The Honorable Dean G. Skelos

New York State Senate

LOB 909

Albany, NY 12248

The Honorable Carl E. Heastie

New York State Assembly

LOB 522

Albany, NY 12248

Dear Majority Leader Skelos and Speaker Heastie:

As we start a new legislative session we want to thank you both for your leadership in the New York State Legislature.Your leadership will be critical to ensuring equal opportunity, economic growth, and financial stability across the State. We the undersigned provide a wide variety of services throughout the State and write on behalf of New York’s nonprofit human services community to request an investment of $550 million in our sector.

Our industry, which delivers essential services to a broad spectrum of New Yorkers, plays an important role in combatting poverty and inequality and is also an economic engine for the State. We serve thousands of people each year including children, youth, the homeless, immigrants and the unemployed and under-employed. Unfortunately, our industry hassustained $1 billion in cuts since the Great Recessionand was denied a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for five consecutive years despite ballooning costs, obtaining only a limited COLA in FY 2014 through 2016.

Every year, nonprofit organizations deliver billions of dollars in essential services on behalf of the State. These services are bridges to opportunity for New York’s most vulnerable communities. In addition, our work saves the State millions of dollars in avoided social services costs. The human services sector employs 15 percent of the State’s workforce (80 percent of which are women and minorities). Unfortunately, we continue to be overlooked in the budget process—sometimes in favor of other industries that have a much smaller impact on the economy. Meanwhile, the demand for our services is overwhelming.

The Executive Budget includes $50 million in bonded capital for a nonprofit infrastructure fund. While this is a positive first step, it is not nearly enough to meet the infrastructure needs of our sector. The State’s unprecedented $5.4 billion budget surplus presents a unique opportunity for meaningful investment in our multi-billion-dollar industry. We encourage the Legislature to invest a portion of the settlement dollars in our sector in three ways:

  1. Create a nonprofit infrastructure, technology, and business investment fund. This fund would be initially capitalized with $500 million from the current New York State surplus. This one-time investment would invest in specific categories of necessary infrastructure to support the nonprofit sector and would pay dividends for years to come. This fund would be a timely, prudent, and appropriate use of a projected non-recurring State surplus.
  2. Invest $50 million to capitalize the existing State loan fund for nonprofits. This revolving loan fund would allow organizations contracting with the State to access cash flow advance loans, and (once it is initially funded) would be self-sustaining as such loans are repaid.
  3. Establish a regulatory commission or workgroup to review current State regulations and reporting requirements. This commission would identify rules and processes that are duplicative and create unnecessary burdens on both State agencies and the nonprofits they contract with.

New York’s nonprofit organizations that provide human services function as an economic engine because they increase employment among New Yorkers and stimulate consumption of goods and services. The undersigned organizations provide a wide range of services in the State and would greatly benefit from a fund that will allow us to update technology, make necessary repairs, and invest in new capital projects that will serve our communities.

Recent investments in and tax breaks for other industries have paved the way for a partial economic recovery. It is crucial that we have a bigger investment in nonprofit infrastructure to aid in the recovery of the local economies in the various regions of this State. Now is the time to turn the equality rhetoric into reality and reinvest in the nonprofit human services sector. We hope that as respective leaders of the Senate and the Assemblyand our representativesyou will champion our proposal as a fair and economically sound investment for your community and communities throughout the State of New York. We look forward to working with you on this important cause.