Member Briefing April 11, 2022
$220 Billion – The 2022 State Budget By the Numbers
A litany of policy proposals got included in the budget, including changes to state bail laws and the temporary legalization of to-go cocktails. The budget though is ultimately a financial document filled with the dollars and cents needed to keep the Empire State chugging along until another fiscal year concludes at the end of next March.
- $31.5 billion – Total amount of total school aid compared to the $31.2 billion proposed by the governor in January.
- $7 billion – Total amount of new child care expansion over four years.
- $4.2 billion – Total amount of an environmental bond act that will go before voters this November.
- $600 million – Amount of state support authorized in the state budget to help fund a $1.4 billion stadium for the Buffalo Bills.
- $750,000 – Amount for Manufacturing Apprentices.
The deal also includes the suspension of the State’s Gas tax for seven months from June 1 – December 31.
- Read more at the Democrat & Chronicle
- Read the Governor’s press release
- Read the Empire Center’s Take
- Read the Statement from the Assembly Minority
Invasion of Ukraine Headlines
- Zelenskyy on 60 Minutes: ‘This is not a movie. This is real life.’ – Politico
- Full 60 Minutes Interview – CBS
- How Ukraine Used a Ragtag Arsenal to Thwart Russia’s Air Attacks – WSJ
- Russian Inflation to Continue Rising Due to Base Effect, Central Bank Says – Reuters
- Senate Votes 100-0 to Limit Trade With Russia, Ban Oil Imports – The Hill
- How Russia is Managing to Sell the Oil and Gas No One Wants to Buy – Fortune
- Petraeus Fears More Ukrainian Civilians Will be Targeted Under New Russian General – The Hill
- Russian Missile Attack Kills Dozens at Railway Station in Eastern Ukraine – WSJ
- Kremlin spokesman says Ukraine operation could end ‘in foreseeable future’ – The Hill
- Ukraine and Russia: What You Need to Know Right Now – Reuters
- Map – Tracking Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine – Live Universal Awareness Map
UN: Global Food Prices Hit Record High in March
World food prices jumped nearly 13% in March to a new record high as the war in Ukraine caused turmoil in markets for staple grains and edible oils, the U.N. food agency said on Friday. The February figure was previously put at 140.7, which was a record at the time. The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) food price index, which tracks the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 159.3 points last month versus an upwardly revised 141.4 for February.
In separate cereal supply and demand estimates on Friday, the FAO cut its projection of world wheat production in 2022 to 784 million tons, from 790 million last month, as it factored in the possibility that at least 20% of Ukraine’s winter crop area would not be harvested.
Logistics Index Hits All-time High
the Logistic Manager’s Index report for March showed an overall LMI reading of 76.2. That figure is the highest in the history of the index, up (+1.0) from February’s reading of 75.2. The average over the first quarter of 2022 was 74.5, well above the all-time average of 65.2. The first three months of 2022 have been marked by high levels of inventory, and insufficient capacity to deal with it. This trend started at the end of 2021 when inventories increased by 2.4% in December 2021 – an all-time month-to-month record.
The growth in this month’s index is fueled by metrics from across the index. Continued inventory congestion has driven Inventory Costs, Warehousing Prices, and overall aggregate logistics costs to all-time high levels. This is putting even more pressure on already-constrained capacity. Warehousing Capacity hit an all-time low in March.
The CDC is reporting 80.1 million cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 980,220 deaths. The decline in daily incidence tapered off at approximately 25-26,000 new cases per day from March 25-April 4, but the average jumped to 26,845 on April 5. Daily mortality continues to decline, down to 533 deaths per day on April 5, an 80% decline from the recent high in early February. Notably, the average daily mortality is at its lowest level since August 2, 2021.
The US has administered 563 million cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. Daily vaccinations have increased slightly over the past several days. Based on the timing of the increase, it is likely a result of the US FDA’s authorization of a second booster dose of the mRNA-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccines for certain individuals. A total of 256 million individuals have received at least 1 vaccine dose, which corresponds to 77.1% of the entire US population. A total of 218 million individuals are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 65.7% of the total population. Approximately 75.6% of adults are fully vaccinated.
NYS Vaccine and COVID Update
Vaccine Stats as of April 8:
One Vaccine Dose
- 89.7% of all New Yorkers – 16,498,222 (plus 3,259 from a day earlier).
- In the Hudson Valley 1,716,803 (plus 406).
- 76.3% of all New Yorkers – 14,787,582 (plus 4,356).
- In the Hudson Valley – 1,507,651 (plus 442).
- All New Yorkers – 7,494,039
- In the Hudson Valley – 894,012
The Governor updated COVID data through April 8. There were 10 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 70,374
- Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 948.
- Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 127
7 Day Average Positivity Rate – Cases per 100K population
- Statewide 3.39% – 19.68 positive cases per 100,00 population
- Mid-Hudson: 3.78% – 18.88 positive cases per 100,00 population
Variant Vax Strategy for Long Haul Is Needed, FDA Official Says
A top U.S. health regulator said that asking people to frequently get Covid-19 boosters wasn’t sustainable because of vaccine fatigue and that authorities needed to develop a long-term strategy for protecting the public from the virus as it evolves. Yet Dr. Marks and the experts said there are serious challenges to tweaking vaccines as needed, especially in time for the winter, when there could be another wave of infections.
Members of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, outlined several key features of a potential long-term plan: preventing severe disease, developing criteria for when to update vaccines and collecting data to support the efficacy of the shots. Several of the experts also said a future Covid-19 vaccine should probably target more than one strain of the virus, which could protect against those currently circulating and potentially others that are yet to emerge.
Should You Be Worried if You Get Infected With the BA.2 Variant?
Most people who are up-to-date with Covid-19 vaccines face little risk of landing in the hospital after a BA.2 infection, data suggest. Prior infection with another variant also bolsters the body’s defenses against BA.2, research has shown. And while hospitalization rates tend to lag behind new-case trends, the low levels of people hospitalized with Covid-19 as BA.2 has become dominant across the U.S. suggests that immunity may be strong enough in much of the country to avoid a big surge in severe cases, some public-health experts have said.
The virus still poses a threat to personal health and the public at large, doctors and officials have said. Some people, even those who are vaccinated, could suffer lingering effects of infection known as long Covid, some infectious-disease experts said. Covid-19 also remains a significant threat to the unvaccinated and to people with autoimmune conditions, public-health experts have warned.
Emmanuel Macron and Far-Right Leader Marine Le Pen Qualify for the Second Round of French Presidential Election
Projections by French polling firm Ipsos suggest the French president won 28.4 percent of the vote at the end of the first round of voting. His rival Le Pen, a longtime admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, garnered 23.4 percent of the vote, according to the same projections. It is Le Pen’s third appearance —and her highest ever showing — in the first round of a presidential election. While polling suggests Macron should retain the presidency in two weeks, he is on course for a far closer second-round clash than in the 2017 election, when he also faced Le Pen.
When it comes to NATO, Le Pen has triggered alarm by stating her desire to pull the EU’s only nuclear power out of the alliance’s integrated command structure “so as to be no longer caught up in conflicts that are not ours.”
NLRB General Counsel Aims to Drastically Change Employers’ Rights
For nearly 75 years, employers have held the right to gather employees at work for mandatory meetings to discuss, in a non-coercive manner, the employer’s views concerning unionization. On April 7, 2022, however, National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued a memorandum to all NLRB Field offices announcing that she will ask the NLRB to overturn this precedent and find that meetings of this sort violate of the National Labor Relations Act (the “Act”).
As it stands today, the NLRB precedent established in the Babcock & Wilcox Co. case remains intact, but the memorandum foreshadows that General Counsel Abruzzo will be submitting one or more cases to the Board in the near future to attack that precedent through the NLRB litigation process.
Sanctions Risk Weakening Dollars Global Dominance as Currency of Choice
Many of the recent sanctions leveled on Russia have power because they’re based on the U.S. dollar, which is the most widely used currency in global financial markets, trade and central bank reserves. However, some are cautioning that weaponizing the greenback in this fashion could erode its dominance, stoking fears that smaller currencies like the renminbi could gain a bigger role on the international stage.
China is already buying Russian energy with the yuan, while India is looking into a rupee-ruble trade arrangement. “Wars upend the dominance of currencies and serve as a doula to the birth of new monetary systems,” cautioned Zoltan Pozsar, analyst at Credit Suisse.
Senators to Restart Bipartisan Immigration Reform Talks
A bipartisan immigration deal appears to be congressional Democrats’ best hope of making good on their pledge to reform immigration, after Democrats’ attempts to go it alone as part of a sweeping bill unraveled last year. They would face a significant uphill climb getting such a reform deal heading into the November election, where Republicans plan to make the issue a key line of attack.
But Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told The Hill that they want to bring together a group of senators interested in trying to revive immigration discussions — a perennial policy white whale for Congress — after a two-week recess.
Nucor Invests in Nuclear Small Modular Reactor Venture
NuScale executives have agreed to buy $15 million worth of shares of Spring Valley Acquisition Corp. via a private placement that will help fund the commercialization of NuScale’s technologies. NuScale and Spring Valley in December agreed to combine in a deal valuing the combined company at $1.9 billion. The NuScale team has signed 20 memoranda of understanding with energy companies and other organizations to build their carbon-free small reactors across the world starting late this decade.
“We are looking for safe and reliable sources of power generation that are consistent with our sustainability goals,” Leon Topalian, Nucor’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “The continued development of small modular nuclear reactors is critical to ensure our nation has carbon-free, baseload power, which is why we are making this investment.”
Lockheed Confirms Hypersonic Weapon Concept
A Lockheed Martin-led team conducted a successful flight test of a new hypersonic weapon concept, achieving speeds above Mach 5 and altitudes higher than 65,000 feet. A release by the research consortium stated that the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) test flight “furthers the understanding of operations in the high-speed flight regime.”
Lockheed is known to be developing high-speed systems for combating high-value targets quickly from hundreds or even thousands of miles away – so-called, hypersonic weapons. Hypersonic systems are among the U.S. Dept. of Defense’s top developmental priorities, along with establishing secure domestic supply base. In May 2021, Lockheed along with Northrop Grumman conducted a live-fire hypersonic strike test system, and in October the company announced a new manufacturing plant for hypersonic missile systems in Courtland, Ala.
Jobless Claims: 166,000 Americans Filed New Claims Last Week
U.S. first-time unemployment claims fell much more than expected last week to reach the lowest level since 1968, with the rate of new layoffs and firings staying low compared to pre-pandemic averages.
- Initial jobless claims, week ended April 2: 166,000 vs. 200,000 expected and a revised 171,0000 during prior week.
- Continuing claims, week ended March 26: 1.523 million and a revised 1.506 million during prior week
The number of new claims filed last week marked the least in more than five decades and represented a third consecutive week that new claims were below 200,000. The prior week’s new claims were also markedly downwardly revised to 171,000, from the 202,000. Some of the volatility in the most recent weekly jobless claims data likely reflects a change in the way the Labor Department adjusted the figures to account for seasonal factors. Starting in Thursday’s report, the Labor Department returned to using “multiplicative” seasonal adjustment factors for the data. Over the course of the pandemic, the Labor Department had been using “additive” seasonal adjustment factors, which help smooth out large shifts in the data — as had been the case with the anomalous spikes in jobless claims that took place during the early wave of lockdowns in 2020.
Amazon Objecting to Union’s Victory in New York. Union Objecting to Amazon’s Victory in Alabama
Amazon.com accused the new union at a New York City warehouse of threatening workers unless they voted to organize, an assertion an attorney for the labor group called “really absurd.” The U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is giving Amazon until April 22 to back up its objections to last week’s election in New York, in which Staten Island workers voted to form the company’s first U.S. union. Amazon had requested extra time to provide evidence because its objections are “substantial,” it said in a filing Wednesday.
A second labor group, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which was losing a bid to organize an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, also filed objections on Thursday to that union election.