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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

Budget News

State passes budget. Significant wins but the fight continues


After intense negotiations, Gov. Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature finally agreed on a budget nine days past the April 1 deadline. The approved budget was a mixed bag, with disappointing compromises on critical DC 37 priorities, but also several substantial victories.

Even requests that were not fully agreed to allow DC 37 and activist allies future opportunities with legislative initiatives and fights in the next budget.

Tier 6 Pension Reform

Several Tier 6 reforms were requested on behalf of state and local employees, with the final budget agreement producing a single, conservative reform of this pension tier.

Tier 6 vesting reform allows public sector employees in this category to vest and earn a pension with five years of service rather than the previous 10 years. There is no change to the pension formula, time required to get to a full-service pension, or calculation of benefits. Tier 6 public workers, including those in mayoral agencies, Health+Hospitals, NYCHA, DOE, the School Construction Authority, Transit Authority, and the State, still will need 10 years to be eligible for medical coverage.

While employees will continue to pay at least 3% of their salary toward their pension, overtime will not be subject to the contribution rate for two years, from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2022. For more information, go to

DC 37 seeks to add more titles to the physically taxing category for hard physical labor workers to retire earlier. This budget agreement offers the union a blueprint to pursue additional Tier 6 reforms in future state budgets.

Universal Child Care

As part of a coalition, DC 37 lobbied strongly for $3 billion for child care funding. The budget provides $1.8 billion but raised the income threshold for a subsidy to 300% of the federal poverty level, which is $83,250 for a family of four. This allows more union families to apply for subsidized care, including those outside the five boroughs. This goes into effect in August.

Additionally, DC 37 members in the five boroughs have access to the Facilitated Enrollment subsidy program, up to 275% of the federal poverty level. For more information, members can go to

The budget also added $343 million to continue stabilization funds, with the majority of the funding marked for workforce initiatives, along with $50 million toward capital projects and an increase in the market rate, which is used to base provider reimbursement. These changes will likely provide additional funding for wage increase and benefits for child care providers in the DC 37 non-profit sector.

Health Care Workers

DC 37, activists, and health care advocates had campaigned extensively to increase pay for non-profit human service workers to $22 an hour (see pages 6-7).

In a partial victory, home care workers’ salaries will jump $3 per hour, with $2 more by Oct. 2022, and an additional $1 by Oct. 2023. Enforcement authority has been given to the State Department of Labor. This will help clarify the minimum cash portion of the employees’ salary and the amount allotted for employee benefits. These pay increases will not impact future collective bargaining negotiations.

In recognition for their vital work during the COVID-19 pandemic, health care workers who provide direct patient care, including specific titles in Health+Hospitals, the NYC Department of Health, and EMS workers, will receive lump-sum bonuses of $3,000 for recruitment and retention purposes for two six-month periods between Oct. 1, 2021, and March 1, 2024.

This means a worker who started before Oct. 1, 2021, and has already completed one, six-month period will be eligible for an additional bonus. Workers entering public service now must work six months before becoming eligible. This is prorated for part-time, with 20 hours a week earning a $500 bonus for the six months and 30-hour-per-week employees earning $1,000 each six-month period. All bonuses will be paid no later than 30 days after the funds are received by the employer.

Other Budget Highlights

  • To help deflect rising health care costs for our more at-risk communities, the budget raised the income eligibility threshold for Medicaid to 250% of the federal poverty level;
  • The State Budget funded important DC 37 priorities, including the facilitated enrollment child care subsidy, the Nurse Family Partnership, NYCOSH, and NYC Off-Track Betting retirees’ health care.
  • The Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention Specialists (SAPIS) Program was fully funded this year; and
  • In a significant development, the budget provided financial support for vital CUNY programs, including the Worker Institute at Cornell, the Domestic Violence Program, the Union Leadership Initiative, the School of Labor and Urban Studies, and the Consortium for Worker Education.