This Week in Albany

Legislative Update

Governor Cuomo has acted on CSEA’s remaining priority bills.

Signed Into Law:

  • S.5681 Ortt / A.7399-A – Gunther: This bill would codify existing community based programs that are operated by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). Chapter 491
  • S.5929-A – Avella / A.7726A – Jaffee: The bill would establish a Child Care Availability Taskforce. This taskforce would evaluate the cost, accessibility, availability, quality, and impact of childcare subsidies. Chapter 493
  • A.8427-A – Morelle / S.6639A – Robach: This bill would require that all contracts over $1 million for construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, maintenance, or improvement of any surface roads or bridges contain a provision that iron and steel be produced or made in the U.S. Chapter 451

Vetoed:

  • A.7891 – Hooper / S.6788 – Rules: This bill would allow employees of Nassau County to receive a step increase if a wage freeze is ordered by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA). The Governor vetoed this bill because of the precedent it would set by amending a control board. Veto #243
  • S.2836 – Ortt / A.2229 – Gunther: This bill would limit the length of time that a notice of closure or significant service reduction at an Office of Mental Health (OMH) facility is in effect. The Governor vetoed this bill over concerns it would hinder the ability of OMH to reduce beds. The Governor also vetoed this bill in 2016. Veto #218
  • S.3146 – Golden / A.4049 – Lupardo: This bill would require the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to promulgate regulations relating to workload standards for child protective services (CPS) workers. The Governor vetoed this bill due to lack of funding and concerns about a “one-size-fits-all” caseload standard. The Governor also vetoed this bill in 2016. Veto #220
  • S.6529 – Murphy / A.8326 – Abbate: This bill would create a performance of duty disability retirement for airport firefighters employed by the Division of Military and Naval Affairs (DMNA) who contract various ailments of the heart, lung or cancer and can no longer perform their duty. The Governor vetoed this bill because of cost concerns. The Governor also vetoed this bill in 2016. Veto #246
  • A.6903-A – Brindisi / S.4574A – Marchione: This bill would require OCFS to annually report the ratio of non-administrative staff to facility residents. In addition, this report must detail the number of employees who are out of work on workers’ compensation. The Governor vetoed this bill because of funding concerns and concern that the study would be “unlikely to provide meaningful information.” Veto #211
  • A.934A – Glick / S.1596-A – LaValle: This bill would clarify that the State University Health Science Centers are included in the SUNY maintenance of effort provision. The Governor vetoed this bill in a package with other education and higher education bills because of cost concerns. Veto #204
  • S. 5661-B – Little / A.7763 – Gottfried: This bill would create a new category of safety-net hospitals to better focus payments on the hospitals that provide indigent care. The Governor vetoed this bill because of funding concerns. Veto #229

In 2018, we will continue to work on many of the vetoed bills to address the concerns raised where possible.

Federal Update

Tax Reform

Congressional Republicans passed their tax reform legislation this week. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 51-48, with all Democrats voting against it. In the House, the bill passed by a vote of 227 to 203. All New York Democrats voted against the bill, as did Republican Reps. Zeldin (NY-1), King (NY-2), Donovan (NY-11), Faso (NY-19), and Stefanik (NY-21). Despite phone calls and other efforts from CSEA members and activists, Representatives Tenney (NY-22), Reed (NY-23), Katko (NY-24), and Collins (NY-27) voted for the bill.

While some New Yorkers may see their taxes cut, many will not. To make matter worse, the tax bill will put added pressure on the state and local governments by making it much more difficult to maintain tax revenues that support public services. The reform will also add $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit, take health care away from 13 million people, increase health insurance premiums, and force draconian cuts to important programs like Medicare and Medicaid to pay for the tax cuts. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) has already signaled that he intends to push for cuts to “entitlement” programs like Medicare.

Spending Bill

Congress passed a stopgap spending bill to extend federal government funding through January 19th. The bill also provides a temporary extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Year in Review

This will be the last installment of “This Week in Albany” for 2017, so we would like to take this opportunity to review some of the great things CSEA members accomplished both legislatively and politically this year.

  1. Defeated the Constitutional Convention. CSEA members joined together with over 2.7 million New Yorkers to thoroughly defeat Proposal Number One on November 7th, protecting their pensions and other constitutional rights. This overwhelming victory showed the clear strength that organized labor has when we stand together.
  2. Secured victories in the State Budget. CSEA stopped proposals to increase health insurance costs for retirees, blunted a proposal to force government consolidation and service elimination, secured funding for new State-operated community-based programs for the developmentally disabled, protected public employees against outsourcing, and more. Our full budget summary can be found on our website.
  3. Achieved major legislative victories. CSEA successfully advocated for dozens of bills that passed both houses of the legislature. While some will need more work in 2018 to get signed into law, many bills were signed by the Governor. Check our website for a full summary of CSEA’s priority legislation.
  4. Stopped harmful legislation. As important as getting good bills passed was stopping bad legislation that would have hurt CSEA members. These bills include health insurance and prescription drug cost increases, outsourcing / privatization efforts, attempts to weaken civil service protections, and more.

Thank you to all the CSEA members who read our email every week. It is thanks to the activism and engagement of members like you that we can achieve great things. We look forward to continuing this progress in 2018.

“This Week in Albany” will return on January 5th with news on the Governor’s State of the State speech, the start of the legislative session, and more.

Have a safe and happy holiday season and new year.


    This Week in Albany

    Week ending December 15, 2017

    Kolb Announces Run for Governor

    Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) announced that he will run for governor next year.

    Kolb is the first Republican to officially announce a 2018 gubernatorial campaign, and his announcement sets up a potential Republican Primary. Other potential candidates include businessman Harry Wilson, State Senator John DeFrancisco, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, and former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra.

    Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo will seek re-election to his third term next year.

    Federal Update

    On Wednesday, Republicans announced that they had reached an agreement on tax reform legislation. Under the terms of the agreement, the corporate rate would be lowered from 35% to 21%, the top income tax rate for wealthy individuals would be lowered, the estate tax exemption would be doubled, and the Affordable Care Act’s “individual mandate” that all Americans have health care or pay a penalty would be repealed. Importantly for New Yorkers, the bill would limit state and local tax deductions, including the deduction for property taxes, to a total of $10,000. For many New Yorkers, this could result in a tax increase. The Senate is expected to take up the bill as early as Monday with a vote in the House to follow.

    As Congress worked towards a deal on tax reform, the outcome of a special election in Alabama this week added pressure to Republican efforts to pass a bill before the end of the year.

    Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore in a special election for a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama, becoming the first Democratic senator from that state in a quarter century. Jones is expected to be sworn-in as Senator in early January, replacing temporary Republican appointee Luther Strange.

    Once Jones is seated, the Republican majority in the Senate will drop to 51-49. If Republicans are unable to pass their tax reform bill before Jones is seated, this tighter margin would make it more difficult for the two houses to reach an agreement.


    At a Glance

    The state legislature will return to Albany on January 3 for the start of the 2018 legislative session.


      This Week in Albany

      Week ending December 8, 2017

      Legislative Update

      All of CSEA’s outstanding priority bills were sent to the Governor this week, along with a total of 98 bills sent to the Governor’s desk.

      CSEA sent letters in support of several bills to the Governor’s office (links below).

      There are now only seven bills that passed both houses and have not been sent to the Governor.

      Among the bills sent were:

      • A.7891 – Hooper / S.6788 – Rules: This bill would allow employees of Nassau County to receive a step increase if a wage freeze is ordered by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA).
      • S.5681 – Ortt / A.7399-A – Gunther: This bill would codify existing community based programs that are operated by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).
      • S.2836 – Ortt / A.2229 – Gunther: This bill would limit the length of time that a notice of closure or significant service reduction at state-operated hospitals operated by the Office of Mental Health (OMH) remains in effect.
      • S.3146 – Golden / A.4049 – Lupardo: This bill would require the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to promulgate regulations relating to workload standards for child protective services (CPS) workers.
      • S.6529 – Murphy / A.8326 – Abbate: This bill would create a performance of duty disability retirement for airport firefighters employed by the Division of Military and Naval Affairs (DMNA) who contract various ailments of the heart, lung or cancer and can no longer perform their duty.
      • A.6903-A – Brindisi / S.4574A – Marchione: This bill would require OCFS to annually report the ratio of non-administrative staff to facility residents. In addition, this report must detail the number of employees who are out of work on workers’ compensation.
      • S.1596-A – LaValle / A.934A – Glick: This bill would clarify that the State University Health Science Centers are included in the SUNY maintenance of effort provision. It would also require the State to pay for all mandatory costs relating to collective bargaining agreements like it does for all other State agencies.
      • S.5661-B – Little / A.7763 – Gottfried: This bill would create a new category of safety-net hospitals to better focus payments on the hospitals that provide indigent care.
      • S.5929-A – Avella / A.7726A – Jaffee: The bill would establish a Child Care Availability Taskforce. This taskforce would evaluate the cost, accessibility, availability, quality, and impact of childcare subsidies.
      • A.8427-A – Morelle / S.6639A – Robach: This bill would require that all contracts over $1 million for construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, maintenance, or improvement of any surface roads or bridges contain a provision that iron and steel be produced or made in the United States.

      The Governor has until the end of the day on December 18 to act on these bills.

      State of the State

      One year after foregoing the traditional “State of the State” address in Albany in favor of a series of regional speeches, Governor Cuomo has announced that he will return to the traditional one-speech format for 2018. The Governor’s address is scheduled for January 3, 2018 at 1:00pm. Governor Cuomo has not yet indicated any policy proposals that will be part of his 2018 agenda.

      Federal Update

      Taxes

      By a vote of 51-49, the U.S. Senate passed its version of tax reform legislation late last week. Under the Senate’s bill, the richest 1% would get 62% of the tax breaks, while millions of working families would see their taxes go up. The Senate bill would also rollback deductions for state and local taxes and would cause 13 million people to lose their health insurance by eliminating the Affordable Care Act’s “individual mandate”. All Democrats voted against the bill, as did Republican Bob Corker (R-TN).

      The Senate and House of Representatives will now attempt to reconcile the differences between their two bills through the conference committee process.

      Government Shutdown Temporarily Averted

      Congress has passed a short-term spending bill that will keep the federal government funded through December 22. Leaders and the White House now have a few weeks to negotiate a longer-term agreement to fund the government.


        This Week in Albany

        Week ending December 1, 2017

        Legislative Update

        The Governor signed 43 bills and vetoed 31 this week. Several bills strongly supported by CSEA were among those vetoed.

        Vetoed:

          • Veto #194: S.4324 – Tedisco / A.5210 – Abinanti: This bill would have required that retirees be given 45 days of notice prior to changes to their health insurance. The Governor also vetoed this bill in 2016. The Governor included this bill in a list of other bills vetoed because of their cost.
          • Veto #195: S.4630 – Gallivan / A.6505 – Kearns: This bill would have prohibited the re-location Western NY Children’s Psych Center. The Governor said that this bill would “have a negative impact on children and families in need of mental health services.”
          • Veto #196: S.5130 – Golden / A.7134 – Abbate: This bill would have allowed any sheriff, undersheriff, deputy sheriff or correction officer employed by Nassau County to be eligible for a performance of duty benefit due to the intentional or reckless act of a civilian visiting an institution under the jurisdiction of such county. The Governor included this bill in a list of other bills vetoed because of their cost.
          • Veto #198: A.7135 – Abbate / S.5704 – Phillips: This bill would have allowed for a performance of duty disability for Nassau County Ambulance Medical Technicians (AMTs). The Governor included this bill in a list of other bills vetoed because of their cost.
          • Veto #199: A.7127 – Abbate / S.5705 – Phillips: This bill would have allowed for a performance of duty disability for Nassau County fire marshals. The Governor included this bill in a list of other bills vetoed because of their cost.
          • Veto #185: A.473 – Paulin / S.2516 – Gallivan: This bill would have allowed for the establishment of an optional disability coverage for county probation officers. Counties would have to opt-in to providing this coverage. The Governor vetoed this bill both because of costs and a belief that benefits like this should be collectively bargained.
          • Veto #191: S.3670 – Golden / A.3332 – Abbate: This bill would have allowed any Tier 6 member who is a uniformed court officer or peace officer employed by the Unified Court System to retire without early age reduction upon attaining 30 year of creditable service and age 55. It would also reduce the normal retirement age from 63 to 62, and lessen the reductions in benefits for those who retire prior to normal retirement age. The Governor included this bill in a list of other bills vetoed because of their cost.
          • Veto #192: S.3671 – Golden / A.3503 – Abbate: This bill would have allowed for the establishment of an accidental disability retirement for uniformed court officers / peace officers within the Unified Court System. The Governor included this bill in a list of other bills vetoed because of their cost.

        CSEA will evaluate these bills and veto messages and determine how we can move forward on this legislation next year.

        Signed Into Law:

            • Chapter #420: A.7285 – Dinowitz / S.6007 – Ranzenhofer: This bill will require the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to report specific shared services between NYPA, the Canal Corporation, and the Department of Transportation. The 2017-18 State budget expanded such shared services.
            • Chapter #439; Approval #28: S.5811A – Squadron / A.7634A – Rozic: This bill will require a report on alternative work schedules within state agencies.

        We expect the majority of the remaining 105 bills that have passed both houses and have not yet been delivered to the Governor to be sent to the Governor’s desk next week. This includes several of CSEA’s priority bills.Updates on CSEA’s priority bills can be found on our website.


        Federal Tax Reform

        Republican efforts to pass a tax overhaul bill in the U.S. Senate stalled on Thursday as leaders rushed to rewrite parts of the bill to win over the votes needed for passage. The Senate bill would slash corporate taxes, completely eliminate state and local tax deductions (including the property tax deduction), and would add about $1.5 trillion to the deficit over a decade.

        Senators are expected to work through the day Friday to get the votes needed for the bill. The House of Representatives has already passed their version of the bill, so the two houses will need to go to conference committees once a Senate bill passes to iron out the differences between the two.

        The timeline on this legislation is still uncertain, so stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.


        State Senate Democrats Talk of Reunification

        State Senate Democrats appear to have reached a vague and uncertain agreement with the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) to reunify the two Democratic conferences in the Senate following next year’s special elections.

        The “reunification” plan was laid out by the State Democratic Party, which threatened to fully back challengers to the IDC in next year’s Primary elections if the conference did not agree to it.

        Under the proposed plan, the IDC and Senate Democrats would work together to win two special elections for vacant Senate seats in 2018. If Democrats win both seats, IDC leader Jeff Klein and Democratic conference leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins would become co-leaders of a new Democratic majority.

        The logistics of the arrangement and the reality of it coming to pass are still unclear. Currently, the Senate is made up of 31 Republicans, 21 Democrats, eight members of the IDC, two vacancies, and Brooklyn Senator Simcha Felder, who was elected on both Democratic and Republican lines and conferences with the Republicans. The IDC has formed a majority coalition with Republicans since the conference’s inception in 2011.

        Thirty-two votes are needed to pass any legislation in the Senate. If Democrats win the two vacant Senate seats, and can convince Senator Felder to join them, they would have exactly 32 votes.

        The reunification proposal adds more uncertainty as Albany gets ready for an Executive Budget proposal that must address a shortfall of up to $4 billion. Governor Cuomo has not yet indicated when he will call for Special Elections to fill vacant legislative seats.


        At a Glance

        The Senate and Assembly have released the 2018 State Legislative Session Calendar.

        The legislature is scheduled to be in session for 60 days between January and June, beginning on January 3.

          This Week in Albany

          Legislative Update

          Governor Cuomo signed a package of veterans-related bills into law, including:

          • S.2911A – Croci / A.3198A – PaulinThis bill allows state employees who are combat veterans to take time off to receive health care services related to their service. CSEA strongly supported this legislation;
          • A.7006 – Gottfried / S.569 – Savino: This bill adds post-traumatic stress disorder as an eligible condition for a medical marijuana prescription; and
          • S.946A – Croci / A.1105-B – Hunter: This bill waives civil service examination fees for honorably discharged veterans.

          The Governor vetoed legislation (S.1850 – Ortt / A.6277 – Abbate) that would have allowed counties to allow county correctional officers or deputy sheriffs performing correction officer duties to retire after 20 years with a fifty percent final average salary pension.


          Pension Fund

          Comptroller DiNapoli announced that the New York State Common Retirement Fund had a value of over $200 billion as of September 30 after posting a 3.67% rate of return for the second quarter of 2017-18. As of that date, the Fund had an estimated value of $201.3 billion.

          New York continues to have one of the best managed and most well-funded pension systems in the country thanks to Comptroller DiNapoli’s leadership.

           

          Federal Tax Reform

          The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to overhaul the nation’s tax code this week. The Senate is expected to pass their plan, which differs from the house bill, after the Thanksgiving recess.

          Both bills would provide massive tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy while providing few, if any, benefits to middle class taxpayers. According to an AFSCME analysis, nearly 3 in 10 people with incomes between $54,000 and $154,000 would pay an average of $680 to $2,090 more in taxes by the tenth year of the House bill. Further, each proposal would increase the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over ten years.

          The two bills would reduce the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20% without eliminating loopholes that allow corporations to drastically reduce the taxes they pay. This cut alone will cost $1.5 trillion over a decade. Further, while the cuts to individual tax rates would expire under these plans, the corporate tax rate cuts would be made permanent.

          The most important difference between the House and Senate bills is over the issue of state and local tax (SALT) deductions. Currently, New Yorkers can deduct the state and local income, sales, and property taxes they pay from their federal taxes. Under the House proposal, the deduction for sales and income taxes would be eliminated, and the property tax deduction would be limited to $10,000. Under the Senate’s proposal, state and local tax deductions would be eliminated entirely. Under either plan, New Yorkers lose.

          Eliminating SALT deductions would be especially harmful to workers in states like New York. CSEA joined with AFSCME, the AFL-CIO, and other groups in impressing upon the New York Congressional delegation the importance of maintaining these deductions that workers in New York depend on. Because of the severe impact of eliminating SALT deductions, several New York Republicans voted against the bill in the House, including Lee Zeldin (NY1), Peter King (NY2), Dan Donovan (NY11), John Faso (NY19) and Elise Stefanik (NY21). Claudia Tenney (NY22), Tom Reed (NY23), John Katko (NY24), and Chris Collins (NY27) all voted for the bill. All Democrats in the House voted against the bill.

          Once the Senate passes a bill, the two houses will have to work together to reach a consensus on the legislation. Republican leaders have said that they plan on agreeing to a final bill before the end of the year.

           

          We’ll Be Back In December

          “This Week in Albany” will take a week off for the Thanksgiving holiday and return on Friday, December 1. Have a safe and happy holiday.


            This Week in Albany

            Election Update

             

            Constitutional Convention

            CSEA members won a major victory on Tuesday when the constitutional convention ballot proposal was defeated by an unprecedented margin.

            This victory was a culmination of over a year of continuous efforts of CSEA members and activists to educate members and the general public and turn out the vote against the proposal.

            When the Siena College Research Institute released its first poll of voters’ feelings on the constitutional convention in April, 63% of voters supported the idea of holding a constitutional convention. By November, polling showed that support was down to 25%. By election night, opposition to a constitutional convention reached an all time high. Unofficial election night totals from the State Board of Elections showed that the proposal was defeated by a margin of 83% to 17%. Not a single county voted in favor of the constitutional convention.

            “Without CSEA and our allies voting NO on the constitutional convention, there’s a good chance we’d all be on the hook for a very expensive and dangerous ride. When it comes down to it, this is just another example of how important labor is in protecting our rights, and the rights of our families and friends everywhere. This is a very proud day for CSEA,” President Danny Donohue said.

            The overwhelming “no” vote shows how strong unions can be when we stand together. Thank you for all that you did to earn this victory.


            Other Ballot Questions

            The other two proposals on the ballot statewide both passed.

            Proposal #2 – Pension Forfeiture: This measure will allow a court to reduce or revoke the public pension of a public officer who is convicted of a felony relating to their office. When originally proposed, CSEA members would have been subject to any potential pension forfeiture law. CSEA worked hard to focus this constitutional amendment on elected officials and high ranking appointees and managers. CSEA did not take a position on Proposal #2 as it appeared on the ballot. It passed by a vote of about 73% to 27%.

            Proposal #3 – Adirondacks Land Use: This measure will create a land account with up to 250 acres of forest preserve land eligible for use by towns, villages, and counties that have no viable alternative to using forest preserve land to address specific public health and safety concerns. The land removed from the forest preserve would have to be replaced by another 250 acres. CSEA did not take a position on Proposal #3. It passed narrowly, by a vote of about 52% to 48%.

             

            Westchester County

            CSEA-endorsed candidate George Latimer (D) handily defeated incumbent County Executive Rob Astorino. In addition, Democrats flipped the county legislature and now have a strong majority.

             

            Nassau County

            CSEA-endorsed candidate Jack Martins (R) was defeated by Democrat Laura Curran in the race for Nassau County Executive.

             

            New York City

            New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) easily won re-election.

            State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh (D) won a Special Election to fill a vacancy in the 26th Senate District caused by the resignation of Senator Daniel Squadron (D).

            There were also two Special Elections held for vacant Assembly seats. Al Taylor (D) won the seat vacated by the retirement of Assemblyman Denny Farrell (D) in the 71st District, while Dan Rosenthal (D) won the 27th District that became vacant upon the death of Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz.

             

            Other Races

            In Rockland County, incumbent County Executive Ed Day (R) defeated CSEA-endorsed challenger Maureen Porette.

            CSEA endorsed Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus (R) for his re-election bid. Neuhaus easily defeated his challenger for a second term.

            In Syracuse, independent Ben Walsh pulled off a victory for the mayor’s seat, defeating Democratic candidate Juanita Perez-Williams. It is the first time in over 100 years that the city will have an independent mayor.

            In the Town of Massena, CSEA-endorsed candidate Steve O’Shaughnessy (D) defeated the incumbent Town Supervisor. The election of a new Town Supervisor may help fight back efforts to privatize the public hospital.

            In Erie County, CSEA-endorsed candidate John Bruso (D) defeated Republican incumbent Ted Morton to help the Democrats retake the County Legislature. Additionally, endorsed candidate Mickey Kearns (R) won his election for Erie County Clerk.

             

            Impact on the State Legislature

            Several sitting state legislators won election to local government positions this week. The vacancies caused by these elections will lead to multiple Special Elections in 2018, including:

             

            State Senate

            • SD 32: Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. (D) won election to the New York City Council.
            • SD 37: Senator George Latimer (D) won the race for Westchester County Executive.

             

            State Assembly

            • AD 5: Assemblyman Al Graf (R) won the race for District Court Judge in the 5th District.
            • AD 10: Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R) won the race for Huntington Town Supervisor.
            • AD 17: Assemblyman Tom McKevitt (R) won election to the Nassau County Legislature.
            • AD 39: Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D) won election to the New York City Council.
            • AD 80: Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj (D) won election to the New York City Council.
            • AD 107: Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R) won the race for Rensselaer County Executive.
            • AD 142: Assemblyman Mickey Kearns (D) won the race for Erie County clerk.

             

            Veterans Day

            CSEA thanks the men and women who risk their lives as a duty to our nation. They deserve our recognition and respect.


              This Week in Albany

              Week ending November 3, 2017

               

              Federal Tax Reform

              U.S. House Republicans revealed their long-awaited proposal to overhaul the federal tax code this week.

              The proposal would limit the ability of New Yorkers to deduct state and local taxes from their federal taxes. The plan would eliminate the federal deduction for state and local income and sales taxes, while limiting the property tax deduction to $10,000. The plan would also put limitations on the mortgage interest deduction, though existing homeowners would be able to keep their deduction.

              The plan would reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to four. Taxpayers earning up to $24,000 will pay no income tax, while the rates for married taxpayers filing jointly would be – 12% for those earning up to $90,000, 25% for those earning up to $260,000, 35% for those earning up to $1 million, and 39.6% for everyone earning over $1 million.

              Other parts of the plan include almost doubling the standard deduction, cutting corporate taxes from 35% to 20%, and the eventual elimination of the Estate Tax. Lawmakers had discussed the possibility of limiting contributions to 401(k)s and other retirement plans, but the proposal does not touch retirement plans.

              Stay tuned for more details on the plan once they become available.

               

              Election Day is Tuesday

              Tuesday is Election Day, and your vote is especially important this year.

              By standing together and VOTING NO on the Constitutional Convention , we can protect our pensions, collective bargaining rights, public education, the environment, and all of the other protections and rights guaranteed in the New York State constitution.

              So, what is your plan for voting?

              Where is your polling place?

              Not sure? Find your polling place on the Board of Elections’ website.

              What time are you going to vote?

              All polls are open from 6AM – 9PM.

               

              Election Spotlight – Constitutional Convention

              Click here to learn more about the constitutional convention ballot question and why you should VOTE NO on Tuesday.

                This Week in Albany

                Week ending October 27, 2017


                Legislative Update

                Governor Cuomo acted on 84 bills this week, signing 69 bills and vetoing 15.

                Among the bills signed into law was S.1411B – Griffo / A.711B – Gunther, that would provide additional health benefits to volunteer firefighters. Under the new law, volunteer firefighters who contract certain cancers will be eligible for enhanced disability and death benefits effective January 1, 2019.

                There are still 185 bills that passed both houses but have not been sent to the Governor’s office, including many of CSEA’s priority bills. Stay tuned for updates on important legislation as they become available.

                 

                Federal Budget / Taxes

                On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed the Senate’s 2018 budget resolution, setting up a fight over Republicans’ efforts to rewrite the tax code.

                By passing the resolution, the House allows the Senate to use the process of reconciliation to pass tax reform with only 51 votes instead of the normally required 60 votes. The reconciliation process will also allow the Republican tax plan to increase the deficit by up to $1.5 trillion over the next decade. The tax plan is expected to contain a provision that would eliminate the ability for homeowners to deduct state and local tax payments, including property taxes. If this measure is included, it would raise taxes on every New Yorker who pays property taxes. According to a report by Comptroller DiNapoli, New York taxpayers could lose $72 billion in deductions if this plan moves forward.

                Every New York Republican voted no on the measure except for Tom Reed (NY-23) and Chris Collins (NY-27). Had Reed and Collins voted no, the measure would have failed. Instead, the measure passed by a vote of 216-212.

                Federal funding is set to expire on December 8th. Legislators will need to reach a spending agreement before then to avoid a government shutdown.

                 

                Social Security COLA

                The Social Security Administration announced that Social Security recipients will receive a two percent increase in their benefits next year. While this is the largest increase since 2012, the average beneficiary will see only a $25 increase per month.

                Roughly one-in-five Americans are impacted by the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

                 

                Election Spotlight – Nassau County

                CSEA has endorsed Republican Jack Martins for Nassau County Executive. Click here to learn more about the race and the two candidates vying for an open seat.

                 

                Con Con Fact

                Unlike the New York State constitution, the United States constitution does not clearly protect against the diminishment of pensions. A New York State constitutional convention could remove the clear and unambiguous protections that go above and beyond those provided for by the federal government.


                  This Week in Albany

                  Week ending October 20, 2017

                  Shared Services Plans

                  County-wide shared service plans were finalized this week and presented to the public. Thirty-four counties submitted a plan this year, while 23 counties will wait until next year to submit a plan.

                  Thanks to the hard work and advocacy of CSEA members, the potential negative impacts of this new shared services program were severely blunted in the 2017-18 state budget and throughout the process of developing the plans. As it stands, local services and jobs will be largely protected from misguided attempts to save a few dollars on the backs of workers and the services they provide.

                   

                  Special Session? Not so Fast

                  Assembly Democrats were in Albany this week to conference and discuss several outstanding legislative issues.

                  After the conference, Speaker Carl Heastie cast doubt on the need for a special session this year barring a major policy action by the federal government. Governor Cuomo has been pushing for a special session in recent weeks to address a variety of outstanding issues, from federal healthcare funds to local water infrastructure.

                  Speaker Heastie also reiterated his opposition to holding a constitutional convention.

                   

                  Federal Health Care

                  CSEA President Danny Donohue wrote a letter to the New York Congressional Delegation calling on members of Congress to protect New York patients and providers from damaging health care cuts.

                  Specifically, President Donohue asked the Congressional delegation to restore reductions to Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payment reductions, fund Affordable Care Act cost-sharing reduction payments, and reauthorize the Health Centers Fund.

                  The full letter can be found on our website.

                  Due to the federal DSH cuts, public hospitals throughout the state face significant cuts:

                  • Westchester Medical Center is facing a cut of $74 million;
                  • Nassau University Medical Center is facing a cut of $56 million;
                  • Erie County Medical Center is facing a cut of $29 million; and
                  • SUNY hospitals are facing a cut of $174 million.

                  Congress must work to restore these devastating cuts to public hospital services.

                   

                  Elections

                  For a full list of CSEA’s endorsements, visit our website.

                  To find out how you can help this election season, please contact your region’s Political Action Coordinator:

                   

                  Long Island Region 1:

                  Sue Castle (631) 462 – 0030


                  Metropolitan Region 2:

                  Matthew D’Amico (212) 406 – 2156


                  Southern Region 3:

                  Chris Ludlow (845) 831 – 1000


                  Capital Region 4:

                  Bill Gustafson (518) 782 – 4400


                  Central Region 5:

                  Josh Schick (315) 433 – 0050


                  Western Region 6:

                  Chris Rackl (716) 691 – 6555

                   

                  Election Spotlight – Westchester County

                  CSEA has endorsed George Latimer for Westchester County Executive. Click here to learn more about that race and the candidates involved.

                   

                  Con Con Fact

                  The last constitutional convention wasted millions of dollars and resulted in voters rejecting all proposed amendments.


                    This Week in Albany

                    Week ending October 13, 2017

                    State Agencies Directed to Hold Budgets Flat in 2018-19

                    In a letter to state agency commissioners made public this week, State Budget Director Robert Mujica directed agencies to submit zero-growth budgets for Fiscal Year 2018-19. This directive continues a multi-year pattern of holding agency budgets flat.

                    The 2018-19 Executive Budget proposal will be released in early January. It is also possible that the legislature is called back to Albany before January to attempt to address funding shortfalls resulting from federal actions, or the lack thereof.

                     

                    DiNapoli: Local Governments Needs Billions to Repair Bridges

                    Comptroller DiNapoli released a report that estimates that local governments need approximately $27.4 billion for needed repairs on bridges they own and maintain.

                    While local governments own 8,834 of the 17,462 bridges in the state, State support for local bridge maintenance is crucial to ensuring their safety. The pressing needs of our local roads and bridges is yet another reason why spending hundreds of millions of state dollars on a constitutional convention is a waste of taxpayer money.

                     

                    Con Con Fact

                    Corporations and other special interests could spend millions of dollars to have their lobbyists elected as delegates to a constitutional convention.

                     

                    Elections

                    To find out how you can help get out the vote this election day, please contact your region’s Political Action Coordinator:

                     

                    Long Island Region 1:

                    Sue Castle (631) 462 – 0030


                    Metropolitan Region 2:

                    Matthew D’Amico (212) 406 – 2156


                    Southern Region 3:

                    Chris Ludlow (845) 831 – 1000


                    Capital Region 4:

                    Bill Gustafson (518) 782 – 4400


                    Central Region 5:

                    Josh Schick (315) 433 – 0050


                    Western Region 6:

                    Chris Rackl (716) 691 – 6555

                     

                    President Trump Goes After Obamacare

                    After multiple bills to “repeal and replace” Obamacare failed in the US Senate, President Trump decided to go after the health care law on his own this week.

                    The President issued an executive order aimed at “saving the American people from the nightmare of Obamacare.” The main component of the order is allowing trade association health plans to operate across state lines. This could lead younger, healthier policyholders to leave their current plans for bare-bones plans operated under the jurisdiction of states with the least stringent health insurance regulations. If that were to happen, older and sicker policyholders could see their costs skyrocket. In a state like New York, where state insurance regulations have strong protections, the impact could be felt especially hard.

                    In addition to the executive order, the administration announced that it will immediately discontinue subsidies to health insurance companies that help pay out-of-pocket costs to low-income people. The President had threatened to stop these payments before, but continued them after being warned that the loss of these subsidies could quickly unravel insurance markets.

                    While the actual impact of these two actions remains to be seen, they undoubtedly inject more uncertainty into the health care system and into New York’s financial outlook.