This Week in Albany

Week ending April 6, 2018

Enacted State Budget

Governor Cuomo and lawmakers have agreed to a $168.3 billion budget for fiscal year 2018-19 before the April 1 deadline. The following is a brief summary of the enacted budget. A full summary can be found here.

Addressing Janus v AFSCME

CSEA is not sitting on the sidelines as we await a decision in Janus v AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court case. Instead, we are fighting to put our union in the best position to succeed regardless of what decision is reached. The enacted budget includes changes to the Taylor Law that will help CSEA members as we prepare for a decision. This is a major win for CSEA, and shows the power and strength of our union.

The most important change to the Taylor Law relates to the Duty of Fair Representation. As we prepare for the likelihood that the Supreme Court is going to allow non-members to benefit from union representation without having to contribute, this is a big win for us.

The new legislation provides that public employee unions will not have to provide representation to non-members in any disciplinary cases as well as any legal, economic, or job related services beyond those provided in the collective bargaining agreement.

The new law will also require employers to notify the union of new employees, provide their information, and allow the employee time to meet with a union representative during work hours.

One other significant change to the Taylor Law addresses the “churn” problem that has occurred when members have gone out on voluntary or involuntary leave and been reinstated as agency fee payers upon their return. Now, when members return to the same employer after voluntary or involuntary leave within one year, they will automatically be reinstated as members.

These changes to the Taylor Law are a significant victory in our ongoing effort to ensure our union stays strong regardless of the outcome of Janus v. AFSCME.

Other Important Budget Items

Other provisions contained in the final budget include:

  • The enacted budget does not contain any language allowing OMH to close inpatient beds. However, an agreement was reached between the legislature and Executive that will keep facilities open, and require some increased reporting from OMH when a bed is reduced.
  • The budget includes language that increases from 45 days to 90 days the length of time that OPWDD must give prior to closing an Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA) facility.
  • The enacted budget rejects the closure of the Ella McQueen reception center with only 30-days notice. If the state intends to close this facility, they must do so with the statutorily required one-year notice.
  • The enacted budget rejects all cost increases to retirees enrolled in the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP).
  • The enacted budget restores funding for the operating subsidy of the SUNY hospitals.
  • The budget restores $12 million in proposed cuts to community college aid.
  • The enacted budget funds local government aid through the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) program at the same level as last year. AIM funding has not been increased since 2011-12.
  • Funding for local roads and bridges through the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) and Marchiselli programs remains the same as last year. The enacted budget also restores $65 million for severe winter recovery, consistent with last year’s funding.
  • School aid is increased by roughly $1 billion over last year.
  • The enacted budget increases library funding by $1 million and library construction aid by $10 million over last year.
  • The enacted budget includes an additional $136 million in funding for child care, mostly due to increased federal assistance.
  • The budget includes a new voluntary retirement savings plan for private sector employees.

For our full summary of the enacted state budget, please click here.

West Seneca Children’s Psych to Remain Open

Thanks to the activism of CSEA members, parents, and the community, it was announced this week that the State will keep the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center in West Seneca open rather than moving it to the grounds of the Buffalo Psychiatric Center.

This is a big win for patients, family members, and employees alike.

Assemblywoman Resigns

Assemblywoman Pamela Harris (D-Brooklyn) resigned this week. Harris was indicted in January on a variety corruption charges. At this time, it is not clear when her vacant seat will be filled.

At a Glance

State legislators will spend next week in their home districts before returning to Albany on April 16. There are 30 session days remaining in the 2018 legislative session.

Congress will return from its Easter recess next week.

Never Quit Fact of the Week

The 2018-19 New York State budget includes provisions that will help working men and women fight back against well-funded attacks on their livelihood, including the Janus case. CSEA worked closely with Governor Cuomo and the legislature to get these provisions included in the budget, and we are proud of the outcome.