Legislative Alert: March 26, 2019

President's Message

Costs of Public Financing of Campaigns Merits Further Review 

Given the state’s fiscal condition and the myriad of questions about the cost of public financing of elections, now is not the time for the state to make the financial commitment this would require. Even low estimates peg the cost at several hundred million dollars and at least one estimate approaches half a billion dollars annually. The state has a steep deficit and given the cost discrepancies the issue needs further review. 

Our elected officials are currently struggling with the dire budget needs for public education, higher education and restoration of health care cuts. The state, New York City and our local governments have massive transportation, housing and infrastructure needs. We are fighting to restore cuts to municipalities, child care and many other programs that working families rely on. On top of that, federal funding for all of this is less certain than ever and given that the budget deadline is upon us, we believe that pubic financing needs to be postponed. 

To be clear, this statement should not be seen as taking a position in opposition to Campaign Finance Reform, only that discussion on this important issue should continue after the budget is passed. 

That said, fair elections and improving ballot access has been, and remains a priority for the NYS AFL-CIO. Earlier this year an entire package of reforms the NYS AFL-CIO supported was passed including; closing the LLC loophole, early voting, removal of barriers for voter registration and alignment of primary election days and times. A constitutional amendment to enact vote-by-mail remains in the works, as well as other measures. These unfinished election reforms should be reviewed post budget and in the context of longer- term planning. In the meantime, we should focus on the priorities noted above.

Mario Cilento, President 

Call To Action

Monday, March 25, 2019, 1:00 p.m. 
100 South Swan Street, Albany, NY 
Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli will be the guest speaker.

Issue of the Week

Include Labor Peace Agreements in Adult-Use Cannabis 

The NYS AFL-CIO strongly supports inclusion of a labor peace agreement as the centerpiece of legislation to decriminalize cannabis in the state. Further, current unionized medical marijuana companies that have already invested and created jobs in New York should be authorized to lead the way in all phases of the new cannabis industry. This is the only way to ensure legal parameters are followed, local communities heal from past cannabis enforcement and we reap the economic benefits of creating good jobs and a reliable revenue stream. 

We should establish a program to get economic and support programs in place for individuals that faced criminal justice, health and other socio-economic issues related to cannabis. The best way to do that is to create a pipeline of good-paying jobs with health insurance and pension benefits for those individuals. Labor peace agreements have already created a future for thousands of workers in the medical marijuana sector and will create opportunity for many thousands more in the adult-use sector. 

The NYS AFL-CIO has partnered with our affiliate RWDSU, the employers, Cornell ILR and the Workforce Development Institute to establish a training and placement program to do just that. The NYS AFL-CIO also supports small business participation in the new market. Entrepreneurial training and responsible business practices must be a part of that process.

Finally, the NYS AFL-CIO supports funding for law enforcement training and equipment, research programs and local government assistance to ensure legal parameters are followed and our communities and roadways are safe as cannabis becomes legal. The only way to do this is to ensure the product is safe, securely supplied and taxed at appropriate levels to ensure there is a viable and stable market. The current medical marijuana industry is best poised to provide that revenue stream and the resources to make this a beneficial industry.