Details Emerge In Potential Deal

Details are starting to fall into place for a potential resolution to an extraordinary session called by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The state Senate has left for the day with plans to return Thursday, but Assembly Democrats are potentially working into the night. There was no indication the Senate, controlled by Republicans, would back the details or hold a vote.

Lawmakers say an agreement is in place for extending sales tax measures for county governments for three years and mayoral control of New York City schools for two years. At the same time, $55 million would be made available for flood relief for damage at Lake Ontario.

But Speaker Carl Heastie wasn’t ready to commit to those details.

“I just updated the conference on where things are,” Heastie said after a closed-door briefing with his conference. “I don’t have a final bill yet, so I can’t give you a final opinion. I have to wait until the bill comes up.”

Heastie added the Assembly could vote this evening if a bill is ready.

One lawmaker Tuesday night added the Assembly will vote for a bill that would re-name the Tappan Zee Bridge after Mario Cuomo, the late governor and the father of the current governor. The Senate previously approved that legislation.

Gianaris Blasts ‘Extraordinarily Embarassing’ Session

Democratic Sen. Michael Gianaris in a statement Wednesday blasted the lack of any agreement in the extraordinary session in Albany for bolstering New York City’s ailing subway system.

“This extraordinary session is extraordinarily embarrassing for our state,” Gianaris said. “Make no mistake, this sorry chapter represents a dereliction of duty by state leaders who are failing to perform their most basic responsibilities. Instead of saving our mass transit system and working on other important issues, we’re wasting taxpayer dollars so politicians can come to Albany and stare at each other. It is an outrage of epic proportions.”

Gianaris, a Queens Democrat, had urged state leaders to take up a plan that would have provided more funding for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority through new taxes on those who make more than $1 million in the New York City MTA service area as well as hotel occupancy taxes.

A plan related to the MTA does not seem to be in the mix in Albany as straphangers increasingly turn their ire on Gov. Andrew Cuomo following the latest subway derailment.

Cuomo, who has boosted MTA capital spending, on Tuesday in a statement pointed to the appointed of Joe Lhota as the authority’s new chairman who is being charged with turning the problems on the system around.


So far the extraordinarily not-so-special session is turning out to be a bust, though the night is young, when one is speaking of state Capitol time. Heck, lawmakers till have several hours of daylight during which they could come to some sort of agreement that would extend mayoral control of the NYC school system, which is set to sunset at midnight Friday.

The trouble is, now that they’re here, lawmakers – and the governor – are gumming up the works by trying to stuff all sorts of unrelated issues into the mayoral extension bill, some of which weren’t all that terribly prominent during the final days of the regular session.

Anyway, while we’re all waiting for something to happen, here are some headlines to keep you busy…

The Coast Guard is backing off a contentious proposal to put 10 commercial shipping anchorages on the Hudson River stretching from Yonkers north to Kingston.

Two New York City subway supervisors were suspended without pay today – a day after a derailment in Manhattan that injured 34 people and was blamed on a piece of unsecured replacement track, the transit authority said.

Former Gov. George Pataki: “The MTA is an authority where the governor has a majority of appointees. So, ultimately, accountability lies on the governor.”

“Cuomo has provided the citizenry with all of the tools it needs to demonstrate that the subway is in dire need of investment and repair. If he’s smart, he’ll pretend that was his plan all along.”

The major cause of subway delays is a factor that basically did not exist 15 years ago: overcrowding. Subway ridership has risen dramatically since the 1990s, from about four million people using the system daily to almost six million.

Staten Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis – the Republican frontrunner challenging Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio – blamed both de Blasio and Cuomo for the current “transit crisis” in the aftermath of this week’s derailment.

Straphangers stuck on the derailed train are lining up to sue the subway system that made their morning a living hell.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has reached an agreement to receive memos written by former FBI Director James Comey detailing his interactions with Trump, Chairman Richard Burr said.

The reporter who accused White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders of inflaming the public against the media at a press briefing, Brian Karem, says he did it because he’s tired of being bullied by the administration.

Karem, executive editor of the Montgomery County Sentinel, conceded he may have lost his temper, but said it was a “long time coming.”

Two former press secretaries to Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton said the White House should embargo all video from press briefings for later use, preventing the video from being broadcast live.

Real estate developer and Republican Paul Massey bowed out of the NYC mayoral contest just hours after a bruising round of questions at a Crain’s Breakfast Forum in Midtown.

Transit advocates fed up with the mounting downstate subway crisis will host a protest rally outside Cuomo’s Manhattan office this evening.

After years of tolls, traffic, and frustration for some, the conversation around the future of tolls at the Grand Island Bridges is seeing movement, thanks to Supervisor Nate McMurray.

Construction worker Carlos Cardona, who developed a respiratory illness from working at the World Trade Center site in the weeks after the 9/11 attack won a stay of deportation after the Daily News highlighted his plight, and Cuomo gave him a pardon.

Sen. Jim Tedisco today honored three Schenectady-area residents who were involved in a dramatic rescue Sunday of a girl who dropped 25 feet from a ride at the Six Flags Great Escape amusement park near Lake George.

With more than a hundred firefighters from across the state watching, Syracuse’s fire chief rejected a state union’s decision to censure him.

Shortly after 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, an unknown Uber or Lyft driver will make history when he or she arrives curbside outside a Capital Region establishment.

More than 20,000 drivers are expected to give rides for Uber and Lyft when the apps launch, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Copy editors at the New York Times who face possible layoffs sent a letter to their editors protesting the newspaper’s proposed changes, and taking aim at the “humiliating” process of forcing those who might be on the chopping block to re-apply for their jobs.

A daredevil who died after plunging over Niagara Falls in an apparent stunt with an inflatable ball might have brought a boa constrictor along for the ride.

NY-22: Brindisi Launches Bid For Congress

Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi on Wednesday officially launched his campaign for the House district held by Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney, pledging to be “independent voice” in Congress.

In a statement, Brindisi touted his efforts for state funding for small-city school districts and pledged to oppose “irresponsible and mean health care policies.”

“I believe in an economy that rewards hard work,” Brindisi said.

“We need to create private-sector jobs, to invest in our local economy with tax breaks for the working and middle class, and ensure that our local workforce is ready to fill new jobs. We must invest in education and infrastructure to attract new businesses, while using apprenticeship programs to train those who will rebuild our manufacturing base and pay them living wages.”

The National Republican Congressional Campaign in a statement knocked Brindisi, linking him to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — a strategy deployed in the special election this month for a Georgia House race won by by GOP candidate Karen Handel.

“After all, Brindisi has spent years rubber-stamping Cuomo’s failed liberal agenda in Albany – and Nancy Pelosi knows he would do the same for her in Washington,” said NRCC spokesman Chris Smith. “Guess you can’t blame her for seeing an opportunity in a political opportunist.”

‘It’s Like We Never Left’

Negotiations continued today at the Capitol as lawmakers convene for an extraordinary session of the Legislature on Tuesday as talks continue over a potential broader deal beyond the extension of mayoral control for New York City schools.

Lawmakers are also considering an extension of a tax break for lower Manhattan real-estate that is favored by the Real Estate Board of New York and a provision to bolster New York City police and firefighter pensions.

But some lawmakers say a bigger agreement in an omnibus bill that could include a variety of measures left unresolved.

“It’s like we never left,” said Jeff Klein, the leader of the Independent Democratic Conference in the state Senate.

Top lawmakers met privately with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to discuss a potential package of measures that could include a variety of issues, such as a new agreement on upstate flood relief.

“I think that’s the intent,” Klein said. “But what the governor wanted to do and I believe him is continue mayoral control which is such an important issue for the city of New York.”

At issue has primarily been extending mayoral control of New York City schools, but upstate lawmakers are increasingly concerned sales tax provisions for county governments won’t be re-approved — losing billions of dollars in the process.

“I’ve been here for 35 years. Sales tax has not been an issue,” said Sen. Jim Tedisco, a Republican from the Albany suburbs. “That’s been general. We know it mitigates the property taxes. Nobody should be holding up the upstate county sales taxes.”

Frustration, too, is bubbling over a bit as Tedisco complained of Cuomo, “It seems like he thinks there are three branches of government: Me, myself and I.”

The sales tax measures were approved in May by the Assembly, but packaged with an extension of mayoral control for two years. The state Senate approved the bills in a traditional fashion, but pushed to expand charter schools — a non-starter for the Assembly.

Klein confirmed Wednesday talks surrounding charter school expansion had fallen off the table.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said there were “productive discussions, but no resolution” in the sales tax talks.

Lawmakers are also considering measures for financial relief for the Vernon Downs racino in the Mohawk Valley, speed cameras for New York City. Of course, a deal could still apart.

“They’re trying to resolve issues on how to proceed,” said Sen. John Bonacic. “The short question is are we going to gavel out and do nothing.”

Lawmakers aren’t ruling out staying beyond today and some lawmakers are already planning to stay here until at least Friday.

“I think we’re going to be here as long as the speaker feels we’re having productive talks,” said Democratic Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle.

Lawmakers have planned for multiple stays in Albany, booking more than one night at hotels and bringing a change of clothes.

“I always bring at least three suits,” said Republican Sen. Rich Funke.

Massey Drops Bid For NYC Mayor

Republican Paul Massey has dropped his bid for mayor of New York City, he announced on Wednesday in a surprise statement.

This leaves Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis of Staten Island the presumptive nominee for the Republicans to take on incumbent Democrat Bill de Blasio this fall.

“I am proud that I contributed to the debate on issues of importance to New Yorkers including education, housing and homelessness, and that I have provided real solutions for how to better our quality of life in regard to the ongoing transit crisis,” Massey said in a statement. “This journey has been wonderful because of the great New Yorkers I’ve met and all of the things my team and I have learned.”

Massey had entered the race early and, on paper, appeared to be cornering the end of the political marketplace that has sought out members of the business community, such as Michael Bloomberg, who served three terms and won through self-financing his campaigns.

Massey, in his statement, pointed to the cost of running for mayor as a factor.

“Unfortunately, the cost of running for office is extraordinary, and I do not see a path to raising the necessary funds to beat an incumbent mayor,” he said. “I am forever indebted to my family, team and my friends for their support.”

Cuomo Says He’d Back Vernon Downs Relief Bill

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement Wednesday said he would back a bill design to aid the Vernon Downs racino in the Mohawk Valley and urged lawmakers from the area to pass a bill.

A joint statement from Senate and Assembly lawmakers on Tuesday warned the racino needed a relief package or could face hundreds of jobs losses.

“Three hundred good jobs are at stake in the Mohawk Valley right now, and every day that goes by without resolution is another day of distress for these workers and their families. The Governor frequently speaks about fighting to protect middle class jobs in upstate New York, so securing relief for Vernon Downs by leveling the playing field to compete with other similar business interests is the perfect opportunity for the Governor and the Legislature to demonstrate this commitment,” they said in the statement.

“We understand there are other priorities the Governor wants to address, but we are respectfully calling upon the Governor to also include the future of Vernon Downs in any package of matters he plans to take up in an extraordinary session.”

Cuomo urged them to take up a bill “immediately” and said he would back it. Lawmakers are back in Albany on Wednesday for a special session of the Legislature.

“I received a statement from nine Mohawk Valley legislators concerning Vernon Downs,” Cuomo said. “To be clear, I am 100 percent supportive of Vernon Downs and stand ready to sign a bill that will protect people’s jobs and ensure the viability of the facility. However, the Legislature has not passed any such bill. I urge Mohawk Valley Senators James Seward, Joseph Griffo, David Valesky, and Jim Tedisco, as well as Assembly members Anthony Brindisi, Bill Magee, Marc Butler, Ken Blankenbush, and Brian Miller to pass a bill immediately and I will sign it.”

Moody’s Warns Of ‘Significant’ Impact Of Sales Tax Loss

Moody’s in a report issued this week warned there would be a “significant” impact on revenue for county governments if sales tax provisions aren’t renewed.

It’s not clear if lawmakers will take up those extensions, which had been re-approved by both the Assembly and Senate, but in differing ways amid a broader debate over extending mayoral control of New York City schools.

“These extenders give the counties outside New York City authority to impose sales taxes above the base 3% rate, but such authority needs to be reauthorized by the state legislature every other year,” Moody’s wrote in the report. Currently, 53 of New York’s counties are seeking extenders. Without the ability to maintain sales tax rates, counties would in almost all cases need to increase property taxes to fully mitigate the loss in revenue.”

The impact overall is expected to be $9.5 billion, Moody’s found.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie did not answer while walking back to the Assembly chamber on Wednesday morning whether the Assembly would once again take up the sales tax provisions, which had been packaged with an extension of mayoral control in a bill pass last month.

Lawmakers Return For Cuomo-Called Session

From the Morning Memo:

Lawmakers are back in Albany today for what they hope will be a one-off day of voting for an extension of mayoral control of New York City schools and, most likely, a bill to sweeten pensions for New York City police and firefighters.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the extraordinary session on Tuesday via proclamation outlining a narrowly defined plan: Pass mayoral control. But Cuomo did leave the door open to other items being considered as local governments also jockey to have their sales tax and other provisions extended — measures that have been caught up in the broader debate.

Special sessions of the Legislature are rare in Albany over the last several years (a deal to hold one in December fell apart).

Even rarer is Cuomo calling the Legislature back himself, exercising a rarely used power for the governor. The Legislature, of course, doesn’t have to act, other than to gavel in and out.

The historic concern for Cuomo has been holding a session leads to something of a Pandora’s box: Unresolved concerns, measures that didn’t quiet get over the goal line and bills that fell out of the negotiations are jolted back to life by their lobbyists and advocacy groups.

And that imperils that chances of a simpler, “clean” bill getting done for mayoral control, which expires on Friday.

The longer lawmakers are in town, the more that becomes a chance of happening.

Bellone Urges Sales Tax Extension Resolution

From the Morning Memo:

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on Tuesday in a letter to the top leaders in the Senate and Assembly urged them to address the issue of extending the county government’s sales tax in today’s special session of the Legislature.

In the letter, Bellone wrote that allowing the tax to lapse, the county would lose $300 million in revenue — a “catastrophic outcome.”

“As I write this, I can assure you that the County is not casting aspersions regarding the process to date, nor are we interested in seeing the needs of Suffolk County taxpayers used as a bargaining chip in connection with other important legislation that you are considering,” Bellone wrote. “We simply need this extension accomplished in time for us to prepare the County’s 2018 operating budget, a process which has already begun.”

Extending sales tax and other local taxing measures was long considered a perfunctory job for the Legislature. But in recent years, the home rule legislation has been used as a strategy to gain leverage over one chamber of the Legislature.

This year, the Assembly packaged the sales tax measures with an extension of mayoral control of New York City schools, passing a bill in May.

Speaker Carl Heastie argued the bill accomplished the same thing: Honoring local control for county and city governments in the state.

The state Senate, meanwhile, approved the sales tax measures, but linked their multiple mayoral control bills to expanding charter schools — a non-starter for Heastie.

County executives throughout the day on Tuesday issued statements raising concerns with the session to push for a guarantee the sales tax measures are accomplished this week.

At the same time, they want the authority to permanently extend sales tax provisions on their own — without Albany’s OK.

Official Bellone Letter 6.27.17 by Nick Reisman on Scribd