Government Affairs Albany UpdateApril 4 , 2008
- Budget Overview
- TED Budget
- Health Budget
- General Government Article VII Bill
- Mayor Bloomberg Signs Legislation Establishing E-Waste Collection and Disposal Program
Staff contact: Ken Pokalsky
The State Legislature continues to make slow progress in adopting the State Budget for Fiscal 2009. So far, the following bills have passed both houses:
- 6800- D - the General Government/Public Protection appropriations bill
- 6804-D - the Health and Mental Hygiene appropriations bill
- S.6805-D – the Transportation/Environment/Economic Development (TED) appropriations bill
- 6809-C – the TED Article VII bill passed both houses
- 6806-C – the General Government Article VII bill–passed both houses
Key provisions of these final budget bills are provided below.
Staff Contact: Ken Pokalsky
The “Transportation/Environment/Economic Development” (TED) Article VII bill, S.6809-C/A.9809-C, passed the state legislature today. Most of the major economic development initiatives proposed in the Executive Budget – the Upstate and Downstate Redevelopment Funds, the Investment Opportunity Fund, the creation of a new economic development power program – have been dropped from this legislation.
Highlights of S.6809-C/A.9809-C include:
- a one year extension of the Power for Jobs and Energy Cost Savings Benefit programs, through June 30, 2009, with no programmatic changes.
- a one year extender of the Urban Development Corporation's general loan authority.
- the creation of a new business marketing program within Empire State Development Corporation that would provide funding to “nonprofits, associations or agencies” to develop and implement industry sector or geographic region-specific marketing programs. Funding would be limited to $250,000 or fifty percent of a project's costs.
- a requirement that the Urban Development Corporation develop an annual financial plan for it and its subsidiaries, to be submitted to the Division of Budget and State legislature.
$402 million in funding for highway and bridge projects.
- an extension (through July 1, 2011) of the Department of Environmental Conservation's pesticide fee registration program, and a continuation of increased fees dedicated to expedited project registration reviews.
Staff Contact: Lev Ginsburg
In what the Paterson administration is calling a healthcare budget that “enacts historic healthcare reform” and takes “an important step forward in transforming (New York's) healthcare system to lower costs, increase access and invest in primary and preventive care”, the State Legislature approved the healthcare portion of the 2008-09 State Budget (A.9808-C) on Tuesday, April 1.
Taxes on Health Coverage
- After opposition from The Business Council and other organizations, a proposed $190 million increase in the Covered Lives Assessment – a coverage tax on individual and family health insurance policies that would increase the cost of health coverage - was rejected. However, a $70 million increase was approved.
- A $160 million proposed premium tax on HMO policies was rejected.
Movement toward Healthcare Reform, Investment in Primary & Preventive Care:
- Medicaid reimbursement reform will start to shift Medicaid dollars now spent on hospital inpatient services to more cost-effective primary and preventive care settings. A four-year process for updating or “rebasing” Medicaid reimbursement rates for inpatient services from a base of 1981 costs that is currently used to establish inpatient reimbursement rates, to 2005 costs would begin in SFY08-09.
- A new methodology for reimbursing primary care for Medicaid patients was approved. The Ambulatory Patient Groups (APGs) methodology would base outpatient reimbursement rates on the intensity of the service(s) performed during a patient visit rather than on the number of visits.
- The manner in which the State reimburses hospitals for care provided to uninsured patients is being reformed. To enhance accountability, this measure will start addressing concerns that funds in the $847 million indigent care pool will be directed toward the cost of care rather than hospitals' accounting losses.
- “Doctors Across New York”, a medical school loan repayment and grant program will help address the shortage of primary and specialty physicians in rural and poor urban areas.
- The State will fully fund the eligibility expansion of the State's Child Health Plus Program from 250 percent to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
- A new prescription drug discount card program limited to disabled New Yorkers or those between age 50 and 64 who meet the State's EPIC eligibility standards was created. The program will be funded through additional rebates from pharmaceutical manufacturers.
General Government Article VII Bill (S.6806-C/A.9806-C)
Staff Contact: Lev Ginsburg
The Public Protection and General Government Article VII Bill (S.6806-C/A.9806-C) has passed the Senate and is awaiting action in the Assembly.
- imposition of a 0.5 percent Centralized Procurement Contract Fee to all contracts selected to offer centralized contracts through the State for commodities, services or technology. Requires fee to be electronically remitted to Department of Taxation & Finance quarterly. Fees are to be deposited in the state's General Fund. Businesses will be required to assess this fee as part of the contract; collect it from the governmental or not-for-profit entity using the centralized contracting process and remit it to the State.
- creation of a Local Government Efficiency Grant program which restructures financial incentives for municipalities to consolidate and share services. The program will include an evaluation component, improved technical assistance, new state agency services for local governments and a new “21st Century Demonstration Projects” component promoting transformative regional pilot projects.
Many of the items proposed in the initial Executive Budget have been omitted from the agreed-upon bill; some issues are likely to be revisited post-budget. Among the items intentionally omitted from the budget bill include:
- make permanent the Procurement Stewardship Act.
- expansion of membership on the State Procurement Council membership.
- additional revenue opportunities to local governments, to “relieve the pressure on real property taxes”, including an option for counties to increase the mortgage recording fees and authorization for cities and villages to collect utilities gross receipts tax on mobile phone services.
- Wicks Law reform which proposed to amend the existing multiple bidding requirements for state, municipalities, school districts and public authorities by increasing the current $50,000 threshold to $3 million for projects in New York City, $1.5 million for projects on Long Island and Westchester County; and $500,000 in the remainder of the State.
- project labor agreements: adds a new section to the Labor Law defining PLAs and permits various public entities to require a contractor to enter into a PLA during and for the work involved with the project.
- public work enforcement: adds a new section to the Labor Law providing the Commissioner of Labor with the power to enforce any provision of law requiring the preparation of separate specifications for public work contracts including the authority to issue stop-bid orders upon public entities.
- local government contracting flexibility which proposed to make permanent authorization to use electronic bidding tools; increase the competitive bidding thresholds from $10,000 to $20,000 for commodities and from $20,000 to $50,000 for public works projects; allow for services to be awarded on the basis of “best value” rather than lowest bid; and allows localities to purchase materials, equipment and supplies through certain contracts let by other states and local governments.
- increases in real property transfer fees for residential and commercial property sales to fund new financial incentives and investments in technology for real property tax administration.
The issue of electronic waste recycling continues to receive attention at the state and local level. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has signed legislation which establishes an electronics collection, handling and disposal program for the City's electronic waste. It:
- Requires manufacturers of computers, monitors and televisions to collect their products offered for return by any person in the City, and to ensure that the equipment is properly disposed of in accordance with existing laws and EPA guidelines.
- Requires manufacturers to submit an electronic waste management plan to the Department of Sanitation, describing in detail how they would implement the requirements of the law.
- Makes it unlawful for manufacturers and others to dispose of electronic waste in the City's solid waste stream.
At the state level, both the Senate and Assembly have introduced separate measures addressing this issue-S.2763 and A.8444 respectively.
The Business Council supports an approach that would create a partnership between manufacturers, municipalities, and for-profit and not-for-profit organizations to handle collection and transportation of electronic equipment. The burden of E-waste collection should not be placed solely on the manufacturers.