Tax Foundation: NY Ranks Second To Last In Tax Climate

The Tax Foundation on Tuesday released its annual rankings of states’ tax climates, ranking New York 49th overall in the country.

The state lands between New Jersey at 50 and California, ranked 48th.

The state ranks second-to-last in individual taxes and 47th in property taxes. New York is also 43rd in sales tax.

The state does fare better when it comes to its corporate tax ranking at 7th in the country.

New York has typically ranked at the back of the pack when it comes to its tax climate in the group’s survey of U.S. states.

Updated: The Division of Budget, part of the Cuomo administration, pushed back against the ranking.

“Their obvious ideology aside, the facts are that this administration has been rigorous and effective in constraining State spending growth to the lowest level in modern history – resulting in lower taxes for all New Yorkers,” said DOB spokesman Morris Peters. “We now have the lowest corporate tax rate since 1968, the lowest manufacturers tax rate since 1917 and, with the new income tax cuts phasing in this year, the lowest middle class tax rates since 1947.”

Anti-Scaffold Group: $300M Could Be Saved On Gateway Project

A group that backs changes to the Scaffold Law in New York in a analysis released Tuesday found the law is adding as much as $300 million to the cost of the Gateway tunnel project between New York and New Jersey.

The $13 billion Port Authority project has been a top priority for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The group, Common Good, found the insurance costs on the project will add between $180 million and $300 million to the project.

“This is a classic example of an obsolete law that needs to be removed,” said Philip K. Howard, the group’s chairman. “It’s out-of-date, exceptionally expensive, and unique to New York.”

Efforts to make changes to the measure have stalled in the face of opposition from labor groups as well as organizations that represent trial lawyers. A push on the federal level to makes changes to law has been backed by Rep. John Faso.

“Every obsolete law will have special interests dedicated to preserving it, but the public interest should come first” Howard said. “New Yorkers should not be on the hook to pay for these unnecessary costs.”

Pence Heads To WNY

Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to visit the Buffalo area today.

Pence will have a busy schedule after Air Force Two touches down at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, starting with a fundraiser for Republican Rep. Chris Collins, long an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump, which is scheduled for noon.

Guests said they were notified of the location, Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, last night. Protesters, including opponents of Collins, plan to stage a rally outside the fundraiser.

“While Chris Collins holds a million dollar fundraiser with Vice President Mike Pence on October 17th, citizens and friends of the 27th District will come together to give voice to the voiceless, and visibility to the invisible,” they said in a press release.

Pence’s appearance on Collins’ behalf comes on the heels of a revelation by the House Ethics Committee that there is “substantial reason to believe” the congressman engaged in insider trading and either took or requested official actions to benefit a biotech company in which he’s the largest shareholder.

The committee announced it would extend its review of whether Collins potentially violated federal law and House rules regarding insider trading under a procedure that does not set deadlines for further public announcements and rarely results in punishment.

Collins has repeatedly insisted he did nothing wrong.

Pence’s trip may indeed have been in the works for some time, but his decision to go ahead and attend an event with Collins is an indication that the congressman continues to have the support of the president.

Remember that Collins was the first member of Congress to endorse Trump’s 2016 campaign at a time when many of his fellow Republicans were running the other way. That no doubt counts for quite a bit in the president’s eyes.

Following the luncheon, the vice president will tour a local manufacturing facility and host a round table discussion about the federal tax reform plan being aggressively pushed by the White House. The fundraising event is private, but the roundtable will be open to a local media press pool, members of which were pre-selected.

Both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer preemptively criticized Pence and the administration’s reform plan yesterday – particularly the proposed elimination of the State and Local Tax Deduction. They said eliminating the deduction will hurt many of the very same constituents the vice president will meet with today.

NY-19: Rhodes Plans RV Tour

From the Morning Memo:

Democratic congressional candidate Gareth Rhodes on Tuesday is kicking of an RV tour — a “Rhodes Trip” he’s dubbed it — of the sprawling 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley.

Rhodes is among the crowded field of Democratic candidates in the House district seeking to take on Republican Rep. John Faso next year in what is expected to be a battleground race.

Rhodes plans to travel to all 163 towns and cities in the district in a 1999 Ford Winnebago RV.

“I believe anyone who wants to represent this community in Congress owes the respect to look every person here in NY-19 in the eye,” Rhodes said. “Listen to your hopes and concerns. Earn your trust and answer the tough questions,” Gareth Rhodes said. “So I’m hitting the road and am going to all 163 towns and cities in NY-19 to do what our current member of Congress refuses to: have the respect to show up and listen to your hopes, your concerns, your ideas, and share my vision for the future of this community.”

He’s not the first candidate for office to go with the RV approach. Rhdoes’s former boss, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, traveled in an RV to tour upstate New York during his campaign for governor in 2010.

“Between now and Election Day, I’ll be coming to you,” Rhodes said. “And unlike John Faso and the typical politicians that only show up in your mailbox or on your TV, I’ll be there in person. At your door, your local diner, your farm, your firehouse, talking about why I’m so hopeful for our future. And this “Rhodes Trip” isn’t just a one-time effort. Once elected to Congress, I pledge to travel to all 163 towns and cities in NY-19 every year.”

And in a district that has seen its share of Democratic candidates with tenuous ties to the area, Democratic political observer Bruce Gyory said Rhodes’s trip is a good idea.

“The last two cycles Democrats were hurt by the carpetbagger charges ef‎fectively leveled by the GOP against Eldridge and Teachout,” Gyory said. “Rhodes grew up in the district and this tour underscores those roots. What may be dismissed as a stunt by some may appear to voters as a marker for hard work and a dogged campaign style. The enduring impact of the tour will likely be driven by what comes after it is over.”

GOP Advocacy Group Plans $600K Ad Buy

From the Morning Memo:

The Republican-aligned advocacy group American Action Network is launching a $600,000 ad purchase for digital spots aimed at pushing for the GOP-backed tax overhaul efforts in Washington.

The group has been targeting key House districts nationally and in New York. The launch comes as Vice President Mike Pence is in western New York later on Tuesday to push for the tax overhaul efforts with Republican Rep. Chris Collins.

“The tax reform plan put forward by the White House and congressional leaders would provide a tax cut upward of $1,200 for the average, middle-class family. It’s time for Congress to do their part, act on tax reform, and make tax cuts a reality for hardworking Americans across the country,” said the group’s executive director Corry Bliss. “America’s current tax code places a costly and unnecessary burden on middle-class families. Too many working families have had to live paycheck-to-paycheck for too long, struggling to make ends meet.”

Since August, the group has spent $12 million, including ad buys in seven New York congressional districts.

Senate Dems Raise Concerns With Workers Comp Guidelines

From the Morning Memo:

The 21 members of the mainline Democratic conference in the Senate have signed onto a letter raising concerns with the effort to reform the state’s workers compensation regulations.

The changes, passed in the budget this April, were sought by the business community and are designed to save money when a worker is injured on the job. The agreement in the budget, which had been a negotiating point for state Senate Republicans, was the first workers compensation law change in 10 years.

But labor groups — and Democratic lawmakers — have raised some concerns with how the details of the draft regulations.

“As legislators, we understand the concern of businesses that old regulations may be medically outdated and impose unreasonable costs,” the lawmakers wrote to Workers Compensation Board Chairwoman Clarissa Rodriguez. “Those concerns were balanced against the needs of injured workers in this specific proposal, and taken into consideration with the enactment of other workers’ compensation reforms this year.”

But the Senate Democrats fear the regulations “goes beyond the legislative intent.”

“In many cases, the regulations would wholesale eliminate compensation for seriously injured workers, and improved medical procedures do not justify eliminating the need for compensation for serious injuries,” the letter states. “By placing a substantial number of injuries into categories that presume little to no compensation, the Board has made a policy judgment that exceeds questions of medical improvements and worker healing.”

SDC Workers Compensation Reform Administrative Comment by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Erie, Onondaga and Clinton counties.

This morning, President Donald Trump meets in the Oval Office with Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

In the afternoon, Trump will greet Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Greece, meet with him, and have a working luncheon with him. After lunch, the two leaders will hold a joint press conference.

Later in the afternoon, Trump will participate in a Diwali ceremonial lighting of the Diya.

In the evening, the president will the depart the White House en route to the Marriott Marquis Washington, D.C. to give remarks to the Heritage Foundation’s President’s Club Meeting.

Vice President Mike Pence travels to Buffalo this morning, where, joined by Rep. Chris Collins, he will participate in a political reception (at noon, at an undisclosed location) and then meet (at 1:30 p.m.) at Performance Advantage Company with local businesses, community leaders, and families to discuss the need for tax reform.

At 9 a.m., the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs Council meets with state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, 1120 Sixth Ave., Manhattan.

At 9:45 a.m., the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission holds a hearing, 1 Centre St., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals holds a public hearing, 22 Reade St., Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., Rep. Jose Serrano hosts an “Ask An Astronaut” event with NASA astronaut Lee Morin, Bronx Community College, Schwendler Auditorium, 2155 University Ave., the Bronx.

At 10:30 a.m., Cuomo makes an announcement, John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital, 818 Ellicott St., Buffalo.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Sen. Jim Tedisco and local leaders will announce $1.5 million in new state funding to provide much-needed renovations to significantly enhance public safety at the Glenville Police Department, Town Hall, 18 Glenridge Rd., Glenville.

At 11 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul delivers opening remarks at the Shared Services Initiative presentations, Rockefeller Institute of Government, SUNY, 411 State St., Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will join the Parks Department, NYC Football Club, U.S. Soccer Foundation, adidas and Etihad Airways for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and inaugural soccer match, marking the first of 50 soccer fields to be opened throughout the city, P.S. 83 Luis Munoz Rivera/P.S. 182, 219 East 109th St., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Republican NYC mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis will be endorsed by the Sergeants Benevolent Association at a news conference, Antun’s, 96-43 Springfield Blvd., Queens.

At 11:40 a.m., the state Board of Regents holds an executive session during its two-day October meeting, 89 Washington Ave., Albany.

At 12:30 p.m., Cuomo makes an announcement, Syracuse Hancock International Airport, Main Terminal, 1000 Colonel Eileen Collins Blvd., Syracuse.

At 1 p.m., Hochul makes a jobs announcement, Unison Industries, 5345 NY-12, Norwich.

Also at 1 p.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. holds a public hearing, 851 Grand Concourse, Room 206, the Bronx.

Also at 1 p.m., Rep. Nita Lowey, along with local officials, visits the Haverstraw Firehouse to discuss her recent visit to Puerto Rico and to provide an update on relief and recovery efforts, 25 Fairmount Ave., Haverstraw.

At 1:30 p.m., the NYC Council holds a stated meeting, City Hall, Council Chambers, Manhattan.

At 2:30 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will make an announcement about protecting tenants and participate in a discussion with a tenant helped by city programs, Legal Services NYC, 1 W. 125th St., 2nd Floor, Manhattan.

At 2:45 p.m., Cuomo makes an announcement, Norsk Titanium USA, 44 Martina Circle, Plattsburgh.

At 3 p.m., Hochul delivers remarks at the groundbreaking of the Roxbury Hotel expansion, 2258 County Road 41, Roxbury.

At 4:30 p.m., Hochul highlights the NYS craft brewing industry during a tour of the Roscoe Brewery, 145 Rockland Rd., Roscoe.

At 6 p.m., the New York Immigration Coalition celebrates its 30th anniversary by honoring former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and Unite Here’s General Vice President Maria Elena Durazo, 583 Park Ave., Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m., Rep. Claudia Tenney hosts a forum on the opioid and heroin crisis, Binghamton University Symposium Hall, 85 Murray Hill Road, Vestal.

Also at 6:30 p.m., Rep. Nydia Velázquez hosts a resource forum to provide an update on the federal disaster response in Puerto Rico, Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic, featuring NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, 309 47th St., Brooklyn.

At 7 p.m., NYC Votes hosts a debate for NYC comptroller candidates Michael Faulkner and incumbent Scott Stringer broadcast on NY1 and WNYC, CUNY TV Studios, 365 Fifth Ave., Manhattan.

Headlines…

President Donald Trump and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to convey a sense of harmony after months of bitter, private feuding that threatened to undermine their party’s legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

Hillary Clinton’s defense of NFL players who kneel in protest during the national anthem is indicative of her disconnect with the American people, Trump suggested, adding that her comments have been “very disrespectful to our country.”

Clinton fell and broke her toe during her book tour in London as Trump said he hoped she would run for president again in 2020. She had to cancel several interviews, and appeared on “The Graham Norton Show” with a protective walking boot on her right foot.

Trump falsely suggested he is one of few commanders-in-chief to call the families of fallen U.S. soldiers, and wrongly singled out his predecessor Barack Obama as a leader who never did so.

Trump’s reelection campaign spent more than $1 million in legal fees in the last three months, coinciding with a spike in intensity from Russia investigators.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, 63, avoided questions about the president’s belief her health was in decline during an appearance at Queens College, saying she would not discuss “politics.”

The president started yesterday morning with a Twitter attack on U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer over alleged hypocrisy about the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

On the eve of Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to the Buffalo area, Schumer urged New Yorkers to demand an explanation about Republican proposals to eliminate a major federal tax deduction used by millions of state residents.

Trump said he is not considering firing the Justice Department’s special counsel leading the investigation into Russian interference in last year’s election, though he admits he’d like to see the probe end.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war, accepted the prestigious Liberty Medal in Philadelphia with a full-blown attack on what he called “half-baked, spurious nationalism.”

The 2019 green card lottery site has been down due to unspecified technical problems since Wednesday, causing great concern among entrants.

ATF veterans are pushing back against suggestions by Republicans that the embattled firearms regulator is to blame for approving the bump-stock device that Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock used to such devastating effect, killing 58 and wounding over 500.

The House passed a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, a top priority of the anti-abortion movement, but the measure is widely expected to die in the U.S. Senate.

In a seven-page executive order, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency ahead of white nationalist Richard Spencer’s speech at the University of Florida on Thursday.

Amid the aftershock of the deepening scandal over producer Harvey Weinstein’s alleged decades of sexual assault, New York’s film and television business community is worried that a proposed amendment to the state’s production tax credit would dissuade productions from shooting here.

More >

Cuomo Takes Pre-Emptive Swipe At Pence

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday pre-emptively knocked Vice President Mike Pence ahead of his planned visit to western New York on Tuesday, criticizing the Trump administration’s tax overhaul proposals.

“New York will not accept anything else than full protection for the health and economic stability of our citizens,” Cuomo said in a statement, fashioned as an open letter addressed to Pence. “We oppose any plan that undermines New York, and we will continue to call on our delegation to do the same. I urge New Yorkers to make their voices heard. And I hope Vice President Pence, that you will use your visit to New York to listen.”

Cuomo is taking issue with the Republican-backed plans to eliminate or cap the deduction of state and local taxes, as well as efforts to scale back the reach of the Affordable Care Act.

“The federal government, purposeful or coincidental, is targeting us,” Cuomo said. “New York is harder hit than any other state when we are the largest state contributor to the federal government, sending $48 billion more to Washington each year than we get back. Your policies are a dagger to the heart of New York, pointed straight at our hardworking families.”

Pence is visiting the state with Republican Rep. Chris Collins, who has drawn the governor’s ire over the last year when he proposed a failed plan to shift the cost of Medicaid from county governments to the state. Cuomo has vowed to unseat Collins and the House Republicans from New York who backed the legislation. Pence’s trip is also scheduled to include a fundraiser for Collins.

Extras

President Donald Trump said he can understand why his “friend” and former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon has declared war on the Republican establishment, including U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Trump stressed that he has “great relationships with many senators,” but added: “They not getting the job done, and I’m not going to blame myself.”

Trump told reporters he is “looking very, very strongly” at reforming the nation’s welfare system.

The president reportedly loves reminding his underlings who is in charge, and gets a kick out of joking about Vice President Mike Pence’s bigoted, anti-gay ideologies to his face, once saying that Pence “wants to hang” all gay people.

“I’m concerned he’d be a President that the Kochs would own,” Bannon said of Pence.

Following a report that Republican Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino, his nominee to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy, had played a leading role in weakening federal agents’ ability to stop suspicious shipments of opioids, Trump said he would “be looking into” the choice.

Hillary Clinton drew parallels between Harvey Weinstein and Trump, calling the disgraced Hollywood mogul’s behavior “disgusting” and “heartbreaking” – just like the presidential candidate once caught on camera bragging about sexually assaulting women.

The Weinstein Co. will receive an immediate cash infusion from Colony Capital, and is in negotiations for the potential sale of all or a significant portion of the company responsible for producing films such as “Django Unchained,” “The Hateful Eight” and “Lion.”

NBC play-by-play man Al Michaels has quickly apologized after making a joke about Weinstein during “Sunday Night Football.”

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a directive to his agency seeking to end the practice of settling lawsuits with environmental groups behind closed doors, saying the groups have had too much influence on regulation.

The former presidential candidate arrived wearing a surgical boot to the BBC program The Graham Norton Show, as she revealed she took a tumble in high heels while holding a cup of coffee.

In her first interview since her initial comments regarding the Weinstein scandal, fashion designer Donna Karan couldn’t fully explain the “asking for it” comment, saying that she can’t believe those words came out of her mouth.

In the midst of the worst drug epidemic in American history, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to keep addictive opioids off U.S. streets was derailed, according to a whistleblower and former DEA official, Joe Rannazzisi.

Trump’s youngest daughter Tiffany celebrated her 24th birthday last Friday evening in New York City surrounded by friends, family and, of course, the paparazzi.

Over the weekend, Trump enjoyed a night out with the first lady and his youngest son, Barron, for dinner at his hotel property in DC. It was the first time all three had been seen together publicly since Barron Trump returned with his parents from an overnight trip to Camp David earlier in August.

Stymied in their effort to get the Legislature and the governor to get on board with full legalization, marijuana advocates are supporting the idea of a constitutional convention.

Brooklyn’s Airbnb black market is booming despite the city’s best efforts to stamp out illegal rentals, according to an investigator hired by a hotel-industry group.

With more than a year to go until the 2018 election, Rep. John Katko holds a large financial advantage over one of his potential Democratic opponents in NY-24.

NY-22 Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney said she expects to be outspent by Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi and his Democratic supporters in the 2018 midterm elections after he raised almost twice the amount from campaign donors in the last quarter.

Harry Wilson, the 2010 Republican state comptroller candidate, is “seriously exploring” a gubernatorial bid in 2018, and plans to make a final decision by late fall.

A drone collided with a commercial aircraft in Canada last week — the first time such a crash has happened in North America, transportation officials said.

More than 32,000 state employees took home more than $100,000 in compensation last year, according to data obtained from the state comptroller’s office.

Long Island’s public schools, after more than $80 million spent on cleanup, repairs and renovations from damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, still lack adequate safeguards against flooding and power losses that caused massive disruptions of classes five years ago, educators said.

The State Board of Regents announced new regulations that will allow teachers from storm-ravaged Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to get a temporary certification for work in New York.

Schumer Challenges Pence On Eve Of WNY Trip

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a challenge Monday to Vice President Mike Pence who Is making a visit Schumer’s home state of New York. Pence will be in Buffalo on Tuesday to discuss the federal tax reform plan.

Schumer said Pence should explain to middle class families why the administration is proposing the elimination of the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction.

“Will Vice President Pence have the courage to answer questions about this deduction to answer questions about this deduction elimination?” he asked. “Will he tell middle class New Yorkers that they’re going to get a huge tax increase under this bill?”

Schumer said the deduction elimination would amount to a tax increase for thousands of middle class families across Upstate New York. He said it will result in home values decreasing and businesses choosing not to locate in the region.

“The state and local elimination is a dagger to the heart not just of Buffalo but of Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and all of Upstate New York,” Schumer said.

Organizer said Pence plans to have a round table at a so-far undisclosed location which will be open to a local press pool selected prior to the event.