VOL. 4, NO. 5
MARCH 11, 2011
Cuomo’s solo effort to control and reform the state budget has put legislators on edge Last year was budget extenders. The year before, the Senate coup. And the year before that, an unexpected resignation upended the budget process halfway through. This year, the combination of a new administration with honeymoon high poll numbers and a fiscal crisis few can deny seems to have saved the state a new edition of theatrics and shenanigans--at least for now. The only surprise so far, experts and watchdogs say, has been the lack of drama and the extent to which Andrew Cuomo has succeded in keeping control over the debate. “It’s fascinating,” said Arthur “Jerry” Kremer, a lobbyist and the former chair of the Assembly Ways & Means Committee. “Governors used to become very irrelevant for that 60 to 80 day period [after the budget is released]. And Governor Cuomo is still managing to dominate the process.” Rather then step back and let interest groups and legislators pick apart his budget (which some are still committed to doing), Cuomo has cordoned off many of the most contentious, leaving the cutting to a handful of taskforces charged with suggesting reforms and spending reductions. But Cuomo’s call for deep cuts to school aid and his refusal to extend a personal income tax surcharge on high-earning New Yorkers has made him a target of politically powerful groups on the left. Cuomo has promised to cut some 9,500 positions from the state workforce if he cannot win $450 million in concessions from public sector unions. But Cuomo’s reinvention of himself as a fiscal hawk is not something he plans to make permanent, according to sources familiar with his thinking. While he has taken a tough stance against labor unions and other constituencies who view spending cuts as anathema to the Democratic ideology, he clearly is not aiming to be remembered for cutting budgets and roughing up working families, à la Chris Christie or Scott Walker. “Does he want to lose every progressive credential he ever had? That’s what he’s running up against,” said one person close to the governor. “You’re making these cuts, and it’s against the fiber of the Cuomo being.” Theoretically, the source said, as the economy improves, revenues increase and balance sheets stabilize, the spreadthe-pain governor could give way to one with a more traditionally liberal approach in the spending in the future.
MARCH 11, 2011
CREDIT: BARRY SLOAN
By Andrew J. Hawkins
The budget process will reverberate through the relationship Gov. Andrew Cuomo has with legislative leaders. “In Andrew’s defense, this is what he says: ‘It makes me sick to do it, but I’ve got to do it in order to be an investor in health care and education later on in my term,’” the source said. By withholding many of the details of his executive budget and delegating many of the specific cost-cutting measures to task forces and panels comprised of legislators, advocates and other stakeholders, Cuomo shortened the timeframe in which the Legislature would have to vote on his proposals. And despite weeks of budget hearings and multiple appearances across the state of Cuomo’s traveling budget roadshow, many still feel very much in the dark. “What budget negotiations?” said Sen. Carl Kruger, ranking member of the Finance Committee, when asked to characterize the back-and-forth between the lawmakers and the governor’s office through the beginning of March. Most legislators, though, have steered clear of out-right criticizing the governor’s budget tactics, in hopes there can still be an on-time document in the end. But rumors persist of a two-way agreement between the Assembly and the Senate that would cut Cuomo out of the process.
Most predict that Cuomo’s strategy will produce an on-time budget this year and let him avoid the powerful but politically risky move of following David Paterson’s lead in using budget extenders to force through his own spending plan.
“If the Legislature feels boxed in, they’re going to assert themselves on a variety of issues,” said former Assembly Ways & Means chair Arthur “Jerry” Kremer. Not that legislators are prepared to let the popular new governor walk all over them. “They’re waiting for the other shoe to drop,” Kremer said of lawmakers. “I’ve never seen the Legislature almost seem powerless at a time when they should have their most power. And I see a high degree of nervousness of how to get out of this situation.” Kremer argued that once the budget is over, lawmakers may feel a need to assert themselves in ways that could irk Cuomo.
“There’s not going to be a happy environment,” he said. “If the Legislature feels boxed in, they’re going to assert themselves on a variety of issues.” But there is more riding on the budget this year than just the governor and the Legislature’s respective poll numbers. The strength of Cuomo’s budget can go a long way toward approving the state’s credit rating and increasing the pace of economic recovery. “The future of his entire administration is really based on the budget here,” said George Arzt, a Democratic political consultant. “He has to act in a confident manner with the Legislature to get something done, so that Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s are happy with the state budget process, and therefore the borrowing rates will be lower the next time around.” So far, Cuomo has enjoyed a blessed existence in comparison to past governors. David Catalfamo, a former top aide to Gov. George Pataki, remembers how his boss proposed many of the same things Cuomo is proposing now—Medicaid reform, education cuts, no new taxes—to a much different response. “There were barricades in the streets,” Catalfamo said. email@example.com
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Senate Republicans say return to joint budget meetings will help on-time budget By Chris Bragg
MARCH 11, 2011
credit: patrick dodson
uring the conference’s two years in the minority, Senate Republicans bitterly complained about the Senate Democrats’ refusal to hold budget conference meetings. This not only violated 2007 reforms, they argued, but left them in the dark about spending bills until minutes before their votes were to be cast. Frustrations came to a head in a heated floor debate last June, when then-Senate Finance Chair Carl Kruger insisted that the passage of the final four spending bills would balance the budget. State Sen. John DeFrancisco, the ranking member, pressed for a few basic details, such as the total amount of spending the budget would contain. In a moment that has since become of legend within the conference, Senate Republicans gleefully found out that they were not the only ones left in the dark by the secretive process. “No,” Kruger said, in a moment captured for YouTube posterity, “we do not have that number.” Now back in the majority, Senate Republicans say they will bring sunlight back to budget negotiations through the resumption of the bipartisan budget meetings in the remaining weeks of the budget process. DeFrancisco says the meetings will create a transparent process that gives the minority party and rank-and-file legislators expanded roles and helps lead to an on-time budget. In 2007, a few weeks into Eliot Spitzer’s administration, the governor signed a good government group-backed law requiring public meetings to hash out the final details of the budget. In 2008, the budget was passed nearly on time using the process, a rare feat in Albany. The process this year is expected to mirror 2008. In late February, the Assembly and Senate agreed on revenue projections. On Mar. 15, the houses are expected to pass budget resolutions. Over the following two weeks, the resolutions will be discussed by bipartisan sub committees that make tweaks before final approval goes through committee known as the “mothership,” consisting of conference leaders, finance chairs and ranking members. DeFrancisco argued that there are numerous advantages to this approach. The meetings provide the opposition party and the public with information about the status of private negotiations, give rankand-file sub committee members more influence in the outcome and can even encourage bipartisanship.
John DeFrancisco and Denny Farrell have been leading the budget hearings, but Senate Republicans have been pushing to expand the process. “The rank and file can then go to the leaders and tell them they’re not that far apart,” DeFrancisco said. Democrats, though, charge that Republicans have inflated the meetings’ value for political purposes. During their tenure in the majority, Democrats used a loophole in the law to avoid having the meetings, which are only required if the Senate and Assembly pass differing budget resolutions. This can be avoided if resolutions are passed at the same time and without disagreement at the end of the process. Then-Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith said the fiscal crisis justified the expedited approach. Others suspected that the Senate Democrats simply could not line up 32 votes. There are limits to the meetings. Even some supporters of the budget reforms acknowledge that they can be largely theater and that the process is ultimately driven almost entirely by the majority. For all the talk of greater transparency, Senate Democrats are grumbling that the Republicans are offering even less information than Democrats did last year, obfuscating their positions until the last moment possible. “The budget meetings were just anoth-
er way to hit us and try and make hay out of something that wasn’t really anything,” said one Democratic finance committee staffer. Watchdogs see the resumption of the budget meetings as a modest, though necessary, reform. The process will not be as secretive as the past two years, but most of the real negotiation will still be done by the infamous “three men in the room,” said Elizabeth Lynam of the Citizens Budget Commission. “It’s a highly scripted process,” Lynam said, “and the leadership still holds 50 out of the 52 cards.” This theatrical element seemed to be on display at a Feb. 28 revenue forecasting meeting between state Budget Director Bob Megna, DeFrancisco, Kruger, Assembly Ways and Means Chair Denny Farrell and ranking member Jim Hayes. It was the first time since 2008 they had met publicly. The hearing was called to hash out a $389 million difference in revenue projections between Assembly and Senate revenue forecasters—the Senate Republicans found revenues would be $389 million more than Cuomo predicted, while the Assembly Democrats thought they would
be $49 million more. As the meeting kicked off, DeFrancisco hailed the return to compliance with the 2007 reforms. “We are meticulously following that this year, I hope,” DeFrancisco said. But interest quickly waned among lawmakers as five different budget experts droned through wonky testimony about how unrest in the North Africa could cause a rise in oil prices. Kruger appeared to doze off several times. Hayes, who had diligently taken notes through the first three witnesses, eventually turned his attention to his BlackBerry. When the witnesses finally finished after 90 minutes, Megna opened the floor to questions from legislators—and got not a single question back. “See how thorough it was?” Megna cracked. A day later, after no public discussion of differences between the bodies’ reports, the Senate and Assembly announced that they had come to an agreement: revenue will actually be $155 million higher than the governor had predicted, they said, providing more money to allocate as they prefer. firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe & Cynthia Lippolis, Broker Owners Prudential River Towns Real Estate Croton-On-Hudson, New York
NEW YORK BUSINESS DEPENDS ON OUR POSITIVE ENERGY New York business owners feel positive about nuclear energy and the Indian Point Energy Center? Joe and Cynthia Lippolis sure do. “Our local towns here have great businesses, of every shape and size. One common thread in keeping these businesses strong is the clean, lower-cost power provided by Indian Point. Strong businesses make strong communities, and as we’ve seen in real estate, strong communities retain their home values.” Businesses in New York thrive on our positive energy. Up to 35 percent of our power downstate comes from Indian Point. Find out more about why Indian Point is Right For New York, at www.rightfornewyork.com
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WE’RE RIGHT FOR NEW YORK
As groups prepare for another year without member items, appeals, reforms and desperate hope underway By Laura Nahmias
aybe a few years ago legislators would have been approving earmarks for a third cheese museum in the state, to add to the ones in Rome and the town of Cuba they have funded in the past. Not this year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo followed David Paterson’s lead in promising to veto all earmarks and member items, once again putting the state’s $200 million spoils system on hold. This news is as bad for small organizations, like the annual Queens Soap Box Derby (grant amount, 2009-10: $4,000) or the Doll and Toy Museum of New York ($2,000), as it is for bigger organizations, like the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, a vast social services group ($1,225,000), and the Bushwick-Ridgewood Senior Citizens Council, the housing advocacy organization started by Assembly Member Vito Lopez ($1,245,250). Those groups will survive, thanks to grants from local governments and their own fundraising. But other groups, like the Public Utility Law Project, which helped poor New Yorkers fight overcharging for utilities, folded last year without the help of member items. And this year, the nonprofit legal organization Prisoners Legal Services will virtually cease to exist, without the $2.3 million grant it typically receives from the state government. Even Paterson refused to defund the group last year, which provides legal counseling to the state’s prisoners, replacing its funding out of his own discretionary pot. But this year, without a budget line item, the nonprofit will lay off 18 of its 29 lawyers, who make $40,000 per year and field more than 16,000 inmate requests annually. The loss of PLS would leave a “huge vacuum” in the social services structure of the state, said executive director Karen Murtagh-Monks.
“It is imperative for New York to continue down the path of having an organization such as PLS, because all we have to do is go back and look at what something like Attica cost,” Murtagh-Monks said, referring to the 1971 riots that led to the group’s formation.
One possible salvation for the member items and the groups that are hungering for them this year: a budget impasse that might prompt Cuomo to agree to some discretionary spending in an effort to get moving again. Until 1995, PLS was part of the executive budget. That year, George Pataki defunded it. Every year since, a conference of Assembly members sponsored funding for the group. Supporters, though, say that its funding should not be included among other member items that generally provide cash for school funds, arts organizations and Little League associations. The group is lobbying the governor to restore its funding, with a bipartisan coalition of backers including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Finance Committee Chair John DeFrancisco, ex-GOP State Sen. John Dunne, and directors of the New York Civil Liberties Union and New York State Defenders Association. But the attention PLS is getting is an exception. Most earmarks go to smaller groups that may struggle without the added cash. Benign but less urgent causes, such as the Plainedge High School Robotics Club (earmark amount: $500) will find a way to soldier on without the grant funding they
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The exclusion of member items from this year’s state budget will force some groups, like Prisoners Legal Services and the Plainedge High School Robotics Club, to look elsewhere for funding. received in 2009. The club’s 45 members are planning clothing and school supplies drives and a fundraiser at the local Chili’s restaurant to make up the difference. “We used every penny of that five hundred dollars,” said former club president Patrick Graziosi. The moratorium on member items has not stopped some reformers from pushing for changes to the system. The process is still too easy to exploit, say some legislators and good-government groups. A list of politicians who have gone to jail or faced indictment on charges related to possible misuse of member items is long: Brian McLaughlin, who stole from a little league association, Efrain Gonzalez, Vinnie Leibell, Anthony Seminerio and Pedro Espada, Jr., are just the most recent. Two bills in the Assembly would reform the process. One, sponsored by GOP Assembly Member Jim Tedisco, would require equity in member item distribution and create a review commission to ensure the quality of grants. “Are there some of these memberitems that are worthy? I think to a certain extent, they’re all worthy,” said Tedisco. “The items themselves are based simply on requests and the power of those leaders and your relationship with them.” Member items have traditionally been a way for new legislators to solidify re-
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lationships with constituents too, and a way to drum up support before elections. Leaders allocate more in a given year to legislators who face a questionable reelection. And a bill to reform that process would likely meet some resistance from the party leaders, Tedisco said. “We have a lot of support for this reform,” he said, “but nobody has more support than the leaders.” Another bill, co-sponsored by Assembly Member Sandy Galef and State Sen. José Serrano, would require legislators to disclose grants that could be seen as a conflict of interest, because of a personal and separate relationship with the organization receiving funding. Galef, who has never taken member items, thinks they should be abolished altogether. “We’re cutting education, healthcare, state programs. I don’t know how you can do discretionary funding at the same time,” Galef said. One possible salvation for the member items and the groups that are hungering for them this year: a budget impasse that might prompt Cuomo to agree to some discretionary spending in an effort to get moving again. “Does he need them to get legislators to support the budget?” Galef wondered. “I don’t know—we’ll see.” firstname.lastname@example.org
The Billionaire Burglar
Mayor Bloomberg is trying to steal police officers’ and firefighters’ VSF pension money as a smoke screen to cover up for the $1 billion his administration has wasted on the failed and unnecessary “CityTime” project. “CityTime” is now the subject of a fraud investigation, with some of the mayor’s top managers already stepping down.
Taxpayers, Police Officers and Firefighters Deserve Better. New York City Police & Fire Public Safety Alliance www.nycpba.org NYC PBA 125 Broad Street, 11th Floor New York, NY 10004-2400 212.233.5531
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Patrick J. Lynch, President
www.ufanyc.org UFA 204 East 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010 212.683.4832
Uniformed Firefighters Association Stephen J. Cassidy, President
Going For Broke Against all odds, Assembly Democrats persist on pushing millionaire’s tax extension By Laura Nahmias
he two-year old millionaire’s tax is dead in the water, set to expire at the end of the year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is against it, as is Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Even Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, one the tax’s biggest proponents, is unsure whether it has a future, though he later released a statement supporting extension. But many Assembly Democrats—68 of whom signed a letter backing an extension—refuse to concede. “In a time when we’re threatening to take $1.4 billion out of schools, I don’t think we should be lowering the tax rate,” Assembly Member Danny O’Donnell said. “The millionaire’s tax brings in something like $4 billion per year. That’s an awful lot of money to walk away from.” The tax, passed in 2009 as a temporary surcharge on New Yorkers earning more than $200,000 a year, is set to sunset at year’s end. Fiscal conservatives argue the tax hurts business across the state. And business groups and the governor himself say the tax is forcing high-income earners to move elsewhere in search of lower tax burdens. This is a myth, O’Donnell said. “Most of my constituents are in favor of keeping it in place,” O’Donnell said. Asked whether his constituency would feel the effects of the tax, he replied, “I represent Central Park West and 85th Street. Does that answer your question?” O’Donnell and fellow Assembly Democrats hope to debunk conventional wisdom that New York’s business climate suffers in direct proportion to the higher income tax rate in an effort to convince Cuomo to extend the tax. “We have three and a half weeks,” said Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, a Bronx Democrat. “A lot of people take hard positions on an issue, but then later on, soften their position somewhat, and I’m hopeful the governor might do that.” Cuomo promised to hold the line on taxes this year. A source within the governor’s office said Cuomo thinks raising taxes is politically impossible at the moment, especially with Senate Republicans’ staunch opposition. “He does not support extending the Personal Income Tax surcharge,” said Cuomo spokesperson Josh Vlasto. Senate GOP spokesperson Scott Reif contends the tax hurts small businesses, many of which wealthy New Yorkers file personal income taxes because they earn profits under $200,000 a year. “Every Senate Republican voted against this job-killing tax when Democrats approved it as part of the budget, and we
MARCH 11, 2011
continue to believe it should sunset as scheduled,” Reif said. The Partnership for New York City recently released a study claiming the tax had driven millionaires out of state by showing decreased wealth levels over the past decade. But the liberal-leaning citizens for tax justice and New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness argued that the Partnership’s study was flawed, noting that most states in the country saw a decline in wealth because of overall recession, not state-to-state migration. Partnership CEO Kathy Wylde, also a leader of the Cuomo-friendly Committee to Save New York, did not return a request for comment. The state has undeniably lost population in the past decade—over 1.7 million people. New York will lose two congressional seats, according to census estimates, because of population increase in southern and western states. “New York has the highest state and local taxes in America, and the governor has been clear about making us more economically competitive,” said state budget office spokesperson Morris Peters. “Many New Yorkers are leaving the state.” Peters said wealthy New Yorkers are fleeing the state for New Jersey, San Francisco and Charlotte, N.C. “It’s dangerous to assume we will have a monopoly on higher earners,” he said. But Peters acknowledged that there was little official data to confirm the link between the millionaire’s tax and the drop in population. “I guess that response would be more anecdotal,” he said. “I would hesitate to know where to point you toward data on that.” A study by the Capgemini Institute, a Paris-based consulting firm, showed the number of “high net-wealth individuals” increasing from 2008-2010 in New York City, and concluded that the city still had more millionaires than any other American city, followed by Los Angeles and Houston. But even without hard evidence to back up his position on the millionaire’s tax, Cuomo will be hard-pressed to negotiate. Long Island Republicans in particular will likely have to bolster the loss in schools funding with an increase in property taxes. Meanwhile, Assembly Democrats are hoping to frame the issue not as a tax increase, but as Cuomo’s last chance to extend, rather than raise, a popular tax. “That gives us some hope that legislators will also accept this as necessary tool,” Ron Deutsch, the founder of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, “and we hope that translates into Speaker Silver more forcefully supporting it.” email@example.com
Millionaire’s tax, by the numbers
of state revenue accounted for by residents with income more than $200,000 per year
percent of total income tax returns accounted for by residents earning more than $200,000 per year
percent of total state revenue made up of income tax on residents earning more than $1,000,000 per year
of residents earning more than $1,000,000 per year
Amount that percentage has increased since 2008
amount of revenue generated by “millionaire’s tax” in 2009
$4.567 billion amount of revenue generated by “millionaire’s tax” in 2010
$4.984 billion (Projected) in 2011 Source: NYS Division of Budget
Legislators: Nicole Needs Your Voice To Save New York’s Home Care System from the Disproportionate $1 Billion Assault by Governor Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Plan
Nicole is a mother of two, a wife, a daughter, a sister and a friend. She is currently receiving home care services through the VNA of Central New York. In 2007, at age 27, Nicole was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She was four-months pregnant and needed immediate life-saving surgery. Nicole fell into a coma but still delivered a healthy baby. Despite being left with severe physical disabilities, Nicole’s home care allows her to live at home with her family, improves her quality of life, and saves Medicaid dollars by keeping her out of the hospital or nursing home.
Speak up for Nicole by standing up for home care.
Potential Cuts Around the State Oneida County • Reduce per-student spending for the community college • Cut summer jobs for youth and other youth programs • Target other social services spending
Essex County • Cut back program for home health services • Make cuts to the nursing home
Onondaga County • Eliminate 14.5 jobs, including five teachers and two custodians. • Cut $30,000 for extracurricular activities and professional development. • Reduce late school bus run one day a week. • Eliminate summer school for grades 1 to 8.
Chatauqua County • Scale back Meals on Wheels program • Reduce veteran’s programs -Cut back on youth services • Spend less on road maintenance.
Yates County • Eliminate the Sheriﬀ ’s Marine Patrol unit • Plattsburgh City School District in Clinton County • Cut courses that are not required, such as the county’s only aeronautical engineering course • Reduce full-day kindergarten to half a day
Rockland County • Layoﬀs for 60 teachers and 30 teaching assistants • Eliminate two administrative and 42 additional staﬀ positions • Closure of the district’s alternative school
MARCH 11, 2011
Don’t erase our progress Here is where New York really ranks: (Sources: “Annual AP Report to the Nation,” The College Board, Feb. 10, 2010, and “Quality Counts,” Education Week, Jan. 13, 2011)
1st in the nation in closing the achievement gap in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math 2nd in the nation on a wide variety of multiple, rigorous measures of education quality 3rd in the nation in Advanced Placement test scores (2009) 4th in the nation in improving high school graduation rates (up 10 percent between 2000-2007) 4th in the nation for students enrolled in college or with a post-secondary degree *The “34th in the nation” statement has been traced back to an obscure 2007 Census statistic that contains a category called “total educational achievement.” That refers to the entire citizenry of New York state with high school diplomas. It lumps together present-day adults with their parents and even their grandparents, and does not measure performance by students in school today.
Richard C. Iannuzzi, President Andrew Pallotta, Executive Vice President Maria Neira, Vice President Kathleen M. Donahue, Vice President Lee Cutler, Secretary-Treasurer
Representing more than 600,000 professionals in education and health care. 800 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, NY 12110-2455 518-213-6000 • 800-342-9810 Affiliated with AFT / NEA / AFL-CIO www.nysut.org
“This comprehensive and consensus proposal achieves the dramatic reform this state needs to reduce costs without jeopardizing patient care.” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo “…sweeping overhaul of how the state finances the [Medicaid] program...” —2/25/11
“...Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Team handed off a package…designed to save $2.3 billion from the health care program...” —2/25/11
“...the result of a ‘real partnership’ that will protect the health care of lowerincome New Yorkers.” —2/25/11
NY’s healthcare community has come together to reduce costs and improve patient care.
hanks to Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York’s healthcare community has united to save taxpayers billions while enhancing our world-class healthcare delivery system.
The unprecedented plan proposed by Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Team will achieve the dramatic reform our State needs by capping costs without jeopardizing patient care. It’s now up to the New York State Legislature to adopt these recommendations as part of the final budget.
Tell Albany: Adopt the Medicaid Redesign Team Plan.
Energy to Grow New York’s Economy
After withstanding another year of cuts, CFE advocates begin to explore legal options By Andrew J. Hawkins
By Arthur “Jerry” Kremer In this time of cost-cutting, how can New York attract large, private sector capital investments to stimulate the economy, create jobs and put downward pressure on energy costs? How can we do this without eliminating vital services or raising taxes? The answer is for lawmakers to finally re-enact power plant siting legislation that eliminates regulatory red tape so that new power plant proposals can be reviewed in a rational manner. Companies considering investing hundreds of millions of dollars in new power plants here in New York have opted to go to other states with clearer regulatory rules and shorter decision times. New York is seen as a mine field of local, parochially-oriented laws that can easily stop any major power plant proposal. Economic development realities must spur the adoption of a new siting law – this year. CREDIT: AQE
hings are not looking up for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. At the beginning of February, Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted automatic spending increases built into the budget as “a sham.” The next day, he released a budget proposal that not only eliminated those automatic increases in foundation aid to school districts, but also cut $1.5 billion from the state’s education budget. Education advocates cried foul, as a majority of the $7 billion increase in education funding mandated by the Court of Appeals in 2006 was to be delivered through the state’s foundation aid formula. Erase those increases and you erase the state’s obligation to provide every student with a “sound basic education,” as the 2006 decision concluded. More pain was to come. A few weeks later, Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy delivered a simple message to the Legislature’s joint budget committee: there is no more money, not to fulfill CFE, not for anything. “Just putting more money in the system does not work,” said Duffy. “I would equate it to turning on the heat in the house in the middle of winter and opening doors and windows.” Duffy said that he and the governor were “still committed” to the CFE ruling. That amounted to cold comfort for supporters of CFE, who have watched billions in promised spending increases evaporate over the years. In 2007, after the court ruling, the state enacted a plan to pay out the added dollars in classroom aid. Over the first two years of the implementation, foundation aid was increased by $2.3 billion. Then it was frozen for one year. Last year, the funding was cut by $1.1 billion. This year, the Cuomo administration is proposing taking out another $1.2 billion. If the governor’s proposal is enacted, schools across the state would be brought back to pre-CFE funding levels, advocates argue. “We were making great progress,” said Geri Palast, executive director of the non-profit Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc. “But that progress is being wiped out.” So far, the retaliation has been relegated to street protests, angry letters and celebrity appeals. (Sex in the City actress Cynthia Nixon recorded one video message.) New York City Council Member Robert Jackson, a plaintiff in the original CFE lawsuit who famously walked 150 miles to Albany to protest the state’s inequitable education budget, led a protest of several hundred parents, students and activists on Feb. 26. Carrying signs with photographs of children underneath banners reading “I am CFE,” Jackson and others marched to the Executive Mansion to protest the cuts and Cuomo’s refusal to renew a temporary income tax surcharge on high-earning New Yorkers. “I’m here today to send a message to our governor, Andrew Cuomo,” Jackson shouted through a megaphone emblazoned with a “Tax The Rich” sticker. “That your budget cuts to education will be devastating to the children of New York City.” Others associated with CFE have hinted that legal action might be coming. But the organization does not have the same resources it did when litigating the case in front of the Court of Appeals while George Pataki was governor. “We’re not staffed up by lawyers like we once were,”
CFE supporters, including Council Member Robert Jackson, marched to the Governor’s Mansion to protest the cuts, as well as Cuomo’s refusal to renew the millionaire’s tax. said one person close to CFE. “We’re now staffed by advocates. All of our legal team has gone on to other things.” Michael Rebell, one of the original attorneys in the CFE case who co-founded the movement with Jackson, is now an education law professor at Columbia Teachers College. Rebell is no longer directly involved, but said he is informally advising the group. “We’re in the process of thinking through a number of options on how to proceed in response to the present challenges,” Rebell said in an email. CFE has three other lawyers on staff who are also presently exploring legal options, but other problems could arise if advocates decide to take that next step. For instance, in 2006 the Court of Appeals only specified a minimum amount—$1.8 billion—that the state would have to pay to comply with the ruling, leaving the Legislature and the governor to agree on a range of dollar amounts for the state to pay. If the case were to go back to court, some CFE advocates are worried that a judge could decide the state had already met that minimum threshold. “Some other lawyer may come in and say, ‘Wait a minute, the court said 1.8 would be sufficient…the Legislature has already satisfied the legal definition of how to deal with CFE,’” said one person involved with CFE. “They could end up with a decision that would suggest no more foundation money is needed.” When the Legislature and the governor froze foundation aid at 2009 levels, thousands of teaching jobs were lost and hundreds of programs, from arts to sports to tutoring, were cut. Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, said that could not be continued. “It’s an uphill battle right now,” Easton said. “The governor is very committed to making these cuts and using the money to finance tax cuts for the wealthiest. Clearly, there is a path to restore a substantial amount of these cuts.” “But,” Easton added, “not all of them.” firstname.lastname@example.org
In his campaign position papers, Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke stridently and clearly of this need: “An important element of increasing the availability of new power generation from renewable fuel sources and other advanced technologies is enacting simplified regulatory process to site new energy plants.” He notes, “New York State is without a key tool to ensure both expedited development of new generation sources and robust community input into siting decisions.” The fundamental, common sense components of it, as Governor Cuomo has outlined, should include being fuel-neutral. Both business and labor strongly agree on this point. Unfounded environmental claims and zealotry evident in a Paterson Administration proposal to implement extensive water intake projects at power plants, which would cost $8 billion, or more than $400 for every man, woman, and child in the Empire State succeeded in chasing energy investors away. Regulatory obstacles at the federal level have also hampered efforts to secure a long-term energy outlook for New York. Nearly four years after Westchester’s Indian Point Energy Center which typically supplies over 25 percent of downstate’s electricity applied for license renewal; a final decision is stalled by baseless NIMBY objections, despite passing the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s own tests for safety and environmental impact. Such inaction places businesses, consumers and ratepayers in an untenable position threatening our existing baseload capacity and undercutting the power to support our long-term growth, job creation and retention when we need it most. Arthur “Jerry” Kremer is the Chairman of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (New York AREA). A 23-year veteran of the New York State Assembly, he chaired the prestigious Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He served by appointment of the Governor on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Capital Review Board and the Public Authorities Control Board. Mr. Kremer is also a principal author of the state’s now expired power plant siting law. S P E C I A L
S P O N S O R E D
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The New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (New York AREA) is a diverse group of business, labor, environmental, and community leaders working together for clean, low-cost and reliable electricity solutions that foster prosperity and jobs for the Empire State. W W W. A R E A - A L L I A N C E . O R G MARCH 11, 2011
Deficit Spending State’s long-term debt continues to climb BY JON LENTZ
he $10 billion budget gap sounds like a lot, but that is nothing compared to the $56 billion in state debt that is growing by the day. Borrowing is a common way to pay for new highways, bridges and university buildings, providing long-lasting projects with long-term funding. But some watchdogs worry about what they call a habit of reckless borrowing in the state, after years of using debt to balance the budget and cover operating expenses that they say is a top symptom of the state’s lack of long-term planning. New York’s debt burden is second only to California’s, according to Moody’s Investors Service. As a result, the $6 billion the state pays towards its debt each year increasingly pinches out other expenditures, said Charles Brecher, the research director at the nonpartisan Citizens Budget Commission. “You have to put more of your current tax revenues into paying off debt service,” he said, “then there’s less around to do school aid and to pay for health and po-
amid fears of more borrowing
lice and other services that people want.” A 2000 cap limited new debt to 4 percent of total personal income—a marker the state has lately come close to hitting. The debt is projected to come within $1 billion of the cap in the next few years, according to the state comptroller’s office.
“There’s nothing that he’s actually addressing to say, ‘Okay, we’re going to pay down our debt,’” Kolb said of Cuomo. “On the flip side of that, he’s not doing anything, at least from what I can tell, that would increase our debt.” In his budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo took steps toward reforming the process, earning praise from State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, a critic of many state borrowing practices. “One of the things the comptroller ac-
knowledged in commenting on the budget is it doesn’t use deficit financing, which has happened in the past,” said Tom Nitido, deputy comptroller for budget and policy analysis. “So in that sense, the state is not squandering more debt capacity on non-capital assets, which is a good thing.” Cuomo’s five-year plan also proposes to slow and eventually reverse debt growth by reining in capital spending. “He’s continuing a trend that began last year by planning to borrow less,” Nitido said. “In the immediate years, this year and next year, there’s still going to be quite a bit of new debt issued.” But Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, a proponent of debt reform, questioned Cuomo’s proposals. He said they would do little to reduce debt, and warned that more borrowing could find its way into the budget in coming weeks given the tough fiscal climate. “There’s nothing that he’s actually addressing to say, ‘Okay, we’re going to pay down our debt,’” Kolb said of Cuomo. “On the flip side of that, he’s not doing anything, at least from what I can tell, that would increase our debt.”
Another concern is that new, unplanned capital projects could be introduced in coming years, raising borrowing beyond the governor’s projections. Lawmakers have introduced other proposals this year targeting borrowing, Kolb said. One bill would eliminate borrowing through public authorities, used increasingly since the 1960s to bypass voter approval but criticized for lacking accountability. More than 90 percent of the state’s borrowing has come through authorities like the Thruway Authority and the Dormitory Authority. Another proposal would cap debt issued each year, while yet another would use five percent of a budget surplus to pay down the debt—a prospect Kolb said was unlikely to happen any time soon. “In prior years, any money that we had was spent,” Kolb said. “And now we don’t have any money coming in. The likelihood of having a revenue surplus right now is not very high, but if we did, we should reduce our debt rather than spending more for sure.” email@example.com
State -Funded Debt Outstanding (in millions of dollars)
Voter Approved Authority Financed Capital Authority Financed Non-Capital
$10,000 $0 2001-02
New York’s debt burden is the second-highest behind California.
Source: The Office of the State Comptroller
MARCH 11, 2011
Whipping Boys Horse breeders say one of Cuomo’s few fee increases will cripple already reeling industry
Energy Goes Together With Public Safety By Patrick J. Bahnken
Most New Yorkers take the electricity that powers our hospitals and homes for granted. But on the occasions when the power goes out, dangerous things tend to happen. During the 2003 blackout, emergency call volumes for the first responders I represent soared in excess of 500 percent. While the lights were out, New York City’s Paramedics and EMS crews on the front lines treated and saved the lives of thousands of patients with medical emergencies, as emergency rooms overflowed. At the same time, firefighters conducted hundreds of subway and elevator rescues and police made sure chaos did not rein. These are but a few examples of the importance of keeping the lights on for public safety in every corner of the state.
Racing officials argue that a tax on purses from horse racing winnings in Cuomo’s budget would cripple an industry already reeling from declining revenues and the closure of Off-Track Betting stores By Chris Bragg
orse breeders are generally not found at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, so their complaints about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal for new fees on their industry have not received much attention. Which they say is entirely wrong. Just like other New York business owners, the recession has been no day at the races for horse breeders. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to pursue a 2.75 percent fee surcharge on purses from horse racing winnings has them considering galloping for the border themselves. The industry is already reeling from declining revenues and the closure of New York City Off-Track Betting locations, and is just now on the verge of the long-promised boost to business expected with the resolution of the Aqueduct racetrack saga last year. Cuomo’s tax, they say, goes after a group of business owners who cannot afford more fees. “We’re really not the rich guys,” said Richard Violette, president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. Because the cost of breeding and racing horses is so high in New York, many breeders have moved to Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. So the purses—or the total amount of money paid out to the owners at a particular track over a given period of time—need to be larger than in other states, Violette argued. The number of horses at Belmont Park has dropped from 2,200 to 1,200, costing hundreds of jobs, as the industry has struggled, he said. The fee, combined with $14 million in unpaid purses to the industry—14 percent of their total purses last year— due to the closing of OTB, represent a step back, he said. “The tide seemed to be turning, but the tax and the lost purses make you wonder if we have a partner in New York State,” Violette said. “It’s really disappointing because the industry has been in crisis mode the past 10 years.” The fee would bring in $7.6 million this year and $8.5
million in 2012, which covers shortfalls in the budget of the State Racing and Wagering Board that oversees the horse racing industry. “Clearly, the agency needs additional revenue, and it’s not something that should be paid for by the taxpayers,” said Division of Budget spokesman Jeff Gordon. State Sen. Joe Addabbo, who has the Aqueduct race track in his district, said he does not believe the surcharge would be too devastating to the already struggling industry, though he hopes it could be repealed when the state’s fiscal situation gets better. To make up for any lost revenue, Addabbo suggested Aqueduct begin holding races at night, since more people will now be coming to southeast Queens to use the new video lottery terminals. “I don’t think this will hurt the industry much more than it was hurting already,” Addabbo said, “and we can do other things to help.” Industry officials, though, say that the fee is unfair in several ways. Not only are horse breeders missing the $14 million in unpaid OTB receipts, but they are footing a $2 million increase in funding for the department—one of the few state agencies that will be seeing an increase this year. They also pay some $55 million in other fees already which are supposed to fund the Racing and Wagering Board but are typically diverted for other purposes, according to Violette. The fee also has no sunset date. Assembly Member Jim Tedisco, who has Saratoga racetrack in his district, said he would like Cuomo’s mandate relief taskforce to consider ways to cut costs at the Racing and Wagering Board rather than raising fees. Tedisco also alleged that Cuomo is breaking his promise not to increase taxes with the surcharge on horse racing. “In New York State, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and acts like a duck, it’s probably a tax,” he said. “You can call it whatever you want—a fee, a surcharge, a pickle.”��� firstname.lastname@example.org
Think about the emergency response systems we rely on and the power it depends on. Radio transmissions dispatch and allow us to communicate with hospital emergency rooms and the doctors we are speeding to. Onboard computers communicate with those in hospitals to relay known information on the patient and their condition. Regardless of the medical need: a heart attack, stabbing, serious car accident or a stroke, without quick and ready access to operating defibrillators, oxygen, blood pressure monitoring or even keeping blood supply chilled, patients won’t stand a chance. The energy that powers New York is not only about jobs and economic development, it enables my members to protect and preserve life. It’s why we need to retain New York’s existing supply of reliable and clean power from hydro and nuclear, which provides more than 50 percent of our electricity. Every day, we respond to hundreds of calls in poor communities where asthma rates are triple the state-wide average. Inundated with industrial uses, including greenhouse gas-emitting peaker power plants, residents and elected leaders in these neighborhoods are fighting hard to reduce the health and social impact. We stand with them. It must be clear that a sound state energy policy affects the jobs of EMT’s, Paramedics, emergency room personnel and the patients we are all sworn to protect. Patrick J. Bahnken is President of the Uniformed EMT’s, Paramedics & Fire Inspectors FDNY – Local 2507, whose 3,000 members operate on the front lines to provide life-saving service to New Yorkers on a daily basis.
S P E C I A L
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New York AREA’s membership includes some of the state’s most vital business, labor and community organizations including the New York State AFL-CIO, Business Council of New York State, Partnership for New York City, New York Building Congress, National Federation of Independent Business and many more. W W W. A R E A - A L L I A N C E . O R G MARCH 11, 2011
A Bridge Too Far Fixing transportation infrastructure takes a backseat in Cuomo’s budget By Jon Lentz
MARCH 11, 2011
CREDIT: ANDREW SCHWARTZ
ew York’s highways are in worse condition than those in 41 other states. The state has more outdated and structurally deficient bridges than all but four other states. And the Tappan Zee, one of the state’s highest traffic bridges, is nearly a decade past its useful life. It will cost up to $16 billion to replace. These problems, outlined by Andrew Cuomo in policy books released during his gubernatorial campaign, reflect the severe infrastructure challenges that he now faces as governor. The state’s budget deficit only makes matters more difficult as the federal government winds down stimulus payments and Congress remains unable to approve a long-term transportation funding plan. And despite the attention he paid to the issue while running last year, Cuomo has done little to directly address the state’s infrastructure needs during his first few months in office. There was no mention of infrastructure in his inaugural address or his State of the State speech. In his proposed budget, there is little that addresses spending to improve substandard roads. When his administration has referred to transportation, it is buried under more pressing issues such as Medicaid, education and consolidating state government. This inattention to the state’s infrastructure could stymie one of Cuomo’s signature policy efforts: economic development. “To neglect these things is bad for a state that’s in poor fiscal shape and trying to attract businesses,” said Robert Sinclair, a spokesperson for AAA New York. “An efficient road transportation network is part of what attracts businesses.” Other observers say that the governor has plenty to deal with just working on the budget. “For many important reasons there is a huge focus on the budget, which probably should be the first and foremost priority right now,” said Samara Barend, the former executive director of the State Asset Maximization Commission, which looked at alternative ways to fund projects across the state. “After the budget is taken care of, more of these issues will probably come to the forefront.” Cuomo has devoted some attention to the issue, making a stop at the Tappan Zee one of his few site visits as governorelect, and promoting the development of high-speed rail in the state. A spokesperson for the governor did not respond to a request for comment. State officials, meanwhile, have em-
As governor-elect, Andrew Cuomo paid a visit the Tappan Zee Bridge, which is nearly a decade past its useful life and will cost up to $16 million to replace. phasized the need for infrastructure investment. “Investment in transportation is one of the greatest and most effective ways to create and sustain jobs,” Stanley Gee, deputy executive director for the Department of Transportation, said at a legislative budget hearing in late February.
“To neglect these things is bad for a state that’s in poor fiscal shape and trying to attract businesses,” said Robert Sinclair, a spokesperson for AAA New York. “An efficient road transportation network is part of what attracts businesses.” Gee noted that the executive budget invests more than $3.4 billion in transportation capital programs. He added that
funding levels are being maintained for “core transportation capital programs,” including highway, bridge, aviation, rail, transit and port programs. During his campaign, Cuomo’s agenda called for addressing key projects, including the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, the Kosciuskzco Bridge in Queens and the Tappan Zee Bridge. But how the state will address its infrastructure needs while slashing funding for most capital projects is unclear. Despite maintaining core funding levels from last year, the governor’s proposed budget would cut $397 million, or 9.3 percent, from the Department of Transportation’s capital projects funding, according to the state comptroller. According to the Division of the Budget, capital spending for transportation would decrease by $166 million, or 4 percent, in the next fiscal year. In response, one of the governor’s goals is to maximize federal as well as private funding for infrastructure needs. He also called for reforming the Dedicated Highway and Bridge Trust Fund, which was created to fund capital projects but is now used to pay for maintenance and operations.
Barend, who now works in the private sector, said that public-private partnerships are an innovative way to help provide governments with some much needed revenue, while also encouraging more accountability for contractors, who are paid based on their performance. One example of a promising publicprivate partnership is the Port Authority’s project to replace the Goethals Bridge, which connects Staten Island to New Jersey and is partially funded by private companies. The strategy would work for a number of projects across the state, but it would not bring in nearly enough money for the Tappan Zee Bridge, Barend said. “It will be more complicated though with the Tappan Zee,” Barend said. “They don’t have the ability to make the payments because the cost of a new bridge is really, really expensive, and they’re looking to add in rail to it. They’re looking at ways they can finance it with the user fees alone, and I’m not sure that’s actually going to be possible. It will probably require an additional subsidy.” email@example.com
New York State is at a crossroads. DEAD END
Which road will we take?
n investment in public higher education is an investment in our future. It helps our citizens rise out of poverty. It creates a strong middle class. And it puts New York back on the path to economic prosperity. If the Executive Budget for higher education is enacted as proposed, SUNY, CUNY and community colleges will have been cut by more than $1 billion since 2008! The results: programs and classes eliminated; larger class sizes; fewer full-time faculty and graduation delays. You donâ€™t need a GPS to tell you thatâ€™s the wrong direction for our state to be headed.
Richard C. Iannuzzi, President
Representing more than 600,000 professionals in education and health care.
www.nysut.org 800 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham,
NY 12110-2455 518-213-6000
800-342-9810 Affiliated with AFT / NEA / AFL-CIO
Cuts, State By State
$1.8 billion deficit
State education aid has been cut by $115.6 million. It also made a $4.6 million to funding for early intervention services, which helps special-needs children develop appropriately to be ready for school. Gov. Deval Patrick has proposed closing two prisons and eliminating $23 million in funding for emergency homeless shelters.
By Candace Wheeler
(Sources: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Bloomberg and local media
$1.2 billion deficit
The State Senate is proposing to save funds by limiting the enrollment of children to the state’s Children Health Program to families at 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Gov. Christine Gregoire has proposed a list of budget cuts of which includes eliminating the 2012 Presidential Primary.
$10 billion budget deficit
Lawmakers have proposed a budget plan that cuts funding for defending the poor in court by 15 percent and the department that supervises and supports parolees would by cut by nearly 21 percent.
$3.2 billion deficit
Gov. Daniel Malloy’s proposed a 3 percent “luxury tax” on pricey cars, boats, jewelry and clothing. Malloy is also proposing to toughen the state estate tax and save $2 billion by enacting a wage freeze over two years and moving state employees to a health benefits package similar to one covering federal employees.
$3.6 billion deficit
Gov. Scott Walker has proposed that state workers contribute 5.8 percent of their salary toward their pensions, and also pay 12.6 percent of their health insurance premiums. Walker’s proposed budget also eliminates almost all union bargaining rights.
$10.5 billion deficit
The state has cut funding for afterschool programs aimed to enhance student achievement. The cut will likely cause more than 11,000 students to lose access to the programs and 1,100 staff workers to lose their jobs. The state has eliminated the eligibility of legal immigrant parents to the state’s CHIP program who have been in the United States for less than five years.
$1.4 billion deficit
The state has eliminated preschool for 4,328 children. Arizona has also halved funding for kindergarten, leaving the responsibility of funding to school districts and parents to keep their children in school beyond a half-day schedule. The state has cut nearly all medications for HIV patients except for critical medicines such as antiretrovirals.
$25.4 billion deficit
Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed increasing the price of prescription drugs and medical, dental and hospital care for Medi-Cal patients, which he says will save $580 million. The California legislature passed a proposal to eliminate $32 million in subsidies for county fairs.
$15 billion deficit
Up to 10,000 children could lose eligibility for an Lawmakers have proposed to save $6 million by decreasing state employees’ mileage reimbursement. Chicago Sen. John Mulroe is seeking to introduce legislation that would allow businesses to buy ad space on Illinois license plates for drivers who wish to save a few extra dollars from license plate fees.
$2 billion deficit
Governor Nathan Deal has proposed to cut funding for K-12 education by $403 million. The cut has led the state’s board of education to exempt local districts from class size requirements to reduce costs.
$3.6 billion deficit
Gov. Rick Scott’s plans for the budget include cutting the workforce by 5 percent to save $300 million annually. The Governor also hopes to reduce pension costs by $2.8 billion over two years by having public employees pay 5 percent of their salaries into retirement programs. Scott also supports switching from a defined- benefit pension to a 401(k)-style contribution plan for new employees.
$3.6 billion deficit
Approximately 7,200 low-income adults will lose their state subsidized health care services under a plan to cap financial eligibility at 20,000 per year. The state Department of Human Services would be cut 2.8 percent, and nursing homes and home health care services would also face budget cuts.
MARCH 11, 2011
Perspectives And The Award Goes To…
Who’s the tough guy, the real tough guy, in the tri-state area? Who gets the Clint Eastwood Award as the Baddest Dude-Governor around? Let’s start with the front-runner the outspoken, burly conflict-meister, Chris Christie of New Jersey. A prosecutor, a fast-talker, a no-nonsense-this-is-how-it-is chief executive who’s gonna pound them lazy teachers and reform the heck out of Trenton. Next, our own Andrew Cuomo, the lost knight of the left, the Son of the Father, also a fast talker, also gonna pound them overpaid public employees, lean and mean, the businessman’s best friend. Don’t tread on him, and don’t even think of continuing the millionaire’s tax. Finally, the long-shot, Dan Malloy of Connecticut. He’s got everything a tough guy needs: He’s polite, inclusive, disabled, smart and empathetic. And the Eastwood Award goes to: Dan Malloy!!! Great personal story: He was deemed “retarded” and “spastic” (his words) until the fourth grade, is dyslexic, can’t write, was mayor of business-friendly Stamford, beat the Left’s favorite son Ned Lamont in a primary and squeaked into the Governor’s Mansion in a race that was close only because he refused to rule out tax increases as part of a budget solution. Best Jab in the East: On Chris Christie— “bombastic for the sake of being bombastic,” “the darling of Republicans because he’s perceived as taking Democrats on rudely.” Take that, big fella. On Andrew Cuomo—“I’m not sure that some governors just don’t want to lay off people for the sake of laying off people and being able to say they did,” as part of a 2016 Presidential effort. Snap. All three governors faced similar problems. They confronted huge budget gaps caused by the collapse in state revenues, the end of federal stimulus money, and spending on health care and education that had increased for years. Cuomo saw it coming and embraced similar themes such as Christie, without the worst of the snarl, but with a program straight out of the Republican/Chamber of Commerce playbook. Massive cuts in education and health care, a tax cut for the wealthiest, increases in corporate benefits, and continued pummeling of public sector workers. Malloy took the same realities and demanded a sharing of the pain. Total spending: Flat, with education, healthcare, and municipal aid at last years’ levels. Over $1 billion in tax increases, mostly from highend-taxpayers. Over $1.5 billion in labor givebacks (wage freeze, increased retirement age, etc.), none agreed to by the unions, but with the promise of massive layoffs if they didn’t come around. A reduction of state agencies from 82 to 58. And in a step neither Christie or Cuomo would take, he adopted Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, making it much harder to fudge the books in the future.
But what won him the Clint Eastwood Award is that he stuck to his principles, to empathy and fairness, when everyone else ran the other way. It takes genuine toughness to stand in the midst of the deluge and calmly repeat the values that informed your struggle to reach the place of power, to govern without demonizing or snarling at anyone.
By Richard Brodsky
It’s not that Cuomo is Christie. He’s not. But Cuomo understands values, and with his pedigree, his relative silence on the human consequences of this mishegas makes Malloy’s powerful reminder of why government matters even sharper. Malloy spoke publicly about the struggles that toughened him: “You can’t separate me from my upbringing overcoming
learning disabilities and having to make my way through that. My dad wasn’t the governor. I wasn’t born with a gigantic chip on my shoulder. But, there’s this thing that I carry around. It’s a miracle that I’m here. That’s why I have a desire to do good for people who it’s more expensive to do good for.” That’s my kind of toughness. Make my day, Dan Malloy.
JUST ASK YOUR KIDS. You may not have seen all the tobacco marketing in the stores, but your kids have. It’s right there by the register, where they check out. Studies show that kids are twice as likely as adults to notice and remember retail tobacco advertising. The more tobacco marketing they see, the more likely kids are to smoke.
Protect our kids from tobacco marketing in stores. Learn what you can do at www.nycapitolnews.com
MARCH 11, 2011
NEW YORKERS... There is a lot at stake this year. New York State needs to make Transportation a
At New York’s current rate of spending, our transportation infrastructure will continue to deteriorate and without adequate investment how can we expect our economy to recover and grow
NEW YORK STATE must make Transportation a
this legislative session.
18 Corporate Woods Blvd, Albany, NY 12211 • (518) 449-1715 • (800) 797-5931 • Fax: (518) 449-1621 • www.nysliuna.org
issue spotlight: TRANSPORTATION and Infrastructure Point/Counterpoint
New York’s aging infrastructure is badly in need of repairs. Its highways need repaving, bridges need refurbishing and its tunnels need patching. The Capitol asked Assembly Transportation Committee Chair David Gantt and Senate Transportation Committee Chair Charles Fuschillo to size up the issue to see how their answers stacked up against each other. Gantt: We have to worry about the condition of bridges and
Gantt: The Senate priorities are just that—they’re the Senate
roads so that we can move goods and services. Always, we’ve got to watch those bridges. We don’t want something bad to happen that’s happened before and that’s happened in other states.
priorities. We still have the governor’s office and DOT, and we still have ourselves.
Fuschillo: The top priority is devising a funding plan that will improve and repair our infrastructure, which is vital to moving New York’s economy ahead in the right direction.
Gantt: We need to come up with the reauthorization at the federal level so that we can try and get some of these roads and bridges maintained. We still have to come up with some revenue in the long run, and we have to try and figure out what the priorities are, both in the Senate and the Assembly.
Fuschillo: There are enormous challenges. The state’s infrastructure is in need of great improvements. It’s obviously tough financial times, and it’s a time that the state should be looking toward public/private partnerships to David Gantt accomplish its infrastructure goals. We’re going to elevate the discussion of public/private partnerships. There are major projects that the state needs to start moving forward on, and I believe in these economic conditions, private funding is vital to the success of these projects.
Fuschillo: There are cuts to the Department of Transportation budget. They haven’t given us any details. We just had a budget meeting last Monday, and as a result of that, I sent [Executive Deputy Commissioner] Stanley Gee a letter asking him to detail how he’s going to deal with the cuts in the Department of Transportation. It’s important for the Legislature to know that information prior to voting on the budget, so hopefully I’ll get an answer. We’ve asked about the loss of stimulus money as well. Hopefully we’ll get answers.
Gantt: We obviously have a budget problem. Everyone in the country has a budget problem. We have to try and work with the governor to come up with a solution, so I don’t want to take shots at the governor. I will simply try to work with him to make sure we get the state where it needs to go—to bring it back to where it was.
Charles Fuschillo Fuschillo: The capital is fully funded, and the [Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program] funding has remained the same, but the department is facing a 10 percent operating cut, which will obviously have a negative effect on infrastructure.
Gantt: We obviously have a problem with the MTA, and we have Gantt: I’ve never seen it this tough. Right now I’m talking with the administration, the [Department of Transportation] in particular, trying to work with them to try and get the resources we need. And I think we have to work with the contractors, we have to work with the community, we have to work with everybody to try and get those resources here, and then we can make those determinations.
to try and come up with a solution. There is no money—there is no pot of gold that we can send to them. But what are the things that we can do to make the system more available for the straphangers and others who ride the subways in New York City? Again, I think the whole idea is to try and work with Governor Cuomo to try and come up with a solution.
Fuschillo: After the budget, we’re going to have to sit down with Fuschillo: I don’t know what [the Assembly’s] priorities are, maybe you can tell me. Our staffs have been in touch, and I think the priorities are the same—improving New York’s infrastructure and realizing that it’s vital to the state’s economy.
the governor, the Assembly, and the MTA and see how appropriately the funding could be obtained for the three years of the MTA capital project. Only two years of funding have been approved, and that’s going to be the challenge of the Legislature and the governor to come up with new funding sources. MARCH 11, 2011
issue spotlight: TRANSPORTATION and Infrastructure
Issues to Watch NextGen:
Lawmakers in Washington began debating the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration early last month. The FAA bill calls for new funding and scrutiny on Next Generation Air Transportation System at major commercial airports. Officials hope NextGen will improve scheduling efficiency and help quell air traffic delays, much of which originates in New York’s airspace. The Senate approved the bill on Feb. 23, and the House Transportation Committee moved to approve its own version several days later. Both versions contain funding and deadlines for the implementation of NextGen air traffic control, but differences over several amendments, such as one attached to the House version that would defund air service programs for smaller communities, could make reconciliation difficult. The Ways & Means Committee still needs to mark up the bill, which could see huge spending cuts under the House Republican’s deficit reduction plan.
High speed rail: Florida’s surprise decision to reject $2.4 billion in federal stimulus dollars for the development of a high speed rail project could end up benefiting other states like New York, which has long sought the capital
MARCH 11, 2011
for its own project. House Democratic sources are optimistic about the state’s chances, although much of the foundational work on the so-called Empire Corridor is still unfinished, making any immediate groundbreaking unrealistic, and some are predicting eight years or more until shovels are in the ground. The state’s Congressional delegation has sent a letter outlining New York’s need for a robust high speed rail project, and is now waiting on a final decision from the U.S. Department of Transportation. That decision will come down to whether the federal government prefers to spread the money for high speed rail around to different states, or concentrate it on one highimpact project, like the Empire Corridor. Either way, observers see this issue playing a large role in the 2012 presidential election.
Transportation reauthorization: Unlike other major public transit hubs around the country, New York fared well in securing money for transit under the DOT’s New Starts program. The Second Avenue Subway project, for instance, already had a full funding grant agreement with Washington and is poised to get $197 million in the 2011 White House budget. But New York Democrats are still nervous over how Republicans’ efforts to slash the
federal budget will affect funding for these projects. The transportation bill will need to be reauthorized before September 2011, when it is set to expire. Both sides are predicting a huge fight, especially over the Highway Trust Fund. Democrats are predicting that without new sources of revenue, other programs will need to be cut in order to fully fund the trust fund, which provides money for road construction and repairs.
Congestion pricing: The controversial revenue generator that refuses to die, appears, well, fairly dead at the moment. Despite Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s continued efforts to keep congestion pricing alive, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s vow to hold the line on new taxes leaves little room for negotiation. The mayor’s aides have done their part to stoke the flames for congestion pricing, which would impose a fee on vehicles entering into Manhattan, but Bloomberg has said he has no plans to introduce a proposal anytime soon. But the memory of what happened last time, when Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver never even let the proposal come up for a vote, may be too fresh for many supporters. —Andrew J. Hawkins
TRANSPORTATION and Infrastructure
Sound-bites Denise Richardson Managing director, General Contractors Association of New York
New York’s economy depends on a robust infrastructure. From a drinking water system that helped eradicate 19th century communicable diseases to a mass transportation system that moves five million people a day, New York once led the nation in the great public works projects that created thousands of jobs and left a legacy of a better quality of life for all. Today, our elected officials have forgotten this history as they focus their efforts on reducing government spending. Clearly, the task ahead for 2011 is to secure the funding that will enable the public agencies to invest in infrastructure and to emphasize to all that we must continue to invest in the critically needed public projects that will secure the region’s physical environment for future generations.
Timothy Gilchrist President, Moynihan Station Development Corporation A city as densely populated as New York needs a robust transportation system to continue to grow. Most New Yorkers commute to work every day. We not only need a modern efficient mass transit system for travel in the metropolitan region, but world class connections to the rest of the nation and to the world. The connection to the rest of the Northeastern U.S. should be high speed rail and Moynihan Station will serve as the hub of the Northeast High Speed Rail system.
Design Now—Be Ready Engineering investment will reap economic dividends for New York State n
Economic Growth: Funding for transportation, the environment, renewable energy, brownfields and related development can be the catalyst to promote economic expansion.
Kevin Corbett Co-chair, Empire State Transportation Alliance
Jobs Creation: A plan that invests $5 million in the state’s economy will create more than 150,000 jobs initially, and more than double that in spin-off economies, related suppliers and material suppliers. Improved Safety and Mobility: Infrastructure upgrades reduce commuter time on public transit and highways, and save lives and billions lost due to poor road conditions, delays and related accidents. Enhanced Quality of Life: Traffic relief, safe roadways and bridges, better transit systems and access to clean energy, clean water, and safe waste water disposal improve the lives of all New Yorkers.
Leaders in the business of engineering
Anyone involved in transportation and infrastructure is aware that capital funding is falling off a cliff for the MTA, NYSDOT and NYCDOT and other similar agencies around the region, but there is no clear political champion leading the charge on this issue. Everyone wants low fares and tolls and a system that is world class, but they want someone else to bear the pain. Forging the necessary consensus is thankless work. Transportation’s version of Profiles in Courage currently would be a very slim book.
Jay Simson President, ACEC New York The state’s inability state to address the funding needs is leading to more and faster deterioration of the entire transportation system, including roads, bridges and transit. Investing now in infrastructure design, a small percentage of total project costs, will enable the state to move ahead quickly when funds are available. Albany needs to address the true impact and effect of not investing today—how many existing jobs we are losing, how many new jobs we are foregoing, how many businesses are locating elsewhere, how many bridges will be closed or will have weight restrictions imposed, and how many appointments, soccer games, school functions and family gatherings will be missed because of this neglect.
MARCH 11, 2011
Working With: • NY City Department of Transportation • NY City Metropolitan Transit Authority • Triboro Bridge and Tunnel Authority
• NY State Department of Transportation • The Port Authority of NY/NJ • NY State Bridge Authority
Kieran Ahern • President • Dan O’Connell • General Counsel
TRANSPORTATION and Infrastructure
Bumpy Road Ahead For New Transportation Commissioner By Johanna Barr
ince 2008, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new transportation commissioner—and the person responsible for dealing with a crumbling
infrastructure that has left New York ranked 46th out of 50 in overall highway conditions—was in Connecticut, serving as the commissioner of the Department of
Economic and Community Development. But McDonald’s appointment was a homecoming: before going to Connecticut, she served as senior vice president
On the line every day. We’re family, friends and neighbors doing the work that matters. SMART | DYNAMIC | CARING | DEDICATED
People working together to make a better New York for all.
MARCH 11, 2011
for transportation at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, deputy commissioner for planning and traffic operations for the New York City Department of Transportation, and director of capital and long range planning at MTA Metro-North Railroad. McDonald has also worked in the private sector, as vice president of Jacobs Engineering, and in state government, as the deputy budget director of the Assembly Ways & Means Committee. Denise Richardson, managing director of the General Contractors Association of New York, served on Cuomo’s transition team and participated in McDonald’s interview. She said that McDonald’s experience dealing with tight budget in the 1980s and ‘90s provided her with crucial experience to help tackle the current budget crisis. “This is, unfortunately, a repeat of history,” Richardson added. “But I think she will draw on her previous experiences and do a fine job managing the agency’s issues. She wouldn’t have been selected Joan McDonald otherwise.” McDonald, who is the third transportation commissioner in as many years, will have the dual task of bringing stability to the DOT in the short term and getting an infrastructure capital program developed and passed by the Legislature. Lawmakers rejected a five-year, $26 billion capital plan in 2009, opting instead for a two-year, $7 billion plan that will expire at the end of March. Metro-North president Howard Permut said he believed that McDonald would continue the exemplary work she did while at his agency. “Joan was a key player when she was Metro-North’s director of planning and I’m sure she’ll be effective as New York State transportation commissioner,” he said. “She knows what it takes to run a railroad and understands firsthand the need for continuing infrastructure investment and maintaining the railroad in a state of good repair.”
InvestIng In Our Infrastructure— Let’s Put PeOPLe Back tO WOrk The only issue both parties agree on in 2011 is the need for jobs creation. We MUST take people out of unemployment and put them back to work. The $780 billion stimulus package of 2009 is viewed at least partially as a failure by many because the money never reached its intended goal— much needed shovel ready projects. Funds instead were diverted and used to plug huge State deficits. A second stimulus can succeed if it is administered in a way that will guarantee that it is channeled directly to infrastructure projects. This is not wasteful spending, it is investing in our State’s and our nation’s future. This is rebuilding America. WDF has always been uncompromising in the rigorous qualifications we require of our employees. Yet we have been finding highly skilled, experienced men and women among the unemployed and we are hiring them with outstanding results. The more infrastructure
This is not a giveaway. This is not throwing money out of a helicopter. This is not giving people entitlements to sit unproductively at home. This is putting people back into the workforce, and making them productive members of society. projects that are budgeted for, the more WDF will be hiring people. There are those who remain skeptical. Numbers don’t lie. The Queens Midtown Tunnel, which turned 70 last November, cost approximately $58M to build in 1940. In 2009, 27.7M vehicles paid an average of $5 each in
The New STaNdard of CoNSTruCTioN
tolls to cross (between the E-Z pass and regular rate). Do the math. The total is close to $140M IN JUST ONE YEAR in revenue: more than double the cost of building the tunnel – an impressive statistic even if the difference between 1940 and 2010 dollars is factored in.
ThAT iS NOT SPENDiNG! ThAT iS iNVESTiNG! We need to restore our belief in people and trust that assets can and will increase in value. Spending creates no asset value. Public projects are durable assets that produce lasting value. Investing in our infrastructure will make America competitive once again with other parts of the world while creating REAL JOBS with REAL BENEFITS for ALL AMERICANS.
Larry Roman Chairman & CEO WDF Inc.
New York State trial lawYerS aSSociatioN Protecting New Yorkers Since 1953
BREAKING: American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology Study Shows Saving Lives Saves Money
Friday, March 04, 2011
OB initiative stopped deaths, lawsuits Safety could be the answer to curbing rising medical malpractice costs in obstetrics, a new study has suggested. New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell started a comprehensive OB patient-safety program in 2002, and the results were dramatic, according to an article written by a team of Weill obstetricians led by Dr. Amos Grunebaum that appeared in the February issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Sentinel events—such as avoidable deaths and serious injuries— dropped to zero in 2009 and 2008 from five in 2000. Med-mal payouts shrank from an annual average of about $28 million between 2003 and 2006 to $2.6 million between 2007 and 2009.
A February 2011 report published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology shows conclusively that focusing on patient safety can eliminate malpractice and significantly reduce costs. By implementing common-sense patient safety measures, doctors at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center created a culture of safety that saved lives and saved money: • Dramatic reduction or elimination of maternal deaths and serious injuries (i.e. “Sentinel events”) during delivery (see chart): Sentenial Events by Year (per 1000 deliveries) 1.04 (N=5) 0.82 (N=4)
0.60 (N=3) 0.38 (N=2)
Grunebaum. Obstetric patient safety measures and compensation payments.Am J Obstet Gynecol 2011.
• 99% reduction in yearly compensation payment totals paid out. Between 2003 and 2006), this meant a $27,341,610 reduction in compensation payments (from $27,591,610 to $250,000) for just one department at one hospital. Now it’s time to make New Yorkers safer by introducing these patient safety measures at hospitals statewide.
Limiting victims’ rights to civil justice doesn’t save lives or money.
But patient safety does.