CONTACT: Andrea Smyth
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Leaders Call Upon the New Administration to Partner with the Charitable Sector

Albany, NY - Leaders of New York’s charitable organizations today called upon Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo to work cooperatively with leaders of the charitable sector to preserve core services that focus on prevention, protect the needy and vulnerable, and address the needs of working families. The group outlined a plan for the Cuomo Administration that includes provision of the necessary resources to meet these goals. The plan also includes elements that would enhance charitable giving, eliminate fees and taxes that limit the sector’s charitable work and ensure timely contracting and payments for services rendered.

The leaders emphasized their long history of responding to government requests for assistance to needy citizens, especially during slow economic recovery, and reiterated their commitment to that mission. However, demand for services is skyrocketing, while changes in state tax policy, late government payments and burdensome contracting processes are challenging the fiscal solvency of charities and non-profits.

“We are here today,” said Ronald Soloway, Managing Director of Government and External Affairs, UJA-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, “to ensure that the partnership that the charitable sector has enjoyed with State government remains strong. Our sector looks forward to working with Governor-elect Cuomo to provide New Yorkers with the services they need to live their lives with dignity and to continue the role of these agencies in contributing to the economic strength of our State.”

“Given our long history in working with state agencies, charities leaders are in a unique position to offer insight regarding a more efficient and effective business relationship in support of community services,” said Susan Hager, President of the United Way of New York State. Despite a 20 year old law, a report from the State Comptroller concludes that the state has been unable to meet the timeframes in the law 82% of the time, resulting in financial uncertainty and stress for not for profit providers. State budgets continue to treat programs operated by the sector with broad brush “across the board” cuts rather than respecting proven cost saving strategies, including prevention. It is time for a new approach based on new principles of collaboration with our sector.”

We urge Governor-elect Cuomo to include charities representatives on his transition teams, and recommend creation of a cabinet level position to work with our industry on the issues the comprise this cross sector agenda.

The leaders went on to elaborate on state policies and trends are affecting the stability of charitable organizations.

Andrea Smyth, Executive Director for the New York State Coalition for Children’s Mental Health Services itemized recent tax policies that are troublesome. “The three-year limit on the amount of charitable donations that high earners can count toward tax deductions is really hurting the charities and nonprofits that people are relying on more than ever. And the MTA payroll tax that included the payroll of tax-exempt, non-profit human service providers in 12 counties has to be revisited,” said Smyth.

The bad economy has added significant stress to these agencies, with its compounding impact of increased need and demand for social services while decimating governmental budgets and private donations. Cao O, Executive Director, Asian American Federation cited the “sacrifices made by nonprofit agencies to fill gaps in insufficient government payments and cut programs: staff layoffs, frozen salaries, and the use of cash reserves that had been built up over decades of charitable outreach, just to keep operating for the year.” He noted that “recent State Government decisions, like those described here today, have done real damage to the charitable sector, and that this must be corrected”.

Allison Sesso, Deputy Executive Director, Human Services Council of NYC pointed out that the charitable sector is also an important economic engine in New York: “According to the State Comptroller’s Office, there are approximately 24,000 not-for-profit organizations in New York State, with nearly 31,000 active contracts. These not-for-profit agencies provide an estimated 1.2 million jobs, or 17 percent of the State’s workforce.”

In order to ensure the future availability of essential services by the nonprofit sector, the speakers urged that the new Governor make a commitment to a dialogue with the charities industry and consider the following specific requests:

  1. Establish and appoint a Cabinet level Secretary to represent the charitable sector in the development of Administration policy and budgets and address issues that cut across state agency lines.
  2. Support elimination of years 2 and 3 of the cut to the deductibility of charitable contributions by wealthy wage earners.
  3. Pledge to uphold the Prompt Contracting Laws and stop late payments on contracts by streamlining contracting and oversight procedures which will also save the state money.
  4. When making program, spending and tax policy, frame decisions in a way that accounts for the value of the centuries-old charitable sector in New York State as a valued partner in services delivery.

Cao O, Asian American Federation
Fatima Goldman, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies
Susan Hager, United Way of New York State
Wayne Ho, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families
Elba Montalvo, Committee for Hispanic Children and Families
James Purcell, Council on Family and Child Caring Agencies
Andrea Smyth, NYS Coalition for Children’s Mental Health Services
Ronald Soloway, UJA-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies
Michael Stoller, Human Services Council of NYC
Nancy Wackstein, United Neighborhood Houses