Legislative and Political ActionCSEA'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 - February 14, 2020
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 - February 7, 2020
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.
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 - January 24, 2020
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Funding for child care subsidies is held flat.
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.
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.
This Week In Albany - January 10, 2020
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
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.
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!