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The BALCONY Bulletin

Finding  Common Ground Between New York Business and Labor
January 22, 2009

BALCONY Supports Paterson Pledge for Health Care Coverage of New York's  Young Adults Ages 19-29

BALCONY, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York, applauds Governor David Paterson for his commitment to affordable health care for all New Yorkers as he proposed in his State of the State address which allows families to maintain coverage for 19-29 year old dependents. BALCONY has made coverage of young adults a long standing priority and agrees with the Governor that 1 in 3 young adults, or 800,000,  between the ages of 19-29 are uninsured is "unacceptable" number. BALCONY pledges to help in the legislative battle to provide this group with coverage.  However, according to some, this plan must be implemented in a way that doesn't compromise the integrity of the community rating system and must keep premiums affordable for chronically ill patients.
Click here to read the 2009 State of the State Proposal Health Insurance for Up to Age 29.  

3rd Panel BALCONY
 October 14, 2008 Uninsured Young Adults Forum
(left to right) Robert L. Cafone, Dr. Barbie Gatton, Henry Amoroso, Catherine Abate
On October 14th, BALCONY, The American Cancer Society, Demos, Freelancers Union and NYU Wagner Alumni Association co-sponsored a New York City forum featuring prominent health care advocates, providers, insurers, labor unions, legislators and state officials on uninsured young adults which highlighted their dire need for health insurance.

Click here to read the major findings of the October 2008 forum.
Uninsured Young Adults Forum pic 2
(left to right) Bill Hohlfeld, Sara Horowitz, Roslyn Yasser, Troy Oechsner, Peter Slocum, Britta Riley

Governor Paterson's State of the State Address 2009

Gov Paterson Sos Adress 2009

"Our Time to Lead"
"My fellow New Yorkers: Let me come straight to the point - the state of our state is perilous.
"New York faces an historic economic challenge, the gravest in nearly a century. For several months, events have shaken us to the core. Bank closures, job losses and stock market meltdowns have destabilized the foundations of our economy. Since January 2008, two million Americans have lost their jobs. During this recession, an estimated 225,000 New Yorkers will be laid off. Many others have lost their homes. The pillars of Wall Street have crumbled. The global economy is reeling. Trillions of dollars of wealth have vanished."
To read the entire speech/address click here.
BALCONY Members Respond to Governor's State of the State Address  


While Gov. David Paterson's State of the State message paints a grim picture of New York's finances, New York State United Teachers today said middle-class families can be spared the deep pain caused by cuts to public education and health care.
"We agree with the Governor that the road ahead will be difficult, but how New York recovers from this crisis depends on the route it chooses," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "Maintaining New York's investment in public education - at a time when schools are making progress ending the achievement gap and families are increasingly turning to SUNY, CUNY and community colleges for education and training - is the best way to get the state's economy moving forward again."
Iannuzzi noted, "There are alternatives to an executive budget of deep pain, and we applaud the Governor for taking the lead and making a strong case in Washington for New York's fair share of federal stimulus money. 
here to read the full statement. 
Arthur "Jerry" Kremer, retired chairman of the New York Assembly Ways & Means Committee, author of the original state power  plant siting law, and Chairman of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (New York AREA) issued the following statement in conjunction with Governor Paterson's State-of-the-State address.  
"Governor Paterson clearly understands the importance of addressing our energy challenges so that New York can prosper and much needs to be done in this regard. 
The Governor's initiatives are laudable.  We also need to keep clean sources of base load power online.  This includes nuclear plants like Indian Point which alone accounts for more than 10 percent of the state's portfolio, while not emitting greenhouse gases, which the Governor is committed to reducing.  It is also imperative for New York to reinstitute its Article X power plant siting law to spur proposals for new facilities, as energy demand is growing and the pipeline for new projects has come to a halt.  We need Article X so that New York can attract the capital needed to develop new and cleaner sources of electricity and spur other economic activity in the state especially during these austere times.  We stand ready to work with the Governor and Legislature on these and other important matters."



Lois Aronstein, AARP NY State Director

Governor Paterson's 2009 State of the State address put forth recommendations on a number of issues that are essential to the health care and financial security of New Yorkers of all ages.

AARP commends the Governor for proposing to expand the Family Health Plus Program to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, making more than 400,000 additional New Yorkers eligible for coverage.  A fundamental goal of AARP is to ensure increased access to affordable health care and prescription drug coverage; Governor Paterson's proposal would be a significant step toward achieving this goal for New Yorkers.


However, AARP urges the Governor to reconsider some of his proposed changes to the EPIC program that would no longer cover the cost of drugs for which no payment or reimbursement is made by Medicare Part D.  We also strongly recommend that the Governor re-evaluate his proposed changes to Assisted Living programs that would create a two-tiered system - one for the poor and one for everybody else - and compromise the ability of older people to age in place.

Click here to read the full statement.


 March on Main Street Jan 2009
Thousands of working New Yorkers converged on the state Capitol on January 7th to March for Main Street. The march was scheduled to coincide with Gov. David Paterson's first State of the State address to challenge the Governor's misplaced budget priorities that target middle class New Yorkers.
Organized by CSEA, PEF, 1199 SEIU, SEIU 200United, AFSCME New York, District Council 37, the New York State Nurses Association and the New York State AFL-CIO, the event stressed that communities, jobs and services are at risk under the Governor's plan.
CSEA banner small 

"We helped organize the March for Main Street to send a message loud and clear," said CSEA President Danny Donohue. "All working New Yorkers live on Main Street and it's time for all of us to stand up and say no to proposals that will have us pay more and get less while the wealthiest New Yorkers slide by."
 PEF Logo Dec 22 2008

"The Governor's 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. "Our members are already doing more with less having endured $1.5 billion in cuts to state agencies. It's time our legislative leaders look elsewhere to balance the budget and start cutting the waste not the workers and taxing millionaires, not the middle class."

NYSNA logo Dec 22 2008
"Registered nurses throughout New York state are already working with a level of staffing that can at best be described as 'hazardous.'" said Barbara Crane, RN, president of the New York State Nurses Association Delegate Assembly. "Reductions in health care funding over the past decade have resulted in nurse-to-patient ratios that are both dangerous and intolerable."
"We've seen staff reductions in primary, preventive, and outpatient care. Additional cuts of this magnitude would seriously jeopardize the quality of care delivered at health care facilities throughout the state and would put further stress on nurses who are already working short-handed," Crane said. "Our hospitals, clinics and nursing homes are the most vital link to the health, safety, and well-being of the people in this state, and must be supported as such. We're calling on the state to maintain its commitment to quality health care."

"The Governor's budget proposal makes some very dangerous choices," said New York State AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes. "Some of the cuts proposed will permanently damage this state, and make a deepening recession even worse. The future of our state depends on a comprehensive, balanced approach including a fair and progressive state income tax system. The New York State AFL-CIO looks forward to working with all parties involved in the process. I'm confident that together we can make the right choices on behalf of New York's working men and women."
To read the full press relase click
 ACS Logo New

Statement from Donald Distasio, CEO, American Cancer Society of NY & NJ, in response to Governor Paterson's State of the State Address

"Surviving cancer can depend on whether you have health insurance or on how good that health coverage is. By allowing families to keep 19-29 year olds on their health insurance, young adults can get through that critical period when most that age go without any kind of healthcare at all. It's a critical first step toward achieving access to healthcare for all New Yorkers, and increasing the odds of surviving cancer. However, it must be implemented in a way that doesn't compromise the integrity of the community rating system and keeps premiums affordable for chronically ill patients.
Governor Paterson's five-point obesity prevention plan marks another cancer-fighting move by shining a light on the obesity-cancer link. The proposals would increase healthy choices for consumers, especially for low-income consumers who may not have access to fresh produce and non-processed foods. And by protecting our kids from the sugary drinks and snacks that lead to childhood obesity, we will set them up for a brighter, healthier future." 
Governor Paterson's five-point obesity prevention plan includes: 

  • Banning trans fats from restaurants
  • Menu-labeling for chain restaurants
  • Banning junk food from schools
  • Tax on non-diet sodas
  • Fostering development of full-service supermarkets in low-income communities


Statement From Say Yes to Education on Governor Paterson's State of the State Address

Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey, President of Say Yes to Education, released the following statement regarding Governor Paterson's State of the State address and his recognition of the organization's latest initiative in Central New York:
"We are encouraged and excited that Governor Paterson recognized the potential of the Syracuse Say Yes to Education demonstration program in his State of the State address today. We are deeply grateful for the Governor's leadership and support. This unique partnership between Say Yes to Education, Syracuse University, and the Syracuse City School District will offer comprehensive educational support programs, as well as access to college, to thousands of students in Central New York."
Say Yes to Education, Inc. is a national, non-profit foundation committed to dramatically increasing high school and college graduation rates for urban youth. For over 20 years, Say Yes has provided comprehensive support, including the promise of a full college or vocational education, and a host of other educational, social and health care resources to enable every child in the program to achieve his or her potential.

New York's Road to Recovery Runs Right Through
its Schools 
College Grads
by Nancy Cantor
In his State of the State address, Gov. David Paterson declared, "The road to economic development runs right through our schools."

Truer words were never spoken. Only knowledge can drive the global economy out of its tumult. We must ensure that every child is prepared by receiving an affordable college education.

Click here to read the entire statement.
January 20, 2009
 (Click the image to read the entire address)
BALCONY Says Federal Stimulus Funds Must Help New York
Workers Should Not Bear the Burden of New York's Budget Crisis 

BALCONY agrees with Governor David Paterson that New York State is in dire economic circumstances and will continue to work with the administration to develop solutions to our budget crisis.  
Both business and labor are experiencing the very real, very negative effects of this fiscal downturn. 
BALCONY looks to our elected officials to make carefully crafted  decisions based on what most economists believe will help revive our state's fiscal health. Cutting essential state services or shifting the responsibility to local taxpayers is not the answer to our problems. This is the time for greater investments in our schools and  healthcare systems.  
We do believe the Governor is taking a step in the right direction in his appeal to Washington to be sure that New York gets its fair share in the stimulus package, in particular funding to revive our state's crumbling infrastructure.  Finally, we respectfully disagree that the state can climb out of this recession by cutting services to its citizens or shifting the burden of New York's budget crisis  onto working families and small  businesses.
In addition, BALCONY agrees with the Governor's support for the innovative SAY YES to Education program, which offers free college tuition to students who meet educational standards.  


The BALCONY Coalition has long supported clean green energy efficiency. BALCONY is long on record favoring a 45 by 15  program that by the year 2015 New York State should meet 45% of its electricity needs through improved energy efficiency and clean renewable energy.  
The Obama Stimulus: An $825 Billion First Step
by James Parrott

The version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan unveiled on Jan. 15 by House Democrats is breathtaking in its scope and cost. Intended to retain and create 3.7 million jobs over the next two years, the $825 billion package of federal government investments includes dozens of spending measures ranging from $200 billion in fiscal relief to help state and local governments, to $6 billion to extend broadband to rural areas, a 21st century version of Depression-era rural electrification. Two thirds of the total value consists of spending, with one third for tax cuts.
To read the entire article click here.  

BALCONY Supports The Employee Free Choice Act 
The Business and Labor Coalition of New York (BALCONY) announced its support for the Employee Free Choice Act, a proposed federal statute backed by a bipartisan array of legislators that levels the playing field on which labor unions and management compete for the support of unrepresented workers.  This leveling is required because the two entities do not have equal access or influence on a company's employees, and some employers have not been shy in the past about using their hierarchical advantage to repel or slow down any union-organizing efforts.  The legislation would allow employees rather than employers to choose the method of how best to unionize their workplace whether by majority sign-up or secret ballot, and strengthens the penalties against employers that violate the rights and privileges of their workers.
Bruce Ventimiglia, the business co-chairman of BALCONY and the founder and president of Saratoga Capital Management, thinks that the Employee Free Choice Act will do much to foster cooperation between workers and their employers.  "I strongly support the Employee Free Choice Act. In the past, some employers have intimidated union members and used subtle 'divide-and-conquer' techniques to spread confusion among their workforce.  This leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of workers and undercuts the mutual goal that employers and employees share of promoting the ongoing success of their enterprises." 
Alan Lubin, the labor co-chairman of BALCONY and the executive vice-president of the New York State United Teachers, sees another reason why the legislation is so critical.  "The National Labor Relations Board election procedures were devised in a different era.  America has slowly evolved into a service and information economy, yet the NLRB rules have not been updated to address this change or the more transitory nature of the modern workforce."
In an era when the middle class is under increasing pressures, union representation stands as a significant bulwark against the erosion of this most critical stratum in our society.  Union members have better health care coverage than their non-union counterparts, and unions provide a critical modicum of stability for workers in a time when our economic future looks worrisome.  Enlightened business leaders know that a healthy, stable, happy workforce outperforms a fragmented, fearful one, and this increases a business's bottom line.  The principle of majority sign-up, a critical provision of the Employee Free Choice Act, has already gathered over half a million new union members since 2003 in shops and factories where it has been used.
To voice your support for the Employee Free Choice Act, visit


NYS: Recent Relevant Reports

Balancing New York State's 2009-2010  Budget in An Economically Sensible Manner
Fiscal Poicy Institute's annual briefing book presents the "big picture" on the Governor's proposed 2009-2010 budget, explaining why spending growth is what it is and carefully examines New York's economic and income trends.
To read more click here.
NYS Water Infrastructure

The New York State Department of Health released a report, "Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs of New York State" in November 2008 which estimates that the cost of repairing, replacing, and updating New York's drinking water infrastructure is $38.7 billion over the next 20 years. Since the 1970s, drinking water regulations have significantly increased; consequently, so has the cost of complying with these new and improved regulations.  The New York State Department of Health looks to Governor Paterson and the Legislature to address and aid this financial and environmental problem.
Click here to read the entire report. 
NYS SAM Commission

On October 2, 2008 Governor David A. Paterson created the New York State Commission on State Asset Maximization by Executive Order No. 11. The Commission is charged with examining whether asset maximization can benefit New York State, as well as whether any specific New York State assets are suitable candidates for public-private partnerships (PPPs).
NYS Commission on State Asset Maximization released a preliminary report on December 15, 2008 which outlined their findings of the first ninety days of their initiation.  These findings are observations that will be used to develop final recommendations to the Governor.   Over the next ninety days, the Commission will hold further hearings and meetings around the state, exploring in more detail many of the opportunities to maximize the states assets. The Commission's Final Report will be submitted by April 2, 2009.
Click here to read the full preliminary report. 

 MTA Rescue Plan

The Commission on Metroplitan Transportation Authority Financing chaired by Richard Ravitch released a report in December 2008. The report proposes to stabilize the MTA's future and supports a "capital plan that would finish that MTA's megaprojects, bring the system closer to good repair, and begin work on major improvements projects. The report also recommends major expansions of bus service throughout the region and management and government reforms to make the MTA more transparent and politically independent."

Click here for the full report. 

Click here for Tri-State Transportation Campaign's Ravitch Commission Report Review

Building Congress endorses Ravitch Commission report on MTA Financing.  Click here to read their full response. 

Wall Street
Implications for New York Economy
December 11th Forum
Thompson _ DiNapoli Dec 11 2008
(Click on images to view forum videos) 

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BALCONY Mourns the Passing of 
Jose "Chequi" Torres - Light Heavyweight Champ


Jose Torres


9/11 PSA crew               

 (L-R Jose Torres; Lou Gordon, Jim Simpson, Bruce E. Ventimiglia, Jose Torres, Sigourney Weaver) 
A note from Lou Gordon, BALCONY Director:

Jose Torres, the former light heavyweight champ, passed away on Monday, January 19th at his home in Puerto Rico. Jose was a friend of BALCONY and a personal friend. He was an inspiring and humble man who volunteered to help us. When BALCONY in 2006 sought to create a PSA to inform those who volunteered and worked on clean up following 9/11, "Chequi" was there for us.  Watch the PSA. Following are two poignant articles by journalists Mike Lupica and Bill Gallo of the New York Daily News. We will all miss Jose Torres ... he will always be "The Champ".
Click to here read the articles written by Mike Lupica and Bill Gallo. 

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.
Call, Write or Email BALCONY
633 Third Avenue, 16th Floor 
New York, NY 10017
Contact: Lou Gordon - BALCONY Director