Nick Reisman

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Cuomo Says Affordable Housing Deal In Place (Updated)

An agreement between real-estate developers and labor unions has been reached that could create up to 2,500 units of affordable housing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday in a radio interview.

Cuomo indicated the agreement is aimed at addressing the expired 421a tax abatement, but also suggested it was different than the old program — or at least would go by a different name.

“It’s a better program than the old 421a,” Cuomo said in the interview with businessman John Catsimatidis.

All told, the new program would create up to 9,000 units, Cuomo said. Further details of the plan were not discussed in the interview.

A bill would be introduced later in the day on Sunday to be considered by the Legislature, Cuomo said.

At the same time, Cuomo also urged lawmakers to reach an agreement on spending $2 billion in a memorandum of understanding for supportive housing, a major unresolved issue from the 2016 legislative session.

Cuomo had wanted the issue addressed in a special session of the Senate and Assembly in December, but an agreement could not be reached on that agenda.

Updated: Cuomo’s office in an announcement later Sunday said the bill to authorize the agreement will be released. It appears to be broad strokes of the 421a renewal agreement initially announced in November.

The bill language itself was not immediately available.

The program is now being dubbed “Affordable New York” and will cover affordable housing units for 40 years.

Under the agreement, construction workers would receive a wage rate on average of $60 for projects in Manhattan south of 96th Street. An average $45 wage would be paid for projects a mile from the East River in community boards 1 and 2 in Brooklyn and Queens.

The bill is retroactive to projects that started Dec. 31, 2015.

Cuomo To Brief Lawmakers On Budget Proposal

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to privately brief state lawmakers on his 2017-18 budget proposal on Tuesday evening at the executive mansion, a spokesman for the Assembly Democratic conference confirmed Friday.

It’s unclear as of late Friday afternoon whether and how Cuomo will hold a public presentation of the spending plan, which is required to be communicated to the Legislature by Tuesday.

Cuomo’s budget plan is expected to lay out his spending priorities for the coming fiscal year, which starts April 1, and how he plans to close a projected $3.5 billion spending gap.

A potential pitfall for the governor and the Legislature is whether he will back the continuation of higher tax rates on the wealthy, which are due to expire at the end of the year. Senate Republicans support allowing the rates to expire; Assembly Democrats have signaled they want to keep them.

Katko Casts ‘No’ Vote On Obamacare Repeal

As expected, Republican Rep. John Katko voted against a repeal of the Affordable Care Act over the lack of a replacement for the measure.

In a statement, Katko said he remains opposed to keeping Obamacare as it is and wants it “either be radically restructured or replaced.”

But without a replacement measure ready to supplant the ACA as it is, Katko could not back the repeal measure this week.

I completely agree with President-elect Trump that repeal and replacement should occur at the same time,” Katko said. “This is a view that is shared by a clear majority of Americans. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to come up with a clear, viable, and effective replacement plan. When that happens, hopefully in the coming weeks, I will happily join my party in repealing Obamacare.”

Katko won a second term in November to the 24th congressional district in central New York, one of the top-tier battleground House seats in New York. Katko is the first lawmaker to win a second term in the district since it was altered in the 2012 round of re-apportionment.

Comptroller Paves Way For $12.5M Chopper Purchase

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office has approved a key step in the purchase of a $12.5 million Sikorsky helicopter by the State Police which is also expected to transport Gov. Andrew Cuomo around the state.

“As we previously said, this is a used helicopter that is being purchased to replace a crashed chopper in an aging fleet at a negotiated selling price that is below market rate,” said State Police spokesman Beau Duffy in a statement on Friday. “We’re confident this contract will be approved and today’s action by the comptroller’s office is a big step in the right direction.”

DiNapoli’s office had initially raised concerns with the purchase of the helicopter given it was being done outside of the normal bidding process.

On Wednesday, Cuomo and an aide, press secretary Dani Lever, were on board returning to New York City from Albany when the helicopter made an emergency landing at Stewart Airport.

The incident is one of several over the years that Cuomo’s office has said showed the need for a replacement, given the safety concerns.

The money to purchase the new aircraft had been appropriated in 2013, but a request to make the purchase did not come before DiNapoli’s office until September 2016.

“We have been assured by Executive staff that when we receive the contract for review that it will be thorough, complete and contain the necessary documentation that every state agency knows it must include when making multi-million dollar purchases. Taxpayers rightly expect state agencies to do their homework,” said Jennifer Freeman, a spokeswoman for DiNapoli.

“We have also offered the state police technical assistance as they look to replace other aircraft in its fleet. We understand that when it comes to safety there should be no shortcuts. The same goes for protecting taxpayer money.”

Zeldin: A Republican Running On Trump’s Themes Could Win NY

Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin in a radio interview on Friday suggested the populist themes that propelled Donald Trump to the presidency could work in New York’s 2018 race for governor.

“There are themes that moved Donald Trump toward the presidency would work for a re-energized Republican Party statewide,” Zeldin said in the interview.

But in the interview with Fred Dicker on Talk-1300, Zeldin insisted he was focused on his House career, not the gubernatorial election.

“I just got sworn in last week for another term,” he said. “I’d be lying to you that coming back home from that respect is on my mind.”

Zeldin indeed sounded like he was testing the waters at the very least ahead of the 2018 race in the interview, even as he denied an interest in a statewide campaign. He’s been sharply critical of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s rhetoric of then repeal of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on New York.

A Republican has not won statewide in New York since George Pataki secured a third term as governor in 2002. Trump, a New York businessman, did not win New York against Democrat Hillary Clinton and a GOP presidential candidate hasn’t won the state since 1984.

But Zeldin believes a candidate who espouses a populist tendency on issues such as hydrofracking, gun control and Common Core could be successful statewide, while also running competitively in heavily Democratic New York City, especially the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn.

“It’s been a long time since a new Republican was elected statewide. Harry Wilson came close in the comptroller’s race in 2010,” he said. “But when you hear about draining the swamp in DC, that’s even more important as it relates to Albany. You hear about making America great again, what about making New York great again?”

Zeldin, now in his second term in the 1st congressional district on the eastern end of Long Island, was a prominent supporter for Trump’s presidential bid.

Cuomo Proposes Pilot Program For Home Ownership

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is still churning out State of the State proposals.

On Friday, Cuomo announced a plan that is aimed at encouraging recent college graduates to purchase homes in upstate New York communities like Buffalo and Rochester.

The pilot program would be initially funded with $5 million for low-interest loans, down payment assistance and education courses.

“Upstate colleges and universities have world-class programs that produce highly skilled graduates — who then leave for opportunities elsewhere,” Governor Cuomo said. “This program will incentivize recent graduates to put down roots in upstate communities, helping to bring new energy into their downtown centers, spur their development and increase their economic vitality.”

The program is aimed at keeping college graduates in upstate communities that have downtown areas and urban centers.

Astorino: Cuomo ‘Shirking His Responsibilities’

Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino in a video released Friday knocked Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2017 agenda and proposal to reduce the property tax burden by encouraging municipalities to develop savings plans.

Astorino knocked the plan for not including an effort to reduce mandated spending as set by Albany.

“Think about that: There are counties in this state that have to spend every property tax dollar they raise to pay for Andrew Cuomo’s mandates — and then some,” Astorino says ni the video. So to hear this governor attacking local school districts and municipalities yesterday for overspending — to see him shirking his responsibilities with no trace of shame — was remarkable, indeed.”

Astorino was the 2014 nominee for governor and is considering another run against Cuomo next year as he seeks a third term. Astorino is also running for re-election as county executive in Westchester this year.

Cuomo has argued his administration has tackled one of the biggest mandates on local governments through a cap on Medicaid spending increases for counties.

State Dems Blast Cox On Paladino Comments

From the Morning Memo:

The state Democratic Committee on Thursday afternoon knocked Republican Chairman Ed Cox’s support for Carl Paladino to continue on as a member of the Buffalo school board after making racially charged remarks about President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

“Ed Cox’s tone deaf endorsement of former Republican standard bearer Carl Paladino’s effort to remain on the Buffalo School Board is both shameful and repugnant,” said state Democratic Committee Executive Director Basil Smikle.

Cox in a Capital Tonight interview on Wednesday said he opposed removing Paladino from the school board, saying the effort to do so is for “other reasons.”

“He’s trying to get real reforms there,” Cox said. “If he focuses on that, that would be very significant. He should focus on that, totally, and get that job done.”

Paladino, the 2010 Republican nominee for governor, last month responded to a series of survey questions sent by a Buffalo newsweekly by saying he wished Obama died of mad cow disease and the first lady “returned to being a man” and lived with a gorilla in Africa.

In the Capital Tonight interview, Cox said he agreed with Paladino’s son, who also denounced the comments on social media.

But the comments have continued to spur protests and an effort to have the state Education Department remove Paladino from office.

“Paladino’s racist rant against the President and the First Lady is beyond the pale and shows just how unfit he is to be in any position of authority, much less one that directly impacts the lives of children,” Smikle said. “Conversely, Ed Cox dismissing Paladino’s latest outburst is just one more example of how out of touch he is with his fellow New Yorkers.”

At the same time, Smikle challenged other Republican leaders — including the GOP’s legislative leaders in Albany and potential candidates for governor in 2018 — to call on Paladino to step down.

“We call on other leaders of the Republican Party, John Flanagan, Brian Kolb, Rob Astorino, Tom Dadey, and Chris Jacobs to do the right thing, stand with the children of Buffalo, and demand Carl Paladino resign,” Smikle said. “Make no mistake, silence is complicity.”

Schneiderman To Investigate Fiat Chrysler Emissions Claims

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Thursday announced his office would investigate accusations from the Environmental Protection Agency luxury car maker Fiat Chrysler violated clean air standards.

In a statement, Schneiderman noted his office had taken up a lead role in the investigation of VW’s emissions scandal.

“I am deeply troubled by evidence presented by the EPA today concerning Fiat Chrysler’s alleged attempts to undermine our nation’s clean air laws,” he said. “My office was proud to take a leading role in the multi-state investigation of Volkswagen that uncovered flagrant abuses of New York’s environmental laws and, in the case of VW, a culture of corruption that enabled blatantly illegal conduct to persist over many years.”

The EPA probe found the company allowed up to 100,000 diesel vehicles it manufactured to have emissions above the legal level. The company’s CEO has denied there was any intentional wrongdoing.

“My office will not tolerate attempts by any company to evade our environmental laws and pollute the air we breathe,” Schneiderman said. “As such, my office will investigate the claims against Fiat Chrysler and stands ready to work with our state and federal partners to ensure that any violations are pursued to fullest extent of the law.”

Stefanik Named To Leadership In NRCC

Newly re-elected Rep. Elise Stefanik announced Thursday she will become the next vice-chair for recruitment at the National Republican Campaign Committee.

The youngest woman ever elected to the House, Stefanik is also the first woman to lead recruitment at the NRCC.

“I am honored to be selected to this important position and thank Chairman Stivers for this opportunity,” Stefanik said. “It’s critical that we start recruiting talented candidates early this cycle so that we can grow our majority. I look forward to working with Chairman Stivers and all of my colleagues on the committee towards this effort.”

Stefanik was re-election to a second term in November, defeating Democrat Mike Derrick in the 21st congressional district.

“Congresswoman Stefanik has proven to be a hard-worker and dedicated to helping Members of the House Republican Conference,” said NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers said. “I am confident she will recruit qualified and competitive candidates to run for Congress in 2018.”