Liz Benjamin

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Budget Update: Deal Nears For Raise The Age

From the Morning Memo:

Budget bills need to start passing today if the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are to be able to lay claim to an “on time” deal, which is constitutionally due midnight April 1.

There were conflicting reports yesterday as to whether there was a deal. Cuomo said yes – more or less, though conceded he was talking mainly about policy and not spending. Lawmakers and their leaders, however, contradicted the governor, saying nothing’s done until everything is.

Sen. Patrick Gallivan, a Buffalo-area Republican who chairs his chamber’s Corrections Committee, joined us last night on CapTon immediately after closed door meetings with the governor on the so-called “raise the age” issue – raising the age at which offenders are treated as adults from 16 to 18.

New York is one of just two states (along with North Carolina) that still does that, and the effort to end this practice has become a big rallying cry for Assembly Democrats and the IDC, as well as a big sticking point in the budget talks.

Though he was light on details, Gallivan said there’s more or less a deal, which will include diversion of offenders accused of certain non-violent crimes to family court. (Republicans are also pushing for more resources for the family court system, since it’s already fairly overloaded).

He also expressed confidence that there will be an on-time budget that is not merely an extender – an idea the governor floated to address big question marks regarding federal funding cuts.

Meanwhile, the left was angered yesterday when Cuomo said he doesn’t want to raise taxes in the final budget deal – a signal that he’s standing firmly against the push, led by Assembly Democrats and their liberal allies, to not merely extend, but also expand, the millionaires tax. He’s also not interested in a big education funding hike much beyond the almost $1 billion boost he proposed in January.

Another major issue still unresolved, according to Tom Precious of The Buffalo News: whether to drive more money to charter schools, as Senate Republicans want, or into the traditional public school systems, as Assembly Democrats insist upon.

All of these issues are apparently linked, as tends to happen this time of the year, with a push for the 421a real estate tax abatement by Republican lawmakers underway, along with Democrats trying to preserve foundation aid funding for public schools.

One major area of agreement: direct care workers employed in nonprofit agencies that serve developmentally disabled people will see $55 million for the salary hikes in the final budget, which is $10 million more than the $45 million organizations received in the respective one house proposals.

All parties return to the negotiating table today. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no announced public schedule as of yet.

Here and Now

Budget bills need to start passing today if the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are to be able to lay claim to an “on time” deal, which is constitutionally due midnight April 1.

There were conflicting reports yesterday as to whether there was a deal. Cuomo said yes – more or less, though conceded he was talking mainly about policy and not spending. Lawmakers and their leaders, however, contradicted the governor, saying nothing’s done until everything is.

Sen. Patrick Gallivan, a Buffalo-area Republican who chairs his chamber’s Corrections Committee, joined us last night on CapTon immediately after closed door meetings with the governor on the so-called “raise the age” issue – raising the age at which offenders are treated as adults from 16 to 18.

New York is one of just two states (along with North Carolina) that still does that, and the effort to end this practice has become a big rallying cry for Assembly Democrats and the IDC, as well as a big sticking point in the budget talks.

Though he was light on details, Gallivan said there’s more or less a deal, which will include diversion of offenders accused of certain non-violent crimes to family court. (Republicans are also pushing for more resources for the family court system, since it’s already fairly overloaded).

He also expressed confidence that there will be an on-time budget that is not merely an extender – an idea the governor floated to address big question marks regarding federal funding cuts.

Meanwhile, the left was angered yesterday when Cuomo said he doesn’t want to raise taxes in the final budget deal – a signal that he’s standing firmly against the push, led by Assembly Democrats and their liberal allies, to not merely extend, but also expand, the millionaires tax. He’s also not interested in a big education funding hike much beyond the almost $1 billion boost he proposed in January.

Another major issue still unresolved, according to Tom Precious of The Buffalo News: whether to drive more money to charter schools, as Senate Republicans want, or into the traditional public school systems, as Assembly Democrats insist upon.

One major area of agreement: direct care workers employed in nonprofit agencies that serve developmentally disabled people will see $55 million for the salary hikes in the final budget, which is $10 million more than the $45 million organizations received in the respective one house proposals.

All parties return to the negotiating table today. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no announced public schedule as of yet.

Meanwhile, down in D.C., the president and vice president will participate this morning in an opioid and drug abuse listening session.

In the afternoon, VP Mike Pence participates in a women’s empowerment panel (President Trump is planning to “drop by” as well), and then attends the swearing-in ceremony for the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

A full calendar of the day’s events appears at the end of this post.

Headlines…

Democrats are calling for the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, California Republican Devin Nunes, to step down from the investigation of ties between Russia and the Trump administration, but he’s refusing to recuse himself.

Hillary Clinton gave one of her first – and most political – public speeches since losing the presidential election and criticized the much-circulated photo showing an all-male group of Republican lawmakers last month negotiating women’s coverage in health care legislation.

President Trump said last night that he was going to make a bipartisan deal on healthcare “very quickly” during an event with US Senators at the White House.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will take on a role in Trump’s White House to combat the country’s opioid epidemic.

House Republicans blocked more attempts by Democrats to obtain Trump’s tax returns from the IRS.

Trump excitedly revealed the sex of his next grandchild (it’s a boy) before the parents were ready, Eric Trump said.

An online petition calling for first lady Melania Trump to move to the White House or pay for the security required for her to live in Manhattan is quickly gaining signatures.

Congress sent proposed legislation to the president that wipes away landmark online privacy protections, the first salvo in what is likely to become a significant reworking of the rules governing Internet access in an era of Republican dominance.

White House staff plan on skipping this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on April 29 in “solidarity” with Trump, who has announced he won’t attend the annual event this year, the organization announced.

Democratic Govs. Jerry Brown of California and Cuomo said in a joint statement that they will help fill the void left by Trump’s decision to unravel former President Barack Obama’s plan to curb global warming.

Cuomo is resurrecting a 1932 state car used by Franklin Roosevelt when he was New York governor. The 12-cylinder, standard shift Packard Phaeton with leather interior has been for years sitting as an exhibit on the fourth floor of the state Museum.

“It’s a cream puff,” Cuomo said of the vintage car. “Standard shift, 40,000 miles, good on gas. What more could you ask for?”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is celebrating a state Supreme court ruling to uphold a recent rent freeze for people living in 1 million of the city’s rent-stabilized apartments.

More >

Extras

Speaker Paul Ryan said he’s going to give battered House Republicans another crack at a health care overhaul. But he offered no timeline, and leaders haven’t resolved how to overcome the deep GOP divisions that crumpled their legislation last week.

“It’s an open wound within our conference right now,” Rep. Chris Collins said of the American Health Care Act’s demise. “The mood within our conference is very tense; it’s going to take awhile.”

Just days after Trump said he was moving on to other issues, senior White House officials are now saying they have hope that they can still score the kind of big legislative victory on health care that has so far eluded him. Vice President Mike Pence was dispatched to Capitol Hill today for lunchtime talks.

The president’s executive order today that rolls back the Clean Power Plan would be “terrible” for America and good for Russia, a pair of Syracuse University professors said.

Trump’s funding request for a border wall will likely be put on hold, Senate Republican leaders signaled.

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said that she has been “aggressively” pushing Chief Judge Janet DiFiore to figure out how to limit the presence of ICE officers in the city’s courts, where advocates report the federal agents have snatched up foreign nationals awaiting processing.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is defying the Trump administration by ordering the NYPD to keep the feds off school grounds unless they have a “valid judicial warrant,” and to make sure the warrant is legit before opening the doors.

Utica would like some personal attention from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Reps. Claudia Tenney and Collins joined together to call on the secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to investigate ongoing problems with the Veterans Crisis Line.

NYC has failed to sign up young inmates for high school classes and in many cases neglected to develop special education plans for students, an audit by Comptroller Scott Stringer showed.

The average Syracuse basketball player is worth more than $1 million to the school annually, according to calculations made by the website BusinessInsider.com.

An aide at a Utica-area state-run psychiatric hospital has been arrested on charges that he forged a doctor’s note that would get him extended medical leave, according to the state Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott.

Uber’s leadership is 78 percent male and 22 percent female, according to a new diversity report released by the company, which comes about a month after it launched an internal investigation into sexism allegations.

The American Conservative Union, a group that promotes what it describes as Reagan conservatism on the fiscal as well as social fronts, is out with a 2016 ranking of the NYS Legislature. To perhaps almost no one’s surprise, the organization found relatively little to like.

Convicted ex-State Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson looks to be heading for prison after a federal appeals court denied his last-ditch effort to avoid prison while fighting his case.

Westchester County will pay a former employee $380,000 to settle a lawsuit after she claimed she was fired because of a political feud.

A fire on the roof of the Chelsea Market, where the studios of our sister station, NY1, are located, forced a building evacuation today.

Legislative leaders John Flanagan and Carl Heastie will discuss the issues that will shape the conclusion of the 2017 session in “The Six-Week Forecast” – the inaugural event at the new Hearst Media Center at the Times Union in Colonie, scheduled to take place May 9.

Here and Now

Good morning.

Technically speaking, legislative leaders and the governor should reach a budget deal today in order to have bills printed and sufficiently “aged” to be passed by the April 1 constitutional deadline.

However, thanks to messages necessity, which allow the circumventing of that three-day aging period, getting an agreement today isn’t strictly necessary in order for the powers that be to claim an on-time – or at least timely – budget.

Things haven’t been going terribly well down at the state Capitol in terms of budget talks, with so-called “raise the age” emerging as a major sticking point.

There’s no talk of a late budget, or perhaps a bare bones budget – passed in anticipation of big cuts headed New York’s way rom Washington. A lot remains up in the air, making a deal seem rather far away. But the day is (very) young, and this is Albany, where time is somewhat fungible. Hope springs eternal. We’ll keep you posted.

Officially speaking, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in the city with no public events scheduled.

Meanwhile, down in D.C., President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are scheduled to participate in a listening session with the Fraternal Order of Police.

Pence then will attend the Senate Republican Policy Luncheon, before reconvening with Trump in the evening for a reception with senators and their spouses in the East Room of the White House.

A full calendar of the day’s events in Albany appears at the end of this post.

Headlines…

President Donald Trump went on a tweetstorm last night, railing against a bipartisan committee investigating potential ties between his associates and Russia.

Trump wrote: “Why isn’t the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia, Russian speech”…money to Bill, the Hillary Russian ‘reset,’ praise of Russia by Hillary, or Podesta Russian Company. Trump Russia story is a hoax. #MAGA!”

As support for Trump declined around the country last week, it did so in his home state of New York, too. He has not had this low a favorable number since October 2016, before he won the election, and this is the third month in a row that his favorability has dropped, according to a Siena College poll.

Moving forward with a campaign pledge to unravel former President Obama’s sweeping plan to curb global warming, Trump today is set to sign an executive order that will suspend, rescind or flag for review more than a half-dozen measures in an effort to boost domestic energy production in the form of fossil fuels.

Business groups were hoping a quick repeal of the Affordable Care Act would give employers more flexibility on health care and create momentum for priorities like a tax overhaul, but last Friday’s decision to abandon a vote on the Republican health plan left them less certain on both fronts.

Trump headed to one of his golf courses again Sunday, marking his 13th visit to one since taking office and the eighth consecutive weekend he has spent at properties bearing his name.

Roger Stone says he’s apologized to Paul Manafort for getting him involved in all the inquiries about possible Russian connections to Trump’s 2016 campaign, but hasn’t apologized for anything he’s done himself because he doesn’t believe there’s anything to be sorry for.

Nearly two dozen people from five states are accusing U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions of lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee about his communications with the Russian government and subsequently trying to cover up that lie, according to a complaint sent to the Department of Justice.

U.S. Senate Democrats forced a one-week delay in a committee vote on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, who remains on track for confirmation with solid Republican backing.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reportedly caused a scene at a Manhattan restaurant when he began yelling at a wealthy and well-connected Trump supporter that the POTUS is “a liar.” (A Schumer spokesman denied any “heated exchanges” took place).

Trump and GOP leaders enter their next big battle facing stubborn opposition in both parties that increases Republicans’ worries that they will need more Democratic support than previously expected to avert a government shutdown by the end of April.

A Government Accountability Office has agreed to review how classified information is kept secure at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, the agency said, after Democratic lawmakers raised concerns about the issue last month.

With worries about Trump and Republicans in Congress, Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggested he may sign off on a extension of the current state budget rather than a draft a new one for the fiscal year that starts on Saturday.

“This budget is particularly problematic,” Cuomo said. “I’m unwilling to do a budget then find out a month down the road, two months down the road, the federal government made a new legislative change that costs us $2 billion.”

Cuomo’s comments, made during a call-in interview with NY1, were a shot across the bow of state lawmakers, who he warned may want to spend recklessly amid potential reductions in assistance.

As Cuomo and lawmakers seek to wrap up budget negotiations this week, a state appeals court threw a $69 million wrench into the talks, lifting a stay that allowed the state to hold off from releasing millions of dollars that were earmarked for failing schools but has been tied up in litigation.

More >

Extras

State and local governments seeking Justice Department grants must certify they are not so-called sanctuary cities in order to receive the money, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced.

Sessions’ order landed in the middle of an inaugural gathering in Manhattan of leaders from municipalities that refuse to comply with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement orders.

The Town of New Paltz may soon follow the lead of cities like Kingston and Newburgh in passing a sanctuary city-type law.

Trump, looking to make good on his campaign promise to roll back federal regulations, signed four measures that halt rules enacted during the final days of Barack Obama’s presidency.

House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes, a California Republican, met on the White House grounds with a source who showed him secret American intelligence reports a day before he revealed that Trump or his closest associates may have been “incidentally” swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies.

An Iranian-Turkish gold dealer hired two Trump confidants – former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former U.S. AG Michael Mukasey – to help defend him against U.S. charges of using his network of companies to circumvent federal sanctions on Iran.

Breitbart News’ request for Capitol Hill press credentials was denied until “more answers” can be provided on whether top White House adviser Steve Bannon has severed ties with the conservative website.

A judge has denied Alain Kaloyeros’ bid to force two arms of SUNY Polytechnic Institute — which he founded and led — to advance him at least $1 million for legal fees related to his indictment in a bid-rigging scheme.

A statue of a young girl that has been staring down New York City’s iconic Wall Street bull sculpture since the eve of International Women’s Day is not going anywhere — at least for another year.

A low-cost proposal to expand the use of breast milk to save premature babies’ lives and avoid lifelong disabilities has been dropped from closed-door budget negotiations.

Recently issued guidance on the Dignity for All Students Act and on the rights of immigrant students is now available in the top 20 languages spoken in New York State, state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced.

The state Commission on Judicial Conduct has determined that a Monroe County State Supreme Court Justice James J. Piampiano should be censured in connection with his conduct in a high-profile murder case.

Trump is planning to overhaul US federal bureaucracy by creating a new division headed up by his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

..Kushner has also volunteered to speak with the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of its inquiry into ties between Trump associates and Russia.

Russian officials are not cooperating in a US-based money laundering probe connected to a massive Russian tax fraud, the Department of Justice claims in new court filings for the case where a witness was nearly killed after falling from his apartment window in Moscow.

Republican NYC Councilman Joe Borelli, a former assemblyman and major Trump supporter, pens an OpEd for The Hill about why Cuomo shouldn’t be a Democratic presidential contender in 2020.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg on the blame game following the death of the American Health Care Act: “What matters now is that Democrats stop gloating, Republicans stop sulking and each party come to the table to improve a health care system that both parties agree needs work.”

Former Rep. Anthony Weiner has a cast on his leg and is on crutches.

General Electric is cutting jobs at its large facility in Schenectady, the Upstate New York city where the company got its start 125 years ago.

A former top Brooklyn prosecutor accused of forging judges’ signatures on wiretap warrants to keep tabs on a male cop and a female colleague was charged in Brooklyn federal court with illegally intercepting electronic communications.

Congratulations to this year’s Crain’s class of 40 under 40 “rising New York stars.”

The Weekend That Was

President Donald Trump aimed blame for Friday’s failure to advance an Obamacare-repeal bill at the far right faction of his party, grouping them with Democrats, at whom he had pointed the finger in the hours after the stinging defeat.

After the far right wing of the GOP out-rebelled the notoriously rebellious president, foiling his effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Trump now faces a wrenching choice as he tries to rule the fractious GOP: retrenchment or realignment.

Less than 18 months after being elected speaker, Paul Ryan has emerged from the defeat of the health care bill badly damaged, retaining a grip on the job but left to confront the realities of his failure — imperiling the odd-couple partnership that was supposed to sustain a new era of conservative government under unified Republican rule.

Jeanine Pirro, a Fox News host and longtime friend of Trump, called on her show Saturday night for Ryan to step down.

Trump took to Twitter to tease Pirro’s show, “Justice With Judge Janine,” urging viewers to tune in without saying why.

White House officials insisted today that the relationship between Trump and Ryan is strong, even as Republican infighting over the failure to repeal Obamacare exploded into the open.

Freshman Rep. John Faso is among the Republican House members who ventured out onto a limb for the health care reform bill, and now many have to pay a political price with nothing to show for their efforts.

House Republicans’ failure to repeal Barack Obama’s health care law deals a serious blow to another big part of Trump’s agenda: tax reform.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Trump’s next Washington deal, for tax reform, will be another failure — because the businessman is too incompetent for D.C.

Schumer is a “destructive force” to Senate tradition because of his resistance to Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation, Sen. Lindsay Graham said.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey has accused the Trump administration’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, of participating in a discussion with Turkish officials about possibly subverting the U.S. extradition process to remove a Turkish cleric from the United States.

Trump’s former campaign chairman and two other Trump associates have agreed to an interview with the House committee probing alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, as a partisan divide and the actions of the panel’s leader threatened to derail the inquiry.

It’s still unclear whether Rep. Elise Stefanik would have voted for the health care bill that was pulled from the House floor.

Trump’s opponents should draw strength from the defeat of efforts to repeal Obamacare, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Residents of a posh Washington neighborhood say Ivanka Trump and her family don’t make for very good neighbors, taking up much of the parking on an already crowded street and leaving trash bags at the curb for days.

Former Vice President Joe Biden admitted during a talk at Colgate University in upstate Hamilton that he regretted not “being President,” adding: “I was fairly confident that if I had become the Democratic nominee, I would have had a good chance to be president.”

A special New York State panel of experts is scheduled tomorrow to discuss and possibly propose ways of using an emerging DNA testing procedure to help state and local law enforcement solve cold cases.

Public school districts across Long Island and the state are bracing for what many educators and parents expect to be a fifth consecutive year of Common Core test boycotts in grades three through eight, even as eight districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties and dozens elsewhere introduce computerized versions of the exams.

In conjunction with Somos, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced actions to increase the number of minorities in the state workforce, including legislation to accelerate the hiring of highly-qualified diverse candidates and expanding access to Civil Service exam preparation and tests.

…These actions were recommended by the Governor’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion.

De Blasio is taking his show on the road. City Hall will set up shop on Staten Island for a week in April, as part of the first installment of “City Hall in Your Borough” — a new initiative to immerse the mayor and his senior staff in each of the five boroughs throughout the rest of the year.

Earlier this month, de Blasio embarked on one of the more challenging and unenviable tasks of his tenure: selling the virtues of a plan to open dozens of new homeless shelters across the city. But in doing so, the mayor has chosen to embrace a level of self-scrutiny unusual for a politician running for re-election.

The mayor penalized at least three New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services workers involved in his administration’s corruption scandals, in addition to firing a deputy commissioner last month.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo’s newly revealed Civilian Complaint Review Board records should should make it easier to bring the officer to trial in the death of Eric Garner.

A testy exchange on the Senate floor between IDC member Marisol Alcantara and Deputy Minority Leader Mike Gianaris that was tinged with allegations about race and class does not augur well for a reconciliation among the chamber’s Democrats anytime soon.

Cuomo has called for an investigation into fliers promoting a white nationalist group that were distributed in Lewiston.

Two to three bomb threats have been made every week at Trump Tower since Inauguration Day, a law-enforcement source told The NY Post.

Slain FDNY emergency medical technician Yadira Arroyo was remembered at a funeral Mass held Saturday at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church for Arroyo, who was killed in the line of duty after she was hit by her stolen ambulance in an attempted carjacking March 16.

The family of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich has raised almost $11,000 to boost awareness of the unsolved case.

Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin and her estranged husband former Rep. Anthony Weiner are reportedly giving their marriage another try.

New York City officials issued a summons to the owner of a condominium at Trump Tower that gained notoriety after being rented out on Airbnb, determining that the unit was being illegally advertised for rent.

The “Fearless Girl” statue standing in defiant opposition to Wall Street’s iconic “Charging Bull” might be moved to a different location in the Big Apple when its temporary permit expires early next month.

The five NYC borough presidents answered questions about the state of their respective boroughs as posed by the NYT.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s Hamptons estate is more like the Playboy Mansion than Gracie Mansion, according to a lawsuit that claims workers are doing the nasty all over the $20 million home.

A federal judge ruled Friday that United Parcel Service Inc. illegally shipped millions of cigarettes to New York state from Indian reservations, opening up the parcel carrier to damages and other penalties for skirting taxes on tobacco products.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has started coastal protection work in Long Beach that could lead to partial beach closures through the summer, agency officials said.

Engaged “Dancing With the Stars” professionals Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Peta Murgatroyd have chosen the Oheka Castle in Huntington, Long Island as the venue for their marriage this summer.

Black bears are active again with warmer weather, and New York officials are warning people not to attract them with food left outside.

Here and Now

All eyes will be on D.C. – again – today, to see if the Trump administration and House Speaker Paul Ryan manage to cobble together enough support for the Republican health care reform bill to pass it.

As of yesterday, there was not enough support among GOP conference members to do so, and Ryan called off a vote that had been scheduled to coincide with the seventh anniversary of the Affordable Care Act’s signing.

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, issued Republican an ultimatum: Pass this bill, or get nothing and Obamacare remains in tact. In other words, no more changes to appease angry conservatives and/or moderates.

Trump, who is reportedly struggling with the fact that his image as a consummate dealmaker (back when he was just a real estate mogul and reality TV star, and not the president) might be tarnished by a health care reform failure, will hold a National Economic Council meeting this morning.

He’s also scheduled to meet with Charter Communications CEO Thomas Rutledge and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. He will lunch with Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, then host a Greek Independence Day celebration. Later in the afternoon, Trump will meet with Medal of Honor recipients.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is still fighting tooth and nail against the Collins/Faso amendment to the health care bill that would shift the counties’ share of Medicaid costs to the state, is in Albany with no public schedule. He will not be traveling to Utica as was expected.

At 8 a.m., New York Nonprofit Media hosts FundCon bringing together fundraising and development executives from nonprofits across New York to discuss how to create a campaign and raise money, The Convene, 32 Old Slip, Manhattan.

At 8:30 a.m., the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce hosts a Women’s History Month Celebration with state Sen. Roxanne Persaud, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon and Ingrid Lewis-Martin, senior adviser to the Brooklyn borough president, Brooklyn Law School, 205 State Street Building, Brooklyn.

At 9 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul delivers remarks at the Region II Consortium of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services legislative breakfast, Double Tree Hotel & Conference Center, 1111 Jefferson Rd., Rochester.

At 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear live on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, and take calls from listeners.

Also at 10 a.m., Rep. Carolyn Maloney, state Sen. Liz Krueger, Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright, Manhattan BP Gale Brewer, City Councilman Ben Kallos, Win CEO Christine Quinn announce their welcoming of supportive housing for women and children, 316 E. 91st St., Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., Hochul makes an announcement and discusses the governor’s Excelsior Scholarship college affordability program, SUNY Brockport, College Ballroom, 350 New Campus Dr., Brockport.

At 11:30 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Tish James, Brewer and others attend a ceremony commemorating the 106th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, Washington Place and Greene Street, Manhattan.

At noon, advocates for people with developmental disabilities and the #bFair2DirectCare campaign urge Cuomo and the state Legislature to provide funds so direct care workers can be paid a living wage, Duffy Square, 47th Street and Seventh Avenue, Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., state AG Eric Schneiderman will announce the recipients of over $20 million in grants for land banks across New York, Albany County Building, Cahill Room, First Floor, 112 State St., Albany.

At 2 p.m., state Sen. David Carlucci and Meals on Wheels Rockland rally against the president’s planned budget cuts and raise awareness of the impacts they would have throughout the Hudson Valley, 121 W. Nyack Road, Nanuet.

At 3 p.m., Sen. Tim Kennedy stands in solidarity with Meals on Wheels for WNY, which faces deep funding cuts in the president’s proposed budget, 100 James E. Casey Dr., Buffalo.

Also at 3 p.m., Assemblyman Richard Gottfried hosts a presentation by the Medicare Rights Center to discuss benefits and programs that help pay Medicare costs and how they may be of benefit to seniors and caregivers, Hudson Guild, 441 W. 26th St., Manhattan.

At 6:15 p.m., former Vice President Joe Biden speaks as part of the Kerschner Family Series Global Leaders at Colgate, Sanford Field House.

Tonight, de Blasio will will attend the wakes of NYPD Detective Shaniqua Osborne and FDNY EMT Yadira Arroyo. Both events are closed to members of the media.

Headlines…

Rob Ortt, a Republican state senator from the Niagara Falls area and his predecessor, former Sen. George Maziarz, pleaded not guilty in a pair of schemes involving payments to a spouse and a former aide, the latest in a long line of corruption cases to emanate from the state Capitol.

AG Eric Schneiderman called the accusations “a shameful breach of public trust,” adding in a statement: “No-show jobs and secret payments are the lifeblood of public corruption. New Yorkers deserve full and honest disclosures by their elected officials—not the graft and shadowy payments uncovered by our investigation.”

Orrt, who pleaded not guilty during his appearance before Judge Peter A. Lynch in Albany County Court yesterday, launched a claim of political persecution against the Democratic attorney general that is expected to dominate his defense.

The Buffalo Billion became the latest political football in the Cuomo administration’s battle with congressional Republicans over their proposal to shift county Medicaid costs to the state.

About 75 protesters staged a “die-in” in front of Rep. Elise Stefanik’s office in Glens Falls, calling on her to vote “no” on the American Health Care Act.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took to the Senate floor yesterday morning to announce his widely expected opposition to Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court – and to say that Democrats will try to block his nomination.

The Republican-led U.S. Senate has confirmed Trump’s pick to be U.S. ambassador to Israel, ignoring objections from Democrats that David Friedman lacked the temperament for such an important diplomatic post.

The federal agency overseeing Trump’s lease for a luxury hotel in Washington ruled that his inauguration as president doesn’t violate terms of the agreement barring government officials from profiting from the property.

The Trump administration is making it tougher for millions of visitors to enter the United States by demanding new security checks before giving visas to tourists, business travelers and relatives of American residents.

The White House defended the House intelligence committee chairman’s extraordinary decision to openly discuss and brief Trump on typically secret intelligence intercepts, even as Rep. Devin Nunes privately apologized to his congressional colleagues.

From blue states in the West to red states in the South, the divisive partisanship that defined the campaign and then the Trump administration’s turbulent first two months appear to have created a collective angst, psychologists say.

The Republican-led U.S. Senate moved to undo Obama-era regulations that would have forced internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon to ask customers’ permission before they could use or sell much of their personal information.

A hate-fueled white supremacist told cops his killing of a random black man, Timothy Caughman, in Midtown Manhattan was merely a practice run for a racist mass murder spree.

The race to become the next mayor of New York City is, for the moment, increasingly a contest between Democratic incumbent Bill de Blasio and Republican Paul J. Massey Jr. But there are more than a dozen lesser-known candidates running.

Irked that reporters were not asking questions about his chosen topic – the proposed mansion tax – de Blasio walked out of his own news conference.

More >

Extras

GOP House leaders delayed their planned vote on a long-promised bill to repeal and replace “Obamacare,” in a stinging setback for House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump in their first major legislative test.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo continued his attack on a Republican amendment in Congress that would end New York counties’ requirement to pay a portion of Medicaid, calling it unconstitutional and threatening to sue.

Trump’s administration is asking a U.S. court to quickly hear its appeal of a ruling that blocked the president’s revised travel ban.

Bill Hammond fact checks some of the many statements made by Cuomo and several members of New York’s congressional delegation about how the AHCA would impact the state.

Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s pick to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, faced a critical blow as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would join with other Democrats in attempting to filibuster the nomination — a move that could complicate his confirmation and lead to a total revamp of how the U.S. Senate conducts its business.

Schumer said he decided to vote “no” on Gorsuch, and will encourage fellow Democrats to do the same, because he thinks the 10th Circuit Court jurist has a “deep-seated conservative ideology” and lacks “a strong independent backbone.”

Israeli police arrested a 19-year-old Israeli Jewish man as the primary suspect in a string of bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers and other institutions in the U.S., marking a potential breakthrough in the case after an international manhunt with the FBI.

According to more than a dozen former colleagues and longtime friends interviewed on and off the record, former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara isn’t running for any public office – no matter how many reports to the contrary are published.

New York State’s private sector job count increased by 12,300, or 0.2 percent, to 8,045,400, a new all-time record high, according to preliminary figures released today by the state Department of Labor.

A New York City agency charged with investigating police wrongdoing forced an employee to resign after discovering that the employee had leaked the disciplinary history of the officer who placed Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold.

Cristina Cuomo, wife of CNN’s Chris Cuomo and sister-in-law of the governor, is starting a new media business and glossy magazine centered on the monied East End of Long Island.

Due to ongoing state budget talks, the governor won’t be making a trip to the Mohawk Valley this week, as planned.

The governor tweeted: “I am directing @nyspolice to coordinate with NYPD + FBI to determine if the senseless murder of Timothy Caughman is part of larger pattern.”

Donald Trump Jr. is facing criticism for a tweet sent in the hours after yesterday’s London attack that included a months-old comment from London Mayor Sadiq Khan that terror attacks are part of living in a big city, but left out that Khan was noting residents need to “be prepared.”

The Westbury schools superintendent, one of the highest paid educators on Long Island, has resigned with one more school year left on her five-year contract, Board of Education members confirmed.

Senate and Assembly lawmakers in their budget resolutions have come out against a proposal to add a Medicare surcharge for so-called high income public sector retirees, similar to what the federal government imposes.

Rensselaer County DA Joel E. Abelove filed a civil complaint in state Supreme Court that seeks to overturn an executive order Cuomo signed two years ago giving the state attorney general the authority to usurp local district attorneys in cases in which unarmed civilians are killed during confrontations with police.

In other news…In what’s being considered one of the biggest “wine and cheese busts” in recent Italian history, a group of 10 people have been arrested by police for stealing more than $250,000 in fine wines and gourmet cheeses.

Here and Now

The House is scheduled to vote on its bill to overhaul Obamacare, but it remains unclear whether the Republicans have enough votes to actually pass it.

A frenzied 24 hours filled with hushed deliberations on Capitol Hill, senior-level meetings at the White House and back-to-back phone calls with the president came to an end quietly and unceremoniously and with no deal in sight on the health care bill as a vote looms today.

But as of late yesterday, roughly 30 Republicans had said they either would vote against the measure or had not made up their minds. That left the bill’s sponsors short of the 216 votes needed, and last night, House Speaker Paul Ryan scheduled a meeting in the Capitol to try to win over skeptics.

Members of the House Freedom Caucus, a conservative group, said they’re still negotiating changes to the American Health Care Act with the president and remains cautiously optimistic they’ll get what they want.

The conservative Koch network is promising to spend millions of dollars to defeat the health care overhaul measure, calling it “Obamacare 2.0.”

But in trying to satisfy conservatives, the Trump administration and House Republican leaders risk jeopardizing support for the bill among more moderate Republicans.

Rep. Charlie Dent, a Pennsylvania Republican and co-chairman of the centrist Tuesday Group, said in a statement that the bill to repeal and replace the 2010 healthcare law “misses the mark” and he plans to oppose it.

Also planning to vote “no” is Staten Island Rep. Dan Donovan, the lone Republican member in the NYC House delegation.

Meanwhile, North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik still hasn’t said which side she’ll be on when the vote occurs.

Senate Democratic Minority Leader Charles Schumer did his best to drive a stake through the heart of the Ryan bill, warning in a conference call that cuts to Medicaid under the AHCA would be “devastating for upstate New York in a variety of ways.”

The Cuomo administration went on the defensive against an amendment pushed by Reps. Chris Collins and John Faso that would shift the counties’ Medicaid burden to the state, releasing detailed outlines of how much the move would cost each congressional district across New York.

The governor also warned of big tax hikes and/or service cuts if the House health care plan is enacted.

The plan blocks tax credits from going to policies that include abortion provisions. But under New York State rules, insurers are required to provide abortion coverage.

The president and vice president are scheduled this morning to meet yet again with the House Freedom Caucus members. (In the afternoon, the two plan to welcome truckers and CEOs to the White House and hold a listening session with them after the president lunches with Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and Nelson Peltz).

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule as state budget negotiations continue.

A full calendar of the day’s events appears at the end of this post.

Some non-health care headlines…

An Albany County grand jury indicted two Republican state senators – one sitting (Rob Ortt) and one retired (George Maziarz) – on felony election law violations, as part of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s probe of election law fraud in Niagara County.

A spokeswoman for Ortt acknowledged the senator faces three counts of offering a false instrument for filing. Just hours earlier, he voluntarily appeared before the grand jury probing the campaign finances of Maziarz and the Niagara County Republican Committee.

Ortt, who was elected to replace Maziarz in 2014 after the former senator’s abrupt resignation, will not resign and intends to fight the charges, according to his spokeswoman.

Ortt’s indictment, which a source said involves the disclosure of money that his wife earned while working for two vendors that were contracted by the Niagara GOP, compromises the Senate GOP’s hold on the majority.

Mewanwhile, former Niagara County Republican Chairman Henry Wojtaszek pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor as part of a deal involving the Maziarz case, according to two sources familiar with the situation. Details of his plea are yet to be revealed.

The Seneca Nation of Indians is ending all casino payments of more than $110 million a year to the state government effective next week, setting up a confrontation with the Cuomo administration.

More >

Extras

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer declined to take a position on the Medicaid amendment at the center of an ongoing battle between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Rep. Chris Collins, saying it is a distraction from the larger problem of the American Health Care Act, the Republican plan to replace Obamacare.

Bill Hammond runs the numbers and finds it’s possible that block grant funding of Medicaid won’t actually hurt – and perhaps might even help – New York.

Hammond also considers what would happen if the Collins amendment included New York City. (In short, it would shift a greater shift of the cost burden onto upstate and Long Island).

Staten Island Rep. Dan Donovan explained in an OpEd in his local newspaper why he’s voting “no” on health care reform tomorrow, saying that “recognizing that the status quo is failing isn’t, on its own, a compelling reason to vote ‘yes’ on the current replacement plan.”

North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik said she wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act but isn’t ready yet to embrace the GOP replacement, even though an amended version of the bill exempts the rural counties that she represents from helping fund state Medicaid costs.

Asked today how Rep. Pete King intends to vote, the Long Island congressman’s spokesman said his boss is still looking at the legislation and has not come to a decision, adding that there were many moving parts.

State Sen. Robert Ortt was scheduled to voluntarily testify before an Albany County grand jury today in connection with the ongoing probe of former state Sen. George Maziarz and his campaign finances that has also produced its first guilty plea.

Hempstead Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, Rep. King’s daughter, appears on her way to becoming a media star.

An attack outside Parliament plunged London into turmoil, leaving at least four people dead and 20 injured, and prompting the hasty evacuation of the prime minister in a confusing swirl of violence that traumatized the seat of British power.

President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, The Associated Press reported.

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes said new intelligence reports show some conversations involving members of Trump’s transition team were collected by intelligence officials, but said those conversations appeared to be collected “legally” in the course of “normal, foreign surveillance.”

Major upstate and Long Island transportation system heads implored state lawmakers and Cuomo to boost by roughly $10 million their operating aid for the coming fiscal year.

Despite alleged and recurring pushback from Cuomo, the New York Farm Bureau said it hopes a long-sought, twice-vetoed tax credit for food donations will pass with the state budget next month.

The Legal Aid Society of Nassau County spent more than $400,000 without proper authorization and inappropriately used nearly $230,000 from its petty cash bank account, according to an audit released today by Nassau Comptroller George Maragos.

NYC Mayor de Blasio says he’s retaining the same election lawyer whose campaign-fundraising legal advice put him under the scrutiny of federal and state prosecutors.

After successfully repealing the sales tax on feminine hygiene products, Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal wants to make tampons and other feminine hygiene products free in low-income schools, homeless shelters and prisons.

A Washington, D.C. distiller has named a whiskey after Hillary Clinton – it’s called “Rodham Rye.”

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. said the Oneida Indian Nation officials previously talked with him about wanting to expand in the region, so he took a chance and approached them about building a casino in Utica.

A Syracuse firefighter has been suspended without pay pending an investigation into his role in a hit-and-run car crash involving an investigator in the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office.

When Biden (the former VP) met Biden (the Golden Retriever puppy).