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Legislative and Political Action

CSEA's Legislative & Political Action Department analyzes proposed legislation for its impact on members, works to advance beneficial legislation and stop harmful legislation and works with members and activists to support the campaigns of elected officials who share our values.

CSEA Political Education

ON DEMAND WEBINAR: Your Pension, Your Future

One of our union’s most important jobs is protecting your retirement security. For public employees, that means ensuring our State Pension Fund is fully-funded so it can pay out guaranteed benefits to you, now and in the future.

When it comes to the State Retirement System, members regularly have questions. We held the following webinar in September 2020, now available as an on-demand video, anytime you want to view it, to help answer your questions and concerns.

WATCH NOW by clicking on the video below!

As a companion piece to our webinar, here’s a special message to CSEA members from State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, sole trustee of our Pension Fund.

This Week in Albany - October 15, 2021

Week ending October 15, 2021

Social Security COLA Announced

This week, the Social Security Administration announced that Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will increase by 5.9% in 2022. This will be the largest cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) since 1982 due to rising inflation. COLAs have averaged below two percent annually over the past decade.

Election Spotlight – Region 4

Peter Crummey for Colonie Supervisor

With the retirement of Supervisor Paula Mahan, the Town of Colonie, the Capital Region’s most populace town, will have a new Town Supervisor for the first time in 14 years. CSEA has endorsed its long-time friend and ally Peter Crummey. During his time in the Albany County Legislature and as Colonie Town Judge, Crummey has been a supporter of the men and women of CSEA. As Supervisor, he will treat our members with the fairness and respect they deserve and foster a Town Hall where CSEA members can bring issues directly to his attention with his open-door policy.

This Week in Albany - October 8, 2021

Legislative Update

There are still over 400 bills that passed both houses of the legislature in 2021 but haven’t been acted on by the Governor, including many of CSEA’s priority bills. Now that the Hochul administration is set up following an initial 45-day transition period, more bills should start to move in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more information on relevant legislation.

Deal Reached on Debt Ceiling

This week, Congress reached a deal to raise the debt ceiling through December 3. This short-term deal moves the U.S. away from the brink of default, but sets up another battle later in the year as December 3 is also the day that federal funding is set to lapse.

Election Spotlight – Region 3

New Windsor Town Supervisor

In the Orange County Town of New Windsor, CSEA has endorsed current Town Councilman Stephen Bedetti in his race for Town Supervisor. Mr. Bedetti is a former long-time CSEA president of the Town of New Windsor Unit, and stands strongly against the incumbent Town Supervisor who loudly complained about our CBA during the heart of the COVID pandemic.

County Executive Races

CSEA has endorsed three incumbent County Executives: Steve Neuhuas in Orange, Ed Day in Rockland, and George Latimer in Westchester. Region 3 members are proud of the relationships we’ve developed with all three incumbents and will work hard to ensure their re-election in November.

For more information on this year’s elections, please visit our website.

 

September PEOPLE Contest winner

The PEOPLE Contest has drawn it’s 5th winner with just 1 more to go. We currently have just under 1400 entries!

Our 5th winner is William Daniels from Region 6. Bill works for the Erie County Department of Senior Services. He is a long time CSEA Member with over 37 years of service and is fully aware of the importance of the PEOPLE Program. He understands that this program gives us a voice on a national level and has been a long time contributor and also a PEOPLE Recruiter.

Your voluntary PEOPLE contributions provide the funds that help CSEA to influence legislation and policy at the federal, state, and local levels. To become a PEOPLE contributor or to enter our contest, visit our website.

This Week in Albany - October 1, 2021

Legislative Update

At this week’s ADM, we launched our campaign to defeat the proposed legislation called the New York Health Act. While this legislation is billed as a way for New York to get to Universal Healthcare, which is something CSEA supports in theory, we CANNOT support this bill. The NY Health Act would force all New Yorkers into the same public health plan, even those of us who currently enjoy negotiated health benefits that would be better than the public plan. It essentially ignores our negotiated health care coverage, and it would be a budget exploder, costing a huge price tag which no one can tell us how much it will cost workers. We had some great questions brought up about this bill at our ADM, so our Legislative and Political Action Department has made the following Q&A flyer available to help answer members’ concerns. Then visit our Legislative Action Center to take action today.

 

Federal Update

Shortly before federal funding was set to lapse this week, Congress reached a short term deal to keep the government funded. The deal, which funds the government through December 3, was passed only after a provision to raise the debt ceiling was removed following opposition from Senate Republicans.

The debt ceiling refers to the government’s ability to continue to borrow funds to pay for expenditures already approved. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said that a failure by Congress to raise the debt ceiling by mid-October will result in the first-ever federal default and a major economic crisis.

 

Election Spotlight – Region 2

CSEA has endorsed Eric Adams for Mayor of New York City. With our help Eric won a tough and crowded primary in June, which used ranked choice voting for the first time. Eric has been a longtime friend and supporter of CSEA when he was a state Senator and then as Brooklyn Borough President. Due to the heavy Democratic voter enrollment in NYC, we expect Eric to win in November against Republican Curtis Sliwa. However, members of Region 2 cannot take that for granted and as we have seen in many close races, every vote counts. That’s why our activists and volunteers will be working hard to remind our members and retirees to get out and vote on Election Day.

This Week in Albany - September 24, 2021

Big Win for Members in OMH and OPWDD

After years of fighting and advocating on behalf of our direct care workers in OMH and OPWDD, an agreement was finally reached to move current grade 7 titles to grade 9 effective at the end of September. All new hires will be started at a grade 9. This step will help with the increasing need for employees in these critical titles who provide quality care to many of our state’s most vulnerable citizens.

 

Addressing Prescription Drug Costs

As part of his Build Back Better plan, President Biden has proposed several measures to address runaway prescription drug costs. These proposals include allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies and making it harder for companies to excessively raise drug prices.

CSEA is working with AFSCME to push New York’s congressional delegation to support these measures to ensure that workers and retirees can afford the healthcare they deserve.

Click here to write a letter to your representative today.

 

Election Update

Election Spotlight – Region 1

Region 1 members voted unanimously for the endorsement of Mike Zaleski for Riverhead Town Highway Superintendent. Currently the Deputy Superintendent, Zaleski was previously a CSEA member and has been employed by the town for 22 years. In 2013, Zaleski won the Riverhead Town Employee of the Year award. Determined by the Labor-Management Committee, this award acknowledged Zaleski’s commitment to working with his fellow CSEA members, the town’s leadership, and the community. Members of Local 852 are excited to support Zaleski’s election.  

In addition, former State Senator Elaine Phillips has earned CSEA’s endorsement in her bid for Nassau County Comptroller. While in the State Senate, Phillips sponsored legislation that would expand disability retirement benefits for police medics and fire marshals, and expand health protections for volunteer firefighters.

Special Elections

Governor Hochul has called for special elections to fill vacancies in the 86th Assembly District and the 30th State Senate district on the day of the General Election – November 2nd. The Assembly vacancy was caused by the resignation of Victor Pichardo, while the Senate seat became vacant when Brian Benjamin was appointed Lieutenant Governor.

This Week in Albany - September 17. 2021

Economic Outlook Update / State Hiring Freeze Lifted

Governor Hochul and the Division of the Budget announced this week that the State’s revenues are now expected to be $2.1 billion higher than projected when the budget was passed in April.

Not only is this good news as we look towards the FY23 state budget and state contract negotiations, but it allowed Governor Hochul to announce that the State’s hiring freeze would be lifted through the end of the fiscal year. This will allow agencies to grow their workforces after a year of severe and harmful attrition.

In addition, local governments received good news this week when Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced that sales tax collections in August were more than 15% higher than last year.

 

Legislative Update

Governor Hochul has signed into law CSEA-supported legislation to classify public safety dispatchers as “first responders in communications.”

For too long, emergency dispatch operators have not been viewed as first responders, despite the fact that they are usually the first person someone speaks to when reporting a health or safety emergency. This law will begin the process of ensuring that we view these workers as first responders and will allow us to begin having a broader discussion around what we can do to recruit and retain additional workers in this field.  

 

Fighting Back Against Staffing Crisis in OPWDD

This week, CSEA Director of Legislative and Political Action Fran Turner testified before the State Senate Committee on Disabilities to highlight the many challenges, including mandated overtime and lack of staffing, faced by CSEA members who work providing care for those living with developmental and intellectual disabilities. CSEA highlighted the dedication of workers in this industry who struggle due to structural staffing deficits.

In her testimony, Turner advocated for making long-term investments to solve the staffing crisis, and said CSEA is committed to working with OPWDD to increase recruitment and retention of new employees. Click here to read the testimony.

 

Redistricting

In 2014, voters approved the establishment of the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) to oversee the redrawing of congressional and state legislative district lines every ten years. This week, the IRC released two draft sets of maps and announced it will be holding a series of public hearings in the coming months. Stay tuned for more information on the redistricting process in upcoming editions of “This Week in Albany.”

This Week in Albany - August 20, 2021

Cuomo Resigns, Hochul to Take Over

On August 10, one week after the Attorney General’s report on his conduct relating to sexual harassment was released and one day after the Assembly laid out its timeline for impeachment proceedings, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he would resign his office effective August 24.

Cuomo’s resignation sets the stage for Kathy Hochul to become New York’s 57th Governor, the first woman chief executive in the state’s history.

CSEA President Mary Sullivan released the following statement:

“New York has many challenges ahead, and our union looks forward to working with Kathy Hochul as the next Governor of New York. We celebrate her status as the first woman to hold this office. She has long supported union members throughout our state and we are confident we can continue building on our relationship, working as partners to improve the lives of workers throughout New York anddelivering the vital services New Yorkers depend on.”

Hochul will serve out the remainder of the current term, and has announced that she will run for a full term next year. She is expected to appoint a Lieutenant Governor in the coming weeks.

Legislative Update

Action on legislation has ground to a halt as the Governor’s office is in transition. There are still 471 bills that passed both houses of the legislature and are awaiting delivery to the governor, including many of CSEA’s priority bills. CSEA will continue to advocate for these bills as Governor Hochul enters office.

Stay tuned for more legislative updates in the coming weeks.

At a Glance

“This Week in Albany” will return and resume our weekly schedule after Labor Day.

This Week in Albany - Augsut 6, 2021

Impeachment?

After a five-month investigation, New York State Attorney General Letitia James’ office released the results of its investigation into claims of sexual harassment against Governor Andrew Cuomo. The investigation found the accusations against the Governor to be credible and determined that the Governor sexually harassed multiple women in violation of state and federal laws.

While the Attorney General’s office did not bring any charges against the Governor because of the report, it immediately became clear that the Governor’s remaining political support had eroded. Elected officials across the country, from President Biden to the New York Congressional Delegation to state legislators and local officials, have called on the Governor to resign from office. The Governor has so far indicated that he will not step down, but his fate appears to be out of his hands at this point.

It appears likely that if Cuomo does not resign, the Assembly will move forward with impeachment in the near future. There has only been one impeachment trial of a Governor in New York State history, so here is a quick rundown of how this process would play out.

  1. Like at the federal level, the impeachment process starts in the lower house of the legislature. The Assembly Judiciary committee started an impeachment investigation months ago, and is said to be close to finishing its work.
  2. The Assembly can impeach the Governor with a simple majority vote of its 150 members.
  3. If the Assembly votes in favor of impeachment, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul would serve as acting governor until the trial is finished.
  4. An impeachment trial would then start between 30 and 60 days later in front of an impeachment court made up of the State Senate (excluding the Majority Leader) and the seven judges of the Court of Appeals.
  5. A conviction would require a 2/3 vote of the impeachment court.
  6. If convicted, Cuomo would be removed from office, and Hochul would serve for the remainder of the current term. The court could also prohibit Cuomo from holding public office in the future. If acquitted, Cuomo would resume his duties and Hochul would return to her role as Lieutenant Governor.

Based on statements from members of the legislature, it appears likely that the votes are there to remove Cuomo from office. If the Governor does resign, or is removed from office by the legislature, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul would become the first woman chief executive of New York and the first governor from Western New York in over a century.

 

Legislative Update

Several pieces of legislation related to voting have been signed into law. CSEA did not take a position on these bills, but knowing about changes to the state’s voting laws is important to remain an active participant in our democracy.
The new laws will:
  • Allow absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day to be considered timely. Under the previous law absentee ballots had to be postmarked by the day prior to Election Day;  
  • Allow voters to request absentee ballots through electronic means for the 2021 General Election;  
  • Require boards of elections to post information about changes in polling places on their website

Legislative Spotlight – Direct Deposit for Child Care Providers

Did you know that CSEA/VOICE-represented homebased childcare providers are still paid by paper check, with no opportunity to be paid by direct deposit?

While it may seem like a minor inconvenience, it can cause severe financial hardships and strain on these providers.

VOICE members submit vouchers for payment to counties every couple weeks. The counties receive this information, process it (which can sometimes take several weeks), and issue a paper check. If everything goes by the book, they may be paid 4 weeks after providing care to these children. If things go wrong –a delay by the county in processing the payment, delayed mail, or, as has happened to providers, a check is stolen from a person’s mailbox – they could wait double or triple that amount of time. As small business owners with razor thin profit margins, these delays can lead to missed mortgage or loan payments, or the inability to make payroll.

The CSEA Legislative & Political Action Department realized that there had to be a better way. Working with VOICE leaders and members, we drafted legislation – A.5840A (Assemblywoman Clark) and S.5162 (Senator Brisport) – to require that every county offer the opportunity for providers to be by direct deposit. Both houses of the state legislature have passed this legislation and it is awaiting final action by the Governor.

Direct deposit is a common-sense solution to this problem – 99% of all Social Security payments, 95% of all state pension checks, and nearly 90% of state paychecks are issued by direct deposit. This legislation will ensure that providers are paid in a timelier manner with fewer chances of their check not being delivered on time.

July PEOPLE Contest Winner

The winner of July’s PEOPLE contest is Kathleen Monaghan from West Bablyon. Kathleen is an Activities Specialist in the Ventilator Unit of the A. Holly Patterson Extender Care Facility in Nassau County, and has been a CSEA Officer in one capacity or another for about 25 years.

Kathleen has been a PEOPLE contributor at the MVP level for as long as she can remember. She first realized the importance of the PEOPLE program during a fight in the late 1980’s over the taxation of public employee benefits and leave accruals. The PEOPLE program helped to fund a campaign to defeat that proposal.

Kathleen then realized the value of CSEA’s legislative and political activity. Thirty-three years later, Kathleen is still contributing to the PEOPLE program because she still recognizes its importance. Just this year, CSEA won a major legislative victory to establish safe staffing levels in nursing homes. This law will help Kathleen and her colleagues at A. Holly Patterson and ensure that her patients get the care they deserve.

Your voluntary PEOPLE contributions provide the funds that help us to influence legislation and policy at the federal, state, and local levels.

To become a PEOPLE contributor like Kathleen, and to enter for your chance to win a $50 gift card at the next drawing, please visit our website.

This Week in Albany - July 9, 2021

Governor Signs Covid-19 Leave Retaliation Prohibition

Governor Cuomo has signed legislation that prohibits public employers from penalizing employees who use sick leave or compensatory time to quarantine, seek medical treatment, or for other absences related to a COVID-19 diagnosis or contact. Across the state, but notably within the New York City Department of Corrections, public employers have punished employees who utilized sick leave or compensatory time when they were diagnosed with COVID-19 or had a contact with a positive case. This legislation would forbid such punishment.

While recently signed, this legislation has an effective date of March 1, 2020. If you were punished or disciplined for using time off for a COVID-19 infection or contact with a positive case, you should contact your labor relations specialist to discuss how this new law may affect you.

Eric Adams Wins Democratic Primary

The New York City Board of Elections declared CSEA-endorsed candidate Eric Adams as the winner of the New York City Mayoral Democratic primary. Mr. Adams won by only 8,400 votes over Kathryn Garcia.  

Mr. Adams will face Curtis Sliwa in the November general election.

PEOPLE Program Contest – June Winner!

The PEOPLE Program contest has had over 700 entries since starting May 1st. The randomly selected winner of a $50 pre-paid debit card for the month of June is Earl Bazydlo from SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry, Region 5. Congratulations Earl!  Earl is a current PEOPLE Contributor at the MVP Level and stated that he is proud to be a part of this crucial program!

All current entries will remain eligible for July’s drawing on the 31st.  If you have not yet entered, look for contest information at upcoming region, local and unit membership events or enter the contest on our website.

Legislative Spotlight – Work Zone Safety

Work Zone Safety
S.4682-B (Kennedy) / A.485-B (Magnarelli)
Status: Passed Assembly / Passed Senate – Awaiting Transmission to Governor

CSEA Position: Support

As you are traveling this summer, keep an eye out for the men and women working on our roads. These workers face not only the hazards of their work, but distracted and reckless drivers speeding through their work zones. Far too many CSEA members have been injured or killed while doing this important work. Enacting legislation to address this problem was a top priority for CSEA in 2021.

What the bill does: This bill would establish a demonstration program for automatic speed cameras in highway work zones. The program would allow for cameras in a maximum of 20 work zones on controlled access highways under State Department of Transportation (DOT) control, and a maximum of ten work zones on the Thruway. In work zones with these cameras, drivers traveling more than 10mph over the speed limit would automatically be issued a $50 ticket (up to $100 for repeat offenses). Most of the revenue collected from these tickets would be redirected back to making work zones safer.

Why CSEA supports the bill: Camera programs have proven to slow drivers down and reduce the number of crashes and injuries in work zones in other states. Maryland saw an 80% reduction in speeding violations and a 50% drop in fatalities after implementing speed cameras. A study of work zone cameras in Illinois found that cameras were as effective in reducing speed as having a police car present in the work zone. In Oregon, the mean speed of vehicles in work zones dropped by 10.5 mph when cameras were in use.

If signed into law, this legislation will help reduce the risks to CSEA members working on our roads and make sure they can go home to their families at the end of the day.

Stay tuned for next steps relating to this legislation.

 

Take Action Today

Summer is traditionally a quiet time at the State Capitol, which makes it a perfect time to reach out to your elected officials and let them know what issue is important to you. Go to the CSEA Legislative Action Center to see current legislative issues and available actions important to CSEA members and make your voice heard.

This Week in Albany - September 10, 2021

Legislative Update

On Labor Day, Governor Hochul signed into law CSEA’s priority legislation to establish a demonstration program for speed cameras in highway work zones.

Far too many CSEA members have been injured or killed in highway work zone crashes.

There is clear and convincing evidence from states that have implemented similar programs that such cameras result in less speeding, fewer crashes, and a reduction in worker injuries and fatalities. This is what is needed to protect workers – changing driver behavior before tragedy can strike.

CSEA applauds the Governor for recognizing the importance of this legislation and taking steps to protect CSEA members on the job.

Governor Kathy Hochul address the crowd at Buffalo’s Labor Day Parade prior to signing CSEA-supported work zone legislation. CSEA DOT Local 514 President Mike Rizzi joins bill sponsor Senator Tim Kennedy behind the Governor. Photo by CSEA Communications Specialist Ove Overmyer.


August PEOPLE Contest Winner

The PEOPLE Contest continues to be a popular event with members during meetings and info events, with over 1,000 entries. Last week we drew our 4th winner for a $50 Pre-paid debit card.  

The August winner is Nancy Jordan from Region 3. Nancy works at the Kingston City Court within the Third Judicial Department. Nancy is a current contributor who said she first signed up for PEOPLE after learning about the program and its importance at a Member Information Day held in her local about 3 years ago.

Congratulations Nancy and thank you for being a PEOPLE contributor!

Your voluntary PEOPLE contributions provide the funds that help CSEA to influence legislation and policy at the federal, state, and local levels. To become a PEOPLE contributor or to enter our contest, visit our website here.

Never Forget

It is hard to believe that tomorrow marks the twentieth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

CSEA remembers the lives of all who were lost on that tragic day, including CSEA members Yvette Anderson, Florence Cohen, Harry Goody, Marian “Marty” Hrycak and Dorothy Temple.

This Week in Albany - June 18, 2021

Election Update

Primary Day is next Tuesday, June 22nd. You can check with your local board of elections for Primary elections in your area.

This year is a local government election year, which means many elected leaders in our counties, cities, towns and villages will be up for election. For a list of CSEA-endorsed candidates in these races, please visit our website.

Below are two featured races that CSEA members have been working hard on.

Region 2 – New York City Mayoral Race

There are multiple candidates running for Mayor of New York City. CSEA has endorsed Eric Adams, the current Brooklyn Borough President. Eric has had a strong relationship with CSEA members dating back to his time as NYS Senator. This year’s elections will be the first city-wide races to be decided by ranked-choice voting. Click here to learn more about ranked-choice voting.

Region 6 – Rochester Mayoral Race

CSEA has endorsed Malik Evans for Mayor of Rochester. Malik will be a welcome change of leadership from the incumbent Mayor Lovely Warren. Moreover, Malik is willing to work with Monroe County Executive Adam Bello to help realize goals that will have a positive impact for CSEA members working and living in the city of Rochester.  

PEOPLE Program

As you know, CSEA is hosting a PEOPLE contest to randomly select a member to win a $50 pre-paid debt card each month from May-October. This is an opportunity to raise awareness of the PEOPLE program and its importance to CSEA members. Throughout the contest we will have a featured article to educate you about the PEOPLE program.

So, let’s start with this: What is the PEOPLE program?

The PEOPLE Program is a voluntary contribution fund for CSEA’s legislative and political action program. PEOPLE contributions help to protect your pension, stop privatization efforts, create educational programs for members, and help us fight the many legislative battles CSEA members face at the local, state and federal levels of government.

Many members are not aware of this, but federal law prevents CSEA from using dues money in any federal campaign, including a Presidential election. Therefore, any and all federal campaign contributions are funded exclusively by voluntary contributions through the PEOPLE Program.

However, these contributions fund much more than political campaigns, even at the federal level. For example, with the help of PEOPLE funds, CSEA was able to lobby Congress to pass the American Rescue Plan (ARP). The ARP brought billions of needed aid to New York State and its local governments to help us recover from the COVID Pandemic, including to prevent layoffs or loss of essential services.

Many members think of PEOPLE as an investment in their futures, while still working or in retirement. Click here to become a PEOPLE contributor today and enter our contest!

This Week in Albany - June 11, 2021

Legislative Update

The 2021 state legislative session came to an end this week, though legislators left the door open to returning at some point this year.

CSEA had a very successful session, and several of our priority bills passed both houses.

Our success this session shows how members getting involved in legislative and political action can help make a big difference in the lives of workers. Thank you to all of the members who sent a letter or took other action to promote legislation this year.

The following a brief summary of bills of note over the last few weeks of session.

Bills That Passed Both Houses

Work Zone Safety
S.4682B (Kennedy) / A.485B (Magnarelli)
Status: Passed Both Houses, Not Yet Delivered to the Governor

Far too many workers have been injured in work zones on our roads, and something had to be done to better protect highway workers. It took three years of hard work, but CSEA’s priority legislation on this issue has finally passed both houses of the legislature.

This legislation would implement a demonstration program to establish automatic speed cameras in State DOT and Thruway Authority work zones. In states with similar programs, these cameras have been proven to slow drivers down, resulting in fewer injuries and deaths of highway workers and drivers alike.

This legislation will help to ensure that CSEA members working on our roads can safely return home at the end of the day.

Direct Deposit for Child Care Providers
S.5162 (Brisport) / A.5840 (Clark)
Status: Passed Both Houses, Not Yet Delivered to the Governor

This legislation would require all counties to offer child care providers who care for children receiving county subsidies to offer to pay the providers via a direct deposit. Currently, providers are paid by check, which results in delays in payment, as well as lost or stolen checks. Direct deposit would be solely at the option of the provider.

OPWDD Care Pilot Program
S.4998 (Mannion) / A.5364 (Gunther)
Status: Passed Both Houses, Not Yet Delivered to the Governor

This legislation would extend, for three years, OPWDD’s care pilot programs. These programs offer state operated community based programs for the developmentally disabled. These programs include community habilitation, in-home respite, pathways to employment, supported employment, and community pre-vocational.

 

Civil Service Credits for Veterans

S.763 (Gounardes) / A.5447 (Abbate)
Status: Passed Both Houses, Not Yet Delivered to the Governor

This bill would provide that all honorably discharged veterans be eligible for additional points on civil service examinations in recognition of their service. Currently, only veterans who served during specific times and theaters of war are eligible for these credits. CSEA strongly supports this legislation and advocated for its passage, but it is unclear if this bill can be implemented without amending the state constitution.

Nursing Home Staffing – Hours of Care
S.6346 (Rivera) / A.7119 (Gunther)
Status: Awaiting Action by Governor

This legislation sets a minimum number of hours of care for every resident of a nursing home. Beginning on January 1, 2022, all nursing homes must provide 3.5 hours of care per resident, including 2.2 hours of care by a certified nurse aide or a nurse aide and at least 1.1 hours of care by a licensed nurse. Nursing homes are also required to make public its nurse staffing requirements.

Clinical Staffing Committees – Hospitals
S.1168A (Rivera) / A.108B (Gunther)
Status: Awaiting Action by Governor

This legislation requires all general hospitals to establish and maintain a clinical staffing committee. The committee, which will be comprised of half registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and ancillary members of the frontline team provide or supporting direct patient care, and the other half will be hospital management. The committee will develop an annual clinical staffing plan, detailing specific staffing for each patient care unit and work shift. The committee must produce a plan by July 1 of each year and will be used beginning on the following January 1 for the year. The first plan will be implemented for January 1, 2023.

Section 80 Rights
A.4125 (Abbate) / S.4899 (Gounardes)
Status: Passed Both Houses, Not Yet Delivered to the Governor

This legislation would grant section 80 rights, relating to bumping, retreating, and recall rights after a job is abolished, to all non-competitive and labor class employees in the state. Currently, no labor class employees receive these rights unless it is dictated in statute. In addition, only state employees in the non-competitive class are entitled to these rights. This legislation creates a statewide uniform practice under section 80.  

Public Water for Nassau County

S.6707 (Gaughran) / A.7654 (Lavine)
Status: Passed Both Houses, Not Yet Delivered to the Governor

This bill would authorize, at local option, the creation of a new North Shore Water Authority to take over the assets and functions currently provided by New York American Water in the Villages of Sea Cliff, Old Brookville, Roslyn Harbor, and the unincorporated hamlets of Glenwood Landing, Glen Head, and the City of Glen Cove in Nassau County.

S.5527 (Brooks) / A.6393 (Griffin)
Status: Passed Both Houses, Not Yet Delivered to the Governor

This bill would authorize, at local option, the creation of a new South Nassau Water Authority to take over the assets and functions currently provided by New York American Water in the Town of Hempstead.

CSEA supports a municipal takeover of private water assets. Water should be a publicly provided service.

Bills Successfully Opposed By CSEA

Not only did CSEA have a productive session in terms of good legislation passed, we were also successful in opposing bills that could be harmful to CSEA members, including:

New York Health Act
S.5474 (Rivera) / A.6058 (Gottfried)
CSEA Position: Oppose
Status: Died in Senate Health Committee / Assembly Codes Committee

The New York Health Act would create a single-payer health insurance plan for all New Yorkers. All private health insurance plans, including those of all CSEA members, would be abolished. While CSEA strongly supports health care for all, we cannot support a proposal that would disregard all collective bargaining agreements and potentially increase costs for union workers.


Self-Certification of Building
Documents

S.1004 (Gaughran) / A.6242 (Otis)
Status: Died on Senate Floor, Assembly Governmental Operations Committee


S.1003
(Gaughran) / A.7947 (Stern)
Status: Died in Senate Local Government Committee, Assembly Local Governments Committee

These bills would have allowed local governments to outsource their code enforcement responsibilities, whether for a building permit or for a certificate of occupancy, by allowing builders to self-certify their own construction documents.

Allowing these bills to move forward would take away from the checks and balances needed to make sure buildings comply with safety standards and codes. Municipal employees have one motive when reviewing these plans – to make sure that projects are completed safely and correctly. Public safety is a fundamental government purpose, and builders should not be responsible for certifying their own work.  

Staffing at County Jails
A.1962 (Barrett) / S.5477 (Benjamin)
Status: Held in Assembly Correction Committee, Died in Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee

This bill would have used data on the inmate census from the Coronavirus pandemic to justify the elimination of workers at county jails.

At a Glance

“This Week in Albany” will soon be entering our summer schedule. We’ll be coming to you every week through June 25, switching to every other week for July through Labor Day. Our summer schedule will be: July 9, July 23, August 6, August 20, September 10.
This Week in Albany - June 4, 2021

Legislative Update

Work Zone Safety

CSEA continues to push for legislation to better protect CSEA members working on our roads. We have made progress, and we’re hopeful that this bill will pass both houses next week, but the fight is not yet won. Stay tuned for an update on this legislation in next week’s “This Week in Albany.”

Veterans Civil Service Credits

Both houses have now passed CSEA-supported legislation to bring parity to how additional civil service credits for veterans are applied. Currently, only veterans who served during specific times and theaters of war are eligible for additional credits for their service. This legislation would make all veterans who served honorably eligible for this benefit.

Emergency Dispatch Operators

CSEA has come out in support of state legislation (A.7366A – Abbate / S.7121 – Brooks) that classifies public safety dispatchers as “first responder in communications.” This term will apply to any public safety dispatcher, emergency responder, emergency operator, emergency complaint operator, and emergency services dispatcher employed by a local government. In addition, the legislation requires, to the extent practicable, employers to provide training to maintain and enhance the knowledge and skills of “first responder in communications.”

For too long, emergency dispatch operators have not been viewed as first responders, despite the fact that they are usually the first person someone speaks to when reporting a health or safety emergency. This legislation will begin the process of ensuring that we view these workers as first responders and will allow us to begin having a broader discussion around what we can do to recruit and retain additional workers in this field.  

The legislation is currently in committee and we hope that both houses will vote on it prior to the end of the legislative session.

 

PEOPLE Program Contest – May Winner!

The PEOPLE Program contest has had several hundred entries since starting May 1st. The randomly selected winner of a $50 pre-paid debit card for the month of May is Eileen Terry from Orange County, Region 3. Congratulations Eileen!

All current entries will remain eligible for June’s drawing on the 30th.  If you have not yet entered, look for contest information at upcoming region, local and unit membership events or enter the contest on our website.

 

At a Glance

The final scheduled day of the 2021 state legislative session is next Thursday, June 10. Stay tuned for more legislative updates next week.
This Week in Albany - June 25, 2021

Legislative Spotlight – Health Care Staffing

After years of advocacy, two pieces of legislation to address the inadequate staffing levels at nursing homes and hospitals across the state was signed into law by Governor Cuomo.
The first law (Chapter 155 of the Laws of 2021) requires all general hospitals to establish and maintain a clinical staffing committee. Half of the committee will be registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and ancillary members of the frontline team who provide or support direct patient care, and the other half will be hospital management. The committee will be responsible for developing an annual clinical staffing plan, detailing specific staffing for each patient care unit and work shift. The committee must produce a plan by July 1 of each year and will be used beginning on the following January 1 for the year. The first plan must be created by July 1, 2022 and be ready to be implemented on January 1, 2023.
The second law (Chapter 156 of the Laws of 2021) establishes a minimum number of hours of care that each nursing home resident must receive daily. Beginning on January 1, 2022, all nursing homes must provide 3.5 hours of nursing care per resident. Of these 3.5 hours, no less than 2.2 hours can be from a certified nurse aide or a nurse aide and at least 1.1 hours of care by a licensed nurse. Hours of care will be evaluated quarterly and will be averaged for all residents that resided in a nursing home during that time. To ensure compliance, the New York State Department of Health will draft regulations to create civil penalties for nursing homes who fail to meet these minimum hours of care. Nursing homes are also required to make its nurse staffing requirements public.
The goal of these two new laws are to ensure that hospitals and nursing homes have enough staff to provide proper levels of care to patients. The COVID-19 pandemic cast a bright light on how inadequate staffing levels in both hospitals and nursing homes have been in recent years.
As these laws begin to be implemented, and clinical staffing committees begin forming in hospitals, we encourage you to take an active role in them to ensure that CSEA members in nursing and other direct care titles are represented in these plans.
If you have questions about either of these laws or want more details, contact Joshua Terry in the CSEA Legislative & Political Action Department at (518) 436-8622.

Election Update

Overall, CSEA-endorsed candidates were very successful in this week’s Primary Elections.

Due to ranked-choice voting and yet-to-be-counted absentee ballots, we unfortunately may not know the final results of the New York City mayoral election until mid-July. However, CSEA-endorsed candidate Eric Adams leads all other candidates.  

In the City of Rochester, CSEA-endorsed Malik Evans defeated incumbent Lovely Warren by a two-to-one margin.

A highlight of Election Day was CSEA member Ed Hughes, who ran against his anti-union boss for Town of Hamburg Highway Superintendent and won by a large margin.

On the negative side, CSEA-endorsed Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown unexpectedly was defeated by relatively unknown political newcomer India Walton.

This summer, Region PACs will begin focusing on the General Election, including voter registration drives and training local/unit PACS on CSEA’s endorsement procedures. To learn more visit cseany.org/vote.  

 

At a Glance

After this week, “This Week in Albany” will enter our summer schedule. We’ll be coming to you on July 9, July 23, August 6, and August 20, returning to weekly emails on September 10.
This Week in Albany - May 21, 2021

Legislative Update

Work Zone Safety

This week, the State Senate passed CSEA-supported legislation to increase penalties on drivers who injure workers in highway work zones.

CSEA thanks Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) for his continued leadership and efforts to better protect highway workers.

However, our efforts will not stop until legislation has passed both houses and is signed by the Governor. If you haven’t already, please click here to send a letter to your legislators on the importance of protecting CSEA members working on our roads. There are only 10 days left to get this legislation passed!

Mental Health

CSEA submitted testimony to a State Assembly hearing on mental health crisis services. The testimony focused on the need for the state to take advantage of its trained mental health workforce by making proper investments in these services. Click here to read the testimony.

Staffing at County Jails

This week, the Assembly Corrections Committee was scheduled to advance legislation that would have made it easier for counties to reduce staff at county correctional facilities. CSEA opposed this bill, which would have used data on the inmate census from the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic to justify the elimination of workers at county jails. Thanks to CSEA’s strong opposition, the bill was removed from the Committee’s agenda and did not advance.

Don’t forget to check our Legislative Action Center as legislative activity ramps up over the final weeks of the legislative session.

School District Elections

Across New York, school district budgets were by and large approved by voters on Tuesday with only five reported as going down in defeat. Turnout for school district elections dropped after last year’s high turnout was driven by an emphasis on mail-in ballots during the height of the COVID pandemic.

CSEA-endorsed school board candidates were overwhelmingly successful in their elections. Thank you to every member who voted in these important elections.

 

At a Glance

The legislature is in session for three days next week. There are only 10 scheduled session days remaining in the 2021 legislative session.
This Week in Albany - May 14, 2021

Legislative Update

Last week, CSEA President Mary Sullivan sent a letter to the editor to the Albany Times Union newspaper to share her frustration with recent injuries to highway workers CSEA represents. Please join us in urging the State Legislature to pass a law to help protect union members by putting speed cameras in work zones to force drivers to slow down. It’s been proven to work in other states. You can read the editorial here.

Don’t forget to check our Legislative Action Center as legislative activity ramps up over the final weeks of the legislative session.

Federal Aid Begins to Flow

This week, the Biden administration began distributing $350 billion in state and local funding from the American Rescue Plan including $12.6 billion in direct aid to New York State and an additional $10.6 billion for local governments in New York.

In the depths of the Coronavirus pandemic, it seemed inevitable New York and its local governments would be facing devastating budget cuts that would have eliminated the jobs of CSEA members and the services we provide.

However, thanks to the leadership of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York has received the funding it needed to avoid these cuts. Write a letter to Senator Schumer today to thank him for standing up for CSEA members and all New Yorkers.

 

School District Elections

Next Tuesday, May 18, is Election Day for school districts and many libraries. These budget and board elections are very important to the thousands of school district and library employees represented by CSEA.

This year, CSEA has made endorsements in several of these elections. You can view our endorsements here.

Even if you live in a district where we didn’t choose to endorse any candidates, please don’t forget to vote on May 18!

 

At a Glance

The legislature is in session for two days next week. There are only 12 scheduled session days remaining in the 2021 legislative session.
This Week in Albany - May 7, 2021

Legislative Update

NY Health Act

The State Legislature is once again discussing a proposal to create a single-payer health insurance system for all New Yorkers. While we support health care for all, we cannot support a proposal that would disregard all collective bargaining agreements and potentially diminish the benefits of union workers. Click here to learn more about this proposal and tell your legislators why this proposal is a bad idea.

NY HERO Act

This week, Governor Cuomo signed into law the “NY HERO Act,” which will require private employers to implement plans to safeguard against airborne disease. This bill is an important recognition of lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic and the need to protect frontline workers. Legislation was already signed into law last year that required public employers to develop plans to protect workers from communicable diseases.

Code Enforcement

This week, CSEA issued a memo in opposition to S.1004 – Gaughran. This is one of several bills currently in the legislature that would allow municipalities to outsource their responsibility for reviewing building plans prior to issuing a certificate of occupancy or a building permit. CSEA strongly opposes these bills, which would allow builders to self-certify their own plans instead of calling on local governments to recognize the vital oversight role they play and invest in code enforcement staff.

Don’t forget to check our Legislative Action Center as legislative activity ramps up over the final weeks of the legislative session.

At a Glance

The legislature is in session for three days next week. There are only 15 scheduled session days remaining in the 2021 legislative session.

This Week in Albany - May 28, 2021

Week ending May 28, 2021

 

Legislative Update

Direct Deposit for Child Care Providers

Both houses of the legislature have now passed CSEA-supported legislation (S.5162A – Brisport / A.5840 – Clark) to require local social service districts to offer child care providers the option to be paid by direct deposit. This is a simple and commonsense solution to a problem that has plagued providers for years.  CSEA will continue advocating for this legislation to be signed into law.

Work Zone Safety

CSEA continues to push for legislation to better protect CSEA members working on our roads. We have made progress, but lawmakers, especially Assembly members, need to hear from you.

Even if you already have, please click here to send a letter to your legislators on the importance of protecting CSEA members working on our roads. The letter has been updated to match the urgency of this situation. There are only seven days left to get this legislation passed!

Veterans Civil Service Credits

This week, the State Senate passed, and the Assembly moved out of committee, CSEA-supported legislation to bring parity to how additional civil service credits for veterans are applied. Currently, only veterans who served during specific times and theatres of war are eligible for additional credits for their service. This legislation would make all veterans who served honorably eligible for this benefit.

Don’t forget to check our Legislative Action Center as legislative activity ramps up over the final days of the legislative session.

 

Pension Fund Update

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced this week that the Common Retirement Fund posted an estimated 33.55% return on investments for the state fiscal year ending on March 31, 2021, its best return ever. The Fund’s value is now at an estimated $254.8 billion.

This incredibly strong showing bolsters the Fund’s position as one of the strongest pension funds in the nation.

PEOPLE Program Contest

The CSEA/AFSCME PEOPLE program is hosting a $50 pre-paid debit card contest this summer. To enter, members simply provide their name, email address and phone number. On the last day of each month, from May to October, one CSEA member will be randomly selected to win.

Look for more contest information at upcoming region, local and unit membership event, or enter the contest on our website.

 

At a Glance

The legislature is in session for three days next week. There are only seven scheduled session days remaining in the 2021 legislative session.
This Week in Albany - April 16, 2021

State Budget / Legislative Update

If you missed last week’s summary of the enacted FY22 State Budget, you can view the full document on our website.

Also, please don’t forget to visit our Legislative Action Center throughout the rest of the legislative session. This page will constantly be updated with the latest developments and new actions you can take to help advocate for or against important legislation.

State Employee Wage Increase and Retro Pay Dates Announced

The contractual 2 percent salary increases that were withheld last April will now start appearing in paychecks for state employees in the Administrative payroll on May 12, and in the Institutional payroll on May 20. CSEA members are in the first group of state employees to receive their negotiated salary increases. These checks will not only include your new base salary, but also the full retroactive amount owed since last April. Our thanks to the hard work of our friend and loyal supporter State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli for helping ensure that members are receiving what they are owed.

At a Glance

The legislature is in session for three days next week. There are 24 scheduled session days remaining in the 2021 legislative session.
This Week in Albany - April 9, 2021

State Budget Update

A week after the start of the State Fiscal Year, the legislature and Governor finally agreed on a state budget for FY22.

The budget avoids the devastating cuts we anticipated during the height of the pandemic thanks in large part to every member who took action on either the federal stimulus package or on specific budget provisions.

However, the budget is by no means perfect. Despite our efforts and the record spending included in the budget, the legislature chose to accept facility closures and bed reductions in the name of savings.

Below is a brief summary of important provisions included in the enacted state budget:

State Agencies

Office of Mental Health (OMH)

One of CSEA’s top priorities in budget negotiations was to reject the Executive’s proposed closure of 200 state-operated inpatient beds and 100 State Operated Community Residences (SOCR) beds in addition to the proposed closure of Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Center.

While the closure or Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Center was rejected, the legislature got rolled on bed closures.

Despite arming legislators with all the pertinent information on why these beds are so desperately needed, especially with the increased stresses cause by the pandemic, the Senate and Assembly gave in and accepted the closure of these beds.

President Mary Sullivan immediately issued a statement blasting legislators for their abandonment of the neediest New Yorkers and the services provided to them by CSEA members.

The budget rejects a proposed merger of OMH and the Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS)

Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS)

  • The enacted budget rejects the Governor’s proposal to close four OCFS residential facilities – Brentwood RC, Goshen Secure, Red Hook RC, and Columbia Girls Secure – with only six months’ notice.
  • The terms of the budget ensure that Brentwood RC and Goshen Secure will be funded for the next fiscal year, stopping any closure during the FY22 fiscal year.
  • However, while the budget does allow for the closure of Red Hook and Columbia Girls Secure facilities with 6 months’ notice, CSEA successfully lobbied to ensure that all CSEA employees at those facilities will be able to transfer to a nearby OCFS facility.

Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS)

  • The enacted budget accepts language to allow for the closure of an undetermined number of correctional facilities with only 90-days’ notice, but only provides this authority for one fiscal year. The Executive Budget called for an unlimited number of closures over two years. CSEA opposed and lobbied against this proposal.

Judiciary

  • The enacted budget rejects the expansion of virtual appearances statewide. CSEA successfully lobbied against this proposal.

State University of New York (SUNY)

  • The enacted budget restores a proposed $46 million cut to SUNY.
  • The enacted budget rejects the Executive proposal to allow SUNY schools to increase tuition and freezes tuition for three years. The budget instead increases the maximum TAP award and implements a phase-out of the “TAP gap.” The “TAP gap” is the difference between the maximum TAP award and actual tuition costs. Colleges have had to cover this difference on their own. The budget would require the State to provide general fund operating support equal to 33% of tuition credits in 2022-23, increasing to 100% in 2024-25.
  • The enacted budget increases community college formula aid from $2,947 per student to $3,197 per student and guarantees that each college receives at least 98 percent of last year’s funding.

Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

  • The enacted budget rejects a proposed $1 fee per DMV transaction and rejects a proposal to increase penalties for assaulting a DMV worker. However, CSEA advocated for the creation of a program for electronic notification of road test results to better protect our Motor Vehicle License Examiners. The DMV has told us that this program will be developed in the coming months.


DOT / Thruway

  • The final budget rejects proposals for increased protections for highway workers. CSEA will continue to advocate for increased protections for the remainder of the legislative session.


Canal Corporation

  • The final budget rejects the Governor’s proposal to establish a new public benefit corporation with powers to “revitalize” the state Canal System. CSEA opposed this proposal.

Local Governments

  • The enacted budget rejects the Governor’s proposed cuts to Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) and Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) funding streams and restores funding to last year’s budgeted levels.
  • The enacted budget provides significant increases in local road and bridge funding. This includes an additional $100 million in funding through the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS), $100 million for “extreme winter recovery,” and $100 million for a new program being called the City Touring Roads initiative for cities, towns, and villages.
  • The budget provides a real property tax “circuit breaker.” This program will provide taxpayers earning less than $250,000 per year with a tax credit for property taxes paid above a certain percentage of income. Benefits under this program will be between $250 and $350. The program is in place for tax years 2021 – 2023.

 

Schools and Libraries

  • The final budget provides a $3 billion year-over-year increase in school aid, including a $1.4 billion increase in Foundation Aid. The budget also rejects the Executive proposal to use federal aid to replace state funding.
  • The budget ensures that districts are eligible for transportation aid for expenses incurred during COVID shutdowns in 2019-20, including standby costs during the initial short-term closures.
  • The enacted budget restores proposed cuts to library aid and funds such aid at 2020-21 levels. The budget provides $34 million in library construction aid, a $20 million increase over the Executive Budget proposal and 2020-21 appropriations.

Retirees

CSEA successfully fought off various proposals to increase health insurance costs for retirees. The following proposals are rejected in the final budget:

  • Capping the Medicare Part B premium reimbursement for NYSHIP retirees
  • Eliminating the IRMAA premium reimbursement for NYSHIP retirees
  • Creating a tier 2 retiree health insurance contribution for future New York State retirees.

Health Care

  • The budget will require that 70% of all revenue at residential health care facilities be spent on direct patient care, including 40% being spent on resident-facing staff. Excess profits must be returned to the State.
  • Restores $415 million in proposed Medicaid cuts for hospitals and healthcare providers

Child Care

Due to the influx of federal funding from the American Rescue Plan, CSEA was able to successfully secure significant increases in childcare funding and were able to make historic progress on priority agenda items for CSEA/VOICE members:

  • $1.3 billion in childcare stabilization grants. These will be upfront payments that can be used for wages and benefits.
  • Creation of a statewide standard of 24 paid absences per child per year.
  • A statewide maximum of 10% co-pay of income above the federal poverty line.
  • $225 million to expand eligibility up to 200% of the federal poverty line.
  • $25 million for essential worker scholarships to pay for childcare.
  • 12-month eligibility for childcare subsidies (an increase from 6-months).
  • $50 million increase in childcare facilitated enrollment.
  • $40 million for personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • $100 million to expand access in childcare deserts.

Revenues

The budget includes roughly $5 billion in new revenues, including:

  • Higher personal income tax rates for taxpayers earning more than $1 million, with new brackets added at $5 million and $25 million; ($2.8 billion in FY22, $3.3 billion in FY23)
    • These rates expire after 2027
  • An increase in the corporate franchise tax; ($750 million in FY22, $1 billion in FY23)
  • Legalizing mobile sports betting ($500 million once fully phased in)
    • The budget provides that the NYS Gaming Commission will be responsible for contracting with two platform providers who will work with at least four operators to conduct mobile sports betting.
    • The budget also directs the Gaming Commission to issue a Request for Information regarding the three unawarded casino licenses

Other

  • The budget includes a $2.1 billion “excluded workers” fund to provide assistance payments to workers who were ineligible to receive previous state or federal COVID relief.
  • A 1% cost-of-living-adjustment for not-for-profit human service workers in OPWDD, OMH, and OASAS.
  • Funding for a new Wadsworth lab was restored in the final budget

 

At a Glance

The legislature is in session for two days next week. There are 26 scheduled session days remaining in the 2021 legislative session.
This Week in Albany - April 2, 2021

State Budget Update

April 1 has come and gone and the State does not have a budget for FY22. However, we expect that some agreement will be reached over the weekend before State payroll is impacted. If a new budget is passed over the weekend or next week, we will provide a summary in next week’s “This Week in Albany.”

 
Legislative Update
This week, the legislature passed, and Governor Cuomo signed into law, legislation legalizing adult-use recreational marijuana. CSEA did not take a position on this bill, but the following is a brief summary of provisions in the new law that could impact you:
  • Creates a new Office of Cannabis Management within the State Liquor Authority;
  • Expands the existing medical marijuana program and transfers its oversight from the Department of Health to the new Office of Cannabis Management;
  • Legalizes recreational cannabis for New Yorkers age 21 and older and allows for the commercial growth and sale of of cannabis, as well as home growth;
  • A 9% state tax and 4% local tax will be applied to retail sales, with revenue distributed as follows:
      • 25% of the local revenues will go to counties while the city, town, or village hosting the facility will receive 75%, and
      • 40% of the state revenue will go to education, 40% to community grants, and 20% to drug treatment and public education about cannabis;
  • Cities, towns, and villages have until December 31, 2021 opt out of allowing retail dispensaries or on-site consumption sites within their borders (they cannot opt-out of legalization);
  • Creates automatic expungement or resentencing for anyone with a marijuana conviction that would be legal under the new law and reduces penalties for possession and sale of marijuana;
  • Directs the Department of Health to study methods for the detection of cannabis-impaired driving; and, importantly
  • Ensures that employers cannot discriminate against their workers for lawful adult use cannabis. However, employers will still have the ability to discipline workers for incapacitation, use, or possession at the workplace or if use would violate federal law.
    • It is important to note that workers subject to federal, state, or local professional licensing laws or regulations, or who are subject to random drug and alcohol testing or other prohibitions on the use of drugs will still be required to comply with those standards.

At a Glance

The legislature and executive are expected to continue working through the weekend to finalize the state budget.
This Week in Albany - April 30, 2021

Legislative Update

Multiple bills supported by CSEA moved in the legislature this past week, including:

  • S.4682 & S.3957 – Kennedy (Senate Committee on Transportation): These two pieces of legislation would help increase safety in and around work zones. The bills would 1) create a pilot program for automatic speed cameras in work zones, which have proven incredibly effective at slowing drivers down and reducing crashes and fatalities in states that have implemented them and 2) establish new violations for endangering or injuring a highway worker, increase fines, and increase work zone safety resources.
  • S. 4998 – Mannion (Senate Committee on Disabilities): This legislation will ensure that OPWDD Care Pilot Programs, operated by state employees, are continued for three years
  • A. 6883 – Gottfried (Assembly Committee on Health): This legislation reforms the state’s indigent care pool and Medicaid payments to ensure that funding is going to hospitals that actually provide charity care. The current system sends a large amount of this funding to wealthier hospitals who do not care for the uninsured or those on public health insurance programs.
  • A.7095 – Clark / S. 6077 – Brisport (Assembly and Senate Committee on Children and Families): These bills would require counties to pay a 15% increased payment differential to child care providers who care for children whose families are homeless and providers who provide care during non-traditional hours (nights, weekends, holidays).
  • S.1168 / A.108 (Several legislative committees in each house): This legislation would require every general hospital to establish committees to create staffing plans with input from workers. The plan created will help determine staffing levels in each unit and ward and help ensure that hospitals are better staffed than they currently are.
  • S.6346 / A.7119 (Several legislative committees in each house): This legislation creates a minimum number of hours of care for all nursing home residents. Under the bill, beginning on January 1, 2022, every nursing home must maintain a daily average staffing hours of 3.5 hours of care per resident per day by a certified nurse aide, a licensed nurse (RN or LPN) or a nurse aide.

Census Fact of the Week

It was predicted that New York would lose at least one or maybe even two seats in the House of Representatives after the 2020 Census count.

The data reveals how important our Census campaign was last year. Not only was the loss limited to one seat, but we nearly avoided losing any seats at all. New York fell just 89 people short of keeping all 27 seats.

Thank you to each member who responded to the Census.

Congressional, Senate, and Assembly district lines will be redrawn based on Census data before the 2022 elections.

At a Glance

The legislature is in session for three days next week. There are 18 scheduled session days remaining in the 2021 legislative session.
This Week in Albany - March 19, 2021

State Budget Update

This week, the Senate and Assembly passed their one-house budget resolutions. These proposals lay out each house’s position as they enter negotiations over a final state budget.

Overall, while not perfect, the one-house proposals are very favorable to CSEA’s positions. This is in large part due to the efforts of activists like you who have taken action through our Legislative Action Center. Thank you to all of the members who have taken action so far.

However, our work is not done. With a final budget agreement due by April 1, we are entering the critical stages of budget negotiations. The pressure must be kept on legislators to ensure that they stand strong through the end.

The following is a brief summary of how important issues were handled in the one-house budgets:

  • OMH: Both the Senate and Assembly propose to restore funding for Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Center and all adult beds;
  • OCFS: Both the Senate and Assembly omit the proposal to close four OCFS youth detention facilities;
  • DOCCS: The Assembly omits the proposal to close DOCCS facilities with only 90-days notice, while the Senate proposed to increase notice to 180 days;
  • Local government funding: Both Senate and Assembly propose to restore the State’s responsibility for AIM payments. The Assembly proposes to restore all cuts in VLT aid, while the Senate only proposes to restore aid to some municipalities. Both houses propose increased resources for local roads and bridges;
  • Retirees: Both Senate and Assembly omit proposed increases in retiree health insurance costs;
  • DMV workers: The Senate proposes to accept the proposal to increase penalties for assaulting a DMV worker, and calls on the DMV to implement electronic notification of road test results. The Assembly omits the proposal;
  • Canals: Both Senate and Assembly omit the proposal relating to canal “revitalization”;
  • Courts: Both Senate and Assembly omit the proposal to expand virtual arraignments statewide;
  • School transportation aid: Both Senate and Assembly propose to expand eligibility for transportation aid to include additional services provided during COVID;
  • Transportation workers / work zone safety: The Senate accepts and expands on the Executive proposal for increased protections for transportation workers. This includes increased penalties for assaulting and/or menacing a worker and additional CSEA-supported provisions to create a new crime of endangering a highway worker, establishing a pilot program for speed cameras in work zones, and providing funding for increased work zone safety enforcement and monitoring. The Assembly included none of these proposals; and
  • Revenues: Both houses propose significant revenue increases over the Executive Budget, mainly focused on increased taxes on the wealthy and big businesses.

While these proposals are in many cases a good start, the battle is by no means won. Legislators must hear from you over the next two weeks to ensure that the final budget ends up in the right place.

Please visit the Legislative Action Center to view new and expanded actions you can take to make sure your voice is heard before any final budget agreement is reached.

 
Legislative Update
This week, the State Senate passed legislation that would amend the state constitution to provide parity in civil service credits for veterans. Currently, only veterans who served during specific times and theatres of war are eligible for additional points on civil service exams for their service. This amendment would allow all honorably discharged veterans to be recognized for their service. CSEA strongly supports this effort.

 

At a Glance

There are six scheduled session days remaining before the final state budget agreement must be passed by April 1.
This Week in Albany - March 12, 2021

Federal Update
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan has been signed by President Biden.

This package is the aid that we have been fighting for throughout the pandemic, and it will provide New York and its local governments with the funding needed to prevent potentially devastating cuts.

Thank you to every CSEA member who attended a car rally, emailed, called, or wrote to an elected official over the past months as we fought for this funding.

The passage of this package is a clear victory, but the fight is not over. Now that the needed funding is on its way, we must ensure that it is spent in the right way. If you haven’t already, please visit our website and take action to ensure that this funding is used to restore the proposed cuts in the Executive Budget and to protect the jobs and services provided by CSEA members.

The following is a brief summary of what is in the stimulus package for New York:

  • $12.6 billion in direct aid for New York State with an additional $10.6 billion for local governments in New York (click here to find out how much your local government will receive);
  • $9 billion in aid to schools with an additional $1.6 billion for colleges and universities;
  • $4 billion for healthcare, vaccines, and testing;
  • Direct payments of up to $1,400 per person (for those with a maximum income of $80,000 for individuals, $120,000 for single parents, or $160,000 for couples), with an additional $1,400 per dependent;
  • An expansion of the child tax credit from the previous level of $2,000 per child to as much as $3,600 per child and allowing the benefit to be paid out over the course of the year;
  • An extension of additional unemployment payments of $300 per week through September 6; and
  • Funding for transit systems, small businesses, performing arts centers, and more.

Under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Senate passed the bill on Saturday by a vote of 50-49, and the House of Representatives passed the Senate version by a 220-211 vote on Wednesday. Zero Republicans voted for the legislation in either house.

Legislative Update
This week, Governor Cuomo signed into law legislation guaranteeing public and private sector employees paid time off to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. The law, which went into effect immediately, will provide employees up to four hours off per injection without charging leave accruals. CSEA supported this legislation.

State Budget Update
The State Senate and Assembly are expected to released their “one-house” budget proposals in the coming days. These proposals represent each house’s ideal version of a budget that lay out the negotiating position of each. Once these proposals are released, the two houses and the Executive will begin negotiations to reach an agreement on a final budget.

Stay tuned for a summary of the one-house proposals in next week’s “This Week in Albany.”

At a Glance
The legislature will be in session for four days for each of the next two weeks as budget negotiations intensify. The Senate and Assembly “one-house” versions of the budget should be released sometime in the next two weeks. The final state budget is due by April 1.
This Week in Albany - March 5, 2021

Week ending March 5, 2021

 

State Budget Update

We are entering the critical weeks of state budget negotiations, and legislators must continue to hear from you on issues of importance.

Now is not the time to slow down.

Right now, legislators especially need to hear about the need to keep mental health services available. CSEA is doing everything it can to push back against the cuts proposed in the budget, but we need your help.

While the only wholesale facility closure is at Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Center, no facility in the state will be untouched by these cuts. Several facilities will lose more than half of their bed capacity. Even if jobs aren’t immediately impacted, these cuts will inevitably result in the downsizing of State-operated OMH services and fewer jobs in both the short and long term.

If you haven’t already taken action, the time is now. Click here to send your letter today.

In addition, please check our Legislative Action Center for actions you can take, as more have been added.

The Executive, Senate, and Assembly reached a consensus revenue forecast this week that is roughly $2.5 billion above the Executive Budget estimates. This covers both the current FY21 ($1 billion) and FY22, which begins on April 1 ($1.5 billion). Reaching this consensus is the first step towards a final budget, as all parties now agree on a baseline of revenues available in the budget.

Federal Update

The U.S. Senate has opened debate on President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill and expects to vote on the legislation by the end of the weekend. The Senate has made several changes to the bill, including removing the proposed $15 minimum wage and narrowing eligibility for the $1,400 stimulus checks. Once the Senate passes the legislation, the House is expected to act on the Senate bill and send the legislation to President Biden’s desk by March 14, which is when enhanced unemployment benefits are set to expire.

The importance of this bill to New York’s budget cannot be overstated.

 

Legislative Update

Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Smithtown) recently introduced legislation that would exclude all overtime and unused vacation, sick, and personal time from the calculation of a member’s final average salary for their pension. This legislation is misguided, and disrespects the hard work done by public employees. CSEA will oppose this legislation and ensure that it does not advance.

When you hear about proposals like this, know that you have dedicated Legislative staff working for you. The Legislative & Political Action Department reviews each one of the 20,000 bills introduced in the State Senate and Assembly every two years and we are constantly on the lookout for bills that could impact your rights and benefits as a CSEA member.

At a Glance
The legislature will be in session for four days for each of the next three weeks as budget negotiations intensify. The Senate and Assembly “one-house” versions of the budget should be released sometime in the next two weeks. The final state budget is due by April 1.
This Week in Albany - March 26, 2021

State Budget Update

The State Senate, Assembly, and Governor continue to negotiate over the state budget, which is due by April 1. To date, there has been little in the way of announced agreements over any significant budget proposals with one exception.

It was reported this week that the legislature and executive have reached an agreement on legalizing recreational marijuana. However, at the time of this writing, no final bill text had been released for review. It is expected that the legislature will pass the bill next week, outside of the state budget.

CSEA continues to weigh in with the legislature and executive on our budget priorities. It is also not too late for you to have your voice heard. Please visit the Legislative Action Center to make sure legislators know how important these issues are as they finalize the budget.

 
Legislative Update
This week, the State Senate passed CSEA-supported legislation to require social service districts to offer child care providers the option to be paid by direct deposit. CSEA-represented child care providers across the state who would benefit from this common sense bill.

Click here to read our memo in support of this bill.

 

At a Glance

The legislature returns to Albany on Tuesday, with the state budget due by Thursday, April 1.
This Week in Albany - February 5, 2021

State Budget Update

CSEA testified this week at the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on the Workforce. The testimony focused on: CSEA’s opposition to proposed reductions in State services within the Office of Mental Health, Office of Children and Family Services, and Department of Corrections and Community Supervision; proposed reductions in State aid to local governments; proposals to increase out-of-pocket costs for retirees; and a number of other provisions contained within the Executive Budget proposal.

You can read CSEA’s full testimony here.

In addition, CSEA submitted testimony to the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Mental Hygiene focusing on our opposition to proposals to cut mental health services during this time of significant need.

You can read that testimony here.

The Legislative & Political Action Department is launching a webpage to allow CSEA members to have their voices heard during the state budget process and throughout the 2021 legislative session.

When you visit this webpage, you will find a number of actions you can take on various budget and legislative proposals. You can pick the issues that are important to you, fill in some basic information, and you will be provided with a pre-written email message addressed to your state legislators. You can then edit these form letters with your personal experiences to make sure that legislators understand what is actually happening in your workplace. Visit cseany.org/issuestoday.

Federal Aid Campaign

The proposed state budget is directly tied to how much federal aid New York receives. The package currently under consideration would provide New York with the funding we need to fill our budget gap and fund needed programs.

To learn more about this and the role of CSEA members, join the Legislative & Political Action Department’s presentation “Our Last Shot.”

There are several different dates and times over the next week, please click on the link that best fits your schedule and follow the instructions to register.


Legislative Update

This week, the State Assembly passed two important pieces of legislation relating to COVID-19.

First, the Assembly passed a bill to grant all employees paid time off to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. CSEA supports this legislation, which has also been introduced in the Senate and will advance in that house next week.

The Assembly also passed a bill to extend the COVID-19 death benefit for public sector employees until December 31, 2022. While the legislative authority for this benefit ended on December 31, 2020, its provisions have been extended through various Executive Orders. CSEA supports this legislation. You can learn more about this benefit on the State Comptroller’s website.


At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for three days next week, and will hold budget hearings on human services, public protection, and local government.

This Week in Albany - January 29, 2021

State Budget Update

Over the past few years, CSEA has been actively supporting legislation to improve the safety of CSEA members working in the transportation field. This week, CSEA submitted testimony to a joint legislative budget hearing focused on transportation to stress the needs in this area.

The testimony stressed CSEA’s position on two issues:

  1. Our support of proposals contained within the Executive Budget proposal to:
    1. Increase penalties for assaulting a highway worker, motor vehicle inspector or motor carrier inspector, or an employee of the DMV or a county clerk performing motor transactions on behalf of the DMV;
    2. Create the new crime of menacing a highway worker, a class E felony;
    3. Require a mandatory license suspension for menacing a highway worker;
    4. Establish the new crime of intrusion into an active work zone, a class B misdemeanor; and
    5. Direct the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) to increase public outreach and educational awareness of work zone safety.
  2. The need for a pro-active effort to better protect workers before another tragedy strikes. On this front, CSEA is strongly urging the inclusion of a program to implement speed cameras in work zones. In states that operate speed cameras program, they have had a significant impact in changing driver behavior and making work zones safer.

Read CSEA’s full Transportation hearing testimony here.

In addition, CSEA will be testifying at the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on the Workforce on Tuesday, February 2. This testimony will focus on a number of issues contained in the Executive Budget. A full copy of CSEA’s prepared remarks will be provided in next week’s “This Week in Albany.”

Legislative Update

Veterans

Following on the heels of last week’s legislative update, the Senate next week is advancing a constitutional amendment to allow all veterans to receive civil service credits.

Currently, only veterans who served during times of combat are eligible to receive credit on civil service examinations in recognition of their service. This amendment would allow all veterans who served honorably to receive such credits. This will ensure that the service of all veterans is recognized, including many women who for years could not serve in combat roles.

Amending the State Constitution is a long process. This constitutional amendment needs to pass both houses of the legislature in either 2021 or 2022 and again in either 2023 or 2024, and then go before the voters before it can go into effect. By passing this resolution this year, we can start the process towards expanding this benefit by November of 2023.

Read CSEA’s memo in support of this legislation here.

Notice of Facility Closures

Additionally, the Senate is advancing CSEA-supported legislation to require a written report to the legislature one-year prior to closing an OMH, OPWDD, or OCFS facility. This legislation is sponsored by CSEA-endorsed freshman Senator John Mannion, who chairs the newly established Senate Standing Committee on Disabilities.

Read CSEA’s memo in support of this legislation here.

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for three days next week and hold budget hearings on housing, the workforce, higher education, and mental hygiene.

This Week in Albany - January 15, 2021

State of the State

This week, Governor Cuomo gave a series of “State of the State” speeches instead of delivering a single speech last week. In these speeches, the Governor provided a broad overview of how the state will respond to the ongoing pandemic, address the State’s $15 billion deficit, and move forward.

We will know more details about these plans when the Executive Budget proposal is released next week, but the following are some proposals of note:

  • Legalizing the recreational use of marijuana;
  • Legalizing mobile sports betting;
  • Massive investments in infrastructure and green energy;
  • Increasing investments in child care;
  • Promoting the production of medical supplies and PPE within the state; and
  • Supporting vaccine distribution and testing.

Much more detail will be added to these plans next week when the budget is released. Stay tuned for more information.

Federal Update

President-elect Joe Biden, who will take office next Wednesday, January 20, has unveiled a $1.9 trillion emergency relief plan that he hopes to advance once in office.

Biden’s proposal includes:

  • $350 billion for states and local governments;
  • $1 trillion in direct relief to Americans, including increased unemployment insurance and an additional $1,400 stimulus payment (an increase of December’s $600 payment to $2,000);
  • $400 billion to directly fight COVID, including a national vaccination program, expanded testing, funding to safely keeps schools open;
  • Renewing paid leave provisions, which were not extended in December;
  • A $25 billion “stabilization fund” for child care providers and $15 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program (CCDBG);
  • Raising the minimum wage to $15/hr; and
  • Expanding the child tax credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The President-elect has been very vocal about seeking bi-partisan agreement in responding to the pandemic. However, it was not immediately clear how Congress would respond to this proposal. While Democrats will control the U.S. Senate, 60 votes are needed to pass legislation through normal processes.

Legislative Update

In 2020, the state legislature passed, and Governor Cuomo signed into law, CSEA-supported legislation to require all public employers, except school districts, to prepare a plan for the continuation of operations if the Governor declares a state disaster emergency involving a communicable disease.

Early in 2021, the legislature will be making previously-agreed upon changes to the law. This is a good time to review what this law does.

The plans must include a protocol to determine:

  1. the types of positions considered essential and non-essential;
  2. how non-essential employees will telecommute, including how they will provide needed equipment and technology to work remotely;
  3. how the employer will stagger work shifts for essential employees;
  4. how the employer will procure needed personal protective equipment;
  5. what an employer will do if an employee exhibits any symptoms of the communicable disease and what to do if they test positive; and
  6. Any other requirement determined by the New York State Department of Health, such as testing and contact tracing.

Once drafted, the employer must present this to unions of represented employees for comment and review. The state must also create a webpage to allow complaints to be filed for employers violating this law.

Plans must be submitted to the employer’s unions and relevant labor-management committees by February 4, 2021 for review and comment. Plans must be finalized by the employer by April 1, 2021.

School Property Tax Cap

This week, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced that property tax levy growth for school districts will be capped at 1.23%, down from 1.81% last year.

Already facing a myriad of costs from the COVID pandemic and a reduction in state aid and other revenues, the tightening of the property tax cap will only make the financial situation of school districts that more difficult.

At a Glance

The state legislature will be in session for two days next week following the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday. The deadline for Governor Cuomo to release his 2021-22 Executive Budget proposal is Tuesday, January 19. Stay tuned for more information on the budget proposal in next week’s “This Week in Albany.”

Not sure how the budget process works? Click below to watch our video explainer.

Click to view video explainer

 

This Week in Albany - February 12, 2021

State Budget Update

This week we ratcheted up our efforts to oppose the cuts outlined in the proposed state budget, especially the cuts to mental health services, closing four Office of Children and Family Services facilities, and cuts in aid to our local governments.

CSEA President Mary Sullivan sent a letter out to our state legislators, detailing specifics on how budget cuts to the Office of Mental Health (OMH) are abandoning our most vulnerable citizens. You can read the letter here.

The 2021-22 budget proposal includes many issues of concern to CSEA members. As the Legislative & Political Action Department works through these issues, we will continue to add action items to our new “Legislative Action Center” webpage. With so much on the line this year, we need your help to make sure the voices of CSEA members are heard throughout the budget process.

Since last week, we have added additional information on our federal aid campaign, as well as a letter campaign on school transportation aid.

If you haven’t yet taken action, please visit the page and see what actions are available. Additional items will be forthcoming as needed.

Federal Aid Campaign

The proposed state budget is directly tied to how much federal aid New York receives. Congress must pass a COVID relief package that includes aid for New York state and local governments to protect services and jobs. No more half measures!

Take a simple action right now to tell Senators Schumer and Gillibrand along with your Congressional Representative to deliver this aid.  

Text “Last Shot” to 877 877. Follow the prompts including providing your name and address to match you directly with your representative. Then reply in your own words or use the recommended response. Share with co-workers, family and friends. This needed aid impacts us all!

Pension Fund Update

In the third quarter of the State Fiscal Year, the New York State Common Retirement Fund continued its rebound from the initial shock to the stock market caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Comptroller DiNapoli reported this week that the Fund saw an estimated 10.01% return for the three-month period ending on December 31. The Fund now has an estimated value of $247.7 billion, its highest level ever.

At a Glance

The legislature will be in their home districts next week and will return to Albany on February 22. Budget hearings will also resume that week with hearings on economic development, taxes, and health.

This Week in Albany - January 8, 2021

Federal Update

After months of stalemate and inaction, Congress finally passed another COVID relief package late in 2020. The path to get even this much help was rough, but hopefully it was not the last effort we will see from Congress.

The package, passed in conjunction with broader legislation to fund the government, provided roughly $900 billion in relief. However, the package fell far short of legislation passed by the House of Representatives earlier in the year. The bill contained no funding to help state and local governments grapple with the crisis, but did provide:

  • Funding for vaccine distribution and administration;
  • Funding for COVID testing and tracing;
  • Funding for healthcare providers, schools, and child care providers;
  • Extended Pandemic Unemployment Assistance; and
  • $600 stimulus checks for individuals below a certain income.

However, there is new hope for state and local aid.

Vice President Mike Pence declared Joe Biden and Kamala Harris winners of the 2020 election after Congress officially counted electoral votes. The certification came after misguided efforts to stop the count resulted in a horrific tragedy at the U.S. Capitol.

Additionally, Democrats Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff won their runoff elections to represent the State of Georgia in the U.S. Senate. With their victories, there will now be 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats in the Senate. Since the Vice President is the tie-breaking vote in the Senate, Democrats will be in the majority when Kamala Harris is sworn in as Vice President on January 20. This will make New York Senator Chuck Schumer the Majority Leader, one of the most powerful elected officials in Washington. Current Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been the major obstacle to the funding our state needs.

Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and President-Elect Biden have all been adamant in their support for additional state and local aid. There is hope that the new Congress will finally distribute much needed aid to fill New York’s budget gap and allow the state to meet it’s obligations, especially it’s obligations to CSEA members.

State Update

Between Christmas and New Year’s, the State Legislature returned to Albany for a rare December session to address housing issues. Legislation was passed and signed into law to prohibit most evictions, foreclosures, and negative credit reporting for New Yorkers who have incurred economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, the new 2021-22 Legislature was seated and commenced its first day of session. While the Governor traditionally delivers his “State of the State” address on this first day, Governor Cuomo has said that he will release most of his “State of the State” proposals next week. However, the Governor did announce this week that his budget will include proposals to legalize recreational marijuana and mobile sports betting, both of which would bring in much-needed revenue.

In late December, Governor Cuomo signed an Executive Order to extend the provision of death benefits to the families of public employees who die of COVID-19 through January 29, 2021. The law establishing this benefit was set to expire on December 31, 2020. It is a priority for CSEA to work with the legislature to further extend this benefit in the new year.

In December, it was also announced that the State will close three correctional facilities – Watertown, Gowanda, and the Clinton Annex. While these closures were delayed due to COVID, they will now commence. CSEA opposed these closures when they were proposed as part of the 2020-21 state budget, and continue to oppose them. At the very least, these facilities should remain open until COVID is better contained. Putting more prisoners in fewer areas makes it more likely that COVID will continue to spread in prisons and will make staff less safe.

At a Glance

The state legislature will be in session for two days next week and Governor Cuomo will begin releasing his “State of the State” proposals.

This Week in Albany - December 18, 2020

Federal Aid Update

As Congress works towards finalizing the latest round of stimulus funding, one thing has become clear. Republicans in the U.S. Senate continue to refuse to include any form of relief for states and local governments, and it now appears likely that any agreement will exclude this desperately needed aid.

New York has been able to stave off severe budget cuts so far but without any additional aid from Washington, drastic measures will have to be taken.

While they differ on the details and timing, Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders have all acknowledged that the state will need to raise additional revenue next year to fill the hole in the state’s budget. Legislative leaders have floated a return to Albany before January 1 to pass new tax legislation, while the Governor wants to wait and address the issue in the context of the budget.

Whatever approach is taken, it is unlikely that any form of tax increase on the wealthy will be enough to fully cover the deficit. State agencies have been asked to reduce their budget requests, and local governments and school districts could be facing cuts in both the current fiscal year and in 2021-22.

The financial decisions made over the next few months are going to be critically important to CSEA members. We are going to need all hands on deck in 2021. Stay tuned for more information as we know more in January.

Last TWIA of 2020

This will be the last edition of “This Week in Albany” until next year, as we will be taking a break each of the next two Fridays for the holidays. When we return on January 8, there will likely be a lot of news to catch up on.

Thank you for continuing to read our email, and for your continued activism. Have a safe and happy holiday, and we will see you next year.

In solidarity,
The Legislative & Political Action Department

This Week in Albany - December 4, 2020

Federal Aid Update

This week, it seemed like there might be potential movement in getting needed stimulus funding for our states and localities, after a bipartisan congressional committee developed the framework of a stimulus package. This comes after leaders in states and localities across the nation have been even more visible in calling for the needed aid, across party lines.

CSEA has been running a campaign for months to lobby for this aid, and we recently passed a resolution at our virtual Annual Delegates Meeting calling on Congress to approve it.

The latest package includes $160 billion for states and local governments. While this falls far short of the $500 billion requested by the nation’s governors, this could be a valuable down payment to get our country back on track.

So far, Senate leadership has continued to stall movement on the federal relief.

Vaccine Update

This week, Governor Cuomo announced that New York is expecting to receive 170,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by December 15. According to the Governor, residents and health care workers in nursing homes will receive the first doses.

Election Update

A winner has now been determined in every state legislative race, and every Congressional race except for one.

Democrats did capture a “supermajority” in the State Senate after all races were decided. Since the last “This Week in Albany,” CSEA-endorsed Senator Pete Harckham (SD38) and CSEA-endorsed candidate John Mannion (SD50) declared victory in their races, giving Democrats 43 out of 63 seats in the Senate.

Democrats retained their supermajority of 107 of 150 seats in the Assembly.

The supermajority in each house in theory gives the legislature additional influence, with the ability to reach the 2/3 vote needed to override a Governor’s veto with only Majority party votes.

The lone outstanding race in the state is between CSEA-endorsed Congressman Anthony Brindisi and challenger Claudia Tenney in the 22nd Congressional District. The first official count had Tenney leading by 12 votes, but the race is far from being finalized.  

This Week in Albany - December 11, 2020

Federal Aid Update

This week, CSEA President Mary Sullivan joined New York’s most prominent elected officials and labor leaders in sending a joint letter to the New York Congressional delegation reminding them of the need for additional federal resources to help New York deal with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. You can read the letter here.

Congressional leaders have been deliberating a $908 billion stimulus package that could be a down payment on the state’s immediate and pressing needs. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has indicated that he will not support this package, as he continues to oppose efforts to provide states and local governments with direct assistance.

Without additional federal aid in the next few weeks, the economic pain felt by New Yorkers will sharply increase. While the State has largely held off on making any permanent budget cuts to date, that can’t be kept up forever without additional support. Governor Cuomo’s 2021-22 Executive Budget proposal is required to be released in mid-January and will have to reflect the reality of the State’s economic condition.

Please help keep the pressure on Congress to do its job.

Pension Fund & Fossil Fuels

This week, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced that the New York State Common Retirement Fund has adopted a goal to transition its portfolio to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. After an initial review, to be completed by 2025, the Fund will divest from energy companies that fail to meet minimum standards.

It is important to note that any divestment decisions will be made by the Comptroller, consistent with his fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of Fund beneficiaries.

Looking Ahead

The New York State Legislature released its 2021 legislative calendar this week. The two houses will meet for 60 days, beginning on January 6. Governor Cuomo is expected to deliver his “State of the State” address on that day as well.

This Week in Albany - November 20, 2020

Election Update

The results of many elections across the state have come into focus as county boards of elections have counted absentee, military, and other ballots in the days since Election Day.

Because of the large number of absentee ballots this year, many races that appeared to be leaning one way when polls closed have reversed after outstanding ballots were counted.

State Senate

As of this email, it appears likely that Democrats will achieve a supermajority in the State Senate once ballots are counted in every race. Democrats have declared victory in 41 races, with three races still to be determined. Just one more victory will give them a supermajority in the chamber. However, it may be a while until all races are decided. The Onondaga County Board of Elections (BOE), which is counting ballots in one of the Senate races still to be determined, will not resume counting until the end of November because of a COVID outbreak at the BOE.

CSEA-endorsed Senators Jim Gaughran (D-SD5) and Andrew Gounardes (D-SD22), and CSEA-endorsed candidates Elijah Reichlin-Melnick (D-SD38) and Michelle Hinchey (D-SD46) have claimed victory after being down on Election Day.

CSEA-endorsed Senator Monica Martinez (D-SD3) appears to have lost to challenger Alexis Weik.

State Assembly

It appears that the partisan breakdown of the State Assembly will remain the same, with Democrats holding 107 seats. However, this number could still change one way or the other.

CSEA-endorsed Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-AD97) was defeated by Mike Lawler. Jaffee was a long-time friend to CSEA, and sponsored priority legislation to establish caseload standards for Child Protective Services Workers. Her leadership will be missed.

Congress

In Congress, Republicans flipped at least one seat, with Rep. Max Rose (D-CD11) conceding defeat to Republican challenger Nicole Malliotakis on Staten Island. The race between Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-CD22) and former Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney is still too close to call.

Visit our website to see updated election results.

Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, let’s all do our best to celebrate and give thanks while keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe and healthy.

Let’s also keep in mind the many workers who do not get the chance to stay home from work during the holidays, and thank them for their service.

“This Week in Albany” will be off next week and will return in December. Have a happy holiday, and please stay safe.

 

This Week in Albany - November 13, 2020

CSEA Testifies at Legislative Hearing on the Judiciary

This week, CSEA presented testimony to the Assembly Standing Committee on Judiciary relating to budget and staffing reductions in the Judiciary Branch.

The Unified Court System (UCS) is expected to be facing a 10% cut to its budget next year, as are other state agencies as the state tries to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

CSEA Local 333 President Scott Gartland (Region 4) and CSEA Local 330 President Diane Hansen (Region 1) presented CSEA’s testimony to the legislature. The testimony stressed that the court system has still not fully recovered from cuts made during the last recession, and any cuts to non-judicial personnel next year would only endanger the functioning of the courts.

“There will likely be no easy decisions in State Fiscal Year 2021-22, but we must do all that we can to ensure that we don’t let this crisis drag our state down for years to come. CSEA can say with confidence that millions of New Yorkers from one end of the State to the other depend on our members to assist them in every type of civil and criminal case that exists. We also can say with confidence that any position that gets laid off will have their absence felt by their co-workers in the form of an additional work burden and by the public in terms of additional wait time for justice.”

Click here to read the testimony.

Legislative Update

Last week, Governor Cuomo released draft legislation that would address how utility companies operate in New York.

Most relevant to CSEA’s priorities is a provision that would require the Public Service Commission to study whether a municipal takeover of private water services on Long Island would better serve residents.

After seeing the massive rate hikes and service disruptions in recent years, CSEA has been actively supporting legislation to prohibit the outsourcing of public water services to private, for-profit companies.

We know that New Yorkers with private water pay higher rates while receiving lower quality service and water. Any effort to keep essential public services public should be applauded.

Want to Get Involved?

We know that 2021 is going to be a busy year.

Between local, state, and federal budgets and legislation, we are going to have to be active throughout the year to ensure that the interests of CSEA members are protected as we try to recover from the pandemic.

While the Legislative & Political Action Department will always be working on your behalf, we can’t do it alone. We need your help to make sure our voices are heard.

If you think you might be interested in helping out, please click here to fill out our activist form. Comfortable joining a letter writing campaign but not making phone calls? That’s an option! Want to attend a committee meeting or a rally? Let us know!

Together, we can fight that much harder.

This Week in Albany - October 16, 2020

Census Count To End Early

The U.S. Supreme Court gave the OK this week to the Trump administration’s plan to end the Census count early, presumably ending what has been a roller coaster Census count in the middle of a pandemic.

Earlier this year, the deadline for the Census, originally scheduled for the end of July, was pushed back to October 31 because of COVID-19. The administration then changed course, announcing September 30 as the end date. Federal courts restored the October 31 deadline until this week’s Supreme Court ruling, which ended the count as of Friday morning.

There are real concerns over what this shortened timeframe will mean for New York. The decennial count determines how roughly $1.5 trillion is directed, in addition to Congressional representation. While New York will likely lose at least one Congressional seat in the next round of redistricting, a poor count could result in the state losing two seats.

As of Friday, New York was tied for 31st in response rate.

Juneteenth Now a State Holiday

This week, Governor Cuomo signed into law legislation that officially designates Juneteenth (June 19) as an official public holiday in New York State. The new law celebrates Juneteenth, a day which commemorates the end to slavery and celebrates Black and African American freedom and achievements, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures.

 

State and Local Aid Still Up in the Air

After announcing last week that he was directing his administration to end negotiations with Congress over stimulus legislation until after the election, President Trump reversed course this week. The President this week signaled that he supports an even bigger package than what is being negotiated between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The position of the White House has swung drastically back and forth between extreme positions over the past several months, and it remains unclear where things actually stand.

However, what is not unclear is the position of the U.S. Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) made it clear this week that he does not have the votes in his conference to pass legislation that even comes close to the $1.7 trillion + being discussed between Pelosi and Mnuchin. Instead, McConnell is advocating for a $500 billion package that includes $0 for states and local governments.

 

Social Security Update

The Social Security Administration announced a 1.3% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2021. This increase will impact the benefits of 64 million Social Security beneficiaries and 8 million Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries.

 

Election Spotlight – Regions 2 and 5

Region 2

Many of the CSEA-endorsed candidates in Region 2 faced tough Primaries back in June. Some still face some tough races in the General Election, including incumbent Democratic Congressman Max Rose. Since he first ran two years ago, this decorated veteran has been vocal in his support of CSEA members. He voted for the HEROES Act and has been very vocal of the need for PPE in New York City. Keeping him in Congress to fight for us is important for CSEA.

Region 5

Two years ago, CSEA members worked hard supporting Democrat Anthony Brindisi when he successfully ran against then-incumbent Claudia Tenney. Tenney, who is trying to re-take her former seat, continues to support an anti-union agenda. Union members were the key in this tough congressional race in 2018 and will no doubt be as important this November. Congressman Brindisi has worked hard across the aisle to deliver for his district and CSEA members in Central New York are proud to fight for him once again.

 

Voting

Did you know that people who make a plan to vote are more likely to cast a ballot than those who don’t?
To help in this effort, CSEA has created a website for you to make your own plan to vote.  We will then send you a reminder email, along with useful information to help make sure you follow through with your plan to vote.    
This year you have three ways to vote – in-person on Election Day, early in-person voting, or by absentee ballot.  Regardless of how you decide to cast a ballot, the most important thing is that you make your voice heard!
 
 
This Year in Albany
Each year for CSEA’s Annual Delegates Meeting, the Legislative & Political Action Department produces a summary of the year’s important legislative and political activity.
This year has been unprecedented in many ways. Yet, through all of these challenges, CSEA members have continued to show up and make a difference in the legislative and political arena.
This Week in Albany - November 6, 2020

Election Results


President of the United States

The 2020 Presidential election is coming down to the wire, as many expected that it would.

While the race has still not been called at the time of this email, former Vice President Joe Biden currently has more votes in four of the five tossup states and it appears that he will win enough Electoral College votes to be declared the winner once all votes are counted.

However, President Trump has indicated that he will fight until the end. The President has repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and has called for legal action in battleground states to invalidate ballots.

It is important that every legitimate vote be counted in the election. This process could take longer than usual this year due to the significant increase in mail-in ballots, which were promoted as an alternative to in-person voting because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Congressional / State Races

While much of the attention of this election was focused on the Presidential election, down ballot races are often even more important than those at the top.

While it will likely be a few days or even weeks before all ballots are counted in some of these races, we can say with certainty that the New York Congressional delegation and state legislature will look significantly different in 2021 than in 2020.

Please be aware that there are record numbers of absentee ballots still outstanding in these races. These ballots are expected to favor Democratic candidates, but we won’t know until they are all counted. In the June Primary, it took weeks to count all ballots in some cases. As such, these results are not yet final.

Congress

New York will be sending at least four new members to Congress in January, though that number could increase depending on absentee ballots.

Democrats Ritchie Torres (CD15), Jamaal Bowman (CD16), and Mondaire Jones (CD17) appear to have won their elections, while Republican Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino appears to have won his race to replace the retiring Peter King in CD2.

Additionally, incumbent Democrats Tom Suozzi (CD3), Max Rose (CD11), and Anthony Brindisi (CD22) trailed their opponents when polls closed on Election Day.

Nationally, Democrats have retained control of the House. It appears that control of the U.S. Senate will come down to two runoff elections, both in Georgia, in January. It is unclear what these results will mean for a new federal Coronavirus relief package.

State Legislature

For the second cycle in a row, the state legislature will see a massive shakeup following a large number of retirements, Primary Election upsets, and seats changing hands on Election Day.

State Senate

Entering the night, Democrats had control of 40 seats in the State Senate, and needed to flip only two seats to gain a supermajority. At the close of polls, it appeared unlikely that they would pick up the necessary seats.

However, due to a large number of yet-to-be-counted absentee ballots, the outcome of many state senate races is still unclear as of this writing.

What we know so far:

  • Democrats appear to have picked up two seats in the Rochester area (SD55 and SD56);
  • Multiple incumbent Democratic Senators are currently trailing before absentee ballots are counted, while others hold small leads;
  • Republicans also currently hold leads in several open seats that Democrats were hoping to pick up;
  • SD41: CSEA-endorsed Republican Sue Serino appears to have won re-election. Her opponent, Karen Smythe, conceded on Wednesday;
  • SD60: CSEA-endorsed Democrat Sean Ryan appears to have won this open seat and is poised to move from the Assembly to the Senate. However, his opponent has not yet conceded.

State Assembly

With control of the Assembly never a question, much of the change in the Assembly happened when a number of sitting lawmakers were defeated in their June primary elections. However, several sitting lawmakers were trailing or in close races before absentee ballots were counted. Once again, it will be some time before we know the outcome of these close races.

This Week in Albany - October 30, 2020 - VOTING!!

Voting

Tuesday, November 3, is the last day to vote in the 2020 election. Polls will be open across the state from 6am to 9pm. Not sure where your polling place is? Click here to find out.
In addition, early voting is available through Sunday (November 1). Check with your county board of elections for voting times and locations.
Also, you can apply in-person for an absentee ballot through November 2.
Mailed absentee ballots must be postmarked by November 3, and received by your board of elections by November 10. Please be aware that, despite these deadlines, the Postal Service has said that they cannot guarantee the timely delivery of ballots requested within 15 days of the election.
Completed absentee ballots can also be delivered to an early voting site during hours of operation, or be returned to a polling location or your county board of elections office no later than 9pm on Election Day.
 
Your Vote = Your Power
CSEA members traditionally turn out to vote at a much higher rate than the general population. With turnout expected to be high this year, we must ensure that we all get out and vote!
This Week in Albany - August 7, 2020

 

Last week, Republicans in the U.S. Senate unveiled their proposal for new legislation to respond to the COVID pandemic. This proposal included NO FUNDING for states and local governments. The House of Representatives passed legislation back in May that would provide roughly $1 trillion in local aid.

To make matters worse, President Trump has politicized the need for state and local aid, saying “It’s a shame to reward badly run radical left Democrats with all of this money they’re looking for.”

Ensuring that our states and local governments get the aid they need to survive should not be a partisan issue. Counties in New York have already started announcing that they will need to lay off CSEA members if they don’t get the funding they need. We need this aid NOW. However, Congress and the White House appear to be at an impasse after negotiating throughout this week.

To be clear, New York and its municipalities don’t need aid from the federal government because of mismanagement. The pandemic has caused one of the largest economic disruptions in history. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the United States, which is widely used as a measure of the U.S. economy, saw it’s largest drop in recorded history in the second quarter of 2020. This 33% drop was roughly four times the size of the largest drop during the Great Recession. New York State has already reduced spending by $4 billion since March. However, that is a drop in the bucket compared to the $13+ billion deficit the state is currently expecting for this fiscal year.

Additionally, this crisis hasn’t only impacted areas with Democratic leadership. Republican-lead states like Florida and Texas have seen large increases in cases over the past few weeks and will soon be facing the same stresses that New York is. County executives, mayors, and other elected officials of both parties in New York have been equally vocal about the need for this aid.

Workers whose jobs are funded in whole or in part by public dollars are often viewed as only a budget line. But, as CSEA members know, you are also taxpayers and consumers. You have families to care and provide for. You are leaders in your communities, who contribute to the well being of all New Yorkers. There is overwhelming evidence that a lack of federal investment into states and localities will result in hundreds of thousands of layoffs, which will exacerbate this financial crisis and slow the recovery.

The Legislative & Political Action Department will be hosting virtual meetings throughout next week to discuss these urgent issues. Sign up for meetings in your region below:

Region 1

  • Monday, Aug 10, 2020 at 7:00 PM
  • Tuesday, Aug 11, 2020 at 6:00 PM
  • Wednesday, Aug 12, 2020 1:00 PM

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85085567869

 

Or join by telephone:

(646) 558-8656

Meeting ID: 850 8556 7869

 

Region 2

  • Monday, August 10th at 6 PM
  • Tuesday, August 11th at 6 PM

Join Zoom Meeting https://us04web.zoom.us/j/78855482240?pwd=QTk4L0ZQTHJMN0N3RW16Rm16bWx5QT09

Meeting ID: 788 5548 2240 Passcode: CSEA

Region 3

  • Monday, August 10th at 1 pm
  • Wednesday, August 12th at 6 pm
  • Thursday, August 13th at 8 pm

Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6967807143

Meeting ID: 696 780 7143

Or join by telephone: (646) 558-8656 Meeting ID: 696 7807 143

Region 4

  • Monday, August 10th at 6:00PM
  • Wednesday, August 12th at 12:00PM
  • Thursday, August 13th at 7:00PM

Join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/4634482090

Or join by telephone: (929) 205-6099 Meeting ID: 463 448 2090

Region 5

  • Monday, August 10th at 6 pm
  • Wednesday, August 12th at 12 pm
  • Thursday, August 13th at 8 pm

Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2965563693

Or join by telephone: (646) 876-9923 Meeting ID: 296 556 3693

Region 6

  • Monday, Aug 10, 2020 at 7:00 PM
  • Tuesday,  Aug 11, 2020 at 6:00 PM
  • Wednesday, Aug 12, 2020 1:00 PM

Please click the link below to join the webinar: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85085567869

Or Join by Telephone: (646) 558-8656 Meeting ID: 850 8556 7869

 

Pension Fund

The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the state’s pension fund became clear last week. Despite strong returns through February, Comptroller DiNapoli announced that the Fund had a -2.68% rate of return for the state fiscal year ending on March 31.

Importantly, under the leadership of Comptroller DiNapoli, the Fund entered this crisis in a much stronger position than it was in for the Great Recession. In June, the Fund was ranked as the second best-funded pension plan in the country. This means that despite the recent turmoil, the Fund continues to be in a strong position to provide retirement benefits.

Want to learn more about the pension fund and how it works? The Legislative & Political Action Department is developing a virtual seminar to provide an in-depth look at the history of the pension fund, how it works, and how current issues can impact CSEA members. Be on the lookout for an invitation to this vitally important seminar in the coming weeks!

Census Fact of the Week

The Trump administration has decided to end the 2020 Census count a month early, despite prior calls from Census officials for more time to complete their count. All counting will now end on September 30.

New York continues to perform poorly relative to other states, ranking 37th in terms of response rates. Now, with less time to count the harder-to-count population, we must all do our part to help spread the word about the importance of the Census.

If you haven’t yet, please complete your Census online and encourage your family, friends, and coworkers to do the same. Then, visit our website for the chance to receive an Apple iPad. Seven winners will be drawn on August 31 – one from each Region and one from the Retiree Division

This Week in Albany - September 18, 2020

Pension Webinar – Next Week!

Want to learn more about your pension and how the pension fund works?

The Legislative & Political Action Department is hosting a webinar on Wednesday, September 23 at 6:30PM. The webinar will look at the history of the pension fund, how it operates, and current issues it is facing.

Space is limited – register today!

Still Fighting for Federal Aid

CSEA continues its fight in Washington D.C. for additional federal aid to help states and local governments deal with the economic devastation caused by COVID-19. It is becoming clearer each day that without additional federal aid critical services will be eliminated and tens of thousands of jobs will be lost.

Please continue to call your member of Congress at 1-888-981-9704 and tell them to pass aid for state and local governments!

Voting

Did you know that it is not too late to register to vote in the November elections? You have until October 9 to submit your registration form. You can visit the New York State Board of Electionsfor an application.

In addition, the New York State Board of Elections online absentee ballot application portal is now operational. This website gives you a convenient way to request an absentee ballot in order to vote in the November elections. This year, due to the pandemic, any eligible voter can vote via an absentee ballot.  

Don’t want to vote via an absentee ballot? No problem! You can also vote:

    • In-person on November 3; or

    • In-person during the early voting period, which runs from October 24 – November 1.

The most important thing is that you get out and vote!

This Week in Albany - October 2, 2020

This Year in Albany

Each year for CSEA’s Annual Delegates Meeting, the Legislative & Political Action Department produces a summary of the year’s important legislative and political activity.

This year has been unprecedented in many ways. Yet, through all of these challenges, CSEA members have continued to show up and make a difference in the legislative and political arena.

You can view an electronic version of 2020’s “This Year in Albany” here.


Federal Update

After weeks of not speaking, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met this week to discuss a potential deal to provide additional federal economic relief.

It remains unclear whether any agreement can be reached between the two houses of Congress and the White House. Despite the negotiations restarting, House Democrats passed a $2.2 trillion plan this week. The latest bill included $1 trillion less spending than what the House proposed in the HEROES Act, which passed the House in May. The latest version of the House stimulus bill included $436 billion for state and local government aid, a second round of direct payments to Americans, an extension of the $600 supplemental unemployment insurance payments, and more. The bill is opposed by House and Senate Republicans.

The need for federal aid continues to be abundantly clear. In the absence of any action from Washington, school districts and local governments have been forced to layoff and/or furlough workers, and state agencies have already seen funding reduced. While Governor Cuomo has so far resisted calls to act on his authority to make formal mid-year cuts to the state budget, state spending has already been reduced by $4 billion since March.

Voting

Did you know that people who make a plan to vote are more likely to cast a ballot than those who don’t?

To help in this effort, CSEA has created a website for you to make your own plan to vote.  We will then send you a reminder email, along with useful information to help make sure you follow through with your plan to vote.

This year you have three ways to vote – in-person on Election Day, early in-person voting, or by absentee ballot.  Regardless of how you decide to cast a ballot, the most important thing is that you make your voice heard!

The deadline to register to vote is next Friday, October 9. You can register to vote through the Department of Motor Vehicles website here.

This Week in Albany - May 22, 2020

Get these updates via email!

State Legislature to Return Next Week

The New York State Legislature will return to session next week to address issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Legislators are expected to hold committee meetings on Tuesday, with session days to follow.

Earlier this year, the Senate and Assembly passed resolutions that allow for remote meeting and voting of the legislature.

Comptroller DiNapoli Town Hall

Hundreds of CSEA members joined a telephone town hall with CSEA Statewide President Mary Sullivan and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli this week to discuss the health of the pension fund, the state’s finances, and more.

During the call, the Comptroller stressed that New York’s pension fund is in a much better position to deal with the current crisis than it was for the Great Recession a decade ago, and the state continues to have one of the best-funded pension funds in the country. Additionally, the Comptroller reiterated his call for unrestricted federal aid for states and local governments to prevent further economic disaster.

Voting Information

Every New Yorker eligible to vote in the June 23 primary elections has the option to vote via absentee ballot.

Any eligible voter who wishes to vote via absentee ballot can utilize the absentee ballot application and check the box for “Temporary illness or physical disability.” The Board of Elections will mail an absentee ballot application and postage-paid return envelope to every registered voter.

The following deadlines apply for absentee ballots:

  • June 16 – last day to postmark applications for an absentee ballot
  • June 22 – last day to postmark ballot
  • June 23 – last day for an absentee ballot to be delivered in-person
  • June 30 – deadline for ballots to be received by your county board of elections by mail

Polls will still be open, and the Early Voting period for this election will be June 13 – June 21. As with all primaries, you must be enrolled in a party to vote in that party’s primary. To check your voter registration and party enrollment, you can visit the Board of Election’s website.


Census Fact of the Week

The current crisis highlights the importance of federal representation to CSEA members.

However, New York continues to lag behind the national average in Census response rate. If New York doesn’t improve its performance, there is a very real chance that our state will lose two Congressional seats during the next reapportionment. We can’t let this happen.

Self Response by Congressional District Image

U.S. Census Bureau

If you haven’t yet, please complete your Census online. Then, visit our website for the chance to receive an Apple iPad.

Memorial Day

While Memorial Day weekend traditionally signals the unofficial start of the summer season for many, it is important that we remember the significance of Memorial Day. CSEA recognizes the memory of those who sacrificed their lives in service of our country so that we may enjoy our freedoms.

Enjoy a safe and happy holiday weekend.

This Week in Albany - September 4, 2020

Federal Update

This week, CSEA President Mary Sullivan joined the Governor, New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, and other labor leaders from across New York in sending a strongly-worded letter to our federal representatives urging their immediate intervention to save our state’s public services and avoid drastic cuts that will be necessary in order to balance government budgets due to the coronavirus’ economic impact.

Our economy at the state and local levels is in deep trouble, and we cannot hold off much longer without federal relief. Click here to view the letter.

Unfortunately, President Trump ramped up his political attacks on local governments that have leaders he disagrees with this week. The President issued a memo that directed federal agencies to review funding to certain municipalities he labeled as “anarchist jurisdictions,” with the goal of eliminating federal support to those cities. New York City is among the jurisdictions specifically mentioned in the memo. If followed, this order will only further strain the finances of our state and local governments.

Ways to Vote

With all of the options New Yorkers have to vote this year, there is no excuse to not vote even with all of the uncertainty in our daily lives.

Eligible voters in New York can:

  • Vote in person on November 3;
  • Vote in person during the early voting period of October 24 – November 1; or
  • Vote via absentee ballot.

Newly enacted state law provides that any New Yorker who is concerned about voting in person due to the Coronavirus can apply for an absentee ballot. You can apply for an absentee ballot online*, by going in person to your board of elections, or by phone, mail, or fax to your county board of elections. Visit the New York State Board of Election’s website for more information on how to vote via absentee ballot.

*The State Board of Elections online application portal went active this week.

Labor Day

As we all do what we can do enjoy this (socially distanced) Labor Day weekend, it is important to remember what Labor Day represents. Labor Day honors the labor movement for improving the lives of hardworking Americans, their families and the communities they live in.

This recognition is more important now than ever. This Labor Day we honor the essential workers who continued to show up to work day in and day out so that the rest of the country could stay home. We honor those that we lost this year to the pandemic. And we honor all of our sisters and brothers who will continue to do the best work they can in these difficult times.

Thank you for what you do every day to make our union, our state, and our country stronger.

This Week in Albany - June 12, 2020

Get these updates via email!

Legislative Update

The Senate and Assembly returned to session this week to pass a package of law enforcement reform bills. These bills will impact CSEA members to varying degrees, but not every bill applies to the same groups of workers. The following is a brief summary of the bills that were passed this week.

  • A repeal of section 50-a of the Civil Rights Law, which prohibited the release of disciplinary records of certain police and peace officers. Disciplinary records will now be subject to release under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). Disciplinary records of most public employees were already subject to FOIL. This bill will impact police and fire, corrections, and probation.

  • Two bills will establish new investigative functions within the State Attorney General’s office. One bill codifies a previous Executive Order that established a special investigator for deaths involving police and certain peace officers. The other would establish a new investigator for police misconduct.

  • Bills were passed to criminalize the use of chokeholds, require that persons receive needed medical and mental heath while in custody, prohibit racial/ethnic profiling, require reporting when a firearm is discharged, require reporting from courts on misdemeanor offenses and from law enforcement on arrest-related deaths, and require State Police troopers to wear body cameras.

While the 2020 legislative session was scheduled to end on June 2, it seems likely that the legislature will continue to meet as needed throughout the year.


School Elections

In these uncertain financial times, the passage of school and library budget votes is more important than ever.

School district budget votes, school board elections, and library elections managed by school districts are currently being held across the state by mail only. Thanks to an Executive Order, the deadline for ballots to be received has been extended until 5pm on Tuesday, June 16.

Don’t forget to vote!

Primary Voting Information

Every New Yorker eligible to vote in the June 23 primary elections has the option to vote via absentee ballot.

Any eligible voter who wishes to vote via absentee ballot can utilize the absentee ballot application and check the box for “Temporary illness or physical disability.” The Board of Elections will mail an absentee ballot application and postage-paid return envelope to every registered voter.

The following deadlines apply for absentee ballots:

  • June 16 – last day to postmark applications for an absentee ballot
  • June 22 – last day to postmark ballot
  • June 23 – last day for an absentee ballot to be delivered in-person
  • June 30 – deadline for ballots to be received by your county board of elections by mail

Polls will still be open, and the Early Voting period for this election will be June 13 – June 21. As with all primaries, you must be enrolled in a party to vote in that party’s primary. To check your voter registration and party enrollment, you can visit the Board of Election’s website.


Census Fact of the Week

New York continues to trail much of the nation in its Census response rate, ranking 37th out of 52 states / territories. Within the state, response rates vary widely by county from only 7.2% in Hamilton County to 67.3% in Nassau County.

Do your part to help New York get its fair share. If you haven’t yet, please complete your Census online and encourage your family, friends, and coworkers to do the same. Then, visit our website for the chance to receive an Apple iPad.

 

This Week in Albany - October 23, 2020

Federal Stimulus Update

While negotiations over a federal Coronavirus stimulus package continue between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, it seems likely at this point that no deal will be reached before the election.

It was reported this week that Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell “warned” the White House not to reach an agreement before the election. In addition to his conference’s opposition to any significant stimulus, McConnell reportedly fears that advancing a stimulus bill would distract from efforts to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

 

Election Spotlight – Regions 3 and 4

Region 3

The Region 3 PAC has made the re-election of Republican State Senator Sue Serino a top priority this November. Senator Serino has been a long-time ally of CSEA. The Senator was very vocal in opposing a proposed merger of the Bridge Authority into the Thruway Authority and in opposing the NY Health Act, two proposals that could have negatively impacted CSEA members.

In another important race in the Hudson Valley, Democratic Senator Pete Harckham is seeking re-election for the first time. Not only has Harckham opposed efforts to weaken the independence of the NYS Pension Fund, but he has also supported increased benefits for survivors of frontline employees who lost their lives due to COVID-19. Harckham faces a challenge from Rob Astorino. Westchester County employees know Mr. Astorino all too well, as they fought hard to oust the hostile County Executive from that position in 2017. CSEA doesn’t want to see Astorino and his anti-union positions back in office.

Region 4

The Capital Region PAC is primarily working to help Democrat Tedra Cobb face off against Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. For a number of years, CSEA has tried to build a relationship with Stefanik but she has not been responsive to our outreach. Stefanik was one of the few members of the House of Representatives to vote against the HEROES Act, which would have sent billions of dollars to New York to help recover from the COVID pandemic. Cobb has been very responsive to CSEA and our issues, and Capital Region members strongly feel that a change in representation is needed in CD 21.

Voting

Starting tomorrow, October 24, New Yorkers will have two methods of early voting available to them:
  • In-person early voting runs from October 24 – November 1. Check with your Board of Elections for voting locations and times.
  • Voting by absentee ballot has been available for some time. The following deadlines apply to absentee ballots:
    • October 27: Last day to postmark application or letter of application for general election ballot
    • November 2: Last day to apply in person for a general election ballot
    • November 3: Last day to postmark general election ballot. Must be received by the county board no later than November 10th
    • November 3: Last day to deliver general election ballot in person to county board, by close of polls on election day
    • Completed absentee ballots can be returned by mail, brought to a County Board of Elections office no later than 9pm on Election Day, brought to an early voting site between October 24 and November 1, or brought to a poll site by 9pm on Election Day.

What is your plan to vote? Click here to fill out your own plan to vote. CSEA will then send you a reminder email, along with useful information to help make sure you follow through on your plan.

This Week in Albany - August 28, 2020

No Excuse Not to Vote This Year

With all of the options New Yorkers have to vote this year, there is no excuse to not vote even with all of the uncertainty in our daily lives.

Eligible voters in New York can:

  • Vote in person on November 3;
  • Vote in person during the early voting period of October 24 – November 1; or
  • Vote via absentee ballot.

Newly enacted state law provides that any New Yorker who is concerned about voting in person due to the Coronavirus can apply for an absentee ballot. You can apply for an absentee ballot online*, by going in person to your board of elections, or by phone, mail, or fax to your county board of elections. Visit the New York State Board of Election’s website for more information on how to vote via absentee ballot.

*The State Board of Elections is developing an online application portal, but it is not yet active.

Social Security Update

The Office of the Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration has released an analysis of the proposal to permanently repeal the Social Security payroll tax.

The analysis shows that an elimination of the payroll tax with no alternative source of revenue to replace it would result in the complete depletion of the Disability Insurance Trust Fund by mid-2021 and the complete depletion of the Old Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund by mid-2023. Beyond those dates, Social Security would have no ability to pay benefits.  

The President has promised to permanently repeal the payroll tax if he is re-elected. He has not identified how this funding would be made up.

Presidential Election Update

Over the past two weeks, Donald Trump and Joe Biden officially received the nomination of their respective parties for President. Vice President Pence and Senator Kamala Harris received the nominations for Vice President.

Normally, we wouldn’t comment on party conventions beyond the nominations for President and Vice President being formalized.

However, one convention speaker shouldn’t go unnoticed by union members. The opening night of the Republican National Convention (RNC) featured Rebecca Friedrichs as one of the opening speakers. Friedrichs is an anti-union activist whose case against the California Teachers Association was the forerunner to the Janus v AFSCME case. In her prime-time speaking slot, Friedrichs declared, “Unions are subverting our republic.”

Call us crazy, but we don’t believe that fighting for fair wages and benefits, safe and healthy workplaces, dignity in retirement, and uplifting working families is treasonous to our nation. Unions fight to raise the living standards of all Americans, regardless of what party they are enrolled in. Anti-union platforms like what the RNC put forward last night must be called out.

Census Fact of the Week

If you haven’t already done so, make sure you complete your Census online, by phone, or by mail, and encourage every New Yorker you know to do the same.

You have until August 31 to enter for your chance at an Apple iPad. Complete your Census, then visit our website to enter.

This Week in Albany - August 14, 2020

Federal Update

Negotiations between Congress and the White House over a new Coronavirus relief package fell apart late last week. Rather than continuing to work on a comprehensive plan with Congress, President Trump issued a series of Executive Orders over the weekend. While these orders sound good at first glance, the reality is that they make our current situation even worse than doing nothing.

The following is a summary of the President’s Executive Orders:

1. Defunding Social Security and Medicare

President Trump announced that Social Security payroll taxes for most workers won’t be collected from September 1 through December 31. This order is hugely problematic for several reasons:

  • While this sounds like most workers will receive a tax cut, that isn’t true. These taxes still must be paid when you file your taxes.

  • The President claims that if he is re-elected, he will permanently repeal and/or cut payroll taxes. This could eliminate the major source of funding for both Social Security and Medicare.

  • At best, this order would provide a few months of relief to some workers, which will have to be repaid later. At worst, it puts the financial stability of two fundamental government programs unnecessarily at risk.

2. Maybe (But Maybe Not) Extending Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits

This Executive Order calls for $400 in unemployment benefits per week. Up until July 31, those on unemployment were receiving an additional $600 per week. This order is also problematic:

  • States will be required to pay 25% of the additional benefit (on top of what states are already paying for regular UI). Governor Cuomo has estimated that this will cost New York an additional $4 billion, which the state does not have.
  • It is unclear where the federal portion of the funding will come from. It seems that the program will be funded by shifting resources away from the Department of Homeland Security’s Disaster Relief Fund traditionally used for things like hurricane and disaster relief. If this is the case, that would only be enough funding for about five weeks of benefits.
  • This measure is pitched as an immediate relief to those that require UI payments to make ends meet. In reality states, whose unemployment systems are already stretched to the max, will have to set up new systems to administer this aid. It could take weeks to set up this program, assuming the state can even pay for it.

3. Maybe (But Definitely Not) Extending Eviction Protections

This Executive order would direct federal agencies to “consider” whether an eviction ban is needed. The federal eviction ban passed by Congress expired on July 24.

4. Deferring Student Loan Payments

The President’s final Executive Order waives all interest on student loans through the end of the year and allows borrowers to delay payments until December 31. This applies only to student loans held by the federal government. This order is a good thing that will provide relief to borrowers.

The President’s Executive Orders may provide relief to some Americans, but overall only add to the stress of states and local governments, retirees, and those relying on Social Security and Medicare.

We need a real package of relief through negotiations between the White House and Congress. We have already been made aware of local governments that are planning to lay off workers in the near future if additional federal aid isn’t received. We must keep fighting this fight – and encouraging Congress to do their jobs.

Visit our website for more on how you can help keep pressure on Congress


Pension Fund Bounces Back

Following up on last week’s report on the state of the Common Retirement Fund at the end of the 2019-20 Fiscal Year, the Comptroller released the Fund’s FY21 first quarter returns this week. The Comptroller reported that the Fund had one of the “strongest rebounds in modern history,” posting a return of 10.35%. This gain recovered most of the losses caused by the COVID pandemic.

While this strong quarter is a good sign, it is important to remember that there is a lot of time left in the fiscal year. As the Comptroller noted in his report, “Until there is a solution to the global public health crisis, market volatility and uncertainty will continue.”


Census Fact of the Week

It is becoming clearer by the day that the federal government won’t be providing sufficient help New Yorkers make it through this financial crisis in the short term. If New Yorkers are undercounted in the Census, this lack of federal support will become a long-term problem.

Not only will an undercount strip New York of more representation in Congress, it would also take billions of dollars out of our communities and send that money to other states.

It is vitally important that all CSEA members fill out the Census, and encourage everyone you know to do the same.

You still have two weeks left to visit our website for the chance to receive an Apple iPad after you’ve completed your Census. Seven winners will be drawn on August 31 – one from each Region and one from the Retiree Division.

This Week in Albany - August 21, 2020

Federal Update

The latest report from the Division of the Budget (DOB) made clear how dire New York’s financial situation really is.

The first quarter update to the state’s Financial Plan showed actions already being taken by the state to deal with the economic fallout of the Coronavirus. According to the report:

  • The State’s budget deficit has increased to $14.5 billion for this year, and $62 billion through FY2024;
  • All funds tax receipts have decreased by 10.2%;
  • The updated financial plan includes nearly $10 billion in budget reductions between Executive agencies, the Judiciary, elected officials, and local governments;
  • State agencies have been directed to reduce operating expenditures by 10%; and
  • From June – July, DOB witheld $1.9 billion in local government payments. These will be converted to permanent reductions without federal aid.

Unfortunately, Congress and the White House are still at an impasse on a new package of legislation to address the Coronavirus.

House Democrats introduced new legislation to provide $25 billion in funding to the Post Office, and have a vote on the legislation scheduled for Saturday. The Senate, meanwhile, remains out of session until September. Republicans in that chamber released a new “skinny” bill to provide $10 billion in funding to the Post Office, provide some funding for unemployment benefits, provide some funding for business loans, and provide protections for employers for being sued for COVID-related issues. The plan includes no funding for states and local governments.

In a series of Tweets blaming Democrats for the lack of a deal, President Trump tweeted that he supports providing aid to states and local governments. This conflicts with the position his administration took during negotiations with Congress, where he made it abundantly clear he didn’t support providing funds to “bail out” Democratic areas before walking away from the table. It is unclear whether the President is actually open to providing this aid or if his latest message is simply posturing.

Every passing week makes it less likely that any additional federal aid will be provided before November’s elections. Every passing week brings us closer to these proposed cuts becoming actual cuts.

CSEA Submits Testimony

This week, CSEA submitted testimony to a New York State Senate hearing on the Unified Court System (UCS) and COVID-19. In the testimony, CSEA stressed the ongoing need to ensure the safety of workers and the public in all of our courts.

Read the testimony here.

Survey

We want your opinion!

Please take our brief survey on issues that matter to union members and working Americans.

If you haven’t already responded to an earlier email, please take our survey now. You must be a CSEA member to participate in the survey.

Election Update

This week, Governor Cuomo signed into law legislation to allow New Yorkers who are concerned about in-person voting due to COVID to apply for an absentee ballot. If you are interested in applying for an absentee ballot because of COVID, you must submit an absentee ballot application and check the box for “temporary illness or physical disability.”

If you don’t feel comfortable voting in person on Election Day or are worried about your absentee ballot being delivered on time, you can vote early in person. Early voting runs from October 24 – November 1. Check with your local board of elections for polling times and locations for early voting.

Census Fact of the Week

If you haven’t already done so, make sure you complete your Census online, by phone, or by mail, and encourage every New Yorker you know to do the same.

You have until the end of the month to enter for your chance at an Apple iPad. Complete your Census, then visit our website to enter.

This Week in Albany - September 11, 2020

Governor Signs Legislation

On Labor Day, the Governor signed legislation strongly supported by CSEA that requires all public employers, except school districts, to create a plan for the continuation of operations during a state disaster emergency involving a communicable disease. The plans must include protocols to determine: the types of positions considered essential and non-essential; how non-essential employees will telecommute, including how they will provide needed equipment and technology; how the employer will stagger work shifts for essential employees; how the employer will procure needed personal protective equipment; and what an employer will do if an employee exhibits any symptoms of the communicable disease and what to do if they test positive.

Once the plan is drafted, but no later than February 4, 2021, the employer must present this to unions of represented employees and appropriate labor-management committees for comment and review. Plans must be finalized by the employer no later than April 1, 2021.

Pension Webinar

On September 23 at 6:30 PM, the Legislative & Political Action Department will be hosting a webinar, “Your Pension, Your Future.” This webinar will look at the history of the state pension fund, how it uses your contributions, and its outlook for the future.

You must pre-register to attend this webinar.

CSEA Submits Testimony

This week CSEA submitted testimony to a hearing held by the Assembly Committee on Mental Health that examined the effects that COVID-19 has had on people seeking mental health and developmental disability services. CSEA called on the state to protect the vital hospitals, programs and services that the mentally ill and developmentally disabled rely on.

You can read the entire testimony here.

Never Forget

CSEA remembers the lives of all who were lost on September 11, 2001, including CSEA members Yvette Anderson, Florence Cohen, Harry Goody, Marian “Marty” Hrycak and Dorothy Temple.

This Week in Albany - June 5, 2020

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Legislative Update

The leaders of the State Senate and Assembly announced that the legislature will return to session sometime next week to take up legislation relating to the “issues occurring in our communities.” At the time of this email, no specifics are available on the bills the legislature will look to advance.

CSEA will continue to closely monitor these legislative developments. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

 

Public Employee COVID Death Benefit

The Office of the State Comptroller has published guidance on the enhanced death benefit for the families of public employees who die of COVID-19 that was created by recently-passed legislation.

While nothing can ever make up for the loss of a loved one, this benefit will help families during this difficult time.

Click here for more information on this benefit


School Elections

School district budget votes, school board elections, and library elections managed by school districts will be held across the state next Tuesday, June 9.

These elections will be held by mail only. All eligible voters should have received a ballot in the mail. Completed ballots must be received by 5pm on Tuesday, June 9 to be counted.

In these uncertain financial times, the passage of school budget votes is vitally important. Please make sure you get out and vote, and encourage your family, friends, and co-workers to do the same.

Click here to see CSEA’s School Board Candidate Endorsements


Primary Voting Information

Every New Yorker eligible to vote in the June 23 primary elections has the option to vote via absentee ballot.

Any eligible voter who wishes to vote via absentee ballot can utilize the absentee ballot application and check the box for “Temporary illness or physical disability.” The Board of Elections will mail an absentee ballot application and postage-paid return envelope to every registered voter.

The following deadlines apply for absentee ballots:

  • June 16 – last day to postmark applications for an absentee ballot
  • June 22 – last day to postmark ballot
  • June 23 – last day for an absentee ballot to be delivered in-person
  • June 30 – deadline for ballots to be received by your county board of elections by mail

Polls will still be open, and the Early Voting period for this election will be June 13 – June 21. As with all primaries, you must be enrolled in a party to vote in that party’s primary. To check your voter registration and party enrollment, you can visit the Board of Election’s website.

 

Census Fact of the Week

New York continues to trail much of the nation in its Census response rate, ranking 37th out of 52 states / territories. See below for a map of response rate by town.

Self Response by Township Image

U.S. Census Bureau

Do your part to help New York get its fair share. If you haven’t yet, please complete your Census online and encourage your family, friends, and coworkers to do the same. Then, visit our website for the chance to receive an Apple iPad.

 

This Week in Albany - July 24, 2020

 

Congress Must Act!

It is crunch time for our efforts to get dditional funding for our state and municipal governments. Congress is back in Washington D.C. but they will only be there until the end of next week.

If Congress doesn’t pass additional funding for state and local governments by the end of next week, we expect the state and local governments to begin preparing for layoffs and service cuts.

That’s why it is critical that you act today.

Call your member of Congress at 202-224-3121 and ask them to support the funding levels in the HEROES Act – $35 billion to New York State and $33 billion to municipal governments in New York over the next two years.

Our state and local governments have seen an unprecedented loss in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. New York State is projecting a $12 billion deficit this fiscal year and $16 billion for next year. Local governments, school districts, and State agencies are facing billions of dollars in cuts this year due to this revenue shortfall.

Without additional funding, our state and municipal governments will be forced to eliminate vital services and lay off employees. These actions will hamper our economic recovery and hurt our communities for years to come.

Please act now!

Call your member of Congress at 202-224-3121 and ask them to support additional funding for state and local governments.

Visit our website for more information.

Legislative Update

Over the past two weeks, the New York State Legislature returned to Albany for the third time since passage of the state budget in April. The legislative session had been scheduled to end on June 2, but the calendar was extended due to the COVID crisis.

At this time, the legislature may still be called on to return to Albany later this year as uncertainty around the State’s finances continue.

The following is a brief summary of relevant legislation that was taken up by the legislature over the past two weeks, and what CSEA’s involvement was in each.

  • S.8617B – Gounardes / A.10832 – Abbate: This bill requires all public employers, except for schools, to have a plan detailing: what employees are essential; protocols to enable all non-essential employees to work remotely; how PPE will be acquired and work shifts staggered for essential employees; and protocols for when an employee is exposed to a communicable disease. Employees will be represented in the development of these plans through their union. CSEA supports this legislation, which passed both houses.
  • A.7646A – Bronson / S.6144A – Robach: This bill would provide disability benefits under section 207-a of the General Municipal Law to paid employees of a county airport or aviation department who perform fire response or fire rescue duties. This will give these workers the same benefits available to other municipal firefighters. CSEA supports this legislation, which passed both houses.
  • S.8801 – Griffo: This bill is another proposal for an early retirement incentive. This bill is defective at this time. Any bill that amends the retirement and social security law must have a fiscal note prepared by the state comptroller that outlines how much employers will have to pay for an incentive. This bill doesn’t currently have a fiscal note and cannot be considered by the legislature without one. In addition, this bill does not grant additional service credit. It allows those who are 50 with 25 years of service or those that are 55 with 10 years of service to retire without a penalty. Also, any employee deemed necessary or critical for the maintenance of public health and safety will be excluded.  Also as a refresher, while the retirement system is funded at around 190 billion dollars, the money in the fund cannot be used to pay for any early retirement incentive. That is both illegal and amounts to a raid on the pension system. Currently over one billion dollars is spent every month to fund retiree pensions. The money in the fund can only be used to fund pensions at the time a person retires. Any early retirement legislation must be paid for by the state or local government employer that opts to participate. CSEA does not oppose the concept of an early retirement incentive, but any such incentive must make sense. Currently, without additional federal aid, none of the current legislative proposals make sense. This bill did not advance
  • A.10755 – Rosenthal: This bill would prohibit Peace Officers from carrying firearms. CSEA strongly opposes this misguided bill, which would endanger the welfare of the general public and workers with Peace Officer status, including Court Officers, Probation Officers, and many other titles. CSEA stands by our Peace Officers, who perform many duties essential to the safety of our communities. CSEA successfully advocated against the advancement of this legislation. If you would like to let the legislature know if you support or oppose this bill, you can click here.
  • A.5608 – Fitzpatrick and A.5435 – Goodell: These bills propose to repeal the Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law, which has helped countless public employees avoid hardships when negotiations are impeded when public employers refuse to collective bargain in good faith. These bills, which CSEA strongly opposes, were held in the Assembly Committee on Governmental Employees
  • A.10628 – Hyndman / S.8598 – Parker: This bill would make Juneteenth (June 19) a state holiday. June 19, 2020 was declared a state holiday via Executive Order. Passed Both Houses
  • S.8015D – Biaggi / A.10833 – Dinowitz: This bill would allow voters who wish to vote via absentee ballot because of COVID-19 to do so. Voters will still need to apply for an absentee ballot. Passed Both Houses
  • S.8806 – Gianaris / A.8280C – Walker: This bill would implement “automatic voter registration.” This would require certain agencies to develop an integrated voter registration application for persons using agency services, whereby information would be shared with the State Board of Elections for voter registration purposes unless the person receiving services opts out. The list of originally designated agencies includes the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Health, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the Department of Labor, the Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities, county and city departments of social services, and the New York City Housing Authority. This bill won’t go into effect until January 1, 2023. Passed Both Houses

Primary Election Results

After weeks of counting absentee ballots, the results of the June 23 Primary Elections have come into focus. The following is a summary of relevant contested elections.

Congress

  • CD12 (Parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan): The Democratic Primary race between Carolyn Maloney and Suraj Patel is still too close to call.
  • CD15 (Parts of the Bronx): Ritchie Torres received a plurality of votes in a multi-candidate Democratic Primary to succeed the retiring Jose Serrano.
  • CD16 (Parts of the Bronx and Westchester County): Jamaal Bowman defeated incumbent Eliot Engel in the Democratic Primary.
  • CD17 (Parts of Rockland and Westchester counties): Mondaire Jones won a seven-way Democratic Primary to succeed the retiring Nita Lowey.
  • CD27 (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming counties, and parts of Erie, Monroe, Niagara, and Ontario counties): Republican Chris Jacobs won a Special Election to fill the seat vacated when Chris Collins was forced to resign his seat. Jacobs also won the Republican Primary for November’s General Election.

State Senate

  • SD25 (Parts of Brooklyn): Jabari Brisport won the Democratic Primary to replace the retiring Velmanette Montgomery.
  • SD38 (Parts of Rockland and Westchester counties): Elijah Reichlin-Melnick won the Democratic Primary to replace Senator David Carlucci, who lost in a Democratic Primary for Congress.

State Assembly

  • AD34 (Part of Queens): Incumbent Democrat Michael DenDekker was defeated by Jessica González-Rojas.
  • AD36 (Part of Queens): Incumbent Democrat Aravella Simotas was defeated by Zohran Mamdani.
  • AD38 (Part of Queens): Incumbent Democrat Michael Miller was defeated by Jenifer Rajkumar.
  • AD50 (Part of Brooklyn): Incumbent Democrat Joe Lentol was defeated by Emily Gallagher.
  • AD51 (Part of Brooklyn): Incumbent Democrat Felix Ortiz was defeated by Marcela Mitaynes.
  • AD57 (Part of Brooklyn): Incumbent Democrat Walter Mosley was defeated by Phara Souffrant Forrest
  • AD91 (Part of Westchester County): Incumbent Democrat Steven Otis won a close Primary.
  • AD92 (Part of Westchester County): Incumbent Democrat Tom Abinanti won a close Primary.
  • AD108 (Parts of Albany and Rensselaer counties): Incumbent Democrat John McDonald won a close Primary.
  • AD137 (Parts of Monroe County): Demond Meeks won the Democratic Primary to replace Assemblyman David Gantt, who died in early July.
  • AD138 (Parts of Monroe County): Incumbent Democrat Harry Bronson defeated his Primary challenger.

Census Fact of the Week

New York continues to lag the nation in its response to the Census. As we fight to get the funding we need and deserve from Washington, remember that for each New Yorker that fails to take the Census, the state could lose $20,000.

You still have time to enter CSEA’s iPad giveaway for the Census! The deadline to submit your name has been extended from July 31 to August 31.

If you haven’t yet, please complete your Census online and encourage your family, friends, and coworkers to do the same. Then, visit our website for the chance to receive an Apple iPad. Seven winners will be drawn on August 31 – one from each Region and one from the Retiree Division.

Sent via ActionNetwork.org. To update your email address, change your name or address, or to stop receiving emails from CSEA Local 1000, please click here.

 

This Week in Albany - October 9, 2020

President Trump Walks Away From the Table, Again

Last week’s optimism about a potential deal between Congress and the Trump administration to help the nation recover from the COVID pandemic came to a screeching halt this week.
Less than a day after returning to the White House following his own hospitalization for COVID-19, President Trump, in a series of Tweets, directed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to cease negotiations with Congress over a stimulus package.
The President somewhat backtracked later in the week, saying that he supports a package of bailouts for the airline industry and another round of checks to Americans. As has been the case for months, it is unclear what the White House’s position actually is on another stimulus package. However, what is clear is that the President does not support providing aid to state and local governments.
The President said that he refuses to bail out “Democrat States,” and will not negotiate a broader package until after the election. Instead, the President directed that Mitch McConnell and the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate focus on expediting the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett’s lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
The House of Representatives has now twice passed legislation that would put our economy back on a positive track and prevent needless suffering. The President has twice backed out of negotiations.
While states, local governments, and school districts resort to layoffs and furloughs to cope with massive budget shortfalls; child care providers struggle to keep the lights on; colleges and universities continue to educate students amid virus outbreaks; and tens of millions of Americans remain out of work, the President is refusing to take action.
Governor Cuomo said this week that the state would wait until after the election to formalize any cuts to the state budget in hopes that some agreement can be reached on a federal aid package.

 

Election Spotlight – Regions 1 and 6

Region 1

Members in Suffolk County have had CSEA-endorsed Republican State Senator Ken Lavalle looking out for them for over 40 years. Unfortunately, Senator LaValle has decided to retire and CSEA wishes him luck.  Now, we are left with some big shoes to fill. It was up to the Region PAC to interview candidates to find someone to continue to champion CSEA in Senate District 1. CSEA thinks they have done that with Republican Anthony Palumbo. During his tenure in the Assembly, Palumbo has consistently voted in favor of CSEA’s priorities and had an open door policy with our members. In the Senate, he will continue to fight for education, the environment, and Long Island’s families, just as Senator LaValle has.  

Region 6

Western New York has several interesting state and federal races. However, the Region’s main target will be a local race in Monroe County to help get Jamie Romeo elected to a full term as Monroe County Clerk. Jamie has been an advocate for CSEA both as an Assemblywoman and during her short time as Clerk. After years of hostility from the County, CSEA has made dramatic changes starting with the election of Adam Bello as County Executive.  Adam has made things better in Monroe County, but he can’t do it alone. Jamie and Adam have worked well together and CSEA members want to make sure that continues.  

Voting

Did you know that people who make a plan to vote are more likely to cast a ballot than those who don’t?
To help in this effort, CSEA has created a website for you to make your own plan to vote.  We will then send you a reminder email, along with useful information to help make sure you follow through with your plan to vote.    
This year you have three ways to vote – in-person on Election Day, early in-person voting, or by absentee ballot.  Regardless of how you decide to cast a ballot, the most important thing is that you make your voice heard!
 
 
This Year in Albany
Each year for CSEA’s Annual Delegates Meeting, the Legislative & Political Action Department produces a summary of the year’s important legislative and political activity.
This year has been unprecedented in many ways. Yet, through all of these challenges, CSEA members have continued to show up and make a difference in the legislative and political arena.
This Week in Albany - April 24, 2020

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Not Enough

This week, Congress passed a $484 billion package to provide additional funding for small-business loans, hospitals, and expanded coronavirus testing. While this funding is important to helping Americans through this crisis, the package omitted aid that New York desperately needs.

State and local governments are on the front lines of this crisis, especially in New York.

New York State is currently facing an anticipated $15 billion deficit. This is not because of bad decision making or overspending at the state level. This deficit has been caused by an unpredictable virus outbreak that has forced all economic activity to come to a standstill. We need help from Washington to make it through this crisis.

The reality of the situation is that if Congress doesn’t step up and provide funding to the state, New York will be facing devastating cuts to public services. Without additional aid, New York will be forced to slash its budget for state services, schools, and services provided by counties, cities, towns, and villages. The only option for public employers at all levels will be to make massive cuts to staffing and services.

Congress failed to deliver needed unrestricted funds to our state and localities in the latest federal stimulus package. Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the US Senate Majority Leader, would rather states declare bankruptcy than help them recover from the crisis. This is unacceptable. Congress must stand up for our state, localities and the PUBLIC SERVICES WE PROVIDE. Click here to read CSEA President Mary Sullivan’s response to the latest federal legislation.

We need your help to make sure our voices are heard in the Capitol. To send emails to congressional representatives we have launched an online letter-writing campaign where you simply enter your information and it sends the letter direct to your representatives.

Please visit our website today and get those letters sent!

Absentee Ballot Information

Every New Yorker has the option to vote via absentee ballot for the June 23 elections.

Any voter who wishes to vote via absentee ballot can utilize the absentee ballot application and check the box for “Temporary illness or physical disability.” This week, Governor Cuomo announced that he will direct the State Board of Elections to mail an absentee ballot application to all voters.

Applications can be made by mail, email, fax, or in person. Ballots can be returned by mail or in person.

The following deadlines apply for absentee ballots:

  • June 16 – last day to postmark applications for an absentee ballot
  • June 22 – last day to postmark ballot
  • June 23 – last day for an absentee ballot to be delivered in-person
  • June 30 – deadline for ballots to be received by your county board of elections by mail

Elections being held on June 23 include all Primary Elections (president, congress, and state and local elections), and Special Elections for the 27th Congressional District (former Chris Collins seat), 50th State Senate District (former Robert Antonacci seat), 12th Assembly District (former Andrew Raia seat), 31st Assembly District (former Michelle Titus seat), and 136th Assembly District (former Jamie Romeo seat).

Census Fact of the Week

The current crisis highlights the importance of federal funding to CSEA members. The services we provide are largely funded by federal dollars passed down to our state and local governments, and that funding is directly tied to the Census. In the last Census, it was estimated that 31% of our population failed to respond to the Census. That cost New York $120 billion in federal funding, an incredible amount that could have helped support our jobs and the services we provide. This time, we must ensure that New York gets its fair share.

If you haven’t yet, please complete your Census online. Then, visit our website for the chance to receive an Apple iPad.

This Week in Albany - June 26, 2020

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Primary Elections

This week, Primary Elections were held for President (Democratic Primary only), Congress, and the state legislature. While all eligible voters had the opportunity to cast their ballots via absentee ballot, polls were also open.

The following is a brief summary of Tuesday’s results as they stand so far, but please be aware that because of the large influx of absentee ballots this year, results in many races are not yet final and may change.

President

Unsurprisingly, Joe Biden easily won the Democratic Presidential Primary. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Board of Elections to reinstate the Primary after officials moved to cancel the Primary after all other candidates had suspended their campaigns.

Congress

State Senator Chris Jacobs (R-Orchard Park) won both the Special Election and Republican Primary for the 27th Congressional District. Jacobs will serve the remainder of Chris Collins’ unexpired term, and will be on the Republican party line in November for a full term.

Democrat Eliot Engel (D-NY16) appeared to be defeated by challenger Jamaal Bowman, while Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY12) held a narrow lead over her opponent. Ritchie Torres held the lead in a multi-candidate race to succeed retiring Rep. Jose Serrano in NY15, while Mondaire Jones held the lead in NY17.

State Legislature

CSEA-endorsed Assemblyman Harry Bronson (AD138) soundly defeated his opponent.

Several Democratic incumbents in the State Assembly trailed or were in very close races at the end of election night, including Michael DenDekker (AD34), Arabella Simotas (AD36), Michael Miller (AD38), Joe Lentol (AD50), Walter Mosley (AD57), Steven Otis (AD91), Tom Abinanti (AD92), and John McDonald (AD108).

While maybe not the tidal wave that was Primary Day 2018 in terms of incumbents being defeated, it does appear that several sitting lawmakers will go down to defeat. Still others chose to run for a higher office, thereby giving up their current seats whether they won or lost.

Stay tuned for a full recap once results are finalized.

Scheduling Note

“This Week in Albany” will be off next week for the Independence Day holiday. The following week will begin our summer schedule, with emails hitting your inbox every other week.

Census Fact of the Week

New York has zero counties ranked in the top 100 in U.S. Census response rate. In fact, New York doesn’t show up anywhere in the top 450 counties. The highest-ranked New York county (Nassau) doesn’t appear until spot 478 on the list. We must do better.

Do your part to help New York get its fair share. If you haven’t yet, please complete your Census online and encourage your family, friends, and coworkers to do the same. Then, visit our website for the chance to receive an Apple iPad.

This Week in Albany - May 8, 2020

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Fight for Federal Aid Continues

The entire New York State delegation to the House of Representatives sent a letter to Congressional leadership this week calling on the federal government to provide financial aid to the state and local governments. The bi-partisan letter was sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California).

Without additional federal aid the state will have to cut over $8 billion in local government assistance (including school aid), and cut state agency spending by 10%. This will have a devastating impact on services, jobs, and our communities.

CSEA’s letter writing campaign has been extraordinarily successful thus far, but the fight is far from over. We need to make sure that Congress continues to hear loudly and clearly from CSEA members about the need for additional federal aid.

Click here to join our campaign or to send another letter!

Presidential Primary Reinstated by Federal Judge

This week, a federal judge ordered that New York reinstate its Democratic Presidential Primary for June 23.

The recently enacted state budget included legislation to permit the Board of Elections (BOE) to remove a candidate from the ballot if that candidate had publicly announced the suspension of his or her campaign. Since every qualified candidate except for Joe Biden had publicly dropped out of the race, and because of the coronavirus pandemic, the BOE removed every other Democrat from the ballot and canceled the Primary.

Former candidate Andrew Yang challenged the BOE’s determination, resulting in this week’s decision. There could be more to come in this story, as the BOE is challenging the judge’s ruling.

Voting Information

Every New Yorker has the option to vote via absentee ballot for the June 23 elections.

Any voter who wishes to vote via absentee ballot can utilize the absentee ballot application and check the box for “Temporary illness or physical disability.” The State Board of Elections will mail an absentee ballot application and postage-paid return envelope to every registered voter.

The following deadlines apply for absentee ballots:

  • June 16 – last day to postmark applications for an absentee ballot
  • June 22 – last day to postmark ballot
  • June 23 – last day for an absentee ballot to be delivered in-person
  • June 30 – deadline for ballots to be received by your county board of elections by mail

Polls will still be open, and the Early Voting period for this election will be June 13 – June 21.

Census Fact of the Week

The current crisis highlights the importance of federal funding to CSEA members.

Unfortunately, New York continues to lag behind the national average in response rate, currently ranking 42nd out of the 50 states.

U.S. Census Bureau

We need to do better. If you haven’t yet, please complete your Census online. Then, visit our website for the chance to receive an Apple iPad.

This Week in Albany - April 17, 2020

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Tell Congress – Help Save New York

According to a report from State Comptroller DiNapoli, the state closed out the fiscal year on March 31 with $2.4 billion more cash-on-hand than projected. However, the Comptroller warned that the state will face cash flow issues as soon as next month due to decreased revenues and additional spending on the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Comptroller’s report further stressed the need for significantly more assistance from Washington to the state and local governments to avoid devastating funding and service cuts.

CSEA has launched an all-hands-on-deck campaign to ensure that New York receives the funding it needs from the federal government to prevent massive job losses in our state.

Click on the image below for a video explaining the campaign and what you can do to help.

Video Screenshot Image

More information is also available on our website. We are all in this together!

NYS On Pause

This week did bring some positive news with regard to the pandemic. It appears that social distancing guidelines have helped in “flattening the curve,” and New York has moved beyond its apex of hospitalizations and deaths from the virus. Governor Cuomo held a press conference with the Governors of New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Rhode Island to discuss a regional approach to reopening the economy once the health crisis has eased up.

In the interim, Governor Cuomo announced that “NYS On Pause” would be extended through May 15 in coordination with other surrounding states. This includes school and workplace closures and other social distancing provisions.

Absentee Ballot Information

Every New Yorker has the option to vote via absentee ballot for the June 23 elections.

Any voter who wishes to vote via absentee ballot can utilize the absentee ballot application and check the box for “Temporary illness or physical disability.” Applications can be made by mail, email, fax, or in person. Ballots can be returned by mail or in person.

The following deadlines apply for absentee ballots:

  • June 16 – last day to postmark applications for an absentee ballot
  • June 22 – last day to postmark ballot
  • June 23 – last day for an absentee ballot to be delivered in-person
  • June 30 – deadline for ballots to be received by your county board of elections by mail

Elections being held on June 23 include all Primary Elections (president, congress, and state and local elections), and Special Elections for the 27th Congressional District (former Chris Collins seat), 50th State Senate District (former Robert Antonacci seat), 12th Assembly District (former Andrew Raia seat), 31st Assembly District (former Michelle Titus seat), and 136th Assembly District (former Jamie Romeo seat).

Census Fact of the Week

Because of difficulties caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, the Census Bureau announced this week that it would ask Congress for a four-month delay in delivering Census data. The request also includes an extension of the deadline for collecting data from August 15 to October 31.

As CSEA has been saying for weeks, the pandemic has not made the Census less important. If anything, ensuring that New York gets its fair share is more important than ever.

If you haven’t yet, please complete your Census online. Then, visit our website for the chance to receive an Apple iPad.

This Week in Albany - May 29, 2020

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Legislative Update

This week, the state legislature returned to session to pass legislation relating to the coronavirus pandemic. Legislators met and passed bills through a mix of in-person and virtual participation. The legislature acted on the following bills:

  • S.8427 – Gounardes / A.10528 – Abbate (Governor’s Program Bill #11): This bill will provide an accidental death benefit for any public employee who reported to work and died as a result of COVID-19. This is a death benefit for families. If the family of a member who died prior to this took a pension survivors benefit they can go back and see which situation might be better for them. The only requirement is a death certificate listing COVID-19 OR a letter from a doctor or other health care practitioner stating that COVID-19 was a contributing factor. This new benefit will be effective from March 1, 2020 until December 31, 2020. CSEA strongly supports this legislation and thanks the Governor and legislature for its passage.
  • S.8298B – Salazar / A.10394A – Lentol: This bill requires nursing homes to have a pandemic emergency plan, including how to communicate patient status to families daily, how to keep staff safe, how to readmit residents, and how to have a two-month supply of PPE on hand.
  • S.8397A – Savino / A.10326A – Reyes: This bill creates a new definition of “improper quality of workplace safety” to protect employees from employer retaliation if they report violations of this category.
  • S.7996B – Carlucci / A.10189A – Ortiz: This bill will ensuring that school districts don’t lose state aid for being in session for less than 180 days due to COVID-19
  • S.8130D – Myrie / A.10516A – Simotas: This bill will permit absentee ballot applications to be submitted to the Board of Elections electronically. This provision would go into effect after the June 23, 2020 Primary Election.
  • Various bills for renters and home owners were passed, including:
    • Prohibiting evictions due to COVID-related financial hardship. While this legislation will prohibit evictions for nonpayment of rent due through the expiration of “NY on Pause”, the legislature did not pass any legislation to forgive rent payments all together. Landlords would still be able to obtain money judgments for unpaid rent.
    • Allowing for the extension of mortgage forbearance payments and allowing a borrower to defer payments to the end of their loan term or spread the payments out over the remaining life of the loan.
    • A new program to direct a portion of federal CARES act funding towards rental subsidies for certain renters who are unable to pay their rent.

The last scheduled day of the 2020 legislative session is next Tuesday, June 2. However, at this time it is unclear if or when the legislature will reconvene.

Voting Information

Every New Yorker eligible to vote in the June 23 primary elections has the option to vote via absentee ballot.

Any eligible voter who wishes to vote via absentee ballot can utilize the absentee ballot application and check the box for “Temporary illness or physical disability.” The Board of Elections will mail an absentee ballot application and postage-paid return envelope to every registered voter.

The following deadlines apply for absentee ballots:

  • June 16 – last day to postmark applications for an absentee ballot
  • June 22 – last day to postmark ballot
  • June 23 – last day for an absentee ballot to be delivered in-person
  • June 30 – deadline for ballots to be received by your county board of elections by mail

Polls will still be open, and the Early Voting period for this election will be June 13 – June 21. As with all primaries, you must be enrolled in a party to vote in that party’s primary. To check your voter registration and party enrollment, you can visit the Board of Election’s website.


Census Fact of the Week

Census workers will not begin knocking on doors until August 11 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the difficulties in collecting data this year, Census officials again asked Congress to provide additional time to prepare the official count and data required for state redistricting officials.

If you haven’t yet, please complete your Census online and encourage your family, friends, and coworkers to do the same. Then, visit our website for the chance to receive an Apple iPad.

 

This Week In Albany - May 1, 2020

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The Real Impact of Federal Inaction

New York is facing an unprecedented financial crisis, and we need help from the federal government to make sure that the services our communities depend on will still be there.

What New York desperately needs is funding to fill the enormous hole in the state budget caused by the lack of economic activity. As a result of this shutdown, the New York State budget is facing the loss of at least $13 billion during the current fiscal year. This is in addition to the loss of over $1 billion in sales tax revenues for counties and local governments.

In the absence of more federal aid, the State will be forced to make cuts of up to 50% for most local government programs, including school aid. State agencies are facing a 10% cut.

Without this federal aid, public employers across the state will have no choice but to lay off thousands of workers and eliminate vital services.

Click here for an interactive map to get a better sense of what these cuts could mean to your area.

Then, click here to learn more about our campaign and to join in. We are all in this together, and we need everyone to take this seriously.

Rallies for Federal Aid

This Thursday, CSEA members across the state sent a strong message to our Congressional Representatives to stand strong and continue to fight for the federal aid New York desperately needs by holding car rallies outside the offices of Congressional Representatives Peter King (R-NY2), Elise Stefanik (R-NY21), and John Katko (R-NY24).
The NY Congressional delegation has been vocal in its support for a new aid package to help states and municipalities with their revenue shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated opposition to additional federal aid. These rallies encouraged members of Congress to fight for New Yorkers and encourage House and Senate leadership to get on board.

Update on Schools and Reopening

This week, Governor Cuomo unveiled a plan for how the state will approach the gradual reopening of New York.

While plans are being develop to reopen the state, the Governor announced that K-12 schools and colleges will remain closed for the rest of the academic year. Decisions relating to summer school will be made at the end of May, and schools and colleges will have to develop reopening plans to be approved by the state.

Meanwhile, the first step toward reopening occurred this week, with hospitals in 35 counties being permitted to resume elective outpatient treatments. Additional businesses are expected to begin opening following the expiration of “New York State On Pause” on May 15.

Stay tuned for updates as we know more about how the state’s reopening plan will impact CSEA members.

Absentee Ballot Information (Updated)

Every New Yorker has the option to vote via absentee ballot for the June 23 elections.

Any voter who wishes to vote via absentee ballot can utilize the absentee ballot application and check the box for “Temporary illness or physical disability.” The State Board of Elections will mail an absentee ballot application and postage-paid return envelope to every registered voter.

The following deadlines apply for absentee ballots:

  • June 16 – last day to postmark applications for an absentee ballot
  • June 22 – last day to postmark ballot
  • June 23 – last day for an absentee ballot to be delivered in-person
  • June 30 – deadline for ballots to be received by your county board of elections by mail

Updated list of June 23 elections: The Presidential Primary, and Special Elections for Senate and Assembly, New York City Council, and Queens Borough President have been cancelled. Vacant offices will be filled in the November elections. Elections held on June 23 will now include Congressional, state and local Primaries, and the Special Election for the 27th Congressional District (former Chris Collins seat).

Census Fact of the Week

The current crisis highlights the importance of federal funding to CSEA members.

Unfortunately, New York’s Census response is one of the worst in the nation so far. Through the middle of this week, less than 49% of New York households responded to the Census, ranking 43rd among states and significantly below the national average of 54.6%.

We need to do better. If you haven’t yet, please complete your Census online. Then, visit our website for the chance to receive an Apple iPad.

 

This Week in Albany - March 6, 2020

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Legislative Update

CSEA applauds Senator Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) and the entire New York State Senate for unanimously passing one of CSEA’s priority bills this week.

S.6094A – Kennedy: Two CSEA-represented workers lost their lives in work zones last year, and it has been 15 years since major work zone safety legislation was passed in New York. This bill would expand protections in work zones by sharply increasing fines for endangering a highway worker and would direct a majority of revenues collected from such fines to making work zones safer. The bill also calls for expanded efforts around public education and outreach on work zone safety. Passed the Senate / Currently in Assembly Transportation Committee (A.8208 – Magnarelli)

In addition to supporting this stand-alone bill, CSEA is strongly advocating for the provisions of this bill to be included in the state budget.

Budget Update

The Senate, Assembly, and Executive have agreed to a revenue forecast that is $700 million above the Executive Budget estimate. This agreement is an important first step towards a final state budget, as all sides have agreed on the baseline total revenue available.

The Senate and Assembly are expected to release their “one-house” versions of the budget in the next two weeks, which lay out each house’s priorities in budget negotiations.

A final budget agreement is due by April 1.

Coronavirus Update

There are currently more than 200 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the U.S., which includes at least 33 in New York State.

This week, the New York State Legislature passed a $40 million appropriation to help the state and local governments combat the virus. The Governor has signed this appropriation into law. In addition, the State will require health insurers to waive cost sharing, like co-pays, associated with testing for novel Coronavirus including emergency room, urgent care and office visits.

On the federal level, Congress has passed an $8.3 billion proposal to help states and the federal government stop the spread of the virus. The President signed the spending bill on Friday.

While there is currently no vaccine for the novel Coronavirus, everyday preventative actions can help stop the spread of this and other respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

New Yorkers can call the State hotline at 1-888-364-3065, where experts can answer questions regarding the Coronavirus. CSEA members can find more information on the virus on our website.

At a Glance

The legislature is scheduled to be in Albany for two days next week. There are 12 session days scheduled before the state budget is due on April 1.

Census Fact of the Week

Households should begin receiving instructions on how to fill out the 2020 U.S. Census beginning next week (March 12).

Ensuring that all New Yorkers are accurately counted is vitally important. To help raise awareness of the Census and to encourage CSEA members to fill out their forms as soon as possible, CSEA will be giving away seven Apple iPads to members that complete their Census form.

Beginning April 1, we invite CSEA members and Retiree Division members who have completed their census form to visit cseany.org/census to enter for a chance to win a new Apple iPad! Seven winners (one from each CSEA region and one from the Retiree Division) will be drawn on July 31.

To be eligible to win, you must be a CSEA member or Retiree Division member. Visitcseany.org/census after April 1st for more information and to register to win!

 

This Week in Albany - April 10, 2020

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CSEA TO STATE: YOU NEED OUR SERVICES DURING CRISIS; CONTRACTUAL WAGE INCREASES FOR STATE WORKERS SHOULD BE PAID

ALBANY – On the heels of an announcement from New York State that it will delay payment of negotiated wage increases for unionized state workers for 90 days, CSEA, the state’s largest public workers’ union, is lashing out over the state’s failure to deliver on their contractual commitments. The 2 percent across-the-board increase was due to be paid in mid-April.

“It’s inexcusable to require our workers to literally face death to ensure the state keeps running and then turn around and deny those very workers their much-deserved raise in this time of crisis,” said CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan.

“People are failing to recognize the value of our state workers during this crisis and what they are going through to keep providing public services throughout the state. We literally have workers sleeping in their workplaces to make sure essential services are delivered around the clock. They’re at the front lines keeping this epidemic from spreading further, caring for our most vulnerable and ill residents, helping people in our communities suffering from job losses, and keeping our state from wholesale economic and social collapse. We cannot value them enough right now.”

“In the face of life and death risks, our state workers are showing up and honoring their commitment to serve New York’s residents, and New York should recognize that by honoring its commitments to them.”

The union acknowledges that skyrocketing unemployment, business closures, and billions in lost revenues have created an unsustainable budget situation for New York, which will lead to cuts in public services unless the federal government steps in with needed funding, which the union has demanded.

“Our state workers have proven themselves indispensable during this crisis, and they shouldn’t be called on to sacrifice even more due to our federal government’s lack of appropriate funding to our state,” Sullivan said. “Our Congressional delegation and the White House need to act now to help New York survive the economic crisis this pandemic caused and make sure we have the ability to continue the vital public services New Yorkers rely on.”

Tell Congress – Help Save New York

The deferral of raises for state employees is only one example of the obstacles workers could be facing in New York if our state doesn’t get more federal aid to cover the massive budget deficit caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

With New York at the epicenter of the current public health crisis unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, our state’s recently-enacted budget will not be able to handle the coming economic crisis, without huge cuts to vital services and programs New Yorkers depend on every day.

Now, it’s time to get EVERY CSEA member fired up and taking action to save our state’s public services.

We need your help to make sure that our voices are heard in Washington.

Visit our website for more information on CSEA’s campaign and to find out how you can help. We are all in this together!

Click here for a video message from CSEA leadership.

Filing for Retirement During COVID

The Office of the State Comptroller has put together guidance for public employees on how to file for retirement benefits during this crisis.

Please visit the Comptroller’s website for more information.

If you are already retired and don’t wait to wait to receive a check in the mail in this uncertain time, you can sign up for direct deposit and get your money sooner. Active state employees can download a direct deposit form here.

Election Update

The Presidential Primary, Congressional Primary, State and Local Primary, and Special Elections that had previously been scheduled for April 28 have been scheduled for June 23. This week, Governor Cuomo announced that all New Yorkers will be eligible to vote via absentee ballot for these elections.

Additionally, all school votes (school board elections and budget votes), village elections (March) and library elections previously scheduled for April or May have been delayed until at least June 1.

Census Fact of the Week

At a time of so much uncertainty, ensuring that New Yorkers get their fair share is more important than ever.

Now that the Census has started, CSEA members and Retiree Division members who have completed their Census forms can visit our website for a chance to win a new Apple iPad. While CSEA encourages everyone to fill out their Census online if possible, you can also participate by phone or mail. Once you have completed your Census, visit our website for a chance to win.

This Week in Albany - April 3, 2020

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State Budget Passed

The Governor and Legislature have finalized the FY21 State Budget.

Due to plummeting state revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the lack of additional federal funds to fill the revenue shortfalls in State and local government budgets, the state budget contains language that will allow the Director of Budget to make cuts to appropriations if the state budget is unbalanced during the year. Currently, the state is expecting a $15 billion shortfall which will force significant cuts to state operations, local governments, school districts, and nearly every program imaginable.

While many items may be ”fully funded” currently, they won’t be for long if we do not get a massive infusion of federal funding to New York State.

The following is a summary of important provisions in the enacted 2020-21 state budget.

Bonding Authority

The State has authority in this budget to bond up to $8 billion in order to cover a short-term cash flow issue early in the fiscal year. Due to the deadline for state and federal taxes being moved to July, the State is expecting to not have enough cash on hand from tax payments from April through July. This bonding authority will allow the state to continue to operate while awaiting these payments.

Division of the Budget “Superpowers”

With the state facing unprecedented fiscal uncertainty due to the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, the enacted budget provides the Executive with broad authority to make mid-year changes to the state’s financial plan.

If, during any time period, the State’s General Fund is imbalanced, the Budget Director is given authority to adjust or reduce appropriations by any amount needed to balance the budget. The cuts would be made uniformly across-the-board to the extent practicable or by specific appropriations as needed. The legislature would have ten days to prepare its own plan, or the reductions would go into effect automatically.

COVID-Related Appropriations

The budget provides $4 billion in state appropriations to address the COVID-19 public health emergency, and includes $25 billion in Federal appropriation authority to address the crisis.

State Operations

The enacted budget authorizes the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) to close facilities with only 90-days’ notice until March 31, 2021. There is no limit as to the number of facilities that can be closed.

DOCCS is required to transfer adolescent offenders from its facilities to Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) facilities by October 1, 2020. Adolescent offenders are offenders under the age of 21 who were placed in units at DOCCS facilities solely intended for people their age. OCFS is a more proper placement for these offenders.

The enacted budget does not extend authority for SUNY to raise tuition. The Executive Budget proposed to allow SUNY to raise tuition by up to $200 per year through FY2025. Existing authority to raise tuition expires at the end of the 2020-21 academic year. However, the following SUNY schools would be permitted to increase non-resident tuition rates by 10% annually for a four year period: SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, SUNY Downstate, Upstate Medical Center, and the College of Technology at Utica-Rome/SUNY Polytechnic Institute. The enacted budget accepts the Executive Budget’s proposed funding levels for SUNY community colleges. Due to a decrease in enrollment, this results in a funding cut to community colleges from last year.

 

Local Governments

Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) funding is held flat over last year. The budget restores a proposed $9.3 million cut to municipalities that receive aid for hosting a video lottery gaming facility.

The budget also provides $250 million for counties and New York City for costs associated with raising the age of criminal responsibility.

Local Roads and Bridges

Funding for the CHIPS and Marchiselli programs is held flat from last year. The enacted budget restores $65 million for extreme winter recovery funding for local roads and bridges.

The enacted budget increases from $250,000 to $350,000 the competitive-bid threshold for CHIPS projects. This will allow municipalities to use their own workforce to perform work at or under the higher threshold instead of bidding out the contract competitively. This threshold hadn’t been increased since 2011.

Unified Court System

CSEA successfully defeated a proposal that would have made significant changes to the state’s court system and would have had potentially negative impacts on employees.

Education

K-12 Schools

The budget holds every school district harmless in foundation aid and will ensure that they receive the same funding as 2019-20 due to a infusion of federal funding.

Libraries

Library aid is reduced by $2.5 million over last year, and library construction aid is $20 million below last year’s levels.

Retirees

CSEA was successful in defeating several proposals that would have increased  health insurance costs for NYSHIP retirees. The proposals would have limited future reimbursement for Medicare Part B and would have totally eliminated the IRMAA reimbursement for current and future retirees. Lastly, we defeated a proposal that would have created a Tier 2 retiree health insurance benefit for future state employees.

Elections

Time Off to Vote

The final budget changes last year’s law allowing employees three hours off to vote. Effective immediately, employees will be allowed two hours off to vote if they do not have sufficient time outside of scheduled working hours to vote. Four consecutive hours either before or after work shall be deemed sufficient time outside of working hours within which to vote.

Public Campaign Financing

The enacted budget codifies the recommendations of 2019’s Public Financing Commission relating to campaign finance reform.  This law will allow the use of taxpayer funds to match private campaign contributions of rates between $6 in public for every $1 in private contributions up to $12:1. However, no funding is appropriated for this program and it will not be in effect until the 2024 elections.

In addition, this law increases the threshold for ballot access to 130,000 votes or two percent, whichever is higher. Political parties will be required to meet this threshold in both presidential and gubernatorial election years.

Environmental Bond Act

The enacted budget calls for a $3 billion “Restore Mother Nature” bond act, to be on the ballot for the November 2020 General Election. However, the state may stop the bond if the economic conditions makes it difficult to sell the bond.

Health Care

The budget will create a $250 million fund, annually, for distressed hospitals and nursing home facilities. This will be funded by New York City ($200 million) and the remaining 57 counties ($50 million). For counties outside of New York City, they will pay a percentage of this amount based on the amount of sales tax revenue that they bring in annually. This will not be in effect until 2021.

CSEA was successfully able to defeat a proposal that would have reduced funding to public hospitals by $70 million.

However, the State has issued a regulation that will reduce state Medicaid payments by $2.5 billion. In addition, Medicaid payments will be uniformly reduced by 1.875% during this fiscal year. These cuts will be left up to the Department of Health and Division of Budget.

Sick Leave

The budget will require all private sector employers outside of New York City to provide employees with one hour of sick leave for every thirty hours worked, up to certain maximums.

  • Employers with fewer than 4 employees and less than $1 million in revenue, workers can accumulate up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave;
  • Employers with fewer than 4 employees and more than $1 million in revenue, workers can accumulate up to 40 hours of paid sick leave;
  • Employers with 5-99 employees, workers can accumulate up to 40 hours of paid sick leave;
  • Employers with more than 99 employees, workers can accumulate up to 56 hours of paid sick leave.

Bail Reform

The enacted budget contains numerous changes to the state’s bail laws. These changes include expanding the conditions that a court may impose on a defendant and add additional offenses that a judge can use bail to detain a defendant.

COVID Update

This week, Governor Cuomo directed that the non-essential workforce continue to work from home through at least April 15. The state will re-evaluate after this additional two week period.

Census Fact of the Week

While we are all focused on dealing with the current crisis, it is important to remember that not everything has ground to a halt.

In the big picture, the Census is one of the most important tasks undertaken by the federal government. The Census determines a state’s representation in Congress, and how much money our communities will receive from the federal government for essential services. At a time of so much uncertainty, ensuring that New Yorkers get their fair share is more important than ever.

Prior to the Coronavirus overtaking everything else in our lives, CSEA launched a program to help raise awareness of the Census and encourage CSEA members to fill out their forms as soon as possible.

Now that the Census has started, CSEA members and Retiree Division members who have completed their Census forms can visit our website for a chance to win a new Apple iPad. While CSEA encourages everyone to fill out their Census online if possible, you can also participate by phone or mail. Once you have completed your Census, visit our website for a chance to win.

This Week in Albany - July 10, 2020

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Primary Elections

Even after two weeks, the results of many Primary races are still outstanding, especially downstate. This is in large part due to the massive increase in absentee ballots submitted this year.

We will provide a recap in the next edition of “This Week in Albany,” or whenever results are finalized.

We Need the Senate to Act

The need for Congressional action to support state and local governments is growing by the day. Reports show that an estimated 1.5 million state and local government jobs have already been lost across the country. In New York, Comptroller DiNapoli released a report this week highlighting the devastating financial impact the COVID crisis is having on local governments. The report anticipates that in the absence of federal aid, most municipalities will be forced to make reductions to staffing and associated services in order to their balance budgets this year and could face even greater reductions in 2021.

Enough is enough. Mitch McConnell and the United States Senate need to act.

This shouldn’t be a partisan or political issue. Moody’s Analytics estimates that every federal dollar spent on state and local support leads to $1.34 in increased GDP for the nation. On the flip side, a lack of action can only result in greater job loss and a deepening of the recession that will take years to get out of.

Congress is scheduled to return to session on July 20 before going on recess from August 10 to September 7. It is critical for our federal government to step up to the plate during this time period.

Call and write your US Senators. Urge your family, friends and neighbors to do the same. Visit https://cseany.org/help-save-new-york for resources, and to take action now.

Assemblyman Crespo Resigns

Assemblyman Marcos Crespo (D-Bronx) resigned his seat in the Assembly and his position of Bronx County Democratic Chair in late June. Crespo, who most recently served as Chair of the Assembly’s Labor Committee, had previously announced that he would not seek re-election in November. We wish him luck in his future endeavors.

Census Fact of the Week

The deadline to submit your name to CSEA’s iPad giveway has been extended from July 31 to August 31.

If you haven’t yet, please complete your Census online and encourage your family, friends, and coworkers to do the same. Then, visit our website for the chance to receive an Apple iPad. Seven winners will be drawn on August 31 – one from each Region and one from the Retiree Division.

This Week in Albany - March 20, 2020

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COVID-19 Response    

As the situation with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to evolve, actions are being taken at all levels of government to deal with its fallout.

On Wednesday, the state legislature passed and Governor Cuomo signed into law legislation to provide paid sick leave to New Yorkers impacted by the Coronavirus. The bill provides that a public employee that is subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine shall be paid their regular rate of pay for at least 14 days without using accrued sick leave. For private sector workers, the bill is structured to ensure that most workers will be kept financially whole. The exact structure of the benefit depends on the employer size and income. A broader paid sick leave proposal is expected to be taken up as part of the state budget.

Click here to read CSEA’s summary of this law.

Additionally, Governor Cuomo has:

  • Directed that non-essential State employees work from home;
  • Required 50% of local government workers to work from home;
  • Imposed a mandatory requirement that non-essential businesses and non-profits keep 100% of their workforce at home (effective Sunday evening);
  • Provided 90-days of mortgage relief to borrowers impacted by the virus. Contact your bank for more information;
  • Directed all schools to close until April 1;
  • Closed casinos, gyms, theaters, barbershops, nail salons, and other services;
  • Closed bars and restaurants except take out or delivery;
  • Banned non-essential gatherings and directed vulnerable populations to remain indoors;
  • Delayed income tax filings until July 15 (matching an updated federal schedule);
  • Opened a Special Enrollment Period from March 16 to April 15 for eligible, uninsured individuals and their families to enroll in insurance coverage through NY State of Health, New York’s official health plan Marketplace, and directly through insurers for coverage effective April 1. The open enrollment period for coverage in 2020 had previously ended on February 7; and
  • Rescheduled village elections, which had been scheduled for this past Tuesday (March 17), to April 28. Elected officials will remain in office until a new election is held. Stay tuned for more information as we get closer to Election Day.

At the federal level, President Trump signed a second federal aid package into law. This package provides paid sick and family leave for some workers impacted by the virus, expands unemployment assistance, and expands federal support for state Medicaid programs.