The 2016 Legislative Session finally wrapped up in the early hours of June 17th. Each Legislative Session and annual state budget process presents its own unique political, policy, and economic challenges, but this year was particularly difficult to navigate. Together with library advocates from across New York State, NYLA met these challenges head-on, and secured a third consecutive year of impressive, hard-won victories.
FY 2016-17 NYS Budget
This year’s enacted state budget and companion legislative resolutions for targeted aid will provide approximately $22M in new funding for libraries. This represents the largest single-year increase in state appropriations for libraries, and places total state allocations for libraries and library programs at nearly $135M in FY2016-17 – an unprecedented level.
State Library Aid. Funding for the State Library Aid program will be $95.6M in FY2016-17. NYLA worked to secure a $4M increase in funding over what Governor Cuomo contemplated in his Executive Budget proposal, bringing total funding for the State Library Aid program to its highest level since 2009-10. The 4.3% increase in State Library Aid is on par with the 4.4% increase in school foundation aid. In the two years since we implemented our messaging strategy of “Libraries Are Education”, State Library Aid has increased in proportion to increases in school foundation aid.
State Library Construction Aid. Funding for the State Library Construction Aid program will be $19M in FY2016-17, which includes a $5M increase over what Governor Cuomo proposed. This is the first funding increase for the Construction Aid program in nearly a decade, and is the largest allocation this program has ever received.
MTA Payroll Tax Reimbursement. Libraries and Library Systems that paid MTA Payroll Taxes in FY2015-16 will receive a $1.3M reimbursement in FY2016-17. Last year, NYLA worked to secure a permanent exemption from these taxes that took effect on January 1st, 2016. This will be the last year the reimbursement payment is necessary.
Senate “Bullet Aid” for Libraries and Library Systems. The NYS Senate again allocated $25M to provide targeted aid for “certain school districts, public libraries, and not-for-profit institutions.” In Senate Resolution 6507, more than $4.9M was awarded to 541 libraries. Both numbers represent significant increases from last year, when 460 libraries received a total of $3.69M in Bullet Aid.
Senate funding for NYS Economic Development Assistance Program. The NYS Senate provided $5.03M in Senate Resolution 6508 to continue and institute funding for projects at 18 libraries and library systems. This represents an increase of approximately $500,000 over last year.
Assembly funding for NYS Capital Assistance Program. The NYS Assembly provided $8.875M to several libraries under the state Capital Assistance Program in Assembly Resolution 1603. These awards ranged from $6M for Queens Library to $375,000 for New York Public Library.
NYLA Legislative Priorities
NYLA’s legislative priorities are devised by the Legislative Committee and NYLA Council, and set multi-year advocacy goals to benefit each library type. Recent successes – including the aforementioned MTA Tax Exemption, as well as nation-leading legislation on E-book access – have allowed us to focus on more complex, politically difficult issues. We will continue to work on these bills going forward.
Collaborative Capital Improvements for Libraries – S.6651 Farley / A.9240 Abinanti
This legislation would allow individual local libraries to pool capital projects through NYLA in order to secure financing from the Dormitory Authority of New York State (DASNY). This legislation successfully passed the Senate, but stalled in the Assembly during the final days of the legislative session.
Ensure Access to School Libraries and School Librarians – S.3931 Farley / A.6784-A Solages
This legislation would require every elementary and secondary school in NYS to provide students with a school library staffed by a certified School Library Media Specialist. Currently, there is no such requirement for elementary schools, and secondary schools are required only SED regulations. During this legislative session, we worked with Assemblywoman Solages to sponsor this bill in the Assembly. NYLA also worked with SLSA to undertake a census of librarians by school building to gauge the potential impacts of the legislation. We will continue to educate the legislature and develop the best strategy to advance this important bill.
Taxpayer Access to Publicly-Funded Research – S.3952 Farley / A.1878 Hevesi
This legislation would require any New York State-funded research that is published in peer?reviewed journals to be made publicly available online after one year. This bill would bring NYS in line with the federal standards employed by the National Institute of Health, and the State of California. This bill has faced concerted opposition for several years, though NYLA has worked on this legislation only during the last two years. We will seek new sponsorship in both houses in the upcoming session.
During the course of a legislative session, NYLA works on additional legislation that is not part of our official legislative agenda, but will impact the library community. NYLA worked on or closely monitored the following bills this session.
Maintenance & Use of Opioid Antagonists – S.7860 Amedore / A.10364 Gottfried
This legislation was written by NYLA after fielding reports of opioid overdoses in several libraries, and was introduced by Senator Amedore at our request. Governor Cuomo signed this bill into law on June 22nd. The law permits public libraries to maintain Narcan kits, and permits any library employee to voluntarily, after receiving training, administer Narcan to anyone suffering an opioid overdose in the library. NYLA is currently working with the State Department of Health on guidance for libraries. It is important to note that the law’s provisions are strictly optional – no library or library employee is required to participate.
Authorize all Libraries to Access DASNY Financing – S.7358 Farley / A.9752-A Brennan
This legislation was introduced at DASNY’s request by Assemblyman Brennan, and Senator Farley sponsored in the Senate. Currently, any library that wants to explore public financing through DASNY is required to obtain special legislation; this bill would provide blanket authorization for all libraries. This bill is complimentary to the DASNY bill on NYLA’s Legislative Priorities, but they are not co-dependent. This legislation passed the Senate, but stalled in the Assembly.
One Last Thing…
The close of this legislative session marked the end of an era in the New York State Senate, and in the library community at large – State Senator Hugh T. Farley announced he will not seek re-election to the Senate this November. Senator Farley served 40 distinguished years in the State Senate as a consistent advocate for two constituencies – the voters of the 49th Senate District, and the New York State library community. During the last four decades he sponsored every significant piece of library-related legislation and worked to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars in library funding. He will be greatly missed, but left a well-worn path of success for us to follow.
The support of NYLA members make these successful outcomes possible, and we thank you for your continued support. Did you know NYLA also has an Advocacy Fund? Your support allows NYLA to amplify our message and be heard in Albany. Donations to NYLA are tax-deductible.
To make a donation to NYLA’s Advocacy Fund, please click here.
As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.