Finding Common Ground Between
New York Business and Labor
March 30, 2011 

Dear Friends,


BALCONY in our continuing effort to keep our coalition fully informed is presenting  member comments on the newly presented the 2011-2012 New York State Budget. We present Governor Andrew Cuomo's press statement announcing the Budget agreement for your review. We all know that the budget details are still being decided and ratified by the New York State Assembly and Senate, it is therefore crucial that we present to you the timely perspectives of our members.


In the past few months, BALCONY and its members advocated for funding of state and local services, education, job creation, health care and senior programs.  In particular we joined a growing coalition calling for an extension of the New York State tax on the wealthy. While not included in the current budget we are guardedly optimistic that this tax which would bring in $5 billion for our state could still be considered later in the legislative session.


At the same time, we are hopeful that property tax reform, not a 2% tax cap,  in New York State can include a circuit breaker which would make property taxes proportional to one's income thereby leveling the playing field for middle class homeowners.


This week please contact your legislators on key New York State budget issues of concern.


Thanks for your continued support.





Cuomo Skelos Silver

Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Skelos, and Assembly Speaker Silver


Reach Agreement on 2011-2012 New York State Budget


Historic Budget Provides Transformational Plan for State


Albany, NY (March 27, 2011)


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today announced an agreement on a 2011-2012 budget that eliminates a $10 billion deficit.


The agreement includes historic reforms that redesign state government, create efficiencies through consolidation, cap spending increases for education and Medicaid, and transform the future budgeting process.


The approximately $132.5 billion budget will reduce spending overall by over 2 percent from the current year, eliminate 3,700 prison beds, establish regional economic development councils, bring performance funding to education, redesign Medicaid, and cap next year's education and Medicaid spending.


This budget reaches its financial goals with no new taxes and no borrowing, and will also cut next year's projected budget deficit from $15 billion to about $2 billion.


Recent changes to the budget include an additional $272 million in education which includes restoration of funding for schools for the blind and deaf (4201) and summer school special education. Human services funding of $91 million was added and $86 million for higher education including SUNY hospitals, SUNY and CUNY community colleges. There are also miscellaneous program additions of $33 million including aid to localities and agriculture programs. The budget proposal requires the Office of Court Administration (OCA) to reduce its budget by $170 million to reflect a more proportionate share of the state's reductions. There were also $54 million in miscellaneous cuts. As a result, the net add spending to this budget is approximately $250 million. In addition, there are no new member items.


"I have said that New York is at a crossroads - one road leading to further dysfunction and decline, the other towards fiscal responsibility and government efficiency. I believe this budget puts us on the right path," Governor Cuomo said. "This budget makes tough choices, which is what you sent me to Albany to do. It closes a $10 billion dollar deficit with no new taxes or borrowing, redesigns government to force it to cut waste and inefficiency, and finally delivers real results for hard-working families across New York State. I applaud and thank Majority Leader Skelos and Speaker Silver for working together to reach this agreement."


Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos said, "This budget agreement keeps our Senate Republican commitment to reduce spending, cut taxes and empower the private sector to create jobs, and will begin to put New York on the path to fiscal recovery. By working together to reach consensus on a responsible spending plan that eliminates a $10 billion deficit without raising taxes, we have tightened our belt and protected middle-class families in every region of this State. I am particularly pleased with Governor Cuomo's commitment to making UB2020 a reality, which will bring jobs and hope to Western New York, as well as improvements to the other university centers, which are important priorities of our Senate Republican conference. Today's developments ensure we are moving full speed ahead to an on-time budget."


Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, "Speaking for the Assembly Majority, I commend Governor Cuomo for his leadership in bringing about this agreement and for providing the Legislature with an executive budget that was strong and firmly grounded in reality. Government had to tighten its belt with the same sense of urgency that working families have been tightening their belts since the economy went into freefall in 2008. The sole consolation is that working with the Governor, we were able to achieve critical restorations which will soften the cuts affecting working families, our senior citizens, our most vulnerable populations and the children in our classrooms."


The 2011-2012 budget agreement contains critical components first proposed in Governor Cuomo's executive budget, including


redesigning Medicaid and recalibrating the cost of state government, in part, by merging and consolidating agencies as well as curbing spending growth to sustainable and affordable levels.


Policy reforms in the 2011-2012 budget include:


* Changing Permanent Law and Provides 2-Year Appropriations and Caps for Education and Medicaid: Education will be increased at a rate of personal income growth next year - roughly 4 percent. Medicaid will be increased at a rate tied to healthcare CPI which is roughly 4 percent. Together, these actions reduce next year's deficit from about $15 billion to about $2 billion and change decades-old practice of overspending.


* Redesigning the Medicaid System: The budget includes a global cap on State Medicaid expenditures of approximately $15 billion and implementation of the majority of recommendations by the Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) to redesign and restructure the Medicaid program to be more efficient and get better results for patients. There are reallocations within the MRT cap that reduce some areas while targeting increases to others. Among the notable changes: the cap on medical malpractice is not included and EPIC is increased by $22 million. The MRT reduction of $2.8 billion and the overall spending cap to the state will be enforced by the Department of Health's "superpower" provision, whereby the commissioner has authority to make reductions during the year to enforce the cap.


* Creating Regional Economic Development Councils: The budget establishes 10 Regional Economic Development Councils, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy. These councils will create a region-based approach to allocate economic development funds to speed up the creation of jobs. They will act as one-stop shop for all State-supported economic development and business assistance programs in each region, and will be supported with $130 million in capital that is reprogrammed from existing resources.


* Creating the Recharge NY Power Program: Recharge New York will enhance and make permanent the current Power for Jobs Program that will significantly boost the state's economy by creating and maintaining hundreds of thousands of jobs. Recharge New York will improve upon the existing program by opening it to new participants and allocating a blend of stable, low-cost hydropower and market power for use by businesses that seek to grow and create jobs in New York state.


* Authorizing the SAGE Commission: The budget authorizes Governor Cuomo's Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission to reduce the number of agencies, authorities, and commissions by 20 percent. Currently, the consolidation of Parole and Corrections will save $16.8 million, the merging of NYSTAR into Department of Economic Development will save $1.9 million, and the merging of Consumer Protection into the Department of State will save $500,000.


* Creating the Department of Financial Services: The budget merges the state's Banking and Insurance Departments into a new Department of Financial Services.


* Authorizing Governor to Close Prisons: The state will eliminate 3,700 prison beds throughout New York at the sole discretion of the administration in consultation with the Legislature.


* UB 2020: The Governor has also agreed to hold a summit with stakeholders to discuss how to make UB 2020 a reality.


* Reforming the Juvenile Justice System: The budget includes significant reforms of the state's juvenile justice system by encouraging greater use of community-based alternatives, downsizing the state juvenile facilities system by more than 30 percent, and investing resources into enhanced services for juveniles that remain in OCFS custody.


* Creating New Education Performance and Efficiency Grants: The budget enacts initiatives Governor Cuomo proposed to make districts more efficient and improve student performance. Funds totaling $500 million will be awarded competitively to districts that demonstrate significant improvements in student performance and to districts that undertake long term structural changes to reduce costs and improve efficiency. The budget also restores $270 million in education related funding.


* Improving the Excelsior Jobs Program: As proposed in the executive budget, the budget strengthens the Excelsior Jobs Program, which was created in 2010 to provide job creation and investment tax credit incentives to businesses in targeted industries.




Hope for the Wealthy Tax Surcharge

Statement by Frank Mauro,
Executive Director for FPI




The failure to include the extension of the surcharge in the package of bills that will be adopted as the 2011-12 budget is not good but it does not preclude the extension of the tax later this year or as part of the adoption of the 2012-13 budget. But it increases the practical difficulty of getting this done.


Read the entire statement: FPI



NYSUT Vows to Keep Fighting

on Behalf of Schools, Colleges




ALBANY, N.Y. March 28, 2011 - New York State United Teachers vowed today to continue fighting for budget restorations, saying the state's brightening fiscal picture - and widespread public support for more education funding - support pressing state leaders to restore investment in public education in order to preserve valuable school programs.


Read the full statement:  NYSUT



Statement from the UFT




The final state budget, which was reached on March 27, adds more than $200 million to Governor Cuomo's proposed education budget, though the cut to statewide education aid still totals more than $1 billion. UFT President Michael Mulgrew said, "Since the city continues to run a multi-billion dollar surplus, New Yorkers should wonder why the mayor insists on laying off teachers." 


Read the full statement:  UFT   




 Statement from Mayor Bloomberg




"At the outset of the budget process, we urged the Governor and State Legislature to adopt a budget that treats New York City equitably and provides the mandate relief and reform that would allow us to absorb the State's heavy cuts. This budget agreement appears to fail on both counts, and worse, it passes heavy new costs down to the City. Voters should remember that New York City was singled out by Albany and eliminated from the revenue sharing program, while other localities took no more than a three percent cut.


Read the full statement: Bloomberg  




Strong Economy For All Coalition
Statement from Michael Kink,


Strong Ecomony 


"In the give and take of the budget, it's now clear that wealthy New Yorkers are doing all the taking while middle-class and poor New Yorkers are doing all the giving. This budget will make our state's already frightening levels of income inequality even worse."    




Alliance for Quality Education 

  Statement by Billy Easton


 Quality Education 


Governor Cuomo's first budget makes heartlessly large cuts to our schools to finance tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires and students in poor and middle class districts will lose the most educationally," said Billy Easton, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education. "Nobody who cares about students is celebrating this budget. Make no mistake about it: this budget will reduce the quality of education in New York."




New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness

Statement from Ron Deutsch      

 Fiscal Fairness 


The big winner in this years budget battle is Governor Cuomo and his extremely wealthy friends and partners at the Committee to Save NY. This budget will give a $5 billion a year tax cut to the wealthiest New Yorkers (New Jersey also wins and will see a $350 million tax windfall) and allow the rest of us to fight over scraps. Far more restorations could have been made that would have helped school children, seniors, the poor and working families throughout this state. Unfortunately, the Governor insisted on doling out tax cuts to the folks that can afford to attend his $15,000 a plate fundraiser's at the expense of the rest of us.


Read the full statement:  Fairness   




StateWide Senior Action Council

Statement by Maria Alvarez, Executive Director  




"lt's clear that only through the advocacy of the entire aging network have significant restorations been made to the EPIC program and senior centers as well as the NY Connects program. Our success reflects the wishes of the public to protect services to older New Yorkers who are vulnerable against a budget presented by the Governor that was biased in favor of wealthy interests which blocked adequate revenues to maintain human services."



Partial Restoration of Epic Cuts Comes Up Short for Seniors Who Struggle to Pay for Prescription Drugs





Statement by Lois Aronstein 

AARP New York State Director


Recent reports suggest that part of the state budget agreement reached among Assembly Speaker Silver, Senate Majority Leader Skelos, and Governor Cuomo includes the restoration of $22 million of the $58 million proposed cut to the EPIC program. While AARP appreciates this step in the right direction, it still comes up short for the hundreds of thousands of older New Yorkers who rely on EPIC to obtain affordable prescription drugs.


Read the complete statement: AARP 



New York State Nurses Association Statement by Tina Gerardi, CEO








As of mid-day Tuesday, the New York State Nurses Association was hopeful that the final 2011-12 state budget would not include the suspension of the Nursing Care Quality Protection Act (Public Health Law 2805t). This important law protects public health by disclosing nursing quality care indicators and staffing ratios and its suspension will not ease the state's fiscal burden. Having this important information available to the public, legislators and regulators is critical to evidence-based healthcare reform. 


Read the complete statement: Nurses





 American Cancer Society


  Statement from Donald Distasio, CEO, American Cancer Society of NY & NJ, regarding slashing of the NYS Tobacco Control Program in the 2011-12 budget agreement




New York Tells Big Tobacco,
"We'll Help You Get New Customers."



It's a good day to be a tobacco lobbyist in Albany. Big cuts demanded by the Assembly to the New York State Tobacco Control Program (TCP) mean current smokers will stay hooked and a new generation of customers - our kids - are on their way to a lifetime of addiction. In essence, the state will help tobacco companies grow their customer base. What a disgraceful outrage.



Read the complete statement: ACS 







PEF Statement





For the last two months PEF has conducted an aggressive campaign to modify the proposed state budget in order to prevent the layoff of state workers and to preserve essential public services. On Sunday March 27, the Governor and legislative leaders announced agreement on a new state budget. Not all the details are available and no budget bills have been passed as of March 29. We know that the legislature made some changes that will mitigate some of the negative impacts of the proposed budget. But we also expect that many cuts in public services will be enacted, and that there is a serious risk of layoffs as a result. It is unfortunate that the Governor thinks it makes sense to threaten the jobs of public workers while giving a tax cut to millionaires. PEF will analyze the budget as soon as details become available and we will continue to fight for the public interest and for the jobs of our members. 




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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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