NYS Government and Legislative Update – 5.1.20

For those keeping track, we are in day 62 of NY on PAUSE.  In his briefing today, the Governor stated that schools will remain closed but will continue to provide distance learning for the remainder of the academic year.  He further stated that there will be a decision by the end of May regarding summer school plans and this decision will also include information on summer camps.  The meal programs and childcare for essential workers’ children will continue through the remainder of the academic year as well.

Schools and all colleges will have to develop a plan to reopen at the start of their next academic years.  These plans will have to be comprehensive and include details on how to socially distance and still provide the services they need to provide.  The Governor indicated that this will take a reimagining of how things have traditionally been done.  He encouraged all educational institutions to start working on those plans now.

Today is May 1, which begins the first review period for the state’s enacted budget.  Per a budget briefing from the Division of the Budget, the state’s revenues are off by about $13.3 billion, which means that cuts must be made for this review period.  The proposed cuts total $8.2 billion in aid to localities, $1.9 billion in agency cuts and $239 million in debt service cuts.  The legislature has ten days to act, or these cuts will take effect.  As we reported last week, there was a plan for the two houses to return, but there have been no details on that return released, and it appears less likely they will return in this ten-day time frame.  At this point, all eyes are on Washington to see if a deal is reached to send relief to state and local governments.  If this were to happen, this round of cuts may be avoided or at least greatly reduced.

Finally, the Governor once again focused on mental health today.  He reported that 50% of New Yorkers are having mental health issues, and 3 out of 4 people are having sleep issues.  He reiterated that New York has teamed up with Headspace to provide mental health resources, which can be accessed here.  Also, the state has a mental health hotline, which can be reached at 844-863-9314.  There are also resources available at this link.  We encourage to use these resources if you need them and to share this information widely with others.

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