Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

Here and Now

Good morning.

Lawmakers reached the end of the weekend “grace period” granted to them by the governor to get a budget deal in place without a deal in sight. So, now they are faced this morning with the task of passing an extender resolution – also sent to them by the governor – to avert a shutdown and keep government running in the short term.

The extender, as Nick reported early this morning, does NOT include the contentious “raise the age” measure that has been largely responsible for holding up a final budget deal, and also only covers operations through May 31.

Also not included are other contentious policy issues that the governor has insisted upon including in the budget talks – a tactic of his that he has employed with increasing frequency over the years.

Those issues in this year’s spending plan include the extension of the 421-a property tax abatement and also legalizing ride hailing outside New York City, even though that particular matter has been widely considered settled for several days now.

So, we’re back to the bad old days of late budgets – a blow for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has made on-time budgets a hallmark of his tenure in the executive mansion, in stark contrast to his predecessors, including his father, the late former Gov. Mario Cuomo.

Though state government employees are likely breathing a sigh of relief, the situation makes things complicated for school districts, who rely considerably on state funding and have to put their budgets to a vote in mid-May.

The extender keeps funding at its current level, and doesn’t address increased funding for traditional public schools and charters, which has also emerged as a sticking point in budget talks.

Also not particularly happy are rank-and-file lawmakers, who have to forgo their paychecks as long as a budget is late. That’s the result of a deal struck long ago between legislative leaders and then-Republican Gov. George Pataki, which also enabled the first charter schools to be created in New York and – ironically – gave lawmakers their last (38 percent) pay raise.

(For the record, the holding-the-paychecks ploy didn’t work. Pataki saw chronically late budgets during the remainder of his term).

The failure to get a pay raise deal late last year – which would have been the first since that 1998 Pataki-era boost – still rankles many lawmakers, especially those who live downstate, where the base pay of $79,500 doesn’t go terribly far.

That may be causing some (though not all) of the lingering animosity between the governor and legislators, who perhaps aren’t interested in giving him yet another “on time budget” headline to crow about as he seeks to raise his national profile and looks toward a potential presidential run in 2020.

But the reality is that a late budget is bad optics all around.

The governor is busy pointing the finger of blame at “an ultraconservative Congress” down in Washington, D.C. for making things difficult in Albany. Cuomo’s poll numbers aren’t great these days, but they’re still higher than the collective popularity of the Assembly and Senate, which means he has less to lose in this situation – for now.

Some on the left have been pushing Democratic lawmakers to hold out on a deal – especially in the Assembly when it comes to getting more education aid – arguing that a bad budget is worse than a late budget. But sooner or later, a late budget becomes a symbol of dysfunction and disarray – the very things Cuomo has staked his claim on avoiding in years past.

Also, the longer state lawmakers wait to get a budget deal, the clearer the picture gets on a federal budget – and the cuts that will undoubtedly come with it, which are scheduled to be outlined May 21. This will only serve to further complicate the situation at the state level.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement that his conference is “prepared” to act on the extender. The Senate, according to Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, was in wait-and-see mode late last night/early this morning, and will return to conference at 11 a.m.

We’ll be keeping you up to date on developments at the Capitol throughout the day.

For the moment, Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule. He hasn’t made any appearances since last Tuesday. A schedule for some of the day’s events appears at the end of this post.

(Non-budget) headlines…

More >

The (Non-Budget) Weekend That Was

It looks like things are finally coming together down at the state Capitol where the budget is concerned.

Various sources connected to the Legislature are predicting that passage of some bills could start as early as today, though whether it’s all done before midnight remains to be seen.

Education and revenue seem to be the last areas to close, though raise the age continues to be potentially problematic, as Nick reported earlier. Keep an eye on this space, where he will be keeping you updated as the day/night progresses.

In the meantime, here are some non-budget headlines from the past several days…

President Donald Trump called on the “fake news media” to turn its attention to questions of illegal government surveillance and ferreting out the leakers within his administration. “The real story turns out to be SURVEILLANCE and LEAKING!” he tweeted. “Find the leakers.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged Trump to veto a congressional resolution that would let internet providers collect and sell users’ personal information.

Schumer said that Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, likely won’t get the 60 Senate votes he needs for confirmation — even as the GOP ensured Gorsuch is a go.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley says there’s no question Russia was involved in the U.S. presidential election and insists Trump would fully support strong action against the Kremlin once investigations are complete.

While Chinese officials have found the president a bewildering figure with a penchant for inflammatory statements, they have come to at least one clear judgment: In Washington these days, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is the man to know.

Kushner’s financial disclosure shows he and his wife, Ivanka Trump, still benefit financially from a real estate and investment empire worth as much as $740 million, making it clear that this most powerful Washington couple is walking on perilous legal and ethical ground now that they’re officially working for the administration.

The Trump administration is considered the wealthiest in U.S. history. Here is a look at the value of assets held by some top officials, based on financial disclosure filings.

The filings reveal that Michael Flynn, the national security adviser who was forced out of the job in February, failed to list payments from Russia-linked entities on one of the two forms he filed.

A federal judge in Kentucky has shot down a request from Trump’s attorneys to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that the man who is now President incited violence against protesters at a Louisville rally last year.

An investigation by The New York Times has found a total of five women who have received payouts totaling about $13 million from either Fox News host Bill O’Reilly or the company itself in exchange for agreeing to not pursue litigation or speak about their accusations against him.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders criticized his former rival Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign during a progressive rally alongside Sen. Elizabeth Warren, saying the Democratic nominee’s loss revealed the need for the “fundamental restructuring of the Democratic Party.”

New Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said Trump “didn’t win the election” and suggested his Republican Party doesn’t care about voters.

The New York Post fell victim to an apparent April Fools’ Day joke on Saturday night when someone hacked the publication’s app and sent nine push-button alerts that included “Heil President Donald Trump.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the funeral for Timothy Caughman, a black man who was killed in a racist attack by a white Balitmore man armed with a sword on the night of March 20 while scavenging in Midtown.

Slain EMT Yadira Arroyo’s memory is living on in Hollywood. Donnie Wahlberg and his “Blue Bloods” co-star Amy Carlson are among the actors lending their star power to the FDNY emergency medical technician in a viral campaign.

NYC’s use of Manhattan hotels to house the homeless shot up 58 percent in the last year as bookings expanded from the outer boroughs to prime tourist destinations in Midtown and Soho.

The NYT deems closing Rikers Island a “moral imperative.”

In an attempt to diversify its teaching ranks, the Buffalo school district is partnering with the Buffalo Teachers Federation and SUNY Buffalo State on a new program that will recruit students while they are still in high school and offer them incentives to pursue a career in education.

Taxpayer-funded mailers, TV programs and social media experts are among the perks enjoyed by incumbent state lawmakers, making them very difficult to unseat.

A new chapter in Nassau County’s decadelong struggle to overhaul the Nassau Coliseum — a saga riddled with missteps, taxpayer rejections and the loss of Long Island’s only major league sports team — starts Wednesday as the arena reopens after an 18-month, $165 million makeover.

The Oneida Indian Nation will soon begin construction on its third Central New York casino – this one in Bridgeport – just over the Onondaga County-Madison County line near Cicero.

Volunteer firefighters say they are at greater risk than the general population of contracting cancer due to toxins they encounter on calls, and they are pushing for additional medical coverage through state legislation.

A part-time NYPD surgeon and pal of ex-Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has lost his parking privileges pending a probe of possible abuse — for the second time, officials told The NY Post.

Syracuse’s “buy local” champion – Democrat Chris Fowler – joined a crowded field of mayoral candidates. He is the sixth Democrat and eighth candidate overall to join the race.

Bill Kindel, a former Amherst Town Board member and chairman of town’s Conservative Party, will formally announce his candidacy for the upcoming Town Board elections during his first campaign event tomorrow.

Several hundred people turned out at Niagara Square for a pro-Trump “Spirit of America” rally in Buffalo this weekend.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner will replace Sherman Jewett, the Albany consultant who has been working part-time for the city at $175 per hour, with Carol Dwyer, who has been hired as director of mayoral initiatives – a three-day-a-week job.

State officials and the consultant studying sites for a new Buffalo train station are pushing back against key elements of Rep. Brian Higgins’ argument for locating the facility at Central Terminal.

North Hempstead’s Town Council is proposing a ban on all-terrain vehicles in response to residents’ concerns and to protect park grasslands.

Gilbert Baker, the creator of the rainbow flag that has become a widely recognized symbol of gay rights has died at his New York City home. He was 65.

Here and Now

The budget is due at midnight tonight, and there’s still no deal. It’s now safe to safe the 2017-18 budget will be officially late, though likely not by much. Lawmakers are aiming for the weekend.

It looks like a deal on letting ride hailing apps like Uber and Lyft operate upstate is more or less done.

Other issues still on the table include: education spending, college affordability, raise the age, water infrastructure spending, workers comp reform and subsidies for three upstate nuclear plants.

Talks continue at the state Capitol. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule as of yet.

Meanwhile, down in D.C., President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this morning, and later will make an announcement with the National Association of Manufacturers.

In the afternoon, the president will meet separately with the directors of the National Institutes of Health the Office of Management and Budget.

At 8:45 a.m., former Gov. David Paterson speaks at the OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services 2017 Legislative Breakfast, Bernstein Private Wealth Management, 1345 Sixth Ave., 41st floor, Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio appears live on WNYC.

At 11 a.m., elected officials from across New York state will come together to ask Cuomo to halt the projected $7.6 billion bailout of three upstate nuclear power plants, outside Senate chambers, 3rd Floor, State Capitol, Albany.

At 11:30 a.m., the Bronx Chamber of Commerce holds a Women of Distinction Luncheon, with a keynote from NYC Councilmember Vanessa Gibson, Villa Barone, 737 Throggs Neck Expressway, the Bronx.

Also at 11:30 a.m., Rep. Grace Meng holds roundtable discussion on Trump’s proposed budget cuts and the negative impacts it would have on Queens, Meng’s office, 40-13 159th St., Queens.

At 2 p.m., Rep. Carolyn Maloney, co-chair of the House Census Caucus, will be joined by CEO of the LGBT Network David Kilmnick to speak out against the Commerce Department’s decision to reverse its plan to add questions to the 2020 census regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, 1651 3rd Ave., Suite 311, Manhattan.

Headlines…

Most Americans disapprove of Trump’s overall performance two months into his presidency, according to a new poll, but they’re more upbeat about at least one critical area: his handling of the economy.

The president, beset by an early legislative failure and the continuing clouds of investigations into his presidential campaign, tried to get back on offense.

Trump launched a vengeful tirade against conservatives in his own party in an attempt to kick-start health care talks and show that he remains a force to be feared in the looming battles over the budget, a tax overhaul and infrastructure.

Trump today is expected to sign two executive orders aimed at tackling long-standing concerns around trade enforcement as the White House launches plans to redefine U.S. policy.

Mike Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, has told the FBI and congressional officials investigating the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia that he is willing to be interviewed in exchange for a grant of immunity from prosecution.

The White House invited the congressional intelligence committees to review secret surveillance materials it said that National Security Council staff had found in the “ordinary course of business.”

Trump wants to get a head start on the massive spending cuts he proposed for 2018 – and just like in that budget proposal, his immediate funding reductions would be aimed in part at a host of programs that benefit Western New York.

Former Vice President Joe Biden indirectly knocked Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign at an event in Pennsylvania, suggesting that the former secretary of state failed to talk to middle-class voters.

Two Senate Democrates – Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota – said they would vote in favor of putting Judge Neil Gorsuch on the U.S. Supreme Court, becoming the first Democrats to support Trump’s nominee to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last year.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said it is “virtually impossible” for Democrats and Republicans to reach an agreement on Gorsuch before the upper chamber casts its votes.

U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel is once again reflecting on his second-oldest case — a nearly seven-year-old lawsuit alleging that Donald Trump defrauded students of the now-defunct Trump University before he was president.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has gained a reputation for being rather reclusive in his role as the nation’s new top diplomat — and a report suggests he might even have trouble looking people in the eye.

With state leaders racing to finalize a new state budget by the Saturday start of the new fiscal year, a majority of New Yorkers say tax the rich, keep teens out of adult prisons and offer free tuition for some public college students, a new Q poll found.

The Glens Falls Post-Star: “We never thought we would see the day when the plot twists in Washington, D.C. would make us forget about the total ineptitude of our state government in Albany.”

More >

Extras

Still no budget deal in sight…and while we wait, here’s some stuff to keep you busy:

A pair of White House officials played a role in providing California Rep. Devin Nunes, a Republican and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with the intelligence reports that showed that President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies.

U.S. Senate Republicans, aided by Vice President Mike Pence and an ailing Georgia colleague who hobbled into the chamber on a walker, voted to proceed with a measure to undo an Obama administration rule preventing states from blocking funding for family planning clinics that also provide abortions.

Trump declared war on the conservatives of the House Freedom Caucus, suggesting Republicans should “fight them” in the 2018 midterm elections if they do not back his agenda.

Katie Walsh, a top White House aide, is leaving her post as deputy chief of staff in the first major shakeup of the Trump administration.

The Empire Center’s Ken Girardin writes: “Calls by gun control opponents to ‘defund’ New York’s SAFE Act gun-control law have become standard fare during the state budget process, but the goal is completely impractical.”

Roger Stone, the Trump loyalist and GOP operative so many love to hate – and, make no mistake he loves that – is the subject of a timely documentary about to be released.

Bo Dietl believes that unlike NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, if he’s elected mayor he’d be able to craft a strong working relationship with both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Trump.

Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton joined NYC Public Advocate Tish James for an event promoting legislation that would ban employers from asking job applicants about their salary history – a measure they argued would advance gender equity and close the male-female wage gap.

Chelsea Clinton says she’s not running for public office “right now,” though if a position opens and she’s potentially interested, she’ll reconsider.

Cuomo’s administration says it will continue to monitor the progression of legislation at the North Carolina Capitol that would replace that state’s controversial bathroom law seen as discriminatory toward the LGBT community.

Lockheed Martin’s plant in suburban Syracuse has won two Navy contracts worth a combined $114 million to produce electronic warfare defenses for aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers and other Navy ships.

Armed with a $200,000 grant, a state lawmaker from Central New York, Assemblywoman Pam Hunter, is seeking to rally the city of Syracuse and the adjacent town of DeWitt to deal with their excessive numbers of white-tailed deer.

Jason Elan, who worked as a spokesman for Cuomo and LG Kathy Hochul, has been hired by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone to serve as his new communications director.

Multiple (anonymous) sources say George Latimer, a third-term Democratic senator, will be going against fellow Democrat Ken Jenkins, a Westchester County legislator, and the Republican incumbent, Rob Astorino, in this year’s Westchester County executive race.

Laura Curran, a Democratic candidate for Nassau County executive, unveiled a plan to eliminate most taxpayer-funded mailers and fliers.

Cuomo today launched the Request for Proposals for Round III of the New NY Broadband Program, the final round of funding to secure access to high-speed internet for all New Yorkers by the end of 2018.

Jefferson County suffered the second most dramatic population decrease in America last year.

New fishing regulations go into effect on April 1, the start of the trout season statewide. Numerous changes will impact Adirondack waters and anglers

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.

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.

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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.

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