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The BALCONY Bulletin

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Finding  Common Ground Between New York Business and Labor
December 23, 2008

DiNapoli Predicts Loss of 225,000 NYS Jobs

Thompson Foresees 50% Drop in Wall Street Bonuses at

Thompson DiNapoli Ventimiglia Lubin Dec 11 2008 
 (l-r: NYC Comptroller Thompson,NYS Comptroller DiNapoli, BALCONY Co-Chairmen Bruce Ventimiglia and Al Lubin)
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli warned of the loss of 225,000 private sector jobs. New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. warned of a Wall Street bonus pool decline of 50% at the December 11th breakfast gathering sponsored by BALCONY, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York ( 
The forum was held at the Financial District headquarters of the United Federation of Teachers and was attended by more than 200 business, nonprofit and labor leaders.
BALCONY Co-Chair Bruce Ventimiglia, Chairman of Saratoga Capital Management, introduced Comptroller
DiNapoli, describing him as "exemplifying what a great public official should be, competent and alert to help all New Yorkers."  DiNapoli said that the comptroller position was a great training ground for executive positions like city mayor. There was general laughter among the audience, most of whom were well aware that Thompson had just announced his candidacy to replace Mayor Bloomberg the day before.  
DiNapoli_Thompson Dec 11 2008 Forum

Then DiNapoli described the financial crisis that New York is facing because of the "Wall Street Meltdown."  He warned that spending cutbacks in the state budget would spare no sacred cows, because anticipated job losses would mean that the state and city would lose up to $30 billion in revenues over the next three years.  DiNapoli foresees 225,000 job losses in the private sector, a number that could increase because of the multiplier effect. Just as financial sector prosperity creates many new jobs in other sectors of the workforce, so too does a financial sector decline mean layoffs for many of these ancillary positions. Click here to read Comptroller DiNapoli's report, "The Securities Industry in New York City."
 Bill T Dec 11 2008
Comptroller Thompson characterized the current financial crisis as "the worst economic downturn since 1929" and ruefully stated that "we've learned more about the credit markets over the last few months than we ever wanted to." Thompson assessed the likely damage to the five boroughs, referring to a report that his office has prepared, "The State of New York City's Economy and Finances"
( According to the analysis, 46,000 financial sector jobs will be lost, and 60,000 additional jobs that service the financial industry are also at risk. For each $1 billion drop in Wall Street bonuses, the city loses $20 million in personal income tax revenue. As the predicted 2008 slash of Wall Street bonuses nears 50%, this means that city and state revenues will also diminish. Thompson blamed this crisis on "an oversight failure of the banking industry by the federal government, especially great after the SEC made changes in 2004 that allowed banks to operate with a 30 to 1 debt to assets ratio."
Click here to read the complete forum report.
Regan_DiNapoli Dec 11 2008
(l-r: Former NYS Comptroller Ned Regan and current NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli)

BALCONY Supports $12B Stimulus Package to Create or Save 435,000 Jobs Across New York

Immediate Investment in Improving Infrastructure Would Put Thousands Back to Work While Making Crucial Improvements to Roads, Bridges, Public Transportation, Parks and Water Systems Across State

BALCONY has joined a broad coalition of labor, business, civic and environmental leaders from across New York in calling upon on Governor David Paterson and the state legislature to pass a comprehensive $12 billion New York State stimulus package that would create or save 435,000 jobs across New York.  The coalition also called on the state's congressional delegation to devote federal stimulus money towards specific projects they laid out in their proposal.  
"New York's leaders are facing historically challenging choices when it comes to the fiscal crisis gripping our state," said Dr. James Melius, BALCONY Executive Board Member and President of NYRIC (New York Roadway Improvement Coalition).  "We understand that tough budget cuts must be made but we believe the government has an obligation and a unique opportunity to jump start our state economy by putting thousands of New Yorkers to work.  The stimulus package we are calling for today will help all New Yorkers - from the jobs they need to the air they breathe, to the roads, bridges and subways they use to go about their daily lives." 
The proposal calls for Governor Paterson and New York's congressional delegation to direct significant portions of federal and state money towards road, bridge, highway, waterway, park, and transportation infrastructure projects in the next two years. The stimulus package also contains a plan for significant funding for "green" projects across the state. The coalition said that it had identified projects that could begin construction immediately which would result in job creation, major infrastructure, transportation and environmental improvements from Babylon to Buffalo. 

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BALCONY, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York, represents more than 1,000 New York businesses, labor unions, and trade associations. BALCONY seeks common ground in the public policy debate in New York to spur economic development through the adoption of business/union friendly, socially responsible common sense laws that maintain and improve the quality of life for working New Yorkers.

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Thompson _ DiNapoli Dec 11 2008 
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BALCONY Members Comment on Governor Paterson's Proposed Budget
Special Note:
The following  comments are by  some of the members of BALCONY on Governor David Paterson's proposed 2009 - 2010 budget . We provide them for informational and discussion  purposes only,  as they do not yet reflect the official positions of BALCONY
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"The meltdown was not created by working men and women and they must not be forced to bear the burden of New York State's budget crisis.

"Destruction of the public workforce, schools, state services and health care would leave our state with a terrible economy, hasten our decline and dramatically impact the ability of small businesses to survive.

"New York State must be more realistic in its solutions to repair the budget shortfalls. Just as the federal government has moved quickly to support the financial sector with almost a trillion dollars, so too must Washington provide the assistance necessary for New York State and other states." - Alan Lubin and Bruce Ventimiglia, Co-Chairmen

CSEA Logo Dec 22 2008

Services, jobs and communities will all be hard hit and middle income New Yorkers will bear the brunt of the cost under Governor David Paterson's proposed 2009-10 state budget. The massive cuts will undermine education, health care and localities along with further cuts in hard hit state operations.
"The middle class will have to pay more and get less while the wealthiest New Yorkers slide by under the Governor's proposal," said CSEA president Danny Donohue, "There is no sharing of the sacrifice here - it's working people getting stuck with the bill."
Donohue vowed that CSEA will fight the proposal in every way available, in every part of New York. The union has already scheduled the March for Main Street when the Governor delivers his State of the State message on January 7 at the state Capitol.

CSEA also takes exception to the Governor once again calling on the union to reopen its state contracts even though we have repeatedly told him no and offered numerous other money saving suggestions.

A number of gimmicky tax and fee increases will not adequately address the state's deficit and will hit working New Yorkers hardest. At the same time the proposals will likely lead to significant loss of services at a time when New Yorkers need them most and will also result in layoffs and property tax increases.

"CSEA does not question the importance of bold and serious action to address the unprecedented fiscal challenges facing our state," Donohue said. "We do question Governor Paterson's approach - it represents 'death by a thousand cuts' to middle class New Yorkers."

"For whatever reason the Governor seems fixated on the idea of not raising taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers," Donohue said. "Yet his proposals for cuts in aid to health care, schools and local governments will only lead to job loss and drastic reductions in services in those areas, along with local property tax increases that will hurt real people in real places."

 GCA logo Dec 22 2008
The General Contractors Association of New York applauds Governor Paterson's efforts to close New York's deficit. His budget plan reflects the State's difficult fiscal condition and illustrates that now is the time all must come together to help New York get back on track. With the prediction of losing 225,000 jobs over the next two years, it is a necessity that we be fiscally responsible and make wise funding choices that mitigate the impact of the job loss in the financial sector.

Investment in transportation infrastructure sustains construction industry employment and serves as a catalyst for regional and local economic recovery. These difficult economic times require maintaining and increasing the state budget for infrastructure, not reducing it. The budget proposal fails to address short and long term needs of highways, bridges and transit infrastructure. In order to keep New York working, we need to be investing in infrastructure, not decreasing its funding.

"The need for infrastructure cannot be stressed enough. It is the foundation of New York and is relied upon by the entire state. Our roads, bridges, mass transit and water and sewer infrastructure are what has given New York its historical competitive advantage. This present economic crisis, while severe, is not justification for sacrificing infrastructure projects that will ensure New York's future economic viability." Managing Director of the GCA Denise Richardson said, "Improvement of infrastructure is no longer an option, it essential for New York to continue to thrive and prosper." 

NYSUT Logo Dec 22 2008 
New York State United Teachers, while recognizing that the darkening economy requires difficult decisions, today said Gov. Paterson's proposed state education budget would ask students to shoulder the burdens of the state's economic crisis, resulting in increased class sizes, cuts in academic services and eroded access to the state's community colleges at a time when it's most needed.

"Although we respect the governor's efforts to craft a budget in these trying times, this spending proposal raises deep concerns about its impact on public education," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "The economic crisis is severe, but we cannot - and do not - accept this devastating $2.5 billion school aid cut as inevitable." "We give the governor credit for including new sources of revenue, but they don't begin to go far enough to enable the state to meet its obligations to our students," Iannuzzi added. "Deep cuts to education unfairly burden children, instead of asking the wealthiest to shoulder their fair share through a more progressive income tax. These deep cuts would represent a huge disinvestment in New York State at a time when equity and economic recovery depend on quality public education."

NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin stressed that a proposed cut in community college funding would "create dangerous holes in a safety net that New Yorkers rely on more than ever in tough economic times." Meanwhile, SUNY and CUNY have already been burdened with cuts and "the union will continue to be vigilant in defending the quality of and access to our public higher education institutions," he said. Lubin further noted that proposed cuts to teaching hospitals would "shred a safety net that is essential for New Yorkers."

NYSUT is stressing the need to increase revenue by creating a more equitable income tax that shifts more of the burden to those who can most afford to pay. "Restructuring the state income tax would actually reduce the tax burden for lower-income and middle-class families while ensuring everyone pays their fair share," Lubin said. "Change is long overdue."

NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state's community colleges, State University of New York and City University of New York, and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.
 PEF Logo Dec 22 2008
"We agree with the governor that our economy is shrinking and people are suffering, but his proposed 2009-10 budget includes destructive cuts in state services and the state work force while ignoring cost-cutting options that can save the state billions," said state Public Employees Federation (PEF) President Ken Brynien.

"We are disappointed to learn the governor continues to rely on savings from state-worker givebacks that amount to far less money than the savings that can be realized by cutting the use of high-priced consultants.  Many of the proposals, particularly regarding benefits, do nothing to address the fiscal crisis, but appear to be decisions based more on ideology rather than the need to provide immediate savings."

"Make no mistake, reopening our contract is not an option. We will not ask our members to give up a hard-earned 3 percent raise when spending on consultants increased during the first 7 months of this year by 13.5 percent. Now, more than ever, the state needs to rely less on costly consultants and more on state workers who can do the work for less, even when you take into consideration the cost of benefits.

"The governor's proposal would have a disproportionate impact on some of the neediest residents. Cutting 450 beds from the state Office of Mental Health would poke a hole in the safety net for the mentally ill. His budget would abandon many of our troubled youths by eliminating needed services with the closure of state Office of Children and Family  Services facilities. And those closures would be realized before the governor's own task force on the future direction of the juvenile justice system even has a chance to make recommendations.

"The governor's attempt to streamline and improve the delivery of economic development services is a good idea, but goes in the wrong direction. If there is a merger, it should be the Empire State
Development Corporation (ESDC) and the New York State Foundation of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR)
that merge into the state's Department of Economic Development. This would ensure that New York has a transparent economic development program run by professionals selected through the merit system, not run by an unaccountable shadow agency staffed with political appointees making much more money than civil servants.

"We believe there are better, less damaging ways to address the state's budget deficit and we will take the governor up on his stated willingness to accept advice and adjustments to his proposal. Therefore, we will continue to offer better options to close the budget gap, including increasing the income tax on the wealthiest New Yorkers, relying on the rainy day fund and reducing the use of costly consultants."

PEF is the state's second-largest state-employee union, representing 59,000 professional, scientific and technical employees. 

 NYSNA logo Dec 22 2008

The allocation of $2 million in the 2008-09 state budget for nursing education at State University of New York (SUNY) institutions has borne fruit. Because of this funding, about 230 additional students were able to enter SUNY nursing programs this year.

Unfortunately, the Executive Budget released today will cut that funding by 15%.

"Support for nursing education is crucial in bringing more registered nurses into the workforce," said Tina Gerardi, RN, chief executive officer of the New York State Nurses Association. "It is essential that funding be continued and expanded. Meeting the increasing demand for nurses continues to be a challenge and any reduction in funding for nursing education puts the health and safety of every New Yorker at risk."

A report released in November by the Center for Health Workforce Studies found that current supply of registered nurses in New York State is below national ratios. The number of RNs working in the state is projected to increase by only 6% in the decade between 2005 and 2015. An 8% increase will be necessary just to keep staffing levels where they are now.

"Patient care also is threatened by the proposed $3.5 billion in cuts to hospitals and nursing homes, which will make it even more difficult for facilities to hire and retain nurses," Gerardi said. "The Nurses Association will be joining other unions at the State Capitol on Jan. 7, 2009, to urge the legislature to maintain our healthcare system."

The New York State Nurses Association is the voice for nursing in the Empire State. With more than 36,000 members, it is the state's largest union and professional association for registered nurses. It supports nurses and nursing practice through education, research, legislative advocacy, and collective bargaining.
Autism United Banner
Autism United has pledged to mobilize its forces to resist budgetary cuts in the areas of special education and autism services, and has already sponsored a statewide call-in to let legislators hear and feel the concern of the autism community.

 Fiscal Policy Institue Logo
The state's plan should use all available resources-certainly including funds set aside precisely to meet unplanned end-of-year deficits. In proposing actions to close this year's $1.7 billion deficit, the governor unaccountably ignores balances available in the Tax Stabilization Reserve Fund. This reserve fund is specifically designated for unplanned end-of-year deficits. It cannot be used to cover already anticipated deficits. The Tax Stabilization Reserve Fund should be an important component of the plan to close this year's deficit.

The governor's proposal hurts low- and moderate-income New Yorkers while requiring little from wealthy New Yorkers. Cuts in state programs disproportionately affect New York's working and poor families, who have not prospered in recent years and who will suffer greatly in this recession.
"Shared sacrifice" should mean that all New Yorkers contribute to help solve this problem. The budget should not be balanced on the backs of low- and moderate-income people.
The governor's proposal would cause needless harm to the state economy. It relies heavily on cuts to essential programs and services. Taking away a dollar in government spending on transfer payments or vital community services has a far more contractionary impact on the economy than does taking a dollar from a high-income family. During a recession, the least damaging kind of budget balancing action is an increase in the tax on the portion of family income over a relatively high level.

Dozens of economists from all over New York State have written to the governor to say, Steep state budget cuts will exacerbate the economic downturn and harm vulnerable low- and moderate-income New Yorkers. Constrained by a balanced budget imperative, states face only difficult choices in balancing their budgets during recessions. Economic theory and historical experience gives a clear and unambiguous answer: it is economically preferable to raise taxes on those with high incomes than to cut state expenditures. Full text of the letter is available at

The governor's proposed budget also relies on increases in consumption taxes and fees. While such revenue increases may do less damage to the economy than some expenditure reductions, they are clearly more harmful than a progressive increase in the income tax.

The lessons from 2003 show that New York can successfully close large budget gaps-without disproportionately hurting low and middle-income families, or causing undue harm to the economy. The last time New York dealt with budget gaps of this magnitude was after 9/11. At that time, in addition to spending cuts, the legislature placed a temporary income tax surcharge on high-income filers. Employment in the state grew each year that the surcharge was in place, and the number of high-income returns grew steadily from about 245,000 in 2002 to an estimated 420,000 in 2007. Moreover, a recent Princeton study concluded that no net out-migration of the rich resulted from New Jersey raising income taxes on households with incomes over $500,000. The governor's concern that the wealthy will choose to leave New York is overblown.

New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness logo 

To grow New York's economy we must invest in New York's working families.  A healthy state economy requires well-educated New Yorkers, safe communities, affordable health care, affordable housing and a sound transportation infrastructure.  
The Governor's recently revised budget deficit projections ($1.5 billion in SFY08-09 and $12.5 billion in SFY 09-10) will require the Governor and Legislature to make some hard choices.  New York State should not rush headlong into an attempt to address both this year's and next year's deficits simply by slashing billions of dollars in public services for working and poor families.  Too many of these families are already struggling with layoffs, foreclosures, the loss of health care and other hardships.  Rather, we urge you to address the current budget gap by using existing resources and then take the time to address the looming fiscal crisis in a comprehensive and considered fashion early next year.  Together we should explore every revenue option, including ones that can help close the current mid-year budget gap.  


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