On the 2013-2014 New York State Budget

On March 29th, Governor Cuomo signed the 2013-2014 New York State budget. Since the State’s annual budget goes beyond making appropriations and effectuates substantive changes in the law, the City Bar committees will sometimes comment on budget provisions that are relevant to their work.

First, the Council on Judicial Administration supported the adoption of the 2013-2014 Judiciary’s Budget Request. The Judiciary Budget provided the minimum funds the Judiciary needs; any further reduction would have seriously jeopardized the ability of the courts to fulfill their core missions. As explained in a report released in February, this “do more with less budget” request increased the total Judiciary Budget but decreased the state funded operational budget and included cost efficiencies including expanded e-filing, continued constraints on hiring and overtime, increased use of online materials and consolidation of administrative functions. Commendably, the Judiciary Budget increased funding for Civil Legal Services by $15 million for litigants who appear without lawyers in eviction, foreclosure, domestic violence, consumer debt and other cases involving the essentials of life. The Judiciary Budget also provided additional support for legislatively mandated indigent criminal defense caseload caps. The Budget Request was indeed adopted and the City Bar applauds the continuing commitment of all three branches of government to providing vitally needed services to those New Yorkers who cannot afford private attorneys.

Second, the City Bar commented on provisions in the Transportation, Economic Development and Environmental Conservation Budget that would have significantly altered New York’s Not-for-Profit Corporation Law (N-PCL). The proposed amendments eliminated the word “type” in identifying the four different nonprofit corporations that can be incorporated under the N-PCL, while retaining the descriptions of each of the four nonprofit purposes. The Non-Profit Organizations Committee, while recognizing the problems that exist under the N-PCL’s current categories of “types” of nonprofits, argued that the proposed amendments would engender confusion while not addressing the underlying problems, and that any such extensive rewriting of the law should be subject to more study before passage. Along with other organizations, the Committee recommended it be removed from the budget and the proposed revisions were ultimately excluded. The Non-Profit Committee is continuing to study these issues and provide suggestions for how the N-PCL can be modernized and improved without placing unnecessary burdens on nonprofits.

Finally, the Legal Problems of the Aging Committee commented on two Medicaid-related proposals in the budget – one concerning the elimination of spousal refusal rules in community settings and the second concerning interim Medicaid services which are provided pending an individual’s application for coverage. Both provisions remained in the budget in some form and the Committee is studying the impact of these changes in the law.