This Week in Albany

Week ending January 30, 2015

Headlines Include:

  • Assembly Leadership Change
  • Budget Update
  • At a Glance

Continue reading…


This Week in Albany

Week ending January 30, 2015

Assembly Leadership Change

In what can only be described as 2 days of political wrangling, the Democratic members of the Assembly decided that the current Speaker, Sheldon Silver, must resign his position by Monday or they will present a resolution to oust him.

This decision began a mad dash as to who would replace Mr. Silver, who has held the post for over 20 years. Initially, Assemblymembers Cathy Nolan, Joe Morelle, Joe Lentol, Keith Wright, and Carl Heastie all declared that they would run for the top spot. As of this writing, members Wright, Lentol, and Morelle have withdrawn from the race, leaving Ms. Nolan and Mr. Heastie.

Mr. Heastie, who is from the Bronx and is currently the Chair of the Assembly labor committee, would become the first African-American to hold the position. Ms. Nolan, Chair of the Assembly education committee from Queens, would become the first woman. As of this writing it appears that Mr. Heastie is in the lead.

A formal vote is expected on February 10, but the vote could happen sooner. In the interim, Majority Leader Morelle will be the acting Speaker. Stay tuned.

Budget Update

Joint legislative hearings on the proposed Executive Budget began this week as legislators held hearings on the topics of environmental conservation and transportation. Wednesday’s scheduled hearing for local government officials was pushed back to the end of February due to weather concerns.

For the budget to be considered on time, the Governor and legislature must reach an agreement by the start of the state fiscal year on April 1.

Check the Legislative and Political Action Department’s webpage for budget updates as they become available.

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for two days and hold four days of public budget hearings next week.

The hearings scheduled for next week will cover health and Medicaid, elementary and secondary education, human services, and housing.

CSEA will testify at the Workforce Development hearing on Friday, February 27.

February 2015 Work Force

Feb_15_WF_thumbRead the February Work Force
See previous Work Force editions

 

PEOPLE Frequently Asked Questions

PEOPLE LOGO - use this oneWhat is PEOPLE?
What does PEOPLE do?
How does PEOPLE affect me?
Why can’t you use my dues money?
Why should I be concerned about federal legislation?
How much does it cost?
How do I join PEOPLE?
What do I get for joining PEOPLE?
Can I become more involved in CSEA’s political action activities?
What if I have more questions?

Q. What is PEOPLE?
A. PEOPLE stands for Public Employees Organized to Promote Legislative Equality.

Q. What does PEOPLE do?
A. People helps you by giving CSEA and AFSCME a strong political voice throughout New York State and in Washington, DC.

Q. How does PEOPLE affect me?
A. We are able to lobby on your behalf to make sure that your collective bargaining rights, benefits and safety and health are protected. We also endorse candidates and support legislation that is worker friendly. For public employees, the people we elect determine the quality of our lives and our livelihood. Our wages, benefits, working conditions, health and safety, and even whether we have jobs at all, are in the hands of elected officials who influence our future. Our activism in politics is incredibly important. CSEA’s PEOPLE Program enables our union to be strong politically and help enact legislative programs that protect our jobs.

Q. Why can’t you use my dues money?
A. Federal election law prohibits using your union dues for campaign contributions and other political activities on a federal level. If we were not able to raise additional funds, we would not be able to fight back against the billions of dollars that anti-union forces have at their disposal to lobby on their behalf and push their anti-union agenda.

Q. Why should I be concerned about federal legislation?
A. A portion of the funding for New York State comes from the federal government (approximately 38%). This funding helps support CSEA jobs in school districts, transportation and healthcare to name a few. If we don’t have voice through PEOPLE on a Federal level, some of our funding sources could go away.

Q. How much does it cost?
A. PEOPLE only asks for a small donation of $100 per year (MVP Level). Depending on how frequently you get paid, it is as little as $1.93 a week, $3.85 every two weeks or $8.35 per month. Consult your collective bargaining agreement to determine if your PEOPLE contribution can be deducted from your paycheck (check with your local officials, if you are unsure).

Q. How do I join PEOPLE?
A. Simply fill out an application, send it to the CSEA Political Action Department (143 Washington Avenue, Albany, New York 12210). There are several applications so please make sure you use the correct one: (use links to apps.)
Payroll Deduction Application (Active Employees with PEOPLE Deduction in the contract)
Direct Contribution Application (Checking/Savings/Credit Card) (Active or Retired Members who do not have PEOPLE deduction in their contract or retired members who wish to utilize a non-pension deduction)
Retiree Application (Direct Withdrawal from your Pension Check)

Q. What do I get for joining PEOPLE?
A. The most important thing you get is the satisfaction of making sure your voice is heard. You have collective bargaining rights by being a member of CSEA; this gives you a voice in the decisions that are made by politicians that affect every aspect of your life. In addition, you will receive a jacket and once deductions start or we receive your one-time payment of $100, you can enroll in the AFSCME PEOPLE MVP Rewards Program. For more information on the MVP Rewards program, please click on the following link: http://peoplerewards.afscme.org/login.php

Q. Can I become more involved in CSEA’s political action activities?
A. Yes, contact your Region Political Action Coordinator: Long Island Region 1, Susan Castle (631) 462-0030; Metropolitan Region 2 (NYC), Matt D’Amico (212) 406-2156; Southern Region 3, Chris Ludlow (845) 831-1000; Capital Region 4, Bryan Miller, (518) 782-4400; Central Region 5, Rick Noreault (315) 433-0050; Western Region 6, Chris Rackl (716) 691-6555.

Q. What if I have more questions?
A. Simply call 1-800-342-4146 and ask for the Political Action Department or feel free to email us at PEOPLE@cseainc.org.

Basket auction raises money for Polar Plunge, Special Olympics

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CSEA Western Region 6 held its annual theme basket auction to benefit the Special Olympics at our recent region meeting.

Locals and Units donated the baskets, and every penny raised will support the CSEA Western Region Polar Plunge team’s dip into Lake Ontario on Feb. 8. All money raised at the Polar Plunge supports the athletes of the Special Olympics.

Photos from the auction can be seen here.

This Week in Albany

Week ending January 23, 2015

State Budget Highlights

Major actions included in Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal:

Taxes

  • Create a property tax circuit breaker for taxpayers residing in municipalities that stay within the tax cap. CSEA has always advocated for a circuit breaker but this proposal, coupled with the tax cap and freeze credit, would place a tremendous burden on local governments.
  • Create a new Education Tax Credit that amounts to a voucher system that would give up to a million dollars in tax credits to donors to certain educational institutions. The proposal is tied to the “Dream Act,” which would provide tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants.

State Operations

Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD)

  • Provide for additional positions in OPWDD for state-operated transitional care pilot programs for the continued transition of clients to appropriate community integrated settings.
  • Fund a 2% salary increase for direct care and clinical not-for-profit providers.

Office of Mental Health (OMH)

  • Allow for the possibility of a net reduction of 400 state operated inpatient beds. $110,000 for each net reduction would be reinvested to improve community services. Community reinvestments have been promised many times without coming to fruition.

Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS)

  • Increase funding by $85 million for capital investments as a result of an initiative known as “raise the age.”  This initiative would prohibit 16 and 17 years old from being housed in correctional facilities and would require secure facilities to house these clients. This would result in additional CSEA positions over the next few years.

Department of Transportation (DOT)

  • $50 million will be provided for new snow plows and to equip DOT vehicles involved in snow management with GPS systems.
  • Design-build would be expanded to all state agencies and made permanent.
  • Funding for the CHIPS program remains same as last year.
  • The budget would authorize DOT and the Thruway Authority to share services. This proposal is concerning and more details are needed.

Local Governments

  • AIM funding is once again held flat and $150 million is provided to encourage local governments and school districts to consolidate and share services.

Child Care

  • Increase child care subsidies by $21,125,000 and provide funding for CSEA’s new child care contract.

Health Care

  • Impose a fee on every policy of insurance issued in the state to support the health insurance exchange. According to the Governor, this fee would average $25 per year.
  • Provide $700 million in capital funding for health care delivery systems in Brooklyn. More details are needed on this proposal.

Education

  • Increase aid for schools by $1.1 billion, but only if proposed reforms are accepted. If the legislature rejects the reforms, state aid to education would only increase by $377 million.
  • The reforms proposed in the budget include changes to teacher tenure and evaluations, and an increase in the charter school cap by another 100 schools.
  • Importantly, the budget would create a turnaround strategy for failing schools that would include appointing a receiver who would have the power to oversee a failed school district and void certain aspects of a collective bargaining agreement. Language is currently too vague to determine if CSEA collective bargaining contracts would fall under this provision.

SUNY/CUNY

  • Keep State funding consistent for SUNY/CUNY colleges.
  • Reduce the SUNY hospital subsidy by $18.5 billion.
  • Tie some aid for community colleges to performance funding.

Other Issues

  • Reform Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs), including a proposal to a claw back funds when companies do not live up to their promises.
  • $3 billion from financial settlements would be spent on loans and grants for infrastructure projects.
  • A competition between 7 upstate regions for three $500 million pots of money for economic development.

Please check the Legislative and Political Action Department’s webpage for updates on the budget as they become available.

Voters Reject Dissolution Again

Residents of the Village of Medina in Orleans County resoundingly rejected a proposal to dissolve their village by a more than two-to-one vote this week.

Local government consolidation has been a major focus of Governor Cuomo during his time both as Governor and Attorney General, but the 949 to 547 vote is more proof that residents want to keep the local services provided in their communities.

This Week in Albany

Week ending January 23, 2015

Headlines include:

  • State Budget Highlights
  • Voters Reject Dissolution Again

Continue reading…


This Week in Albany

Week ending January 16, 2015

Headlines include:

  • State Budget Update
  • Week at a Glance

Continue reading…


This Week in Albany

Week ending January 16, 2015

State Budget Update

Governor Cuomo has announced that he will present his state budget proposal on the same day as his “State of the State” speech next week. Typically the two events are held at different times.

The Governor has already announced several proposals that will be central to his budget proposal.

The first proposal is a $1.7 billion property tax circuit breaker program that would provide property tax credits for homeowners and renters paying more than six percent of their income toward property taxes. For renters, the Governor’s plan would assume that 13.75% of rent payments can be attributed to property taxes. Credits would be provided on a sliding scale based on income. Outside of New York City, taxpayers will have to reside in municipalities operating under the state’s property tax cap to be eligible for the circuit breaker credit.

The second program is $1.5 billion in economic development funding for upstate communities. Seven regions will compete for the funding, with three being awarded $500 million each. The four regions whose plans are not approved will not receive any of the $1.5 billion.

It is unclear where the funding for these programs will come from.

Additionally, the Governor plans to spend $500 million of the $5 billion surplus from bank settlements to expand broadband internet service in the state.

The Governor has said that in addition to these programs, he plans to reform the state’s public education system, address police safety and the grand jury system, and provide even more tax cuts for businesses.

Please check the Legislative and Political Action Department’s page on the CSEA website for updates on the budget as they become available.

Week at a Glance

The legislature will be in session on Wednesday and Thursday next week following Monday’s holiday. Governor Cuomo’s combined “State of the State” speech and budget presentation will take place on Wednesday afternoon.

Guild School Saved from Closure

It was a a very happy new year for dozens of parents, children and workers who rallied to save an early childhood education program run by the Guild for Exceptional Children (GEC).

Slated for closure on January 23, 2015, the 40-year-old Carrie Mastronardi Early Childhood Education Program will now remain open for at least the remainder of the school year.

“The parties are close to reaching a solution that would keep the school funded in perpetuity,” said CSEA Contract Administration Specialist and former GEC worker Neil Kelly. “While we are pleased with the progress that has been made, we will not rest until a permanent solution is reached.”

The planned closure of the school would have been devastating for some 240 students, who would have needed to be placed in different schools in the middle of the school year. Over 80 educators and support staff would have also been laid-off. The school services a diverse population of special needs children in Mandarin, Cantonese and Spanish.

Parents of children at the Guild for Exceptional Children march to save their school

Parents of children at the Guild for Exceptional Children march to save their school