JUNE 21, 2013
2013 Legislative Session Draws to a Close
Throughout this week, the Governor and legislative leaders have been working to resolve outstanding issues including casino gambling, Tax-Free NY (now called Start-Up NY) and a women’s equality agenda. The legislature is expected to work through Friday night to pass many of these bills. As of this writing, the Assembly has passed many of the major pieces of legislation while the Senate still has a lot left to do.
Agreements have been reached on several issues on Governor Cuomo’s agenda.
Despite re-labeling “NY Tax-Free” as “Start-Up NY,” the Governor’s plan to allow businesses to locate on and around college campuses and pay no taxes remains bad policy. This legislation creates a special class of employees that will pay no state income tax for five years, and only some taxes on income over $200,000 for an additional five years after that. CSEA has been and continues to be opposed to the inequity of this plan. On a positive note, CSEA was able to secure job protection language to protect our members from the very real threat of privatization attempts on SUNY campuses.
Additionally, the Governor’s plan to create a financial restructuring board for distressed municipalities is expected to be passed by both houses. While this legislation can be viewed as an attempted power grab by the Executive to control local government finances, the decision to request a review or assistance from the 10-member board is voluntary and lies with the municipality.
Both houses have reached an agreement on a bill that would allow for four upstate casinos. Before the legislation can become law, voters will have to approve legalizing casino gaming through a public referendum that will be on the ballot this November.
As of this writing, no consensus was reached on a women’s equality agenda.
CSEA Successful in Getting Priority Legislation Passed
While the legislature continues to pass bills, CSEA has already been successful in getting high priority legislation passed this session.
The Veterans’ Employment Act has passed both houses and will now be sent to the Governor. This legislation will help to reduce the high unemployment rate among veterans returning from active duty by requiring the state to use qualified veterans for temporary jobs prior to going to a third party.
Legislation has passed both houses that would restore the $90 million cut to the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities called for in this year’s state budget.
Both houses have passed legislation that requires local social service districts to provide OCFS with at least 60 days’ notice prior to lowering financial eligibility levels for child care assistance.
CSEA supported a bill that requires the state to provide the SUNY health science centers with the same amount of operating support as the prior year, including fringe benefits, unless a fiscal emergency is declared by the Governor. The bill has passed both houses.