Spending that matches levels of four years ago and bundled funds lacking surfaced as some of the top concerns of representatives of non-profit and community organizations at a legislative panel forum on the governor’s proposed 2013 Executive Budget.
CANDLE Executive Director Joanne Goodman spoke about the bundling of funds for the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute. She said the funds have been pooled together and it is not evident what monies will be available. Goodman said it could pit special needs organizations against each other.
“In this case the state department of health will determine as opposed to the budget being specific as to what the line item is, how much money is being allocated for example to the network of 54 agencies statewide that serve LGBT people, all 800,000 New Yorkers,” said Goodman.
Goodman told the legislators that CANDLE (Community Awareness Network for a Drug-Free Life and Environment) has operated in Rockland County for 30 years and for more 20 years has provided substance abuse, depression and suicide prevention services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender bisexual residents. She said she now believes its funding is at risk.
Jane Brown, executive director of Child Care Resources of Rockland, asked Senator David Carlucci, Assembly members Kenneth Zebrowski, Ellen Jaffee, Anne Rabbit and James Skoufis to make the care and education of young children the priority of their current term in office.
She asked for their support for several childcare initiatives.
“We’re also asking for more money for the child care subsidy assistance program that’s to help to pay for child care for families that have low income so they can go to work,” said Brown.
However, she noted the program’s funding remains at the same level as four years ago with a waiting list of more than 2,000 children from 1,057 families in Rockland. Her other requests were for more money for the QUALITYstarsNY program, which evaluates and supports childcare programs in high need school districts. Currently 400 out of 20,000 early childcare programs in the state receive the assistance.
Brown acknowledged the $25 million proposed in the budget for Universal Pre-Kindergarten but said Rockland may not be eligible for the one-year grant program, which is limited to high, needs districts. She requested additional funds to help keep Universal Pre-K programs operating.
Director of External Affairs Lorraine Greenwell spoke about the increased need for services from the Rockland Independent Living Center, which expects to assist 1,800 people this year up from 1,400 in 2012. She asked for more money for Independent Living Center programs, which help people with disabilities to live on their own instead of being institutionalized. She pointed out that their programs save the state $9 for each $1 invested in the centers.
Carlucci said the budget process continues with the release of the governor’s 30-day amendment this week. He said that will be carefully reviewed to see what potential impact it might have. Jaffee thanked the attendees for showing up to the program at the Valley Cottage Library and for their advocacy on behalf of people in their communities.
Zebrowski said the Thursday program was just one step in the budget process.
“It’s certainly always a balancing act when you do a state budget,” he said. “It’s balancing the very real services that people depend upon and also the concerns of taxpayers.”