ALBANY — Thanks to the powerful collective action of union members pressuring their elected officials during state budget deliberations, the enacted $220 billion New York State Fiscal Year 2023 budget contains much good news for union members.
The budget gains prove that union political action pays off when making sure our budgetary priorities are addressed by Albany’s decision-makers. This was especially true when it came to our key legislative priority of getting fixes to our state pension system.
First positive pension reforms in more than 20 years
Thanks to members’ political activity, the final budget includes the first positive pension reform in more than 20 years, which will help our state and local governments improve worker recruitment and retention.
Action by CSEA members, including more than 12,000 emails sent and 10,000 calls made to legislators, was key in reducing from 10 to five years the amount of time workers in Tiers 5 and 6 must work before becoming vested in their pension. This was the No. 1 priority for CSEA members.
Also, for the next two years, Tier 6 employee pension contributions will be calculated using base salary only, excluding all overtime worked, which stops workers from being penalized for the overtime they’ve had to work due to pandemic staffing shortages.
“The governor and legislative leaders took a good first step toward making public pensions a better incentive, recognizing the need to better recruit and retain workers at all levels of government,” said CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan. “This should help improve staffing, but there’s more work to be done. We thank all the CSEA members and other union supporters who kept up the pressure on our elected officials to make sure this priority was included in the final state budget.”
Our union is not done trying to “Fix Tier 6.” CSEA will pursue additional pension reforms before the state legislative session ends in June.
Bonuses, assistance for direct care workers
Also in the enacted budget, all direct care workers in the state Office of Mental Health, Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, public hospitals and nursing homes and county public health nurses will be eligible to receive a one-time bonus of up to $3,000 in the coming year. CSEA will be issuing more specific guidance on eligibility.
In addition, human service workers in not-for-profits will receive a 5.4% COLA this fiscal year.
The budget creates a new loan repayment program for registered and licensed practical nurses who agree to work in underserved areas or with underserved populations for three years. CSEA will work with the state to ensure that public agencies and health care facilities are included in this program.
Education spending increases
Funding for school districts is increasing by $2 billion.
The enacted budget also includes a substantial increase in aid for SUNY campuses and hospitals for the first time in many years, as well as additional resources for capital improvements.
Aid for local governments
Local governments are also seeing positive steps in the enacted budget. Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) is now being funded fully by the state rather than funding payment from county sales tax revenues.
Gas tax relief
New Yorkers will also see temporary relief at the gas pump. From June 1, 2022 until Dec. 31, 2022, the state will suspend sales tax on gas. This move will cut the price of gas by about 16 cents per gallon. Local governments will also have the option to stop collecting sales tax on gas during this period.
Child care funding
The enacted budget also contains increased funding for those providing and those seeking child care. See below for a breakdown of how these funding increases will impact CSEA/VOICE child care providers.
For a more detailed summary of the enacted budget, visit our union’s website at cseany.org/issues.