Government Affairs Albany UpdateDecember 1, 2006
The Business Council has prepared a summary of the 240 page Berger Commission report on health care faciilties, issued earlier this week. The report itself, and additional information on the Commission's efforts, The Commission recommended that New York State close nine hospitals and eliminate some 7,200 hospital and nursing-home beds, reductions that would save an estimated $250 million per year in annual medicaid costs, and a similar amount in annual private sector health care costs. The report made additional recommendations regarding health care reforms. The Business Council has not yet issued any formal comments on the final report. Earlier this week, both Governor Pataki and Governor-elect Spitzer issue strong statements supporting the Berger Commission recommendations.
Governor Elect Eliot Spitzer yesterday announced a series of self-imposed ethics standards and reform measures for the Executive branch, to be implemented as of January 1, 2007. The announcement stated that several of these initiatives would be implemented through Executive Order. Additionally, Spitzer had earlier appointed a Government Reform advisory committee to consider legislative initiatives in these and other areas.
The self-imposed reforms announced yesterday include:
- Ethics Reforms
- Prohibit appointed executive branch officials from receiving any gifts with more than nominal value.
- Prohibit former Governor's Office employees from lobbying any Executive Branch agency for two years.
- Preclude the Governor Lieutenant Governor from appearing in any taxpayer-financed commercials and from accepting fees for speeches.
- Prohibit agency commissioners and other high-level personnel from running for state or federal office while serving as State employees.
- Campaign Finance Reforms
- The Governor and Lieutenant Governor will not take campaign contributions of more than $10,000 from any private entity; or from corporate subsidiaries or LLC partners if the parent company or controlling partner(s) has already contributed the $5,000 maximum. unt allowed.
- Appointed executive branch officials will be prohibited from making campaign contributions to the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor.
- Neither the Governor nor the Lieutenant Governor will hold or participate in any fundraisers within the Capitol Region during the legislative session.
- Executive officials are prohibit fro inquiring about the political affiliation of a prospective employee or contractor.
- No individual will be required to change their party affiliation to meet the requirements for appointment.
- Budget Process
Governor-elect Spitzer said he would:
- Bring both houses of the Legislature into the budget making process as early as possible, and share with them as much information as possible about both expected revenues and plans for spending.
- Attempt to reach early consensus with the legislature on revenue projections, and if no consensus can be reached, agree to be bound by the projections issued by the Comptroller's Office.
- Require that all member item appropriations be set forth as separate line items in the budget.
- Open Governmment/Accountability
Governor-elect Spitzer said he would:
- Hold regular news conferences and media interviews.
- Have an open-door policy for all members of the Legislature.
- Make the Executive Mansion and State Capitol more accessible, while still maintaining security.
- Expand the use of the Internet to communicate with New Yorkers, including real-time webcasts of government sessions.
- Institute “regular and rigorous” evaluations of the Executive agencies, including requiring that agencies adopt performance measurements, establish goals, and track their performance over time.
- Appoint a first-rate Inspector General, and give that office adequate resources to pursue corruption in government.
The Temporary Commission on the Future of NYS Economic Development Power Programs is scheduled to submit its final report later today to Governor Pataki and the legislature.
The eleven person Commission was created by the legislature during the 2006 session, as part of its one-year extension of provisions related to the Power for Jobs and Economic Development Power programs.
Based on the most recent draft report, the Commission's report is recommending:
- greater integration of program administration, and more consistent eligibiilty criteria for the state's nine current power programs.
- the award of power benefits based on criteria including: contribution of reduced cost power to a firm's viability, business attraction and retention, level of capital investments, local economic significance, investments in energy efficiency, ability of enterprise to leave state, etc. The report generally identifies these criteria in broad terms, with specific criteria to be developed.
- 550MW of rural/domestic Niagara hydropower should be shifted to the state's economic development purposes, with protections for low income households and agriculture energy user that pays residential rather than commercial rates.
- contracts awarded under the new criteria should be for period of at least seven years, with annual audits to assess compliance with award criteria.
The Commission also is recommending that the state add additional generation and transmission capacity to address the state's power supply issues.
Key provisions of the PfJ and EDP programs expire on June 30, 2007, and will require legislative action. The Business Council has supported many of the Commission's recommendations.