Mar 2nd - 4:57 pm
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.
Mar 2nd - 4:28 pm
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.
Mar 2nd - 4:14 pm
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.”
Mar 2nd - 2:35 pm
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).
Mar 2nd - 1:49 pm
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).
Mar 2nd - 1:06 pm
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.
Mar 2nd - 12:31 pm
The co-founder of a gun-rights organization is criticizing the Schenectady County Republican Committee for hosting Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos as its keynote speaker at an upcoming event.
Skelos is due to speak at the county GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner on Wednesday.
“The state languishes in an oppressive regulatory environment; has seen droves of its citizens flee to other states; and has a government mired in corruption,” wrote Jake Palmateer, the co-founder of the group NY2A, in a letter sent last week to Chairman James Buhrmaster. “But Upstate New Yorkers see a glimmer of hope amidst the darkness. The ire created by the federal corruption investigation and the continued political action of SAFE Act opponents could restore a voice in Albany for Upstate New York in future election cycles. The keynote speaker selection of Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos by the Schenectady County GOP undercuts that hope and demonstrates the short-sightedness of a political party on the edge of irrelevance in New York State.”
The letter underscores the conservative dissatisfaction with the passage of the SAFE Act, which included a number of Senate Republicans backing the gun-control legislation, which passed in January 2013.
Skelos agreed to allowing a vote on the bill and voted in favor of its passage.
Senate Republicans have pointed to a number of provisions in the bill that address using illegally obtained firearms and the murder of first responders.
Still, Republicans in the chamber won full control of the Senate last year after three upstate Democrats lost their seats to GOP challengers.
Mar 2nd - 11:50 am
For Gov. Andrew Cuomo, $1.1 billion is the ceiling on increasing state education spending in this year’s $142 billion budget proposal.
But Senate Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan in a radio interview Monday called Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s high-end increase figure “the floor.”
Cuomo is tying much of the increase to approval of his education policy changes in this year’s budget, including a new teacher evaluation system, addressing failing schools by having them taken over by a state monitory and a strengthening of charter schools.
Without the passage of those measures, education spending would be hiked by $340 million.
“Tying everything together… or there’s no money, I don’t think that’s going work,” Flanagan, a Suffolk County Republican, said on The Capitol Pressroom.
The state Board of Regents, a semi-independent entity charged with setting education policy in the state, last year set its funding aspirations at $2 billion, twice as much as what Cuomo has proposed with policy measures approved.
“We look at $1.1 billion and say, ‘that’s a floor,”” Flanagan said.
As he has in recent weeks, the lawmaker added that Cuomo won’t be able to get everything he wants on education, even as the governor plays hardball by including them in his budget proposal.
“You can’t throw 20 things out there and say ‘I want everything’. Life doesn’t work that way,” Flanagan said.
A top priority for Senate Republicans this year has been completely eliminating the gap elimination adjustment through the budget, a move Flanagan said there’s “no question” he wants to see happen.
Adding more spending to the education portion of the budget — typically the most costly in New York’s spending plan save for Medicaid — is a perennial concern for state lawmakers, especially those from suburban school districts.
“This is my 29th year in the legislature and I don’t care who the Governor is, we always add,” Flanagan said.
Mar 2nd - 10:56 am
The statewide teachers union on Monday criticized Success Academy Charter Schools for planning to close on Wednesday in anticipation of a massive pro-charter rally in Albany.
In a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Board of Regents Chancellor Merry Tisch and Acting Education Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin, New York State United Teachers Karen Magee and Vice President Andy Pallotta questioned the plan to close the schools in order to hold what amounts to a political demonstration at the Capitol.
The charter school organization held a similarly large rally last year and closed its schools in order to bring students and parents to the rally.
“New York State United Teachers is seeking your views on several important questions raised by the upcoming Success Academy event. As a matter of policy, should Success Academy Charter Schools, Inc., as taxpayer-funded public schools, be permitted to close their doors and transport students, parents and staff to Albany for a rally? Even if they use substantial private funds, is this the “right thing for students?”
The union leaders also wondered whether they would be similarly criticized if public school districts closed “en masse” for an advocacy day at the Capitol.
“If school boards and superintendents in the state’s nearly 700 school districts also wish to close en masse for a day and transport thousands of their students, parents and staff to Albany to lobby for additional state funding, would that be permissible? Would you consider closing traditional public schools for a rally to be good public policy and the ” right thing” for all students?”
The letter is the latest salvo in the battle over education policy in the state.
Cuomo’s $142 billion budget would increase education spending by as much as $1.1 billion, but much of that funding increase is tied to enacting a number of policy changes ranging from a more stringent teacher evaluation law and a strengthening of the state’s charter schools.
The teachers unions have sought to frame Cuomo’s push as being “anti-teacher” by pursuing those policies, while the governor points to merit bonuses for especially high-performing teachers.
Mar 2nd - 10:31 am
Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi announced on Monday he had signed on to a legislative package that would alter and scale back some provisions of the SAFE Act, a omnibus gun control bill approved in 2013.
The measures, which are also backed by Sen. James Seward of Oneida, would address major aspects of the gun control law championed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which he counts among his most significant accomplishments as governor over the last four years.
The proposals would end the ban on giving long guns as gifts to relatives and pistol permit holders, repeal a provision in the law that limits 10-round magazines to seven rounds and end the requirement for ammunition retailers to register with the state and provide background checks on customers.
At the same time, county judges would be banned from “imposing extraneous restrictions” in issuing pistol and handgun licenses.
It’s not unusual for Republicans to seek amendments or outright repeals of the law, which has become a lightning rod for gun-rights advocates around the state and country.
But it is eyebrow-raising for a Democrat to back such a sweeping repeal.
In a statement, Brindisi pointed to concerns being raised by gun owners over the years.
“Over the past two years, I’ve received numerous letters and phone calls from constituents who are responsible gun owners, and who have some very valid objections to some of the most burdensome aspects of this law,” said Brindisi, a Utica Democrat. “The four bills I am introducing in the assembly would roll back some requirements of the NY-SAFE Act that are an unnecessary burden on responsible gun owners.”
Seward, a Republican who did not support the law’s passage in 2013, took a pointed view of the existing law.
“The reactionary, hastily drafted and passed NY-SAFE Act was meant for headlines and has done nothing to stop criminals from getting guns and using them for illegal purposes,” he said. “We need to take action now to correct the many technical issues the law created for responsible gun owners who shoot for sport, collect firearms, and carry guns to protect themselves and their families.”