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Facing a labor shortage and stagnant wages, home health aides in Queens and throughout New York are expected to see a boost in pay after a wage increase and bonus payments were worked into the recently passed state budget.
The final budget, which passed on April 9, over a week after it was due, includes a plan to increase wages for home care workers by $3 per hour over a two-year period. Home health aides, in addition to all frontline health workers, will also receive a one-time bonus of up to $3,000, the budget stipulates.
But advocates and lawmakers who fought to include a bill, which would have increased the minimum wage for homecare workers by 150 percent, in the budget, say they’re disappointed with the final result. They claim the changes don’t do enough to bring more workers into the industry or support a living wage, and that the increase may instead drive people out of the profession.
“I was deeply disappointed,” said Queens Assemblymember Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas. “Ultimately, what we got in this budget was a measly wage increase, and unfortunately, it doesn’t address the problem that we’re trying to solve – that New York has the largest workforce shortage in the country.”
Beginning in October 2022, home care workers will see their pay increase by $2, according to the budget. They’ll get an additional $1 increase in October 2023. On average, home care aides currently make around $13.20 an hour.
The new wage increase comes out to about a $7 billion increase in wages for home care aides throughout the state.
The bonuses worked into the budget will vary from worker to worker. The bonuses will be calculated by the state’s health commissioner, and the final payment will depend on the hours worked per week during a time frame yet-to-be-determined by the commissioner.
Frontline health workers who worked an average of between 20 and 30 hours per week over the time period will receive a $500 bonus. Those who worked between 30 and 35 hours per week will receive a $1,000 bonus. Health care workers who worked at least 35 hours per week will receive a $1,500 bonus.
Though health care workers who worked for multiple employers can claim multiple bonuses, their total cannot exceed $3,000.
Advocates say that the payments in the budget pale in comparison to those worked into the State Legislature’s proposed budget, which included the Fair Pay for Home Care Workers bill. The legislation would direct the state’s Department of Health commissioner to set regional rates of reimbursement for home care aids under Medicaid and other managed care plans. It would also mandate a 150 percent pay increase for health aides.
How would you reorganize this storyhttps://www.cityandstateny.com/politics/2022/04/courts-tossed-new-district-maps-now-what/366217/
he long redistricting saga in New York will only continue, as the Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that deemed newly drawn state Senate and congressional maps unconstitutional. The decision immediately rocked the state’s political world, but it will have massive impacts on the average voter as well as New Yorkers will find themselves in new districts (again) and will need to keep track of changing primary dates.
In a 4-3 decision, New York’s highest court concluded that the state Legislature did not have the constitutional authority to draw the maps at all – independent of the gerrymandering question – so it tossed state Senate and congressional lines on procedural grounds. But the Assembly map will stay in place because it was never named in the lawsuit, so the court can’t make any decision about it despite its view that lawmakers had no right to draw it. So now, an independent expert will help redraw two out of the three new sets of legislative lines for elections this year.
If redrawing the maps for a June 28 primary date sounds impossible, that’s because it is. As part of its decision, the Court of Appeals said that the primary elections for state Senate and Congress will be delayed, likely until sometime in August, but left the details for the state Board of Elections to ultimately determine. But every other primary – for Assembly, U.S. Senate, governor and lieutenant governor and lower level offices such as district leader – is still expected to take place on the originally scheduled June date. That means New York will briefly return to its old model of bifurcated primary elections, a practice the state only recently abolished when it consolidated congressional and state primaries in 2019. Previously, primaries for state office occurred in September, while those for Congress took place in June. “The court’s right that the state had a bifurcated process in the past, but that stunk,” said Blair Horner, executive director of the government watchdog New York Public Interest Research Group. “The good news is we’ll get better lines, the bad news is that it’s going to be painful to keep track of what’s going on.”
And don’t expect a push from the state Legislature and the governor to move primary day and consolidate the elections. There could be legal challenges, and it probably wouldn’t be helpful for the governor, who is facing primary challenges from the left and the right, or Assembly members. “Incumbents want less time. They want a nice short campaign,” said a former state legislator who asked for anonymity to discuss former colleagues . “They start out with the name recognition and the money.” It would be logical to simply combine the primaries, the source conceded, “but logic doesn’t always hold in Albany.”