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Williams Calls for State to Raise Minimum Wage
April 30th, 2012

Councilman Jumaane Williams has introduced legislation in the City Council calling on the State to pass a bill increasing the minimum wage. “I am proud to be joined by a number of my colleagues, including Speaker Quinn, in the active support of an increase to our state’s minimum wage,” Williams said in a statement. “Along with other wage-related legislation we are addressing today, the Council has the ability to show its support of New Yorkers who cannot afford to live in the city they have helped make great. New York State should not be behind the curve on minimum wage, yet we somehow are. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have rates higher than that mandated by the federal government, and a number of states have indexed future increases to the cost of living. Economists have shown that raising the minimum wage is a job creator, not a job killer. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the increase in spending that will result from the minimum wage increases passed in eight states in 2012 will lead to an additional $366 million in economic output and create 3,000 jobs.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver supports a minimum wage increase but the measure faces a major obstacle in the form the Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos who adamantly opposes the an increase.

By on April 30, 2012, 2:52 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

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Living Wage Vote Set
April 30th, 2012

The City Council is set to vote on a living wage bill that would require anyone benefiting from city subsidies to pay their workers a minimum of $10 an hour with health care benefits or $11.50 without. Earlier today Council Speaker Christine Quinn was the feature speaker for the bill. Someone in the crowd shouted out that everyone but, “Pharaoh Bloomberg” was in attendance. Quinn chided the audience and demanded an apology. When none was rendered she stormed off. Colin Cambpell of The Politicker has the video.

Quinn has positioned herself against the mayor recently in the debate over the prevailing wage. Bloomberg vetoed a prevailing wage bill last week and gave an impassioned speech against the living and prevailing wage. Most political observers see Quinn’s recent opposition to the mayor as political posturing for her mayoral run.

By on April 30, 2012, 2:42 pm
In category: City Hall | 1 Comment »

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Cuomo Creates Education Reform Commission
April 30th, 2012

The office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo is touting some unflattering figures about New York’s educational system today–“73 percent of New Yorks students graduate from high school and 37 percent are college ready.” The stat is contained in the official press release announcing the creation of the New York Education Reform Commission, a group that will meet across the state to gather input on education and then make recommendations to the governor by Dec. 1 2012, or, “such other date as the Governor shall advise the Commission.” So you know expect recommendations on their time. Here is the full release from Cuomo’s office:

Read the rest of this entry »

By on April 30, 2012, 12:58 pm
In category: Albany,Education,Eye on Albany | 8 Comments »

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Stringer Blasts Bloomberg's Veto
April 25th, 2012

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer does not have kind words for Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of the living wage bill. “The working people of New York City have a fundamental right to wage they can live on, and the Mayor has rejected that idea in his regrettable veto action today. Along with millions of other New Yorkers, I look forward to the City Council swiftly overriding this action and taking the first steps towards genuine wage equity for all people in New York City,” said Stringer.

By on April 25, 2012, 4:29 pm
In category: City Hall | Comments Off on Stringer Blasts Bloomberg's Veto

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Bloomberg Vetoes Prevailing Wage Bill
April 25th, 2012

Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed the living wage bill today that would have raised the wages earned by people who work on city-funded developments. Council President Christine Quinn has promised to override the veto.

Bloomberg announced the veto during a speech about job creation.

“Unfortunately, the City Council has recently passed a bill, and is about to pass a second bill, that imposes costly conditions on businesses, and that will make it harder for government to encourage job creation, and harder for businesses to grow,” Bloomberg said.

Those bills the so-called living and prevailing wage bills are a throwback to the era when government viewed the private sector as a cash cow to be milked, rather than a garden to be cultivated.

In those days, government took the private sector for granted. We cannot afford to go back to those days. We cannot take our economy for granted. And I will not sign legislation no matter how well-intended that that hurts job creation and taxpayers.

And thats why I will veto both the living and prevailing wage bills. But before I do, I wanted to explain the principles guiding my decision,” said Bloomberg.

Comptroller John Liu issued this statement: As a City employee the Mayor continues to ignore the widening wealth gap within the five boroughs. In opposing these bills, he is sending the wrong message, that our scarce taxpayer resources are better spent on lining the pockets of wealthy corporate executives rather than creating fair-paying jobs to support working families and the communities in which they live. Needless to say, my office looks forward to the Council overriding these vetoes, and to continuing to enforce Prevailing Wage Laws, which help promote equality and fairness in our City. Read the rest of this entry »

By on April 25, 2012, 3:18 pm
In category: City Hall,Economy | 2 Comments »

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Cuomo Establishes Health Exchange
April 12th, 2012

No. 42
E X E C U T I V E O R D E R
ESTABLISHING THE NEW YORK HEALTH BENEFIT EXCHANGE
WHEREAS, the implementation of a Health Benefit Exchange and other reforms in New York will: (1) result in lower premiums for individuals and small businesses; (2) allow individuals and small businesses purchasing coverage through such Exchange to receive $2.6 billion in federal tax credits and cost sharing subsidies; and (3) provide one million additional New Yorkers access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance, reducing the percentage of New Yorkers who are without health insurance;
WHEREAS, a state that chooses to operate its own Exchange must demonstrate to the federal government, by January 1, 2013, that its Exchange will be able to begin accepting applications by October 1, 2013, and will be operational by January 1, 2014, and if the state does not demonstrate operational readiness of its own Exchange, its residents will be required to participate in a federal Exchange;
WHEREAS, the State of New York is best positioned to: (1) understand the ramifications of operating an Exchange within New Yorks commercial insurance market; (2) consider the unique regional and economic needs of the States individual and small business health insurance markets; (3) account for the diversity of its population, with its ethnic, cultural and language differences; and (4) decide what benefits will be provided to enrollees in the Exchange, which health plans can participate in the Exchange, what rules should apply to the marketing of products by health plans, and how to operate the Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP) for small businesses;
WHEREAS, the Affordable Care Act requires an Exchange to evaluate the eligibility of individuals for Medicaid and other public health coverage and enroll them if eligible, meaning that it will be essential to coordinate the operations of the Exchange with the States administration of these programs;
WHEREAS, the taxpayers of this State subsidize the costs associated with care for the 2.7 million New Yorkers without health insurance, who frequently forego preventive care and other needed treatment, putting them at risk of being sicker throughout their lives and dying sooner than those who have health insurance, which diverts funds from other public uses and costs state and county taxpayers more than $600 million annually just to pay for a portion of the services rendered by hospitals to people without insurance;
WHEREAS, New Yorks uninsured working families often earn too much to qualify for public health insurance, but not enough to purchase coverage that costs, on average, over $1,200 per month for an individual and $3,450 per month for a family of four;
WHEREAS, small businesses, without assistance, cannot afford to purchase health insurance coverage for their workers, nearly 800,000 of whom have lost employer-sponsored coverage over the last decade, and thus face a major competitive disadvantage that inhibits their ability to grow, create jobs and otherwise support the States economic development;
WHEREAS, the costs associated with care for the uninsured are shifted through increased premiums to those individuals and groups that purchase health insurance coverage, causing working families with health insurance to pay $800 more in premiums on average each year;
WHEREAS, the development and operation of an Exchange in New York will impose no cost on the State, but will be funded entirely with federal funds until January 1, 2015, at which time the Exchange will be wholly self-funded, meaning that no State or county taxpayer dollars will be used for such purposes; and
WHEREAS, it is therefore critical that the State of New York establish and operate its own Exchange, and that it do so expeditiously;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of the State of New York, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the Laws of the State of New York, do hereby order as follows:
1. There is hereby established within the Department of Health, in conformity with the Affordable Care Act, the New York Health Benefit Exchange (the Exchange). The Department of Health, in conjunction with the Department of Financial Services and other state agencies, shall take all necessary steps to effectuate the Exchange, and expedite its ability to perform those functions necessary to carry out the requirements and serve the goals of the Affordable Care Act.
2. The Exchange shall, among other things, facilitate enrollment in health coverage and the purchase and sale of qualified health plans in the individual market in this state, and enroll individuals in health coverage for which they are eligible in accordance with federal law.
3. The Exchange shall, among other things, take such actions necessary to enable eligible individuals to receive premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions and to enable eligible small businesses to receive tax credits, in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations.
4. The Exchange shall, among other things, enter into agreements with appropriate entities, including but not limited to federal, state and local agencies, to the extent necessary to carry out its duties and responsibilities, provided that such agreements incorporate adequate protections with respect to the confidentiality of any information to be shared.
5. The Exchange shall, among other things, convene regional advisory committees, consisting of consumer advocates, small business consumer representatives, health care providers, agents, brokers, insurers, labor organizations, and any other appropriate stakeholders, to provide advice and make recommendations on the establishment and operation of the Exchange, including recommendations about relevant regional factors, and shall provide opportunities for public input on such matters.
6. The Exchange shall, among other things, become financially self-sustaining by January 1, 2015, as required by the Affordable Care Act.
7. Nothing in this Order shall be construed to duplicate, preempt, supersede, limit or otherwise restrict the statutory authority, duties and functions of the Department of Health, the Department of Financial Services or any other agency of this State.
G I V E N under my hand and the Privy Seal of the State in the City of Albany this twelfth day of April in the year two thousand twelve.
BY THE GOVERNOR
Secretary to the Governor

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued the following executive order today establishing The New York Health Benefit Exchange that will help individuals and small businesses secure health insurance as part of the federal Affordable Care Act. Senate Republicans had resisted creating an exchange for months–some labeling it an extension of “Obamacare.” Cuomo promised after the budget deal that he would take matters into his own hands.

“The bottom line is that creating this health exchange will lower the cost of health insurance for small businesses, local governments, and individual New Yorkers across the state. The sky-high cost of insurance in New York is driving businesses out of the state and preventing lower income New Yorkers from being able to afford needed coverage,Cuomo said. Establishing the health exchange will bring true competition into the health care marketplace, driving costs down across the state.”

Here is the executive order: Read the rest of this entry »
By on April 12, 2012, 1:34 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Health | 3 Comments »

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