Government Affairs Albany Update
October 7, 2011
The Cuomo Administration intends to make up to $1 billion in economic development awards through its first round of approvals of “consolidated funding application” submissions. To be eligible for round one funding, applications must be submitted by October 30th, with awards to be announced in December. This was one of the key messages presented in regional CFA workshops this week hosted by Empire State Development, Department of Labor and other administrative officials.
Available funding will include the $200 million in capital grants and Excelsior tax credits to be awarded through a competitive review of development plans to be submitted by the state’s ten Regional Councils, as well as tax exempt private activity bonding ($350 million), housing assistance ($125 million), energy and environmental improvements ($75 million),“economic transformation” funding ($50 million for redevelopment in communities affected by prison closings), community and waterfront revitalization ($20 million), economic development fund assistance ($20 million) and others. Applications for the new “Recharge NY” low cost power program must also be made through the CFA process, but NYPA has announced a November 30 deadline for round one of RechargeNY awards (see item below for more details on RNY).
While it is clear that going forward, virtually all assistance applications will be required to be submitted electronically through the CFA process, the state has not finalized plans for review and approval of CFA applications after October 31st. Details on the CFA process, available funding, and application process is available here.
We would be interested in hearing about our members’ experience with the CFA process.
In testimony given this week before the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, Heather Briccetti, acting-president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. stressed the need for New York to move ahead with a balanced approach to development in the Marcellus Shale. As part of her testimony she stated, “Over the past two and a half years, the State of New York has engaged in one of the nation’s most complex and thorough reviews of one single process; the extraction of a natural resource. The Department of Environmental Conservation under the leadership of two Commissioners with strong environmental records have investigated and planned for the high and low probability factors associated with natural gas drilling. It is time to move forward.”
The Public Policy Institute, the research arm of The Business Council, recently released a report on Marcellus Shale development entitled Drilling for Jobs: What the Marcellus Shale could mean for New York. The hearing featured representatives of the Department of Environmental Conservation, who defended their review process to date. However, most speakers on the agenda were opponents of moving forward with development of Marcellus Shale formation.
Governor Cuomo recently announced final action on nearly one hundred bills that passed both houses of the legislature during the 2011 session. The entire list is available here. Bills of interest to Business Council members included:
- S.3988-B (Lanza)/A.6233-B (Lopez). The Business Council opposed this legislation which will require health insurance policies which provide for prescription drug coverage to cover orally administered chemotherapy at a rate no less favorable than intravenous chemotherapy. Broadly speaking, The Business Council does not support adding to the more than 50 existing health insurance coverage mandates currently in effect on health plans and pharmacy riders offered in New York’s commercial market. Oral chemotherapy drugs are some of the most expensive drugs on the market today. The bill would expand the optional pharmacy benefit to mandate coverage of oral chemotherapy drugs at the same level of “cost sharing” (e.g., co pays, coinsurance and deductibles) as applied to other cancer medicines included in the major medical portion of the policy. In effect, this nullifies the drug formulary without consideration of the actual cost of treatment.
- S.4559-B (Robach)/A.6686-B (Wright). The Council opposed this legislation that provides a higher reimbursement rate for certain procedures than is provided for in the APR-DRG inpatient hospital fee schedule adopted by the Workers’ Compensation Board. This bill is substantially similar to one vetoed by Governor Paterson in 2010. This legislation does nothing to improve care or outcomes for workers’ compensation claimants; rather, it provides an increased reimbursement rate to a very select group of health care providers whose procedures utilize implantable hardware, thereby increasing overall workers’ comp program costs as well.
- S.4816 (Carlucci)/A.7445 (Lavine). The Business Council supported this bill that amends SAPA to require state agencies to generally include “cure periods” for small business when adopting regulations that impose compliance programs on small business.
- S.5637 (DeFrancisco)/A.8223-A (Farrell). The Council supported this bill that exempts electronic news sources and periodicals from sales and compensating use taxes. In effect, this bill gives electronic versions of newspapers and magazines the same tax exempt status as their paper version, while providing their publishers flexibility to provide new or modified content in electronic versions of papers and periodicals.
- S.3335 (Lanza)/A.3320 (Hoyt). The Business Council opposed this legislation that would have prohibited state agencies from disseminating advertising material related to the agency’s mission. State agencies are already required to follow open and competitive state procurement guidelines and this also creates a source of funding other than from the general fund for agency’s to draw on. The Business Council was also concerned that the bill, as it was written, was too broad and could have unanticipated consequences for all levels of government.
- S.1072 (DeFrancisco)/A.6429 (Kavanagh). Enacts the "taxpayer advocate act" to create the office of taxpayer advocate within the Department of Taxation and Finance. This legislation would have codified the current Taxpayer Advocate position; however, the Administration objected to specific provisions, such as requiring the Department to “show cause” to replace the person in the position, requiring Senate confirmation for the position, creation of independent budgeting provisions for the office and others. Importantly, this veto has no direct effect on the existing Office of Taxpayer Advocate or its activities.
- S.4987 (Golden)/A.7480-A (DenDekker). The Business Council opposed this legislation that would require annual reports detailing the use of temporary employees by state agencies and public authorities. This bill would have been duplicative of other existing statutes and processes already in place, including the new contract agreement with CSEA that would create a commission to look at the use of temporary employees and make recommendations to the Division of Budget and Department of Civil Service.