County Perspective for February 28, 2019
This week's state and federal update for county leaders.
NYSAC News Brief: 30-Day Amendments and the County Impact
NYSAC's Stephen Acquario provided a 5-minute overview of the Governor's 30-Day Amendments to the NYS Budget and the county impact of those changes.
View the video here.
This Week in Albany
The Legislature is back in session this week following the President's Day recess. As we wrap up February, the Legislature has begun to develop their one-house budget bills.
NYSAC met with central staff and several members of the Legislature this week to discuss the 30-day AIM proposal, funding for early voting and criminal justice reforms, expansion of the bottle bill, and the creation of a paint stewardship program.
On Tuesday we met with the Senate majority staff to discuss the county position on the expansion of the bottle bill and our support for the creation of a paint stewardship program. To review our fact sheet on the bottle bill and our memorandum of support on the paint stewardship program, follow this link.
In addition to meeting with Senate central staff, NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario and staff met with Senator Harkcham, who represents portions of Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties and is a member of the Senate Local Government Committee. NYSAC also met with Assemblyman Fred Thiele, who represents portions of Suffolk County and is the chair of the Assembly Local Governments Committee. We discussed at length the issues we have with the 30-day amendments AIM restoration proposal, as well as the Governor's proposal to make unilateral budget cuts due to executive budget proposal revenue shortfalls.
The NYSAC team will also be meeting with Senator James Gaughran who represents portions of Nassau and Suffolk counties and is the chair of the Senate Local Government Committee.
NYSAC will continue to advocate for county priorities as the Senate and Assembly develop their one-house budget proposals and negotiations over the final budget commence over the course of the next several weeks.
AIM Funding Mandate: The County Impact
As part of the 30-day amendment package, the Governor proposed a restoration of AIM cuts through a mechanism where counties would be forced to share a portion of our sales tax revenue with municipalities to reimburse them directly for their 2018-19 AIM funding amount.
NYSAC has drafted a model resolution that can be adapted by counties that want to formally oppose the Governor's 30-Day Amendment to the 2019-20 Executive State Budget that shifts a $60 million state cut to AIM funding to be funded with county sales tax revenues.
Please click here for a copy of that resolution. [document link]
NYSAC urges all county leaders to contact their state representatives about this mandate and the impact it will have on county budgets.
Counties Weigh in on Cannabis Legalization Debate
In the New York State Capitol next month, lawmakers will be debating whether to legalize adult-use marijuana, which was proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo as part of the 2019-20 Executive State Budget.
The Governor proposes to impose three taxes on recreational marijuana. The first tax is on the cultivation of cannabis; the second on the sale by a wholesaler to a retail dispensary; and the third is a local 2 percent sales tax.
However, the Governor's proposed 2 percent local revenue share is insufficient for counties to deliver the services their residents rely on to ensure public health and safety. Under the existing legislation, counties would be expected to provide education, traffic safety enforcement, addiction services, and other programs that have been proven to reduce the adverse effects of other legal psychoactive substances (like alcohol), but with less funding to do so.
NYSAC urges the State to increase the local sales tax to 4 percent, following the existing sales tax model in most counties. Revenue from this marijuana sales tax would be used to offset county costs associated with legalization. Read more.
Counties Urge Review of Governor's Proposed Bottle Bill Expansion
Counties are urging Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to make modifications to the Governor's proposed expansion of the Returnable Container Act ("Bottle Bill"), which would add a deposit to sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit and vegetable beverages, and ready-to-drink coffees and teas.
While this proposal is well-intentioned, it harms recycling programs that are already being threatened by global recycling market volatility. In 2017 and 2018, China implemented policy changes that resulted in a 90% reduction in the value of paper and a 63% loss in value of the traditional recycling stream.
The Governor's proposal would place an undue burden on municipal recyclers by removing as much as 50% of valuable plastic and aluminum containers from the recycling stream. This would result in an additional loss of revenue for local solid waste programs.
NYSAC urges the Governor and State Legislature to modify the Governor's expansion of the Bottle Bill to include only glass containers. Read more.
NYSAC Testifies Before NYS Legislature Joint Fiscal Committees
On February 11, NYSAC testified on the 2019-20 State Budget proposal to the fiscal committees of the New York State Legislature. Read the full testimony here [updated 2/27/19]
NYSAC's testimony addressed several proposals in the state budget, including legalizing marijuana, Internet sales tax, the property tax cap, raise the age implementation, early voting, shared services, community college funding, the bottle bill expansion, and several other state policies that directly impact counties.
New NYSAC Report: Ending Cash Bail and Other Criminal Justice Reforms
In his inaugural address and budget proposal, Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to put forth a reform agenda that includes ending cash bail and enacting other criminal justice reforms. These legislative measures would end bail, expand the discovery process, improve access to a speedy trial, transform civil asset forfeiture, and improve the community reentry process.
NYSAC has reviewed these proposals and drafted a report that includes the county impact of these new amendments.
Click here to read the full report.
NYSAC Whitepapers and Reports
Click on the report title below to view the document.
NACo Legislative Conference
Next week, NYSAC staff and many NYS county leaders will be in Washington D.C. for the National Association of Counties (NACo) Legislative Conference, and for meetings with members of the NYS Congressional Delegation.
The NACo Legislative Conference brings together nearly 2,000 elected and appointed county officials to focus on federal policy issues that impact counties and our residents.
April is National County Government Month
National County Government Month (NCGM) is an annual celebration of county government, celebrated each April.
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.
Learn more and download a toolkit here.
Awards, Grants, and Training Opportunities
National Park Service Grants Available
The National Park Service provides matching grants to states and through states to local governments for the acquisition and development of lands and waters for outdoor recreation purposes. Approximately $50 million is available. Applications due are April 30.
Apply now: U.S. Department of Transportation awarding up to $902.5 million in grant funding for infrastructure improvement projects
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced
up to $902.5 million in available funds through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program. INFRA provides federal funding for transportation infrastructure projects aimed at addressing critical issues facing America's highways and bridges. The deadline to apply is March 4, 2019
. Instructions for submitting applications can be found here
The Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015 established the INFRA program, which awarded nearly $1.5 billion to 26 projects in Fiscal Year 2018. During this round of funding, DOT will award both large and small projects with INFRA grant funding. Large projects must be at least $25 million and small projects at least $5 million. At least 10 percent of available funds will be reserved for small projects. Additionally, DOT will award 25 percent of INFRA grant funding to rural projects.
According to DOT, INFRA grants may be used to fund a variety of infrastructure projects, though projects that have significant investments secured by the local sponsor and that are in position to begin rapid construction will be favored. Eligible INFRA projects may include: reconstruction, rehabilitation and acquisition of property (including land related to the project and improvements to the land), environmental mitigation, construction contingencies, equipment acquisition and operational improvements directly related to system performance. (Via NACo)
The County Job Board
Does your county have a job opening to share? Send it along to firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you know someone looking for an opportunity in county government? Send them over to the NYSAC County Job Board