Cuomo Opens Door To Minimum Wage Outside Of The Budget

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Buffalo on Tuesday raised the potential to pursuing a minimum wage increase outside of the state budget, which is due at the end of this month.

At the same time, Cuomo spoke of compromising with Senate Republicans, who remain opposed to a two-tiered minimum wage hike proposal for New York City and the rest of the state.

Cuomo’s proposal would increase the state’s minimum wage to $11.50 in New York City and $10.50 elsewhere.

If state lawmakers do not act this year, the wage will increase automatically at the end of the year to $9, up from the current $8.75, a product of a 2013 law.

“I hope to get it done this legislative session either in the budget which is April or at the end of the legislative session in June,” Cuomo said in Buffalo.

He added that his appearance in western New York today was meant to highlight the push for the minimum wage increase and by having voters contact their local legislators to push for the wage hike.

But Cuomo also acknowledged that Republican lawmakers, who hold control of the Senate with 33 seats, remain opposed to the latest wage increase.

“We have a Democratic Assembly and a Republican Senate,” Cuomo said. “For many years, that stymied progress in New York. Probably the single thing I’m most proud of in the last four years we’ve been able to work together.”

He spoke generally about his own record on working with Republicans, adding he sees the possibility for a deal on a wage increase again.

“At the end of the day, we’ve been able to reconcile and reach a compromise,” Cuomo said. “We’ve been able to do that in New York, I wish Washington did that better, frankly. But we’ve been able to reach compromise positions and I think we’ll be able to do that again.”

The last minimum wage increase was allowed by Senate Republicans, though they technically held a numerical minority in the chamber. The Independent Democratic Conference, a five-member breakaway caucus, held power in the chamber over the last two years and pushed for the wage increase.

But liberals and other wage advocates have knocked that agreement, saying it didn’t go far enough.

Mainline Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy this morning said the most recent agreement was “half a loaf.”

“Raising the minimum wage is something that the Senate Democrats have long fought for and we were the ones that pointed out that the last deal made on the raise was nothing more than a half loaf,” Murphy said. “I hope the Senate Republicans will finally join the fight for fair pay and raise the minimum wage.”

The Push And Pull For Disclosure In The Post-Silver Era

From the Morning Memo:

State lawmakers are under pressure from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to disclose more information on their outside business interests, including their privately held clients.

“People have to know. That’s where we keep getting into trouble as a government,” Cuomo told reporters last month in Utica.

But lawmakers in recent days have started to push back.

Senate Republicans introduced a bill last week requiring non-family members living with state officials to disclose their income as well. The bill appears to be targeting Cuomo’s live-in girlfriend, Food Network star Sandra Lee.

“We believe the governor’s office should be participating in these disclosures and participating in the ethics reforms,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco said in an interview.

Cuomo is linking new disclosure requirements to the approval of spending in the $142 billion budget proposal. This has upset some lawmakers, who say it makes it more difficult for them to negotiate a compromise.

“The more that appropriations are tied up in language, it ties the Legislature’s hands to act,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said at a news conference last week.

And then there’s Cuomo’s own record on disclosure and his administration’s new policy of deleting emails after 90 days. Democratic Sen. Liz Krueger is introducing a bill that would halt that deletion policy.

“I think the governor’s office really missed the boat on this one. We’re living in the 21st century. Email is a standard form of communication between the public and the government,” the Manhattan Democrat said in an interview.

For some lawmakers, the deletion policy being pursued by the governor’s office is in contradiction to the efforts to shine more sunlight on the Capitol.

“I think that the governor believes we should have more transparency, more information flow between legislators and the public. I think the governor just needs to think through is the right hand doing what the left hand is saying,” Krueger said.

The ethics push at the Capitol comes after the arrest of now-former Speaker Sheldon Silver on corruption charges. Silver was one of the longest serving speakers in the state’s history. And on Monday, Senate lawmakers moved to limit how many years legislative leaders and committee chairs can serve.

“I do believe that when you’re in power for too long, you begin to somewhat removed and insular from people and there’s potential for more problems,” said Sen. Joe Griffo, a Rome Republican who is the measure’s main sponsor. “I believe this is a better way to empower more members, allow more members opportunities to serve in leadership.”

Gentile Receives WFP Nod

From the Morning Memo:

City Councilman Vincent Gentile on Monday evening received the backing of the labor-aligned Working Families Party as he seeks to take on Republican Dan Donovan in the 11th congressional district special election.

In a statement, WFP State Director Bill Lipton referenced Donovan’s role in presiding over a grand jury as Staten Island district attorney that ultimately voted to not indict a New York City police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

“Vincent Gentile’s been a fighter for working families on housing and health issues,” Lipton said. “He will bring extensive experience to this post from his time in the New York State Senate and as a member of the NYC Council. By contrast his opponent, Daniel Donovan, has become a national symbol for inequality in the criminal justice system.”

Donovan had recused himself as the prosecutor who investigating the WFP’s for-profit consultant firm Data & Field Services in a 2009 city council race, a move that was later upheld by the state Court of Appeals.

Donovan, meanwhile, was endorsed by the Independence Party on Monday as well as Republicans in Brooklyn and Staten Island. Over the weekend, Donovan received the endorsement of the Conservative Party.

The special election to replace disgraced Republican former Rep. Michael Grimm is set for May 5.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Erie County and Albany. It’s going to be a VERY busy day down at the Capitol – lobby day, with many groups – including college students who want to preserve TAP, NYS Farm Bureau members, raise-the-age supporters and NFIBers – making their respective cases. As such, today’s calendar appears at the bottom of this post instead of the top.

Headlines…

Rallies both in support of and against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed education reforms took place at the state Capitol yesterday.

The ranks of the anti-Cuomo protestors were stronger, with more than 1,000 teachers and public education advocates marching through the Empire State Plaza concourse, clogging security checkpoints into the Capitol and rallying on the Million Dollar Staircase in a boisterous protest of the governor’s plan.

House Speaker John Boehner is expected to move soon – as early as tomorrow – to bring up the clean bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security for a vote on the House floor.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio accused House Republicans of putting New York City in jeopardy by threatening a partial shutdown of the DHS, calling the city the top target for terrorism in the nation.

Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record.

Billionaire supermarket mogul, political donor and sometime candidate John Catsimatidis did not deny his interest in potentially buying the Daily News, but said he’s under a confidentiality agreement and can’t discuss its possible sale.

Cuomo, through his aides, has given a chilly response to Senate Republicans for proposing that some financial data regarding live-in girlfriends of elected officials – such as Cuomo’s girlfriend, Sandra Lee – be subject to the same ethics disclosures required for spouses of elected officials. But back in 2009, then-Attorney General Cuomo made that connection himself.

The governor’s former top racing and gaming adviser was “aghast” to learn that his emails concerning the banishment of the Wandering Dago food truck from Saratoga Race Course had been deleted from his account — despite a reporter’s FOIL request and a lawsuit involving communications related to the truck’s banishment.

US Attorney Preet Bharara should be more prudent in his public criticism of Albany and its denizens, says Bennett L. Gershman, a former prosecutor and professor at Pace University School of Law.

Safety advocates are calling for increased prosecution of drivers who violate traffic laws, including a new one that makes failure to yield a misdemeanor, instead of a traffic violation, if a pedestrian is killed or injured. They are also asking the State Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend a driver’s license after serious offenses as a way of deterring dangerous driving.

Three guards accused of beating an inmate at the Attica Correctional Facility so severely that doctors had to insert a plate and six pins into his leg each pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of misconduct. The last-minute plea deal spared them any jail time in exchange for quitting their jobs.

For the first time, the state quietly released details on how much some films and shows received in tax breaks for the final quarter of last year. The list of 10 productions showed they received a total of $27 million in the fourth quarter, with the most being $10 million for the hit show Orange is the New Black on Netflix.

De Blasio, in an appearance on The Nightly Show, once again explained his comments about how he speaks to his biracial son regarding interactions with the police.

The mayor made it clear he doesn’t want to discuss his rocky relationship with Cuomo, though he didn’t deny a report that he’s trying to mend fences.

Assemblyman Jim Brennan, the New York sponsor of a Port Authority reform bill passed in both states but vetoed by both Cuomo and NJ’c Chris Christie, rejected the New Jersey compromise version of that measure, all but dooming its chances in its current configuration.

More >

Extras

Gov. Andrew Cuomo repeatedly has said that the state’s $5.4 billion cash windfall is a “one shot” that should not be spent on recurring expenses. Yet his proposed budget might allow him to do just that.

Maverick supermarket billionaire John Catsimatidis is said to be the mystery suitor negotiating to buy the embattled Daily News from Mort Zuckerman.

Six-term Sen. Barb Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat and the longest-serving woman in Congress, announced she’ll retire in 2016.

A bevy of NYC elected leaders joined tenant groups outside City Hall to demand the state government bolster protections for tenants of more than one million apartments across the five boroughs.

The de Blasio administration reached a project labor agreement with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, covering $3.5 billion of work and repairs at the NYCHA over the next three years.

Sen. Jose Peralta is stretching Senate rules by wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the Statue of Liberty to session in his push for the passage of a state DREAM Act.

Environmental Advocates is criticizing the governor’s decision to pull $36 million from the state’s cap-and-trade program and put it toward unrelated projects.

A diet secret of Rep. Charlie Rangel’s: “You can bet your life. There ain’t no pork in my fork.” (He’s also a fan of strawberry, banana, pineapple, ginger smoothies).

Cuomo’s former top racing and gaming adviser was “aghast” to learn that his emails concerning the ouster of the Wandering Dago food truck from the Saratoga Race Course had been deleted from his account.

As promised by Mayor Bill de Blasio during his 2013 campaign, a longtime ban on cellphones at New York City public schools has been lifted.

Five years after some state parks faced the possibility of closure due to budget woes, Cuomo is looking to invest $900 million to improve the system.

Zephyr Teachout said Cuomo should not exclude the executive branch from any ethics reforms, accusing him of trying to deflect from his own missteps.

Sen. Tony Avella is using the latest snowfall in the New York metropolitan area to push his bill that would create a fine for driving down the road without first removing the snow from your vehicle.

Just as jury selection was scheduled to begin in the gang-assault trial of three Attica Prison corrections officers, those guards have accepted a plea deal.

Is it time to close Attica altogether?

De Blasio said something nice about former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

The NYPD is being taught a new takedown tactic for people resisting arrest to prevent another Eric Garner tragedy as part of a three-day training course that also emphasizes better communication with the public.

The Syracuse Police Department has withdrawn from a drug task force in the latest chapter of an ongoing feud with Onondaga County’s district attorney.

A former Albany County legislator was arrested Sunday morning and charged with dumping cat feces on the property of a Selkirk resident.

Krueger: Cuomo’s Disclosure Rules In Conflict With Email Policy

Democratic Sen. Liz Krueger on Monday criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration for pursuing an email retention policy that deletes messages after 90 days while simultaneously calling for state lawmakers to reveal more information on their outside business interests.

“I think that the governor believes we should have more transparency, more information flow between legislators and the public,” she said in an interview. “I think the governor just needs to think through is the right hand doing what the left hand is saying.”

As first reported by The New York Post, Krueger plans to introduce a bill that would block the administration’s new email policy.

“I think the governor’s office really missed the boat on this one,” Krueger said. “We’re living in the 21st century. Email is a standard form of communication between people and their government.”

Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi took to Twitter this afternoon with a snarky response to the proposal.

“We’ll review Liz Krueger’s legislation & anticipate it will include provisions opening up the Legislature to FOIL process,” Azzopardi tweeted, prompting a back and forth with a Senate Demcoratic spokesman.

In the interview, Krueger said her bill would cover FOIL as well.

“We should absolutely have a 21st century rational retention policy for all forms of communication, including email. Of course, we should make sure that complies with FOIL, the Freedom of Information Act,” she said.

Up until recent weeks, the mainline conference of Senate Democrats has been hesitant to criticize Cuomo, but lawmakers have parted with him on several issues, including allowing Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins into the closed-door budget talks as well as the governor’s education policy proposals in this year’s budget.

DeFran: ‘Balanced’ Diclosure That Includes Cuomo

Senate Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco in an interview on Monday said Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office should be included in a finalized ethics deal.

“We believe the governor’s office should be participating in these disclosures and participating in the ethics reforms,” the Syracuse Republican said. “There’s nothing about the Legislature that they’re any different than the governor’s office. I think it’s part of the negotiations and it should be balanced.”

Senate Republicans last week introduced a bill that would require non-relatives who live state officials to disclose information on their outside income. The move was seen as a way of targeting Cuomo’s girlfriend, Food Network personality Sandra Lee (a Senate spokeswoman denied Lee was specifically being singled out by the bill).

A Cuomo official told reporters in response the office would also support amending the bill to include married lawmakers’ girlfriends.

Cuomo this year is tying new disclosure laws and per diem reform to spending in the state budget as a way of getting state lawmakers to agree to the changes.

Cuomo has said he won’t agree to a budget deal without those reforms in place.

DeFrancisco, in the interview, reiterated that Cuomo’s bargaining method this year makes it more difficult for a spending plan to pass on time.

However, DeFrancisco is skeptical the governor would risk breaking his streak of approving budgets before the start of the state’s fiscal year, April 1. Cuomo is yet to preside over a late state budget.

“I truly believe the governor wants to have an on-time budget. He’s using it for negotiating strategy,” he said. “I think we’re going to come up with something we can agree on on ethics.”

Independence Party Backs Donovan in NY-11

The state Independence Party has announced its support of Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan’s run to fil the House seat vacated by former GOP Rep. Michael Grimm, giving the Republican candidate three ballot lines in the May 5 special election.

The Independence Party’s decision comes on the heels of an announcement yesterday from the state Conservative Party that it, too, had voted to back Donovan, who will face off against Democratic Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile in two months.

In a statement announcing the endorsement, state Independence Party Chairman Frank MacKay said Donovan “has proven time and again that he puts people before politics,” adding:

“His integrity and commitment to public service is unparalleled. With all of the important issues facing our city and nation right now, I know Dan is the right man for the job. We are proud to endorse him as the next congressman for the people of Staten Island and South Brooklyn.”

When he ran for state attorney general in 2010, Donovan removed his name from consideration for endorsement by the Independence Party after his office received “several allegations of misconduct” by MacKay. The DA said he was withdrawing his name “to preserve the integrity of my office and the integrity of any possible investigation undertaken.”

Donovan later cleared MacKay in a probe that involved a candidate seeking the Independence Party endorsement in a NYC Council special election whose company had loaned $10,000 to a software company run by MacKay’s wife, Kristin.

The Independence Party ended up backing a placeholder candidate, Long Isdland attorney Steve Lynch, and then replacing Lynch with then-state Sen. Eric Schneiderman after his won the five-way Democratic state AG primary. Schneiderman went on to defeat Donovan in the November general election. (In order to get Lynch off the ballot, the Monroe County Democrats agreed to nominate him for a state Supreme Court judgeship, which he did not win).

Cuomo Promotes Regional Benefits Of Property Tax Plan

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on Monday sought to shore up support for his $1.66 billion property tax proposal, which would tie increases to a household’s income, by giving a region-by-region breakdown of the plan’s potential impact.

“We must ensure economic opportunity in New York – and that means putting money back in the pockets of hardworking homeowners who have been struggling under the crushing burden of property taxes for far too long,” Cuomo said in a statement. “During the last four years, we capped property taxes, and then we froze them. Now we are going to cut them. This program addresses the one of the most important challenges we face as a state – making New York affordable – by providing real, meaningful, significant tax relief that will make a difference in people’s lives.”

The proposal is being paid for with a projected budget surplus, which Cuomo’s office plans will come from keeping spending under 2 percent increases. The plan would be phased in over four years.

Cuomo’s plan is essentially a version of the circuit-breaker relief proposal that has been proposed multiple times over the years.

Cuomo’s tax plan comes on top of a cap on property tax increases, which was first approved in 2011.

The plan also includes a tax credit for renters, with relief linked to a renter’s income, added last year at the behest of affordable housing advocates.

The property tax relief plan would impact homeowners with household incomes below $250,000 and whose taxes exceed 6 percent of their income.

On Monday, Cuomo’s office released a county-by-county analysis of how much taxpayers in a given area would benefit (For example, 15,296 in Broome County would receive an average credit of $686, totaling some $10.5 million, etc).

‘Scheduling Confilct’ Keeps Perry From NY

An unspecified “scheduling conflict” prevented former Texas Governor and potential 2016 presidential contender Rick Perry from appearing in New York today as the headliner at a luncheon hosted by the Monroe County GOP.

Assemblyman and party Chairman Bill Reilich said he was not provided any details by Perry’s team about exactly what had come up that prevented the Texas Republican from making the trip to Rochester. But Reilich didn’t seem terribly surprised or upset about the cancellation.

“When you’re dealing with someone who’s as busy as he is, these things happen,” the chairman told me during a brief telephone interview this afternoon.

Reilich said he has been assured that Perry will appear in upstate New York at a later date, though he could provide no specifics.

Perry was supposed to be the guest speaker at a luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, with a private VIP reception held prior to the lunch. The former governor has said he plans a May/June timetable for deciding whether he will throw his hat into the ring again to compete for the GOP nomination for the 2016 presidential race.

During his time in office, Perry was a frequent critic of New York, which is known for its high taxes and difficult business climate – both issues Gov. Andrew Cuomo has tried to tackle over the past four years and continued to address in his 2015-16 executive budget. The former governor has traveled to the Empire State several times in hopes of convincing businesses to relocate to the Lone Star State, and he has even run ads here – and in other states, too – urging companies and residents to move.