Coverage of Albany and New York State government

  • Division of Budget’s Mid-Year Update Shows Budget Deficit
  • Governor Announces New Regulations on Employee Scheduling
  • Profiles of Newly-Elected State Legislators
  • Governor Continues to Criticize GOP Tax Reform Plan
  • Governor Proclaims November Women’s Suffrage Centennial Month
  • Comptroller Warns of MTA Fare Hikes
  • Report Finds School Enrollments Down, Increasing Student Poverty
  • Political Update
  • Coming Up

Division of Budget’s Mid-Year Update Shows Budget Deficit

The state Division of Budget (DOB) released its mid-year budget update on Friday; it shows that the state is facing a budget deficit of between $1.7 billion and $4.4 billion in the state’s upcoming fiscal year.

DOB’s update reports that the state faces a $1.7 billion budget deficit if state spending increases remain capped at 2 percent, as the state has done in recent years.  If the state does not limit its spending increase to 2 percent, the budget deficit could be as much as $4.4 billion.

The report also finds that deficits in subsequent years could be between $6 billion and $8 billion.

Governor Announces New Regulations on Employee Scheduling

On Friday, Gov. Cuomo announced that the State Labor Department is proposing regulations to limit the use of “just in time”, “call-in” or “on-call” scheduling, practices that allow employers to schedule or cancel workers’ shifts just hours before or even after they start.

Under the proposed regulations, employers would be required to let employees know their schedules two weeks in advance and provide two hours’ extra pay for last-minute assignments. They also will mandate that employers pay for at least four hours for shifts that canceled 72 hours before the scheduled start time.

Gov. Cuomo said:

“In New York, we have achieved nation-leading success in workers’ rights, and we will continue to fight to protect all hard-working New Yorkers.  The regulations advanced by the Department of Labor will increase fairness for workers and allow employers to retain flexibility.”

If adopted, they would pre-empt a New York City law, scheduled to go into effect on Nov. 26, which applies only to fast food and retail workers.

The Business Council of New York State has raised concerns about the proposal, calling it “another administrative and financial hurdle for New York employers that it not imposed in many states.”

The full regulation is available here. The formal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will be published in the November 22, 2017 issue of the State Register, which will begin a 45-day comment period.

Profiles of Newly-Elected State Legislators

26th Senate District (Manhattan/Brooklyn)

Democratic Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh will replace fellow Democrat Dan Squadron, who resigned earlier this year. The district includes lower Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn.

Kavanagh was first elected to the Assembly in 2006.  Most recently, he chaired the Assembly Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection.  His legislative priorities include affordable housing; environmental protection; economic and social justice; preventing gun violence; campaign and elections reform; and providing for greater accountability in the ways government provides services and spends tax dollars.

27th Assembly District (Queens)

Democrat Daniel Rosenthal, a City Council staffer, was elected to replace former Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz, who died earlier this year.  Rosenthal said that he plans to focus on quality of life issues.

The district includes Kew Gardens, Forest Hills, and College Point.

71st Assembly District (Manhattan)

Democrat Al Taylor, former Chief of Staff to now-retired Assemblymember Herman “Denny” Farrell, was elected to fill the vacancy that was created when Farrell retired in September. The district includes part of Harlem.

His legislative priorities include improving public schools by reducing class sizes and increasing state aid; stronger rent laws; and improving public transportation.

Governor Continues to Criticize GOP Tax Reform Plan

Last Monday, Gov. Cuomo and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer criticized the first draft of Republicans’ federal tax reform proposal and urged the state’s Republican members of Congress to oppose the proposal.  In its current form, the proposal would eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes, cap the property tax deduction at $10,000, and cap the mortgage interest deduction for newly purchased homes at $500,000.

The Governor said that the legislation would harm the vast majority of taxpayers in New York State, increasing taxes on state residents by $16 billion.  He said that if it is enacted, it will lead wealthy New Yorkers to leave the state. That would, in turn, force the state and local governments to raise taxes on those who remain, making the state “less competitive.”

The Governor again criticized the tax reform proposal on Thursday, when he said “This devastating plan is positioned to use New York as a piggy bank to finance the rest of the nation, crippling hardworking families across the state.” Statewide, according to the Governor, taxpayers would pay $16 billion more under the plan.

Governor Proclaims November Women’s Suffrage Centennial Month

Last week, on the 100th anniversary of women’s gaining the right to vote in New York State, Gov. Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Hochul announced that the state will build two statues honoring two suffragists. A statue of Rosalie Gardiner Jones will be built in Cold Spring Harbor State Park in Suffolk County, and a statue of Sojourner Truth will built be on the Empire State Trail in Ulster County.  There will be a call for submissions to select the statue designs.

Gov. Cuomo said:

“From the suffrage movement’s launch right here in Seneca Falls to the historic Women’s Equality Agenda, New York leads the nation in fighting for women’s rights, and we are proud to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in our state and the bravery and perseverance of the women who paved the way.”

Comptroller Warns of MTA Fare Hikes

Last Thursday, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli released his office’s annual “financial outlook” for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).  The report finds that the costly measures the MTA is taking to address deteriorating train service will likely require that new funding sources be identified if the MTA wants to avoid unplanned fare and toll hikes.

The report also highlights the “deteriorated” performance of the nation’s largest mass transit agency, noting that the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) on-time operation is on track for its worst performance in 17 years.

Comptroller DiNapoli said:

“Maintaining, modernizing and expanding the largest mass transit agency in the nation is critically important to the future of the New York metropolitan region.  In the absence of adequate funding, the system could fall into further disrepair and riders could face unplanned fare hikes. The state and city need to find solutions to prevent these possibilities from becoming reality, and the MTA must make the best use of its resources.”

MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said that the MTA rejects “the idea of any unplanned fare increases.”

Report Finds School Enrollments Down, Increasing Student Poverty

A report issued last Thursday by the New York State Association of School Business Officials finds that a majority of school districts in New York State are seeing enrollment declines, and that levels of poverty and economic hardship among students are increasing.

Statewide, 89% of school districts saw lower enrollment over the last decade, with 68% seeing enrollment declines in excess of 10%.  High-need rural districts had the largest declines.

The statewide average spending per pupil in 2015-16 was $23,361, while low need districts spent $27,109 and high need urban/suburban districts spent $21,255 per pupil respectively.

The group is seeking in the state’s Foundation Aid formula to provide more state funding to districts with high poverty rates.

Political Update

Cuomo Holds California Fundraisers

Gov. Cuomo traveled to San Francisco and Los Angeles this week, where he will hold fundraising events with Silicon Valley and Hollywood executives.  The trip is fueling speculation that the Governor is planning to run for President in 2020.  The Governor has said that his only plan is to run for re-election in 2018.

Astorino Rules Out Run for Governor in 2018

After losing his bid for a third term as Westchester County executive on Tuesday, Rob Astorino said that he will not run for Governor in 2018.  Astorino challenged Gov. Cuomo in 2014, and was said to be considering another run in 2018.

Winners & Losers

Each week, City & State New York publishes a list of the week’s political “winners” and “losers.”  Read last week’s list here.

Coming Up

The Public Service Commission holds its next meeting on November 16.

The State Board of Elections holds its next meeting on December 15.

The Smart Schools Review Board will meet on November 27, 2017 in Albany.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) holds its next meeting on November 28.

Also on November 28, the Assembly Election Law Committee is holding a public hearing in Manhattan on “Protecting the Integrity of New York State’s Election Systems.”

On December 5, the Assembly committees on Governmental Operations; Labor; Small Business and Subcommittee on Oversight of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises are holding a public hearing in Albany “to examine the 2017 MWBE Disparity Study and the overall MWBE program through the input of program participants.”