Home » Legislature » 2017 NYS Budget Update – Monday, April 10, 2017 2:45pm

2017 NYS Budget Update – Monday, April 10, 2017 2:45pm

Sent on behalf of President Spence:

PEF Members,

As a follow to the legislative update that was sent on Saturday April 8, 2017, I wanted to let you know that the final budget has been acted on and signed by the Governor. While no budget is perfect, I have to reiterate that PEF did very well for issues that had been designated as PEF Budget Priorities.

Together, our efforts achieved the following:

  • Stopped the Office of Information Technology erosion of civil service proposal
  • Dramatically decreased the scope of the Executive’s design-build proposal
  • Successfully drove back the proposed bed reductions in OPWDD and OMH
  • Defeated the proposed elimination and freeze of  Medicare Part B reimbursements
  • Held off the negative retirement incentive for state workers
  • Blocked the creation of a Chief Administrative Law Judge
  • Prevented a dramatic increase of power for DOCCS Commissioner/Parole

I am certain that our legislative staff, coordinated lobbying efforts; along with the emails, phone calls and letters our membership engaged in, staved off a complete disaster in Design-Build and also kept the Workers’ Comp concerns at a more positive level. The final budget, that was voted on yesterday, did not fund the continued existence of the WNYCPC.  After not seeing any language in the Article VII bill I was hopeful that we might see something in the State Operations bill.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Regretfully, I must also inform you that the final budget only restored $9.3 million of the $18.6 million that the Executive budget removed from the SUNY hospitals (see below).  Throughout the budget process (one-house proposals and follow up meetings) PEF continued lobbying so that the hospitals would receive their proper funding levels.  The State Operations bill revealed that the full funding was not included in the final budget.

The New York State Senate and Assembly members are now on “spring break” and will return to Albany on April 24, 2017. In the meantime, the PEF legislative department will now change direction from the budget process to the legislative process.  Now that the budget is behind them, the legislature will begin to concentrate on statutory matters until June 21, 2017.  That gives us twenty-six legislative days to accomplish many things, but together I know we can do it.

Please refer to the PEF website or earlier email (below) for additional budget information.

In Solidarity,
Wayne Spence
President
NYS Public Employees Federation
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-Budget update email from 4/8/17-

PEF Members,

Please find the analysis of the budget specific to our PEF Priorities, with some notable additions, below.  Please keep in mind that, at the time of this writing, the Assembly is still debating the Article VII Revenue Bill aka “the big ugly”, but with the strange budget process that we have encountered this year I wanted to keep you up to date.

Public Protection and General Government (S.2005/A.3005)—Part Q
OITS Term Appointments

This bill would authorize up to 250 information technology (IT) term appointments for up to 60 months without initial Civil Service examination.

The proposal circumvents Civil Service Law and prevents promotional opportunities.

Ø  ASSEMBLY ACTION:                      REJECTED
Ø  SENATE ACTION:                           REJECTED
Ø  FINAL ACTION:                         REJECTED
Transportation, Economic Development and Environmental Conservation (S.2008/A.3008)—Part P (Final action in S.2009/A.3009-Part RRR)
Design-Build

This bill would expand the provisions of current law to enable all State agencies and public authorities, as well as counties outside of New York City, to award a contract to a single entity for both the design and construction (design-build) aspects of a project. The types of capital projects for which design-build contracts can be used would be amended to be consistent with the existing definition of “capital asset” in State Finance Law.  The Act is currently set to expire in 2017; this bill would make it permanent.

Design-build allows for privatization of public work that has been traditionally performed by state employees. State workers have the best interest of the public in mind, not corporate profits when they do their jobs.

Ø  ASSEMBLY ACTION:                      REJECTED
Ø  SENATE ACTION:                           REJECTED
Ø  FINAL ACTION:                           AMENDED TO EXPAND PROGRAM ONLY FOR 8 SPECIFIC PROJECTS (4 OF WHICH ARE SKI AREAS). RIGHTS OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES ARE SECURED FOR THESE PROJECTS.  INCREASES THE MINIMUM COST PER PROJECT TO $10 MILLION (CURRENTLY $1.2 MILLION).  EXTENDS PROGRAM FOR 4 YEARS.

Health and Mental Hygiene (S.2007/A.3007) —Part O
Voluntary Jail-Based Restoration to Competency Programs

This proposal would amend Section 730.10 of the Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) to authorize the establishment of jail-based restoration to competency programs, for felony defendants pending judicial hearings, within locally-operated jails and State prisons operated by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), subject to the facility’s consent.

The proposal calls for the creation of residential mental health pod units within local jails and state correctional facilities.  Correctional facilities are not the appropriate locations to rehabilitate individuals requiring mental health services.  State mental health facilities or other well-equipped hospitals or centers are the appropriate places for restoration to competency.

Ø  ASSEMBLY ACTION:                     REJECTED
Ø  SENATE ACTION:                           REJECTED
Ø  FINAL ACTION:                         REJECTED

Public Protection and General Government (S.2005/A.3005)—Part S

Cap on Medicare Part B Reimbursement/ End IRMAA Reimbursement 

This bill would amend section 167-a of the Civil Service Law to provide that, effective May 1, 2017, State reimbursement to eligible retirees and their dependents for the Medicare Part B standard premium shall not exceed: i) $104.90 per month for those who enrolled in Medicare on or before December 31, 2015; or ii) the lesser of $121.80 per month or the currently applicable standard Medicare premium charge for those who enrolled in Medicare on or after January 1, 2016.

Additionally, effective January 1, 2017, the State would cease reimbursement of the IRMAA for premiums incurred on or after January 1, 2017.

Ø  ASSEMBLY ACTION:                     REJECTED
Ø  SENATE ACTION:                           REJECTED
Ø  FINAL ACTION:                         REJECTED

Public Protection and General Government (S.2005/A.3005)—Part T
Retiree Health Care Differential Premiums

Under this bill, State employees retiring on or after October 1, 2017 with less than 30 years of service would pay additional health care premiums, on a graduated scale based on years of service.

This proposal is unchanged from last year’s Executive Budget.  It was rejected by the Legislature.

Ø  ASSEMBLY ACTION:                     REJECTED
Ø  SENATE ACTION:                           REJECTED
Ø  FINAL ACTION:                         REJECTED

Education, Labor and Family Assistance (S.2006/A.3006)—Part U
Administrative Hearings Consolidation 

This legislation creates a new Division of Central Administrative Hearings within the Executive Department, led by a Chief Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who will be appointed by the Governor. The Chief ALJ is authorized to reorganize and consolidate administrative hearing functions within all Executive agencies.

This proposal lacks detail and provides one individual with a tremendous amount of power to influence administrative hearings throughout the state. Furthermore, in an effort to consolidate, ALJs who are currently specialists in their respective fields will be forced to become generalists and hear matters outside their expertise.

Ø  ASSEMBLY ACTION:                      REJECTED
Ø  SENATE ACTION:                           REJECTED
Ø  FINAL ACTION:                         REJECTED   

Public Protection and General Government (S.2005/A.3005)—Part E
Correction Reform Bill

The Correction Reform Bill would allow the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) Commissioner to set conditions of parole in many instances, would establish earned reductions during post-release supervision and would change non-violent State Prison sentences.

This bill, which vests too much power with the Commissioner of DOCCS, will shorten periods of incarceration, decrease necessary periods of post-release supervision and reduce the number of Parole Officers.  Furthermore, the bill dramatically reduces the authority of the Parole Board and removes the checks and balances that were put in place when the Department of Correctional Services merged with the Division of Parole. Increasing the power of the DOCCS Commissioner at the expense of the independent Parole Board will jeopardize public safety.

Ø  ASSEMBLY ACTION:                      ACCEPTED
Ø  SENATE ACTION:                           REJECTED
Ø  FINAL ACTION:                         REJECTED     
 
Public Protection and General Government (S.2005/A.3005)—Part Z; Section 9
SUNY Hospitals Funding

This bill would authorize the Comptroller, at the request of the Director of DOB, to transfer up to $69.264 million from the General Fund to the State University Income Fund, State University Hospitals Income Reimbursement Account.

This represents a $18.6 Million reduction from last year’s enacted budget.

Ø  ASSEMBLY ACTION:                      RESTORED
Ø  SENATE ACTION:                           RESTORED
Ø  FINAL ACTION:                         Partially RESTORED** The final budget  restored $9.3 million of the $18.6 million that the Executive budget removed from the SUNY hospitals

Transportation, Economic Development and Environmental Conservation (S.2008/A.3008)—Part LL
Authorizes Shared Service Agreements between the Power Authority of the State of New York, Canal Corporation and Department of Transportation

This bill would authorize the sharing of employees, services and resources through shared service agreements between DOT, NYPA and the Canal Corporation to (i) address an emergency situation, (ii) address extreme weather conditions, and (iii) provide services and assistance to support the operation and maintenance of the Canal System and related infrastructure.

The proposal blurs the lines of functions and responsibilities of state agencies and public authorities.  Additionally, the proposal lacks specific details and further reduces transparency, accountability and oversight.

Ø  ASSEMBLY ACTION:                      REJECTED
Ø  SENATE ACTION:                           REJECTED
Ø  FINAL ACTION:                         AMENDED TO LIMIT USE TO EMERGENCY SITUATION OR EXTREME WEATHER CONDITIONS FOR NOT LONGER THAN 10 DAYS

Good Government and Ethics Reform (S.2010/A.3010)—Part E 
Comprehensive FOIL Reform 

This bill would comprehensively reform the State’s Freedom of Information Law. It would include making proposed terms of a collective bargaining agreement available to the public when it is sent to union members for ratification.

Ø  ASSEMBLY ACTION:                      REJECTED
Ø  SENATE ACTION:                           REJECTED
Ø  FINAL ACTION:                         REJECTED

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE THAT WERE INCLUDED IN THE FINAL ATICLE VII REVENUE BILL:

Workers’ Compensation Law Reforms.
 
Several changes were made to the Workers’ Compensation Law.  The most noteworthy include:
·  Changing the law so that claimants receiving permanent partial disability payments need not demonstrate ongoing attachment to the labor market to receive benefits.
·  Permanent partial disability payment award caps will start to run 2.5 years from the date of injury unless there is medical evidence approved by an Administrative Law Judge that the beneficiary could heal further.  Under current law, the caps do not start until the claimant has been deemed to have reached maximum medical improvement.
· Claimants will be considered to be totally disabled if their loss of wage earning capacity is greater than 75%.  Current law requires an 80% standard.
· Impairment Guidelines will be reviewed by stakeholders and revised by January 1, 2018.
· A Prescription Drug Formulary will be established to create a list high quality, cost effective medications that will be pre-approved.  A pharmacy reimbursement strategy will also be implemented as will a drug utilization review.
· Expedited hearings (within 45 days) will be granted to claimants in cases where the employer is not paying benefits but has not controverted the claim.
· The utilization of Independent Medical Examinations will be comprehensively evaluated to ensure high quality, fairness and to combat fraud.
· A new stress claim is created for first responders.
 
Union Dues Tax Deduction.
 
Union members may deduct the full amount of union dues paid during the taxable year so long as that member was not allowed Federal miscellaneous itemized deductions.

Retiree Health Benefit Trust Fund.
 
A special investment trust fund administered by the Comptroller is created to fund retiree health benefits of retired state employees and their dependents.​

Wayne Spence
President
NYS Public Employees Federation
gro.f1493521938ep@ec1493521938nepsw1493521938