March 5, 2013

BALCONY Focus on NYS Budget


The Business and Labor Coalition of New York (BALCONY) looks forward to another fiscal year and all the new developments it will bring.  Despite the negative financial impacts wrought by sequestration-known and unknown-New York State has much to look forward to: it is planning to roll out its health exchange and momentum is building in Albany to pass a higher minimum wage.

BALCONY commends Governor Andrew Cuomo for introducing a spending plan designed to keep New York State's fiscal house in order. But as the budget process winds down, BALCONY is likewise concerned with Republican Senator and Coalition Leader Dean Skelos' plan to take away $2 billion from the state budget.

BALCONY also urges the governor and the state legislature to include in the budget a minimum wage increase to an indexed starting point of $9 per hour, as championed by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and supported by Democratic Senator and Coalition Leader Jeff Klein.  

Numerous reports cite the economic and social benefits of increasing the minimum wage. As the state Assembly and Senate prepare to vote on the budget, we ask that all parties involved take on this issue.   



FPI: Cuomo's Budget Should Hike the Minimum Wage, Fix State Tax Code

Gov. Andrew Cuomo


As the New York State Legislature plans a vote on Governor Andrew Cuomo's $136.5 billion budget, the Fiscal Policy Institute

suggests state lawmakers take the following steps: 

Hike the minimum wage to its 1970 level of peak purchasing power, which comes out to $11.15 per hour, today. Likewise, index it according to inflation.This will increase workers' spending power, which will be an economic boon, statewide.

Overhaul New York's Unemployment Insurance program so recipients are eligible for a greater portion of their previous income. But also enact strict eligibility measures to ensure people are looking for work, and explore new funding mechanisms for the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

Amend the state tax system. Impose Gap Elimination Adjustment for corporate tax breaks, close loopholes so large corporations are not paying proportionately less than small businesses and prohibit tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas.

"New York State should not provide tax subsidies for companies that outsource jobs or otherwise reduce employment in the state. Economic development tax breaks should only go to businesses that create and maintain jobs in the state," FPI President Frank Mauro told New York State legislators this month.

Click here for links to an FPI budget analysis, as well as reports on the budget's effects on human services and taxes.


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The Public Employees Federation urges the legislature to amend portions of Governor Andrew Cuomo's FY 2013-2014 budget that will have detrimental impacts on public health.

The New York State Legislature should oppose attempts in the budget to privatize, close or reduce funding to SUNY hospitals (S2606/A3006 Part E Section 104). "Let's make the governor's vision for a 'new' New York by making SUNY Downstate [in Brooklyn] the hallmark for health care services in the nation," said PEF President Susan Kent, in opposition to the state's push to close SUNY Downstate Medical Center. The Governor's budget would also reduce funding to SUNY hospitals by $28 million.  

There should be budget amendments to prevent the downsizing and closure of mental health facilities, which the current budget would facilitate (S2606/A3006 Parts H and J).

The current spending plan (S2605/A3005 Part H) would eliminate reimbursement of the Income Related Medicare Adjustment Amount to single retirees making over $85,000, and $107,000 for those who are married. This could harm some 5,340 retirees and should be removed from the budget.

Susan Kent

PEF President,
Susan Kent


Click here to read more about PEF's positions on these issues and a number of other budget priorities.

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NYSUT: State Needs to Increase Funding, Do Away with Tax Cap

The New York State Teachers Union (NYSUT) commends Governor Andrew Cuomo for taking the lead and supporting important issues like Full Day Pre-K and Extended Learning Time, but his budget falls short in several areas.

New York State has lost 35,000 teaching jobs in four years, because the state's tax cap - an issue NYSUT is fighting in court. The cap makes it difficult for local school districts to adequately fund education in their own budgets.
"In challenging the constitutionality of the tax cap, we are fighting for ... the right of citizens, through local control of their schools, to determine for themselves how much they want to spend on their own community's schools,"said NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi.

NYSUT President,
Richard Iannuzzi

New York State continues to provide flattened funding to SUNY and CUNY schools. The state has been steadily cutting funding over the last decade, slashing $1.7 billion since 2008, alone. This causes tuition increases, and makes it harder to provide top-notch education.

K-12 education will also suffer because of the limits of the state aid cap. We ask that the legislature restore $203 million in Fiscal Stabilization Funding and provide additional money towards the goal of restoring the school aid that has been cut since 2008.

Click on the following links for NYSUT positions on SUNY and CUNY funding, K-12 Education and the Tax Cap lawsuit.

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BALCONY and the

Institute for Leadership

Help Labor Battle Diabetes

-- a NYS Epidemic --

BALCONY and the Institute For Leadership

(IFL) have joined forces to inaugurate a Diabetes Prevention Program for labor unions and businesses.

Led by Reverend Michel Faulkner, the partnership is ready to roll out a 16-week Diabetes Prevention Program that will provide a nutritional benchmark and exercise protocol so that participants can reduce the risk of diabetes.

Rev. Michel Faulkner

Currently, according to the New York State Department Health, at least 4.3 million New Yorkers are pre-diabetic and another 1.5 million are afflicted with Diabetes.

"Diabetes is a profound health problem for our residents and extremely costly to union members, health care funds, and families. We must address this issue head on before diabetes debilitates too many families," stated BALCONY Director Lou Gordon, who further added that the IFL and BALCONY will hold a major Diabetes Prevention Symposium in New York City in May 2013.

BALCONY Director,
Lou Gordon


US House of Representatives
Speaker John Boehner


Sequestration Cuts $275 million in Federal Funding for New York State


The Business and Labor Coalition of New York and its members were disappointed with Congress' inability to address sequestration in a responsible way. As a result, the national and state economies stand to take a hit, job growth could be stunted and many vital social service programs will be shortchanged. 

Due to  Congress' paralysis on the issue, New York State stands to lose $275 million in funding through September 2013, the end of the federal fiscal year. 

James Parrott, chief economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute, a BALCONY member, said in a recent news article that sequestration would kill at least 15,700 jobs that would have otherwise been created in New York City, alone - 30 percent of the projected job growth forecast.
"None of these impacts is trivial and would further slow the pace of New York City's recovery and operate to keep unemployment unusually high," Parrott said in the article.
Further, as parts of New York State and City are still reeling from the $40 billion of damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy, the $85 billion sequester will affect much needed federal funding for infrastructure projects and additional relief.
Education, child-care, public health, small business and public safety programs will all see big cuts in 2013.

Click here for a report released by The Fiscal Policy Institute in late February on how the sequestration impacts New York State. 










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BALCONY Brings Affordable Care Act to New York  Business & Labor

New York State

Health Exchange Ready to Roll


BALCONY, in partnership with the Greater New York Chamber of  Commerce, is continuing to provide informative workshops on the impact of the Affordable Care Act on small business and labor.

Having recently staged seminars at the Amalgamated Bank in Harlem and at the Mt. Sinai IJ Selikoff Occupational and Environmental Center in Manhattan, more activities are plan as part of the Small Business Assistance Program of the Community Services Society.  

Moreover, starting in October 2013, New York small businesses and independent consultants, and all state residents will be able to shop for competitively priced health insurance on a state-run health exchange website. New Yorkers will be eligible for benefits, starting January 1, 2014.

The site is currently being developed and is the result of Governor Andrew Cuomo's April 2012 executive order, following the passage of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

Because the state moved quickly and efficiently to roll out the exchange, it has received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding, including a January 2013 federal grant of $182.5 million to support outreach and marketing.

New York's health exchange will help roughly 1.1 million New Yorkers gain insurance.  

Click here for facts on the health exchange.

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Assembly Stands Up to $260 Million Cut to NYC Schools

BALCONY members: the United Federation of Teachers and the New York State Teachers Union, alongside affiliated group Alliance for Quality Education, commend the New York State Assembly for opposing a $260 million cut to New York City schools.   

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and his Assembly colleagues are fighting Governor Andrew Cuomo's decision to withhold $260 million from New York City schools, following a stalled agreement on teacher evaluations.

"To punish schools and withhold badly needed funds is not the right thing to do," Silver said.  
New York State has one of the biggest equity gaps, nationwide, in funding for wealthy and poor students. That gap is about $8,601 in per pupil spending, according to the Alliance for Quality Education. A state judge has already ruled that the state cannot withhold the funds

Click here to read more from Alliance for Quality Education.

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UFT Glad State is Moving on

NYC Teacher Evaluations


The United Federation of Teachers is confident that a fair and effective model for teacher evaluations in New York City will eventually be implemented, no thanks to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg

"Bloomberg may have decided that it is not in his interest to have a new teacher evaluation system in place when he leaves the political scene at the end of this year. ... That isn't true for the UFT, which went to Albany and Washington to lobby for the creation of such a system," said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.


M Mulgrew
UFT President,
Michael Mulgrew

Because Bloomberg torpedoed negotiations with the UFT, New York City's students were deprived of $260 million - money that our schools desperately need.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Education Department have since stepped in to develop a teacher evaluation system, which could be rolled out as early as June 1.
"We've seen the kinds of plans the state has approved. We are comfortable with them because they are about helping teachers help kids, which is something that we don't often hear from the city," Mulgrew said.
Click here for more information on the UFT concepts for teacher evaluations.  





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4 West 43rd Street, Suite 405
New York, NY 10036
www.balconynewyork.com (212) 219-7777

Lou Gordon, Director





Alan Lubin, Co-Chair Labor
Robert M. Hayes, Co-Chair Business, Sr. VP, Universal American Corp.
Catherine M. Abate, Co-Chair Non-Profit, President/CEO, Community HealthCare Network

Executive Board

Anthony Potenza, Executive Director, New York Labor Health Care Alliance
Anita Kartalopoulos, Partner, Milberg LLP

Cynthia D. DiBartolo, Tigress Financial Partners
Mark Jaffe, BALCONY Treasurer; President, Greater New York Chamber of Commerce
Bruce Ventimiglia, Saratoga Capital Management

BALCONY Support Team

Lou Gordon, BALCONY Director
Richard Winsten, Counsel, MSEK
Stuart Marques, BALCONY Writer
Nick Moroni, BALCONY Writer
Diane Masters, BALCONY Director of Special Projects
Katie Brandenstein, BALCONY Events Consultant
Haya Kramer, BALCONY Development Consultant
Kevin R. Weaver, Web Master and Computer Consultant

BALCONY is a 501c(4) non-profit. Contributions are not tax deductible and BALCONY makes no political endorsements nor campaign contributions.