At last Monday’s budget hearing on mental hygiene and related issues, state legislators raised concerns about state funding for direct care employers, who work with the elderly and persons with disabilities. Lawmakers said that the state’s minimum wage may make it harder to recruit and retain direct care employees if they can earn more working at a fast food restaurant. The Governor has proposed an additional $27.4 million for nonprofit providers; advocates are seeking a $45 million increase.

At Tuesday’s budget hearing on taxes, lawmakers complained to an official from the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance that state property tax rebate checks are not reaching thousands of qualified homeowners in a timely manner, which hurt lower-income residents and seniors who count on the funds to help pay their local property taxes.

At the same hearing, the head of the state’s chapter of the Internet Association criticized the state’s proposal for large internet marketplaces (such as eBay, Etsy and Amazon Marketplace) to start collecting state sales taxes, saying that it will cost jobs. The Governor has proposed requiring Internet marketplaces that handle more than $100 million in annual sales to collect and remit state sales taxes, projecting that it will bring the state an additional $128 million each year.

Senator Flanagan and Speaker Heastie have released a Joint Legislative Schedule for Budget Adoption. They anticipate each house passing its respective one-house budget during the week of March 13, and then convening conference committees to resolve differences between their respective budgets.  The schedule anticipates legislative action on the budget being complete by March 31, the last day of the state’s current fiscal year.