Cahill: ‘Pretty Much’ Agreed On Ride Hailing

Assembly Insurance Committee Chairman Kevin Cahill on Thursday said there was “pretty much” an agreement on ride hailing in the state budget, though details are yet to be fully worked out.

At the same time, Cahill said the “revenue piece” — a 4 percent sales tax on individual hails — is still under discussion.

But he praised the inclusion of an opt-out clause that would allow county governments or cities with populations above 100,000 people to not allow the service.

“The concept here is we have authorized this service to exist in upstate New York and their insurance to exist,” he said in an interview. “If a jurisdiction is not qualified they would have to take the affirmative step and opt out.”

Meanwhile, Cahill also pointed to the increased levels insurance required, which would hit $1.25 million, with the additional requirement of carrying an uninsured motorist policy. Initially, insurance would start at $75,000 per person and $150,000 per incident, he said.

The Black Car Fund would provide support for drivers who are injured.

“There’s been a change in the attitude of a lot of people that perhaps a higher level of insurance is warranted,” he said.

And the measure won’t impact New York City’s ride hailing regulations, which is overseen by the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

“It was one of our primary goals, particularly in this house, to make sure we left the integrity of that system intact and there is no change for New York City in this bill,” Cahill said.

Leaders: ‘Close, But Nothing Final’

Lawmakers indicated on Thursday after meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo they are inching toward a final agreement on the state budget, but key issues on funding education and raising revenue for taxes remain unresolved.

“Everyone is trying to figure out how do we properly fund education and, by extension, how do we pay for everything,” said Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, a Republican from Suffolk County.

Assembly Democrats want to hike taxes on the rich, those who make more than $5 million, while Senate Republicans are opposed to Cuomo’s proposal to extend a tax rate on millionaires due to expire at the end of the year.

The budget is expected to pass before April 1, the start of the state’s fiscal year.

Cuomo proposed a $960 million increase in education aid, but lawmakers back more than $1 billion in school spending.

“Everyone understands we want to increase foundation aid but we also run into a 2 percent spending cap as well as a 4 percent spending cap on education,” said Sen. Jeff Klein, the leader of the Independent Democratic Conference.

Meanwhile, lawmakers and Cuomo are nearing an agreement on funding water infrastructure projects in the state, trying to add more than the $2 billion backed by Cuomo through a bond act.

“What I would say is we’re all having discussions about water quality, sewage treatment,” Flanagan said. “I view that has unbelievably positive.”

DeFrancisco Expects Agreement On Raise The Age

Deputy Senate Majority Leader John DeFrancisco in a radio interview on Thursday said he expects a key juvenile justice reform measure will be included in the final state budget agreement.

But, at the same time, DeFrancisco told Fred Dicker on his Talk-1300 radio show that he was taking a circumspect approach to the issue.

“Let’s see what the consequences are,” he said of the measure, which would raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18.

Under the tentative agreement lawmakers have discussed, two courts would be utilized for those under 18, depending on the severity of their charge.

Republicans have been hesitant to approve the measure, even as the state remains one of the last along with North Carolina to try those under 18 as adults.

Not surprisingly, DeFrancisco insisted Senate Republicans remain opposed to the DREAM Act, a measure that would provide tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants, saying he would be “shocked” if the provision was included in a final deal.

And, in a sign that things are coming together, albeit slowly, DeFrancisco expects a budget agreement soon.

“There’s always blow ups,” he said of an agreement before April 1, the start of the fiscal year in New York. “It depends on what you ‘call on time’… it’s going to get down in the next 48 hours.”

Budget Today: Still Searching For A Deal

From the Morning Memo:

A complete budget agreement remained elusive on Wednesday as lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo try to hammer out a spending plan before the start of the new fiscal year on Saturday.

Still, some details are emerging that suggest a broader agreement is close.

Lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are discussing a deal on allowing ride hailing apps Uber and Lyft to operate outside of New York City that includes 4 percent sales tax on each hail. Meanwhile, county governments and cities above a population of 100,000 may “opt out” of allowing ride hailing services to operate in their municipalities.

Details are also beginning to emerge on a plan to upgrade the state’s water infrastructure. Lawmakers described a proposed $2 billion bond act for water projects as a “baseline” that they plan to add more money to, while also dedicating 10 percent of the final number to New York City water projects.

Legislative leaders exited a meeting with Cuomo on Wednesday indicating they were yet to fully tackle issues such as education spending and revenue — i.e., the millionaires tax — leaving those matters to the end of the negotiations.

Dozens Of Elected Officials Write In Support Of Judith Clark’s Release

From the Morning Memo:

Current and former elected officials have signed on to a letter supporting the release of Judith Clark, the woman who served as the getaway driver in a deadly 1981 armored car robbery in Rockland County.

“At age 67 and after 35 years in prison, Judy Clark is among the oldest and longest serving women in New York State prison,” the letter states. “We ask that you consider who she is today in 2017, not who she was in 1981, and implore you to grant her release.”

Signing onto the letter included a host of Democratic officials, including members of Congress like Reps. Hakeem Jeffries and Adriano Espaillat, as well as state lawmakers, including Sens. Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger.

Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins is backing Clark’s release, as is city Comptroller Scott Stringer.

In New York City, borough presidents and city Council members also signed on to the letter.

The letter, sent to the Parole Board on Wednesday, comes the same week as Republican Sen. Pat Gallivan delivered 10,000 petition signatures opposing Clark’s release.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made Clark eligible for parole earlier this year when he granted her clemency after meeting with her, saying she had undergone a transformation while in prison.

The officials in support of her release backed Cuomo’s decision, pointing to her work with victims of the AIDs epidemic in prison, as well as the remorse she has shown for her role in the crime.

At the same time, though Clark served as the driver, she did not fire a weapon that killed two officers who responded to the robbery.

“No doubt parole in some cases will cause great pain to victims and their families,” the letter states.

“But where appropriate — meaning where there has been ample punishment, overwhelming proof of rehabilitation, acceptance of responsibility and genuine remorse — the door of mercy must remain open. The correctional system does not exist solely for retribution but also for rehabilitation. Judith Clark is the model example of rehabilitation. If she is denied parole what does that say to all the other women and men in prison who strive to become better and transformed human beings?”

Elected Officials March 29 2017 by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Erie County Waits ‘On Pins And Needles’ For State Budget… As Usual

From the Morning Memo:

Even as Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz laid out much of his policy agenda during his State of the County address yesterday, he acknowledged some of it remains out of his hands.

The Democrat said he is watching closely to see what comes out of budget talks at the state Capitol.

“When it comes to the state budget we’re always at the mercy of what’s done in Albany, so we always kind of wait on pins and needles; I don’t expect there to be major issues,” he said.

One piece of legislation, Poloncarz said will affect the county’s bottom line is the so-called “Raise The Age” bill. The county executive said it looks like some form of the measure will be included in the final budget, and the local government hasn’t yet accounted for the costs of raising the age at which offenders are treated as adults from 16 to 18.

“That’s the big one,” Poloncarz said. “It’s a good law that needs to pass. We do need to raise the age. We shouldn’t be treating teenagers like hardened criminals.”

As for some of the other high-profile issues currently being negotiated – like expanded water infrastructure and ride-hailing – Poloncarz said he wouldn’t want to speculate.

“I’m kind of like everyone else,” he said. “I’m waiting for the big mothership to hover over – the governor, the Senate and the Assembly to meet and say here’s what they’ve agreed upon. I’ve heard good things on a couple of those issues but until it’s actually completed, you never know.”

Poloncarz said the biggest favor state legislature can do for Erie County is pass the budget on time so there are no delays moving forward.

Caucus Lawmakers Boost Home Stability Support Proposal

From the Morning Memo:

A plan that would existing state rent support for a new rental supplement with the goal of bridging the gap in subsidies and fair market rents is being backed by the members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, according to a letter sent on Wednesday to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

In the letter, lawmakers urge funding for the program be approved.

“This is by far the most cost-effective solution for preventing homelessness and it requires Executive action to replace the current failing patchwork of local programs that reach only a small fraction of those in need,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

The backing by the caucus comes the same week as the United Federation of Teachers endorsed the plan, which would be phased in over the next five years, including $40 million in the first year. The money would be used to provide subsidies to rental costs up to 85 percent of fair market rent.

Caucus Support – HSS by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Here and Now

The budget deadline looms ever closer, but the governor and legislative leaders have still not managed to land a solid and complete deal. Talks will continue for another day.

Agreements reportedly have been tentatively struck on college affordability, ride hailing, a water infrastructure fund and raise the age, though some details still need to be worked out.

Still on the table: Education funding – a battle that is again pitting traditional public schools against charters – worker’s compensation reforms that the business community and its Senate GOP allies have been pushing, and the governor’s ongoing desire for local government consolidation.

Only one piece of budget legislation had been printed and approved by lawmakers as of Tuesday: the non-controversial debt service bill, just one of a package of 10 core pieces of legislation.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule as of yet.

In D.C., President Donald Trump meets this morning with Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin.

In the afternoon, Trump will host a legislative affairs lunch on opioid and drug abuse, and then will welcome and meet with Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen of Denmark.

At 8:30 a.m., the recently established citizen’s group NY State 17th District for Progress will hold a protest at Sen. Simcha Felder’s district office, 1412 Ave. J, Midwood, Brooklyn.

At 9:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul delivers remarks on the state’s efforts to combat heroin and opioid abuse at the SUNY Upstate Medical Symposium, Biotech Accelerator, 841 East Fayette St., 4th Fl., Syracuse.

Also at 9:30 a.m., the NYC Rent Guidelines Board meets to discuss its 2017 Income and Expense Study and the 2017 Mortgage Survey Report, Landmarks Preservation Commission Conference Room, 1 Centre St., ninth floor, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., Hochul promotes the governor’s Excelsior college affordability program, Onondaga Community College, Whitney Applied Technology Building, Room 210 (W210), 4585 W Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse.

At 11 a.m., NYC mayoral candidate Bo Dietl holds a press conference in front of the governor’s NYC office, 633 3rd Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will attend and deliver remarks at the NYPD graduation, Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Reps. Adriano Espaillat, Suzanne Bonamici, José Serrano, and Don Beyer will introduce new legislation to expand safe zones to prohibit immigration enforcement efforts at various public locations, House Triangle, (Capitol East Front), Washington, D.C.

At 11:30 a.m., Democratic Nassau County executive candidate Laura Curran announces her plan to end taxpayer-funded political mailings, 1590 Berkeley Ave., Baldwin, Long Island.

At noon, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer hosts a press conference to discuss a new analysis regarding Trump, David N. Dinkins Municipal Building, 1 Centre St., 5th Floor S., Manhattan.

Also at noon, students, state Sen. Marisol Alcantara, Assembly members Carmen De La Rosa and Pamela Harris and others demand Cuomo to include undocumented, part-time, and students with disabilities in the Excelsior Scholarship program, Empire State Plaza, Room 2, Albany.

At 6 p.m., Alcantara, NYC Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, former NYC Councilwoman Una Clarke and others are honored at Healthfirst’s annual Women’s History Month Community Awards Celebration, Maestro’s, 1703 Bronxdale Ave., Bronx.

AT 6:30 p.m., Rep. John Katko holds a public forum on how heroin and synthetic drug abuse have impacted central New York, Oswego City Hall’s Common Council Chambers, 13 W. Oneida St., Oswego.

At 7 p.m., a community forum on the Black Lives Matter movement featuring a panel of religious and community leaders, Brown Memorial Baptist Church, 484 Washington Ave., Brooklyn.

At 7:30 p.m., the Queens Public Transit Committee meets to discuss the QueensRail and Select Bus Service, New York Families for Autistic Children, 164-14 Cross Bay Boulevard, Queens.

Headlines…

Environmental groups that vowed to fight President Donald Trump’s efforts to roll back his predecessor’s plans to curb global warming made good on their promise, teaming up with an American Indian tribe to ask a federal court to block an order that lifts restrictions on coal sales from federal lands.

Trump has finally traded in his old and unsecured Android phone. White House director of social media Dan Scavino Jr. tweeted that the president had indeed switched to the Apple device, saying that he had been using it for “the past couple of weeks.

Two U.S. Senate Democrats asked the U.S. attorney general to guarantee that any investigation of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will continue despite Trump’s firing of Preet Bharara, the former New York U.S. attorney who was reported to be leading the probe.

Seattle filed a lawsuit over Trump’s executive order threatening to cut off federal funding for cities offering to protect illegal immigrants.

A federal judge in Hawaii extended his order blocking Trump’s travel ban until his state’s lawsuit against it is resolved.

The union representing New York court officers has advised members to cooperate with federal immigration agents amid an ongoing debate about ICE’s presence in city courthouses.

Far away from the television cameras, Rep. Chris Collins, a strong and vocal Trump supporter, has been disagreeing with the president when his proposals directly threaten Western New York.

Ivanka Trump is officially joining her father’s administration as an unpaid employee, after her plans to serve in a more informal capacity were questioned by ethics experts.

Trump ​campaign ​adviser Roger Stone ignored a subpoena to testify in a Manhattan defamation case Wednesday because he was in Washington​,​ D.C.​,​ responding to a demand by ​the ​Senate Intelligence Committee to produce documents​ related to the probe of contacts with Russia authorities​, his attorney said in court.

Geographic and physical challenges – including the Rio Grande and threatened wildlife – will make it difficult to build the “big, beautiful wall” that Trump has promised on the U.S.-Mexico border, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said.

Trump’s lawyers say he’s immune while president from defamation claims brought by a former contestant on his reality TV show “The Apprentice” who accused him of unwanted sexual contact.

China says President Xi Jinping will meet his U.S. counterpart Trump at the latter’s Florida resort on April 6-7.

More >

Extras

While we wait for the proverbial white smoke to billow from the state Capitol indicating a budget deal has been reached, here are some headlines from the day for your enjoyment…

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said President Trump recognized the GOP’s health care replacement plan as a “bad deal,” even though he pushed for it to pass and threatened fellow Republicans who wouldn’t support it.

A driver who allegedly tried to run over police on Capitol Hill, prompting the officials to fire shots, is in custody, Metropolitan Police Department officials said.

A $4 billion deal to invest in a building owned by the family of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, has fallen apart days after Democrats expressed concerns about its ethical implications.

Former Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority Bill Baroni was sentenced to 24 months in prison for his role in the September 2013 George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal that came to be known as “Bridgegate”

Baroni’s conspirator Bridget Anne Kelly was sentenced to 18 months in prison, plus a year of probation.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ability to raise money to pay off his legal bills will be greatly restricted by a new Conflict of Interest Board finding issued today.

De Blasio wants to guarantee short-term employment paid for by the city for every inmate who serves a sentence in a jail – a program that will cost $10 million.

The U.S. Supreme Court has delivered a unanimous victory to New York state merchants in their fight to allow surcharges on credit card purchases.

Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis urged the Department of Justice to follow through on its threat to deny New York City federal dollars unless it ends its policy of noncompliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Hillary Clinton wore a leather blazer for her first big post-election political speech. The Internet had a lot to say. (She’s not alone in her post-election sartorial selection).

Clinton’s new mantra: “Resist, insist, persist, enlist.”

A long-time aide to Clinton sought to map out her funeral — and Bill Clinton’s — in 2010 because “planning is best done when they are still with us,” according to an email released by Judicial Watch.

Both Katie Holmes and her 10-year-old daughter, Suri Cruise, were rocked by Hillary Clinton‘s loss to Trump in November.

Even though the mid-term election is roughly a year and a half away, political strategists and advocates already are making plans, recruiting candidates and trying to figure out how to use the demise of the American Health Care Act to their advantage.

A Suffolk legislative analysis found that a county attorney who is the daughter of a county lawmaker (and former state assemblyman) has received $195,000 in pay and benefits increases since 2011 from promotions that were not authorized by county lawmakers.

Ken McLeod at Binghamton University is developing an air taxi transit system that would bring passengers from Binghamton to New York City in 57 minutes.

Try as he might to deny it, former NYPD Det. Bo Dietl shares a lot in common with Trump, as his campaign to become New York City’s mayor shows.

The “Fearless Girl” statue, which just earned an extended stay at its location on Wall Street, is now featured as a landmark on Google Maps.

NYSAC: $155M In New Costs For Counties

The New York State Association of Counties is raising an end-of-budget season alarm over mandated costs that could be part of the final state budget agreement.

In particular, NYSAC is focusing on three areas that, when fully phased in, would cost a combined $155 million for local governments.

They are concerned about funding cuts for foster care programs, public health and federal social service funds being reprogrammed.

“With the recent talk of cost shifts from Washington to New York State, you would think State Lawmakers and the Governor would be more sensitive to passing the buck to county property taxpayers. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to care as much when they are the ones doing the shifting,” said NYSAC President William E. Cherry, the Schoharie County Treasurer. “Who is going to defend property taxpayers from these new costs coming down from Albany?”

One proposal would shift costs to counties through consolidating 39 public health appropriations into four areas and then reduced by 20 percent.

Another newly found state mandate would expand the terms of expanding indigent legal services. At the same time, NYSAC is worried raising the age of criminal responsibility, will also require county governments to fund or expand programs and services for the new legal change.

“They keep passing the buck, but they aren’t passing the bucks. If these funding cuts stay in the budget, they have nobody to blame for high property taxes but themselves. The very programs that are targeted for cuts, are in fact ones that are necessary if the state raises the age of criminal responsiblity,” said Stephen J. Acquario, executive director of NYSAC.