Sep 3rd - 5:00 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he isn’t going to Puerto Rico to take sides in how the commonwealth should dig itself out from $72 billion in debt.
Instead, Cuomo says he is taking a delegation of elected and appointed officials from New York to listen to officials in Puerto Rico and see what advice they can offer.
“We don’t have a position,” Cuomo said when asked whether he believes Puerto Rico should declare bankruptcy. “We’re going to go down and listen first — understand the financial situation — and see what advice we have there.”
Cuomo is bringing with him his top advisor on Medicaid, Jason Helgerson, as well as Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, to the two-day trip which begins on Monday.
“We’re also going to talk to them about the expense side of the equation, primarily health care,” Cuomo said. “Their Medicaid costs are going through the roof.”
Sep 3rd - 4:39 pm
As Gov. Andrew Cuomo is actively trying to lure General Electric Co.’s headquarters back to New York, he sidestepped questions on Thursday as to whether the company should continue dredging PCB-laden sediment from the Hudson River.
Cuomo, at an event honoring the New York City PBA in Colonie this afternoon, said he had not seen a recently released federal and state report that reviewed groundwater contamination in communities along the upper Hudson River.
“I know that they are completing what they agreed to complete,” Cuomo said. “I know there are claims for them to do more above and beyond that. I haven’t really looked into that.”
The company is due to complete its massive dredging project this year, but environmental groups are pushing the company to continue on with the project, claiming “hot spots” in areas along the river continue to be contaminated with PCBs, a chemical the company discharged into the river. More >
Sep 3rd - 4:20 pm
Personal opinions aside, the Kentucky county clerk who is now in jail after refusing to grant marriage licenses to gay couples should enforce the law or leave her job, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday told reporters.
Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk who refused to grant the licenses after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, was ordered jailed by a judge for refusing to grant the licenses.
Cuomo, who faced similar questions from a county clerk in 2011 after New York passed its own same-sex marriage legalization marriage, said the personal opinions of Davis are beside the point.
“If you are a government official and have taken an oath to uphold the law, that trumps your personal opinion,” Cuomo said. “You can quit and do whatever you want to do, but you can’t be paid as a government official and not execute the laws of the government. You can’t have it both ways.” More >
Sep 3rd - 3:42 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s position on the multinational agreement with Iran aimed at limiting its nuclear weapon capabilities in exchange for lifting sanctions remains a neutral one, though he edged somewhat closer on Thursday to supporting it.
Cuomo, speaking with reporters at an event in Colonie, an Albany suburb, said that for him it was a matter of verification.
“I do think Chuck Schumer identified the key issue which is can you verify the agreement,” Cuomo said. “The agreement makes sense if you can verify it. It’s going to be interesting to hear what they say about that on the debate.”
Pressed on whether that meant he supported the agreement, Cuomo said, “If you can verify it, if you can answer that question, then yes. But that is the question. I’m interested in hearing the debate as we go forward on that point.” More >
Sep 3rd - 3:31 pm
Hochul, who has become a point person for Gov. Andrew Cuomo with the newly formed ballot line, blasted critics of the party who are trying to wrest away control of the WEP.
“To think that other people are going to come and try to hijack the party, I think that’s unfair to the other 400 people who sought to have their name on the Women’s Equality line,” Hochul said. “To say that it’s not being run by women is really an affront to women like myself.”
The party was formed in 2014 by Cuomo as a way to promote women’s issues in the election — a move that came after the governor pushed a 10-point package of measures aimed at highlighting policy that impacts women. More >
Sep 3rd - 3:17 pm
A day after he spoke favorably of a potential presidential campaign from Vice President Joe Biden, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday reiterated his endorsement of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“I support Hillary Clinton’s campaign wholeheartedly,” Cuomo said after addressing the New York City PBA convention at a hotel outside of Albany. “This is very, very early.”
Cuomo told reporters that even if the vice president jumped into the race, he would continue to support Clinton, a former U.S. senator he has close ties to.
But Cuomo insisted that while he’ll continue to support Clinton, he is personally respectful of Biden.
“I’ve know her for a long time,” Cuomo said. “I support her. I also know the vice president. I know him to be a good man and a good elected official. It doesn’t mean to be that you support one person means you hate the other person.” More >
Sep 3rd - 1:06 pm
While continuing to express conceptual support for the “goal” of the Common Core standards, Gov. Andrew Cuomo today said he sympathizes the frustration of parents who have opted their kids out of standardized tests in growing numbers and believes the time has come for a “comprehensive review” of both the exams and the curriculum on which they are based.
“We must have standards for New York’s students, but those standards will only work if people – especially parents – have faith in them and in their ability to educate our children,” Cuomo said in a statement released this afternoon. “The current Common Core program does not do that. It must.”
“The fact is that the current Common Core program in New York is not working, and must be fixed,” the governor continued. “To that end, the time has come for a comprehensive review of the implementation of the Common Core Standards, curriculum, guidance and tests in order to address local concerns. I am taking this action not because I don’t believe in standards, but because I do.”
Cuomo said he will ask a representative group made up of members of his past education reform commission, education experts, teachers, parents, new state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and state lawmakers to conduct this review and report back to him with recommendations in time for his State of the State address in January.
The governor reiterated that he believes SED’s implementation of the Common Core has been “deeply flawed” – a position of which he becomes more convinced as time goes on. He noted that Elia (whom he did not mention specifically by name) “inherited” this problem, but also said that when it comes to her recent comments about the opt-out movement (which she has walked back somewhat), he sympathizes with the “frustration of the parents.”
In a round of interviews earlier this week – including on Capital Tonight – Elia said that her comments were perhaps misinterpreted as a threat, which she did not intend. She insisted that she was merely trying to provide answers and guidance to superintendents who asked how to handle the fallout from the unusually high opt-out rate – about 20 percent – in the late round of English and math exams.
This is a little bit of a tightrope for Cuomo, who doubled down on the teacher performance evaluation system and education reform during the last round of budget negotiations, insisting on a system that critics say is even more reliant on test results rather than less.
It also, ironically, puts him sort of on the same page as the statewide teachers union, NYSUT, with which he has not seen eye-to-eye on very much. The union has been actively fanning the flames of the parent-led opt-out movement, in hopes of undermining the evaluation system. NYSUT officials and their allies on both sides of the political fence often repeat the “we’re not against standards, just against the implementation” mantra when discussing the Common Core.
UPDATE: It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time the governor has asked a panel of experts and legislators to review the Common Core situation and get back to him with reform suggestions. In fact, his comments on this topic during his 2014-15 budget address sound a lot like the statement he released today.
The members of the 2014 Common Core implementation panel included then-Senate Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan, who is now the majority leader. Critics questioned the necessity of this panel, saying there were already plenty of proposals on how to fix the Common Core problem.
That panel issued a preliminary report in March – about a month or so after the governor announced its membership, and after just two meetings. The preliminary recommendations had nearly all already been adopted by the Board of Regents or proposed by various state lawmakers. A final report was not forthcoming.
Sep 3rd - 12:19 pm
As Senate Democrats zero in on the Hudson Valley district held by Republican incumbent Bill Larkin, a GOP conference spokesman on Thursday said the longtime lawmaker will “absolutely” run for re-election.
“Senator Larkin is extremely popular in his district and he is absolutely running again next year,” said spokesman Scott Reif. “It’s sad and unfortunate that Democrats continue to bring up an issue that has already been discredited, and one in which the Senator acted swiftly and decisively, and did everything right. If this is the strategy that the New York City Democrats intend to use to win the majority next year, they have even less than no chance.”
Larkin, 87, is one of the longest-serving members of the Senate GOP conference. More >
Sep 3rd - 10:46 am
Like other lawmakers in favor of the agreement, Higgins acknowledged it was not ideal, but said the “benefits outweigh the costs.”
“I analyze every proposal that crosses my desk not based on whether it will achieve a perfect outcome, but rather on whether its benefits outweigh the costs,” he said in a statement this morning. “I believe the JCPOA meets that test. This agreement will do more than any plausible alternative to accomplish America’s objective of blocking Iran’s pathway to a bomb in a way that we can verify. For this reason I will vote to support the JCPOA when the question comes before the House.”
The yes vote from Higgins comes after a number of New York congressional Democrats have lined up behind the agreement, including Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Yvette Clarke, of Brooklyn; Nydia Velazquez, of Brooklyn; and Greg Meeks, of Queens – also deciding to vote “yes” on the deal. More >
Sep 3rd - 8:45 am
From the Morning Memo:
The Cuomo administration is having trouble finding a successor to former state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens, according to multiple sources familiar with the search.
Team Cuomo started looking for Martens’ replacement about six months ago, sources said. At least two potential commissioners have been mentioned – and even unofficially approached – for the job, but have so far declined to sign on.
The names floated include: Stu Gruskin, who served as executive deputy commissioner at DEC from 2007 to 2010 and is now with the Nature Conservancy; and Peter Lehner, who, until very recently, was the executive director of NRDC and the NRDC Action Fund.
The search was quietly taking place even though Martens repeatedly insisted he had no immediate plans to depart, it was widely believed that his time on the job was limited after the biggest decision of his tenure – whether to allow fracking in the Marcellus Shale – was settled with a drilling ban. More >