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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.
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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - June 12, 2020

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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 - May 22, 2020

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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.

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 - 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 - 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 - 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.

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 - 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.

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 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 - May 15, 2020

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Talk with Comptroller DiNapoli next Thursday

CSEA is hosting a special Town Hall Teleconference on Thursday, May 21 from 6 – 7pm with State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, open to all CSEA members, active and retired. Many people have concerns about our current economic status. Hear from the man who is in charge of our state finances, as well as our public pension system! To participate, dial in to 844-291-6358 and enter access code 7057569.

House Releases “Heroes Act”

This week, the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives released the “Heroes Act,” a $3 trillion bill to provide addition support to help Americans overcome the ongoing economic and public health crisis caused by the coronavirus. The following is a brief summary of proposals included in the legislation:

  • Perhaps most importantly, the legislation would provide almost $1 trillion to states and local governments to help fill the massive budget holes created by the lack of economic activity over the past two months;

  • Another round of stimulus checks to individuals and families, up to a maximum of $6,000;

  • An additional 14% for Medicaid;

  • An extension of the additional $600 weekly unemployment insurance benefit until January 2021;

  • $7 billion for child care assistance (children and providers);

  • $200 billion “Heroes Fund” for hazard pay for essential workers;

  • $75 billion for coronavirus testing and tracing;

  • Additional funding for the Census Bureau and for elections;

  • Repeal of the $10,000 cap on the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT) for 2020 and 2021; and

  • Increased funding for nutrition assistance, housing assistance, mental health services, and more.

While the House is expected to pass the bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has already declared that the Senate has no interest in passing anything similar to the Heroes Act. President Trump’s views on the legislation are unclear at this point.

In the coming days, the New York State Division of the Budget is expected to release details on roughly $10 billion in cuts that will be made to services in the absence of federal support. The importance for Congress to take action grows with each passing day as we try to stave off massive cuts that will have a devastating impact on CSEA members.

New York’s Congressional delegation continues to be vocal in its support of this additional aid, but we can’t take the release of this bill as a victory. Please visit our website, scroll to the bottom of the page, and send a letter to Mitch McConnell today. The Senate must act.

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 funding to CSEA members.

New York continues to lag behind the national average in response rate, though it has climbed two spots over the past two weeks to 40th place. Response rates vary widely within the state, ranging from only 6.6% in Hamilton County to 65.1% in Niagara County. Click the map below for more details on your county’s Census response.

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.

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 - 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. Click here for more information on benefits available under federal law.

Additionally, Congress is already deliberating a third package that could provide upwards of $1 trillion in relief. Details of this package are still under discussion, but could include direct cash payments to Americans.

CSEA continues to work to protect members and their families during these difficult times.Continue to visit our website for more information as we all work through this crisis.

State Budget Update

Negotiations over the 2020-21 state budget continue to be complicated by the pubic health and financial uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak.

According to an updated revenue projection released by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli this week, the state can expect revenues to be at least $4 billion to $7 billion lower than originally projected. The Division of the Budget has indicated that even this may underestimate the impact.

The uncertainty surrounding federal support, especially around Medicaid, has further complicated matters. However the Medicaid Redesign Team II, established by the Governor as part of the budget process, released its recommendations to find $2.5 billion in savings within the Medicaid program. Among the proposals is a seriously concerning $70 million cut to indigent care pool (ICP) funding for public hospitals. Since public hospitals provide care to most of the state’s uninsured and residents on Medicaid, any reduction in funding, including from the ICP, will force public hospitals to eliminate services, layoff health care professionals, and for some, maybe even close.

The state budget situation is still very fluid at this time. CSEA remains actively involved in the budget process to best protect our members.

Census Fact of the Week

Attention: Don’t throw out the letter you receive from the Census Bureau!

At this time, when social distancing is being promoted as the best way to prevent the spread of disease, we urge CSEA members to fill out their Census form online. Not only is this the easiest way to fill out the Census, but it will also limit the number of home visits Census workers will have to conduct and help to promote public health.

Learn more about the Census on CSEA’s website.

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 - 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 - February 21, 2020

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State Budget Update

State budget negotiations will begin to pick up when the legislature returns to Albany on Monday.

Governor Cuomo released amendments to his budget proposal this week. Over the next five weeks, the legislature will debate the Governor’s plan, develop their own proposals, and negotiate towards a final budget agreement by April 1.

Stay tuned for updates on important developments throughout this process.

Federal Budget Proposal

Last week, President Trump released his $4.8 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2021.

The budget proposal calls for a 5.1% cut to nondefense spending, including cuts and reforms to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, education, roads and bridges, clean water infrastructure, and more. The budget would also extend for 10 years the tax cuts enacted in 2017.

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for four days in Albany next week.

Census Fact of the Week

The Census is fast approaching! See the timeline below to see what to expect in the coming weeks and months.

  • March 12 – 20: Households will receive notification to respond to the Census online
  • March 16 – April 3: Reminder postcards / letters will be sent out
  • April 1: Census Day – Events will be held across the state to raise awareness of the Census
  • May – July: Census Bureau workers will begin visiting homes that haven’t responded to the 2020 Census to help make sure everyone is counted
This Week in Albany - March 27, 2020

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$2 Trillion

All levels of government continued to respond to the public health and economic crisis of the coronavirus outbreak this week.

Congress has passed, and President Trump is expected to sign, the largest stimulus bill in United States history. This record-setting legislation provides $2 trillion to mitigate effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Please be aware that except education funding, all the money included in this package relating to state and local governments and child care can only be used for COVID-19 related efforts. It cannot be used by the state or a local government to fill any budget gaps stemming from a loss of revenue due to this pandemic. We have severe concerns with this stipulation and are currently evaluating all options.

Major provisions of the legislation include:

  • Direct cash payments to individuals as follows:
    • For single filers with an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or below, you will receive $1,200 plus $500 for every child that you claimed on your most recently filed federal income tax form. For single tax filers that make between $75,001-$98,999, your cash payment will be reduced by 5% of your adjusted gross income that is more than $75,000.
    • For married filers with an adjusted gross income of $150,000 or below, you will receive $2,400 plus $500 for any child that you claimed on your most recent federal income tax form. For married couples that make between $150,001-$197,999, your cash payment will be reduced by 5% of your adjusted gross income that is in excess of $150,000.
    • Qualifying incomes will be based on your 2019 income tax return, if you have already filed, or your 2018 return if you have not yet filed.
  • $100 billion for hospitals, including:
    • Delaying until December 1, 2020 Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments that were scheduled to go into effect on May 23, 2020. These cuts would adversely affect New York’s safety-net hospitals like the three SUNY hospitals, Erie County Medical Center, Westchester Medical Center, and Nassau University Medical Center.
    • $10 billion in grants to hospitals, public entities, not-for-profits, and Medicare-and Medicaid-enrolled suppliers and institutional providers to help cover unreimbursed health care-related expenses or lost revenue because of COVID-19.
  • Expanded Unemployment Insurance
    • The legislation includes 13 additional weeks of Unemployment Insurance payments. In addition, the legislation will grant an additional $600 per week, on top of what a state already pays, for an unemployed person for four months.
    • This would be available to workers who were newly eligible for unemployment benefits for weeks starting on Jan 27, 2020 and through Dec. 31 2020.
  • $30 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund for states
  • $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant to supplement state funding for child care assistance
  • $45 million in grants to states for child welfare services
  • Various provisions for businesses, including:
    • Federally guaranteed loans available at community banks to small businesses that pledge not to lay off their workers. The loans would be forgiven if the employer continued to pay workers for the duration of the crisis;
    • Delaying the payment of 2020 payroll taxes;
    • Providing tax credits for businesses that keep workers on payroll; and
    • $75 billion for industry-specific loans, including airlines and hotels.
  • Extending the implementation of “Read ID” requirements until September 30, 2021
  • Providing $400 million in election security grants
  • $25 billion for transit systems, including $3.8 billion specifically for the MTA

For a more detailed summary of the bill, please visit our website.

While massive, this federal legislation is being viewed as only one step towards recovery from the pandemic.

State Actions

New York has become the epi-center of the virus outbreak in the United States. Efforts continue on the state and local levels to limit the spread of the disease.

Governor Cuomo announced on Friday that schools across New York State would remain closed for an additional two weeks, until April 15. Schools were originally scheduled to reopen on April 1. It is expected that the situation will be re-evaluated again prior to re-opening schools.

State Budget Update

Despite an infusion of over $5 billion to New York from the federal stimulus bill, New York’s budget is still a major question mark. This week, State Budget Director Robert Mujica projected that the state’s deficit for Fiscal Year 2021 could approach $15 billion.

On Thursday, Governor Cuomo gave some insight into what this year’s budget could look like. First, it is expected that initial revenue projections will be lowered, resulting in lower funding in many areas of the budget. Additionally, the Governor indicated that revenues will need to be re-evaluated quarterly throughout the year, with changes in appropriations made as needed.

CSEA is closely monitoring the progression of state budget negotiations, and will continue to advocate on behalf of members.

An agreement on the state budget is due by April 1 (next Wednesday). At this time, we have no reason to think that this deadline won’t be met, but stay tuned for more information.

Minority Leader Flanagan Won’t Run

Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) announced this week that he will not seek re-election later this year.

Flanagan, who had served in the legislature for 34 years, served as Senate Majority Leader from 2015-2018.

Leader Flanagan was a long-time friend to CSEA. We thank him for his service and wish him the best of luck in retirement.

Census Fact of the Week

Attention: Don’t throw out the letter you receive from the Census Bureau!

At this time, when social distancing is being promoted as the best way to prevent the spread of disease, we urge CSEA members to fill out their Census form online. Not only is this the easiest way to fill out the Census, but it will also limit the number of home visits Census workers will have to conduct and help to promote public health.

While the world’s attention has been focused on dealing with the coronavirus, ensuring that all New Yorkers are accurately counted is more important than ever to make sure that New York gets its fair share of federal funding moving forward.

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 - March 13, 2020

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Coronavirus Becomes the Focus

Responding to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak became the focus of the federal, state, and local governments this week.

In New York:

  • Governor Cuomo announced that the state will guarantee two full weeks of paid leave for all state workers who are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine. CSEA is continuing to work with the state and local governments to ensure that members are held harmless for any actions taken to respond to the virus;
  • Most classes at SUNY and CUNY campuses will be shifted to distance learning for the remainder of the Spring semester – campuses are expected to remain open to varying degrees. SUNY employees can click here for more information;
  • Gatherings of more 500 or more people have been banned. This included a shutdown of most Broadway theatres on Thursday night;
  • The state implemented a “containment area” around New Rochelle, which has become a hot-spot for the virus; and
  • Many St. Patrick’s Day parades, including the New York City parade, have been postponed or cancelled.

Additionally, stock markets cratered this week, officially entering “bear market” territory on Wednesday and posting the worst single day drop since 1987 on Thursday. This financial uncertainty has, among other concerns, thrown a wrench into the works of the state budget. Governor Cuomo has asked Comptroller DiNapoli to revisit revenue projections and their impact on the preparation of a budget by next week.

At the federal level:

  • President Trump called for a ban on European travelers entering the country for 30 days during a prime time Oval Office address on Wednesday and on Friday declared a National State of Emergency; and
  • Congress is working on a package of legislation to address the crisis. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were in negotiations over the package on Thursday and Friday. At the time of this email, the House is expected to pass a bill at some point on Friday. These conversations are said to include proposals like paid sick leave and expanded unemployment insurance, tax credits to small and medium-sized businesses, free access to coronavirus testing, and more. It is unclear what action will be taken in the Senate, as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) sent his members home for the weekend.

Stay tuned for more information on this developing story.

An Important Message to All CSEA Members

CSEA President Mary Sullivan issued the following message to all CSEA members:

All of our CSEA members, both public and private, are on the front lines delivering necessary services to the citizens of our state every day.

As such, many of you have direct contact with the public every day. Some of our members are working to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, or may be in situations where potential exposure risks exist because of your work. We want you to know the facts and be diligent in following the established protocols.

CSEA has one of the finest Occupational Safety and Health Departments of any union across the country, and I have tasked them with providing you the most accurate information and resources. They have created a web site specifically dealing with Coronavirus and how it may impact you as workers. We are updating this site on a regular basis as the situation changes throughout our state. For the latest information, please visit our page at:https://cseany.org/coronavirus-information

I encourage all of you to follow best practices for you and your families and to be safe.

In Unionism,

Mary E. Sullivan
President, CSEA

At a Glance

The legislature is scheduled to be in Albany for three days next week. The state budget is due by April 1. At this time, it is unclear how or if the COVID-19 outbreak will impact this timeline or the remainder of the legislative session.

Census Fact of the Week

Households should begin receiving their Census notification next week.

At this time, when social distancing is being promoted as the best way to prevent the spread of disease, we urge CSEA members to fill out their Census form online. Not only is this the easiest way to fill out the Census, but it will also limit the number of home visits Census workers will have to conduct and help to promote public health.

Learn more about the Census on CSEA’s website.

This Week In Albany - February 7, 2020

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CSEA Testifies at Joint Budget Hearing

CSEA Director of Legislative and Political Action Fran Turner presented testimony this week on the 2020-21 Executive Budget proposal to the State Senate Finance Committee and State Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

CSEA’s testimony focused on concerns  about the potential negative effect on CSEA members and those who need services the most, especially with impending Medicaid reforms and spending cuts. The testimony also addressed State Operations, the Unified Court System, retirees, child care providers, highway workers, and CPS caseworkers.

A copy of CSEA’s testimony can be viewed here.

Another Retirement

The list of retiring legislators continues to grow, as Assemblyman Gary Finch (R-Springport) announced this week that he will not seek re-election in the fall.

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for four days next week. Joint legislative budget hearings will be held on local governments, education, public protection, economic development, and taxes.

Deadline Approaching to Change Party Registration for 2020 Primaries

The deadline to change your party enrollment for any 2020 primary election is February 14.

In New York, you must be enrolled in a party to vote in that party’s primary. Changes submitted after next Friday, February 14 will not take effect until June 30th.

Census Fact of the Week

Beginning on March 20, the U.S. Census Bureau will post an interactive map, updated daily at 3pm, showing where Census forms have been received. This map will give a live picture of where Census responses are high, and what areas are lacking.

More information on the Census can be found at census.gov.

This Week in Albany - February 28, 2020

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Legislative Update

Two of CSEA’s priority bills began to move through the legislature this week. Click the bill numbers to see CSEA’s memoranda in support of these bills.

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. This bill moved out of the Senate Transportation Committee and is currently on the Senate floor.

A.7581A – Jaffee: Currently, state law does not limit the number of active investigations each CPS worker may have at one time. Some counties have average caseloads as high as 70 per month, exponentially higher than the recommended level of 12 active cases per month. This bill would establish workload standards for child protective services (CPS) workers to ensure that CPS staff can fully and properly investigate cases and to help reduce high turnover and low morale among CPS workers. This bill moved out of the Assembly Children & Families Committee to the Assembly Ways & Means Committee.

In addition to supporting these stand-alone bills, CSEA is strongly advocating for these provisions to be included in the 2020-21 state budget. Stay tuned for updates as they become available.

More Legislators Not Running

Assemblyman Marcos Crespo (D-Bronx) announced this week that he will not seek re-election in the fall. Crespo, who chairs the Assembly’s Labor Committee, has served in the legislature since 2009. The Assemblyman has been a strong ally of CSEA during his time in Albany, and we wish him luck in his endeavors.

Additionally, Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso (D-North Hempstead) will not seek re-election. D’Urso was elected to the Assembly in 2016.

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for three days in Albany next week.

The Senate and Assembly are each working on developing their “one-house” versions of the budget, which are expected to be released within the next few weeks. These versions of the budget represent what an ideal state budget would look like for each house. From that point, the two houses work with the Governor to negotiate a final budget.

Census Fact of the Week

As a CSEA member, you can play an important role in ensuring that every New Yorker is counted in the 2020 Census.

The work performed by CSEA members provides unique access to harder-to-reach and vulnerable populations, including immigrants, children, and the elderly. These efforts so far have included outreach from CSEA-represented child care providers to the populations they serve, efforts to educate immigrant populations where CSEA members live and work, and continuous conversations with CSEA retirees.

 

 

This Week In Albany - February 14, 2020

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Governor Calls Special Elections

Governor Cuomo has called special elections for April 28th for the following seats:

  • Congressional District 27 (Former Chris Collins seat);
  • Assembly District 12 (Former Andrew Raia seat);
  • Assembly District 31 (Former Michelle Titus seat);
  • Assembly District 136 (Former Jamie Romeo seat); and
  • Senate District 50 (Former Robert Antonacci seat).

April 28th is also the day of the Presidential Primary in New York.

More Legislators Leave Office

State Assemblyman David Gantt (D-Rochester) announced that he will not run for re-election in November. Gantt has served in the Assembly since 1983.

State Assemblyman Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) also announced that he will not seek re-election. Kolb stepped down as Assembly Minority Leader last month following a New Year’s Eve arrest for suspected DWI.

Governor Cuomo recently appointed Assemblymember Jamie Romeo (D-Irondequoit) as Monroe County clerk. Romeo will fill the remaining term of Adam Bello, who was elected County Executive in 2019, and will be on the ballot again later in the year.

At a Glance

State legislators will spend next week in their home districts before returning to Albany on February 24. The state budget is due by April 1.

Census Fact of the Week

Census employees will never ask for your Social Security number, credit card numbers, bank account information, political party affiliation, or citizenship status. Also, it is illegal for them to disclose any personal information.

This Week In Albany - January 10, 2020

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State of the State

This week, Governor Cuomo gave his 10th “State of the State” address.

The Governor’s speech focused on proposals to:

  • Lower prescription drug prices by: 1) establishing a commission to study the importation of prescription drugs from Canada; and 2) capping co-payments for insulin;
  • Establish a statewide system of paid sick leave, although the details are uncertain at this time;
  • Cut taxes for businesses;
  • Propose a $3 billion environmental bond act to fund environmental projects;
  • Legalize adult-use recreational marijuana;
  • Require automatic manual recounts in close elections;
  • Ban single-use Styrofoam food containers;
  • Make the “New York Buy American” Act Permanent. The current law requires that all structural steel and iron used in state road and bridge construction projects worth more than $1 million to be made in America; and
  • Develop a new strategy to bring high speed rail to New York State.

The Governor did not specify how the state’s $6 billion deficit will be addressed.

Additional proposals will be presented during his budget presentation later in January.

Kolb Out As Minority Leader

New York State Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Ontario County) resigned his leadership post late last week following a New Year’s Eve arrest for suspected DWI. Kolb had served as the leader of the Republican conference since 2009.

This week, Assembly Republicans selected Will Barclay (R-Oswego County) to replace Kolb as leader. CSEA endorsed Barclay during his last run for his 120th District seat in 2018.

Ken LaValle to Retire

Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) became the latest state senator to announce that he will not seek re-election later this year. LaValle was the long-time chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, and supported CSEA on many issues over the years.

LaValle, who is 80, is the longest serving member of the Senate. We wish him the best of luck in retirement.

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for three days next week in Albany. Governor Cuomo’s 2020-21 Executive Budget proposal is due by January 21.

Census Fact of the Week

According to the NYS Complete Count Commission, nearly 5 million New Yorkers have been estimated to be part of a hard-to-count community. As labor and community leaders, it is critical that CSEA members help make sure that all New Yorkers are counted this year!

This Week In Albany - December 10, 2019

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Federal Update

Congress avoided a government shutdown this week by passing a $1.4 trillion spending plan that will keep the government funded through the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020.

The deal  includes some major policy provisions, including a permanent repeal of the so-called “Cadillac Tax.” The Cadillac tax was a 40 percent tax on high-value health benefits that would have drastically increased health insurance costs for many union members. The tax was initially slated to go into effect in 2020 but had been delayed multiple times. CSEA thanks Senator Chuck Schumer and the entire New York Congressional delegation for advocating for the repeal of the tax.

Legislative Update 

The following bills have been acted on by the Governor:

  • S.183B – Serrano / A.7675A – Burke (Support): This bill requires The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to issue a report justifying the permanent closure of any property at least 6 months before the proposed closure. Chapter 585
  • S.1665 – Brooks / A.5406 – Darling (Support): This legislation transfers the Freeport Armory to the Village of Freeport. The Village intends to use the Armory for a new DPW facility. Chapter 618
  • S.5291 – Gounardes / A.7248 – Abbate (CSEA priority bill): This bill would have provided Section 80 rights to all labor class and non-competitive employees. Veto #222
  • S.5941 – Carlucci / A.7611 – Gunther (CSEA priority bill): This legislation would have required OMH to continue to provide monthly reports. Veto #188
  • S.5315 – Carlucci / A.7199 – Gunther (CSEA priority bill): This legislation would have required OPWDD to give 90 days notice prior to “suspending” services at a state-operated IRA. Veto #223 The State is still required to provide 90 days notice prior to the closure or transfer of an IRA.
  • S.1720 – Ramos / A.6157 – Titus (CSEA priority bill): This bill would have expanded the current law that requires public employers to develop and implements workplace violence programs to all public schools. Veto #209
  • S.6048 – Breslin / A.5459 – Bronson (Support): This legislation would have required a cost-benefit review before a state agency uses consulting services instead of state employees. Veto #230

For a summary of what happened with CSEA’s priority bills in 2019, visit our website.

2020 State of the State 

Governor Cuomo announced that the 2020 State of the State address will be held on Wednesday, January 8, the same date as the first day of the 2020 legislative session.

Senate GOP Retirements Continue

Two more Republican state senators announced that they will not run in 2020, joining the growing list of Republicans in the senate that have announced they will not seek re-election. At least eight seats held by Republicans in 2019 will be open seats for the 2020 elections.

Rochester-area State Senators Joe Robach (R-Greece) and Rich Funke (R-Perinton) each announced that they will not run next year. Each Senator has a long track record of supporting CSEA members. We thank them for their service and wish them the best of luck in retirement.

Census Fact of the Week 

It is estimated that only 69% of New Yorkers were counted during the 2010 Census. The national average was 76%. We must do better in 2020!

This Week In Albany - January 24, 2020

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Governor Releases 2020-21 Executive Budget Proposal

Governor Cuomo released his Fiscal Year 2020-21 Executive Budget this week.

The State is facing a $6 billion deficit for the next fiscal year which will force lawmakers to make tough choices.

The following is a preliminary summary of what is included in the Executive Budget of importance to CSEA members. Please visit the CSEA website for additional details going forward. The budget needs to be adopted by the start of the state fiscal year on April 1, 2020.

Facility Closures / Mergers

Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS)

The budget proposes the closure of the Youth Leadership Academy in Delaware County. OCFS has said that they will be providing the statutorily required one-year notice and that they anticipate that all employees will be placed in other OCFS facilities or in other state agencies.

Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS)

The budget would allow for the closure of an undetermined number of correctional facilities with only 90 days’ notice. In addition, the budget would allow for DOCCS to transfer adolescent offenders to OCFS. Adolescent offenders are youths under the age of 21 who have been convicted as adults and are serving a sentence in a DOCCS facility, albeit in a unit that is for youths only.

Bridge Authority / Thruway Authority

The budget proposes the merger of the Bridge Authority into the Thruway Authority. CSEA is examining this proposal and any potential affects that it may have on CSEA members in both authorities.

Unified Court System (UCS)

The Executive Budget includes a proposal from the Chief Judge Janet DiFiore to restructure New York’s court system.

SUNY

The budget would allow SUNY colleges and universities to increase their tuition by $200 per year through FY25. SUNY Community Colleges base aid is held flat, which actually results in a cut due to declining enrollment.

The three SUNY hospitals would see a cut of $230 million in disproportionate share hospital (DSH) funding but would each receive $50 million in capital funding.

Highway Workers

The budget proposes new protections for highway workers by creating new crimes of assault on a highway worker, intrusion into an active work zone, and menacing a highway worker. While CSEA is supportive of these measures, we will also lobby for additional protections and programs to better protect workers in active work zones.

Environmental Bond Act

The budget includes language for a bond act to be voted on in the November 2020 election. The bond would be $3 billion to fund two new state parks and various other environmental programs and projects.

Local Governments

For Local Governments, Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) is flat funded but some communities are losing money due to changes in the Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) assistance payments. This will result in a total reduction of $9.3 million to: 1) the counties of Erie, Genesee, Oneida, Ontario, Saratoga, and Sullivan; 2) the cities of Batavia and Saratoga Springs; 3) the towns of Hamburg, Vernon, Farmington, and Thompson; 4) the villages of Vernon and Monticello.

The budget proposes to allow counties to jointly maintain a county jail pursuant to a shared services agreement.

Funding for local roads and bridges is cut by $65 million due to the elimination of the Extreme Winter Recovery funding included in last year’s budget.

Medicaid

Regarding Medicaid, which is driving much of the $6 billion deficit, the budget proposes to require that local social service districts keep their budgets within the property tax cap and keep their Medicaid growth below 3%. If they do not do this, the State will require these districts to pay for any increased Medicaid costs above 3%.

In addition, the Governor reconstitutes the Medicaid Redesign Team in order to find $2.5 billion in recurring Medicaid savings that hold local governments and consumers harmless.

Schools and Libraries

School districts are proposed to receive a $826 million increase (3%). Funding for libraries is cut by $5 million and construction for libraries is lowered by $20 million.

Direct Care Workers

Direct care not-for-profit employees will receive their 2% COLA for April 1, 2020 that was in the budget last year.

Child Care

Funding for child care subsidies is held flat.

Retirees

The budget recycles previous proposals attacking retiree health insurance. The proposals would cap the Medicare Part B premium reimbursement for State retirees at $144.60 effective April 1, 2020. In addition, it would complete eliminate the IRMAA reimbursement for State retirees effective 1/1/2021. Lastly, it would create a tier 2 retiree health insurance plan for employees hired on or after 10/1/2020. Under this plan, the state’s contribution would be based on the salary grade of when a person retired and how many years of service they had.

Sick Leave

The budget proposes guaranteed sick leave for private sector employees. Under the proposal employers with 1-4 employees would have to give 5 unpaid sick days annually; for employers with 5-99 employees, 5 days paid; and for employers with 99 or more employees, 7 days paid. There is no carveout for workplaces with a collective bargaining agreement.

Stay tuned for more information on these proposals and more as we continue to review the budget proposal.

Another Senator Won’t Run

In what has seemingly become a weekly tradition, another member of the state senate has announced that they will not seek re-election this year.

Senator James Seward (R-Milford) became the latest Senator to announce that he will not seek re-election this fall. Seward, who has served for 34 years in the Senate, announced earlier thisyear that he was receiving treatment for cancer.

Seward was the long-time chair of the Senate Insurance Committee, and worked well with CSEA on many issues. We wish him a long and healthy retirement.

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for three days next week. Joint legislative budget hearings on the Executive Budget will begin next week with hearings focused on environmental conservation, transportation, health, and human services. CSEA will testify at the February 5 hearing on the state workforce.

Census Fact of the Week

Counting for the 2020 Census officially began this week, as Census Bureau workers trekked to Toksook Bay, Alaska to begin counting residents. While counting for most Americans won’t begin until March, it is easier for Census Bureau workers to reach Alaska’s remote populations in January, when the ground is frozen and easier to travel.