Can States Be Trusted To Manage Retirement Savings? Two New Reasons For Concern

Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ebauer/2021/02/28/can-states-be-trusted-to-manage-retirement-savings-two-new-reasons-for-concern/

Excerpt:

Readers, I have long been of the opinion that it’s a sensible approach to enable savers to choose among multiple retirement funds, so that they are able to reflect their particular ethical concerns, whether this means an “ESG” (environmental, social, and governance-issue focused) fund or a religious-screening approach, such as excluding companies which donate to Planned Parenthood (Ave Maria Funds) or which are in the alcohol industry (GuideStone Funds).

But no state official should be using investors’ money to play politics — not the money of individual investors through state-run IRAs or the retirement savings accounts of state employees, and not the money of public pension funds. And, frankly, I find it appalling that these sorts of actions aren’t universally considered to be wholly out of bounds — but I suppose living in Illinois (newly-declared the third-most-corrupt state, with Chicago as the most-corrupt city), I suppose I should lower my expectations. Readers in the remaining 49 states, however, should watch carefully.

Author(s): Elizabeth Bauer

Publication Date: 28 February 2021

Publication Site: Forbes

Implications of COVID-19 Mortality Patterns for Nursing Home Regulation in New York

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Excerpt:

In its January 28 report, the attorney general’s office argued that low staffing levels in nursing homes was associated with higher death rates from the novel coronavirus. As evidence of that connection, the report presented a table (reproduced in Table 1 below) comparing death rates in nursing homes based on their star ratings for staffing from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).[5] It showed that homes with the lowest staffing grade of one star had an aggregate COVID-19 mortality rate of 7.13 percent, compared to 4.94 percent for homes with a five-star rating.

However, that table was based on the limited data available in mid-November, which encompassed 6,645 deaths, only half the number that are documented now.

When that table is brought up to date, it shows no clear association between lower staffing grades and higher coronavirus mortality (see Table 2). Homes with a three-star staff rating showed the largest percentage of deaths, at 13.62, compared to 12.98 for two-star homes and 12.14 for one-star homes.[6]

Author(s): Bill Hammond, Ian Kingsbury

Publication Date: 4 March 2021

Publication Site: Empire Center for Public Policy

Cuomo Aides Altered Nursing Home Report to Conceal Death Toll

Link: https://www.nationalreview.com/news/cuomo-aides-altered-nursing-home-report-to-conceal-death-toll/

Excerpt:

Aides to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo rewrote a July report by state health officials to conceal the number of nursing home residents who died from coronavirus in the state, according to reports.

Cuomo’s top aides worked to hide the fact that more than 9,000 nursing home residents had died from the virus in the state at the time, according to reports from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. 

….

Cuomo’s aides clashed with the state’s health officials over the July report, which the Health Department worked on with the consulting firm McKinsey. The report included a chart comparing nursing home deaths in New York with other states, according to the New York Times, which showed that New York’s total of 9,250 deaths was far greater than that of the next highest state, New Jersey, which had 6,150 at that time.

The chart put the death toll at about 50 percent higher than the number the Cuomo administration had touted at the time.

Author(s): BRITTANY BERNSTEIN

Publication Date: 5 March 2021

Publication Site: National Review

State budget shaping up as embarrassment of riches—for now

Excerpt:

Governor Cuomo’s Division of the Budget (DOB) and the Legislature’s fiscal committees have agreed to boost New York State’s revenue projection for fiscal years 2021 and 2022 by $2.45 billion—the latest in a series of upward adjustments that have dramatically improved Albany’s short-term outlook, even as sexual harassment allegations against the governor will complicate negotiations towards a new budget for the fiscal year beginning April 1.

The Consensus Revenue and Economic Forecast issued late last night by DOB splits the difference between the governor’s budget agency, which wasn’t budging from its already improved 30-day amended financial plan outlook, and a very optimistic projection from the Assembly Ways and Means Committee staff, which forecast $5 billion more in revenue through FY 2022. The Senate Finance Committee staff estimate came in a total $3.4 billion higher than the governor’s latest number.

Author(s): E.J. McMahon

Publication Date: 2 March 2021

Publication Site: Empire Center for Public Policy

“They Can’t Hold The Nursing Homes Responsible”

Link: https://www.dailyposter.com/p/they-cant-hold-the-nursing-homes

Excerpt:

Attorneys insist nursing home negligence cases are not designed to target nursing home employees and other frontline workers caring for facility residents during the pandemic. As Mosher notes, “In most cases, these people are just as much victims as the residents.” 

Instead, the lawsuits are going after nursing home owners and operators, a population that has become increasingly dominated by private equity firms, shell companies, and other secretive for-profit operations, which make staffing and other decisions about quality of care in boardrooms and corporate offices far removed from those who are impacted.

The results of these cases are not about simply scoring million-dollar settlements and padding lawyers’ pockets, say legal experts. Torts and class action suits are an important deterrent to bad behaviors in an industry that has become known for lax oversight. 

Author(s): Joel Warner

Publication Date: 2 March 2021

Publication Site: The Daily Poster

Tensions over vaccine equity pit rural against urban America

Link: https://nypost.com/2021/03/01/tensions-over-vaccine-equity-pit-rural-against-urban-america/

Excerpt:

The U.S. vaccine campaign has heightened tensions between rural and urban America, where from Oregon to Tennessee to upstate New York complaints are surfacing of a real — or perceived — inequity in vaccine allocation.

In some cases, recriminations over how scarce vaccines are distributed have taken on partisan tones, with rural Republican lawmakers in Democrat-led states complaining of “picking winners and losers,” and urbanites traveling hours to rural GOP-leaning communities to score COVID-19 shots when there are none in their city.

In Oregon, state GOP lawmakers walked out of a Legislative session last week over the Democratic governor’s vaccine plans, citing rural vaccine distribution among their concerns. In upstate New York, public health officials in rural counties have complained of disparities in vaccine allocation and in North Carolina, rural lawmakers say too many doses were going to mass vaccine centers in big cities.

Author(s): Associated Press

Publication Date: 1 March 2021

Publication Site: NY Post

Albany progressives are trying to drive away job-creators with a massive tax hike

Link: https://nypost.com/2021/02/28/albany-progressives-drive-away-job-creators-with-tax-hike/

Excerpt:

The Invest in Our New York Act is a package of six bills hiking state taxes by $50 billion a year. 

Numbers out of context are meaningless. Why not raise taxes by $200 billion, or heck, $90 trillion? But in the context of the New York state budget, $50 billion is an ­unprecedented hike. Without the pandemic and lockdowns, the state likely would have taken in $90 billion in taxes this coming fiscal year, meaning the bill’s proponents want to raise taxes by close to 60 percent. 

A sample of the new taxes: first, on high-income labor. A single filer with $1 million in income would see a 23 percent state tax hike, to 8.41 percent, up from 6.85. A filer making $10 million would see a 48 percent hike, to 12.14 percent, up from 8.82 percent. 

Author(s): Nicole Gelinas

Publication Date: 28 February 2021

Publication Site: NY Post

Arts, Entertainment and Recreation in New York City

Recent Trends and Impact of COVID-19

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/reports/osdc/arts-entertainment-and-recreation-new-york-city-recent-trends-and-impact-covid-19

Graphic:

Excerpt:

In 2019, New York City’s arts, entertainment and recreation sector employed 93,500 people in 6,250 establishments. These jobs had an average salary of $79,300 and generated $7.4 billion in total wages.

In 2019, 128,400 residents (including nearly 31,000 self-employed residents) drew their primary source of earnings from the arts, entertainment and recreation sector.

From 2009 to 2019, employment in the sector grew by 42 percent, faster than the 30 percent rate for total private sector employment. Establishments and total wages in the sector also grew faster than all establishments and wages citywide.

As of December 2020, arts, entertainment and recreation employment declined by 66 percent from one year earlier, the largest decline among the City’s economic sectors.

The Chelsea/Clinton/Midtown Manhattan Business District neighborhood, home to 1,921 venues, accounted for 46 percent of all jobs in the sector, far more than any other City neighborhood.

Publication Date: February 2021

Publication Site: Office of the New York State Comptroller

Tax Hikes for High Earners Are on the Table in Some States

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/tax-hikes-for-high-earners-are-on-the-table-in-some-states-11614162600

Excerpt:

Budgetary pressures vary greatly, despite calls for more federal aid in general and tax hikes in some locales. In New York, state revenue collected from April through December 2020 was 4.1% lower than in the year-earlier period, according to data from the Urban Institute think tank.

In New Jersey, the drop was 2.4%. With tax revenue outperforming earlier projections, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday proposed making a full payment to the state’s pension system for the first time since 1996. California has done even better, with revenue collections growing 1.2%.

While a governor can call on lawmakers to raise taxes, the odds of success for the various proposals depend partly on which parties control state legislative chambers. Additionally, Democrats in Congress have pushed to include money for cities and states in an economic-recovery package, which could shift the equation.

Author(s): Karen Langley

Publication Date: 24 February 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

ConEd earmarks $480 million for pension plan contributions

Link: https://www.pionline.com/pension-funds/coned-earmarks-480-million-pension-plan-contributions

Excerpt:

Consolidated Edison Inc., New York, expects to make contributions of $480 million to its pension plans in 2021, according to the company’s 10-K statement filed Feb. 18 with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Most of the contribution — $441 million — will go to the utility holding company’s subsidiary Consolidated Edison Co. of New York (CECONY) Inc.’s pension plan. The company has only U.S. pension plans.

Last year, the total contribution was $332 million, of which $301 million was provided to CECONY’s plan.

Author(s): ROBERT STEYER

Publication Date: 22 February 2021

Publication Site: Pensions & Investments

COVID-19 outcomes among people with intellectual and developmental disability living in residential group homes in New York State

Link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S193665742030100X?via=ihub&modtag=djemBestOfTheWeb

Excerpt:

People with IDD living in residential group homes were at greater risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes: case rates – 7,841 per 100,000 for people with IDD compared to 1,910 for New York State; case-fatality – 15.0% for people with IDD compared to 7.9% for New York State; and mortality rate – 1,175 per 100,000 for people with IDD compared to 151 per 100,000 for New York State. Differences in cases and mortality rate were confirmed across regions of the state, but case-fatality rate was only higher for people with IDD in and around the New York City region.

Author(s): Scott D. Landes, Margaret A. Turk, Margaret K. Formica, Katherine E. McDonald, J. Dalton Stevens

Publication Date: October 2020

Publication Site: Disability and Health Journal