New York Governor Andrew Cuomo kicked off his 2018 State of the State Address with a vow to fight the GOP-sponsored federal tax overhaul, which he said could harm New York through its limit on the state and local tax deduction. He said he will sue over the law and look to reform New York's own tax code, possibly through the payroll tax, in response to the federal move.
Several other proposals in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State Address could impact municipalities across New York. Here are some highlights:
Round 3 of the Downtown Revitalization Program
The Governor proposes the state’s investment of $100 million to award 10 downtowns across the state with $10 million each to be used toward revitalization and economic development.
Making Shared Services Permanent
As a way of reducing local property taxes across the state, Governor Cuomo proposes that county-wide shared services plans become a requirement for receiving state funding of local government performance aid. Counties would have two years to develop plans, with the cost savings being used to reduce local property taxes.
Banning the use of Public Money to Settle Sexual Harassment Claims Against Individuals
In addition to prohibiting the use of taxpayer monies to settle sexual harassment claims, the Governor proposes a uniform code of sexual harassment policies binding on all branches of state and local government; the adoption of an anonymous whistleblower process; and the voiding of forced arbitration clauses in employee contracts.
Expanding New York State's Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises Program (MWBE)
Governor Cuomo will propose legislation during the 2018 session that will reauthorize the law and expand the MWBE Program requirements to more contracts entirely funded by the state. The legislation will require MWBE goals on state funds used for contracting purposes on the local level.
Changes for Bail and Pre-Trial Detention
The Governor proposes legislation to eliminate monetary bail for people facing misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges. Under his plan, people will be released either on their own recognizance or with non-monetary conditions imposed by the court. For people charged with a violent felony offense, both monetary and non-monetary bail will be permitted, but only after a judge conducts an individualized review of the nature of the case and the defendant's personal and financial circumstances. If monetary bail is set, the court must give the defendant a choice between cash or bail industry bonds and an alternative form of bail such as an unsecured or partially secured bond.
The Re-Entry Process
The Governor is proposing to remove statutory bans on occupational licensing for professions outside of law enforcement. His plan calls for applicants to be assessed on an individual basis. The mandatory suspension of driver's licenses following a drug conviction would also be removed to allow people to travel to work and attend drug treatment, as long as the crimes did not involve driving.
Governor Cuomo proposes an immediate enforcement strategy from the State Commission of Correction to undertake a comprehensive review of all correctional facilities throughout New York. Upon the Commission's determination, local jails with persistent, pervasive problems would be required to create and adhere to a corrective action plan to either improve their facilities—or close them.
Require Outreach and Expanded Homeless Services
The Governor will require that local governments have an effective outreach program to address street homelessness as a condition of receiving state funding for homelessness services. He is also directing that the MTA, the Port Authority, Centro, Capital District Transportation Authority, the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority and the Niagara Frontier Transit Authority do the same.
Pass the Dream Act
Governor Cuomo will press for the passage of the DREAM Act to create higher education opportunities to thousands of New Yorkers. The DREAM Act would give undocumented students access to the Tuition Assistance Program, as well as state-administered scholarships.
Stand with Labor Unions Facing Uncertainty from the Supreme Court
The United States Supreme Court will soon hear Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. In the labor case, the Court will consider whether public-sector unions may require workers who are not members to help pay for collective bargaining or whether such fee arrangements (like those permissible under New York’s Taylor Law) violate the First Amendment. If the Court’s answer is that such arrangements are not permissible, unions would likely realize a substantial loss of revenues, perhaps threatening their existence. The Governor vows to fight for the preservation of labor unions.
Specifics on several of the Governor’s plans will be released when he proposes his 2018-19 state budget for the fiscal year which begins April 1.