Nick Reisman

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State Democratic Committee Ad Latest Salvo In Health Care Battle

From the Morning Memo:

The state Democratic Committee is releasing a video as part of its ongoing fight against the Republican-led efforts in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The video comes as Republicans in the U.S. Senate unveiled their own version of the legislation.

The Senate bill, like the measure that passed the U.S. House of Representatives this spring, shifts the cost of county Medicaid spending to the state government — a provision Gov. Andrew Cuomo has railed against.

Cuomo has vowed to unseat Republicans House members from New York who have backed the legislation, chiefly Reps. Chris Collins and John Faso.

“People are already mobilizing in New York – there’s a major rally today with some of the state’s leading unions and health care advocates,” Cuomo wrote in an email accompanying the video’s release that also sought small-dollar donations for the state committee’s effort.

It’s unclear if the ad will air on TV or on social media.

The Republican leadership in the Senate is pushing for a vote on the latest health care measure before July 4, however several GOP lawmakers have expressed reservations with the draft legislation, imperiling its chances.

Cuomo Blames Legislature As Session Concludes

For nearly an hour on Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo defended the accomplishments of the legislative session and blamed the Legislature for high-profile disagreements over extending mayoral control of New York City and failing to achieve ethics reform

“If you want to be fair, you put the win-losses together, right?” Cuomo said. “We had many, many more wins.”

Cuomo pointed to the victories he achieved in the budget, including free college tuition at state and city universities in New York and juvenile justice reform through raising the age of criminal responsibility.

He touted the 150 state Senate confirmations for appointees, including MTA Chairman Joe Lhota and Court of Appeals Judge Paul Feinman.

But the session concluded in something of fizzle on Wednesday, as lawmakers remained at odds over extending mayoral control of New York City schools and a major legislative deal — sometimes referred to as a “big ugly” did not come to fruition.

Cuomo’s end-of-session press conference blamed the Legislature for a variety of issues not being taken care of, including an extension of mayoral control in New York City, calling it a controversial issue, even though majorities in both chambers support extending it and the disagreement lies with expanding charter schools.

It was a difficult legislative session over all for Cuomo — the governor acknowledged the budget, approved April 10 — “was a little late” but also defended his approach with the Legislature.

“There are some issues in which you are just unwilling to compromise,” he said. “When you say, ‘I’m going to hold my position, I’m going to generate support until I get it.’ It would be silly to say we’re going to be able to work out every issue, no matter how complicated.”

He added: “We had a tremendous session.”

Cuomo claimed a bill that would name the Tappan Zee Bridge after his late father was unusual because it passed without a single vote against it.

“I can’t remember the last time a bill passed in the Senate unanimously,” he said. “I think that was a beautiful gesture.”

Bills pass unanimously frequently in the Senate, including a measure the same night as the Mario Cuomo Bridge bill that would help 9/11 first responders.

Cuomo also defended his timing on when he introduced legislation, including a bill that would grant him more control over the MTA, which had been introduced a day before the session ended.

“When a bill goes in has nothing to do with the reality of the situation, right?” he said.

Cuomo insisted he wanted to see the passage of a bill that would lengthen the statute of limitations for survivors of sexual assault to file lawsuits. In the end, he said, the Senate didn’t want to do it.

“There was no agreement, well, there was no agreement because there was no desire to take a vote in the Senate, period,” he said.

When asked about the lack of ethics reform and his opposition to a bill that would re-empower his rival Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to oversee economic development spending, Cuomo pointed to the recent arrest of a fund manager in the comptroller’s office.

And, on ethics reform, he knocked lawmakers who continue to receive outside income.

“The fundamental corrupter is the inherent conflict of interest in the fact that you are an Assembly person or a senator and you’re also a private business person,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo had backed a different measure that would create an inspector general to oversee state contracting, saying the issue was not a matter for the comptroller’s office to handle.

And Cuomo called it a dereliction of duty the Legislature hadn’t completed the mayoral control issue, but he won’t call them back to the Capitol unless an agreement is in place. The measure expires at the end of the month.

“I believe this has been a dereliction of their duty,” Cuomo said. “As I said before this is the main issue they love to talk about — how much money you have for education — and then they put in a corruption system to manage it.”

As for why this year was different on extending mayoral control, Cuomo said, “There was a different agreement than what people.”

Heastie: No Plans To Return

Throughout the day on Thursday, lawmakers in the Assembly received calls from Speaker Carl Heastie’s office to determine whether they would be available to convene on Friday in Albany to take up unfinished business from the legislative session.

By midafternoon, however, Heastie had ruled out the possibility of that happening for now.

In a statement, Heastie softened his stance made late Wednesday night in which he declared he had “no intention” of returning to the Capitol.

However, he also said that there are plans to come back, even if it made sense to “engage” should Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Senate reach out.

“In May, the Assembly passed legislation to extend mayoral control in New York City as well as local taxes in municipalities across the state,” Heastie said. “It remains our desire not to return as we are very comfortable with the bill that we passed. However, if the Governor and/or the Senate is asking us to engage, we would be derelict in our duties not to consider those requests. With that being said, there is no plan to return.”

Senate Republicans previously said in a statement on Thursday said their conference would not return, either, pending an agreement.

Cuomo Blasts Senate Health Care Bill

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday criticized the U.S. Senate’s version of a massive health care reform measure that would repeal the Affordable Care Act as “an ultraconservative assault” that will hurt New York.

The bill retains a provision of the House of Representatives-backed plan that would shift the county share of Medicaid costs to the state government — a proposal Cuomo has railed against for the last month.

“Like the disastrous House proposal, this bill will strip coverage from millions of New Yorkers, cost New York State billions of dollars, and devastate our health care system,” Cuomo said.

“Senate Republicans have intensified the war on Medicaid services that New Yorkers rely on. And by keeping the reckless Collins-Faso Amendment, this bill targets New York and threatens to slash an additional $2.3 billion in Medicaid funding for the state, leading to devastating cuts to our hospitals, nursing homes, and home care providers.”

Cuomo knocked the bill, which was unveiled today, in both an official statement and in a fundraising appeal from the state Democratic Committee. Cuomo is marshaling the state party and political allies in the labor sector to unseat Republicans who represent New York in the House who have voted for the health care legislation. But he’s reserved his ire chiefly for Reps. Chris Collins and John Faso, the two authors of the Medicaid plank.

“Republicans in New York who voted for the House bill sent a clear message that they’d rather be puppets to ultra conservatives in Washington than protect the nearly 3 million New Yorkers who will lose their health care coverage because of this bill,” the email signed by Cuomo sent by the state Democratic Committee states.

Cuomo then seeks a small-dollar donation.

“And we need you to join the action,” he writes. “Let’s remind these Republicans that we’re not going to forget their vote against New York and we will hold them accountable.”

Assembly Considers Return, But Senate Says They Won’t Unless A Deal Is Ready

Late Wednesday night, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie insisted he had “no intention” of calling his chamber back into session to take up another extension of mayoral control for New York City schools

That changed 12 hours later, as the Assembly staffers reached out to individual members on Thursday morning to poll them on whether they would be available to return for a special session.

This comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has shown no signs of suggesting the legislative session is over or negotiations are done. His office has not released any post-mortem statements since the Senate and Assembly adjourned the 2017 session without taking up a mayoral control measure and extending local tax provisions.

The Senate, officially, is ruling out coming back Friday, or until a deal is in place.

“Senators are not being asked to return to Albany tomorrow,” said Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif. “If and when there is an agreement to present to members will give them proper notice and take additional steps to ensure we do the people’s business as efficiently as possible.”

Mayoral control does not expire until the end of the month, while the sales tax measures for county governments are due to end at the end of the year.

DiNapoli Disappointed In Lack Of Procurement Reform

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli in a statement called the lack of procurement a “missed opportunity” at the end of the legislative session in Albany.

Lawmakers have left town without voting for any reforms to oversight or transparency to economic development spending.

The Legislature had sought, among other items, to restore DiNapoli’s procurement power for spending that pass through SUNY and CUNY-related entities, a common vehicle for economic development funding.

“The failure to enact procurement reform was a missed opportunity to protect taxpayers’ dollars and prevent corruption,” DiNapoli said. “Enhancing independent oversight of state contracting, especially with regard to economic development spending, is needed to ensure accountability and transparency. I hope the legislature will consider the clean contracting proposal when they reconvene.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo had opposed the bill, seeking instead to appoint a inspector general who would oversee contracting at state agencies. Other measures, including bills that would increase transparency for the regional state economic development councils and the START-UP NY program also faltered.

At The End, Klein Sought Larger Deal

Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein on Wednesday night said he sought a legislative package at the end of the session that would have included three-quarters disability for first responders, design build for New York City an additional 50 speed cameras around schools.

But the bargain, which could have included extending mayoral control of New York City schools in the process, was ultimately not to be as lawmakers adjourned for what they said was the rest of the year.

“These are things that we need to get done, that we have to get done, especially with all the extenders we left undone,” Klein said after the Senate gaveled out late Wednesday night. “So we’re going to have a break, but it’s going to be a short one.”

There’s no time frame for when the Legislature would return and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie he had upheld what his chamber needed to do by passing a two-year extension of mayoral control in May. That measure linked the program to the extension of sales tax and other local tax provisions, meaning those measures could expire if not deal with by the end of the year.

Klein, meanwhile, believed the issues dividing lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo can still be solved.

“We were very, very close on a lot of these very important issues,” he said.

Cuomo Grants Clemency To ‘Civic-Minded’ Ground Zero Worker

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday exercised his office’s clemency power for a Ground Zero worker who is being detained by federal immigration enforcement.

The clemency for Queens resident Carlos Cardona is being extended to a recovery worker at Ground Zero. He’s lived in the U.S. for more than 30 years.

“It is my hope this action will not only reunite Mr. Cardona with his wife and daughter, but also send a message about the values of fairness and equality that New York was founded upon,” Cuomo said in an email sent by his office.

“By granting clemency, there is no longer valid ground to deport Mr. Cardona. New Yorkers like you need to stand together and call for his release from custody.”

In the email, Cuomo urged New York residents to add their name to a petition seeking Cardona’s release.

5 End-Of-Session Takeaways

From the Morning Memo:

The legislative session is over, for now. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is blaming the Senate for not delivering on mayoral control of New York City schools, calling it “unconscionable” they would leave Albany with taking care of the issue. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, likewise, blamed the Democratic-led Assembly for not backing down when it comes to their opposition to expanding charter schools.

Here are five takeaways from the conclusion of the legislative session.

1. Mayoral control will have to wait: Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie was adamant on Wednesday night that he is not bringing his chamber back to Albany to take up an extension of mayoral control of New York City schools. For him, this has already been accomplishment with a bill passed in May, packaging together local sales tax and other municipal tax provisions. Senate Republicans were confident Heastie in the end would blink, of the interests of his upstate and suburban Democratic conference members. But Heastie’s support within his conference is strong; he’s a well liked speaker. Lawmakers, largely left in the dark during the final week of the session, said Heastie’s push back against charter schools was a principled and consistent stand.

2. The Senate is happy to come back. Soon after the Senate concluded its work around 11:30 Wednesday evening, Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco told reporters he expected both chambers would reconvene in relatively short order Albany to wrap up the unresolved issues. A similar prediction was made by Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein. The only issue is coming up with an agreement that would make a one-day session worthwhile and, with both sides dug in on charter schools, it’s a matter of who will blink first. Mayoral control lapses June 30, and it has expired before for a short period of time.

3. Where’s Cuomo? The governor stayed largely out of sight this week as the legislative session wound down. His prediction that relatively little of significance would be accomplished when it comes to mayoral control and the Child Victims Act proved to be correct. Cuomo did not speak with reporters this week, choosing to hold a bill signing ceremony for increasing the age of marriage to 17 behind closed doors. Cuomo did get a few personal wins this week, including the confirmation of the first openly gay judge on the state Court of Appeals as well as the last-minute and somewhat surprising approval of Joe Lhota as MTA chairman. Lhota’s return to the MTA comes as the governor has sought to exert more control than he already has over the transit authority amid ongoing troubles for the New York City subway. It’s also a stick in the eye to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who faced Lhota in the 2013 general election. Lhota has since been a persistent critic of the mayor.

4. The Assembly isn’t leaping for the governor. Cuomo’s relationship with Assembly Democrats has frayed. A bill that would re-name the Tappan Zee Bridge after his late father was quickly endorsed Wednesday night and — with a message of necessity! — sailed through the Senate. Not so in the Assembly, where lawmakers were caught off guard by the bill’s introduction. The measure also names a portion of the state highway after Sen. Bill Larkin and a park after Assemblyman Denny Ferrell. There had been rampant speculation the bridge — or at least its under-construction replacement — would be named in honor of the late former governor who died in 2015. But that measure at the very least will have to wait.

5. In the long run, this was a tough session. It kicked off in an unconventional way in January with Cuomo taking his State of the State agenda on the road in localized settings around New York and not delivering a traditional, all-encompassing address to a joint session of the Legislature. The budget was subsequently a long slog, leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth after it was approved 10 days in the state’s fiscal year. Cuomo later said he would let the Legislature take the lead on the rest of the session, given he got his marquee issues such as free college tuition at state and city institutions. Left for weeks in Albany with Cuomo out and about in the state, lawmakers couldn’t reach deals on extending mayoral control or a bill making it easier for sex abuse survivors to file lawsuits. Bills that aimed at providing oversight and transparency to economic development spending, too, fell flat.

Heastie Says He’s Not Bringing Assembly Back

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie flatly said Wednesday night he would not bring his chamber back into session to vote on another extension of mayoral control of New York City schools.

Heastie pointed to the omnibus bill approved by the Assembly in May, which included both mayoral control to local tax extenders for county governments.

“We have no intention of coming back,” Heastie said after concluding the Assembly session. “We passed a bill for every single locality’s concerns.”

The Senate had sought to link an extension of mayoral control to expanding charter schools, which Heastie rejected.

Heastie acknowledged he was frustrated with the end of the session and the push for charter schools in the negotiations.

“I think overall in the budget we still had the third highest increase in foundation aid, free college tuition, raise the age was near and dear to us,” he said. “It was successful, but sometimes the politics frustrates you, just like I’m frustrated today.