Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan emerged from a budget meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo say the $1 billion in new taxes and fees were off the negotiating table.

The State Police lab is in search of better DNA-matching technology, severing ties with a company it has worked with for the past three years.

Demonstrations are being planned for a fundraiser in support of Reps. Elise Stefanik and John Faso.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon accused Cuomo in an interview of being a “bully” who has to be taken on.

Mayor Bill de Blasio will return to New York today to be with the family of that fallen firefighter.

Three billboards in the Capital Region are pushing for reforms to the state’s child sexual abuse laws.

A moving ceremony filled with family, friends and dignitaries took place in Rochester today to celebrate the life of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter.

Days after the Diocese of Buffalo released a list naming more than 40 priests accused of sexual abuse, Bishop Richard Malone apologized.

Gov. Cuomo pushed back against claims made by Nixon that the state is doing enough to help poor school districts, insisting the problem is transparency in per-school funding.

Via USA Today, here are five things Nixon is already using against Cuomo in the Democratic primary campaign.

Cuomo Doesn’t Commit To Debating Nixon

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in an interview on NY1 Friday would not commit to debating Democratic primary rival Cynthia Nixon and said he wanted to see Democrats in the state Senate expand to more than a bare 32-member majority.

Cuomo is facing several crosscurrents of politics right now: A state budget that is due to pass by next Thursday, an announced primary challenge from an emboldened activist left in the form of Nixon and a push to unite Democrats in the state Senate, potentially as early as next month.

But he insisted his main focus is the state budget, scheduled to pass by next Thursday.

“I’m focused on getting the state budget done and protecting the state from the lunacy of these federal government,” Cuomo said.

In the interview, Cuomo said he wasn’t focused on the challenge from Nixon, not saying whether he would debate Nixon. Cuomo declined to debate his 2014 primary opponent Zephyr Teachout.

“I don’t know. We’ll have to see what happens as the campaign goes on. There are two Republican candidates, there’s a Green Party candidate, there’s apparently a Democratic candidate,” Cuomo said. “So we’ll figure out the campaign as they campaign goes on.”

Cuomo also dismissed the criticism leveled against him by Nixon in an interview in Glamour magazine, in which she suggested he was vengeful and a bully.

“Everybody can say what they want. We’re going to have a political season,” he said. “People choose their own style in life and I don’t have any comment on it. I don’t mean to insult Glamour magazine.”

As for the Senate, Cuomo said he wanted to expand Democratic gains to include more than 32 members by this November. A unity deal is expected to be triggered should Democrats hold two seats in next month’s special election on April 24.

“It is very important, Josh, but you have to get to the magic 32 — meaning 32 is a majority of the state Senate,” Cuomo said. “We have never had a majority, even if you add up all those coalitions. They don’t add up to 32.”

Democrats have had a numerical majority in the chamber during Cuomo’s tenure as governor. The Democratic advantage led to the creation of a coalition of the Independent Democratic Conference and the Senate GOP conference held joint power in the 2013-14 legislative session. At the time, both IDC Leader Jeff Klein and Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos held the title of Senate co-president.

Sen. Simcha Felder has also proven key for the Republicans in maintaining a working majority.

“I have said as soon as we hit that 32 all Democrats have to unify for the good of the state and the good of the Democratic Party,” Cuomo said. “The main agenda is the Democratic agenda and Democratic unity and move forward.”

The big “if” Cuomo said, however, is pushing Felder, a Democrat from Brooklyn who conferences with the Republicans, to the Democratic fold in the chamber.

Still, the demands of the elections and the early start of the political season will likely continue to dominate the remainder of the session.

Asked if he has a favorite Sex And The City character, Cuomo said he did not.

First Phase Of Congestion Pricing Could See Fee For Ride Hail Cars, Cuomo Says

Cars summoned on apps like Uber and Lyft could be subject to a surcharge under a potential first “phase” of a congestion pricing plan, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told NY1 Friday afternoon in an interview.

“I think that would be phased in and I’m hoping to start with the first phase of for-hire vehicles,” Cuomo said.

“A lot of the congestion comes from these new Ubers and Lyfts which stay in the central business district, the business district of Manhattan and we’re looking for a surcharge on those vehicles that are in the zone and dedicate that funding to the subway funding long term and use it as step one in an overall congestion pricing plan.”

It’s not clear from Cuomo’s comments if the proposal bares any resemblance to a plan backed by the Democratic-led Assembly, which would also add surcharge to ride hail cars.

The Assembly proposal would draw $500 million in new revenue from a proposed Transportation Sustainability Program that would create a $2.75 charge for ride hailing services like Uber and Lyft as well as black cars and limousines in Manhattan below 96th Street.

A $1 charge would added to trips outside of the zone. Taxis and other street hailed green cabs hailed below 96th Street would subject to a 50-cent per trip fee.

A broader proposal for congestion pricing with tolls at points around Manhattan has been more difficult to gain a consensus on in the Legislature.

Congestion pricing as policy has also had a difficult time getting through the Capitol, with multiple proposals dying on the legislative vine. Cuomo, under fire for the state of New York City transit, said this year could be different.

“This time I think we’ve worked very hard at it and the facts are on our side,” he said.

Cuomo’s comments on NY1 came after he met privately with the top legislative leaders on the budget talks earlier on Friday.

Cuomo Reiterates Push For School Spending Transparency

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview reiterated his call for transparency in school spending — a push he said has nothing to do with the primary challenge from actress and public education advocate Cynthia Nixon.

“I believe education is the civil rights issue of today,” Cuomo said in an interview on WNYC Friday morning. “This state funds education at the highest level in the nation per pupil. We are double the national average. In terms of funding it’s the highest in the nation.”

Cuomo has long pushed back against calls from public education advocates to increase annual school foundation aid in the budget by more than $1 billion. Advocates argue the state is failing to meet the terms of a lawsuit over funding equity, a claim the Cuomo administration has dispute.

Cuomo in recent weeks has sought to highlight the lack of transparency in per-school funding in school districts. A law previously approved that is being phased in over the coming years would require districts to disclose how much money is being given to each school.

The governor, however, has indicated he would like to see that process hastened, potentially in the state budget.

The theory is that the real funding inequities may lie on the local level.

“It has nothing to do with Ms. Nixon. I said this in January,” Cuomo said, referring to his budget address. “How much more do you want to spend? We spend more than anyone else in the United States of America. It’s who gets the funds and the equity and the racial equity and the geographic equity.”

The Alliance for Quality Education, a group that has pushed for more school aid, took issue with Cuomo’s comments, including the claim that education isn’t an issue being discussed in Albany.

“Governor Andrew Cuomo is wrong when he says no one is having a conversation about educational equity in New York,” said the group’s executive director Billy Easton. “Every year Governor Cuomo has been in office, Black and Brown parents and parents in high needs communities have joined with AQE to demand educational equity, and every year he has ignored them. The spending gap between the wealthiest and poorest schools in the state has grown 24 percent due to Governor Cuomo’s policies, a record high.”

Cuomo Says There Could Be ‘Phases’ To Congestion Pricing

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview Friday suggested there could be a phased-in approach to congestion pricing that alleviates traffic concerns in Manhattan and funds mass transit in the metropolitan area.

The proposal is aimed at creating a long-term funding plan for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to help make fixes to the beleaguered subway system. It has faced significant opposition among lawmakers in both the Republican-led Senate and Democratic-controlled Assembly.

“I’m pushing that very hard,” Cuomo said in an interview on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show. “The congestion in Manhattan is incredible and if you want to fix the subways you need a long-term funding stream. There is no magic.”

As for the plan’s chances in the Legislature and being approved in the final budget deal, Cuomo said: “It is tenuous at best right now across the board.”

Separate from congestion pricing has been a proposal for “value capture” funding that would provide money for specific transit upgrades based on the proximity of property and the taxes paid on that property.

While Cuomo differentiated between the two proposals, he indicated a half-way plan could be in the works for congestion pricing.

“Congestion pricing doesn’t happen in one foul swoop,” he said. “There are phases to the congestion pricing. I’m cautiously optimistic that we could start the process.”

Assembly Democrats have backed a budget resolution that would add $1 fees on ride hailing vehicles statewide, a move that is opposed by Uber Technologies. The company has backed a broader congestion pricing push for Manhattan.

Flangan Mailer Touts Opposition To State Tax Hikes

flanaganmailerA tipster this week sent over mailer being sent out in Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan’s Suffolk County district that highlights his opposition to the $1 billion in proposed tax and fee increases in the budget.

The mailer implores voters to help “stop the money grab” in Albany in the budget.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tentative $168 billion spending plan would increase fees and taxes in order to close a $4.4 billion shortfall in addition to capping spending at 2 percent.

When the proposal was first unveiled, Republicans announced they would instantly oppose the tax increases. By all accounts, the dispute over the tax increases has been one of the main sticking points in the closed-door budget talks between Cuomo and the legislative leaders.

The Flanagan mailer touts the Senate GOP’s own budget resolution that he says protects New York taxpayers from the “potentially negative effects” of the federal tax law that caps state and local tax deductions at $10,000.

Despite the opposition to the tax increases, the Senate GOP conference is also seeking new spending for education as well as a major boost in funding to fight heroin and opioid abuse.

Cuomo and Senate Republicans have largely been aligned on the issue of tax increases, with both generally opposing efforts to do so. Assembly Democrats this year are renewing their own push to increase tax rates on millionaires in order to bring in more revenue for schools and affordable housing.

Cuomo Attends Slaughter’s Calling Hours

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a beeline for reporters Thursday after paying his respects at Rep. Louise Slaughter’s calling hours in the Rochester-area. The late change to his public schedule made clear his attendance was CLOSED PRESS and his spokesperson told me it would be a game-time decision whether he spoke afterwards, so it came as a bit of a surprise.

“I wanted to do this,” Cuomo said as he approached the cameras.

The governor spoke for roughly three and a half mostly uninterrupted minutes about his relationship with the congresswoman, which started decades ago when she worked for his father. Slaughter was the Rochester regional coordinator for Mario Cuomo when he was secretary of state, then lieutenant governor.

As for young Andrew, well, he said he had his own role.

“I was about 17 years old and I was basically the driver and I would listen to Louise and my father and it was just an education sitting in the car,” the governor said. “They would criticize my driving, of course, with good cause, but they had a beautiful relationship. In a lot of ways they were kindred spirits.”

Cuomo continued to speak about his father and Slaughter, largely interchangeably. Mario Cuomo passed away three years ago.

The governor said both Democrats entered politics during a simpler, “more honorable” time and had the same basic philosophy on government.

“They were there to do good,” he said. “They were there to produce results for people. Not like today where so much of the politics is just about posturing and symbolism.”

Cuomo will not be attending Slaughter’s funeral Friday. While his mother and the lieutenant governor will be in attendance, he said he will be in budget talks.

“I’m going to try to do what Louise taught me and my father taught me,” Cuomo said. “That’s to come up with a budget for this state that moves the state forward and helps the people who need help. That’s all it was about for them.”

The governor said he believes the spirit lives on beyond death and in Slaughter’s case it will live on in many ways.

Democratic Lawmakers Want To Keep Child Victims Act Intact

From the Morning Memo:

Democratic state lawmakers Thursday pressed to have a bill that makes it easier for the survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits remain part of the budget negotiations.

“This is our time, this our moment, to really do what people sent us here to do,” said Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

But the lawmakers also signaled they did not want the bill to be drastically altered by the budget talks, especially if that means losing a one-year look back period for old claims to be brought by abuse survivors.

“We want this to remain on the table and we want to make sure it remains intact with the one-year look back,” Stewart-Cousins said.

The look-back period is opposed by the Catholic Church. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, in Albany this week, raised concerns with the provision. Lawmakers dismissed the criticism.

“Well, what could be more toxic than a child being sexually abused and somebody covering it up?” asked Sen. Brad Hoylman.

Abuse survivors have pushed for the last decade to see the measure become law. The hope is that with a societal reckoning surrounding sexual abuse and misconduct, Albany may finally act.

“We see the cover-ups,” Hoylman said. “If the crime doesn’t get reported, the crimes get covered up.”

Still, some lawmakers were open to taking it out of the budget entirely, and dealing with it on its own before the end of the legislative session in June.

“We keep hoping and we keep working toward that goal,” said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat from Manhattan. “If it doesn’t happen in the budget, it will happen outside the budget.

Lawmakers scheduled the budget to pass March 29, which is next week. Top legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo continued to negotiate the spending plan in private this week.

Here And Now

Good morning! Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany and New York City, with nothing public scheduled. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has jetted off to Florida for the weekend.

Happening today:

At 11 a.m., the funeral service for Rep. Louise Slaughter will held. Eastman Theatre, 26 Gibbs Street, Rochester.

At noon, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will be releasing an economic report on the Rockaways. Rockaway Institute for a Sustainable Environment (RISE),58-03 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Far Rockaway.

At 3 p.m., Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer will recognize five honorees at the 2nd Annual Women’s History Month Celebration. Will Library, Stories Room, 1500 Central Park Ave, Yonkers.

At 4 p.m., Assemblymember Didi Barrett and the Hudson Area Library will celebrate the life of Megan Carr-Wilks – a 9/11 first responder and local school resource officer – and nine other remarkable Hudson Valley women as part of the fifth volume of “Women’s History in the Hudson Valley: Ten Stories from Columbia and Dutchess Counties.” Hudson Area Library Community Room. 51 N 5th St, Hudson.

At 5:15 p.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will highlight the women’s agenda at a reception co-hosted by Status for Women and Girls and Women’s Bar Association. Salvation Army, Lower Level, 221 E 52nd Street, New York City.

At 6:15 p.m., Hochul will speak the 40th annual Lions Club International Celebration, Millennium Hilton NY, 1 UN Plaza,New York City.


President Donald Trump has removed H.R. McMaster as his national security advisor, replacing him with former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, who is viewed as a hawk on many issues.

Congress has approved a $1.3 trillion spending package that averts a government shutdown.

A trade war with China is starting to take shape as it threatens to raise tariffs on $3 billion worth of U.S. imports.

The proposal amounts to something of a warning shot for the U.S. as it applies tariffs on roughly $60 billion of Chinese goods.

A former Playboy model in a TV interview when into lengthy detail regarding an affair she had with Trump after his youngest son was born.

John Dowd, the president’s top lawyer in a probe surrounding Russian’s involvement in the U.S. elections in 2016, has resigned.

A House subcommittee has issued for subpoenas to the Department of Justice related to records for McCabe, Carter Page and Clinton.

Rensselaer County program will train corrections officers as immigration officials. Under the program, those two officers would be able to “interrogate any person detained … who the officer believes is an alien about his or her right to be in the United States.

Former Albany County Sheriff James Campbell has died.

Democratic state lawmakers Thursday pressed to have a bill that makes it easier for the survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits remain part of the budget negotiations.

Some prominent political figures will speak at the funeral service for Louise Slaughter in Rochester Friday: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the civil rights champion, Rep. John Lewis will join members of the Slaughter family and friends in speaking at the funeral service. Former President Bill Clinton will also be in attendance.

Milk producers across the U.S. and in Western New York are struggling to make ends meet, and are getting more than just financial help to deal with the crisis. As a result, Cornell Cooperative Extension in Jamestown is offering mental health resources in its next newsletter for dairy farmers across Chautauqua County.

Monroe County continues to team up with local towns and villages to help fight the opioid crisis in the area.

Speculation abounds regarding possible candidates for the 25th Congressional District seat, which became open after Louise Slaughter’s death.

Three Erie County Water Authority Commissioners say their new executive director was not given a “golden parachute.”

Although Cynthia Nixon is a newcomer to politics in her run for governor, it’s Andrew Cuomo and his team that seem to be making some rookie mistakes.

Hurricane Sandy isn’t done with subway riders in the Rockaways just yet. To brace for the next big storm, the MTA is preparing to do more work that will disrupt the commutes of thousands of A train riders.

The House approved a massive spending plan that not only keeps the government open but includes money for the Gateway Tunnel, a massive project that would create a new link for trains under the Hudson River. Experts and politicians from both parties consider it one of the most important transportation projects in the nation.

A seat on the train is hard to come by these days, because more people are flowing right into the five boroughs. The boom isn’t really being seen elsewhere in the state, however.

As state lawmakers consider ways of applying tolls or fees to driving around Manhattan, E-Z Pass may prove vital to the effort.

Frank Bruni: You wouldn’t want to be operated on by a physician with only a few surgeries under his or her belt, and the assurance that this doctor brought a fresh perspective to anesthesia and incisions wouldn’t thrill you. You would choose a pilot who had flown 999 flights over one with nine, and you would want your child’s teacher to be practiced with pupils, not merely a vessel of great enthusiasm. So why the romance with candidates who have never done a stitch of government work before?

Nixon touted her campaign’s early success with small donors, which is outpacing seven years’ of Gov. Cuomo in one day.

Congress is considering legislation that would make it easier to track people with autism who wonder off from educational institutions.

Survivors of sexual harassment in the Legislature are urging Cuomo and state officials to take their time in negotiating changes to state government’s sexual harassment policies.

The Division of Criminal Justice Services has fired a top official there after it was reported he was never disciplined following repeated sexual harassment allegations.

Hillary Clinton will be fundraising in New York City for her non-profit the same day as the DNC will be hosting a fundraiser of its own — creating something of a conflict.

It’s not clear yet if Nixon will team up with a fellow primary insurgent in the Democratic Party: lieutenant governor candidate Jumanne Williams.

The state is making it easier to access detox services amid the opioid epidemic.

The mayor of Mount Vernon is under review by the ethics board for a $100,000 payment from a charter school.

Sen. Chuck Schumer is pushing the House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s lead and pass a federal bill to help the children of fallen first responders.


Six months late and about 17 hours after they first introduced it, House lawmakers approved a 2,232-page spending bill, (which no one actually read all of), that will fund the federal government until October and prevent an imminent shutdown.

President Trump said he would impose about $60 billion worth of annual tariffs on Chinese imports as the White House moved to punish China for what it says is a pattern of co-opting American technology and trade secrets and robbing companies of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue.

John Dowd, Trump’s lead lawyer handling the special counsel probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, stepped down today.

Outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Washington a “very mean-spirited town” in his goodbye address to State Department staff.

Cynthia Nixon has already raked in more small-dollar contributions in one day than her rival Gov. Andrew Cuomo did in seven years, the star actress’ campaign announced.

As Nixon tries to harness progressives in her left-flank challenge to Cuomo, an early test of her staying power will come with the Working Families Party, which could give her a general-election ballot line even if the governor wins the Democratic nomination.

Nixon, a TV and film star, doesn’t think the state’s TV and film tax credit program “is making a significant enough different in production to justify it,” adding that the more than $420 million annual tax break the entertainment industry receives “doesn’t merit the investment” the state is giving up.

Cuomo threatened to delay signing the state budget without a plan to fix conditions in New York City’s public housing, including moldy walls, broken boilers, untested lead paint and rodent infestations.

Rosie O’Donnell deals with her anger over Trump’s presidency by painting acrylics of him on canvas and, using an iPad Pro and a stylus, creates disturbing digital images of her archenemy with titles like “Coward,” “Liar,” “Rapist,” “Thief,” and, most recently, “Stormy.”

Rep. Claudia Tenney appeared to blame the nefarious “Deep State” for ordering a costly dining set for HUD Secretary Ben Carson.

Port Authority staff recommended that the agency raise the minimum wage for more than 40,000 NYC-area airport workers to $19 an hour by the fall of 2023 – an increase of more than 80 percent in about five years for the lowest-paid workers at Newark Liberty International Airport, one of the three major airports operated by the authority.

Rep. Brian Higgins paid tribute on the House floor to his late colleague, Rep. Louise Slaughter, a “liberal lioness” who died at the age of 88 last week.

Little questions“?!

The NYC Council’s Committee on Finance voted to increase the Council’s operating budget to $81.3 million, an increase of nearly 27 percent from the current budget, following through on Speaker Corey Johnson’s promise to increase internal resources and produce a stronger role for the legislative body in areas such as land use and oversight.

Former President Bill Clinton will join his wife Hillary, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress at the funeral of longtime Rochester Rep. Louise Slaughter.

The baseball Hall of Fame says it no longer will use the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo logo for plaques of new members.

Actor Bill Murray said the Parkland, FL students protesting gun violence after a mass shooting at their school reminded him of Vietnam War protesters.

YouTube said this week that it would tighten restrictions on some firearm videos, its latest policy announcement since coming under scrutiny following last month’s mass shooting at a high school in Parkland.

A shuttered erotic dance club in Mount Vernon called Sue’s Rendezvous is asking the state Supreme Court to reverse local officials’ decision that the club was operating illegally because zoning on that block doesn’t allow live adult entertainment businesses.

PBS is naming Judy Woodruff the sole anchor of the “NewsHour,” its flagship nightly newscast – a decision that comes nearly a year and a half after Woodruff’s co-anchor Gwen Ifill died.

Another Bill O’Reilly accuser has filed a defamation lawsuit against the former Fox News star.