This Week in Albany

Week ending June 23, 2017

State Contract

CSEA has reached a tentative five-year agreement with New York state.

See full details of the agreement on CSEA’s website. You will need your CSEA Member ID number to access this page.

In the coming weeks, our state negotiating team will be meeting with members around the state.

Visit https://cseany.org/state-contract-info to get dates, times and locations of meetings in your region. Keep checking here for meeting information – the page will be updated as more meetings are set.

End of Session

After a long year, the regularly scheduled 2017 legislative session came to an end this week. The legislature could not reach an agreement on some issues and will need to return to Albany later this summer or fall.

Of specific concern to CSEA members is the failure of the legislature to extend city and county sales tax and other tax authority. The Assembly passed an omnibus bill to extend these taxes along with mayoral control of New York City schools, while the Senate passed the tax bills individually but sought some expansion of charter schools in exchange for extending mayoral control.

While ensuring the continuation of these taxes is vitally important to CSEA members, there is plenty of time for the legislature to extend these taxes. County sales tax bills do not expire until the end of November, and many of the additional taxes have similarly late expiration dates. CSEA will continue to monitor the status of these taxes to ensure that counties and other municipalities do not lose the revenues needed to provide services.

At this point, it is unclear when the legislature will return to finish its business for the year. The two houses did not seem especially close to reaching an agreement on outstanding issues when they left Albany, but will continue to talk.

On the other hand, many of CSEA’s legislative priorities were passed by both houses of the legislature. Important legislation relating to CSEA’s tentative contract agreement with the State, state agency operations, and local concerns was passed. The following CSEA-priority bills passed both houses:

A.8540 – Abbate / S.6818 – Amedore

This bill is authorizing legislation for CSEA’s tentative contract agreement with the State. The contract must still be approved by the CSEA membership.

S.4630 – Gallivan / A.6505 – Kearns

This legislation would stop the relocation of Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center.

S.4324 – Tedisco / A. 5210 – Abinanti

This legislation would require local governments to give retirees 45 days notice prior to changing health insurance benefits for retirees. Current law does not require any notice be given.

S.2836 – Ortt / A.2229 – Gunther

This legislation would require that notices of closure of Office of Mental Health (OMH) facilities expire after one year and one month of being issued. Currently, the state can issue a one year notice of closure or downsizing and not close a facility during that year. The notice of closure then stays in effect in perpetuity, creating uncertainty for employees and patients.

S.5681 – Ortt / A.7399A – Gunther

This legislation would codify care pilots within the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). These programs offer community based care staffed by state employees. Codifying these programs will lead to more predictable funding and will expand available services to families in need.

S.3146 – Golden / A.4049 Lupardo

This legislation would cap the number of cases that child protective services workers can have at any one time to 15 cases per month.

S.5929A – Avella / A.7726A – Jaffee

This legislation would establish a Child Care Availability Taskforce to evaluate the cost, accessibility, availability, quality, and impact of childcare subsidies.

S.4574A – Marchione / A.6903A – Brindisi

This legislation would require an annual study from the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to report on the ratio of non-administrative staff to residents at OCFS facilities, the total number of workers who are on workers’ compensation leave, and the number of staff involved in any incident involving the alleged misconduct of a resident.

S.6447 – Gallivan / A.8064 – Zebrowski

This legislation would return overnight and weekend calls to Child Protective Services (CPS) in Erie County to CPS rather than a not-for-profit organization. It would go into effect on December 31, 2017.

S.1850 – Ortt / A.6277 – Abbate

This legislation would allow county correctional officers, or deputy sheriffs who are performing correction officer duties, to retire after 20 years with a fifty percent final average salary pension. Counties would be required to opt-in to this plan.

A.473 – Paulin / S.2516 – Gallivan

This legislation would allow county probation officers the ability to receive 100% of their salary if they are unable to work due to an on the job injury. Counties would be required to opt-in to this provision.

A.8326 – Abbate / S.6529 – Murphy

This legislation would grant firefighters employed by the Division of Military and Naval Affairs (DMNA) a performance of duty disability retirement. Firefighters employed by municipalities currently have this benefit and it is only fair that the firefighters in DMNA have it as well.

A.7127 – Abbate / S.5705 – Phillips

This legislation would allow for a performance of duty retirement for various fire marshal titles within Nassau County who are injured in the line of duty.

A.7135 – Abbate / S.7223 – Phillips

This legislation would allow for a performance of duty retirement for various ambulance medical technician titles within Nassau County.

A.7891 – Hooper / S.6788 – Rules

This legislation would allow employees in Nassau County to receive a step increase if a wage freeze is ordered by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority.

All of these bills must be sent to Governor Cuomo for his approval or denial.

Stay tuned for more updates when the legislature returns to Albany to finish its remaining business.

U.S. Senate Releases Health Care Proposal

This week, the U.S. Senate released the “Better Care Reconciliation Act” which is their proposed health care reform legislation.

The legislation would fundamentally alter the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) and would make it more difficult for various populations to afford and qualify for health insurance.

Of critical importance, this legislation would cut Medicaid funding starting in 2021, and further reductions would start again in 2025. These cuts would cost New York State billions of dollars in funding annually. This funding is used by both state and local governments to offer services within the Office of Mental Health, Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, Department Health, county health departments, nursing homes, and substance abuse centers. The loss of this funding will force many of these providers to downsize and eliminate the jobs of CSEA members throughout the state.

Under this proposal, states would be authorized to seek permission from the federal government to reduce required coverage of essential health benefits, which could lead to individuals with preexisting conditions being denied health insurance.

This legislation would no longer require Medicaid to cover mental health services after 2019. This asinine proposal will only exacerbate the mental health crisis we are facing in our country and make it harder for those in the middle of a mental health crisis to receive services.

Lastly, this legislation contains a massive tax cut for multi-national corporations and the wealthiest Americans which is directly paid for by the massive cuts to critical health care services discussed above.

New York State Senators Schumer and Gillibrand strongly oppose this legislation. If the Senate passes this legislation next week, it must then go back to the House of Representatives for final action. At this point it is not clear if the Senate has the votes to pass this legislation. However, if they do and this bill returns to the House of Representatives we will need to be very active in contacting members of the New York Congressional delegation to ask them to oppose this legislation. Stay tuned.