This Week in Albany

Week ending March 29, 2019

Budget Update

Governor Cuomo and legislature continue to negotiate the terms of the 2019-20 state budget. At the time of this writing, four out of ten budget bills have been finalized. So far, this is what we know for sure:

  • The final budget includes additional protections for public employees in the wake of the Janus v AFSCME Supreme Court decision, including making it an improper practice for a public employer to publicly disclose the home address, personal telephone number, cell phone number, and e-mail address of employees.
  • The final budget gives the Executive authority to close two state correctional facilities with only 90-days’ notice instead of legally required one-year notice. The Governor originally proposed to close three facilities with only 60-days’ notice.
  • The final budget does not include provisions proposed in the Executive Budget that would have allowed the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to outsource the maintenance and operations work of state employees at DEC-owned lands. CSEA strongly opposed that language and supports the legislature’s rejection of it.
  • The budget includes several voting reforms, including 1) allowing a registered voter to take, without the loss of pay, up to three hours off of work to vote in any election within certain parameters; 2) requiring the Board of Elections to create an online voter registration system; and 3) requiring the polls in every county to be open from 6am-9pm for Primary Elections. Currently, only polls in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess, and Erie counties are open those hours for Primaries.
  • The budget bans the use of single-use plastic bags. The new law also allows cities and counties to pass local laws to allow stores to charge a five-cent fee for paper bags.

Agreements remain elusive on several major issues including criminal justice reform, campaign finance reform, and funding for the MTA. Lawmakers are expected to remain in Albany through the weekend as they work to finalize the budget before Monday’s deadline.

Stay tuned for more updates on the state budget in next week’s “This Week in Albany.”

At a Glance

The legislature is scheduled to be in session for three days next week.