This Week in Albany

Week ending March 16, 2018

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter Passes Away

U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY25) passed away on Thursday at the age of 88. Congresswoman Slaughter was a longtime friend to CSEA and to working men and women across the country. She will be missed.

State Budget Update

The Senate and Assembly released their “one-house” budgets this week. These documents lay out what each house’s ideal budget would look like, and serve as a negotiating point as the legislature works with the Governor to reach an agreement on a final budget.

The following is a brief summary of important issues contained within the one-house proposals. A full summary of proposals of importance to CSEA members can be found on our website.

  • The Senate budget rejects the Executive proposal to allow OMH to close up to 400 inpatient beds. The Assembly budget would allow OMH to close up to 100 inpatient beds. This position is unacceptable to CSEA. The OMH system cannot withstand a further reduction of needed beds and services. CSEA has been very vocal about this concern with members of the Assembly after their budget was released. CSEA supports the Senate position.
  • The Senate and Assembly both reject the Executive proposal to close the Ella McQueen reception center in Brooklyn without legally required one-year notice. CSEA supports the position of both houses. 
  • Both houses provide for an increase in child care funding. CSEA supports the position of both houses.
  • Both houses restore the Executive’s proposed elimination of the $78.6 million operating subsidy for the three SUNY hospitals and provide additional aid for community colleges. CSEA supports the position of both houses.
  • Both houses reject the Executive proposals to increase costs for retirees in the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP). CSEA supports the position of both houses.
  • Both houses would provide increased support to local governments through the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) program. In addition, both houses would provide increased funding for local roads through the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS). CSEA supports the position of both houses.
  • The Senate rejects the Executive proposal to make the county-wide shared service panels created in last year’s budget permanent, while the Assembly accepts the proposal. CSEA supports the Senate position.
  • Both houses provide for an increase in school aid. The Senate budget also includes a package of proposals relating to school safety. CSEA supports increased school aid and is monitoring proposals relating to school safety.
  • Both houses would restore Executive cuts to libraries and provide additional funding on top of that. CSEA supports the position of both houses.
  • Both houses reject the Executive proposal to expand broad-based design-build authority to several state agencies and authorities. CSEA supports the position of both houses. 


At a Glance

The state legislature will be in session for four days next week as lawmakers negotiate a final state budget. Legislative leaders claim that they expect a state budget agreement to be reached by March 29.

Never Quit Fact of the Week

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, union workers are 12% more likely to have access to job-provided health insurance than non-union workers.

    This Week in Albany

    Week ending March 9, 2018

    Governor’s Race Gets More Candidates

    After previously saying that he wouldn’t run for Governor in 2018, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro has reconsidered that decision. Molinaro joins State Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco and former state housing commissioner Joseph Holland as Republican candidates.

    On the Democratic side actress Cynthia Nixon has been hinting that she will challenge Governor Andrew Cuomo in a Primary, though she has not officially announced her candidacy.

    Federal Update

    Congress must pass a spending bill by March 23 to avoid a government shutdown.

    President Trump has threated to veto the entire $1 trillion package if it includes funding for the Gateway tunnel project that would expand the Northeast Corridor rail line between Newark, New Jersey, and New York City. Lawmakers from the two states are pushing for roughly $900 million in the spending bill to support the massive project.

    The Obama administration reached an agreement where New York and New Jersey would pay for half of the cost of the project, while the federal government would cover the rest. President Trump has backed away from that commitment. It is estimated that the project could cost up to $30 billion.

    At a Glance

    The legislature will be in session for four days next week as work continues on state budget negotiations. Each house is expected to release its “one-house” budget proposal early next week, and both houses are scheduled to pass their budget resolutions on Wednesday. From that point, the houses will work with the Executive to find an agreement on a final budget before April 1.

    A summary of the one-house proposals and how they differ from the Executive’s proposal will be shared in “This Week in Albany” and put on our website when available.

    Stay involved in the state budget process by visiting our website.

    Never Quit Fact of the Week

    According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 76% of union workers have a guaranteed (defined-benefit) pension, compared to only 16% of non-union workers that have such a pension.

      This Week in Albany

      Week ending March 2, 2018

      State Budget Update

      The Legislature and Executive have reached an agreement on a two-year revenue total that is $675 million to $750 million above the Executive Budget estimate. This means that the Legislature and Executive have reached a consensus on how much money is available for the FY 2018-19 budget. This revenue consensus is the first real step towards a final state budget.

      Never Quit

      CSEA members gathered in New York City, Buffalo, and Albany over the past week to show the strength of our union in the face of oral arguments on the Janus v AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court case.

      The Court heard arguments on Janus v AFSCME this week. A ruling against the union would overturn 40 years of precedent and threaten the freedom of working men and women to join together to protect our voice in the workplace. In light of this, it is more important than ever that we talk with our coworkers and friends about the importance of being a union member and what that means for our livelihood and for our families.

      More information on the rallies, including photos and videos,can be found on the CSEA website.

      At a Glance

      The state legislature will be in session for three days next week as state budget negotiations heat up. The Senate and Assembly are expected to each release their “one-house” version of the budget the following week, with a final budget due by April 1.

      Never Quit Fact of the Week

      According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, New York has the highest union density of any state in the U.S., with 23.8 percent of workers belonging to a union. Nationwide, union members account for 10.7 percent of workers.

        This Week in Albany

        Week ending February 23, 2018

        Janus v AFSCME

        On Monday, February 26th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the Janus vs AFSCME case. This case is nothing more than an attempt to limit the voice of working men and women across the country.

        In the lead-up to the case being heard, CSEA members and activists are invited to participate in a number of activities to show that union members will fight back against attempts to divide working people and limit the power of workers, their families, and their communities.

        On Saturday, February 24th, hundreds of CSEA members will participate in a “Working People’s Day of Action” in New York City and in Buffalo. Similar rallies will be held in 28 other cities across the country. On Monday, hundreds more CSEA members will participate in a rally at the Empire State Plaza in Albany.

        In the face of these blatant attacks on the rights of working people, CSEA members will NEVER QUIT.

        At a Glance

        The state Senate and Assembly will return to Albany next week after a week away in their home districts. The legislature will be in session for two days, and will hold the final joint legislative hearing on the 2018-19 Executive Budget on the topic of environmental conservation.

        Each house of the legislature is expected to release its “one house” version of the budget during the week of March 12th. In these proposals, each house will put forward what their ideal version of a budget would look like. From there, the legislature will work with the Governor to find an agreement on a final budget before the April 1 deadline.


        Governor Cuomo has called for a Special Election on April 24th to fill the 11 vacant seats in the state legislature. While there are nine vacant Assembly seats and two vacant Senate seats, the race for the 37th Senate District will likely be the most-watched race.

        In that race, Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers) will face off against Julie Killian (R-Rye) to fill the seat vacated by Westchester County Executive George Latimer (D). This seat may be crucial to which party controls the Senate. While Republicans currently hold a narrow majority, a deal announced earlier this year calls for “reuniting” the Democratic conference with the Independent Democratic Conference if Democrats win both Special Elections in the Senate.

        CSEA has not yet started the endorsement process in these races. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

        Additionally, village elections will be held across the state on March 20th.

        Never Quit Fact of the Week

        According to U.S. Census Bureau Data poverty rates in “Right-to-Work” states are 15.3 percent overall (and 21.4 percent for children). In other states, poverty rates total 12.8 percent overall (and 18 percent for children).

          This Week in Albany

          Week ending February 16, 2018

          State Budget Update

          Amendments to the Executive Budget proposal were released late on Thursday night. We are currently reviewing all of the Governor’s amendments to determine their impact on CSEA members. For more information on these proposals, as well as CSEA’s legislative memos and budget flyers, please visit our website.

          Among several new proposals are proposals to address federal tax reform.

          The first proposal would create state, local government, and school district charitable funds to encourage taxpayer donations for purposes like education and health care. These contributions would be deductible at the federal level, and would receive favorable state and local tax treatment.

          The second proposal would establish an optional payroll tax system where employers could decide to shift to an employer-paid payroll tax for employees earning over $40,000 per year. It remains unclear how likely this proposal is to be included in a final budget, or how it would function in practice.

          The amendments would also “decouple” state tax code from several provisions of the new federal law to prevent large increases in taxes.

          Additionally, the amendments propose a new disciplinary procedure for employees of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision outside of procedures that have been collectively bargained. CSEA has major concerns with this proposal.

          Pension Fund Reaches New Record

          Comptroller DiNapoli announced this week that the New York State Common Retirement Fund reached an estimated value of $209.1 billion as of December 31, a new record. That balance was up 8.7% over the value of the Fund at the start of the 2017-18 Fiscal Year on April 1.

          Under the leadership of Comptroller DiNapoli, New York continues to have one of the best managed and best funded pension plans in the country.

          Federal Update

          President Trump released his long-awaited infrastructure plan this week. While the document released by the White House is still only a broad outline, there are several areas of potential concern for CSEA members.

          The White House has often referred to the President’s infrastructure plan as a $1 trillion or even a $1.5 trillion plan. In reality, the President’s proposal includes only $200 billion of federal funds. In theory, that money would be used to raise money from state and local governments and private investors to complete infrastructure projects.

          As part of the proposed efforts to encourage private investment, the President’s plan calls for a broad expansion of public-private-partnerships for all types of infrastructure projects. Public-private-partnerships (commonly referred to as P3s) typically involve a private entity financing the construction of a project, and then operating, maintaining, and collecting any tolls from the public asset. An expansion of P3 authority is of serious concern to CSEA as it would allow for the outsourcing of many public infrastructure assets and the maintenance and operations jobs that support them.

          It is not clear if or when the President’s plan will move forward in Congress.

          At a Glance

          The state legislature will spend next week in their home districts before returning to Albany on February 27th. The state budget is due by April 1.

          Never Quit Fact of the Week

          The risk of workplace death is 49% higher in “Right-to-Work” states than in non-“Right-to-Work” states like New York, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

            This Week in Albany

            Week ending February 9, 2018

            Federal Update

            Congress has reached an agreement to fund the federal government for two years. The agreement will raise caps on military and domestic spending by $296 billion through 2019 and increase the debt limit through March 1, 2019.

            Regarding healthcare, the bill delays cuts to Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments until 2020, extends funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for an additional four years (on top of the recent six-year extension), reauthorizes Community Health Centers for two years, and repeals an independent medical advisory board established under the Affordable Care Act to control Medicare spending.

            Other provisions in the deal include $90 billion in disaster relief, $20 billion for infrastructure projects, $6 billion to combat the opioid crisis, $5.8 billion for the Child Care Development Block Grant program, $4 billion for the Veterans Administration for veterans’ hospitals and clinics, and the creation of a committee to study the solvency of multi-employer pension plans like the Teamsters plans that have been forced to slash benefits recently.

            CSEA is continuing to review the spending agreement and will provide updates as needed.

            At a Glance

            The state legislature will be in session for two days next week, and will hold budget hearings on health, Medicaid, and mental hygiene. Legislators will then spend a week in their districts and return to Albany on February 27. The budget hearing on environmental conservation that was scheduled for this past Wednesday was rescheduled to February 27 due to the weather and will be the final joint legislative budget hearing of the year.

            Amendments to the Executive Budget proposal are expected to be released by the end of next week. Governor Cuomo has indicated that these amendments will include proposals to address federal tax reform legislation, possibly including a proposal to shift the tax burden from an income tax to a payroll tax. Stay tuned for more details on these proposals when they become available.

            Never Quit Fact of the Week

            The average worker in a “Right to Work” state makes $6,109 less per year than a worker in a free bargaining state like New York.

              This Week in Albany

              Week ending February 2, 2018

              Budget Updates

              You can learn more about the Executive Budget proposal and its impact on CSEA members on our website. There you will find a copy of CSEA’s budget testimony, a video of the testimony at the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Workforce Development, and a video discussion of the budget proposal with CSEA’s region Political Action committees. This website will be updated with more materials and information as they become available.


              Special Elections

              Governor Cuomo is expected to call a Special Election for the 11 vacant state legislative seats for April 24. There are nine vacancies in the State Assembly and two vacancies in the State Senate.

              The April 24 date would set the elections for after the state budget is finalized, potentially important because of what these elections could mean for control of the state legislature.

              Democrats and the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) in the senate have said that they will work to take over control of that chamber if Democrats win both Special Elections. However, it remains unclear how likely this “reunification” is before the end of the legislative session.

              Federal Update

              President Trump gave his first “State of the Union” address this week. The President’s speech largely focused on his first year in office, rather than laying out a policy agenda for 2018. The President did raise the idea of a new $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan, but details on what this proposal would actually look like were not made available.

              In the short term, Congressional leaders will be focused on negotiating a spending bill, as funding for the federal government expires at midnight on February 8th. Immigration reform and border security remain two of the largest areas of disagreement between Democrats and Republicans on the Hill.

              At a Glance

              The state legislature will be in session for two days next week. The legislature will also hold budget hearings on the topics of local governments, human services, environmental conservation, and taxes.

              The 21-day amendments to Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget proposal are expected to be released next week. These amendments are usually only technical in nature. Additional policy proposals, like a potential proposal to address federal tax reform, could be added when 30-day amendments are made on February 15.

                This Week in Albany

                Week ending January 26, 2018

                CSEA Testifies at State Budget Hearing

                CSEA testified at the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Workforce Development this week. The testimony highlighted many of CSEA’s concerns with the 2018-19 Executive Budget proposal, as well as several proposals that CSEA supports.

                Overall, the Executive Budget proposal does not target public services or contain many of the harmful proposals seen in years past. With that being said, there are many areas that need improvement or adjustment.

                Among the areas covered in the testimony are: revenues and taxes, health care, state agencies, local governments, retiree health care, child care, procurement, the separation of powers, economic development, schools, and libraries.

                CSEA’s full written testimony, along with a video of the testimony, can be found on our website.

                Federal Shutdown Ends After Weekend

                After Congress couldn’t reach an agreement to continue funding the government last Friday, the federal government shut down over the weekend. The shutdown didn’t last long, however, as an agreement to fund the government through February 8th was reached on Monday.

                Included in the short-term spending bill was a six year extension of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Importantly for CSEA, the package will also delay for two years the so-called “Cadillac tax” on the health care benefits of many union members. The Cadillac tax is a 40 percent excise tax on health benefits valued at more than $10,200 for individual coverage or $27,500 for a family that was initially set to take effect in 2020. The implementation of the tax will now not take effect until 2022.

                The spending bill did not address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program or provide funding for President Trump’s “border wall.” Negotiations over immigration policy is expected to continue until the next deadline to extend government funding.

                At a Glance

                The Senate and Assembly will be in session for two days next week. In addition, the legislature will hold joint budget hearings on the areas of economic development, public protection, and elementary and secondary education.

                  This Week in Albany

                  Week ending January 19, 2018

                  Executive Budget Released

                  Governor Cuomo presented a $168 billion state budget for 2018-2019. The Governor’s budget would close a $4 billion deficit through various cuts and new revenue.

                  Here is a short summary of the proposals in the budget:


                  Revenue / Taxes

                  The Governor has raised the possibility of amending State tax law to address the limits on the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT) imposed by the recently-passed federal tax reform law, though none of these proposals are included in the Executive Budget at this time. Possibilities include shifting taxes from a personal income tax to a payroll tax or creating new state-run charitable organizations. CSEA is reviewing these proposals at this time.

                  The budget includes the following revenue increases:

                  • Collecting sales tax on all internet purchases. A portion of this tax would go to local governments;
                  • A tax on opioids to help combat the opioid crisis;  
                  • A tax of 14% on health insurance windfall profits;
                  • A tax on vaping liquid, similar to cigarette taxes;
                  • A $120 inspection fee for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to inspect for-profit passenger carriers.

                  CSEA supports these revenue increases.

                  State Operations

                  Funding for State operations is essentially held flat. In spite of that, many agencies are held harmless from cuts and will see an increase in positions.

                  Budget proposals regarding state operations include:

                  Adding Employees

                  Several agencies will see an increase in full-time-equivalent (FTE) positions, including:

                  • The Department of Health (DOH): DOH will be adding 381 FTEs. These new positions will be used to help with the continuing State takeover of local administration of Medicaid (200 positions), provide operational support within the Office of Primary Care and Health Systems Management and the Office of Public Health (142 positions), and to provide necessary resources to review Adult Home applications and provide background checks for Health Home Care Managers serving vulnerable populations (39 positions);

                  • The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): DMV will be adding 89 positions to help the State meet federal Real ID requirements;
                  • The Department of Transportation (DOT): DOT will be adding 70 positions for snow and ice removal and highway maintenance.

                  CSEA supports these investments in the State workforce.


                  The budget proposes closing the Ella McQueen reception center in Brooklyn, which is operated by Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). The budget would eliminate the required one-year notice of closure and move forward with closing this facility after 30-days notice. CSEA opposes the closure and the elimination of the one-year notice.

                  The budget would re-authorize the “Close to Home” program for five years. This program has a history of being unsafe, with many juveniles going AWOL and committing crimes while away from the facility where they are supposed to be housed. CSEA will advocate for changes to this program.


                  The budget calls for the reduction of 275 full-time equivalent positions within Office of Mental Health (OMH) adult services programs. These positions will be reduced through attrition, but there are currently no details on where these reductions will come from.

                  There are no proposed facility closures in the budget, but the budget includes language that would allow OMH to close up to 400 State-operated inpatient beds. The budget has included this language in each of the last several years. While some beds have been closed, OMH has never reached the 400 bed limit. CSEA opposes a reduction in OMH staff and a reduction in the number of State-operated beds in the mental health system.


                  The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) will not see any significant cuts, an improvement over recent years. Additionally, funding will be provided for CSEA’s care pilot programs. CSEA supports the continued funding of these programs, which provide valuable services to OPWDD clients.

                  Wadsworth Lab

                  The budget includes $600 million to build a new Wadsworth Laboratory somewhere in the Capital District. The specifics of the plan are not yet known.

                  SUNY, SUNY Hospitals, and Community Colleges

                  Funding for the State University of New York (SUNY) will increase by $116 million over last year. Community College funding is held flat at $2,747 per full time equivalent student, but will see an overall reduction of $22 million because of declining enrollment.

                  The budget proposes eliminating the $78.6 million State subsidy to SUNY hospitals and replacing it with capital funds. CSEA will fight to get this subsidy back.


                  Local Governments

                  The budget holds funding for local governments (Aid and Incentives to Municipalities) flat at $715 million. In addition, the budget would make the county-wide shared service panels created in last year’s budget permanent. No AIM funding is tied to these panels, and there are no financial penalties for a county that does not put forward a plan.

                  There is $100 million included in the budget for local government expenses in complying with “Raise the Age.” CSEA supports this funding because it will help county probation departments that will see an increased workload under “Raise the Age.”


                  Education funding would be increased by 3%, or $769 million.

                  Library aid would be cut by $4 million, with an additional $10 million cut to building aid. CSEA opposes these cuts to libraries.

                  The budget would also allow school districts to equip their buses with cameras that would record anyone who passes a stopped school bus. The information would be sent to a law enforcement agency, which could then issue a ticket. This proposal would increase safety around school buses and provide additional revenue to school districts, and CSEA supports it.


                  Health Care

                  The budget would increase the Medicaid budget by $1.7 billion.

                  The budget also fully funds a cost-of-living increase for direct care workers across multiple agencies. CSEA supports this proposal.


                  Child Care

                  The budget would increase child care funding by $7 million. This amount was cut last year in the budget. CSEA supports increased investments in child care.



                  Funding for the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) and Marchiselli program are held flat at $438.1 million and $39.7 million, respectively. The budget proposal does not include the additional $65 million for local highway and bridge projects for “extreme winter recovery” that was included in last year’s budget. CSEA supports investments in local highway and bridge maintenance, and would support the restoration of funding for winter storm recovery.


                  Other Proposals

                  The budget includes a proposal for ensuring that all levels of government have policies in place to address sexual harassment. The budget proposes to forbid the state or local government from paying any costs associated with a financial settlement of an employee who is accused of sexually harassing a fellow employee. In addition, the state, public authorities, and all local governments would be required to develop a standardized reporting and investigations policy for complaints of sexual harassment.


                  The budget would cap the State’s reimbursement of standard Medicare Part B premiums to $134 per month and eliminating the State reimbursement of Medicare Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA). CSEA strongly opposes increasing costs for retirees.

                  CSEA is continuing to review the budget legislation and proposals. Please check our website for more information on the Executive Budget proposal and its impact on CSEA members as it becomes available.


                  At a Glance

                  CSEA will be testifying at the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Workforce Development next Wednesday, January 24. The hearing starts at 2:30PM.

                  The legislature will also be holding hearings on higher education, housing, and transportation next week and will be in session for two days.

                  Federal Shutdown

                  At the time of this writing, it appeared that the federal government would be heading for a shutdown for the first time since 2013.

                  The House of Representatives passed a short-term spending bill late on Thursday. The bill that passed the House would fund the government through February 16, fund the Children’s Health Insurance Plan for six years, and delay or suspend several “Obamacare” taxes. The bill would not address protections for immigrants who came to the United States as children, a major concern of Democrats.

                  The bill faces a steep climb in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to pass legislation. Many Democratic Senators oppose the bill passed by the House, mainly because of its lack of immigration provisions, and several Republican Senators either oppose the bill or oppose the continued passage of short-term budget extenders.


                  Congress has until midnight on Friday to reach an agreement. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

                    This Week in Albany

                    Week ending January 12, 2018

                    At a Glance

                    Governor Cuomo will present his 2018-19 Executive Budget proposal at 1pm on Tuesday. A summary of the proposal will be included in next week’s “This Week in Albany,” and stay tuned to our website for more updates as they become available.

                    The legislature will be in session for two days next week.


                    Governor Releases 2018 Women’s Agenda

                    Governor Cuomo released a 30-part agenda this week to advance equality and promote opportunity for women and girls in the areas of health, safety, the workplace, and family.

                    Some of the proposals address combating sexual harassment in the workplace, extending human rights law protections to all public school students, closing the gender wage gap, increasing child care subsidies by $7 million over last year’s budget, and establishing the child care availability task force that was created by legislation passed in 2017.

                    Many of the proposals were also included in the Governor’s State of the State speech.

                    Nominee Chosen for Senate Special Election

                    While no Special Election has been scheduled yet for the Senate seat vacated by new Westchester County Executive George Latimer, Democrats have chosen their nominee for when that election is eventually called. At a convention of party leaders, Assemblywoman Shelly Mayer (D-Yonkers) was chosen to be the Democratic candidate.

                    Republicans have not yet selected a candidate.

                    It is widely expected that Governor Cuomo will call a Special Election for the 11 seats currently vacant across the state legislature after the state budget is finalized in late March.


                    Incidents with State Legislators

                    Assemblywoman Pamela Harris (D-Brooklyn) was indicted on federal corruption charges this week for alleged fraud following Superstorm Sandy. Harris, who was first elected to the Assembly in 2015, has not indicated if she will resign the seat.

                    Additionally, a former staffer has accused Senate Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) leader Jeff Klein of sexual misconduct. While Klein denies the accusation, Governor Cuomo and several legislators have called for an investigation into the allegations.


                    Martin Luther King, Jr.

                    As we recognize the holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday on Monday, it is important to remember his ties to the labor movement. In 1968, Dr. King gave his life in Memphis, Tennessee, to help sanitation workers represented by AFSCME to come together to win freedom and dignity on the job.