Many nonprofits reliant on government funding went into this year expecting bad news in the state budget, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget cutting 5% of funding for localities and nonprofits. But with a major influx of federal aid and the power tipped in favor of the state Legislature this year, the nonprofit sector’s worst fears weren’t realized. Here is a rundown of the most noteworthy provisions for the sector in the state budget agreement reached by Cuomo and the Legislature.
Increased pay for human services workers
This year’s state budget sets aside $46.2 million to provide a 1% cost of living adjustment for nonprofits that work with certain state agencies to provide services to people with developmental disabilities, mental health challenges and substance use disorder. Another $5.6 million will also be given to provide a similar boost in pay through other human services agencies, including the Office for the Aging, Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and the Office of Children and Family Services.
Groups such as the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies and New York Disability Advocates praised its inclusion in the budget.
Grants for arts, cultural nonprofits
A new $40 million fund included in the budget will provide general operating support to arts and cultural organizations needing support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another $20 million was also set aside in capital grants to help such groups abide by COVID-19-related health regulations, such as upgrading filtration systems and creating spaces for outdoor performances.
Support for Asian American organizations
A coalition of nonprofits serving Asian American New Yorkers called on state lawmakers to put $19 million into social services, public education and other initiatives to help Asian Americans. The budget ended up including $10 million toward that request, with investments in organizations responding to anti-Asian hate and other needs Asian Americans face. The budget also included $3 million for the state Department of Health to collect data on ethnic groups under the Asian American and Pacific Islander umbrella.
“For too long, the model minority myth and the lack of accurate and disaggregated data accounting for our ethnic diversity, have rendered the needs of our community invisible,” Anita Gundanna and Vanessa Leung, co-executive directors of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, wrote in a statement. “Community-based organizations on the ground have had to stretch to meet growing community needs. This investment is important to our communities both at this challenging time and in the long-run to address the inequities our communities face.”
Preserved funding for child welfare initiatives
This year’s budget didn’t include proposed cuts to various child welfare initiatives in Cuomo’s budget from earlier this year, including services that help keep youth out of the foster care system. Still, some child welfare advocates argued that the current funding levels were still insufficient.
“We must acknowledge that these restorations only prevent exacerbation of an already dire situation,” wrote Paige Pierce, CEO for Families Together in NYS, and Kate Breslin, president and CEO of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, on behalf of the advocacy group CHAMPS NY.
Another niche benefit for foster care organizations was the inclusion of language that would ensure they wouldn’t be penalized for getting federal relief loans during the pandemic while receiving their state rates.
Delayed Medicaid pharmacy ‘carve-out’
Safety-net health providers in New York have lambasted a state proposal that they say would cause them to lose out on $250 million annually. The change relates to the federal 340B Drug Pricing Program, which allows some providers to get prescription drugs at a discount rate and use the rest of the funds for other services such as housing assistance. The benefit would’ve been carved out from Medicaid managed care plans and moved to a different arrangement which would’ve saved the state money but hurt providers.
The state budget delays the change for two years, causing celebration among groups such as the Alliance for Positive Change, an organization which serves New Yorkers with HIV and other chronic health conditions.
Public education and outreach around COVID-19
New York will use part of the $15 million set aside for COVID-19 public outreach to fund community organizations promoting awareness around COVID-19 and vaccination in Latino communities.
Funding for violence intervention programs
The state budget allocates $10 million toward gun violence intervention programs operated by community organizations, and dedicates 10% of the federal Victims of Crime Act funding New York receives to such groups in the future.
Correction:A previous version of this article included the incorrect allocation for the Asian American data disaggregation.
NEXT STORY: Cuomo, Legislature agree on $212B state budget