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.