Plugged In @ Hinman Straub – March 1, 2019

What’s Inside

  • On-Call Scheduling Regulations Reportedly Abandoned
  • Governor Signs Extreme Risk Protection Order Bill
  • Governor and Mayor Announce 10-Point MTA Plan
  • Senate Majority Leader Withdraws Appointment to PACB
  • Comptroller Releases FY 2019-20 Executive Budget Report
  • Jumaane Williams Wins NYC Public Advocate Special Election
  • State Senator Cathy Young to Resign
  • Department of Transportation Commissioner Stepping Down
  • Jerry Kassar Elected Chair of New York State Conservative Party
  • Updates, Reminders, and Links
  • Coming Up

On-Call Scheduling Regulations Reportedly Abandoned

It was reported this week that the Cuomo administration plans to abandoned its reforms to on-call scheduling after proposed regulations were widely panned by labor and business groups alike. The labor department began review of the practice, at the direction of the Governor, with public hearings beginning in the fall of 2017. The original proposal, released in December of 2017, would have required 14-day advance notice for work schedules and employees would receive two hours of additional pay for last-minute shifts. Employers would also be required to pay additional amounts if shifts were canceled within a certain time period. The proposal was met with withering criticism from the business community, who were able to make a compelling enough argument for the department to issue a revised proposal in late 2018. The revised proposal would exempt certain workers, such as those whose jobs are weather-dependent, from receiving call-in pay. Supporters of the original plan derided the amendments, while business groups and others pointed still to industries that would be negatively affected. The department of labor has yet to take any official action in abandoning the plans and has alluded that it could revisit the matter in the future. Some lawmakers have signaled a desire to contend with the issue legislatively, though it is unclear how much support the measure enjoys among Albany legislators.

Governor Signs Extreme Risk Protection Order Bill

The Governor, joined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Linda Beigel Schulman the mother of a Parkland shooting victim, held a ceremony for the signing of a bill that will allow for the issuance, by a court, of extreme risk protection orders for those considered to be a danger to themselves or others. The new law will allow law enforcement, family members, teachers, school administrators, and other school officials to petition a court to issue an order of protection prohibiting a person from purchasing, possessing or attempting to purchase or possess a firearm, rifle or shotgun. If an order is issued based on the findings of the court, temporary confiscation of firearms is permitted. Proponents of the bill claim this will help prevent future tragedies like the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, while pro 2nd amendment groups complain that the bill lacks due process.

Governor Cuomo said:

“Today New York is proud to pass the first-in-the-nation Red Flag Bill that empowers school teachers to do something when they believe something bad is going to happen. We are empowering teachers not by giving them guns like the President wants – but by arming and empowering them with the law, so when a teacher or family member sees there is a problem, they can go to a judge and get a court-ordered evaluation. The Red Flag Bill will save lives and doesn’t infringe on anybody’s rights and it is common sense.”

Governor and Mayor Announce 10-Point MTA Plan

This week Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio announced a proposal to reorganize the MTA and provide dedicated funding streams for the beleaguered authority. The major tenets of the plan are as follows:

  • Reorganize the MTA by consolidating the common functions of the six entities that make up the MTA. Currently, the New York City Transportation Authority (NYCTA), Long Island Railroad (LIRR), Metro-North, MTA Capital Construction, MTA Bus, and SI Railway operate as separate entities. Among the services that will be consolidated are construction management, legal, engineering, procurement, human resources, and advertising.
  • Dedicated funding through the implementation of congestion pricing along with a fixed amount of new internet sales tax derived from New York City, and a percentage of the revenue generated by the cannabis excise tax.
  • Mass transit fare increases limited to an inflationary increase of 2% per year.
  • MTA Board appointments will be modified so that all terms end with the appointing elected official’s tenure.
  • Partnership between the City and State to stop fare evasion.
  • MTA will undergo an independent audit to determine actual assets and liabilities.
  • Creation of a Regional Transit Committee (RTC) appointed by the governor, mayor, assembly, senate and organizations representing riders. RTC will review the Capital Plan as well as toll and fare increases.
  • MTA will have design-build authority for all projects.

Governor and Mayor will work closely with the legislature to effectuate provisions of this plan

Senate Majority Leader Withdraws PACB Appointment, Names Replacement

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, in a letter sent to the Governor last weekend, withdrew her nomination of vocal Amazon opponent Senator Gianaris to the Public Authority Control Board (PACB). In the same letter, the Majority Leader put forward an alternative nomination for the board, Senator Leroy Comrie. It was noted that Senator Comrie’s district envelopes part of Belmont Park – where another upcoming economic development project with some local opposition is due to come before the board for approval – leading some to speculate about the disposition of that project. Senator Comrie hopes that some issues concerning the project can be ironed out.

Comptroller Releases FY 2019-20 Executive Budget Report

State Comptroller DiNapoli released his report on the proposed executive budget. The report notes that tax collections were dramatically short of projections and that the Division of Budget has since reduced estimates of tax receipts for the current and next fiscal year by $5.7 billion. DiNapoli cautioned that “[a]s lawmakers craft next year’s state budget, they are negotiating under the threat of slower economic growth, volatile financial markets and continuing revenue uncertainty. Decisions on the new budget demand an exceptionally high degree of caution, and I encourage the Governor and Legislature to bolster the state’s rainy day funds to better prepare for future fiscal challenges.”

Highlights from the Comptroller’s report include:

  • Out-year budget gaps projected for the three years starting with SFY 2020-21 average $4.8 billion annually, including the effect of current proposals but before potential gap-closing actions;
  • The budget is expected to use nearly $7.6 billion in temporary or non-recurring resources in SFY 2019-20, largely from extending the top rate on personal income tax and pre-paying debt service. As part of its response to the shortfall in SFY 2018-19 receipts, DOB also plans to use more than $1.5 billion in resources of this nature during the current fiscal year, including $491 million in monetary settlement proceeds going to General Fund relief and $310 million in accumulated fund balances;
  • Various aspects of the budget raise concerns regarding transparency, accountability and oversight. Among several issues are more than $500 million in new lump sum appropriations for yet-to-be-determined projects, and measures that would bypass existing requirements for competitive bidding and Office of the State Comptroller contract review;
  • The budget expands the use of off-budget spending for state programs, including shifting $297 million in Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)-related resources and $75 million in debt service for mental hygiene facilities in the coming year;
  • State-supported debt outstanding and debt service are both projected to increase by an average of 4.7 percent annually from the current year through SFY 2023-24. The budget proposes increased bonding authorization for state-supported debt of $5.1 billion, or 3.4 percent, over existing authorization. The state’s statutory debt capacity remains limited, declining to a projected $24 million in SFY 2022-23;
  • Projected school aid would total $27.7 billion, an increase of $956 million, or 3.6 percent in State Operating Funds. The Financial Plan projects that school aid funded from commercial gaming revenues will grow to $161 million in SFY 2019-20; and

The budget proposes a congestion tolling program in New York City to generate revenue for the MTA, and appropriates the final $1.5 billion of the state’s $7.3 billion commitment for the Authority’s current capital plan. However, financing sources for the majority of this commitment have yet to be identified.

Jumaane Williams Wins NYC Public Advocate Special Election

City Councilman Jumaane Williams beat 16 other candidates to win the special election held for New York City Public Advocate. The special election was a result of the vacancy left by now State Attorney General Tish James. In the interim, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson was serving in a dual capacity as both Council Speaker and Public Advocate. Jumaane Williams was seen as the likely favorite for the post, coming off a spirited campaign for Lt. Governor that ended up being closer than projected. The race was crowded however, and many refrained from handicapping as turnout in a February special election was anyone’s guess. Coming in second place was the only Republican in the race, Eric Ulrich, a councilman from Queens and a staunch supporter of the scuttled Amazon deal.

State Senator Cathy Young to Resign

Senator Cathy Young announced this week her plans to resign her seat in the state Senate effective March 10th. Young will be taking a position at Cornell University where she will become executive director of the Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture at Cornell’s AgriTech in Geneva.

Young said:

“It was a very challenging decision to leave my service in the New York State Senate because I care so deeply about the people and issues facing my district. However, this new role will provide me with more direct opportunities to make progress in one of the industries that is closest to my heart. I grew up on a dairy farm and know firsthand some of the challenges that those in the food and agriculture industry face and the opportunities that innovation, technology and business partnerships can bring to the industry. I am thrilled to continue making a difference in this new and enhanced statewide capacity.”

Department of Transportation Commissioner Stepping Down

Paul A. Karas, acting commissioner of the Department of Transportation, has submitted a letter of resignation to the Governor. He indicated that he would soon be stepping down from his role as acting commissioner and identified his desire to return to Illinois to be with his wife full-time, who has spent most of her time there pursuing her career and other interests. Mr. Karas has served in this role for the last 15 months. In his letter, Mr. Karas thanked the Governor for the opportunity to serve in his administration on behalf of the people of the state.

Jerry Kassar Elected Chair of New York State Conservative Party

Jerry Kassar won a special election to as Chair of the state Conservative Party. The position became open as long time chair of the party, Mike Long, resigned unexpectedly earlier this year. Kassar beat out Ralph Lorigo of Erie County to win the post. The position is up for election for a full term in 2020 where it is expected that Lorigo will again make his case to the party members. Lorigo was unable to attend the election held in Brooklyn due to his flight being delayed multiple times.

Updates and Reminders

City & State NY’s weekly Winners & Losers here.

City & State NY’s New York City’s Power 100.

Newsday Opinion Piece: False promises about legalized weed.
The budget’s Medicaid cuts could sink ambulance services in New York.
New bill to provide undocumented immigrants health care coverage introduced in Senate and Assembly.
Listen to Cuomo on Chartock here.

USA Today suggests new lawsuits could push NY Diocese into bankruptcy.

Three State Senators make a case for decriminalizing prostitution.

Coming Up

A Joint hearing of the Senate Banks and Consumer Protection Committee will hold a hearing on the proposed Student Loan Consumer Assistance Program (SLCAP) on March 4.

The Board of Regents will hold its next meeting March 11-12.

PSC will hold its next meeting on March 14th.

JCOPE will hold its next meeting on March 26th