County Perspective Week of April 3, 2017
The County Perspective: State Budget, Federal Budget, County Gov't Month
|NYSAC to Analyze State Budget Extenders and Track Continued Negotiations
The NYSAC Legislative Team will spend this week analyzing the budget extender released by Governor Andrew Cuomo today to keep state government operating, and continue to track 2017-18 budget negotiations between the Governor and State Legislative Leaders.
The Association continues to work with county members and state lawmakers on budget priorities for counties. Those priorities include ensuring that raising the age of criminal responsibility is funded upfront by the state, 9-1-1 public safety surcharge is applied to all devices that connect to emergency dispatch centers, cost shifts in foster care and public health are rejected, and modernizing the state's sales tax process to include transactions on the Internet.
National County Government Month (NCGM), held each April, is an annual celebration of county government. Since 1991, the National Association of Counties has encouraged counties to actively promote the services and programs they offer. Counties can schedule activities any time during the month. NCGM is an excellent opportunity for your county to highlight effective county programs and raise public awareness and understanding about the various services provided to the community.
For resources from NYSAC, including a downloadable 'Working for You' logo, click here.
The County Finance School is a 3-day training event held annually in May at the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel in Syracuse, New York. This year, County Finance School is May 2-4.
The School features workshops developed specifically for county finance officials and the growing educational needs of the local government community. Workshops for 2017 include Internet Sales Tax Overview, Property Assessed Clean Energy, Financing for Disaster Recovery Aid, Property Tax Cap Analysis, and The State of the Economy.
The County Finance School is co-sponsored through the generosity and expertise of the Office of the New York State Comptroller and features a number of OSC/CPE accredited sessions. The New York State County Treasurers and Finance Officers Association assists with the conference as well.
The full agenda and registration will be available soon.
NYSAC is now accepting articles for the Spring/Summer 2017 magazine. The theme of the magazine is Working for You (county services). Articles should be related to county services and functions.
Articles should be 750-1,000 words and can be sent to Nicole Correia (firstname.lastname@example.org) by April 21. This will be an electronic publication, only available online.
Deadline: April 21.
Theme: Working for You (county services)
For information about advertising in the magazine,
The April 1st budget deadline has come and gone. The Governor, Senate and Assembly were unable to come to a final agreement and pass an on-time budget. As negations on many issues remain open, the Governor said he will offer a budget extender that will allow state operations to continue through May 31, 2017.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement that his conference is "prepared" to act on the extender. The Senate, per Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, was in wait-and-see mode on Sunday and will return Monday for conference at 11 a.m.
The Senate and Assembly as both scheduled for Session, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and then will have a break until April 24th.
The major stumbling blocks, according to media reports, appear to be the specifics of raising the age of criminal responsibility, charter school funding, and the 421-a housing subsidy program.
|New Public Defense Income Eligibility Guidelines Effective April 1st
Under new guidelines drafted last year and delayed for 1 year at the request of counties concerned by projected increase in costs, the income eligibility for a public defense attorney doubled on April 1
st. The previous income threshold for being eligible for a publicly funded attorney is 125% above the federal poverty rate. On April 1
st, that threshold grew to 250% above the federal poverty rate, which is $30,000 for an individual or $62,000 for member of a family of four.
While indigent legal defense services are the responsibility of states, in New York, the costs of these services have been delegated to county taxpayers. The change in eligibility guidelines could double the cost of the service in many counties, particularly smaller, rural upstate counties, where most residents will now qualify for a publicly-funded attorney.
The State guidelines, entitled "Criteria and Procedures for Determining Assigned Counsel Eligibility," take effect on all New York counties on April 1, 2017. These guidelines are designed to direct judges to double this standard and provide a public defense attorney to litigants who are at or below 250% of the federal poverty rate.
The 2017-18 State Budget, which is currently being negotiated by the Governor and State Legislature, is not expected to address these additional county costs, or the impact they will have on property taxes. The following is a link to the guidelines
In recognition of the unfair burden that Medicaid places on county property taxpayers, we now have two proposals introduced by members of New York State's congressional delegation to eliminate county Medicaid contributions. One would prohibit the state to pass on $2.3 billion of its Medicaid costs to local taxpayers. The other would increase the federal Medicaid matching funds for NYS by an additional $2.3 billion dollars, essentially offsetting the local contributions outside of New York City. Both proposals would end the process of using county property taxes to fund the state/federal public health insurance program.
Regardless of how this is achieved, this is a priority for counties across the state. Because the state and federal governments control Medicaid eligibility, reimbursement, service levels, and benefit duration, it is most appropriate that those levels of government that set the rules also pay for the program.
NYSAC and our member counties have been advocating for the removal of the local Medicaid contribution since 1967, one year after its enactment, when it was clear that the cost would be unsustainable for county property taxpayers.
NACO: Major Changes for Counties under Trump Budget
If enacted by Congress, President Donald Trump's proposed $1.1 trillion FY18 budget would significantly impact the nation's counties. Trump's proposal follows the tradition of first budgets from newly-elected presidents that typically contain fewer details than a normal budget request - thus referred to as a "skinny" budget. It does not include the tax revenue, mandatory spending or economic growth forecasts that make up a normal presidential budget request.
However, the budget does set overall directions for discretionary spending.
Largest proposed cuts
The largest requested reductions compared to the enacted FY16 budget would be felt by the Environmental Protection Agency
(31 percent), the Departments of Agriculture (29 percent), State (29 percent), Health and Human Services (23 percent), Labor (21 percent), and Commerce (17 percent), the Army Corps of Engineers (17 percent), the General Services Administration (17 percent), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (15 percent), and Transportation (13 percent).
Largest proposed increases
Compared to FY16, the Pentagon would see a 10 percent increase under the proposed budget; Homeland Security, a seven percent increase; Veterans Affairs, a 10 percent increase; and nuclear security at the Energy Department an 11 percent increase.
OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said additional budget and revenue details will be released in May and that Cabinet secretaries will be given flexibility in determining how to distribute cuts made to each agency.
Click here to read NACo's summary of President Trump's proposed changes to federal programs of interest to counties.
April is Distracted Driving Month, and the New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal (NYMIR) has posed a challenge to NYMIR counties and local governments.
Nationally, distracted driving has been the leading cause of motor vehicle crashes. In 2014, the Official U.S. Government website for Distracted Driving reported that 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 injured in moving vehicle accidents. Vehicle claims represent a significant concern for insurers and local governments, and preventing distracted driving can boost your risk management efforts.
NYMIR is holding risk management seminars to provide train-the-trainer instruction for distracted driving classes to prepare your own employees as instructors. These training sessions can be provided by NYMIR Risk Management staff either regionally or at your county.
For more information contact NYMIR Vice President of Marketing and Member Services at 518-292-0057.
NYSAC Hosting Webinar on Expanded Prescription Drug Benefit Program
This year, NYSAC is working with ProAct to enhance and relaunch the prescription drug discount card program that has helped county residents across the state save millions of dollars on prescriptions. In addition to the standard pharmacy benefits available through the program, participants will now have access to enhanced discounts on ancillary benefits, including vision, LASIK, dental, diagnostic imaging, gym memberships and much more.
We are hosting a Webinar to discuss these enhancements and how to help your residents access them at 2 p.m. on April 12, 2017. To register for Enhancing NYSAC's Prescription Drug Discount Card Program at, click here:
Seeking Nominations for Excellence in Public Service Awards
On Monday, May 22, 2017 the New York State Academy for Public Administration (SAPA) will be hosting its 6th annual Public Service Excellence Award Program.
Counties are invited to nominate an individual or team for this award. Applications are due April 10, 2017. Awardees will be announced on May 3, with a ceremony to be held on May 22.
The Public Service Excellence Award is a great way to recognize an outstanding individual or team of individuals in your agency who exemplify the best of public service in New York State. Agencies and local governments may nominate both a team and an individual if they choose. For a copy of the nomination form, please email email@example.com.