Budget Talks Heat Up - The Time to Act is Now
While Governor Cuomo insists on building a “new New York” with an emphasis on creating private sector jobs, the State of New York lost 50,000 public sector jobs between 2010 and 2012. This has put a severe strain on the availability of public services New Yorkers need on a daily basis, including mental health, health care, and developmental disability services. This budget continues the state down that path.
Governor Cuomo continues to eliminate good paying middle class jobs with good benefits and a pension to the private sector that pays less in wages and benefits and further erodes the middle class. This will hurt local economies and the quality of life for all New Yorkers.
There are rumblings around the Capitol that discussions on the budget may be moving faster than anticipated. It is expected that the Senate and Assembly will introduce one-house budget proposals over the weekend with the goal of getting the budget done by March 21st. With this condensed time frame, we must act now.
It is absolutely critical that you contact your legislators immediately and tell them to oppose this budget.
Call your legislators next week at 1 (877) 255-9417.
Here are some talking points:
CSEA is opposed to the executive’s “pension lock-in” proposal as it will result in the underfunding of the pension system. The pension system was not created to provide Governor Cuomo with mandate relief.
Instead of addressing the fact that the 2% tax cap mandated on local governments and school districts was a flawed policy that only yielded political points, the Executive budget proposes a plan that would allow municipalities and school districts to make a lower payment for pension obligations.
Allowing this type of scheme would jeopardize the integrity of the most secure pension fund in the nation and result in a severe underfunding of pension obligations as happened in Illinois, New Jersey, and other states.
Mental health services across the country are in a crisis and recent tragedies have magnified the need for providing services to an increasing population. Governor Cuomo proposes to reduce mental health services at a time when we need them the most. The proposed budget would allow the Commissioner of the Office of Mental Health sole authority to close, consolidate, merge or significantly reduce mental health services provided by the state without the legally required one year notification. The one-year notification law was put in place for a reason. It helps patients and their families prepare for new medical care, it allows employees to find a new job, and it allows the surrounding area the time to adapt to the loss of a contributor to its local economy.
This is not the time to put a person out of work. Doing so would make them unable to contribute to the economy and make them more likely to access public programs that the state must pay for.
If the Governor really wants mandate relief he should look at bringing up mental health services in communities instead of in the county jails. Due to years of cuts, jails and prisons have become de facto treatment centers. A study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that over half of all jail and prison inmates have mental health issues.
This puts a tremendous strain on the state correctional facilities, county jails, employees and local taxpayers.
Most importantly, many of these individuals wouldn’t even be incarcerated if they could get care and treatment in their community. Our state needs to take care of its most vulnerable citizens and not count on prisons to treat them.
Rather than having people with mental illness receive treatment in local jails, they should be diverted to effective mental health programs that are more economically beneficial to counties and taxpayers. CSEA strongly urges the legislature to reject this language and force the Executive to develop a plan that ensures that there are mental health services in place.
CSEA opposes the Governor's proposal to create a “pilot-project” to allow private for-profit corporations to own and operate hospitals in New York State. This provision is in no doubt aimed at privatizing SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn because of the utter failure of high paid administrators at the facility to manage this valuable institution.
Allowing a for-profit corporation to operate hospitals in New York should not be allowed and would be a tremendous mistake for New York taxpayers. Well documented research shows for-profits are more likely to take extraordinary measures for money. They are also known for understaffing and cutting corners to earn more profit at the expense of quality health care.
Allowing SUNY Downstate Medical Center to be privatized will undoubtedly set a path for Stony Brook and Upstate Medical Center to follow. These institutions are a vital part of their communities as well as the State. The privatization of the hospital would lead to lower quality health care, fewer available services, and the loss of middle class jobs.
CSEA strongly opposes the expansion of the ‘Close to Home Initiative.’ The enactment of this proposal will continue the wholesale privatization of the State’s juvenile justice system and will lead to the State’s abandonment of its commitment to rehabilitating youths in need of critical services.
The additional proposed closures in this year’s budget are Red Hook Residential Center in Dutchess County, Lansing Residential Center in Tompkins County, Middletown Residential Center in Orange County, and Brentwood Residential Center in Suffolk County all in the name of “Close to Home.”
The Governor has walked away from the state’s commitment to a quality level of care for OPWDD clients. The privatization of OPWDD programs and services in this budget is alarming because it will have a devastating impact on families and communities in your district. In the future, nearly all of the work in this field could be shifted to the private, non-profit sector.
Oppose the closure of Beacon Correctional in Dutchess County and Bayview Correctional in Manhattan.
CSEA / AFSCME Lobby Day
Hundreds of CSEA members from across the state traveled to Albany on Tuesday, March 5th to urge legislators not to pass this budget that will hurt the mentally ill, developmentally disabled, local economies, and our families. CSEA President Danny Donohue, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, and others addressed the crowd and members lobbied their legislators to keep people working.
Call Congress to Stop Sequestration
Across the board federal budget cuts known as sequestration took effect last week. While the full impact will not be felt for several weeks, the long-term effects on public programs will be dramatic. The services that you provide, including education, public safety, job assistance, and public health, are at risk due to these cuts. Call Congress today at 1-888-659-9401. Demand that they stop across the board cuts and instead close corporate tax loopholes for the 1% to ensure vital services continue to be provided.