Finding Common Ground Between
New York Business and Labor
March 10, 2011 

Dear Friends,


As Governor Cuomo, the New York State Senate and New York State Assembly continue to debate New York's $132.9 billion budget, BALCONY and its members are confronted with serious challenges, in New York State, New York City and the Federal government. We have been busy analyzing the budget and testifying at legislative hearings.

We are supportive of the Governor's efforts to balance the state's budget eliminating a $5-9 billion deficit however we believe that all New Yorkers must chip in. BALCONY, in the true spirit of shared sacrifice, has recommitted itself to supporting the maintenance of a tax on wealthy New Yorkers in order to bring more than $1 billion in revenue into the State in 2011 and an additional $5 Billion in 2012.

The following is a report which presents the individual comments and suggestions of many of our BALCONY coalition members and other interested parties. Included is an in-depth analysis by the Fiscal Policy Institute on the 2011-2012 New York State budget. We urge you to contact your legislators and the Governor to let your voice be heard. 







The Business and Labor Coalition of New York, BALCONY, called for an extension of the higher tax on New York's earners with taxable income over $200,000 as a means to help close the state's $5-9 billion budget deficit for 2011-2012. Keeping the tax on higher earners is part of the solution to help balance the state budget. This was the conclusion reached by BALCONY, a coalition of over one thousand businesses, labor unions, and advocacy groups, after its advisory board meeting in Albany in early February 2011. In 2009 BALCONY supported the tax on higher income New Yorkers.


"There must be 'shared sacrifice' to help New York balance its budget. " stated Alan Lubin, BALCONY Alan Lubinlabor Co-Chairman, "BALCONY has long understood that raising new revenue would have to be part of the solution to our worsening economic situation, just as we recognize that prudent state spending is necessary. A New York State Progressive Income Tax increase that will raise approximately $5 billion is a step in the right direction. It is hoped that this action, economic recovery and growth needed to provide essential services and a brighter future for all New Yorkers."


Fiscal Policy Institute Chief Economist James Parrott in his Can New York Depend on a "Millionaire's Tax" to Solve the Budget Crisis? stressed that while by itself the surcharge is not sufficient to close the state's budget gap - nevertheless its extension for 2012 and 2013 would add at least $5 billion in the state's fiscal year 2012-2013, this being an important counterweight to the additional cuts in essential services that would be necessary that year if the economic recovery does not accelerate and the states' revenue systems do not rebound.


"BALCONY has carefully considered suggestions from its diverse business and labor membership, as well as many citizens from New York State and leading economists to develop its position on solving our state's severe budget deficit. We believe that extending the taxes on our state's high-end income earners (which should not have a significant impact on their families) in conjunction with sensible cost cutting and improvements in efficiencies can solve our state's budget deficit, and keep New York healthy and competitive," asserted Bruce Bruce VentimigliaVentimiglia, BALCONY's business Co-Chairman, and Chairman of Saratoga Capital Management, LLC.


Click here to read the full statement:

Shared Sacrifice 


There IS a Better Way; New Yorkers Need Real Property Tax Relief Now, Why the Cuomo Tax Cap Won't Help and What Will  


by Bill Samuels  


Bill SamuelsAs a businessman I am keenly aware of the importance of keeping spending in line with revenue, so I understand that New York State's deepening budget crisis requires swift and decisive action from Albany. But as a New Yorker, I want solutions that do not unfairly place the burden of Albany's mess on local communities and families.


Governor Cuomo currently supports putting a 2% property tax cap into effect to curb spending at the local level and keep property taxes stable.


A tax cap provides a great political sound bite and appeals to all taxpayers, but the truth is that those who need genuine tax relief are guaranteed no break at all under a tax cap.


There must be a better way.


One idea I support) is to provide real and immediate personal property tax relief by making property taxes proportional to household income. The concept is known as a property tax circuit breaker.


The property tax circuit breaker is designed to interrupt ballooning property taxes before they overload our communities by changing the way household property taxes are calculated and collected.


The most important function of the circuit breaker is to prevent rising property taxes from overloading any individual household by setting a maximum percentage of total household income that is subject to property taxes.This would provide immediate property tax relief to working families allowing them to stay in their homes or avoid moving out of state.


The circuit breaker combined with mandate relief is a better and fairer approach than the 2% property tax cap.


Bill Samuels is Chairman of Carlyle Capital Group, LLC, and a member of BALCONY.



New York State's Economic and Fiscal Outlook (2011-2012)  

from the Fiscal Policy Institute




The 2011-12 Executive Budget proposed to close a projected $10 billion budget gap with $9 billing in spending cuts - the most unbalanced approach to budget balancing in memory and at a time when joblessness and other recession-induced hardships are widespread.


Rather than promote job growth and long-term economic recovery, the proposed budget would increase unemployment, disinvest in New York's infrastructure and K-16 education systems, and undermine the state's growth potential.



For the full report, click here: FPI 



Executive Budget Starts State

on Path to Long-Term Budget Balance

February 16, 2011  


Risks Include Unspecified Savings  


The state fiscal year 2011-12 Executive Budget begins to address the state's structural deficit by bringing recurring expenses into better alignment with recurring revenues, according to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli's analysis of the Governor's budget proposal. However, DiNapoli cautioned the proposal relies on more than $4 billion in yet-to-be specified actions.


"Governor Cuomo has started the state on a path to attain long-term budget balance," DiNapoli said. "The Executive Budget proposal makes progress toward finally reversing the state's practice of spending more money than it takes in. And it does this without significant tax increases and without deficit borrowing. For the past four years, I have called for the state to live within its means. This proposal is a solid step in that direction. But the plan includes more than $4 billion in placeholder savings. Without knowing the details of many of the deficit-closing actions, it is difficult to determine if they will produce the projected savings. With uncertainty comes risk."


Click here for the DiNapoli news release 

Click here for the DiNapoli budget report 

Read the entire DiNapoli Statement here: DiNapoli 



Governor Cuomo Accepts Recommendations from the Medicaid Redesign Team

Albany, NY (February 24, 2011)


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today accepted a report from the Medicaid Redesign Team which meets the Governor's Medicaid spending target contained in his 2011-2012 budget by introducing a global cap on State Medicaid expenditures of $15.109 billion. The report included 79 recommendations to redesign and restructure the Medicaid program to be more efficient and get better results for patients.


New York spends more than twice the national average on Medicaid on a per capita basis, and spending per enrollee is the second highest in the nation. At the same time, New York ranks 21st out of all states for overall health system quality and ranks last among all states for avoidable hospital use and costs. Unfortunately years of attempts to address the problem have been unsuccessful.


In an unprecedented change from past practice, Governor Cuomo established the Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) bringing together stakeholders and experts from throughout the state to work cooperatively to reform the system and reduce costs. The approach was designed to move past the dysfunction and rancor of the past and produce real results for all New Yorkers.


Recommendations adopted by the Medicaid Redesign Team (click here)


Read the full press release here: Medicaid 







Wisconsin   Ohio



By Bruce Ventimiglia


New York, March 10, 2011


The showdown in Wisconsin, Ohio, and other states seeking to eliminate collective bargaining for public employees is a dagger aimed at the heart of both business and labor.

The attempts to eliminate collective bargaining must be rejected entirely.

BALCONY, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York, was formed to find common ground between business and labor.

The right to join a union and engage in collective bargaining is a basic human right and essential in a democratic political system.

If we look at non-democratic societies there is no freedom of the press, no freedom of speech, no right to vote and no union representation nor collective bargaining.

We believe that only at the bargaining table via collective bargaining can we achieve a fair and productive working environment.

Though often on the opposite sides of the negotiating table, BALCONY's businesses and labor unions understand that only through honest good faith talks can a contract be hammered out which is equitable to both sides.

It is through the collective bargaining process that workers and management earn the respect of each other.

Collective bargaining helps to ensure that workers have dignity and justice in the workplace.

Businesses need employees who are committed to their jobs, better trained and are valued customers of the services and products of small businesses.

We are encouraged that public opinion polls show that most Americans in fact support collective bargaining and the rights of public employees to negotiate their contacts for salary and benefits.

We are heartened that many of New York's legislators, and other statewide elected officials, support collective bargaining and the practice of settling policy differences at the table and not by legislative fiat.

We urge all Americans to support the rights of Wisconsin public employees and others to negotiate with their employers. We must continue to work together to create a better society that will protect our families, keep us safe, teach our children well, provide quality health care, plow our streets, and help our seniors.

Public employees must not be scapegoats as the cause of our recession, the root of our state's fiscal crisis nor the reason for our personal economic crisis. We must realize that the solution to our economic plight is through shared sacrifice.

We urge rejection of ill conceived divisive plans in Wisconsin and here in New York to weaken collective bargaining for public employees and other workers.  



Bruce Ventimiglia is Chairman of Saratoga Capital Management, LLC and Co-Chair of BALCONY.






BALCONY Members Speak Out

About The NYS 2011-2012 Budget





CSEA President Danny Donohue  

"There is nothing fair nor shared in the proposed state budget."  


Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a $132.9 billion state budget with significant cuts in aid to localities, health education and state operations. CSEA is at work analyzing all the ways the Cuomo budget will affect New Yorkers and your communities.


Read the comments:  CSEA  







PEF President Kenneth Brynien  


"The governor continues to claim that pain will be shared in his budget. The State Executive Budget proposal would cripple public services without asking any sacrifice from businesses, corporations and the millionaires and billionaires responsible for the economic crisis."


Read the comments: PEF 

Read the Testimony by Brynien on
WorkForce Issues:  WorkForce  












March 2, 2011


Testimony submitted by OMCE

Joseph B. Sano Executive Director



Good Morning Senators and Members of the Assembly. I'm Joe Sano, Executive Director of OMCE. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you, on behalf of OMCE and the management/confidential employees, to discuss our concerns with Governor Cuomo's Executive Budget proposals related to the state workforce and state government reorganization.


OMCE, the Organization of NYS Management/Confidential Employees, Inc. is an AFL-CIO-affiliated labor organization that represents the interests of the state's management and confidential (M/C) employees, who are prohibited by the Taylor Law from collective bargaining. OMCE represents the collective point of view of M/C employees and offers specific support and assistance to meet the employment-related needs of individual member M/C employees. Over 80% of M/C employees are career civil servants who obtained their position through competitive examination, not the "governor's people." They are a racially diverse group of former PEF and CSEA represented employees who have competitively earned the right to a M/C position. 


Read the full testimony:  OMCE   






NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi  

ALBANY, N.Y. March 1, 2011 - New York state would spend $1,500 less on each public school student if the governor's proposed education cuts and tax cap plan were implemented next year.
Overall, failure to restore the budget cuts and mitigate the tax cap would leave school districts outside of the "Big 5" with a $2.5 billion funding gap, according to research conducted by New York State United Teachers and released by the union's executive vice president, Andrew Pallotta, who testified at a state assembly hearing on tax caps. 


"The research - based on the state's own figures - clearly shows that the fiscal proposals currently on the table would have a devastating impact on our ability to provide a first-rate education to the children of New York," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi.


Read the tax cap comments here:



Read the budget comments:  NYSUT 





UFT President Michael Mulgrew    

"The governor's planned cut to New York City schools amounts to about three percent of the school system's budget. We have every confidence that Cathie Black, whose management skills the mayor has repeatedly cited, will be able to manage a reduction like this without laying off teachers and raising class sizes.


"If the mayor continues to insist that cuts in Medicaid and education will lead to significant harm to the city, he should join us in demanding an extension of the millionaire's tax, whose planned sunset will cost the state billions in lost revenue."


Read the comments:  UFT 






NY StateWide 

Statement by Maria Alvarez and Michael Burgess, New York StateWide Senior Action Council  


While we are pleased that Governor Cuomo has maintained the same level of funding for the major community services programs for older New Yorkers through local offices for the aging, we are distressed that he has chosen to eliminate the NY Connects our Aging and Disability Resource Center which has provided information and assistance to older persons and their families about their long term care options. For the past five years, New York State has invested over $20 million to transform the way local Medicaid and aging offices operate to better coordinate information about the very types of long term care alternatives such as respite care, adult day care, in home services, transportation and assisted living which would allow persons to remain independent and not on Medicaid.


Read the comments:  NY StateWide 



NYS Nurses 


New York's healthcare system can't sustain $2.3 billion in short-term
Medicaid cuts; Keep high-income earner's tax, support healthcare innovation

March 3, 2011, Albany, NY - The New York State Nurses Association is exceptionally concerned that the state's crucial healthcare safety net cannot sustain the reductions proposed in Governor Cuomo's budget plan. If implemented all at once, the $2.3 billion in reductions proposed for the Medicaid program will have a severe effect on the state's most vulnerable residents, potentially reducing access to health care, increasing morbidity and, ultimately, adding to long-term healthcare costs.


Read the comments: NYSNurses 







Cuts to New York's Elderly Rx Program Could Mean Seniors  

Go Without Drugs They Need


February 25, 2011





The EPIC prescription drug assistance program helps older New Yorkers age 65 and older pay for prescription drugs they need.  


It gives almost 300,000 older New Yorkers the peace-of-mind of knowing they can afford their medications when they need them.


The Governor's proposals would all but eliminate this potentially life-saving program for older New Yorkers who depend on it and it would undermine a program that for 25 years has guaranteed that seniors don't leave the pharmacy counter without their medicines.


Please help us protect this vital program by sending a message to your state legislators asking them to reject the Governor's proposed budget changes to EPIC and to help keep older New Yorkers healthy.




Your State Senator or Senators


Your State Representative or Representatives


Please protect seniors by REJECTING the Governor's proposed EPIC cuts by visiting AARP's website.







481 Eighth Avenue, Suite 1202
NewYork, NY 10001





Alan Lubin - Labor 

Bruce Ventimiglia - Business 


Lou Gordon - BALCONY Director


Kristina Siapkara - Research Director
Diane Masters - Development Administrator 

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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