Local News for Monday, February 20th, 2023

Democratic state lawmakers questioned officials at a hearing about whether Governor Hochul’s proposed budget provides sufficient funding for workers who care for New York’s most vulnerable residents. According to the Times Union, Hochul’s state budget includes a 2.5% cost-of-living adjustment for workers in state-funded nonprofit programs providing human services to New Yorkers. The lawmakers highlighted workforce shortages in three of the state's most prominent human service agencies: the Office of Mental Health, the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. They regard this 2.5% increase as inadequate and called for an 8.5% increase instead. They also suggest increasing recruitment efforts, considering pensions for non-profit staff, and passing legislation tying cost-of-living adjustments to inflation automatically.

The Tompkins County Workers Center held a press conference Tuesday to publicly support the local Unemployment Bridge Program. According to the Ithaca Voice, the program would be a secondary unemployment benefit system for people who are excluded from traditional unemployment insurance. These include self-employed freelancers, undocumented immigrants, and people recently released from incarceration. The program would support 750,000 people across New York and waive work and wage history eligibility requirements. Under the plan, participants would receive $1,200 a month for six months. The program would cost New York State $500 million and is being discussed as part of the annual state budget process.

According to the Ithaca Times, early plans to consider renovating Tompkins’s County’s Public Safety Building were met with resistance during the County Legislature’s public comment period last week. The County’s resolution to create a task force to review the potential designs and costs of a renovation passed unanimously, 14 to 0. Since then, debate has persisted about the moral and ethical implications of jail expansion. Critics argue that funds would be better allocated to community services that prevent recidivism. Tompkins County Communications Director, Dominick Recckio, defended the resolution, saying that the legislature has “been looking at this for quite some time,” and that the aging building is in need of “significant repairs.” 

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