Moratorium on Progress: How New York’s “Moratorium” Statute Has Helped Halt Public Sector Teacher Pension Reform

By Ed Delauter, Albany Government Law Review

We need a government that performs better and costs less . . . . [this] means enacting mandate relief.  By next year, pension costs for schools and state and local governments will have increased one hundred percent since 2009.  We need to reform the pension system and create a Tier VI.  The joint Legislature and Executive Mandate relief Council we created last year will begin its work this month.  I will request that Council hold public hearings.  We need a robust discussion on the pros and cons of the mandates.[1]

Amidst the backdrop of a national recession and record federal and state budget deficits across the nation—including New York[2]—Governor Cuomo stood before the crowd gathered at Empire State Plaza on January 4, 2012 and delivered the 2012 State of the State address.[3]  The Governor emphasized the need to reduce the amount of retiree benefits received by public workers, specifically public pensions.[4]  To achieve this reduction the Governor announced his plans to include a Tier VI pension plan into his budget proposal.[5]  The proposal for a Tier VI pension system was unsurprising considering the Governor’s efforts to get the legislature to pass the Tier VI pension system the previous year as a stand-alone bill,[6] and the skyrocketing cost of retiree benefits in conjunction with a tail spinning economy.[7]

Continue reading “Moratorium on Progress: How New York’s “Moratorium” Statute Has Helped Halt Public Sector Teacher Pension Reform”

New York’s Domestic Violence Firearm Protection Law – Is it Enough?

By Alaina Bergerstock, Albany Government Law Review

Research shows that a victim of domestic violence is more likely to end up dead if the batterer has a gun in his possession.[1]  The Department of Justice reports that of all domestic abuse cases that ended in death, two-thirds of the victims were killed by guns.[2]  On August 1, 2011 Governor Andrew Cuomo signed domestic violence firearm protection legislation.[3]  The purpose of the law is to ensure that individuals convicted of domestic violence related misdemeanors in New York State are prevented from purchasing firearms.[4]  Continue reading “New York’s Domestic Violence Firearm Protection Law – Is it Enough?”

The Obama Administration Rescinds Old Regulations Affecting Provider Conscience Laws

By Melissa Dizon, Albany Government Law Review Class of 2011

Introduction

On February 18, 2011 the United States Department of Health and Human Services announced its new rule regarding health care and conscience clauses.[1]  The new rule replaces a controversial rule that the Bush Administration issued in 2008, during George W. Bush’s  last days in office.[2]  The new rule ensures that the law protects health care providers who object to performing or assisting an abortion, while eliminating confusion of the previous rule that the definition of abortion also included contraception.[3]  This is undoubtedly a point for the pro-choice faction, but one can imagine it will spark the conscience clause debate anew.

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Reducing New York’s Budget Deficit and Reforming Local Government: The Need for Consolidation

Shane J. Egan, Staff Writer

New York State is facing growing budget deficits that are a threat to the long-term viability of the state.[1]  New York State leaders will have to make some very difficult choices in the months and years ahead about how to close these record budget deficits.  The financial panic of last fall combined with the historic economic downturn that followed will mean that the state will have to spend less.  According to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, New York depends on Wall Street for up to twenty percent of its revenue.[2]  While it is likely that we have made it through the worst of this recession, the New York State government will have to adapt to this new economic reality. 

New York has very few good options to close the budget gap.  The state could, of course, raise taxes, but in this author’s opinion, this is not the right course of action because raising taxes on an already overtaxed state[3] will only stifle economic growth and innovation.  Borrowing money is another option that is simply not feasible.  The Governor has stated that he, “fears rating agencies would downgrade the state’s credit standing if New York used loans to address the financial crisis.”[4]  Finally, the aid New York State receives from the American Investment and Recovery Act is only a short-term solution to the state’s budget deficit, which does nothing to solve the underlying problem — too much spending.

One area where spending can be cut is in the form of state aid to local government entities.[5]  Reducing the number of local government entities will allow the state to reduce its expenditure on aid to local government entities and at the same time help avoid painful cuts in important areas like education and healthcare.  New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has put forward a plan that overhauls the current process of municipal consolidation.[6]  The plan streamlines the process of consolidation by allowing municipalities to consolidate in a more efficient manner. 

Continue reading “Reducing New York’s Budget Deficit and Reforming Local Government: The Need for Consolidation”