This Week in Albany

Week ending December 6, 2019

State Facing Large Deficit

New York is facing its largest budget deficit since the Great Recession, according to a report from the Division of the Budget.

The State’s mid-year budget update showed that the state is facing a $6.1 billion budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2020-21. The majority of that shortfall is attributed to a $4 billion deficit in Medicaid.

The projected deficit will undoubtedly have a major impact on the 2020-21 state budget and the 2020 legislative session. CSEA is closely monitoring this situation, so stay tuned for more information.

Public Campaign Finance Report Released

The Campaign Finance Reform Commission, established in the 2019-20 state budget, released its report on December 1. The recommendations of the Commission carry the force of law unless changed by the legislature.

Major recommendations from the Commission include:

  • Establishing a system for publicly financing elections for statewide (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller), and state legislative races. These provisions go into effect for the 2024 legislative elections and 2026 statewide elections.
    • Under this program, private contributions up to $250 will be matched by public dollars at varying rates.
    • Candidates for statewide office will receive $6 in public funds for every $1 in private contributions.
    • State legislative candidates will receive matching funds at a rate of $12:1 for the first $50, 9:1 for $51-$150, and 8:1 for $151-$250. Only contributions made from within the district can be matched.
    • The program will cost up to $100 million per year.
  • Increasing the threshold for a political party to automatically receive a ballot line. Currently, a party must receive 50,000 votes in each gubernatorial election to have a guaranteed spot on the ballot. Under the new system a party will need at least 2% of the vote or 130,000 votes, whichever is higher, in each of the gubernatorial and presidential elections to maintain their ballot position. These provisions go into effect for 2020.

If unaltered by an agreement between the Governor and legislature by December 22, these recommendations will have the force of law.

Growing List of Legislators Not Running in 2020

State Senators George Amedore (R-Rotterdam), Betty Little (R-Queensbury), and Mike Ranzenhofer (R-Amherst) announced that they will not run for re-election in 2020. They join a growing list of state legislators that will not be seeking re-election next year either because of retirement or seeking another office.

Census Fact of the Week

Each person that is not counted costs New York $2,000 per year for a decade. This means less funding for healthcare, education, housing, transportation and other services.