WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. From the Governor’s Office. March 24, 2017:
With President Donald Trump’s announcement Friday afternoon that the bill to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act was being withdrawn due to a lack of votes to pass it in the House of Representatives, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued this message:
This week, Washington showed the people of this nation a disgusting display of government at its worst.
We saw Members of Congress openly bribe one-another at the expense of their own constituents, racing each other to decimate New York’s healthcare system while attempting to ram through a piece of legislation that would jeopardize the healthcare of 24 million people and supported by only 17 percent of Americans.
Some Republican Members of Congress apparently forgot who put them there in the first place. So let me remind them: you are elected to fight for your constituents – not hurt them.
For the first time in my life, I witnessed New York elected officials pound their chest proudly while cutting nearly $7 billion in funding for the people they serve, tripping over themselves to cut taxes for millionaires while simultaneously cutting healthcare services for seniors, women, and the disabled and killing jobs across the state.
This bill appears to be on life support for now – it should be killed once and for all.
Republican leadership may have counted on the complexity of the issue to confuse the debate, but at the end of the day it’s actually quite simple. This Congress tried to play the people of this nation for a fool – they were wrong, and they lost.
SIXTEENTH YEAR ON THE AIR FROM WHITE PLAINS NEW YORK USA
EXCLUSIVE VIDEO COVERAGE OF THE NITA LOWEY HEALTH CARE TOWN MEETING
THE SCHOOL BUDGET PRELIMINARY FIGURES ARE IN
PLUS THE ONLY WRAPUP OF THE TRUMP WEEK WITH PETER KATZ
WPCNR WASINGTON WIRE. From Communications Director House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff. March 24, 2017:
Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), House Rules Committee Ranking Member Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY), and House Judiciary Committee Members Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) released a legal analysis prepared by the House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff demonstrating the unconstitutionality of the ongoing Republican plans to single out New York State for sharing Medicaid costs with its counties. The Members released the following joint statement:
“House Republicans’ Trumpcare bill is nothing more than a tax cut for the wealthy masquerading as a ‘healthcare bill.’ If this bill were to become law, 24 million Americans would lose their insurance coverage, and seniors would face skyrocketing premiums. Even worse, to appease the extreme conservatives of the House Republican Freedom Caucus, the newly adopted manager’s amendment includes provisions eliminating Essential Health Benefits requirements such as maternity care, prescription drug and emergency coverage – essentially erasing protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions.
“In a desperate attempt to pass this unconscionable bill, Speaker Ryan and the House Republican leadership have offered to include the Faso-Collins amendment in order to gain the support of vulnerable New York Republican members.
This blatant vote buying represents the worst side of Washington politics. In fact, many Republican Attorneys General called a similar provision in 2009 ‘constitutionally flawed’ and ‘violating the most basic and universally held notions of what is fair and just.’
“By singling out New York State – even though 15 other states have similar systems for sharing Medicaid costs — and forcing New York to give up its core sovereign power to decide how it will raise funds for its own share of Medicaid, this measure is unconstitutional. This is why we believe New York State would be well within its rights to challenge the provision in court, as Governor Cuomo has suggested.
“The irony of this buyout is that the payment supposedly being delivered in exchange for votes is the legislative equivalent of a check on a closed bank account. It will never deliver the promised benefit.
“Finally, it is also important to note that House Republican Leadership’s reckless attempt to cram Trumpcare through Congress is that according to the most recent CBO report, the Faso-Collins amendment has no or only incidental impact on the federal budget. It should therefore be struck under reconciliation rules if this bill even reaches the Senate.”
For the last 51 years, New York State has chosen to fund a portion of its share of the Medicaid Program by using funds from county property taxes. Fifteen other states structure Medicaid funding through a similar legally authorized system.
The Faso-Collins amendment, being incorporated into the Manager’s amendment to H.R. 1628, the “American Healthcare Act of 2017,” specifies that any State that had an allotment of Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) funds that was more than 6 times the national average, and that requires subdivisions with populations of less than 5,000,000 to contribute toward Medicaid costs, shall have its reimbursement reduced by the amount of contributions by such subdivisions.
This effectively limits the application to New York State, and carves out New York City. Under the amendment, New York State is at risk of losing $2.3 billion of its $32 billion in Federal Medicaid funds.
The amendment would implicate Constitutional limits on the Federal Spending Power, the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses and the Tenth Amendment (reserving all undelegated powers to the States) because it is not related to a legitimate Federal interest; no rational Federal purpose has been proffered for the provision which singles out New York for discrimination; and it severely intrudes on traditional state prerogatives, such as structuring taxing and spending authorities.
Under a series of Supreme Court cases these provisions would exceed Congress’s spending authority, violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses, and violate Tenth Amendment principles.
WPCNR THE LETTER TICKER. MARCH 24, 2017:
I categorically reject accusations of the leadership of the Gedney Association that there is some “deal” on FASNY. There has been no deal and there will be no deal.
We have set a public hearing for April 5th and we will sometime thereafter vote on the latest site plan, all as set forth clearly in the Stipulation of Settlement in the FASNY litigation.
John M. Martin, Esq.
Member – White Plains Common Council
WPCNR SOUTHEND TIMES. MARCH 23, 2017:
(Editor’s Note: Two weeks ago, March 10, the Gedney Association put out this press release expressing concerns about the latest Common Council action last week, voting 5-2 to keep Ridgeway Country Club Parcel A classified as an “Environmentally Sensitive Site,” requiring the same 5-2 “Super Majority” margin for a positive decision on the alternative site plan the French American School of New York has presented to the Common Council that will be given a public hearing on April 5, one sentence has been deleted from the news release, as inappropriate in the judgment of the editor:)
HAS FASNY CUT A SECRET DEAL WITH MAYOR ROACH’S ADMINISTRATION AND CITY STAFF? WHITE PLAINS NY, MARCH 10, 2017 –
The Gedney Association, one of a growing list of civic associations opposed to the proposed French American School of New York (FASNY) project today questioned whether a “secret deal” has been made between FASNY and Mayor Roach’s administration and City staff to supports its “alternative plan” to build a new school on the former Ridgeway Country Club property.
According to John E. Sheehan, president of The Gedney Association, concern about a possible “back-room” agreement stems from a letter recently submitted by FASNY’s law firm, Zarin & Steinmetz, that was responded to by Avrutine & Associates, PLLC, the law firm representing The Gedney Association.
The corresponding letters are in reaction to a Stipulation of Settlement reached in September 2016 that resulted from a lawsuit filed by FASNY against Mayor Roach and the Common Council back in September 2015. That lawsuit challenged an earlier decision by the City that denied the discontinuance of a portion of Hathaway Lane and FASNY’s original attempts to secure a special permit and site plan application approval for a school on the site.
As stated in the Avrutine letter: The Zarin letter appears to suggest that a “secret deal” exists between FASNY and the Common Council which is not set forth in the Stipulation of Settlement entered into by the parties. In that regard, Mr. Zarin states that a failure by the Common Council to “delist” Parcel A as an Environmentally Sensitive Site or Feature (hereinafter “ESS”)…“would undermine one of the essential premises of the Stipulation of Settlement that FASNY’s limitation on its reduced Alternative School Plan to Parcel A would only require a majority vote”.
By that statement, Mr. Zarin has taken the position that the Stipulation of Settlement requires (i) that the Common Council “delist” Parcel A as an ESS; and (ii) that it approve the Alternative Plan by a simple “majority vote”. This assertion is particularly alarming because the Stipulation of Settlement sets forth no such “essential premise”.
Instead, it states at paragraph 2(c) that the Common Council shall “determine whether the Alternative Plan is on, involves or affects any ‘Environmentally Sensitive Site or Feature’ as defined in Section 2.4 of the City Zoning Ordinance.”
It in no manner contains a directive that the Common Council “delist” Parcel A. Instead, it requires only that the Common Council consider the issue.
“While we were always suspicious about the Stipulation, given the strong legal position of the City in defending against the FASNY lawsuit, we are nonetheless shocked by the FASNY attorney’s letter suggesting that Mayor Roach made a private agreement with FASNY despite The Mayor’s statements indicating quite the opposite,” Sheehan said. This is deeply troubling and frankly throws the entire Stipulation into question.”
The Avrutine letter also points out FASNY’S veiled threat to the Common Council, should its demands not be met: The Zarin letter also purports to threaten the Common Council with litigation should it not accede to FASNY’s demands.
This cynical attempt to intimidate the Common Council is causing great consternation in the community. It is truly a sad circumstance that FASNY has now degraded the process to the point of attempting to bully the Common Council into approving its ill-conceived project.
WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. From the Governor’s Office. March 22, 2017:
Yesterday, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo held a briefing to discuss the devastating impact that the American Health Care Act and the Collins/Faso Amendment will have on New Yorkers. Following the briefing, New York State Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson released a video to explain the significant damage that residents of New York State would face under the proposed Republican health care plan.
In New York, 2.7 million New Yorkers would face substantial loss in their current health care coverage while the quality and availability of health services across the state would be jeopardized.
The reduction in Medicaid spending will have a significant impact on funding for nursing homes, home care, and hospitals, putting 7 million New Yorkers at risk.
Congressmen Chris Collins and John Faso have introduced an amendment to the American Health Care Act that would ban federal reimbursement for state Medicaid funds for local governments outside of New York City, cutting Medicaid for these local governments by $2.3 billion. When added to the $4.5 billion cost of the ACHA over the next four years, the total cost to the State would rise to $6.9 billion.
A transcript of State Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson’s video is available below.
This act is going to be devastating. 24 million Americans are going to lose health insurance because of this act. 2.7 million of them living in New York State. It’s going to be a massive budget buster for the state of New York, devastating impacts to health care access, and real life implications for thousands- in fact millions of our fellow citizens.
The Collins amendment is really a war on New York and unfortunately it’s being waged by two Republican members of our own congressional delegation. It actually targets New York and only New York with a 2.3 billion dollar cut.
That 2.3 billion dollars, on top of the other cuts already contained in this act, are making this probably the biggest step back in health care access in New York’s history. And as a result of this we are really seeing not only 7 million people who rely on Medicaid and the other programs created under the Affordable Care Act- their health care access threatened, but actually the health care system itself in New York State, that serves 19.5 million New Yorkers.
All of us as New Yorkers—our health care system is now at risk because of that particular action that was taken by those two members of our own congressional delegation.
The best thing to do is call your members of Congress. Send a message that Ryan’s aggressive, radical, conservative agenda is not what we need in New York.
The people who are elected by you, the citizens of New York, to represent you in Congress, should be representing your interests, but unfortunately those who vote for this act, those who vote for this amendment, are not in fact doing that. They’re voting against your interests and you need to make your voice heard and call your representatives in Congress to tell them what you think about this horrific piece of legislation.
WPCNR WASHINGTON WIRE. From the White House. March 21, 2017:
Yesterday, Judge Neil Gorsuch began his 4-day hearing to become the next Justice of the Supreme Court. After months of meeting with 72 Senators from both sides of the aisle and creating a lasting impression on lawmakers and media alike, Judge Gorsuch will finally get his chance to show exactly what kind of asset he will be to our Supreme Court.
Judge Gorsuch has spent his career fighting for plaintiffs and defendants alike, carefully applying the law to each situation, and staying clear of any kind of politics or favoritism. In 2005, after a successful career as an attorney in private practice, Judge Gorsuch devoted his time to serving his country as Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General at the Justice Department. There, he continued to serve the needs of the American people in civil litigation.
Several of Judge Gorsuch’s opinions are well known for their style, steadfast commitment to constitutional principles, and the fundamental principle of equal justice for all. In one opinion, he warned, “something distinct, different, and more problematic [is] afoot when the government selectively infringes on a fundamental right.”
President Donald J. Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch because he knew he would embody all the qualities of the late, great, Justice Antonin Scalia; equal justice under the law, steadfast commitment to constitutional principles, and justice aside from people or politics. A strong and knowledgeable Supreme Court is essential to our country’s success. To that end, we must have the most qualified jurists on the bench—people like Judge Gorsuch.
WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. By John F. Bailey March 21, 2017:
Dr. Howard Smith, Acting Superintendent of White Plains Schools, presented the Superintendent’s Preliminary School Budget Monday evening and with more school aid possible the budget as it stands is at $215,972,750 an increase of $7,222,750, 3.5% over the current year budget of $208,750,000.
The budget at this time figures a 1.75% Tax Rate increase (from $613.74/$1,000 to $624/$1,000 of assessed valuation) .
The actual levy goes up 3.46 %, because of the increased tax revenue from two Payments in Lieu of Taxes properties (Bank Street Commons and 1133 Westchester Avenue) returning to the tax roll.
The amount of new taxes those two properties will pay in new and expected increased taxes in 2017-18 has yet to be calculated by the city finance office.
The school property tax an individual homeowner would pay on a $650,000 assessed house in White Plains would be approximately 10,180, up from $10,111 in 2016-17. The total Levy however goes up to $176,898,823, thanks to two large PILOTs returning to the Assessment Roll.
A total of $5 Million of the increase is provided by the increased White Plains Assessment Roll which went up 1.7% from $277 Million to $281.6 Million, the $4,730,371 increase is the largest increase in the city assessment role in 19 years.
The Superintendent said the $5 Million increase which he described as fund balance would be used to address a series of construction projects. Asked why the $5 Million wouldn’t be used to hire as many as 50 teachers, Mr. Smith said the same amount of revenue might not be available next year to fund all the teachers that could be hired.
However, a PILOT is a payment in lieu of taxes, so the property that receives a PILOT, actually pays less during the course of the PILOT in proportion if it were a completed project.
Therefore, the assumption on the new tax bill on these two properties still needs to be calculated by the city. WPCNR would think it presumably go up in tax year 2017-18, and unless the city gives the properties a tremendous tax break by calculating a value less than the PILOT, one might expect the revenue from these properties would be up considerably, since they are now fully functional.
Unlike school aid ( which has to be spent for a specific purpose) this approximately $5 Million in new money could have been used to lower school taxes in a one time year; pay for projects as they have chosen to do; or deposited in the capital reserve fund established last April by the district; or used to supplement any decrease in school aid in coming years.
Whatever the district gets in school aid for next year might increase the budget. Last year the district received $2.2 Million additional school aid from the state budget, the most increase in a single year in 25 years. The district budgets at this preliminary stage, $22.5 Million in State funds and $50,000 in Federal Aid.
It should be noted that the $5 Million in increased Capital spending is allowed because if revenues go up from sources not from increased taxes, they do not count against the tax cap, according to Timothy Connors. Connors just completed his 5 week stint as Interim Superintendent as Dr. Smith returned to the district last night.
According to Frank Steffanelli, Buildings and Grounds Administrator, $3 to $4 Million of the $5 Million will fund reroofing the second half of the White Plains High School , installing an intercom and clock system at the high school and renovation of the auditorium rear wall, and The Church Street School roof.
Cap Compliant, Teachers New Contract to Come Allowed for
The operating budget is increased 1.06% (cap is 1.26%) ($2,222,750), plus the $5 Million in Capital Projects to equal $215,972,750, a 3.5% increase.
The budget includes the potential cost of the first year of a new teachers contract which expires in June. Dr. Smith said negotiations had not begun yet on a new contract, and the head of the Teachers Union, Kelly Broderick told WPCNR the union and the district are in the process of establishing preliminary meetings.
The district is hiring 21 new teachers and 4 new Teacher Assistants.
The district is also restructuring Special Education Administration due to the growth in Special Education students.
Elementary school recess programs are being changed to improve the recess experience.
A Bowling Team will be added to the sports choices.
New Security Review
In the general meeting after the budget presentation, John LaPlaca, Managing Partner of Altraris Emergency Management Group explained how his firm will evalutate security procedures, security equipment, and district personnel preparedness for possible emergencies in all district buildings.
The procedure will cost $50,000 through BOCES, and the district will be reimbursed $10,000 from the State of New York for using the program, Frank Stefanelli told WPCNR. New York State Stefanelli said now requires all districts to file a security plan for all their facilities. Those security plans have to be approved by the state.
The complete presentation can be viewed Thursday evening on the White Plains Education Channel Altice Cablevision Channel 77 or Verizon FIOS Channel 46.
WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. Statement from the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on the Repeal and Replace Act (Edited) March 20, 2017:
“The Repeal and Replace Act would block grant money to the state in the name of local flexibility but at the same time it would dramatically cut that funding. Over four years New York State would lose $4.6 billion and lose at least $2.4 billion a year by fiscal year 2020.
If this were not bad enough Congressman Chris Collins and Congressman John Faso have offered an amendment that would stop the counties from paying a share of Medicaid.
Historically, the federal government paid 50 percent, the state paid 25 percent, and local governments – counties – paid 25 percent. The state has already absorbed much of that burden, but even so the reduction to the program from the loss of the counties’ share outside of New York City is $2.3 billion.
The cut is so severe that the majority of hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities located in Upstate New York and on Long Island would be devastated. How a county executive could believe their county could prosper while losing hundreds if not thousands of jobs and seeing the decimation of their health care system is beyond me.
“The more we learn about the repeal and replacement for the Affordable Care Act, the sicker New York gets. The repeal and replacement is exactly what the Trump Administration promised that they would not do. It is the classic Republican program referred to during Reagan’s time as “passing the buck without passing the bucks.” Congressman Paul Ryan and the radical conservatives are having their way. Congressman Ryan brags about “cutting entitlements by billions of dollars.”
That is precisely what he is trying to do to New York’s Medicaid program. The conservatives have long lamented that New York’s Medicaid program was “too generous.” They scoffed at our health care proposal that provided dental care and one conservative even said when questioned about the denial of dental benefits, “soup is good.”
“Congressmen Collins and Faso are calling their amendment a “tax savings plan for the county.” Really it’s a deathtrap as there is no way to make up the shortfall. The Upstate New York and Long Island economy will falter or collapse if the health sector is damaged.
“It would be nice if Congressmen Collins and Faso actually tried to help their districts rather than hurt them. These health care cuts are on top of a dizzying array of cuts to real New Yorkers.
The Republican budget cuts housing assistance, food stamps, heating projects, community development funds – all at the expense of the middle class and working families – while they cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans.
They won’t get away with it. They can’t play New Yorkers as fools and New Yorkers will remember. The bill for Congressmen Collins and Faso’s rabid conservative zealotry will be paid by Upstate New York’s hard working families, and those families will know exactly who to thank.”