The County Perspective for January 8, 2018

What's Ahead for Counties in 2018.


NYSAC Update

10 Reasons Why You Don't Want to Miss the 2018 NYSAC Legislative Conference, January 29-31
  • Become a more informed and motivated public servant at the local level
  • Learn how this year's state budget could impact counties and property taxpayers
  • Discuss and vote on resolutions directing NYSAC's advocacy efforts
  • Hear from national public policy and communication experts
  • Attend timely and informational workshops on topics of concern for counties
  • Become part of NYSAC's Women's Leadership Council
  • Network with hundreds of committed county officials from across the state
  • Attend training tailored specifically for new county leaders
  • Meet vendors with solutions geared for the challenges counties' face
  • Fulfill requirements for receiving homeland security funds from the state
Every year, the NYSAC Legislative Conference provides an overview of the upcoming state legislative year and the issues impacting counties. County delegates convene to pass a series of resolutions, to layout the year's advocacy priorities, and to participate in training and education on the issues and skills needed for effective leadership.
The Legislative Conference will be held at the Desmond Hotel in Albany from Monday 1/29 through Wednesday 1/31.
Register Today!

NYSAC Releases Clean Energy Communities Report

Last week, NYSAC published a new report on NYSERDA's Clean Energy Communities program. The program invites elected officials and local government employees across the state to set clean energy goals, access guidance resources, and take advantage of funding and technical assistance in order to receive the Clean Energy Community designation. After your county is designated a Clean Energy Community, you can apply for grants for additional clean energy projects.
For more information, check out the Clean Energy Communities Program report, which can be found on this page.

State Update

The 2018 Legislative Session Begins at the State Capitol
The 2018 Legislative Session began with Governor Cuomo' delivering his eighth State of the State address. The Governor held the annual State of the State address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. This is the first time since 2015 the Governor presented the State of the State separate from his Executive Budget proposal. The State of the State address was attending by the State Legislature, State Officials, Local Government officials, the New York Mets, The New York Islanders and numerous advocacy groups. The speech focused on the federal tax reform law, combating the opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform, and education.  
The Governor is expected to present his executive budget proposal separately, later in the month. He is required by law to develop and present a budget to the legislature by Tuesday, January 16, 2018.
The Senate and Assembly legislative members entered their respective chambers to gavel in to kick off a new session. Senate Majority Leader Flanagan vowed that lawmakers would act to impose a permanent property tax cap, protect working and middle-class families, and develop a blueprint to rebuild New York.  Speaker Heastie said that the Assembly Majority is in support of the Governor's progressive agenda and is waiting for more details to be available when the Governor delivers his budget presentation in the coming weeks. Both houses completed their work for the first week and are scheduled to reconvene on Monday, January 8th.
Late last year, NYSAC delegates and Board of Directors developed an advocacy program for the 2018 Legislative Session. To see NYSAC's 2018 Legislative Program, click here.
Many State of the State Proposals Have County/Taxpayer Impact
Among the proposals released by the Governor are regional projects and a number of measures that would have an impact on county operations and taxes.
For more detailed information on the proposals that would impact counties, see NYSAC's Tentative 2018 State of the State County Impact Report.
Raising the Age - Specialized Detention Emergency Regulations
On Wednesday, January 3rd the New York State Commission of Correction (SCOC) released the Specialized Detention emergency regulations. Under the new Raise the Age law, the SCOC is required by law to promulgate and publish the rules that apply to the newly created specialized secure juvenile detention facilities. These regulations are available on the State Register and available for public comment. The public comment period will end at the close of business on Monday, March 6, 2018.
The draft regulations are available here:
New York Signs on to FirstNet
Last month, Governor Cuomo announced that New York would be opting into the federal FirstNet program, which is building, operating, and maintaining the first high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. This FirstNet partnership with AT&T will improve the communication of all emergency services, both local and state, as well as provide services to unserved and underserved rural areas in our counties and across the state.
Together, through FirstNet, the state and counties will build and maintain an enormous public safety broadband network that will strengthen our state and county emergency communication services.
The implementation of this plan in New York State will help our state, county and local emergency responders use high speed data services to supplement the voice capability of the current Land Mobile Radios (LMR) with data, video, images, and texts on a reliable and secure system. Many of our county 9-1-1 dispatchers, law enforcement, and police/fire officials are the first responders who will be working on this network to continue to provide the services needed to secure the safety of those throughout our state. 

Federal Update

2018 Congressional Session
The United State Senate and House of Representatives opened the 115th Congressional 2nd Session on January 3, 2018. The House of Representatives met in pro forma sessions only during the first week of January 2018.  On January 3, it formally adjourned the 1st session of the 115th Congress and formally convened the 2nd session, but those are pro forma sessions only.  No legislative business was scheduled for the first week of January. The Senate met on January 3 and new Senators were sworn in. The Senate also considered the nomination of John Rood to be Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.
Both the House of Representatives and the US Senate schedules are available below:
US Senate
House of Representatives
Federal Tax Reform Enacted Late Last Year
The President signed sweeping corporate and individual tax reforms into law on December 22, 2017. While there have been several major tax cuts (and increases) since the last major tax reform packaged was enacted in 1986, the law signed last year was the first comprehensive rewrite of the tax code in decades. Because of the political difficulty in enacting major tax reforms, Congress used special legislative provisions under Budget Reconciliation to facilitate passage. These provisions allowed for a simple majority vote in the Senate as opposed to the normal 60 vote requirement for all other legislation the Senate considers. 
However, these special rules create a series of undesirable outcomes including no bipartisan support for the bill (which can impact the long-term viability of certain components of the tax bill), along with several major implementation delays and sunsets that will hurt certain taxpayers if they are not reversed at some point by a future congress. The end result is that the corporate tax reforms are permanent and the tax changes (cuts and increases) impacting individuals disappear at the end of 2025.
Congress Faces New Deadlines
While Congress ended the year in a flurry with the enactment of comprehensive tax reforms, they did punt a series of critical budget and policy issues into the new year. Chief among them is funding to keep the federal government open after January 19th. Bipartisan support is necessary to pass another continuing resolution to fund government programs (either temporarily or for the remainder of the federal fiscal year ending September 30th). There are many hurdles including demands by conservatives to cut spending due to growing deficit concerns, defense hawks desire to add tens of billions in new spending for the military, more emergency disaster assistance for fires and hurricane needs, the President's desire to build a wall along the southern border, and hopes from democrats and many moderate republicans to resolve the end of the DACA program (protecting children brought to this country by their parents from deportation) and to boost discretionary program spending on par with any defense adds. 
With only two weeks to go, it looks like another short-term extension is likely to provide more time for negotiations on these thorny issues. Counties remain vulnerable to federal funding cuts in many social services and health programs that, if not funded, could force new costs on counties in New York. Nearly $2 billion in health care funding cuts are also on the block including funding cuts to hospitals (which have been scheduled for years, but repeatedly deferred) and children's health insurance programs. The state relies heavily on this federal health funding support and the loss of these funds will make the estimated $4.4 billion state budget gap significantly larger, exposing counties to potentially more fiscal problems as the state works to steady its' fiscal ship.