March 30, 2020
NYSAC Special Bulletin  

Between the Legislature and COVID-19, news is breaking at a pace like we’ve never experienced — and it all directly ties to the work New York’s counties are doing. To help keep you as updated as possible, NYSAC will be sending out daily “Special Bulletins.”
Top Three Takeaways
We get it. You have too many things to do and not enough time to do them. Here are the top 3 things you need to know.

1.        New Executive Order postpones presidential primary and all special elections to June 23, 2020; postpones School board, library board, or village elections until June 1, 2020; and postpones circulation, filing, and collection of designation petitions indefinitely.

2.       County sales tax losses resulting from shutting down the economy could reach as high as $2 billion in a worst-case scenario, and counties will have significantly higher pension contribution rates in 2021 and beyond to make up for investment losses.

3.       The President extended the nation’s Slow the Spread campaign until April 30. 

The Latest on the State Budget

Negotiations on the FY2021 Budget are primarily happening at the secretary and leader level. We have been told that over the past 48 hours, numerous proposals that were included as part of the Executive Budget have been “dropped” from discussion – including cannabis legalization. This means they will likely not be included in the final budget.

We have been told that the Revenue Article VII bill has been finalized but the language has not been released. 

We continue to gain confidence that an omnibus extender bill will be included in the budget. This is good news for counties that have pending sales tax, mortgage recording tax and other local home rule extenders. However we are not optimistic that any new county revenue authorization will be included as part of the budget.

We have been told that the two largest issues still open for debate include the health budget (which includes Part R, the proposal to undo the local Medicaid caps and require counties to pay for new Medicaid costs) and the education budget. 

This is not surprising as the vast majority of the state budget is spent in these two program areas.  

Fiscal Update  

The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) today updated a report detailing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on county governments, stating that NY’s regional governments are now looking at a potential $2 billion loss in revenues.

Of course, we have no way of knowing the actual impact but using models that are similar to state projections, it could be hundreds of millions above the initial $1 B projection due to the severity, depth and length of the crisis. This not actual, but projections to help aid local government decisions and to remind the Governor and state legislators of our fiscal situation. 
See the innovative ways counties are responding to the pandemic at our COVID-19 blog.

Major Sales Tax Revenue Losses Likely

Shutting down the economy to stop the spread of the virus will cause revenue losses. We are now projecting county sales tax losses could reach as high as $2 billion in a worst-case scenario – much higher than our earlier forecast due to significant changes in economic conditions and new data about the virus coming available since we released our report.

The Governor has doubled his own revenue loss estimates in the last two weeks and our revenue outcomes are closely tied to the state’s.  Again, “worst-case” ($2 billion) and “mild case” ($400 million) are difficult to define at this point and both lie at the extreme ends of the bell curve. The exact outcome will more likely be closer to the middle. The aggregate county sales tax loss as a percent of what was budgeted for 2020 could be down anywhere from 5% to as much as 20% depending on the duration of the social distancing measures to stop the virus, especially if they extend into the peak tourism season. 
Potential Pension Contribution Rate Increase in 2021

With significant losses likely in the state retirement fund for state fiscal year 2020, ending tomorrow, counties will have significantly higher pension contributions rates in 2021 and beyond to make up for those investment losses. Actual returns in the retirement fund will not be known for some time, but we estimate that county pension contributions could increase by as much as 20 percent to 30 percent in 2021 (if the loss approaches the levels experienced during the Great Recession), this could range between $190 million and $270 million in higher costs.

COVID-19 by the Numbers

As of 1:30pm today (3/30), NYS has 66,497 total positive test results, compared to 52,318 on Saturday. Of the 52,318 total positive results, 9,517 are hospitalized. Of the 9,517 that are hospitalized, 2,352 are in the ICU. 4,204 people have been discharged. 

There are 1,218 deaths in NYS up from 519 Saturday and 965 Sunday. Daily ICU admissions are increasing today and daily new hospitalizations have also increased though these might just be a correction from prior days.

New Executive Orders

The Governor has issued two new executive orders: 202.12 on Saturday, and 202.13 today.  

Executive Order 202.12

  • Modifies the Election Law to extend the time for mailing annual check of registrants and notice by mail (extension length determined by NYS BOE)
  • Extends time the Tax Commissioner can disregard certain tax deadlines and liabilities where an emergency is declared up to 100 days. 
  • Postpones presidential primary until June 23, 2020
  • Postposes all special elections until June 23, 2020 (ballots stay the same)
  • Requires all hospitals to permit the attendance of one support person (who does not have a fever) to be present for labor/delivery/post-partum (modified by 202.13).

Executive Order 202.13
  • Allows certain services under the Mental Hygiene Law to be provided in certified settings to be conducted elsewhere, with approval of the OPWDD commissioner
  • Allows current employees of OPWDD or OPWDD providers, who have previously had a background check and are not on an exclusion list, to work for other providers approved by OPWDD, OCFS, OASAS, OR OMH licensed programs without undergoing new background checks and can work unsupervised while a new check is performed.
  • Extends payment of life insurance premiums, and to exercise any rights under such policy, for 90 days for those suffering a COVID-19 hardship
  • Creates a moratorium on any insurer cancelling, non-renewing, or conditionally renewing any insurance policy given to a small business for a period of 60 days suffering a COVID-19 related hardship. 
  • Establishes that a small business is 100 or fewer individuals
  • Allows school districts to pay the cost of child-care services
  • Permits all banking institutions to be verified by electronic means
  • Postpones all special elections until June 23, 2020
  • Establishes that all ballots for the postponed special elections shall only contain the names of those individuals who had previously qualified to be on the April 28, 2020 ballot
  • Postpones indefinitely the circulation, filing, and collection of designation petitions or independent nominating petitioners for any office
  • Postpones School board, library board, or village elections are postponed until June 1, 2020
  • Halts Non-essential construction
  • Extends prior executive orders regarding in-person business restrictions until 11:59 PM on April 15, 2020

FEMA to Host Webinar
FEMA will be providing a one-hour webinar to help local officials understand how to properly contract during emergency or exigent circumstances when using federal funds. To register and learn more about this webinar here
Federal Briefing Call with Dr. Fauci and other Administration Officials

On Wednesday, April 1, at 1:30 PM ET, please join Dr. Anthony Fauci (Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases), Larry Kudlow (Assistant to the President for Economic Policy), and Senior Administration Officials for a briefing call on COVID-19 (coronavirus). The purpose of this call is to provide State and local elected officials with up-to-date information on COVID-19 and pertinent Administration and Task Force actions.

Registration instructions are below – please read the RSVP instructions in their entirety before registering. We encourage you to share this invitation with your county and/or municipal colleagues as well as public health officials. If you have a particular question you would like addressed during the call, please flag those for our team.

Briefing Call Registration
Date: Wednesday, April 1
Time: 1:30 PM ET (please note time zone)
Call-In Registration: CLICK HERE

Trump Administration Extends Social Distancing Policy to April 30th

On March 29, the President extended the nation’s Slow the Spread campaign until April 30.

The initiative asks the entire country to implement actions designed to slow and limit the spread of COVID-19, like staying home as much as much as possible, canceling or postponing gatherings of more than 10 people, and taking additional steps to distance yourself from other people. 

For the latest updates and information on how to protect yourself and what to do if you think you are sick is available at .  
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