This Week in Albany

Week ending March 29, 2013

Both houses of the Legislature finished voting on the budget this week.

CSEA President Danny Donohue said that the Legislature showed “a much better approach than what Gov. Andrew Cuomo originally proposed,” but that New Yorkers are still seeing too many misplaced priorities.

Here is a quick summary of the budget.

Mental Health

Both the Assembly and the Senate stood strong with CSEA on giving us back our one year notice for closures, consolidations and mergers.

Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS)

This year’s Executive Budget proposed expanding the ‘Close to Home’ initiative and would have resulted in the closure of all OCFS non-secure juvenile facilities. The Legislature rejected the expansion of the ‘Close to Home’ initiative, preserved the one-year downsizing and closure notification and the measure was removed from the budget.

SUNY Downstate

The Governor dug in and failed to provide necessary fiscal relief to SUNY Downstate hospital. Instead, the budget will allow SUNY the flexibility to enter into contracts without a competitive bid or request for proposals and requires the SUNY Chancellor to develop a fiscal viability plan for the facility. The plan must be approved by the Commissioner of Health and the Director of the Division of the Budget and the Chancellor must consult with labor in preparing the plan.

It is our intention to be actively involved in the preparation of this plan and to continue to work with community groups and the Brooklyn delegation to make sure any plan addresses our concerns. It is also our intention to seek funds for some parts of this plan as laid out in the Assembly one-house bill.


$54 million is provided for stadium renovations for the Buffalo Bills and provides the Cuomo administration with a 12-seat luxury box in the stadium.

The budget provides a tax credit of $350 per year in the form of a check to families with children up to the age of 18 earning between $40,000 and $300,000 for three years beginning in 2014.

The ‘Millionaire’s Tax’ was extended for another three years.

Minimum Wage

Minimum wage will be increased to $9.00 an hour by 2016.

Tax breaks will be provided to businesses that hire youth between 16 and 19 years old at the minimum wage. This program will blunt the positive economic impact of increasing the minimum wage by discouraging employers from giving raises and keeping workers who are making above the minimum wage.

Please visit our website for CSEA’s full summary of the budget.

Click here for CSEA’s news release on the budget.

This Week in Albany

Week ending March 29, 2013

  • Includes a summary of the final budget.

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CSEA lawsuit challenges Saratoga County over long-term care scheme

CSEA has filed a lawsuit against Saratoga County, challenging the transfer of the county’s public nursing home, Maplewood Manor, to a local development corporation – a non-regulated shell corporation that has little oversight and no accountability to taxpayers.
Read more

This Week in Albany

Week ending March 22, 2013

Headlines include:

  • State Budget Not Yet Finalized
  • Federal News

Continue reading…

This Week in Albany

Week ending March 22, 2013

State Budget Not Yet Finalized

Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders announced a “conceptual agreement” on the state budget, but as of now specific details are lacking. Bill printing has begun for some issues, and it is expected that the budget will be finished next week.

There are several issues that are said to be finalized, but we have yet to see specific language. They include a broad agreement on tax cuts, an increase in the minimum wage, and an extension of the “Millionaire’s Tax” for another three years.

Most CSEA priority issues are still being discussed. These include:

•        Mental Health closures, consolidations, and downsizing;

•        OPWDD provider cuts;

•        Expansion of the ‘Close to Home’ Initiative within OCFS;

•        SUNY Downstate;

•        Subsidy to SUNY teaching hospitals;

•        Workers compensation and Unemployment Insurance reform;

•        Education distribution;

From the bills that have been printed, we know that Bayview Correctional and Beacon Correctional DOCCS facilities will be closed with 60 days notice.

Federal News

Congress avoided a potential government shut down but locked in harmful sequester cuts this week by voting on a new “Continuing Resolution” that funds the federal government until September 30th. The resolution was set to expire on March 27th.

In addition, the House of Representatives passed Rep. Paul Ryan’s devastating budget plan this week before leaving for a two-week recess. Mr. Ryan’s budget would end Medicare and Medicaid as we know them, force deep cuts to Social Security, and give new tax breaks to Wall Street and the wealthiest 2% of Americans.

In the Senate, where Senator Patty Murray has put forward an alternative budget that will prioritize jobs and make wealthy Americans and corporations pay their fair share, the Ryan plan was brought to a vote and failed to pass. It is expected that the Senate will soon vote on Ms. Murray’s budget resolution.

April 13 Work Force

Read the April 2013 Work Forceapril_13_WF_thumb

Members Gear up To Fight Privatization

CSEA officers and activists have been traveling throughout the state to speak with members about Governor Cuomo’s plans for public Mental Health services, particularly OPWDD. We need every member to get informed and get involved in this struggle to preserve services and fight any and all attempts at privatizing our jobs. The following testimony explains our situation. Please inform all your co-workers, you family, friends and neighbors. This affects us all. Also, please call your elected officials, who work for you, and tell them to oppose privatization of state agencies like yours.

Governor Cuomo is moving the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities into a managed care environment where more services will be provided by the private, non-profit sector. One of the goals of managed care is to reduce reliance on institutional care including congregate care (group homes) and offer individualized community-based services that can support all individuals even those with challenging behavioral health needs.

Road Show Lester

CSEA Region 2 President Lester Crockett speaks with members about Cuomo’s privatization scheme and provides information on how to fight back.

The 2013-14 Executive Budget proposes to shift the majority of community-based services to a network of private providers referred to as a DISCO – Developmental Disabilities Individual Support and Care Coordination Organization. Demonstration projects will begin in July 2013 and individuals with developmental disabilities can voluntarily enroll.

Beginning in November 2015, participation is expected to become mandatory. OPWDD has told us that state operations will not be included in the pilot phase but will eventually be included. The bottom line is that services are transitioning away from state operated services and to private community-based services. The new system will keep individuals out of residential services. CSEA has always worked with the State on transitioning services back into the community. However, some individuals do not belong in the community setting and there is a need for the state workforce to continue to provide services. The State should work with CSEA to create cost effective state run community programs and services. Individuals needing OPWDD services should be able to transition into the community while still being taken care of by employees they know and love.

The privatization of programs and services in this budget is alarming because it will have a devastating impact on families and communities throughout New York State. The local communities and regions where state employees provide these vital OPWDD services stand to lose tens of millions of dollars worth of decent middle class jobs. For example, the Town of Tupper Lake will lose $23 million dollars in economic activity if the 600 CSEA state jobs disappear. Also the continued erosion of state services for those with developmental disabilities fails to recognize the professional, caring, and stable workforce of the State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

Based on CSEA’s discussions with OPWDD, we have been notified that there will still be a future role of the state workforce in a managed care environment. However, what we do know is that Governor Cuomo talks about being a job creator but this policy decision will only create poverty level jobs that will further dismantle the middle class as we know it. Families in the future will have to work several jobs to have the same middle class standard of living currently provided to employees in the public sector.

The local communities and regions where state employees provide these vital OPWDD services stand to lose tens of millions of dollars worth of decent middle class jobs. Taking decent paying middle class jobs with benefits away from experienced, dedicated, and caring state employees and replacing them with private, not-for-profit companies who fail to pay their direct care workers a living wage hurts local economies and the quality of life for all New Yorkers, not just those receiving care. These private, non-profit providers have recently been cited for excessive salaries being paid to their executives. A study found that at least 15 executives received yearly compensation in excess of $500,000 dollars and hundreds of others received yearly compensation exceeding $200,000 dollars. (Source – House Oversight Committee Report Feb 2013)

CSEA members listen to officers, activists and staff talk about the plans Cuomo has for their agencies.

CSEA members listen to officers, activists and staff talk about the plans Cuomo has for their agencies.

These private, non-profit companies pay their workers on average $20,000 less with little or no health benefits and no pension compared to state employees who work in the same field. Not-for-profits have over a 40% staff turnover rate which is unacceptable when it c

omes to caring for individuals in need of continuity and a stable and secure environment. Direct support professionals from these providers come to the legislature every year and argue for better wages and benefits. Studies show that when union membership declines compensation and benefits decline for everyone. CSEA strongly believes that this should not be a race to the bottom because it will have long lasting, devastating effects on communities and families.

Lastly, there is an issue of grave concern that was brought to our attention concerning the closure of the Finger Lakes DDSO campus. It is our understanding that the Monroe Developmental Center (MDC) campus, part of Finger Lakes DDSO, located in the Town of Brighton is due to close its doors on December 31, 2013. There are approximately 80 individuals living on the campus that have specific behavioral issues, including registered sex offenders which require them to be in a 24/7 specialized program. A horrific situation recently occurred that calls into question the wisdom of the State’s plan to close these specialized units and move the individuals into the community.

On November 28, 2012, a male individual from one of these specialized units walked out of his program area. A female direct care worker followed him out to encourage him to return. While in the hallway, this individual attacked the female employee by pushing her to the ground. He ripped her clothes off and attempted to rape her. This female employee, who remains out of work, was significantly traumatized by this incident and may never be able to return to work taking care of this population again.

The individuals who live in these specialized units are higher functioning and street wise as compared to the general developmental disabilities population in the OPWDD. Under the Governor’s budget plan this individual and others like him are to be moved into the community. Only after this incident occurred has OPWDD now decided that the individual should be sent to a more secure program elsewhere in the state.

Road show members2

A CSEA member says she’s ready to fight for her job and the valuable services she provides and encourages her brothers and sisters to do the same.

Governor Cuomo is hiding behind the Olmstead Act as the reason for the closure of MDC. The Court indicated in its decision that one way states can show they are meeting their obligations under the ADA and Olmstead is to develop a “comprehensive, effective working plan for placing qualified people with disabilities in less restrictive settings.”

No plan has ever been shared with the public and many in the community are unaware of the type of individuals that will be moving in next door to them. Any plan that allows individuals who need more intensive supervision and services to be placed in less restrictive settings puts our families and communities at risk and should be challenged.

We cannot remain silent after this attempted rape by an individual who under the Governor’s plan was slated to go to the community. These individuals need more care and supervision than the community is capable of providing. Governor Cuomo and OPWDD need to keep the specialized units at Finger Lakes DDSO open to deal with this unique population.

CSEA is prepared to be part of meaningful change for better care. CSEA has a long and proven history in this area. CSEA has consistently advocated for adequate resources in recent years so that corners would not be cut. We all want better care for people with developmental disabilities. It starts with recognizing that the system’s greatest assets are those thousands of individual employees who go to work and do the right thing every day. On behalf of 300,000 active and retired, public and private employees across New York State, I hope you will join us in fighting this unfair budget and in making sure that we do not abandon those who need care in this state.

Support the Murray Senate Budget


Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Budgets are about priorities and choices. After three years of repackaging the same hurtful policies, we all already knew what Paul Ryan’s budget priorities would be: End Medicare and Medicaid as we know them; force deep cuts to Social Security and make sure the cuts from “sequestration” are made permanent.

But members of Congress don’t have to make those false choices that only reduce the deficit by increasing the burden on working families. Instead, they can support a budget that creates real conditions for job creation, economic growth and prosperity for all of us—not just the super-rich and wealthy corporations. That’s exactly what’s contained in Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray’s Budget.

Click here to call your senator right now and tell them to support the Murray Senate Budget.

The choice between the Murray Senate Budget and the Ryan House Budget couldn’t be more clear:

As you can see, the Murray Budget preserves and protects Medicare so it is strong for our seniors today and stronger for future generations. The Ryan Budget would raise the retirement age for Medicare and turn the program into a voucher system to pay insurance companies, increasing out-of-pocket costs by thousands of dollars a year.

Click here to call your senator right now and tell them to support the Murray Senate Budget.

In solidarity,

Lee Saunders Laura Reyes

2013 CSEA Capital Region Conference

Our recent Region Conference was a great success! We have several images available on our Facebook page for viewing.
Visit our Region Conference photo album on Facebook
View photos from the conference’s dinner

This Week in Albany

Week ending March 15, 2013

Budget Negotiations Expected to Continue Through Weekend

Budget negotiations have entered their final stages as Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders iron out the details of a final State budget agreement. It is expected that talks will continue through the weekend and that bills will be printed early next week.

While the Senate and Assembly restored funding for vital programs in their one-house budgets, Governor Cuomo is pushing back in an attempt to slash funding for the services that you provide every day.

It is CRITICAL that you call legislative leaders immediately and tell them to:

•           Stop the job cuts in mental health
•           Stop the privatization of developmental disabilities services
•           Stop the closures of OCFS facilities
•           Keep SUNY Downstate public
•           Stop dismantling the public services that we provide

Senator Skelos
(518) 455-3171

Senator Klein
(518) 455-3595

Speaker Silver
(518)  455-3791

More of the Same from Rep. Paul Ryan

Representative Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, released his federal budget plan this week. Under Mr. Ryan’s plan, Medicare costs would double for seniors.  In addition, corporations and the wealthiest Americans would be given large tax breaks while placing a heavier burden on the middle class.  His proposed Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security cuts will put health care and retirement security at risk, and spending for other domestic programs will be slashed to their lowest levels since the 1950’s.

Coming on the heels of $85 billion in across-the-board sequestration cuts, this plan could be truly devastating. Call your Congressional Representative at 1-888-659-9401 and tell them that Paul Ryan’s budget is wrong for America.