January 23, 2019
by Adam Roberts
Empire Plaza, Albany. Courtesy of Wikicommons.
Empire Plaza, Albany. Courtesy of Wikicommons.

Democrats took total control of the New York State government after the 2018 general election, representing a major shift leftward. Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his 2019 State of the State, outlining his initiatives for the coming year. As expected, Democratic control has shifted his priorities in a far more progressive direction around housing, labor, and infrastructure.

Around housing, the Governor has reiterated his support for ending vacancy decontrol, which allows landlords to take apartments out of rent stabilization when a vacant unit has rent that reaches $2,733. However, the larger issue of mandatory capital improvements, also known as MCIs, which allows landlords to raise rent on rent-stabilized tenants to compensate for work, went unmentioned.

Regarding labor, the Governor insisted that any project receiving any sort of public subsidies would need to pay prevailing wages. Prevailing wages are essentially union wages, which would significantly expand the scope of union work. A bill doing that last year passed in the Assembly, then failed to move in the then-Republican controlled State Senate.

Lastly, the Governor made an even stronger push for congestion pricing than he had previously. In congestion pricing zones, he proposed surcharges of $11.52 for cars, $25.34 for trucks, and $2 to $5 for Uber and Lyft. The funds generated would go far towards funding NYCT’s Fast Forward Plan to fix the subway in 10 years.

While it remains to be seen if the State Legislature is behind these proposals, they likely will be, considering the results of the 2018 election. These policies would have a major impact on the construction industry. AIANY has already taken a stance in favor of funding the Fast Forward Plan, and has been advocating for congestion pricing for many months. AIANY will keep its members updated as Albany continues to see major political changes affecting our members.

Pulse Points:

  • Community board applications deadlines are approaching. The application links and deadlines for each borough are below. You can find more general information about serving here. Once you submit your application, please email Adam Roberts, Director of Policy, at aroberts@aiany.org so that he may advocate for your appointment with your borough president and local council member.
  • Registration is now open for the 2019 HOPE Count, the NYC Department of Homeless Services’ (DHS) annual counting of the homeless. On Monday, January 28, volunteers will venture out to count the homeless they encounter, which is how DHS determines the number of New Yorkers living on the street. AIANY proudly participated last year and encourages its members to sign up here.


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