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Grassroots Bulletin

July 2012 Grassroots Newsletter

2012 State Legislative Session Concludes

Both houses of the state Legislature concluded the 2012 regular legislative session June 21st with little suspense, compared to recent years, and on time. This was due in large part to agreements on certain big ticket items reached earlier in the year, including pension reform, a constitutional amendment to legalize casino gambling, and legislative redistricting.

In the closing days of the session, the state Senate and Assembly acted on several high-profile pieces of legislation, including a new “justice center” to investigate abuse at homes for people with special needs and disabilities; “cyber bullying” legislation which focuses on prevention and requires schools to respond to and report cyber-bullying incidents; and “teacher evaluations” which limits public disclosure of teacher performance data.

The Senate also confirmed the appointment of Gregg C. Sayre, associate general counsel, Frontier Communications, to the New York State Public Service Commission. Sayre is expected to fill the spot of Robert E. Curry, whose term ended in February, 2012. Curry has remained on the Commission since that time.

Most notably, two similar bills that mandate a prevailing wage for certain utility contractors and subcontractors were defeated in both houses of the Legislature. Both bills were priorities for Con Edison and would have resulted in higher energy prices by eliminating utilities' ability to use reasonable cost savings techniques like hiring the lowest and most responsible bidder for certain types of work.

Preventing passage of these bills was no small feat and helped by the efforts of Con Edison employees and retirees that responded to recent action alert and contacted their elected officials to express opposition. We appreciate your support and will continue to keep you apprised of any legislation that would impact Con Edison employees, retirees, and customers.

Mayor and New York City Council Reach Agreement on 2013 Budget

Last week Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council reached an agreement on the city's 2013 budget. The $68.5 billion budget agreement comes before the July 1 deadline and spares 20 fire companies while also increasing funding for day-care and after-school programs.

"We've again produced an on-time, balanced budget for our city that doesn't raise taxes on New Yorkers, and that preserves the essential services that keep our city strong," said Bloomberg at a news conference on the budget.

He said the city has won back more than 200 percent of the private-sector jobs lost in the recession, easily besting the nation's 40 percent.

A key component of the budget was funding for day-care and after-school programs which was increased by about $150 million to a total of about $417 million. The increased funding will allow 50,000 children from low-income families to receive day care; restore 30,000 slots for after-school programs, and allow nearly 4,000 more children to take advantage of the services.

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said "without a doubt, our number one priority is the importance of providing every child with a quality education."

The City Council, in an agreement with the United Federation of Teachers, was also able to save 400 teachers' aides jobs and restored funding to help teachers buy necessary materials for their classrooms.

Cultural institutions, such as museums, will see a slight increase in funding. Most notably, New York City's public libraries will get an extra $90 million, enabling them to be open an average of more than five days a week.

To balance the new budget, Bloomberg is draining a reserve fund he created to pay the healthcare costs of retired city workers by taking out $1 billion.

Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Update

Though winter may seem like a distant memory, Congress is in the midst of debating annual federal appropriations, including vital funding for the Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP). In 2011, New York LIHEAP provided 1,497,508 households with LIHEAP financial assistance (there are 2.5 million eligible households in the state), with an average household benefit of $500. In addition to federal appropriations, the industry contributes almost $3 billion a year to the assistance program.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed this month the Fiscal Year 2013 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill, which included level funding for LIHEAP at $3.4 billion. Of that total, $100 million is for the Contingency Fund. Contingency funds would go to states that use more home-delivered fuel than anticipated, and states facing energy-related emergencies. The House has yet to produce its proposed funding amounts, which will eventually need to be reconciled with the Senate proposal.

Con Edison has joined with over 1,000 groups to advocate for robust energy assistance for those in need. In addition, our team will participate in the second-ever Summer LIHEAP Action Day on July 31 in Washington, D.C. The event is an opportunity to join with other LIHEAP advocates and press Congress for at least $5.1 billion for LIHEAP funding for next year and to highlight the need for funding for cooling as well as heating.

Next month there will be two Lunch and Learn events. The first will be July 19 at noon in the Edison Room at 4 Irving Place. The presenting organization will be Jazzmobile. The second is taking place at our Rye office at 511 Theodore Fremd Ave. Stay tuned for more information on both events

Con Edison Partners with Bottomless Closet

Last month Con Edison partnered with Bottomless Closet to host a clothing drive to provide business attire to help disadvantaged New York City women. Over 150 employees donated close to a ton of clothing and accessories to the cause. The mission of Bottomless Closet is to help women in need become self-sufficient through a comprehensive program that begins with business attire and interview preparation and continues with professional development, financial management and personal enrichment. A big thank-you to all those who donated!


Glasses were raised in celebration when this amendment was ratified in 1933?

Submit your answers to grassroots@conEd.com with "Civics Quiz" in the subject line for a chance to win four tickets to the Bronx Zoo.

Congratulations to Silvia Eskerret who correctly answered the last quiz question: “How many voting members are in the House of Representatives?” The correct answer was 435. Sylvia won two tickets to the Roundabout Theatre.

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