This Week in Albany

Week ending April 11, 2014

State Supreme Court Ruling Defies Common Sense

State Supreme Court Judge Thomas Feinman ruled this week that the salary cap placed on executives at state-funded not-for-profit groups represented an overreach by the Department of Health. The ruling defies common sense, transparency, and public accountability.

The supposed ability of not-for-profits to deliver services at a lower cost is constantly used as justification for outsourcing public services. This cost-savings is often achieved by paying employees substandard wages and little or no benefits. While front-line employees struggle, executives rake in exorbitant pay and perks.

This ruling only further helps executives who literally write their own checks at taxpayer expense while helping to create an underclass of workers who can barely make ends meet.

CSEA will continue to advance legislation seeking to limit executive pay at not-for-profits and to increase transparency and fairness in contracting for public services.

Comptroller Audit Finds Contractor’s Performance “Extraordinarily Poor”

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office has released a report that found that 91% of New Yorkers who filed a paper tax return in 2013 got late refunds due to “extraordinarily poor performance” by a private contractor hired by the state to handle the returns.

The report represents further evidence that the private sector does not do a better job of providing services than the public sector.

Howie Hawkins Announces Campaign for Governor

Green Party member Howie Hawkins announced his run for governor on Wednesday. Hawkins is a former Marine and a member of Teamsters Local 317 in Syracuse.

Hawkins said that he opposes Governor Cuomo’s policies that disproportionately benefit the wealthy. As Governor, he would push for tax cuts for 95% of New Yorkers while increasing taxes for the very wealthy. He also called for an increase in the minimum wage to $15/hour, and a substantial increase in funding for schools.

Current announced candidates for Governor include Hawkins, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

House Passes Ryan Budget…Again

The House of Representatives approved a budget that would cut federal spending by $5 trillion. All New York Democrats, along with Republican Chris Gibson (Hudson Valley), voted against the proposal. Republican Representatives King, Grimm, Hanna, Reed and Collins voted to support the package.

Spending reductions of more than $5.1 trillion over the next decade would starve state and local governments, leading to massive cuts in vital public services and enormous job losses. Funding for programs including job training, public education, student loans, child care, infrastructure, health care research and more would be cut by least 24%.

In addition, it would reduce the top individual tax rate on the highest income Americans from 39.6% to 25% and reduce the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%. Taxes on middle class families with children would be raised by an average of at least $2,000 in order to cut tax rates for households with incomes over $1 million.

The budget would also end Medicare as we know it by turning the guarantee of medical care for seniors into a voucher for all beneficiaries. It raises the age for Medicare eligibility to 67 for individuals born in 1959 or later.

The measure has no chance of being passed in the Democratic-controlled Senate.