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Finding  Common Ground Between
New York Business and Labor

BALCONY BULLETIN:

SPECIAL BUDGET REPORT

April 21, 2010 

 

ads  Budget Battle  


 

BALCONY: A CONTRACT IS A CONTRACT IS A CONTRACT!
GOVERNOR PATERSON MUST NOT UNILATERALLY ACT IN BUDGET BATTLE

 
Al Lubin
By: Alan Lubin, Co- Chair BALCONY, BUSINESS AND LABOR COALITION OF NEW YORK


The future of New York State demands that a solid foundation of respect exist between state government and its workforce. That respect cannot exist if the public and private sector workers who retain state contracts cannot count on those contracts being honored.


BALCONY understands the gravity of the budget deficit facing New York State and that it must be addressed. However, for Governor Paterson to unilaterally abrogate contract law is not only an inappropriate means of trying to balance the budget it also sets a perilous precedent that the New York State government cannot be taken at its word.


Additionally, it sours the dialogue between the State and labor at a crucial juncture when consensus and not divisiveness is necessary to prevent the fiscal crisis from deepening while New Yorkers wait for a finalized budget. We must find common ground.

Whatever his reasons, Governor Paterson's decision to bypass the Legislature and withhold $2.1 billion from school districts, his decision to withhold scheduled and collectively bargained pay raises from state employees, and his decision to freeze all bridge and road construction, is the wrong message to New Yorkers.

Essentially, these cuts indicate that the Governor believes that progress and safety, as well as New Yorker's education and health, are less important than protecting Wall Street bonuses.

Withholding billions from education will almost certainly force property taxes to skyrocket as school districts struggle to pay their immediate bills and in many case will have to go deeper into debt which will certainly deteriorate the quality and capacity of our schools.

The freeze on Department of Transportation construction projects not only forces contractors to abandon critical improvement on our roads, highways and bridges leaving them half finished jeopardizes the safety of all of us as well as putting more than 5,000 construction jobs across New York at risk.

Finally, breaking his contact with labor by withholding the 4% scheduled pay raises for unionized state workers deepens tensions between labor and Albany. This gives the impression that Governor Paterson is beholden to the interests of Big Business and the Business Council. He is willing to cut into New York's most valuable, essential health care services mental health programs, college classes, lottery funded scholarships, motor vehicle licensing, insurance monitoring, road maintenance, and state parks as a first resort, when it should be the last.

This is totally unacceptable.

The New York State work force is our most valuable resource. It not only keeps our state moving forward but also keeps New York viable in the broader context of national politics. From scientists to street cleaners, our state workforce are the men and women who work every day to ensure that New Yorkers have a decent quality of life today, and a better quality of life tomorrow.

These men and women are represented by BALCONY members like the General Contractors Association of New York (GCANY), New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), the Public Employees Federation (PEF), and the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), all of whom are considering or are currently engaged in lawsuits over Paterson's contract violations.

BALCONY supports our members in their efforts to reverse what may well be a watershed decision by our embattled governor, and we are confident that the courts will recognize the supreme importance of government honoring its contracts with state employees.

A state budget must be negotiated in good faith at the bargaining table between the Assembly, Senate and Governor.

The posturing must stop, we must find common ground.   

 

BALCONY MEMBERS

 WAGE THE BATTLE

FOR THE STATE BUDGET 2010/2011


BALCONY members are rallying to make their voices heard in Albany before the final budget is set, arguing that slashing funding to essential programs like education and health care is not the best, or the only, way to solve the budget crisis.

 

 

BALCONY MEMBERS
FIGHT BACK

 

Three BALCONY Members Go To Court To Protest Budget Cuts

General Contractors Association of New York Sues Governor Over Spending Freeze

GCANYOn April 15th the General Contractors Association of New York (GCANY), a BALCONY member, officially filed a class-action lawsuit against the Paterson Administration in an effort to recoup nearly $1 billion in promised pay-outs to state contractors. 




Denise Richardson 

"We signed a contract.  The contractual obligation is we do work andthey pay us," said Denise Richardson, managing director of GCANY.

Read the entire article: GCANY


 
NYSUT Resumes Lawsuit Challenging Paterson Embargo of Educational Monies

aarp

The New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) are officially moving forward with their lawsuit challenging Governor David Paterson's March 30th decision to withhold $2.1 billion from local school districts as part of his effort to close the $9.2 billion budget gap facing New York State.

The suit was originally filed on December 16th, 2009 by a broad coalition of education advocates and citizen taxpayers, and claimed Paterson acted illegally and unconstitutionally by withholding $750 million in state funds allocated by the legislature for school districts.

Iannuzzi"The governor may not agree with the Legislature's spending priorities and may indeed have profound concerns about the results, but once he signed the state budget in April and approved the deficit reduction plan, he is constitutionally and legally bound to follow the law," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi.
 
Read the entire article: NYSUT
 


GOVERNOR PATERSON WITHHOLDS SCHEDULED PAY RAISES FROM STATE EMPLOYEES, BALCONY MEMBERS RESPOND

Public Employees Federation

PEF is protesting Governor Paterson's decision to withhold scheduled pay raises from state employees. In a new series of ads the union suggests alternative ways to address the budget gap including reducing the number of consultants the state hires, expanding the voluntary severance program, reducing overtime by hiring more people, and instituting a workplace injury reduction program.

PEF President Kenneth Brynien stated, "If the governor withholds state employee raises, that is a violation of our contract."

"PEF will hold the state accountable."

"The governor, himself, has said breaking our contract is illegal."

"We will take every action necessary to ensure our members get their negotiated raises."

"I met with the governor yesterday to discuss the financial problems the state is facing and we agreed to have further discussions. We reminded the governor of PEF's solutions to help close the budget deficit, including the millions in savings to be realized by replacing high-cost consultants with lower-cost state employees."



Civil Service Employees Association

Last week CSEA filed a formal grievance with the Governor's Office of Employee Relations. The action is the appropriate starting place to challenge the governor's delaying action and does not preclude additional legal response.

Here is the statement from CSEA President Dan Donohue:

"Gov. David Paterson's unilateral delay of a fairly negotiated raise for CSEA represented state employees is wrong and the governor knows it. It will leave CSEA with little choice in our course of action moving forward."

"What makes it even worse is that the governor met with CSEA and PEF officials yesterday and has now immediately moved forward."

"The Paterson administration continues to careen from crisis to crisis without any comprehensive plan to address the state's financial mess with a coordinated strategy. It is more evidence of his administration's incompetence."

"CSEA members continue to do their best to serve the people of New York under deteriorating conditions and they deserve better than what the governor is putting forward."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 
BALCONY MEMBERS TAKE TO THE STREETS and AIRWAVES IN BATTLE FOR THE BUDGET

With the Governor's budget proposing millions of dollars of cuts across the board, representatives of labor, business, and special interest groups have decided to fight back with ads, rallies, and literature urging their customers/members to call the Legislature and tell them to say no to the proposed cuts.  Many of these groups have recently launched television ad campaigns including several of BALCONY's own members.
 
BALCONY encourages you to view our member's ads posted below.

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NYSUT

 

New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) K-12 Education Ad Campaign: State Budget 2010

NYSUT has mobilized a multi-faceted campaign aimed at preventing proposed budget cuts to education.  In addition to their television ad campaign NYSUT has organized rallies, petitions, and most recently a "Day of Action" on March 4th where parents, students, educators and community and school board members across New York state turned out to tell lawmakers they must reject Governor Paterson's proposed $1.4 billion cut to public education funding. Below are the two ads that NYSUT has begun running on the proposed cuts.

 

NYSUT ad 1
Click image to view
NYSUT Ad-1

 

  NYSUT Ad 2
Click image to view
NYSUT Ad-2

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

aarp

UUP, the United University Professionals, has launched a campaign of their own aimed at increasing public awareness with regards to proposed cuts to New York's public higher education.  Click below to view their ad.

UUP ad
Click image to view UUP ad

 

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aarp

New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA)

Under-funded = Under-staffed Campaign

Outraged by the proposed cuts to healthcare, NYSNA kicked off a campaign to send a loud and clear message to Albany that budget cuts to health care are unacceptable.  Below is their first television ad.

Nurses Ad
Click image to view Nurses' ad

 

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aarp

Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) Budget Fight

CSEA began running radio ads protesting the budget cuts as early as January of 2010.  Their new television ad series includes three ads all titled "Budget Fight," that focus on civil service employees expressing their discontent with the Governor's budget.



CSEA Ad 3
Click image to view
CSEA Budget Fight

 


CSEA President
Danny Donohue
on

Pending State Layoffs

 


csea

 

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PEF

Public Employees Federation (PEF) Budget Cuts Hurt Campaign

PEF's website includes a link to their "State Budget Solutions," which include instituting a consultant reduction plan, expanding the voluntary severance program, hiring entry level employees to reduce overtime expenses, and instituting a workplace injury reduction program.  Along with these proposed solutions PEF has created a series of literature and commercials that express the union's anger over cuts to the state work force.

 

PEF ad2

Click image for Budget Cuts Hurt 2


It's NOT Rocket Science

PEF

click image to view video


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ACS

American Cancer Society (ACS)

Don't Leave NY Women Exposed! No More Cuts to Cancer Screenings, Access to Health Care 101/201, and MIKE-E Ellison on covering the uninsured.

The American Cancer Society has launched a campaign in response to proposed cuts to cancer screenings in New York.

ACS ad 1
Click image to view ACS ad

Below are links to ACS' campaign in support of expanding and protecting access to health care. for the underinsured and uninsured.

ACS 101
Health Care 101

 

ACS partnered with poet and musician "MIKE-E" Ellison for the following access to health care ad.

ACS health care ad
Click the image to view the video

 

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Fiscal Fairness

 

BETTER CHOICE BUDGET


Choice 
Click the image to view the video

 

NEW YORK STATE BUDGET

2010/2011 

On Friday, April 16th, for the third time this month, Governor David Paterson issued an emergency budget extender in the absence of a finalized state budget.  It has been more than two weeks since the deadline to pass the New York State budget 2010/2011 and, far from seeming close to a resolution, Albany appears to be embroiled in a game of political "hot potato."  New York is still facing a $9.2 billion budget deficit, a huge gap that Governor Paterson insists requires making painful cuts across the board, including reductions in funding for education, health care, and human services.  At the same time, the Governor has embraced the recommendation by New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness and others to impose greater taxes and fees on items like cigarettes and soda; however, the administration remains opposed to their recommendation to tax Wall Street bonuses and stock transfers.

With the Legislature stalemated, Governor Paterson has made a series of unilateral cuts to fund his budget extenders. Those cuts include $2.1 billion to education as well as the freezing of all road and bridge work across the state and a freeze on scheduled pay raises for state employees. These cuts have drawn sharp criticism from representatives of labor as well as the Legislature among others. Both the Senate and the Assembly's budget resolutions (released March 22nd and March 24th respectively) rejected many of the Governor's proposed cuts and offer their own solutions for boosting revenue and cutting costs.  

An increasingly popular plan to balance the budget and bring fiscal discipline to Albany was introduced on March 10th by Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch. The Ravitch Plan has been endorsed by the New York Times and pieces of it have been appropriated by both the Senate and Assembly Resolutions. The five year plan calls for a $6 billion debt package to cover New York's expense items, the creation of an independent financial review board, and a later beginning to the fiscal year amongst other recommendations.  

As in the past, BALCONY is committed to diligently monitoring the budget battle in Albany. In the interest of fostering lucid and productive debate within the business and labor communities regarding the current budget crisis BALCONY has, and will continue to, make every effort to keep our members and visitors updated with the latest news and developments from across the state.  

 

 

 

 

KEY DEVELOPMENTS

  IN THE RACE TO

FINALIZE THE STATE BUDGET

GovJanuary 19, 2010
 
PatersonEXECUTIVE BUDGET PLAN FOR FISCAL YEAR 2010/2011 is released.
 
Cl
ick here for the full BUDGET
presentation 

 

 

 

 

LTGOVMarch 10, 2010
 
RAVITCH 5-YEAR BUDGET PLAN 
 
RavitchAnother important proposal that seeks to close the budget gap came from Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch.  On March 10th, 2010 the Lieutenant Governor released a five-year plan with recommendations for revisions to the state budget system in order to address New York State's enormous budget deficit.  The plan would create an independent financial review board that would allow the governor to cut spending to balance the budget without approval from the legislature.  The plan also suggests borrowing up to $2 billion a year for the next three years to cover the deficit.  We at BALCONY strongly urge you to read the plan.  BALCONY has yet to take an official position on the Lieutenant Governor's recommendations. To read the full five-year plan to address the New York State Budget Deficit please follow this link: Ravitch

 

senateMarch 22, 2010 

 

NYS SENATE PASSES BUDGET RESOLUTION

Click here to read the full budget resolution

State Senator John Sampson

SampsonOn Monday, March 22nd the NYS Senate passed their budget resolution.  It closely mirrored the Governor's budget proposal (released in January) in terms of the major cuts to areas like education although it did restore some of the reductions the Governor had called for.  The Senate rejected most of the Governor's revenue building proposals, including the proposed sugar-drink tax and raising taxes on cigarettes.

 

assemblyMarch 24, 2010 

NYS ASSEMBLY ARRIVE AT BUDGET RESOLUTION

Summary OF SFY 2010-11 Assembly One-House Proposals 
 

Speaker Sheldon Silver

SilverOn Wednesday, March 24, the Assembly passed their own budget resolution.  The Assembly rejected some of Governor Paterson's proposed cuts to education and draws on Lt. Governor Ravitch's plan to borrow up to $6 billion over the next three years as a means to close the budget gap. 


dinapoliApril 5, 2010


DiNapoliDINAPOLI: STOP PLAYING GAMES WITH STATE DEFICIT
 
NEWS from the office of the New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli
 
Report Highlights Decade of Complex Transactions to Mask State's Real Fiscal Condition, Identifies Hundreds of Swept Funds

Click here for the full REPORT

 

New York State has masked budget deficits and spending growth for more than a decade by shuffling money between accounts, off-loading operational spending to dedicated funds and borrowing, according to a report released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

 
NEW YORKERS FOR FISCAL FAIRNESS PLAN

The Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI), a nonpartisan research and education organization, recently came up with a 26 point program to close the budget gap by increasing revenue and cutting costs in conjunction with New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness and other members of the Better Choice Budget Campaign - a program they presented at BALCONY's recent members meeting on February 4th, 2009 in Albany. The recommendations include:
 
   Closing loopholes that allow large corporations to avoid paying their fair share of state
taxes.

   Reducing the amount of state work that is privately contracted, lowering prescription drug prices, instituting a plastic bag tax.

    Curtailing rising obesity rates.

   Making economic development tax credit programs more accountable and allowing the Empire Zones Program to expire.

    FPI also recommends temporarily reducing the stock transfer tax rebate to 80%, which would force Wall Street to help the state through the current economic downturn. 
 
BALCONY has yet to take an official position on FPI's recommendations but applaud their energy and efforts and encourage our members and visitors to read FPI's full report by following this link (Report).
 
Also, check out the Better Choice Budget Campaign FACT SHEET.

Table

 

 

Business Resource Fair

NY Chamber

Co-Sponsored by BALCONY

Thursday May 6th, 2010

8:00 a.m. till 2:00 p.m.
Madison Square Garden, NYC

                          
Expert panels provided by an alliance of federal, state and local agencies, as well as, small, medium size and major corporations, business assistance groups, local chambers of commerce, all designed  to help small business and entrepreneurs operate more profitably and efficiently.


For details, click here: 
NY Chamber                     

 

 

 

A Time for Change

Cornell

An International Health Care Conference

BALCONY is a sponsor of the
international health care conference


"A Time for Change:
Restructuring America's Health Care
Delivery System"


May 11-12 in New York City

Designed for health care practitioners, management and labor leaders, researchers and policymakers, the event is being organized by Cornell University's ILR School.

Click here for more information:  Cornell

 

 

 



 

 

 

BALCONY NEW YORK
633 Third Avenue, 16th Floor 
New York, NY 10017
212-219-7777

 

 

Contact:
Lou Gordon - BALCONY Director


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.

 

BALCONY BULLETIN

 

Editor: Nicholas Kapustinsky

Design: Kevin R. Weaver