Weekly Wire, Week Ending January 6, 2017
The County Perspective on the State of the State, and the start of the 2017 Legislative Session
Unlock the Power of Learning at the NYSAC Legislative Conference
Registration is open for the NYSAC 2017 Legislative Conference, which will be held January 30, 31 and February 1, 2017 at the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center in Albany.
County officials will attend a series of informative and timely workshops, standing committee meetings, conference-wide presentations, and networking opportunities.
To register and for more information, visit our website at www.nysac.org/legislativeconference.
The State of NYS Counties
As state lawmakers return to Albany to conduct the people's business and Governor Andrew Cuomo is presenting the state of the state, regionally, NYSAC takes this opportunity to reflect on the state of NYS counties.
Fiscally, many counties struggled mightily to stay within the state imposed property tax cap. In 2017, forty-five counties enacted budgets under the tax cap, again sacrificing local programs and services in order to pay state mandated ones. Unfortunately, twelve counties had extraordinary circumstances that required additional revenue to provide state program support.
Major County Expenditures Continue to be Mandates
The largest expense for counties continues to be state mandates. In New York, county expenditures are heavily driven by state law, under which county governments are required to administer and fund an array of state and federal programs. The major cost categories for counties include health and human services, general government projects, employee salaries and benefits, and public safety.
For information on NYC County Government Expenditures is available at www.nysac.org/files/CountyGovernmentExpenditures%2010617.pdf.
County Revenues are Limited, Capped or Sluggish.
The state imposed property tax cap does limit the amount the local tax can rise, but it has also required us to sell assets, deplete reserves, cut programs, and delay capital projects. Sales taxes are volatile, difficult to predict, and have declined in many counties because the overall economy in most parts of the state continues to be unstable.
Most Counties Losing Population
We are also losing population in most of our counties. From 2010 to 2015, 43 counties lost population. In upstate counties, this trend is extremely acute. The demographic we are losing are young families and mobile professionals who are finding better opportunities in other states.
For more information on county population trends, visit: www.nysac.org/files/2016%20Population%20Trends-%20NYSAC%20report.pdf.
"These are the issues that are most pressing in our counties. We need a strong partnership with State Leaders so that we can strengthen our communities and restore our economic vitality," said NYSAC President William E. Cherry, the Schoharie County Treasurer.
NYSAC Releases 2017 State Legislative Priorities
NYSAC delivered the 2017 Legislative Program to members of the State Legislature last Wednesday, when lawmakers convened for the first time this session. The program can be downloaded at www.nysac.org/files/NYSAC_LegisProg_1-3-17-final.pdf.
"Our top priorities for this year's State Legislative Session are to strengthen our emergency response systems, ensure our community colleges can create the workforce we need to attract new businesses, lower property taxes with mandate relief, and strengthen local home rule authority," said NYSAC President Cherry.
Strengthen investments in our 9-1-1 emergency dispatch centers. We need state legislation that will add the public safety surcharge to pre-paid cellular plans, direct more of the surcharge for its intended 9-1-1 purposes, and create a statewide 9-1-1 board that ensures our emergency response system can meet our public's need.
Lower costs for counties and NYC by aligning fiscal charge with the level of government that controls the program. Counties understand what a cost shift is. The state has been shifting costs to county property taxpayers since the 1960s. Now is the time to begin reversing those cost shifts, and ensuring that the level of government that controls the program also pays for that program.
Improve criminal defense services for the poor and provide counties with mandate relief. The state had an opportunity to enact a new law that would improve the state's indigent legal defense services, and provide mandate relief. That bill was vetoed. We need the state to recommit to its citizens and its promise to provide mandate relief to local property taxpayers.
Fulfill the state promise to support one-third of community college tuition costs. The Governor's free tuition proposal should be accompanied by keeping it statutory commitment to fund one third off the costs of our community colleges.
Set county sales tax authority so that State lawmakers do not have to vote every two years to extend existing sales tax rates. After initially granted, the authority to renew should be left up to the community and state action no longer necessary.
The 2017 Legislative Session Begins at the State Capitol
Wednesday, January 4th was the first day of the 2017 Legislative Session.
Senate Majority Leader Flanagan vowed that lawmakers would be more aggressive in questioning the administration's actions and the Legislature is an equal branch of government to the Executive.
Assembly SpeakerHeastie laid out an agenda that includes support for extending taxes on the wealthy.
Both houses will reconvene today, Monday January 9th.
New Members of the Legislature
Both house have several new members.
The Senate has 7 new members:
Senator Elaine Philips, Republican representing Nassau County
Senator John Brooks, Democrat representing Nassau and Suffolk counties
Senator Marisol Alcantra, Independent Democrat representing New York City & the Bronx
Senator Jamaal Bailey, Democrat representing the Bronx and Westchester County
Senator Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, Republican representing Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties
Senator Pamela Helming, Republican representing Cayuga, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Tompkins and Wayne counties
Senator Chris Jacobs, Republican representing Erie County
The Assembly has 17 new members:
Anthony D'Urso, Democrat representing Nassau County
Melissa Miller, Democrat representing Nassau County
Stacey Amato, Democrat representing Queens
Brian Barnwell, Democrat representing Queens
Clyde Vanel, Democrat representing Queens
Robert Carroll, Democrat representing Kings
Tremaine Wright, Democrat representing Kings
Jaime Williams, Democrat representing Kings
Ronald Castorina, Republican representing Kings
Yuh0Line Niou, Democrat representing New York City
Inez Dickens, Democrat representing New York City
Carmen De La Rose, Democrat representing New York City
Brian Miller, Republican representing Delaware, Herkimer, Oneida, Orange, Otsego, Sullivan and Ulster counties
D. Billy Jones, Democrat representing Franklin and Clinton counties
Joe Errigo, Republican representing Livingston, Monroe and Stueben counties
Michael J. Norris, Republican representing Erie, Niagara, and Orleans counties
Angel Morinello, Republican representing Erie and Niagara counties
Mary Beth Walsh, Republican representing Saratoga and Schenectady counties
Governor Will Deliver Regional State of the State Addresses
This week, the Governor will deliver Regional State of the State Addresses. The New York State Constitution requires an annual message from the Governor to the Legislature on the condition of the state.
While the New York State Constitution states that the Governor, "shall communicate by message to the legislature at every session the condition of the state, and recommend such matters to it as he or she shall judge expedient," it does not specify the timing or location of those messages.
Historically, Governors delivered written messages to the Legislature. This changed in 1923 with Governor Al Smith, who added the speech element, Governor Cuomo deviated from tradition in 2011 by moving the speech from the Assembly Chamber to The Egg.
This year, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo will be delivering his message to the legislature in a series of Regional State of the State addresses. The addresses will take place in six different locations over the course of three days:
Last week, Governor Cuomo held a series of press conferences announcing proposals he will announce in his State of the State address. These proposals will likely have more detail in the Governor's 2017-18 Executive Budget Proposal, expected to be released the week of January 17th.
Proposal 1: Tuition-Free Degree Program: The Excelsior Scholarship
Governor Cuomo unveiled the 1st signature proposal of his 2017 agenda: making college tuition-free for New York's middle class families at all SUNY and CUNY two- and four-year colleges.
Under this proposal, more than 940,000 middle class families and individuals making up to $125,000 per year would qualify to attend college tuition-free at all public universities in New York State.
The proposed Excelsior Scholarship would require participating students to be enrolled at a SUNY or CUNY two- or four-year college full-time. The initiative will cover middle class families and individuals making up to $125,000 through a supplemental aid program. Currently 80 percent of NY households statewide make $125,000 or less with an estimated 940,000 households having college-aged children that would be eligible for the program. Based on enrollment projections, the plan will cost approximately $163 million per year once fully phased in.
The new initiative will be phased in over three years, beginning for New Yorkers making up to $100,000 annually in the fall of 2017, increasing to $110,000 in 2018, and reaching $125,000 in 2019.
For more information, please see the Governor's press release, here.
Proposal 2 - JFK Transformation
On January 4, Governor Cuomo presented a vision plan to transform JFK Airport to meet the needs to the 21st century economy. The vision plan comes from the recommendations of the Governor's Airport Advisory Panel, the vision plan lays out a comprehensive, airport-wide framework to create a unified, world-class airport. The vision addresses three key areas:
Governor Cuomo unveiled a new Enhanced Middle Class Child Care Tax Credit to make child care more affordable.
New York State currently offers a fully refundable Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, which offers a maximum benefit of 110 percent of the federal credit for taxpayers with incomes below $25,000, and the rate phases down to a low of 20 percent of the federal credit for those with incomes of $65,000 or above. For tax year 2014, nearly 520,000 New York families received almost $189 million from this credit.
Under the Governor's proposal, 200,000 families earning between $60,000 and $150,000 would see their average benefit double, on average from $169 to $376. The total program cost is estimated to be $42 million.
For more information, please see the Governor's press release, here.
|Funding and Training Opportunities
Second Round of DEC e-waste recycling grants
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced a second round of grant funding from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) is being made available to help municipalities across the state address costs associated with the collection and recycling of eligible electronic wastes (e-waste). The recently completed application period in October generated $1.2 million in grant requests, leaving almost $1.8 million available for a second chance opportunity that will be held in January 2017 for municipalities that missed the initial application period. DEC will accept applications for second chance opportunity funding from January 2 through January 31, 2017.
As of April 1, 2011, manufacturers are required to implement programs for consumers to recycle e-waste, such as computers, keyboards, televisions, and other small electronic equipment, in an environmentally responsible manner. Beginning in 2015, all consumers were prohibited from disposing of e-waste. These costs have become very burdensome for local municipalities to manage, these grants will provide much needed relief.