On April, 1 2017 the New York 2017-2018 Budget is expected to be presented to the New York State Legislature.Prior to the final budget negotiations, both the Assembly and the Senate release their one house bills that reflects the priorities of both branches of the legislature.
We are cautiously optimistic that two of our three bills we have been working on will be included.
The Farm to Foodbank bill:
The “Farm to Food Bank” bill allows New York farmers to receive a refundable tax credit for donations made to food banks and other emergency food programs serving low-income New Yorkers. If enacted, it would benefit New York farmers by making it more economically feasible for them to donate food to those in need. And, most importantly, it would benefit impoverished, food-insecure individuals by increasing their access to fresh, healthy produce. This bill would permit eligible farmers to claim a refundable tax credit equal to 25% of the wholesale cost of their qualified donations to food banks or other public, charitable, or nonprofit emergency food programs, up to $5,000 per year. A farmer who receives the maximum $5,000 tax credit would have provided $20,000 worth of fresh food (at wholesale prices) to an emergency food program.
The bill has passed both the Senate and the Assembly with bipartisan support two years in a row, but has been twice vetoed by Governor Cuomo. He has stated both times it was outside the budget, despite this being a recommendation in the Governor’s Anti- Hunger Task Force. Senator Funk reintroduced it into the State Senate and for a third time it passed unanimously on January 30th, 2017. It is expected to be introduced in the Assembly shortly and passed again with unanimous support.
PREVENTING WAGE THEFT (SWEAT)
Wage theft is rampant in New York but exploitative employers too often hide or transfer their assets to avoid paying wages they have stolen from their employees. Even when workers win a court-awarded judgment, they are unlikely to collect money owed to them. In fact, there is more than $1 Billion of wage theft annually in New York State per a recent U.S. Department of Labor study. Much of this theft is never remedied due to loopholes that weaken our labor laws and judicial process. The victims of wage theft are often low-wage workers who struggle to support themselves and their families on meager wages despite long workweeks
Securing Wages Earned against Theft (SWEAT) bill (A628/S579) will close loopholes that hinder enforcement of state and federal wage theft protections. Hunger Action New York believes this is a bill whose core values are bipartisan, rewarding work, increases tax revenues generated when wages are paid, and saves taxpayer money by reducing reliance on public benefits.
Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP)
The Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP) provides supplemental food which is distributed throughout the New York State Emergency Food Program (EFP) network of approximately 2,400 primarily volunteer-operated food banks, soup kitchens and food pantries. These organizations provide more than 200 million meals a year to low income people across the state. Per the New York Health Department, last year HPNAP funding provided about 225 million meals to New Yorkers in need. However, New York currently faces a meal gap of 472 million meals, estimated by Feeding America to cost $1.4 billion. New York States allocation for HPNAP is $34.5 million. This does not even meet the standards established by the State which is a nine-meal standard that provides 3 meals for 3 days per guest. To ensure the program meets it’s 9 meals standard, funding must be increased by $16.5 million for a total fund of $51 million. While emergency food programs work every day to help New Yorkers in need, many food pantries and soup kitchens in New report they do not have enough food to meet the demand.