This Week in Albany

Week ending February 27, 2015

CSEA Submits Testimony

CSEA submitted testimony to the joint legislative budget hearing on workforce development this week.

The testimony focused on the need to provide all New Yorkers with the chance to lift themselves out of poverty and onto the ladder of opportunity. CSEA stressed that as our state recovers from the devastation caused by the Great Recession, we must focus on the services and programs that our communities depend on instead of focusing on tax breaks to big businesses and questionable economic development programs.

Major areas covered in the testimony include local governments and infrastructure, OPWDD, OMH, economic development, health care, OCFS, and education. The full testimony can be found here.

Budget Update

In a move that could potentially limit the legislature’s impact on the budget, the Governor’s 30-day amendments to the Executive Budget proposal tied many of his policy proposals to spending bills. For example, no payments would be allowed from the Tuition Assistance Program for financial aid for higher education unless the Education Investment Tax Credit and the DREAM Act are both passed. The legislature has limited authority to change appropriation bills, and it remains to be seen how they will proceed in negotiating a final budget with the Executive.

According to the joint budget schedule, it is expected that the Senate and Assembly will release their joint revenue forecast this weekend. This is an important first step in budget negotiations, as it puts both houses on the same page as to the value of the budget. Each house is then expected to release its one-house budget proposal on March 12.

Stop the TPP Fast Track

One million jobs lost. Sixty-thousand factories closed. That’s been the devastating result of trade policies adopted under Fast Track. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a massive, so-called “free trade” agreement currently being pushed by big corporations and negotiated behind closed doors by the United States and 11 other countries. It’s been described as NAFTA on steroids.

But, shockingly, under Fast Track, legislators cede their authority to have a say in agreements like the TPP. Fast Track forces Congress to take an up or down vote with no ability to amend. The result: no trade deal has ever been defeated under fast track procedures no matter how bad it is for wages, jobs, small business and the environment.

Please, contact your Representative today and ask them to say NO to Fast Track. Call toll free 888-706-4535 to ask your Representative to say NO to Fast Track.

This Week in Albany

Week ending February 27, 2015

Headlines include:

  • CSEA Submits Testimony
  • Budget Update
  • Stop the TPP Fast Track

Continue reading…


Region 3 team was freezin’ for a reason!

polarplungegrouppic2015The CSEA Southern Region Polar Plunge Team did it again, raising over $6,000 for the athletes of Special Olympics New York via a Feb. 21 icy plunge into the waters of Fishkill Creek!

View our public photo album on our Facebook page.

Team members have been fundraising for months, holding several holiday fairs and a successful bowl-a-thon to raise money for Special Olympics. CSEA has many members who care for individuals with disabilities, some of whom participate in Special Olympics events.

“I commend our team members on another tireless year of fundraising,” said Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo. “Their passion for this cause inspires all of us and is a good reminder that we can all find ways to help people in our communities.”

Riccaldo thanked those who jumped, as well as the team members involved in fundraising efforts and those who came out Feb. 21 to cheer on team members. He commended CSEA retirees Mike and Debbie Raguseo for again cooking and serving hot chili, hot dogs and soup to Polar Plunge participants and attendees.

This Week in Albany

Week ending February 20, 2015

Tax Breaks Keep Increasing

A report released by the Citizens Budget Commission revealed that state spending for economic development programs increased by 15 percent from 2010 to 2014, reaching a total of $8.1 billion per year. This includes spending on the seriously flawed START-UP NY program, which had an estimated cost of $59 million in 2014 and is expected to cost over $100 million in 2015.

The benefits that these expenditures provide to local economies, if any, are very much in question. What cannot be questioned is the impact that focusing state resources on tax breaks for big businesses has on our communities. Income inequality is reaching record levels and critical needs in the areas of infrastructure, education, and human services are going unmet due to lack of state support.

CSEA will continue to push for policies that will help to lift all the communities of our state up instead of focusing state resources on programs that benefit only the select few.

NY Times Highlights the Benefits of Strong Unions

A recent article in the New York Times highlighted the importance of strong union membership, especially at a time when labor unions are under attack.

According to the article, there is a strong correlation between union membership rates and overall quality of life and equality. Historically, periods where union membership was highest were also periods where economic growth and prosperity were the highest.

Furthermore, a study by the American Sociological Review referenced in the article showed that the decline in union membership could account for one-third of the rise in income inequality among men. In 1965, when union membership was at an all-time high, CEOs earned about 20 times as much as the average worker. By 2013, the average CEO was earning 296 times as much as the average worker.

Special Elections

Governor Cuomo has called for Special Elections to be held on May 5 for the 11th Congressional District and the 43rd Assembly District. The Congressional seat, covering Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, was vacated when Michael Grimm resigned after pleading guilty to tax evasion. The Brooklyn Assembly seat opened up when Assemblyman Karim Camara resigned this week to take a position with the Cuomo Administration.

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for two days next week. The final joint budget hearings will be held on the subjects of local governments, public protection, mental hygiene, and workforce development. CSEA will be testifying at the workforce development hearing on February 27.

This Week in Albany

Week ending February 20, 2015

Headlines include:

  • Tax Breaks Keep Increasing
  • NY Times Highlights the Benefits of Strong Unions
  • Special Elections
  • At a Glance

Continue reading…


Federal Issues Report

AFSCME Legislative Weekly Report
Week Ending February 13, 2015

Headlines include:

  • National Labor Relations Board Rule Attacked
  • House Approves Bills to Extend Costly Tax Breaks for Business and Wealthy
  • House Education Committee Passes Partisan “No Child Left Behind” Bill
  • Paid Sick Days Bill Reintroduced

Continue reading…


This Week in Albany

Week ending February 13, 2015

Headlines include:

  • Fiscal Policy Institute Report
  • At a Glance
  • The Next Scott Walker

Continue reading…


This Week in Albany

Week ending February 13, 2015

Fiscal Policy Institute Report

A report by the Fiscal Policy Institute on New York’s economic outlook for the 2015-16 fiscal year highlights a number of concerns that have been voiced by CSEA in recent years.

The report provides clear evidence of growing income inequality in our state. The incomes of the top one percent of New Yorkers increased by 32% from 2009 to 2012, while the incomes for the remaining 99% of the population decreased by 1.1%. Furthermore, high income individuals pay a lower share of their income in taxes than everyone else.

Things get even worse when looking at funding for government services. According to the report, New York funds a smaller portion of state and local expenditures than the vast majority of states. This has resulted in a loss of critical services in our communities.

With personal income projected to grow by almost six percent annually over the next three years and total tax receipts projected to grow by four percent annually, New York’s ability to pay for the services its citizens need and desire is far greater than the Cuomo Administration’s self-imposed two percent spending limit.

CSEA will continue to push for policies that will lift the communities of our state up and provide the opportunity for all New Yorkers to succeed and prosper, not just the wealthy and big businesses.

At a Glance

The legislature will be on break until February 25. The final joint budget hearings will be held on the subjects of local government, public protection, mental hygiene, and workforce development when the legislature returns. CSEA will be testifying at the workforce development hearing on February 27.

According to a joint budget schedule released this week, the Senate and Assembly plan on voting on a final budget by March 26.

The Next Scott Walker

Bruce Rauner, the newly elected Governor of Illinois and former private equity manager, issued an executive order this week that would ban state employee unions from requiring fair share fees from workers who are not members of the union but benefit from collective bargaining agreements. The Governor has also been very vocal in his desire to make Illinois a “right to work” state.

With his actions, Mr. Rauner becomes the latest politician to attack the rights and benefits of working families across the country. While the legal and ethical standing for the action is questionable to say the least, hard working men and women must continue to fight ill-informed and misguided attempts to dismantle unions and the middle class.

It is expected that the executive order will be challenged in court.

Stop the TPP Fast Track

1,000,000 jobs lost. 60,000 factories closed. That’s been the devastating result of trade policies adopted under Fast Track. And, if you don’t act NOW to stop Fast Track on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that number will only grow.

The TPP is a massive, so-called “free trade” agreement currently being pushed by big corporations and negotiated behind closed doors by the United States and 11 other countries – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. It’s been described as NAFTA on steroids.

But, shockingly, under Fast Track, legislators cede their authority to have a say in agreements like the TPP. Fast Track forces Congress to take an up or down vote with no ability to amend. The result: no trade deal has ever been defeated under fast track procedures no matter how bad it is for wages, jobs, small business and the environment.

Please, contact your Representative today and ask them to say NO to Fast Track. Text TPP to 877877 to be connected to your Representative, or call toll free to 888-706-4535.

More information on Fast Track can be found here


2015-16 State Budget


Final Budget

2015-16 CSEA Final Budget Summary (updated 4.2)

Budget Memos (Post One-House Proposals)

OPWDD State-Operated Choices – Support Memo
OPWDD Geographical Analysis – Support Memo
Pension Forfeiture – Oppose Memo
Education Reform – Collective Bargaining – Oppose Memo
Private Equity Hospitals – Oppose Memo

Close to Home Expansion – Oppose Memo
Education Tax Credit – Coalition Oppose Memo


Talking Points Flyers

Local Government and Infrastructure Talking Points

OMH Talking Points

OPWDD Talking Points


Other Budget Documents

CSEA Workforce Development Testimony
Submitted to the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Workforce Development

Budget Booklet
Prepared for the 2015 New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators Annual Legislative Conference