On April 2, 2020, the New York State Governor and Legislature passed the FY2021 New York State Budget, totaling almost $177 billion. The enacted budget incorporates cuts of $10 billion across the board, with no stated plans to increase revenue to support the most vulnerable New Yorkers, especially at this critical time as New York faces the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. CACF: the Coalition for Asian American Children + Families, is deeply concerned that State budget cuts coupled with the continued lack of investment in social programs, particularly in health and education, will have a devastating impact on the Asian Pacific American (APA) and immigrant New Yorkers.
Governor Cuomo claims that this budget includes policy reforms that reflect social, economic and racial justice, but CACF strongly believes that this budget moves us much further away from achieving a fair budget but in fact balances the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable.
Education Funding and Equity
The State budget flat-funded public education at $27.9 billion, jeopardizing the academic and social well-being of all public school students and their families, particularly low-income, immigrant, students of color, multilingual learners (MLLs), and students with disabilities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only further highlighted the existing inequities in the public school system, but has also compounded the challenges that marginalized children and families already face. For APA communities and other immigrant communities, many families are not equipped with digital access and digital literacy for students to participate in remote learning. The Budget has also failed to account for the social and emotional support our students will need to recover from the widespread COVID-19 related anti-Asian discrimination as well as the economic and health repercussions. Along with the extended school closures, the continued disinvestment in our already unjust and unequal school system will endanger the academic opportunities of our students in the long-term.
Hidden among positive promises in Governor Cuomo’s “Making Progress Happen” agenda--such as enacting a new Paid Sick Leave program and capping co-payments for insulin and similar medications--are key budget actions that will devastate our vulnerable communities. Within the FY’21 Enacted Budget, Governor Cuomo repeatedly alludes to the success in creating a “balanced” budget largely through enacting no new taxes on New Yorkers. What this fails to reveal, however, is that the unwillingness to determine new revenue sources has resulted in significant blows to our public health systems and our communities' well-being.
For instance, the Enacted Budget’s Medicaid reform encompasses billions of dollars in cuts to the program so heavily relied upon by a large proportion of APA New Yorkers. Governor Cuomo’s guidelines in appointing the Medicaid Redesign Team were to have no impact on local governments as well as no impact on Medicaid beneficiaries, and they have failed on both fronts. These cuts will hurt our hospitals, community-based health centers and other safety-net services that disproportionately serve vulnerable populations and historically underserved communities, threatening the well-being, health, and independence of the very people and most impacted by the pandemic we now face.
Governor Cuomo has put New York at risk of worsening the COVID-19 crisis and delaying implementation, hindering our public health system’s ability to respond to current and future needs. In the time of a global pandemic, in a state most impacted in the country, this lack of investment in infrastructure and safety net programs for individuals and families who have been hardest hit by COVID-19 is indefensible.
CACF urges the Governor and State Legislature to consider the progressive revenue-generating options and protect all New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable, in this challenging time. In the meantime, we will continue to work with the State as well as New York City government to ensure that the needs of our communities are met.