This Week in Albany

Week ending October 6, 2017

Poll: Support for Con Con Dropping, But Still Would Pass

The latest Siena College Poll shows that while support for a constitutional convention has dropped, registered voters still say that they would vote in favor of holding a constitutional convention by a margin of 44% to 39%.

Support for the convention has dropped significantly since February, when 63% said they would vote yes, while those who said they would vote no has increased from 24% in February.

CSEA members can learn more about what a constitutional convention would mean on our website.


Cuomo Raises Possibility of Special Session

Governor Cuomo has said that he would consider calling a special state legislative session to address funding cuts to two important health care programs – the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) and Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments if Congress does not act to restore funding. Congress is discussing a bill that would extend funding for CHIP and delay, by one year, the scheduled DSH funding cuts but nothing has been passed at this time.

CHIP funding authority lapsed after Congress failed to reauthorize the program before its September 30 expiration. CHIP covers nine million children across the country, including 330,000 low-income children in New York. According to the Governor, New York would lose $1.1 billion in funding if Congress does not act to reauthorize the program.

Hospitals around the state would lose an additional $1.1 billion over the next 18 months if nothing is done to address the cuts to DSH payments, which reimburse hospitals for providing uncompensated care to low income and uninsured New Yorkers. This funding is especially important for public hospitals, including the three SUNY hospitals.

Cuomo has raised the possibility of a special session in December to address these cuts. The 2017-18 State Budget gave the Governor extraordinary powers to address significant federal funding cuts.

Report Shows How Much New York Provides to Federal Government

Comptroller DiNapoli released a report this week that showed that New York sent an estimated $40.9 billion more in tax payments to Washington than it received back in federal spending in 2016. That gap has grown over the past three years, and only three states had a more negative balance of payments.

These numbers are especially staggering as Congress considers amendments to the tax code that would disproportionately harm New Yorkers. If the proposed elimination of the state and local tax deduction is approved, New Yorkers would owe an additional $17.5 billion in federal taxes.

Supreme Court Will Hear Janus v. AFSCME

The US Supreme Court has announced that it will hear the case of Janus v. AFSCME during its current term.

The case is effectively a re-hearing of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, on which the court deadlocked in a 4-4 decision following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

At issue in the case is the ability of public sector labor unions to collect fair share fees. When a union is named the bargaining agent for a group of workers, it has the duty to fairly represent all workers – even if they choose not to join the union. Workers are not required to join the union, but if they choose not to, they must pay a “fair share” fee to cover their share of the costs of collective bargaining. This money cannot be used for political activity by the union.

If the Court rules in favor of Janus in this case, it would overturn 40 years of precedent that has upheld the legality of fair share fees in the public sector. If this happens, it would essentially make “right-to-work” the law of the land nationwide and would allow free riders to enjoy the benefits of a union without contributing their fair share. The case is the latest attempt by big-business backed extremists to decimate the ability of working class people to organize to improve their conditions.

Arguments in the case are expected to be heard this fall, with a decision expected in the spring of 2018. Stay tuned for more information on this case over the coming weeks and months.


Con Con Fact

Voting rights are protected in the state constitution.


Don’t Forget to Register

If you are not registered to vote, you have until Friday, October 13 to register. You can register on the DMV’s website or download a registration here.