This Week in Albany

Week ending July 21, 2017

Tax Cap

Comptroller DiNapoli announced that local governments will face a property tax cap of 1.84% next year, the highest allowable growth since 2013. While often referenced as a 2% cap, the allowable growth has never hit 2% under the program.

After two years of growth limited to less than one percent, local governments are struggling to provide the services that our communities depend on. An increased growth cap is a small step in the right direction.

 

Federal Aid Impact On Local Governments

A recent report by Comptroller DiNapoli highlighted the reliance of local governments on federal aid.

In 2015, local governments and school districts outside of New York City received $4.7 billion in direct federal aid, while New York City received an additional $7 billion. This aid made up a huge chunk of local government revenues, ranging from 11.2% for counties to around 3% for towns and villages.

Among other things, federal aid provides significant funds for social services, education, and transportation aid.

 

Federal Health Care Update

The ongoing attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) took yet another turn this week as four Senate Republicans announced their opposition to the latest Senate proposal. With all Senate Democrats and independents committed to voting against the bill, Republicans could only lose two votes and still bring the bill to the floor. With Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) away from Washington for health reasons, the margin had gotten even smaller.

As the replacement plan failed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and President Trump announced their support for a straight repeal of the ACA. That effort also faced quick opposition as three Senators announced that they would oppose such a bill.

At this time, it is unclear what the future holds for health reform. Despite the apparent lack of votes, McConnell has said that the Senate will proceed with a motion to bring a bill to the floor next week.

Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

 

Con Con Fact

Public employee pensions are currently protected by the New York State constitution, but a constitutional convention could remove those protections. In fact, public opinion shows that a majority of Americans would prefer reducing pension benefits.

According to a survey by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, 59% of Americans favor shifting current public employees from guaranteed pensions to 401(k)-style accounts, while 76% of Americans say that pension reform should be a priority.