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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 12, 2009

SCHUMER: ECONOMIC STIMULUS AGREEMENT IS A HOME RUN FOR NEW YORK STATE - SENATOR DETAILS IMPACT OF KEY PROVISIONS ON STATE


For First Time In a Long Time On A Major Bill, New York Gets Back More Than They Put In

Schumer Fought to Secure Direct Budget Aid for NYS and Localities; Education Funding; Infrastructure Dollars; College Tuition Tax Credit; and More in Senate Bill

Senator Outlines Details of Bill and Its Impact on New York State and Localities

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced the detailed impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on New York State, saying it would be a very good for the state, its counties and its residents. Schumer announced that that the state and localities would get $12.6 billion in direct budget relief, including $929 million that will go directly to Upstate New York counties; as well as critical funding for education, infrastructure, weatherization; an increased college tuition tax credit and local law enforcement programs like the COPS program. Schumer said this bill will do what it is intended to do: create and save jobs. By some estimates, the package will create 215,000 new jobs in New York alone, while preventing the lay-offs of thousands more.

 

Over the past several months, as Upstate New York counties face an historic budget deficit and the national economy continues to decline, Schumer has fought to secure the much-needed funding for the state in the Senate bill to help close budget gaps, create and save jobs, and stave off property tax hikes. Schumer vowed to continue to fight for the funding as the bill goes into a House-Senate conference, and said he would fight to restore the education cuts in the bill.

 

“This Economic Recovery package will be very good for New York State. It creates jobs, jobs, jobs and is one the first bills where New York gets more back from the federal government than we have put in. From funding for education, to health care and budget relief, to transportation and infrastructure, this is just what we need to get and keep people working during these very difficult times,” Schumer said.

 

Schumer today detailed the many ways the economic stimulus package will help Upstate New York families and get the economy moving again.

 

FMAP

Schumer today announced that the economic stimulus package includes a $12.6 billion boost in Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for New York over the next nine quarters. Currently, Medicaid is funded using a formula that determines how much the federal government contributes and how much the state is obligated to pay for Medicaid services. In New York, the federal government covers just 50 percent of Medicaid costs. New York is one of eleven states that divide the remaining bill between the state and the counties, putting a massive burden on county budgets. As a result of this, Upstate New York counties expect to pay $1.580 billion in Medicaid expenses this year. Because New York counties are faced with such a large share of Medicaid expenses, Senator Schumer fought to make sure that a portion of the FMAP boost for New York would go directly to the counties. Because of this, the $12.6 billion will be divided as follows: $8.6 billion going to the state, $2.8 billion to New York City, $929 million to counties in Upstate New York and $262 million to Long Island. Here is how the numbers will break down in Upstate New York:

 

·        Counties in the Capital Region will receive approximately $108 million in budget relief over the next nine quarters.

·        Counties in Central New York will receive approximately $119 million in budget relief over the next nine quarters.

·        Counties in the Hudson Valley will receive approximately $263 million in budget relief over the next nine quarters.

·        Counties in the North Country will receive approximately $59 million in budget relief over the next nine quarters.

·        Counties in the Rochester-Finger Lakes will receive approximately $133 million in budget relief over the next nine quarters.

·        Counties in the Southern Tier will receive approximately $68 million in budget relief over the next nine quarters.

·        Counties in Western New York will receive approximately $177 million in budget relief over the next nine quarters.

·        Long Island will receive approximately $262 million in budget relief over the next nine quarters.

  

EDUCATION AID

With all states facing massive budget deficits due to declining tax revenues, many are considering enormous cuts to education, including teacher lay-offs and cuts to important programs. Other states are considering raising property taxes to make up the shortfalls. The agreement reached today will send New York State billions of dollars to prevent cuts and tax increases, to repair and modernize school facilities, and to make sure schools continue to make the grade. For New York State, the bill includes:

·        $2.72 billion for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund to prevent massive cuts to education. New York spends approximately one-third of all tax revenue on education. All states, including New York, face massive budget deficits due to declines in the tax base. This funding will help make up that difference and prevent teacher lay-offs, cuts to education and property tax increases.

·        Approximately $800 million for Special Education Part B State Grants/IDEA to help educate individuals with disabilities. The federal government currently funds IDEA at only 17 percent. This money will significantly increase the federal share for special education funding.

·        Approximately $1 billion for Title I of No Child Left Behind. No Child Left Behind has been chronically underfunded, which means schools have had to live up to the demands of NCLB without the resources to do so. This funding is a much needed injection of funds to help schools meet the requirements of NCLB.

 

INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING:

Schumer has pushed for investments in infrastructure to help rebuild New York’s aging water and sewer infrastructure and crumbling roads, highways and bridges. Investments in physical and cyber technology will put New Yorkers immediately to work rebuilding roads and bridges that will create more efficient infrastructure in the future. Schumer said the hundreds of millions of dollars in new stimulus funding would go directly to long-delayed projects, giving Upstate New York infrastructure a significant and overdue boost. The bill includes:

·        $87.5 million through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to address the backlog of drinking water infrastructure needs

·        $439.2 million through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to address the backlog of clean water infrastructure needs

·        Approximately $1 billion in Highway Funding to be used on activities eligible under the Federal-aid Highway Program’s Surface Transportation Program and could also include rail and port infrastructure activities at the discretion of the states.

·         Approximately $1.3 billion in Mass Transit Funding for investments in mass transit

 

COLLEGE TUITION TAX CREDIT:

The stimulus agreement includes included Senator Schumer’s new tax credit for families paying college tuition.  Senator Schumer was the leading advocate for adding this provision to the package.  The new credit of $2,500 is a significant improvement over the current tax benefits available to families with children in college. For families that receive some benefit now from either the HOPE credit or the tuition deduction, the maximum benefit per student will increase by 39 to 317 percent, depending on the family's circumstances. Additionally, tens of thousands of families that receive no tax benefit today will be eligible for a refundable credit of up to $1,000.

 

The new tax credit should benefit hundreds of thousands of additional families due to three factors:  (1) the benefit can be used for more than one student in the household; (2) the new credit is partially refundable, meaning that the millions of New York families with incomes too low to owe federal income taxes can still claim a partial benefit; and (3) the income limits are slightly higher than in current law, reaching zero at $90,000 for singles (up from $80,000 previously) and $180,000 for married couples (up from $160,000 previously).

 

In order to be eligible for the new credit, students must be enrolled at least half-time.  In the 2008-2008 academic year, there were 826,000 full-time students enrolled in institutions of higher education in New York State, as well as 339,000 part-time students.  In 2007, more than 550,000 New York families claimed either the HOPE credit or the college tuition deduction. 

 

FUNDS FOR SENIORS & FAMILIES TO WEATHERIZE THEIR HOMES:

With Upstate New York seniors and families expected to pay a total of $8.4 billion on utility bills this year, Schumer today said that the federal economic stimulus bill will include over $403 million in weatherization funds for New York seniors and families to help reduce their sky-high home heating costs and create thousands of new jobs. This investment will save families up to $800 each on their utility bills and will create approximately 30,000 jobs in New York alone. It will also make New York more energy efficient and begin to reduce our dependence on volatile foreign sources of energy.

 

FUNDS FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT:

The stimulus package agreement reached today includes millions of dollars for New York law enforcement efforts. It is a sad reality that during economic downturns, crime increases, and funds to hire more law enforcement personnel to combat rising crime are hard to come by. Increases in grant programs that send New York millions of dollars each year will help New York combat rising crime, and help police departments maintain current employment levels. Many communities face massive budget deficits and without this help, may be forced to lay-off police officers. Schumer today vowed to make sure this vital funding remained in the final version of the bill, so that safety was not short-changed. The bill includes:

  • $96 million in COPS grants to hire and rehire local law enforcement officials. Schumer fought to make sure this funding was included in the bill so that local police departments could afford to maintain current staffing levels or hire new officers to combat rising crime.
  • $166.3 million in Byrne/JAG grants, which provide flexible funding to local police departments to support a variety of law enforcement efforts.

 

TAX BREAKS FOR NEW YORK FAMILIES

The stimulus package agreement reached today includes tax breaks for struggling middle class families across New York. Schumer today said that combined with the spending programs, these tax cuts will help New York families and businesses get through this economic crisis. The Making Work Pay Tax Credit will put money directly into the hands of New York families. The bill also will protect millions of middle-class New Yorkers from the Alternative Minimum Tax in 2009.

  • Up to $400 for individuals and $800 for married couples for the Making Work Pay Tax Credit
  • $250 to Social Security beneficiaries, SSI recipients, and disabled veterans
  • Up to $7,500 to $8,000 for the Improved Homebuyer Tax Credit for first-time homebuyers those who purchase a home from the date of enactment through at least July, 2009. New homebuyers will no longer have to pay back the credit as required under current law. The exact amount of the credit is still under negotiation.
  • $2,500 for the College Tuition Tax Credit (an increase in the tax credit for higher education and allowing the credit for four full years)
  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 would protect over 26 million working families across the nation from the Alternative Minimum Tax, representing thousands of dollars in additional income taxes. According to the Congressional Research Service, 3,142,000 New Yorkers would be protected from the Alternative Minimum Tax in 2009.

 

HOUSING

The agreement reached today begins the long-term effort to repair the damage in our housing market. The agreement includes vital funding for grant programs that will also states and localities to address their specific and varying needs. For Upstate New York, this means more funding for programs to clean up vacant homes, expand affordable housing programs, and provide assistance to families who have found themselves without shelter during this economic downturn.

·        $4 billion nationally through the Public Housing Capital Fund to enable local public housing agencies to address a national $32 billion backlog in capital needs – especially those improving energy efficiency in aging developments – in this critical element of the nation’s affordable housing infrastructure. Of this amount, New York City will receive $390 million.

·        $251 million in HOME Funding to enable state and local government, in partnership with community-based organizations, to acquire, construct, and rehabilitate affordable housing and provide rental assistance to low-income families

·        $142.1 million through the Homelessness Prevention Fund to be used for prevention activities, which include: short or medium-term rental assistance, first and last month’s rental payment, or utility payments. As such, most of this funding will go directly into the economy of local communities, as the funds will be used to pay housing and other associated costs in the private market

·        $98 million for Community Development Block Grants, flexible grants that provide communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs.

·        $51 million for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, a program that provides funding for communities to redevelop demolished or vacant properties and purchase and rehabilitee foreclosed homes for resale. This grant program will endow Upstate New York communities with the funds needed to finally tackle the growing vacant housing problem that drives down property values and contributes to neighborhood blight.

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