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Mental Health Update

May 29, 2024
Mental Health Update

Albany Times Union Article on Not for Profit Pension System/Retirement Plan

Listed below is an article from Dan Clark of the Times Union in regard to A. 6839A and S.8660, the pension study bill.  This legislation would create a study for state government to review costs of a retirement system for the not for profit workforce.  If you are interested in supporting this important legislation, please let me know.

 Should nonprofits have access to the state pension system?

 Legislation is planned that would allow workers whose employers contract with the state to enter the same retirement system as public workers.

New York, like other states, relies on community providers for a plethora of services, including health care, mental health services and home care.

Those providers, in turn, receive funding from the state to help support that work.

  • Remember the cost of living adjustment I wrote about during state budget negotiations? Those are the providers I’m talking about.

But those workers aren’t able to receive benefits from the state — including access to its well-funded pension system.

  • Because they work for nonprofit organizations, and those employers are part of the private sector, they’re not eligible.

That could change under a bill sponsored by Assembly Mental Health Chair Aileen GUNTHER and Senate Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Chair Natalia FERNANDEZ, both Democrats.

Advocates have been working behind the scenesin recent weeks to wrangle votes from lawmakers for the bill, which would be a first step to bringing those workers into the pension system.

  • One of those advocates is Glenn Liebman, CEO of the Mental Health Association in New York State.

“We do the work of state government,” Liebman said. “And yet, at the end of the day, we still don’t have any mechanism for a retirement system for nonprofit members across the state.”

The bill would require a handful of state agencies to conduct a study on pension and retirement options for nonprofit human services organizations.

  • A report with recommendations would be due to the Legislature by November if it’s passed.

One question is whether those nonprofit workers would join the state’s existing state pension system, or have a separate fund.

  • Liebman told me they’re “agnostic” between those two options in hopes that the study, if conducted, would help sort that out.

The current version of the bill hasn’t moved during the ongoing legislative session, which doesn’t inspire confidence for its passage thisyear.

  • But starting the conversation now could make their chances better next year.
  • Gunther is also retiring at the end of this year, so a new chair of mental health in the Assembly could breathe new life into the bill.