2020-21 State Budget Negotiations Underway

Governor Cuomo released his $178.6 billion budget proposal after delivering his budget address in late January. The Governor’s proposal includes several measures, including legalizing adult-use of recreational marijuana, guaranteed paid sick leave, allowing alcohol in movie theaters, requiring elected officials making over $100,000 a year to release their tax returns, and several more. The Governor’s proposal also addresses the state’s $6.1 billion deficit by asking New York City and local governments to rein in their Medicaid spending and cutting around $2 billion in state aid to New York City and 57 other counties. The Governor’s plan for Medicaid would only give counties a 3% annual increase in their healthcare costs for the poor. After that, local governments would be responsible for paying for any increase above the 3%. However, if the cost increases come in below 3%, the local governments would get 25% of the savings.

The Governor also proposed cutting at lease $2.5 billion in annual Medicaid spending by establishing the Medicaid Redesign Team II, which will be tasked with identifying industry inefficiencies, waste, fraud and abuse by the April 1st budget deadline. This proposal expands a previous effort from 2011, which the Governor maintains has saved taxpayers $2 billion in New York City and $9 billion statewide. The Medicaid Redesign Team II is led by Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling and former labor leader Dennis Rivera.

After the release of the Governor’s budget proposal, the Legislature held Joint Legislative Budget Hearings in Albany on the following budget areas:

Budget Hearings

  • Environmental Conservation
  • Transportation
  • Health
  • Human Services
  • Mental Hygiene
  • Higher Education
  • Workforce
  • Housing
  • Local Government
  • Elementary Education
  • Public Protection
  • Economic Development
  • Taxes

Douglas Clark, Co-Managing Partner and head of the Government Affairs team, has worked with the SRC team in thoroughly reviewing the Governor’s proposal, and are now lobbying for items important to our clients. Doug and the Government Affairs team have significant state budget experience and routinely advise staff, legislators and clients on legal issues related to the state budget.

The Governor had the option to amend his budget proposal and did so on February 20th. The amendments make several technical changes to his budget proposal and add new sections to several of the bills.

One of the new sections is Part JJJ of the Transportation, Economic Development and Environmental Conservation (TED) Bill, which includes language that would accelerate various renewable energy projects as part of the state’s Climate Agenda. The language would consolidate the environmental review and permitting of major renewable energy facilities and would create the Office of Renewable Energy Permitting. The office would “utilize project siting standards that reflect the environmental impacts common to types of renewable projects, and include upfront mitigation measures to address those impacts” and “develop draft permits for public comment and ensure that complete applications are acted upon within one year, except in the case of certain former commercial and industrial sites, which will be reviewed within six months.” The Governor also released a press release regarding this new section, which you can find here: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-30-day-amendment-accelerate-renewable-energy-projects-and-drive

Other amendments include proposals to create a new Employer Compensation Expense Tax, expand options for deductible charitable contributions, decouple from the Federal Tax Code, provide flu vaccines to children regardless of ability to pay, fund early voting in New York, and ban the sale of synthetic marijuana known as K2.