NY budget includes financial assistance for undocumented workers - The Daily Orange

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New York state will offer financial support for undocumented workers, small businesses and renters as part of a new budget deal finalized Tuesday.

The $212 billion budget deal seeks to rectify numerous issues posed by the coronavirus pandemic. The budget is about 10% higher than last year’s despite tax revenue shortfalls.

Here’s a rundown of the changes and allocations lawmakers agreed upon:

Undocumented workers 

New York state will offer one-time payments of $15,600 to undocumented immigrants who lost jobs during the pandemic. 

The New York State Excluded Worker Fund consists of a $2.1 billion fund, the biggest of its kind in the country, in a tiered system. Tier 1 encompasses the $15,600 payment to undocumented workers who can meet a strict standard of eligibility and is roughly on par with unemployment insurance. 

Workers wishing to receive this payment must verify state residency, ineligibility for federal unemployment benefits and a loss of income due to the pandemic.

Tier 2 is a $3,200 payment, similar to the total amount of federal stimulus payments over the past year. Workers wishing to qualify for this tier must verify residency and identity and provide some degree of work documentation.

The state’s undocumented worker relief program offers a much larger scale than a similar operation enacted by California last year in which undocumented workers were offered $500 on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The Fiscal Policy Institute estimates that about 290,000 undocumented workers could benefit from the fund — including around 90,000 from Tier 1 and 200,000 from Tier 2.

The institute also highlighted that the amount undocumented workers are eligible to receive is much less than the amount other unemployed workers could get. 

A New York worker who was unemployed throughout the pandemic year would have received $34,000 in weekly benefits, according to the institute, which is over double what the budget offers undocumented workers.

Tax increases on the rich and corporations

If enacted, the budget deal will create two new income tax brackets. Those earning between $5 million and $25 million will be taxed at 10.3% and income over $25 million will be taxed at 10.9%, according to The New York Times. The new rates would expire in 2027.

Individuals making over $1 million and joint filers making more than $2 million will have their income tax increase from just over 8.8% to almost 9.7%.

The agreement comes despite’s aversion to increasing taxes to solve pandemic-related problems.

“There is no combination of savings, efficiencies, tax increases that could ever come near covering the deficit,” Cuomo said in September. “We need the federal government to assist in doing that.”

If enacted, the rise in taxes on corporations and the rich could generate an extra $4.3 billion a year for the state.

The deal could also legalize sports betting, bringing another potential $500 million revenue stream to the table, according to The Times.

Other measures

The budget deal also includes allocations of $2.3 billion in federal funds to help tenants who are late on rent due to pandemic complications and $1 billion in tax credits for small businesses that suffered from the economic downturn. 

Prior to the deal, more state residents became eligible for tax credits and health insurance plans as a result of the federal American Rescue Plan passed in March. The budget deal is a further measure from the state legislature to combat economic inequality posed by the pandemic.

The budget still needs to be passed by the legislature and signed by Cuomo before it becomes law.

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