With the state legislature on summer recess and the city council finalizing their budget, Parkside sat down with our Partner and Co-Founder, Evan Stavisky, to recount this year’s state legislative wins and ongoing efforts to secure city funding.
From the start of the 2019 New York State legislative session, it was clear that a lot was going to change immediately. How was this year different from previous sessions?
ES: Typically, the first few weeks of a legislative session are quiet, but this year the legislature hit the ground running. The Senate and Assembly passed more substantive legislation in the month of January than you would usually see in an entire session. Voting reforms, the Reproductive Health Act, the Child Victims Act, common-sense gun laws, and the DREAM Act all passed within the first 30 days of the legislative session.
A big catalyst for this change was the new Democratic Senate Majority. How did Parkside adapt to the new legislative leadership?
ES: The new majority presented new opportunities, but also new challenges. Since the turn of the century, neither party has had a Senate majority this large and the Democrats have not had a majority this large since 1912. Our lobby team was prepared to help clients navigate this new terrain. This year, we hired three extraordinary advocates with nearly three decades of combined government relations experience. The team hit the ground running, helping our clients to adapt to the new world in Albany and securing major successes throughout the legislative session.
What were some of Parkside’s biggest state legislative wins in 2019?
ES: Parkside was involved in some of the biggest, most high profile and contentious issues of the day including sports betting, cannabis, prevailing wage, and property tax reform. Our biggest successes include winning Senate passage of sports betting legislation that our clients consider a model for the rest of the country; passing new prevailing wage standards for certain building services workers; passing a law in the state budget that protects the rights of Nassau homeowners to challenge their property tax assessments; passing legislation to raise standards for Home Inspectors; and passing multiple measures to help negligence victims secure justice.
We also helped defeat several ill-considered bills, including measures to undermine the Specialized High School Aptitude Test, legislation that would raise property taxes on beleaguered retailers, a bill that would devastate golf courses throughout the state, and a proposal that would have destroyed the ability of small businesses to secure credit.
Beyond the team’s work for companies and causes, Parkside represents many non-profit organizations serving the most vulnerable New Yorkers. How has the non- profit sector fared this year?
ES: City and State discretionary funding is crucial to community-based non-profit organizations, oftentimes these organizations depend on this funding to house the homeless, feed the hungry, heal the sick, provide job training, teach kids, and provide services for our seniors. As in past years, Parkside was able to secure millions of dollars in vital discretionary expense funding from the City Council and State Legislature so that essential programs such as adult literacy, health services for the LGBTQ community, senior programming and after-school will continue. Beyond operating assistance, we helped clients secure millions more in capital funds, which allow site acquisitions and much-needed upgrades of existing facilities.
However, while the city and state budgets have been adopted, smart non-profits know that there are still funds to be allocated by the City Council, including CASA, A Greener NYC and DoVE initiatives—all of which received enhancements for FY20. We are continuing to pursue this funding for our clients and non-profit advocacy remains a core part of our business.
Additional funding will be allocated by the Council throughout the year and we’re working with clients on smart strategies to pursue additional city funding.