NYLA 2019 Legislative Session Recap

The 2019 Legislative Session gaveled out on June 21st, as legislators, advocates, and political operatives turned their focus to dissecting the Session that was.  This session brought with it significant challenges - fifteen freshmen were seated into a new Senate Majority, the Assembly named new Chairs for the Education & Library Committees, and Governor Cuomo painted a bleak economic picture in advance of his Executive Budget presentation.

Together with library advocates from across New York State, NYLA met this session head-on, and once again emerged with several crucial victories:

  1.  we turned back the Governor’s proposed cuts to two core programs; securing stable funding for the State Library Aid and Library Construction Aid programs;
  2.  our targeted advocacy around the legislature’s Grants-in-Aid programs (“bullet aid”) facilitated a record percentage of available funding being allocated to libraries;
  3.  a trio of bills that will support improved functioning of the Library Construction Aid program were passed by both houses of the Legislature.

 All told, libraries and library systems will receive approximately $138.6M from NYS sources in FY2020, which amounts to record single-year funding (roughly a $1.8M increase over last year).

NYS Budget for FY2019-2020

Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget proposed substantial, across-the-board funding cuts to hundreds of state programs, including State Library Aid ($5M cut) and State Library Construction Aid ($20M cut). Through our advocacy efforts, we successfully reversed the Governor’s proposed cuts. Further, our concerted, years-long efforts to connect local libraries to the legislature’s Grants-in-Aid programs (“bullet aid”) resulted in record percentage of available funding being allocated to libraries.

State Library Aid:  $96.6M
Funding for the State Library Aid program will be $96.6M, this hard-won stable funding reversed the Governor’s proposed $5M reduction.

State Library Construction Aid: $34M
Funding for the State Library Construction Aid program will be $34M, stable funding that was secured in the final moments of the 2019 session; this maintains the largest appropriation in the program’s history.  Though the Senate & Assembly agreed to restore the Governor’s proposed cut during budget negotiations, this was one of many capital programs lines that fell victim to broken negotiations. Rather than attacking the legislature post-budget, NYLA worked to successfully position ourselves for potential post-budget restoration. That strategy ultimately paid off when the $20M cut to funding was restored:

Fiscal Year Prior Year's Funding Proposed Executive Budget Enacted Budget
FY2015-16 $14M $14M $14M
FY2016-17 $14M $14M $19M
FY2017-18 $19M $14M $24M
FY2018-19 $24M $14M $34M
FY2019-20 $34M $14M $34M


Senate & Assembly Grants for Libraries and Library Systems: $3.034M
This year’s budget continued the Senate & Assembly’s Grants-in-Aid programs, or “bullet aid” in Albany parlance. This program pool is available to “certain school districts, public libraries, and not-for-profit institutions.”  The funds available this year were greatly reduced from years prior, with only $5M available to each the Senate and Assembly. Libraries were allocated a greater proportion of available funds this year than in years prior. The Senate allocated approximately $1.217M to 175 libraries and library systems, while the Assembly allocated approximately $1.82M to 96 libraries and library systems. The complete list can be found here.

Year Recipients Total Received Total Available % Received
2014 422 $2.565M $19.050M 13.5%
2015 460 $3.692M $15.5M 23.8%
2016 541 $4.915M $24.995M 19.7%
2017 583 $3.745M $18.578M 20.2%
2018 665 $4.393M $17.848M 24.6%
2019 271 $3.034M $10M 30.34%


NYS Economic Development Assistance Grants: $4.83M
The Senate allocated nearly $5M in capital assistance grants to 27 libraries and library systems.

Assembly Human Service Organization Grants: $60,000
The Assembly allocated $60,000 in HSO grants to two libraries. (Port Washington Library and Queens Library).

NYLA Library Advocacy Agenda

NYLA’s Library Advocacy Agenda is devised by the Legislative Committee and NYLA Council, and sets multi-year advocacy goals to benefit each library type. Recent successes have allowed us to focus on more complex, politically difficult issues. Click here to learn more about each of NYLA's agenda items.

Ensure Access to School Libraries and School LibrariansA.2444 Solages / S.2421 Kaplan
Assemblymember Solages continues to champion this legislation despite opposition from other stakeholders, including the NYS School Boards Association & NYS Council of School Superintendents. We are also grateful for the efforts of Senator Kaplan for introducing this bill in the Senate.  NYLA, SLSA, and SSL will continue to educate the legislature on this issue and develop the best strategy to advance this important bill.

Transparent Contracting with Educational Institutions
This proposal will require open, transparent contracting between educational institutions and corporate vendors of educational resources. Simply stated, this legislation will make education more affordable, and information more accessible. Working with our partners in the Legislature, we made measured progress toward the introduction of a bill to address this issue.

Universal Access to the Library Construction Aid Program
A trio of bills addressed this issue:

A.3771-A Barrett / S.5589 Mayer
This legislation maintains robust state oversight of the Public Library Construction Aid Program while adding a 90/10 matching provision for qualifying capital projects.
Passed Assembly (June 6th) / Passed Senate (June 13th)
Awaiting action by Governor Cuomo
A.7568 Ryan / S.5603 Mayer
Extends until 2023 the current 75/25 matching provision language of the Construction Aid Program.
Passed Assembly (June 3rd) / Passed Senate (June 6th)
Awaiting action by Governor Cuomo
A.3781 Barrett / S.5590 Mayer
Allows library systems to submit applications for single libraries as well as coordinated projects that would impact multiple libraries. Each coordinated project application shall be approved by the board of trustees of each participating library and library system responsible for the operation of said buildings. Coordinated project applications shall be submitted to the commissioner for his or her review and approval.
Passed Assembly (June 4th) / Passed Senate (June 13th)
Awaiting action by Governor Cuomo

NYLA-Monitored Legislation

During each legislative session, NYLA monitors and works on additional legislation that will impact the library community.

SED Study of Library Double-taxation - A.7441-A Ryan / S.5522-A Skoufis
This legislation directs the Commissioner of Education to study and to make recommendations regarding the frequency of residents who are being assessed library taxes for more than one library district.
Passed Assembly (June 19th) / Passed Senate (June 17th)
Awaiting action by Governor Cuomo

Keeping the Fires Burning

As New York’s library community continues to successfully navigate the political and fiscal challenges in our evolving fight to provide equitable access to libraries and library services for all New Yorkers, we must not lose sight of the stark reality that our challenges will not become fewer, and our fight will not lessen.

Here in New York State, our community libraries are protected only through your continued dedication, and NYLA’s organizational strength. Your NYLA membership allows us to fight for you and on behalf of those vulnerable and voiceless New Yorkers who rely on the services libraries provide, and we thank you for your continued support! Donate today!