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Government Affairs Albany Update

June 6, 2008

PEG Plans

The Division of Budget (DOB) has posted approved “state operations” cost reduction plans for 23 state agencies. These were submitted in response to Governor Paterson's “Program to Eliminate the Gap,” or PEG, initiative, under which the Governor directed agencies to reduce operational spending by 3.35 percent this fiscal year.

These 23 plans, and the target cost reductions for all other state agencies, are available on the DOB web site. DOB has said that they will be posting additional plans as they are approved on DOB's web site. Updates will also be added to the site quarterly to show agencies' progress in achieving their savings goals, and all plans are expected to be approved no later than June 30.

Agency-specific plans approved to date cover the Departments of Health ($20.4 million), Tax and Finance ($13.5 million), Labor ($1.6 million) and Insurance ($9.7 million); SUNY ($148 million) and CUNY ($4 million plus $17 million reduction in local assistance); and others.

Executive Order Issued Sets New Standards Governing Use of Consultant Contracts By State Agencies

Governor Paterson issued an Executive Order on Friday which establishes stringent standards on the use of consultant contracts by state agencies and establishes a task force to review and report on agencies use of consultants.

The Executive Order applies to most consultant contracts where personnel costs exceed $1 million per year and recommends their use only if the contractor will be more cost effective, efficient or necessary to protect public health and safety. It requires agencies to explain why outside consultants, and not state employees, are needed to perform a specific task; requires agencies to post information on their web sites including a full listing of qualifying consultant contracts, along with availability of the actual contract via an agency's web site or upon request.

The Task Force will meet at least quarterly and evaluate contracts submitted for their review.

Labor Department Issues Guidelines on Providing Options for Blood Donation

Last year, the Legislature amended the State's Labor Law to mandate that employers with 20 or more employees provide staff members who work at least 20 hours per week with time off to donate blood. The New York State Department of Labor issued guidelines, effective May 7, 2008, implementing the new leave requirement.

Business Coalition Urges Governor and Legislature to “Fix Wicks”

At an Albany press conference, The Business Council's President, Kenneth Adams, and members of the “Fix Wicks” coalition said that the recent changes in the Wicks Law that were called “reform” will actually drive up costs for public construction. The coalition called on Governor David Paterson and the legislature to take immediate action to repeal this costly legislation.

The coalition is encouraged by the sponsorship of legislation A.11397/S.8321 Assemblyman Schimminger and Senator Winner. The bill would repeal the PLA (Project Labor Agreement) mandate. Another bill sponsored by Senator Winner, S.8262 would also make the prequalification provisions applicable only to New York City.

The coalition includes: The Business Council of New York State, Inc., the Empire State Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), the Northeastern Subcontractors Association, the General Building Contractors of New York State, The National Federation of Independent Business, The Business Council of Westchester, the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership, the Rochester Business Alliance, the Otsego County Chamber, the Rockland Business Association, he Southern Saratoga Chamber, the Greater Binghamton Chamber, Unshackle Upstate and numerous minority and women-owned contracting firms from throughout the state.

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