What's New

Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

April 10, 2000 

Budget Conference Subcommittee Meetings
Updated April 10, 2000

Education Subcommittee

Overview: The Education Subcommittee at its April 10 meeting reported that it had discussions on many issues and that, on a few of them, it had reached agreement.

The subcommittee reported that it has agreed to:

• Continue authorization for school districts to hold four superintendents' conference days.
• Allow last STAR reconciliation date to be March 31st, which the Governor proposed. .
• Extend reorganization building aid to 2002.
• Include reimbursement for security cameras in building aid
• Provide more support to the state Education Department for their facilities planning division. Although an amount of support was not yet agreed on, the committee indicated that it hoped negotiations would bring them close to the $500,000 requested by the SED.
• Provide $1 million to the Albert Shanker grant program which supports efforts by teachers to get national board certification.
• Allocate $5 million to reestablish mentor/intern programs for new teachers.

Issues remaining to be discussed include: general operating aid; the LADDER program; main building aid formulas; summer-school aid; and aid for teacher recruitment and retention.

Senator Kuhl discussed a new Senate program that would provide rewards to high-performing school districts. He said the Senate would like to see it funded at $40 to $45 million. He indicated that half of the awards would go to high-performing school districts and half to rapidly improving school districts.

Health Subcommittee

Overview: The Health Subcommittee met Monday, April 10 and conducted another wide-ranging discussion of health-related issues.

Assembly: Assemblyman Gottfried said that funding for EPIC, a program that would use state taxpayer dollars to subsidize reduced-rate prescription drugs for seniors, remained under discussion. He said that due to the size and scope of this program, it was not clear what else would be on the table.

Assemblyman Gottfried also outlined pending Article 7 issues that still need to be discussed, including the following:

State funding to pick up the counties' share of Family Health Plus (the Medicaid expansion created by the Health Care Reform Act) remains to be negotiated

Medicaid Managed Care expires this year and its possible renewal remains to be negotiated.

The provision of Medicaid that allows pharmacy costs to be considered and negotiated separately from other medical costs also sunsets this year, and its renewal also remains to be negotiated.

Senate: Senator Hannon also discussed Article 7 bills still under discussion, including the possible extension of Medicaid Managed Care. He said that failure to extend this program would result in the lost of $14 million in federal money.

Senator Hannon also said that the tobacco money was not an Article 7 matter, but that there had been funds allocated to fund anti-smoking programs before the tobacco-settlement money was in the picture. There have been discussions about what to do with this funding.

Assemblyman Grannis once again advocated a consumer assistance program for enrollees in the Medicaid Managed Care program. He said if this wasn't taken up in the other subcommittee meeting, then he would ask this committee to allocate money for it. Senator Larkin objected, saying his constituents have told him they don't need any more money for these type of programs. Assemblyman Gottfried told the panel that enough time has been given discussing this issue.

The next subcommittee meeting is expected to be Tuesday, April 11, but a time was not set.

General Government/Local Assistance Subcommittee

Overview: The General Government/Local Assistance Subcommittee's April 10 discussion of its funding priorities attracted mayors of four upstate cities: Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany.

The four mayors had met with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver earlier in the day, and were scheduled to meet also Abe Lackman, the Senate's chief financial officer, as well as high-level staff in the Pataki administration.

In testimony-like remarks, Mayor Roy Bernardi of Syracuse spoke of the need for funding for upstate cities. He stated that if the cities are in trouble, that the counties will soon follow. Bernardi also mentioned that people should not forget that the cities are where the immigrants and business first started before they moved out to the suburbs.

Senator Lack wished them luck in their meetings. Assemblyman Eve contended that the possibility of asking the General Conference Committee to allocated more money to this subcommittee still exists. Senator Lack stated that the subcommittee is trying to resolve the issues of how to spend a "very tight" $90 million, the amount of the original allocation.

The subcommittee scheduled a meeting for 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Public Protection Subcommittee

Overview: The Public Protection Subcommittee met today and said that he had concluded its discussions of how to allocated the $25 million it was allocated. It said it would release the specifics of its plan only after it shares its final report with the General Conference Committee at its meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. today (Monday, April 10).

The subcommittee's funding recommendations related to Article VII include:

• Increases in surcharges on fines for violations such as traffic tickets with the goal of increasing money in a fund that benefits crime victims surcharges.
• An increase in the pay of National Guard members.
• Funding for a recruitment incentive and retention program for the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs.

The subcommittee also rejected a funding proposal for creation of a new state Department of Justice. It also asked for clarification of an Article VII proposal related to emergency 911 local assistance.

The subcommittee said it was recommending that $1.2 million be added to the account managed by the state Department of Motor Vehicles to support local programs to prevent auto theft and insurance fraud. This would bring the total funding for this program to $4.7 million.

During the meeting, the subcommittee did not mention a proposal to fund more than 300 new state troopers or a proposal to increase pay for attorneys who represent the indigent.

The subcommittee members all voted in favor of the report.