Weekly Wire, Week Ending January 13, 2017
The County Perspective: Sales Tax, Opioid Abuse, State of the State, ACA, more
|The County Perspective
Local Governments Unite to Fight Opioid Abuse
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, a member of a national task force on the heroin & opioid abuse crisis, is traveling to regions across the state to hold informative session on the joint task force findings. The meetings are being coordinated by NYSAC and will be hosted by local county leaders. A forum was held last week in Dutchess County, and today there is a forum in Suffolk County.
As a member of the national task force put together by the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National League of Cities (NLC), Poloncarz has taken a leadership role in battling the opioid crisis here in New York.
The local meetings are focused on strategies and programs that local leaders can implement to help prevent individuals from becoming dependent on prescription painkillers and heroin. As the large number of drug-related deaths across the U.S. brings increasing attention to efforts that aim to prevent these deaths, local leaders must not lose sight of the importance of preventing individuals from becoming drug dependent in the first place. During the meetings, local leaders will discuss prevention and education strategies that can stem the tide of drug abuse in local communities.
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 are invited to 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.
4th Quarter Sales Taxes Continue Slower Trend
The 4th quarter 2016 sales tax revenue data released today shows continues the trend of slower sales tax growth compared to the years leading up to the Great Recession, according to the New York State Association of Counties.
It is difficult at this time to precisely explain the slower growth in many counties. While Internet sales continue to outpace brick and mortar storefront sales, gasoline prices were about 12 percent lower in 2016 compared to 2015. Meanwhile, stagnant wage growth and higher costs of health care and housing could be placing downward pressure on retail sales, and therefore sales tax collections.
When comparing sales tax collections in the 4th Quarter 2016 to the 4th Quarter of 2015:
Counties use sales and property tax revenue to provide road and bridge maintenance, 9-1-1 emergency dispatch services, sheriff road patrol, restaurant inspections, veterans services, worker training, addiction prevention counseling, and senior programs such as meals on wheels. In addition, counties are required by the State fund $7.5 billion of the state's Medicaid program. Other mandated responsibilities include safety net, pre-school special education, early intervention, public defense, probation, youth detention, child welfare, and pensions. In total, these nine state mandates consume 99% of the aggregate county property taxes collected statewide. All other county programs are funded through sales tax revenues.
The Senate and Assembly convened in Albany for session on Monday, January 9 & Tuesday, January 10. I n addition, the Governor held six Regional State of the State Addresses; Excelsior Ever Upward. Governor Cuomo visited New York City, Buffalo, Westchester, Long Island, Albany, and Syracuse. During his State of the State address the Governor announced 35 proposals for his 2017 Agenda. Among the proposals were: ethics reform, tuition free college, indigent defense, combating heroin and opioid addiction, and the consolidation. It is expected the Governor will introduced his Executive Budget proposals the week of January 17.
The Governor's Excelsior Ever Upward Briefing book can be found here: https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/2017StateoftheStateBook.pdf
Governor's State of the State Proposals
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.
In his 2017 State of the State Address booklet, the Governor included a proposal to develop a comprehensive program to reduce the quantity of food scrapes that are disposed of in landfills. The program aims to achieve this goal by increasing the amount of edible food donated to those in need and by promoting composting, anaerobic digestion (AD) and other organics management facilities, to spur green jobs and renewable energy and to reduce harmful methane gas emissions.
Over the summer the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation held regional food scrap legislation stakeholder meetings to solicit comments and feedback on this proposal as well as an early draft of potential legislation. NYSAC participated in these meetings. The Governor's proposal would require large food waste generators to donate edible food when possible and to divert food waste for recycling or energy recovery if located within 50 miles of a digester or composting facility.
Although well intentioned, counties have concerns that this proposal may raise costs for solid waste management. NYSAC will continue to track this proposal, advocate for county interests and work to ensure solid waste management costs are not increased.
Mental Health in Jails
On Monday, January 9 the Department of Correction announced the U.S Department of Justice provided a $250,000 grant that will fund new mental health teams at Rikers Island to help correction officers and inmates handle mental health needs within the city jails. The new teams are being created through a partnership between the DOC, Health + Hospitals, the city jail's health care provider, and the Vera Institute of Justice, which is heavily involved in a number of reform efforts at Rikers Island.
According to DOC, the teams will help conduct mental health interventions, expedite clinic cases, educate individuals on available mental health resources, and identify inmates whose mental illness may have gone undiagnosed during intake.
New York Assembly Reintroduces the Public Defense Mandate Relief Act- A.1903
On January 13, 2017 Assemblymember Patricia Fahy reintroduced the Public Defense Mandate Relief Act. It is important to note for all county members seeking to support this legislation, the bill has a new number due it being a new session cycle, A.1903. This legislation has 75 Assembly cosponsors and is identical to the bill that was passed by the legislature and but ultimately vetoed by the Governor on December 31st. This legislation reforms the state's indigent legal services program and would bring true mandate relief to counties by providing a full state fiscal takeover of indigent defense services while at the same time increasing the quality of legal services for the poor.
Specifically this bill expands indigent defense by providing first arraignment counsel and by placing a case-cap workload on public defenders so that they can spend more time on any given case. As far as the mandate relief on a county level, this bill covers the cost of the expanded services and incrementally over 7 years eats into the over $380 million counties and New York City are currently spending on this program. Counties would be 100% reimbursed by the State for all indigent defense costs in 2023 and beyond.
Congress Begins Process to Repeal the Affordable Care Act
Last week Congress took the first step to repeal the Affordable Care Act by passing a budget reconciliation bill that instructs certain congressional committees to write legislation that would repeal major sections of the Affordable Care Act. Budget reconciliation will make it easier for the Senate to pass future legislation that can repeal big pieces of the Affordable Care Act because it waives certain voting rules in the Senate and allows for a simple majority vote to pass legislation. Under normal procedures in the Senate it usually takes 60 votes to bring a bill to the floor for a final vote. However, budget reconciliation can only be used to change legislative items that involve government spending - so budget reconciliation alone cannot fully repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The budget reconciliation process, as mentioned, can end subsidies to help lower the cost of insurance, end Medicaid spending that was expanded under the original law and repeal taxes and fees that are used to pay for the subsidies and Medicaid expansion - effectively making the law unworkable. It is unclear if Congress will repeal and replace the existing law, repeal and "delay" (leave the law in place until they find substitute provisions), or simply repeal the law and not provide any substitute at all.
Each of these approaches will have significant consequences for New York State, its counties, health care providers and those now receiving health insurance under the law. New York State has successfully implemented the ACA with more than 3.5 million New Yorkers receiving their health insurance under the statewide health exchange established under the law and uninsured rates have dropped by more than half since the law was enacted. New York State and the counties also benefit from enhanced federal Medicaid matching rates and other provisions, with the State receiving fiscal benefits approaching $5 billion annually and counties receiving fiscal benefits of nearly $600 million annually.
|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.
Grants Training in Syracuse
SUNY OSWEGO Division of Extended Learning and Grant Writing USA will present a two-day grants workshop in Syracuse, February 16-17, 2017. This training is for grant seekers across all disciplines. Attend this class and you'll learn how to find grants and write winning grant proposals.
Beginning and experienced grant writers from city, county and state agencies as well as nonprofits, K-12, colleges and universities are encouraged to attend. Multi-enrollment discounts and discounts for Grant Writing USA returning alumni are available. Tuition payment is not required at the time of enrollment.
NYSAC members receive a tuition rate of $425, which includes two days of instruction, workbook, and access to tools, discussions and more than 200 sample grant proposals. Please use discount code "NYASSN" to receive this $30 discount off full price at registration. Contact Kaelee DeLisle at Grant Writing USA at 888.435.7281 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.