February 21, 2019
30-Day Amendments and the AIM Funding cost shift, Cashless Bail and what it means for counties, what's next in the budget process, grants, training opportunities, and more.
State Update
Governor Releases 30-Day Amendments
The Governor released his 30-day amendments on Friday, February 15 th . The amendments can be found here.

As part of the 30-day amendment package, the Governor proposed a restoration of AIM cuts through a mechanism where counties would be forced to share a portion of our sales tax revenue with municipalities the state had stopped providing AIM funding to. The move directly shifts a state cost to county taxpayers as a way to make local governments whole. 

In a response to this proposal, NYSAC Executive Director, Stephen Acquario released the following statement:

The Governor’s thirty-day amendment “fix” to earlier cuts to the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) uses future Internet sales tax revenue that he is taking from counties to pay for cuts he levied on other local governments.
 
This is a horrible precedent and unnecessarily shifts the state’s burden to local taxpayers who already pay some of the highest taxes in the nation.
 
The state could have used its share of Internet sales tax revenue to make municipalities whole.
 
Forcing counties to use a portion of their internet sales tax revenue to reimburse our municipal partners does not help the state reduce property taxes or help to offset the costs of services to our residents.
 
In the end, local homeowners and businesses just keep paying for decisions made by the State.

NYSAC has drafted a model resolution that can be adapted by counties that want to formally oppose the Governor’s 30-Day Amendment to the 2019-20 Executive State Budget that shifts a $60 million state cut to AIM funding to be funded with county sales tax revenues. For a copy of that resolution, click here - the sample resolution can be found under the 2019-2020 resources.

NYSAC has been meeting with leadership from both the Assembly and Senate to advocate for county concerns as each chamber crafts their one-house budget bills. We will continue to work with lawmakers to ensure NYSAC legislative and budget priorities are heard and considered.

New NYSAC Report: Ending Cash Bail and Other Criminal Justice Reforms
In his inaugural address and budget proposal, Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to put forth a reform agenda that includes ending cash bail and enacting other criminal justice reforms. These legislative measures would end bail, expand the discovery process, improve access to a speedy trial, transform civil asset forfeiture, and improve the community reentry process.

NYSAC has reviewed these proposals and drafted a report that includes the county impact of these new amendments.


Next Steps in the State Budget Process
Both h ouses of the State Legislature will release their one house versions of the state budget during the first week of March, shortly after they come to an agreement on the revenue projections for the 2019-20 State Fiscal Year. 

Throughout th e following six-week process, your NYSAC legislative team will continue to advocate on a range of county concerns, until a state budget is enacted by April 2, 2019. 

NYSAC encourages all county officials to weigh in with members of the State Legislature on issues of local concern. View NYSAC’s budget advocacy resources here.

NYSAC Testifies Before NYS Legislature Joint Fiscal Committees
On February 11, NYSAC testified on the 2019-20 State Budget proposal to the fiscal committees of the New York State Legislature. Read the full testimony here .

NYSAC's testimony addressed several proposals in the state budget, including legalizing marijuana, Internet sales tax, the property tax cap, raise the age implementation, early voting, shared services, community college funding, the bottle bill expansion, and several other state policies that directly impact counties. 

Video: NYS Budget Analysis from NYSAC’s Dave Lucas
During the Legislative Conference, attendees heard from NYSAC’s Director of Finance Dave Lucas about the potential county impact of the NYS Executive Budget Proposal.

Dave began with a discussion of New York’s current economic conditions and followed with an analysis of the Governor’s Budget Proposal, items that could impact counties both positively and negatively, and which issues NYSAC will be focusing advocacy efforts on.

Federal News
US Supreme Court Rules State and Local Governments are Prohibited From Excessive Seizures and Fines
The 8 th Amendment of the US Constitution states that “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” This amendment was tested recently, and on February 20, 2019 the US Supreme Court decided that state and local governments are subject to this US Constitutional provision. This case stems out of the State of Indiana where a car valued at over $40,000.00 was seized by local authorities.

Under State of Indiana’s civil forfeiture laws, the arresting entity can seize property that is used to aid in certain criminal activities. However, the State also has in place monetary fine restrictions based, in part, on the level of the crime. In this case that monetary fine limit was $10,000.00. 

The plaintiff brought suit in this matter claiming that state and local civil forfeiture laws must comply with the 8 th amendment and that seizing a car of this value was excessive. The State lower courts agreed that this seizer was excessive and should be prohibited by the 8 th amendment.

The question before the US Supreme Court was whether the 8 th Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause could be applied to State and local governments under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause? Unanimously, the High Court ruled that it does apply to states and localities.

It is important to note that this case does not prohibit civil forfeiture of property but only excessive forfeiture. To read this case in its entirety find the following link: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/17-1091_5536.pdf

News from NYSAC
Save the Date: 53rd Annual County Finance School
May 1-3, 2019 at the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel. Watch your email for registration information, coming next month.

Recent News

Resolutions
The full packet of January 2019 resolutions adopted by the NYSAC membership can be found here:   www.nysac.org/resolutions

NYSAC Whitepapers and Reports
Click on the report title below to view the document.


Legislative Conference: Materials and Resource Wrap-Up
Did you miss the Legislative Conference? Were you there and want to share the excellent experience with others? Here is a roundup of conference presentations, video, photos, and more:

Photos

Videos
Cannabis Plenary Session:

Presentations

NYSAC News: Legislative Guide
The Winter 2019 issue of NYSAC News magazine is now available online . This issue is full of articles about budget and policy issues impacting counties, written by our legislative staff and other experts.
Training and Grant Opportunities
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The County Job Board
Does your county have a job opening to share? Send it along to countyjobs@nysac.org .

Do you know someone looking for an opportunity in county government? Send them over to the NYSAC County Job Board !

Apply now: U.S. Department of Transportation awarding up to $902.5 million in grant funding for infrastructure improvement projects

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)  announced  up to $902.5 million in available funds through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program. INFRA provides federal funding for transportation infrastructure projects aimed at addressing critical issues facing America’s highways and bridges. The deadline to apply is March 4, 2019. Instructions for submitting applications can be found  here

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015 established the INFRA program, which awarded nearly $1.5 billion to 26 projects in Fiscal Year 2018. Large projects must be at least $25 million and small projects at least $5 million. At least 10 percent of available funds will be reserved for small projects. Additionally, DOT will award 25 percent of INFRA grant funding to rural projects.

According to DOT, INFRA grants may be used to fund a variety of infrastructure projects, though projects that have significant investments secured by the local sponsor and that are in position to begin rapid construction will be favored. Eligible INFRA projects may include: reconstruction, rehabilitation and acquisition of property (including land related to the project and improvements to the land), environmental mitigation, construction contingencies, equipment acquisition and operational improvements directly related to system performance. (Via NACo )

Register for Infocast's Inaugural Tri-State Community Energy Summit
The inaugural Tri-State Community Energy Summit is an event for local industry leaders from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to get together to play catch-up on clean energy, April 2-4, 2019 in New York City.

Learn step-by-step how to create and manage energy production in your own community. These projects stimulate the local economies, save residents and small businesses money, increase resiliency to blackouts, reduce emissions, and allow profits to go back into the community.

· Be the first to hear from state regulators about their brand new programs and how they will impact future development
· Get the latest information on area community solar and wind policies and market growth potential
·  Hear how utilities plan to get ahead of the rush of Tri-State community energy projects
·  Learn how distributed energy resources (DERs), and renewable developers and vendors will grow their businesses in—and across—one of the most active areas in the country
·   Benefit from the experience of the Tri-State clean energy early-entries, and hear about lessons that have been learned in the area