This Week in Albany

Week ending February 16, 2018

State Budget Update

Amendments to the Executive Budget proposal were released late on Thursday night. We are currently reviewing all of the Governor’s amendments to determine their impact on CSEA members. For more information on these proposals, as well as CSEA’s legislative memos and budget flyers, please visit our website.

Among several new proposals are proposals to address federal tax reform.

The first proposal would create state, local government, and school district charitable funds to encourage taxpayer donations for purposes like education and health care. These contributions would be deductible at the federal level, and would receive favorable state and local tax treatment.

The second proposal would establish an optional payroll tax system where employers could decide to shift to an employer-paid payroll tax for employees earning over $40,000 per year. It remains unclear how likely this proposal is to be included in a final budget, or how it would function in practice.

The amendments would also “decouple” state tax code from several provisions of the new federal law to prevent large increases in taxes.

Additionally, the amendments propose a new disciplinary procedure for employees of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision outside of procedures that have been collectively bargained. CSEA has major concerns with this proposal.

Pension Fund Reaches New Record

Comptroller DiNapoli announced this week that the New York State Common Retirement Fund reached an estimated value of $209.1 billion as of December 31, a new record. That balance was up 8.7% over the value of the Fund at the start of the 2017-18 Fiscal Year on April 1.

Under the leadership of Comptroller DiNapoli, New York continues to have one of the best managed and best funded pension plans in the country.

Federal Update

President Trump released his long-awaited infrastructure plan this week. While the document released by the White House is still only a broad outline, there are several areas of potential concern for CSEA members.

The White House has often referred to the President’s infrastructure plan as a $1 trillion or even a $1.5 trillion plan. In reality, the President’s proposal includes only $200 billion of federal funds. In theory, that money would be used to raise money from state and local governments and private investors to complete infrastructure projects.

As part of the proposed efforts to encourage private investment, the President’s plan calls for a broad expansion of public-private-partnerships for all types of infrastructure projects. Public-private-partnerships (commonly referred to as P3s) typically involve a private entity financing the construction of a project, and then operating, maintaining, and collecting any tolls from the public asset. An expansion of P3 authority is of serious concern to CSEA as it would allow for the outsourcing of many public infrastructure assets and the maintenance and operations jobs that support them.

It is not clear if or when the President’s plan will move forward in Congress.

At a Glance

The state legislature will spend next week in their home districts before returning to Albany on February 27th. The state budget is due by April 1.

Never Quit Fact of the Week

The risk of workplace death is 49% higher in “Right-to-Work” states than in non-“Right-to-Work” states like New York, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.