This Week in Albany

Week ending March 8, 2019

Budget Update

After the Senate, Assembly, and Executive failed to reach an agreement on revenue projections for the coming year, the responsibility for setting the total value of the state budget fell to State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. This was the first time that the Comptroller has had to step in and make this decision.

The Comptroller projected total revenues to be $190 million higher than those anticipated in the Executive Budget proposal. However, Governor Cuomo has said that these additional revenues will be put into reserves and budget negotiations will move forward based on the value of his original budget proposal.

A revenue agreement is the first step in negotiations over the final budget. Once the total value of the budget is agreed to, all sides know the framework within which they are negotiating. With that being said, this year’s revenue number is more of a gray area than in past years.

As negotiations picked up this week, the Governor made multiple public statements about what he expects the final budget to include. The Governor has said that he will not agree to a final budget without some form of funding for the MTA, a permanent property tax cap, and bail reform. The Governor has indicated that he views getting these things in the budget as more important than getting a budget done on time.

The Senate and Assembly are expected to release their one-house budget proposals in the near future, and are scheduled to act on those proposals sometime next week.

Issue Spotlight: Taxpayer-Funded Political Campaigns

A proposal in the Executive Budget would establish a system to use taxpayer money for political campaigns. Under the budget proposal, $6 in taxpayer funds would be used to match every $1 in private contributions up to $175. So, for example, if an individual makes a $100 contribution to a Senator’s campaign, the State would provide $600 in taxpayer funds to match, for a total contribution of $700 to that candidate.

CSEA strongly opposes this proposal. In a year when the State is facing diminishing revenues, there are many more important needs to finance. This year’s budget proposes to eliminate funding to 90% of our state’s towns and villages, cut funding for safety-net hospitals, close state facilities, and increase the cost of retiree health insurance. In addition, state agencies have been operating under flat budgets for years, the state has not made significant investments in services for persons with mental illness and developmental disabilities, our schools and libraries continue to have unmet needs, and the investment needs for our roads, bridges, and other infrastructure have reached dire levels.

Call your legislators at 1-877-255-9417 and tell them to oppose taxpayer money being used for political purposes.

At a Glance

The legislature will be in session for four days next week and will act on their one-house budget proposals. A final state budget agreement is due by April 1.