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Government Affairs Update
December 12, 2008

Executive Budget Proposal

Governor Paterson will be releasing his Fiscal 2010 Executive Budget proposal next Tuesday. It is expected to contain significant spending cuts, rollbacks on economic development programs, as well as new business-based revenue measures. The Business Council will  distributing summaries of key revenue and spending issues affecting our members as soon as details become available.

Senate Confirmations

The State Senate intends to meet in Special Session on December 15. While they have not yet introduced any new budget-related bills, they have issued committee agendas including confirmations of several key Administrative positions. These include:

DEC Regulatory Agenda

Representatives of The Business Council's Environment Committee met with Department of Environmental Conservation Executive Deputy Commissioner Stuart Gruskin and other key agency staff to discuss upcoming air emission rules, and the impact of the fiscal crisis on DEC operations. Their 2009 air pollution control rulemaking agenda is expected to include:

The Department also said they will be updating their “state implementation plan” for achieving new federal ambient air quality standards for ozone, with a draft plan revision out by April 2009, Council contact: Darren.suarez@bcnys.org

Federal Pension Reform Act

Congress has passed legislation (H.R.7327) to ease business' pension funding requirements and suspend seniors' mandatory retirement account withdrawals. It will now go to the White House, where President Bush is expected to sign it. Business Council President Kenneth Adams raised the importance of taking action on this issue in face to face meetings with New York's Congressional Delegation in November, and in a letter to all members in November. In face of sharply declining asset values, this bill will enable companies to account for future earnings when determining the value of a plan's assets. It would also enable firms to avoid paying 100 percent of their plans' funding requirements if they miss their yearly transition targets enacted in 2006.
Council contact: Lev.Ginsburg@bcnys.org

Health Committee Update

The Business Council's Health Care and Health Insurance Committee met this week to discuss priorities for 2009. Among the issues discussed were: taxes on insurers and health care providers that ultimately increase the cost of health coverage, overall Medicaid spending and the “cost shift” to the privately insured that occurs when reimbursement rates are cut, health information technology, employee wellness, insurance mandates, federal health care reform, and the merging of the small group and individual insurance markets.. We continue to seek input on priority issues from member companies. The Business Council is also setting up a health budget briefing with key Administrative staff in mid-January on the Governor's soon-to-be-released health care budget. Details will follow after the meeting date is confirmed.
Council contact: Lev.Ginsburg@bcnys.org

Workers' Comp Reform

The Administration has issued an overview of its efforts to implement the 2007 Workers' Compensation Act, available here. It emphasizes reductions in coverage costs, stating that New York's cost ranking among states has fallen from 10th to 19th—below neighboring states. It also provides brief overviews of improvements in adjudication, enforcement, additional legislative reforms, regulatory actions and related issues. It also cites work left to be done in adopting medial treatment and impairment guidelines, return to work incentives and improvements in state data collection.
Council contact: Lev.Ginsburg@bcnys.org

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