Government Affairs Albany Update
May 15, 2009
- Comptroller Issues Report on Enacted Budget
- Mobility Tax Compliance Issues
- "Agenda for an Affordable New York"
- Paid Family Leave and Pay Equity
- Health Care & Health Insurance
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued a report this week on the state's enacted $131.9 billion budget for Fiscal year 2009-2010. The report was critical of what DiNapoli called a “buy-time budget”, noting that “tough decisions on spending have been postponed." DiNapoli notes that the state is projected to spend $131.9 billion this fiscal year, $1.4 billion more than it will take in with taxes, grants and other income.
In early 2012, when federal stimulus funds run out, the state is expected to spend $9 billion more than its income, and the 3-year budget gap is projected to be nearly $25 billion.
DiNapoli's report makes a number of suggestions, including:
- requiring the Governor to submit a two-year budget plan to anticipate and presumably avoid out-year deficits.
- beginning the state's fiscal year on July 1, instead of April 1, to allow more time to review tax returns and better project incoming revenue.
- raise the maximum amount the state can save in its “rainy day” fund, from 3 percent of general fund spending to 5 percent of spending. The state has about $1.2 billion in the fund right now.
- Enact a new, more rigid cap on debt.
- Require non-recurring revenues to finance non-recurring spending.
The full report can be found on the Comptroller's web site. www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/may09/051409.htm
The payroll tax implemented in last week's MTA bailout bill is raising numerous compliance questions among businesses and self-employed individuals alike. The Department of Taxation and Finance has committed to developing detailed compliance guidelines, and is looking for input from businesses, payroll services and others directly involved with compliance. Please contact us with specific compliance questions, suggestions on implementation and/or recommendations for technical legislative amendments.
The bill text is available at www.bcnys.org/inside/tax/2009/S5451billtext.pdf. The payroll tax provisions are in Part C, beginning on page 5.
A coalition of business groups led by The Business Council of New York State, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and Unshackle Upstate will hold a news conference at noon on Monday, May 18 to call on state lawmakers to enact an agenda for an affordable New York.
The agenda includes:
- Gov. David Paterson's proposed state spending cap. The cap should be enacted in statute and then put forward as a Constitutional amendment;
- the property tax cap and mandate relief proposals put forward by the Commission on Property Tax Relief;
- local government consolidation proposals consistent with the recommendations of the Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Tier V pension reform.
Details available here: www.bcnys.org/whatsnew/2009/051509AffordableMediaAdvisory.htm
Grassroots efforts by Business Council members to educate Senate majority members and staff on the impact of paid family leave and NYS Fair Pay Act proposals continued this week. Human resource professionals from member companies in the janitorial services, manufacturing, warehousing, trucking and moving/storage industries met with Senators Savino and Stachowski, and staffers from the offices of Senators Valesky, Klein, Thompson and Foley.
Member companies represented included Arnoff Moving & Storage, Ball Manufacturing, Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, Janitronics Building Services and McLane Foodservice. Grassroots educational efforts in the home districts continue.
Four Governor's Program bills relating to health insurance, including coverage for dependents, premium rate setting, COBRA benefits, and what is being described as a very broad managed care “reform” bill have been introduced in the legislature. They include:
- S.5469 Breslin (no same-as): This bill would require commercial health insurers, non-profit corporations and HMOs to offer an option to continue coverage for unmarried young adults through age 29, regardless of financial dependence, under a parent's group health insurance policy. The bill requires insurers to establish a "distinct premium" for this coverage, and would not impact the risk of the underlying employee group. The bill would not require employers to contribute to the cost of coverage. Current law limits coverage to children under the age of 25, at the option of the insurer.
- S.5470 Breslin / A.8280 Morelle: This bill would restore the authority of the Superintendent of Insurance to approve health insurance premium rate changes in the individual and small group markets before those rate changes take effect. Among other provisions, it also applies an “expected” minimum loss ratio of 85 percent to these markets. Under current law, a health plan may submit or “file” a rate change with the Insurance Department and then implement or “use” the rate 30 days later if the health plan certifies that the rate change will meet or exceed actuarially-based minimum loss ratios of 75 percent for the small group market and 80 percent for the individual market. If after having certified that it will meet the loss ratio standards, but does not meet the standards, the plan must refund premiums to the policy holders. If, prior to the rate change, the plan cannot certify that the rate change will meet these minimum loss ratio standards, the rate increase would be subject to the prior approval of the Superintendent. New products (and their proposed rates) offered by health plans are subject to the prior approval process.
- S.5471 Breslin (no same-as): This bill would allow workers, regardless of the size of their employer, to extend their health insurance state continuation benefit from 18 months to 36 months, at no direct cost to the State or employer. It would also allow workers who have otherwise exhausted their COBRA benefits to maintain coverage for up to 36 months, if the worker is entitled to less than 36 months of COBRA benefits. Under current law, COBRA allows workers at companies with 20 or more employees to continue their group health coverage for 18 months. And, under New York's “Mini-COBRA” law, employers with fewer than 20 workers may offer a state continuation health insurance benefit similar to COBRA for 18 months.
- S.5472 Breslin (no same-as): Among a dozen provisions in this expansive legislation, this bill involves contractual relationships between health insurers and health-care providers and consumers, payment of claims, electronic filing, provider networks requirements, utilization review policy changes, and participating and non-participating provider provisions.