCC programs aimed at assisting low-income students facing housing and food insecurity. This funding will support initiatives like providing subsidized, year-round campus housing and food services for students in need.

The Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz — $150,000
As the representative of SUNY New Paltz, Senator Hinchey championed $150,000 for the Benjamin Center’s Science Lab Initiative (SLI). The SLI aims to establish science and technology labs in school districts across the mid-Hudson region and at SUNY New Paltz. Its objective is to foster student enthusiasm for science and advance STEM education.

Local Newspaper and Broadcast Media Jobs Tax Credit
New York is now the first state in the nation to incentivize hiring local reporters and creating local jobs in journalism. Included in the final budget is an initiative championed by Senator Hinchey to establish a personal income and corporate franchise tax credit for independently owned print media or broadcast entities, including those that experienced workforce or circulation decline over the last five years. The first-of-its-kind tax credit will provide publishers a tax credit for 50% of the first $50,000 of journalists’ salaries. Eligible employers can also receive a $5,000 credit for each new full-time position created. The maximum amount of payroll tax credit for current employees will be $26 million statewide. Half of this will be for newsrooms with over 100 employees and the other half for those with fewer than 100 employees.

Including the Hudson River and Natural Swimming Locations in ‘NY SWIMS’ — $150 Million
$150 million through the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation will fund the New York Statewide Investment in More Swimming (NY SWIMS) program. This initiative aims to enhance existing pools and build new ones in communities across the State. Senator Hinchey successfully advocated for a provision to include the Hudson River and natural swimming spots in this program, aiming to expand these opportunities in local areas.

Belleayre Mountain Ski Center — $12.5 Million

The Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) funds and maintains the state-owned Belleayre Mountain Ski Center alongside the Olympic Parks in the Adirondacks. Belleayre has been significantly left behind in terms of capital funding over the last several years despite the high levels of in-state tourism it sees as one of the mountains closest to New York City. This year, due to Senator Hinchey’s advocacy, the final budget includes a historic $12 million increase in Belleayre funding to support capital and operational expenses.

Alive Downtowns! — $5 Million
Hinchey championed funding to support a coalition of 13 downtown historic performing arts centers across Upstate New York, including the Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC) in Kingston and the Bardavon 1896 Opera House in Poughkeepsie. All are economic, educational, and cultural engines serving Upstate, which have a combined economic impact of $9 million for the communities they serve. To further support upstate arts organizations, Hinchey also supported $500,000 for Arts Mid-Hudson and $500,000 for the Arts Center of the Capital Region.

Catskill & Adirondack Park Wilderness Protection — $10 Million
Three years ago, Hinchey established a new funding allocation in the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to guarantee equitable protection for the Catskill Park. This funding supports shared stewardship initiatives, including education, infrastructure maintenance, and general care of both the Catskills and Adirondack Parks. This year, Senator Hinchey secured a $2 million increase over last year for a total of $10 million in shared stewardship funding to protect the Catskill and Adirondack Parks.

Catskill Center & Catskill Mountainkeeper — $100,000
At Hinchey’s urging, the final budget includes $50,000 for both the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development and Catskill Mountainkeeper to support their stewardship programs.

Catskill Science Collaborative Coordinated by the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies — $180,000
The Catskill Science Collaborative brings together universities, government researchers, and natural resource managers working in the Catskills to share data and resources and implement science-backed conservation strategies. The funds secured by Hinchey will contribute to three main areas: (1) Increasing Catskill Research Fellowships to tackle critical knowledge gaps and foster collaboration with indigenous communities, integrating indigenous knowledge into management practices; (2) Allocating resources for scientific infrastructure to improve knowledge sharing, thereby enhancing management practices, and (3) Broadening outreach initiatives to involve the general public in scientific activities.

Lyme Disease Research & Prevention

As a result of strong advocacy by Senator Hinchey, who represents the Hudson Valley and Catskills regions, which have some of the highest incidences of Lyme disease in the state, $69,400 was secured for Lyme disease research, prevention, and detection.

Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation (HVADC) — $200,000
Senator Hinchey has secured the first-ever state budget funding for HVADC for their work to support agricultural entrepreneurship, sustainability, and economic growth in the Hudson Valley and across New York State. The organization enhances capital access and offers business technical assistance to agricultural and food entrepreneurs, prioritizing inclusivity for low-to-moderate income and underserved communities. Working with diverse agricultural businesses like food processors and hubs, HVADC aids in expansion, job creation, and regional economic growth. Their programs feature one-on-one business assistance, funding accelerators, and statewide loan initiatives.

Public Utility Law Project — $2 Million
New York’s Public Utility Law Project (PULP) is a nonprofit law firm that fights for the rights of fixed-income utility customers. In the Hudson Valley, several utility providers have operated in bad faith, resulting in financial hardships and poor service to residents. The demand for PULP’s assistance has surged in recent years, surpassing their current staff capacity. Recognizing this need, Senator Hinchey advocated for $2 million to help PULP expand its team. This investment will help PULP meet the growing demand for its services and continue providing essential support to residents who rely on their expertise and advocacy.

Legal Services of the Hudson Valley (LSHV) — Hinchey supported funding for Legal Services of the Hudson Valley (LSHV), the only provider of comprehensive, free civil legal aid to low-income and vulnerable residents across all seven counties of the Hudson Valley, including Dutchess and Ulster. This funding supports various specialized units within LSHV, including its Housing, Veterans and Military Families, Family Defense and Kinship Care, Intimate Partner/Domestic Violence, and LGBTQIA+ Rights Units.

New Supplemental Empire State Child Tax Credit — $350 Million
The final budget includes a historic $350 million for a new supplemental tax credit for families eligible for the Empire State Child Tax Credit. This credit provides direct support to working families along with the continuation of the lowest Middle-Class Tax Cuts in over 70 years.

Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) — $765.2 Million
Local governments across New York State will receive a significant boost in AIM funding, totaling $765.2 million. This $50 million increase, the first AIM increase since 2012, will help cities, towns, and villages fund essential local services, from programs to road maintenance.

Sales Tax Exemption for Residential Energy Storage
A residential energy storage system is installed in homes to store electricity generated from renewable sources like solar panels or during off-peak times when electricity is cheaper. They allow homeowners to use stored energy during peak times, reducing reliance on the grid and potentially saving money on electricity bills. The budget includes a new two-year sales tax exemption on the installation of residential energy storage systems, starting June 1, 2024, and ending June 1, 2026, which will help keep costs down for consumers and make it easier for New Yorkers to upgrade and electrify their homes.

Increasing Rural and Upstate Housing Supply
Small Rental Development Initiative — $7 Million
The Small Rental Development Initiative supports housing projects of 20 units or fewer and single-family housing in rural areas. This initiative addresses the housing needs of rural communities by providing funding to local nonprofit housing organizations and authorities for the development and management of small-scale rental housing across New York State. Despite smaller developments often losing out on state and federal subsidies to larger projects, Senator Hinchey ensured continuous support for this program in this year’s budget, following her efforts to revive the program in 2022 after a five-year hiatus.

Infill Housing Program — $40 Million (NEW Housing Program)
The goal of this program is to revive struggling neighborhoods while helping those who have been priced out of the housing market to become homeowners. Specifically, $40 million will be allocated to the New York State Homes and Community Renewal for constructing affordable one- and two-family homes in upstate cities. These funds will cover construction expenses and provide subsidies to make the homes affordable for low- and moderate-income individuals looking to buy a home.

Rental Renovation Initiative — $40 Million (NEW Housing Program)
This program will offer grants to small landlords to undertake significant upgrades to their rental properties. In return for these grants, the renovated units must be rented out at an affordable rate determined by the state HCR for a period of 10 years. The objective is to increase the number of affordable and well-maintained units available in the rental market.

Housing Opportunities for the Future — $150 Million (NEW Housing Program)

Secured in the final budget is a new program to build rental and homeownership units across the state at a maximum of 130% AMI.

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Tax Exemption
The final budget authorizes municipalities to adopt a local tax exemption to make it easier for homeowners to build ADUs, which creates more housing options. The exemption will last for five years, during which an individual won’t have to pay taxes on the increase in their property’s value due to the renovation work.

Community Land Banks — $10 Million
Community Land Banks rehabilitate old buildings and transition them to long-term affordable homes. This fund will allow Land Banks to acquire and flip zombie properties across the state and create more long-term affordable housing.

Public Housing Authorities Outside NYC — $75 Million
This funding is allocated for public housing programs, specifically for significant renovations, moderate repairs, or demolishing and rebuilding multi-family rental housing. These properties are currently owned by public housing authorities under federal or state supervision, excluding those in New York City. The funds can be suballocated or transferred to different state departments, agencies, or public authorities for these purposes.

Rural Preservation Program — $7.55 Million
The Rural Preservation Program supports community-based not-for-profit corporations known as Rural Preservation Companies (RPCs), which are the main conduit for implementing the state’s rural housing initiatives, including mobile and manufactured home replacement, accessibility modifications, septic and well upgrades, and weatherization assistance.

New Tax Exemption for Converting Commercial Buildings into Rental Housing

The final budget empowers municipalities to exempt newly constructed or converted rental housing from property taxes while they’re being built, for a maximum of three years. After this construction period, the exemption will start at 96% and decrease by 4% each year after that.

ACCESS to HOME — $4 Million ($1M increase over last year’s budget)
The ACCESS to Home Program helps senior citizen homeowners and people with disabilities with the costs of accessibility modifications, including grab bars and wheelchair ramps, so they can continue living safely and independently. The program is oversubscribed, and funding has not been increased since 2012. Senator Hinchey secured a $1 million increase in program funding for a total of $4 million.

Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) — $40 Million
The Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) is administered by the NYS Office of the Attorney General and provides funding to non-profit housing counseling and legal services organizations that provide direct assistance to homeowners in default and foreclosure. HOPP ensures housing counseling and legal services are available to homeowners in every county of New York State and provides a range of services to help stabilize homeownership, including financial counseling, negotiating loan modification and other workout options with mortgage servicers, redressing deed theft and mortgage fraud scams, assisting homeowners facing tax foreclosures, and helping families find alternative housing.

Eviction Protection Funding — $40 Million
Funding will help ensure that tenants facing eviction proceedings in New York State have access to fair civil legal representation, helping to keep more families in their homes. $40 million is designated for legal representation services, specifically for eviction cases in communities outside NYC.

Good Cause Tenant Protections
Communities across the Hudson Valley, including Kingston, Hudson, New Paltz, and others, have asked the State to grant them the ability to enact Good Cause eviction protections locally after local laws were struck down by the courts citing the need for statewide legislation. The final budget grants localities outside NYC to opt-in to tenant protections and provides flexibility to set their own thresholds for portfolio size, FMR, owner-occupied standards, and more.

Healthcare System Investment — $7.5 Billion

The final budget advances a $7.5 billion investment in New York’s healthcare system through modifications to the state’s 1115 Medicaid Waiver, which will be used to promote health equity, diminish health disparities, and enhance access to primary and behavioral health care.

Distressed and Safety Net Hospital Funding — $800 Million
The final budget includes an allocation of $800 million to provide crucial support for distressed and safety-net hospitals. This funding aims to bolster healthcare institutions facing financial challenges and those serving vulnerable populations. With this investment, these hospitals can enhance their capacity to deliver essential medical services, maintain quality care standards, and serve their communities.

Insurance Reimbursement for Mental Health Services
To enhance access to mental health services, the budget requires commercial insurance to reimburse outpatient behavioral and substance use disorder treatment services at no less than the Medicaid rate. This directive aims to ensure equitable access to crucial mental health treatments for all individuals, regardless of their insurance coverage. The budget also allocates $55 million towards the establishment of 200 new inpatient psychiatric beds at State-run facilities.

Healthcare Safety Net Transformation Program
A new program will be created within the Department of Health to help transform safety net hospitals across the state. This program will provide money to eligible hospitals for new buildings and help with day-to-day expenses. Its goal is to make sure these hospitals offer better access, fairness, quality, and results in healthcare, all while making sure they can stay financially stable.

Cost-of-Living Increases for Human Services Workers
The budget includes a 2.84% cost-of-living (COLA) adjustment to increase wages for human services workers, including mental health workers. This includes a 1.7% targeted salary increase for specific support, direct care, clinical, and non-executive administrative staff.