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This Week in Albany

Week ending April 28, 2017

Federal Update

President Trump Releases Tax Plan

The Trump administration released its tax reform proposal this week.

Most important to all New Yorkers is the proposed elimination of the state and local income and property tax deduction that taxpayers can take on their federal taxes. It is estimated that the elimination of this deduction would cost the average New York family $4,500.

Other provisions include reducing the number of tax brackets to three (10, 25, and 35 percent), doubling the standard deduction, eliminating the estate tax, and eliminating the 3.8% tax on investment income.

The proposal would also significantly reduce taxes for businesses and large corporations by cutting their tax rate from 35 to 15 percent. That 15 percent rate would also apply to hedge funds, large partnerships, and some real estate businesses, which currently pay a rate up to 39.6%.

It is estimated that the President’s tax plan would increase the deficit by $3-7 trillion over the next decade.

Health Care

The American Health Care Act, President Trump’s replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), resurfaced this week as Congressional leaders sought to find the votes needed to pass the bill after a new amendment was released.

The proposed amendment would allow states to opt out of requiring plans to cover the essential health benefits required by the ACA. The ten essential benefits that must currently be provided are outpatient care, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity care, mental health and substance abuse services, prescription drugs, rehabilitative services, laboratory services, preventative and wellness services, and pediatric services. The amendment would also allow states to partially waive requirements that prohibit insurers from charging higher premiums based on enrollees’ health status.

By adding this amendment, the House Freedom Caucus removed its opposition to the larger bill, moving the House closer to a potential vote.

Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

Spending Bill

With funding for the federal government set to expire at midnight on Friday, Congress passed a short-term funding bill to keep the government funded until May 5. This gives lawmakers an extra week to come to an agreement on a larger spending bill to fund the government through September 30, the end of the fiscal year.

At a Glance

The state legislature will be in session for three days next week. There are 23 session days remaining in the 2017 session. Please visit the Legislative & Political Action Department’s webpage for updates on CSEA’s end of session priorities as they become available.

This Week in Albany

Week ending April 21, 2017

State Budget Invests Over $200 Million to Combat the Heroin and Opioid Crisis

The recently passed 2017-18 state budget invests over $200 million to combat the heroin and opioid crisis across New York, including $27 million for state-operated addiction treatment centers.

The heroin and opioid crisis continues to impact New Yorkers in many ways, from families suffering the loss of a loved one to increased caseloads for social service workers. CSEA supports continued investments in helping to combat this scourge.

Federal Update

Congress has one week to reach an agreement on a spending plan to keep government running, as funding is set to expire on April 28th. Congress is currently negotiating a spending plan that would keep the government funded until the start of the new fiscal year on October 1. If no agreement is reached before April 29th, the federal government will shut down.

Additionally, there are rumors that a new healthcare bill will soon be introduced, with a vote as early as next week. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

At a Glance

The state legislature returns to Albany for three days of session next week after spending two weeks in their home districts. With the State budget complete, CSEA now turns our attention to advocating for legislation that will benefit the lives of CSEA members. The legislative session is scheduled to run through June 21.

Constitutional Convention Fact

State pensions are protected by the State Constitution. A constitutional convention would give special interests the opportunity to eliminate this protection.


This Week in Albany

Week ending April 14, 2017

Full State Budget Passed

After operating under a budget extender for a week, the Governor and Legislature reached an agreement on a full 2017-18 state budget last weekend.

CSEA was able to fight back many of the more harmful proposals in the Governor’s Executive Budget. Issues of importance to CSEA members in the final budget include:

Office of Mental Health

The enacted budget rejects the Governor’s proposal to eliminate 400 beds within OMH. The budget does not include any provisions to delay or stop the impending transfer of the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center to the grounds of the Buffalo Psychiatric Center.

Office for People with Developmental Disabilities

The enacted budget adds an additional $840,000 to create new community based programs for individuals with developmental disabilities that are staffed by state employees.

Local Governments

Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) funding for local governments will once again be held flat at $715 million. AIM funding has not been increased since 2011-12.

The enacted budget establishes a “county-wide shared services property tax savings plan.” CSEA worked closely with the legislature to amend the Governor’s original proposal to better protect CSEA members and the services they provide. While the enacted plan is better than originally proposed, it will be important for CSEA to be active and involved in the development of these tax savings plans.

The chief executive officer (county executive, county manager, or the chair of the county legislative body) of every county outside of New York City will be responsible for preparing a property tax savings plan for shared, coordinated, or more efficient services among the municipalities within the county. The chief executive officer may invite school districts and boces to participate but they are not mandated to participate. Representatives of each collective bargaining unit will provide input on the plans.

County legislatures will have input on the plans, and the plans must be approved by the shared services panel made up of representatives of each entity involved. Any municipality may opt out prior to a plan approval and shall state reasons why in writing.

The plans will NOT go to a public referendum as proposed by the Governor. If the plan does not gain approval in 2017, the process would begin again in 2018 and then end.

Retiree Issues

The legislature rejected all three of the Governor’s proposals that would have increased health insurance costs for retirees and future retirees. These proposals included a tiered health insurance contribution system for new retirees based on salary grade and years of services, a cap on the State’s reimbursement for Medicare Part B premiums, and the elimination of higher cost Part B premiums for higher income retirees.

Union Dues Deduction

The enacted budget includes an expansion of the amount of union dues a member may deduct on their New York State income taxes. Currently, a union member can only deduct dues that are in excess of 2% of their federal adjusted gross income.

Other Budget  Items

The budget includes the governor’s proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18, provides $2.5 billion for clean water infrastructure projects across the state, provides a $1.1 billion increase in school aid, extends the millionaires tax for two years, expands ridesharing upstate and enacts the Governor’s “free college tuition” program for public colleges and universities.

Visit our website for more information and a complete summary of the budget.


Memorial service set for activist Sidney Culver Jr.

Sidney CulverA memorial service has been set for Saturday, April 15, 2017 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. to remember Sidney Culver Jr., 57, a longtime CSEA activist from the Poughkeepsie School District Unit who died March 30.

The remembrance, hosted by family, will be held at the Alumnae House at Vassar College, 161 College Ave., Poughkeepsie.

We are saddened by the loss of our union brother, who served with pride the last decade as a bus driver and custodian in the Poughkeepsie City School District. Sid was a solid union activist who played an integral role in rebuilding the strength of his CSEA bargaining unit. He could always be counted on to stand with his fellow workers and was a good friend to so many. Sid was also a friendly face and role model to students, especially at the district’s Early Learning Center.

Our thoughts are with Sid’s family, friends and co-workers during this difficult time.

IMPORTANT RECALL INFORMATION

On March 31, 2017, the United States Food and Drug Administration issued a notice regarding a voluntary recall of the EpiPen and EpiPen Jr as a result of a potential defect that could make the device difficult to activate in an emergency.  While the incidence of defect is extremely rare; the recall was expanded as a measure of caution since it may represent a potential health hazard or safety risk to enrollees.

For more information regarding the affected products, call Mylan Customer Relations at 1-800-796-9526 or visit www.mylan.com/EpiPenRecall. You may also call the FDA consumer inquiry line at 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332) or visit www.fda.gov.

Additional information

This Week in Albany

Week ending April 7, 2017

State Budget Update

At the time of this email, state budget negotiations remain in flux.

After failing to reach an agreement on a full budget by the April 1 deadline, the legislature passed a budget extender this week that will fund the government until May 31. The extender will maintain state operations funding at a flat rate from last year, but does not include any new funding for schools since school budgets continue through June.  

Despite passing the budget extender, legislators and the Governor continue to negotiate a full budget. The legislature has passed several bills that are part of a full budget, and could possibly reach an agreement on outstanding issues as soon as Friday.

Stay tuned for updates on budget negotiations as they become available.

START-UP NY Report

The Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) released its 2016 report on the START-UP NY program this week. While press releases claim the creation of 1,135 jobs since the program began reporting in 2014, only 722 of those jobs are considered net new jobs.

According to the report, nearly 40% of the businesses participating in the program are not new to New York. And while the report claims that START-UP NY is “one of the most cost-effective” economic development programs in the state, that analysis ignores the tens of millions of dollars spent on advertising for the program to out-of-state businesses.

While the Cuomo administration continues to try and convince taxpayers that START-UP NY is a smart investment, the reality is that it is an extremely flawed program that wastes taxpayer dollars.

Gorsuch Confirmed

Neil Gorsuch became the 113th justice of the Supreme Court when his nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Friday. The confirmation comes more than a year after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

The confirmation came after a filibuster by Senate Democrats forced a change in the Senate rules to require a simple majority vote rather than the traditionally required 60 votes. The nomination was confirmed by a vote of 54-45.

At a Glance

The legislature is not scheduled to meet next week, but outstanding budget negotiations could change that.
Legislators are currently scheduled to return to Albany on April 24th.


Union offers free baseball tickets for CNY members!

CSEA members in Central New York can currently take advantage of ticket giveaways for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (any home games) or the Syracuse Chiefs (CSEA game on 4/23).

Free four-packs are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and amounts are limited, so put in your request today!

Visit our Ticket Giveaway page to get yours!

Registration underway for one-day conference

imagesAre you looking to learn? Consider attending our Southern Region One-Day Conference, scheduled for May 6, 2017 at the Hyatt House Hotel in Fishkill.

This conference is open to all Southern Region CSEA members and features a variety of educational opportunities, including responsible social media practices, active shooter training and an update on the Justice Center. As always, representatives from CSEA’s endorsed vendors — including Pearl Carroll insurance; the CSEA Employee Benefit Fund; Fine, Olin & Anderman; and many more — will be on-site to meet with members.

Copies of the agenda and registration forms are being mailed to local and unit leaders. You can also download a copy by clicking here. Because space is limited, please return forms ASAP to the CSEA Southern Region Office, 568 State Route 52, Beacon, NY 12508.