Archive for February 2011
MURTAGH: YONKERS NEEDS PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNION REFORMS
Will Introduce Pension Reform Resolution in Council Today
Urges Prospective Mayoral Candidates to Make Positions Clear
Yonkers, NY – Feb. 28…Yonkers City Council Minority Leader John Murtagh (R), who helped lead the successful fight for term limits in Yonkers and who has consistently advocated transparency, good-government, and spending reforms in government, will today introduce in the Yonkers City Council an official Resolution calling on the Governor and state legislature to enact meaningful pension and mandate reforms to ease the growing budget deficits and tax burden on Yonkers families. (Resolution language below.)
Councilman Murtagh urged prospective Yonkers mayoral candidates to support the Resolution and make clear their positions on three key public employee union reform outlined therein:
1. Pension reform, including prohibiting the use of over-time hours in pension calculations and support for a Tier 6 defined contribution retirement plan for all new hires, just like most private-sector employees have;
2. Overturning the so-called “Last in First Out” (LIFO) union work rule that rewards teachers for longevity in the system rather than teaching merit; and
3. Suspension of the Triborough Amendment, which mandates that union contracts – including step pay increases — remain in perpetuity, even after contracts expire.
Mr. Murtagh expects to announce his candidacy for mayor in the coming weeks.
“Elected officials today are either on the side of the taxpayers or on the side of status quo insider politics. Their positions on the these three fiscal reform issues will tell you everything you need to know about where they stand,” Councilman Murtagh said. “Yonkers taxpayers are in desperate shape and the cozy deals between union leaders and elected officials have to stop. If the next mayor of Yonkers isn’t a reformer, things are going to get very rough for the taxpayers, and that is not acceptable.”
Councilman Murtagh is the author of the tough new Ethics Code for the City of Yonkers and the Board of Education, and he successfully amended the Rules and Procedures of the City Council to increase public participation.
BY COUNCILMEMBER MURTAGH
WHEREAS, New York State leads the nation with the highest property taxes of any state in large part because of the costs of unfunded state mandates; and
WHEREAS, pension fund contributions mandated by the State of New York are one of the largest components of every school and municipal budget in New York State; and
WHEREAS, laws allowing for overtime to count toward pensions and laws basing pensions on final year salaries only serve to dramatically drive up the costs of these benefits borne by the taxpayers; and
WHEREAS, laws such as the Triborough Amendment, pertaining to collective bargaining of contracts between municipal unions and municipalities impede the ability of elected officials to control costs on behalf of the taxpayers; and
WHEREAS, the Governor and members of the State Legislature have proposed capping local property taxes but have failed to reform these mandates;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the City council of the City of New York that the Governor and the Members of the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly be called upon to take immediate steps to reform the Laws of the State of New York as they pertain to pensions, collective bargaining by government unions and unfunded mandates all of which lead to higher property taxes – as a central element of any effort to provide needed property tax relief to the taxpayers of Yonkers and all of New York State;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the governor, the Senate Majority Leader, the Senate Minority Leader, the Assembly Speaker and Assembly Minority Leader and the members of the State Senate and State Assembly representing the City of Yonkers;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this Resolution shall take effect immediately.
IDC: State Insurance Department Can Help Redesign Medicaid Now.
Independent Dems Call for Action on Klein law that will save $61 Million.
The Independent Democratic Conference today called on the State Insurance Department to take the first steps to streamline the Medicaid system by quickly completing regulations to implement a new law that is projected to create more than $61 million in savings.
The IDC also issued a report detailing more recommendations to reform Medicaid spending for Long Term Health in New York.
The measure was sponsored by Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, (D-Bronx/ Westchester), and signed into law on Dec. 20, 2010. It allowed health insurance companies to offer life insurance policies in which a portion of the benefit can be used to cover long term care costs. Specifically, it allows an accelerated life insurance payout to go toward long term care if a person is confined to a nursing home for three months and was expected to remain in such a facility for the the rest of their lives.
The State Insurance Department needs to draft and issue guidelines governing these new long term care policies in order for them to be implemented.
“Having this law in full effect now will start the process of redirecting long term care costs away from
New York’s Medicaid system and, in just a few years, create more than $61 million in savings,” Senator Klein said. “The Governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team has made it clear that they want to further expand insurance options in order to reign in Medicaid spending. I urge the State Insurance Department to do everything in their power to get the ball rolling now.”
The intent of the law, which brings New York in line with every other state in the country, is to ease the burden on the Medicaid system, where long term care costs frequently fall, by encouraging the use of long term care insurance.
Medicaid spending on long term care was at least $12.4 billion and accounted for 27 percent of all Medicaid spending in 2009. During that same time period, there were only 321,011 private long term care policies written in New York State, which has a population of 19 million. By contrast there were roughly 9 million life insurance policies.
“This law is a good first step that will help not only streamline, but also strengthen New York’s long term care system,” said Senator Diane Savino, (D-Staten Island/ Brooklyn), who was a co-sponsor of this legislation. “I, and the other members of the Independent Democratic Conference are committed to improving the efficiency of the system, while ensuring that the most vulnerable receive the help that they need.”
The IDC has made further recommendations to the State Insurance Department, including that they:
· Investigate allowing additional forms of hybrid life insurance/long term care insurance policies to be written and sold in New York State. This step was also recommended by the Governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team.
· Explore joining the interstate compact allowing reciprocity between New York and other states participating in Partnership for Long Term Care programs.
· Find ways to expand the New York Public Employee and Retirement Long Term Care Insurance Plan in order to build a large and effective pool of participants that have long term care insurance policies. This might include accepting Health Department recommendations to allow state employees to use sick time to buy long term care insurance policies and allowing for broader intervals of open enrollment to subscribe to long term care insurance.
· Examine ways to help self-employed workers and private companies and unions to create pools of long term care insurance as a way to give more individuals access to group long term care insurance.
“The Medicaid system has grown to the size that it has after years of doing the same old thing in government,” said Senator David Carlucci, (D-Rockland/ Orange). “We are going to need to think outside the box to fix Medicaid and put New York back on the right track.”
The Independent Democratic Conference also recommended changes to the Medicaid Long Term Care system that would make it more efficient and less costly. These changes include:
· Creating a uniform standard to determine what long term care services are needed. Currently, no such standard exists.
· Streamlining the current Medicaid long term care program, which is currently made up of many different programs, many of them having very similar demographics.
· Expanding already successful and less costly Medicaid managed long term care programs.
· Find ways to better integrate informal caregivers with the long term care system and increase the support they receive. One way may be to implement a tax credit program for these caregivers.
Many of these have also been recommended by the Governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team.
“We believe these to be important and vital reforms,” said Senator David J. Valesky, (D-Oneida). “I, and my fellow members of the Independent Democratic Conference, are looking forward to working with our partners in government to move our Medicaid system into the 21st Century.”
Scott Amrhein, President of the Continuing Care Leadership Coalition, said: “Senator Klein has consistently been a leader on issues of long term care reform in New York State. His bill, S.7196, which allows the use of accelerated life insurance benefits to pay for long term care costs, is an example of his creative and forward-thinking approach to promoting quality, cost-effective long term care in our State. Today, I am pleased to congratulate Senator Klein and his colleagues for again advancing thoughtful, balanced long term care reform ideas that will improve efficiency while expanding options for the chronically ill, frail and elderly in our State.”
Neil Heyman, President of the Southern NY Association, an organization that represents more than 60 residential health care facilities in the New York metro area, said: “I commend the Independent Democratic Conference for advancing creative and commonsense solutions that help New York and help us help those who need care the most.”
John M. Kissoon Vice President of the Life Insurance Council of New York, Inc., said: “The Life Insurance Council of New York, Inc. (LICONY) agrees with the public policy goal of encouraging New Yorkers to purchase private long term care insurance and urges the State to consider carefully two bills being advanced as part of LICONY’s legislative program that furthers that goal. LICONY stands ready to analyze, and support if possible, any other initiatives identified by the State that are consistent with encouraging New Yorkers to purchase private long term care insurance.
Beamon and Alvarado Receive All-MAAC Honors.
Sophomore Guard George Beamon Named to All-MAAC Third Team;
Freshman Point Guard Michael Alvarado Selected to All-Rookie Team.
RIVERDALE, N.Y.- Jaspers’ sophomore guard George Beamon (Roslyn, N.Y./Roslyn) was named to the All-MAAC Third Team and freshman point guard Michael Alvarado (Bronx, N.Y./All Hallows) was selected to the MAAC All-Rookie Team as announced on Monday at league headquarters. Beamon and Alvarado were the Jaspers top two scorers and combined for 43% of Manhattan’s scoring offense during the regular-season.
Beamon ranks third on the MAAC’s scoring list averaging 16.4 points per game. The Roslyn, N.Y. native led Manhattan in scoring 18 times and he delivered 27 double-digit scoring performances in 30 appearances. Beamon posted four of his team leading eight 20+ point scoring performances in the Jaspers last five games, beginning with his career-high 35 point effort in a victory over Siena on Feb. 13. The 6’4” swingman stands eighth in the conference shooting 74.2% from the free-throw line and shot 43.5% from the field. Beamon averaged 6.1 rebounds and posted a team-high 42 steals.
Alvarado, a 6’2” local product from the Bronx, averaged 11.2 points and 3.2 assists starting 22 of 25 appearances during the regular-season. He tied for eighth in the MAAC in assists per game (3.2), while leading the Jaspers and standing fifth in the conference with a 77.9% free-throw shooting mark. Alvarado posted 11 double-digit scoring performances, including three 20+ point efforts. He set a career-high scoring 25 points on Feb. 7 at Iona. Alvarado led Manhattan in assists 15 times and he was named MAAC Rookie of the Week after scoring a game-high 23 points helping the Jaspers to a season-opening victory at NJIT.
Manhattan tied for ninth place in the conference standings, but will enter the 2011 MAAC Basketball Championships as the #10 seed per the league’s tie breaker policy. Manhattan will face #7 Siena on Friday night.
RIVERDALE, N.Y. – Jaspers’ freshman point guard Michael Alvarado scored a game-high 23 points, while teammate George Beamon added 22 points, but Manhattan (6-23, 3-14 MAAC) dropped a 72-63 decision at Canisius (14-14, 8-9 MAAC) on Friday. Beamon posted his team-leading eighth 20-point scoring performance of the year and he shot a perfect 14-for-14 from the free-throw line.
Golden Griffs’ senior forward Greg Logins led Canisius with 20 points on 6-for-11 shooting. Elton Frazier (18), Julius Coles (13) and Gaby Belardo (11) also posted double-digit scoring efforts helping Canisius snap a three game skid.
Manhattan held tight with Canisius by shooting a hot 52.6% (10-19) from the field and 11-for-12 (91.7%) at the free-throw line in the first half. Alvarado had 16 points at the break, which included a scoring surge of four consecutive baskets early in the contest. Logins matched Alvarado’s 16 points in the opening 20 minutes as he buried 4-of-5 3-point attempts to carry the Golden Griffs into halftime with a 35-31 advantage.
The Jaspers shooting cooled off in the second stanza, while Canisius improved its field goal percentage. Manhattan went 29.2% from the field in the second half to the Golden Griffs’ 47.6% (10-21) mark and 50% (4-for-8) rate from 3-point territory. Regardless, Manhattan battled in the second half and held close with the Canisius keeping its deficit within striking distance.
Manhattan outscored the Golden Griffs 10-5 in the first five minutes of the second half to grab a 41-40 lead on Alvarado’s layup at 15:08. Although, Canisius regained the an advantage with Coles second 3-pointer of the night at 12:41. Coles’ big bucket sparked an 8-0 run to earn a lead it would not relinquish. The Jaspers suffered without a field goal for a 14 minute stretch in the second half.
The Jaspers converted 84.8% (28-33) of its free-throws in a contest that was plagued by 48 combined fouls. Canisius shot 22-for-29 (75.9%) at the charity stripe.
Manhattan graduate student Demetrius Jemison finished with 10 points and five rebounds. Jaspers’ senior Andrew Gabriel led the squad with six rebounds in 25 minutes of action.
Manhattan will play its final game of the regular-season on Sunday when the Jaspers visit Niagara. Tip off is scheduled for 2 p.m.