This Week in Albany

Week ending June 2, 2017

Legislative Update

CSEA strongly supports S.1113 – Akshar / A.733 – Gunther. This legislation amends the mental hygiene and executive law to require a written report to the legislature at least one year prior to the closure of a facility operated by the Office of Mental Health, Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, and the Office for Children & Family Services. In addition, if the legislature finds that the proposed closure if not justified then the closure cannot occur until it is approved by a majority vote of each house of the legislature.

Over the past several years, the state has continuously downsized and eliminated mental health treatment beds, residential service opportunities for the developmentally disabled and juvenile justice treatment options. Many of these closures have happened haphazardly and in a way that has disrupted the care for clients and patients as well as the lives of the workers at these facilities.

This bill would allow any final decision to be in the best interest of the most vulnerable residents of our state, our communities, and the workforce.

Veterans Pension Buyback Signed One Year Ago

One year ago this week, Governor Cuomo signed into law legislation to allow all public employee military veterans who were honorably discharged, regardless of where or when they performed military duty, to buy back up to 3 years of military service time for pension credit. Previously, only veterans who served in specific military conflicts were eligible for the credit.

The new law, strongly supported by CSEA,  recognized that all military service, including that in peacetime, matters and is valued by New York State.

After one year, many public employees have taken advantage of this benefit.If you are a veteran who has yet to apply and would like to learn more, visit the State Comptroller’s website for more information.

Federal Issues

Federal Budget

In addition to massive cuts to Medicaid, Social Security, and dozens of other programs, President Trump’s proposed budget contains devastating cuts to public education. The budget proposal would cut education funding by $9.2 billion (13.5%), encourage school vouchers, and increase support for charter schools. It would also eliminate several important programs, including literacy and after-school programs.

Further, the education budget would greatly reduce federal support for student loans by eliminating the federal subsidy of interest on student loans, and phasing out public service loan forgiveness programs.

The President’s budget proposal could do real harm to many of the programs that CSEA members and their families depend on. Stay tuned for more information.

Climate Agreement

President Trump also announced this week that the United States will pull out of the Paris climate agreement. The 2015 agreement, to which 195 countries signed on to, is a voluntary, non-binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Con Con Fact

Standards for public health protections, social service needs, healthcare institutions and mental health facilities are protected by the state constitution. A state constitutional convention could put all of these protections at risk.

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for four days next week. There are only 11 session days remaining in the 2017 legislative session.

Visit the Legislative & Political Action Department’s website for more information on the legislation CSEA is supporting or opposing.