Nick Reisman

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Gounardes Raises $114K For Senate Bid

Senate candidate Andrew Gounardes will report more than $100,000 in cash on hand in his bid to take on Republican Sen. Marty Golden this fall.

Gounardes, a Democrat who is undertaking his second campaign for the state Senate, has raised $114,349 from 636 individual donors and has $104,273 in the bank. He announced his campaign in November.

Gounardes and journalist Ross Barkan are vying for the Democratic nod to take on Golden.

Goundardes’s campaign touted the small-dollar donations, with 56 percent of the contributions received totaling $50 or less. The average donation was $166, with nearly 40 percent of the donations coming from within the Brooklyn Senate district.

“With more than half of our donations coming from small-dollar donors, this is truly a people-powered campaign to fight for fully funded schools, safe streets, and to fix our broken transit system,” said Gounardes. “Our supporters are real people, not special interests, because New Yorkers of all stripes are fed up with a state government that doesn’t represent them and they demand open, honest, and accountable leadership from Albany.”

5 Things To Watch For Budget Day

From the Morning Memo:

Happy budget day. Well, it may not be the happiest of budget days this year for Albany as Gov. Andrew Cuomo is set to unveil a 2018-19 spending plan that has to contend with a $4.5 billion spending gap. Assuming Cuomo caps spending at 2 percent increase, the deficit shrinks to $1.7 billion. Then the real challenge for Cuomo and lawmakers sets in.

1. How’s the deficit going to close?

The billion dollar question as it were. Cuomo last dealt with a $10 billion shortfall when taking office in 2011. At the time, Cuomo came in with a mandate to find ways of slowing spending growth in the wake of the great recession. He faced a lot of grief from liberals, however, for the budget’s education priorities, which they viewed as too stingy. Still, Cuomo up until now has largely avoided the high-profile fights over health care spending after creating a Medicaid Redesign Team. That truce, however, could come to an end if health care spending grows beyond what the state can afford. But this could lead to a costly advertising campaign, a return to tradition to Albany, of health care providers campaigning against what they see as spending cuts. Cuomo, too, has been loath to overtly raise taxes. But some revenue could be found in fees and other add-ons.

2. Will there be congestion pricing details?

Probably not. Cuomo said as much on Monday with reporters in New York City trying to pry details out of him on how he’ll propose a system of fees for driving at peak hours in order to relieve congestion and help bolster mass transit. Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader John Flanagan, have signaled their opposition to the proposal.

3. Is the payroll tax ready?

Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising news from Cuomo’s State of the State was when Cuomo hinted at a plan to have the state skirt the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions with a payroll tax or changes to charitable deductions. Budget experts have said this proposal may need a bit more time in the oven and may not be fleshed out in the budget.

4. What could be tossed in?

Policy proposals that have no fiscal impact could be included in the budget, attaching some importance to the issue and giving Cuomo some leverage in the negotiations with lawmakers. This could include proposed anti-sexual harassment policy changes unveiled earlier this month by the governor during the State of the State. Good-government perennially would like to see Cuomo include his ethics legislation in the spending plan, to little success.

5. Will the budget be “early”?

It’s a misnomer, of sorts, to suggest the budget is early or on time if it passes on or before March 31, the final day of the state’s fiscal year. But Cuomo has attached importance to the distinction as governor after years of late spending plans. This year, the calendar falls in a way that March 31 is actually a holiday weekend, which could speed things up, or force a slow down into April. The budget was 10 days late last year as lawmakers and Cuomo haggled over details — a return to an traditionally contentions and drawn-out process for the governor and the Legislature.

Siena Poll: Cuomo Numbers Up, Voters Want Taxes Tackled

New York voters by a margin of 62 percent to 30 percent have a favorable view of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, his in several years, which comes as he faces a re-election year and a daunting budget season, a Siena College poll released on Tuesday found.

The poll found Cuomo’s favorability rating among likely voters has rebounded since November, when he held a 52 percent to 43 percent score.

The poll also found Cuomo’s job performance rating has also rebounded since November, when he scored a negative 45 percent to 54 percent. Now, 50 percent of voters approved, while 48 percent do not.

And as Cuomo prepares to run for a third term with a massive $30 million war chest and against what are expected to be little-known Republican rivals, 55 percent of voters are prepared to re-elect him, compared with 36 percent who prefer a generic “someone else.”

Cuomo also tops elected officials and the Legislature in New York when it comes to favorability, ahead of U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer at 59 percent and Kirsten Gillibrand at 51 percent.

Even with Cuomo’s numbers at an enviable place at the start of the year, the state faces multiple challenges, including a $4.5 billion budget shortfall that must be closed in the spending plan expected to pass by March 31, the end of the state’s fiscal year. With spending capped at a 2 percent increase, the deficit shrinks to $1.7 billion.

The challenge for Cuomo and lawmakers, also in a re-election year, would be to close the deficit without spurring a high stakes fight over education and health care funding. Cuomo is laying out his budget proposal for the 2018-19 today in Albany.

However, the poll found education — typically one the top issues for voters in New York — has been replaced by taxes as the issue voters want to see Cuomo tackle in the new year. Health care ranked second, with education at third.

Adding to the problems is a $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions in a federal tax law approved last month by Congress. Cuomo has raised the possibility of shifting the state to a payroll tax or allowing for charges in charitable deductions in order to lessen the blow on those impacted.

New York voters, meanwhile, are skeptical the tax law will be good for New York. A plurality, 43 percent, believe it will hurt the state’s economy, with 24 percent saying it will improve things. Twenty-one percent expect it will have little impact.

At the same time, a similar plurality, 45 percent, expect to their personal finances will be about the same as a result of the new law; 33 percent expect to be worse off.

The poll of 824 registered voters was conducted from Jan. 7 through Jan. 11. It has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

SNY0118 Crosstabs011618 (1) by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Former Lawmakers Pay Legal Fees With Campaign Cash

Two former state lawmakers over the last six months have used campaign cash to pay their legal bills, filings with the state Board of Elections show.

The filings show both ex-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and former Sen. George Maziarz have used the money to pay for attorneys as they face corruption trials in the new year.

Skelos, a Republican from Long Island, paid more than $427,000 in attorneys fees in the last six months. He has more than $400,000 in cash left on hand as he faces retrial on fraud charges. Skelos along with his son had his conviction overturned last year and is awaiting retrial by federal prosecutors.

Maziarz, a GOP former lawmaker from western New York, has paid attorney Joe LaTona $36,997 while representing him in his upcoming corruption case.

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, also faces retrial this later this year on corruption charges. His campaign filed a “no activity” statement with the Board of Elections.

Cuomo Knocks Trump’s ‘Poison’ On Immigration

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday he believes the account that President Trump derided countries from Africa and Haiti when speaking with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in White House.

“It’s not the kind of word that you would confuse with another word,” Cuomo said. “This was very ugly, blunt language. The senators who say they heard it, I believe them.”

Republican lawmakers in the meeting have since disputed Trump used the language in the meeting, but Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin has stood by the story, while Republican Sen. Jeff Flake spoke to lawmakers at the time who corroborated the story before it was reported.

Cuomo has railed against Trump’s immigration rhetoric, calling in on Monday a “poison” to the nation’s tradition and history and “a cancer to the body politic.”

“Make America great again — I don’t think he understands what made America great in the first place,” he said. “This divisiveness is poison for the country because it goes to right to our DNA. Once you make the differences a negative you destroy the social fabric of the nation.”

Cuomo Promises More Congestion Pricing Details Later This Week

Details on a proposed congestion pricing plan will be further fleshed out in a report to be released later this week by the Fix New York City Commission, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters on Monday.

Cuomo demurred when asked about the details of what the panel may endorse, but indicated the details of the proposal will be saved for the panel, not his budget presentation to be given on Tuesday in Albany.

At the same time, Cuomo said the proposal won’t place higher tolls on bridges during peak times, but in “zones” around the city.

“You need a long-term funding mechanism for the subway system because we’ve ignored it our peril,” Cuomo said. “You have to reduce the congestion in New York City. You have to accomplish both those goals in a fair way.”

Reviving the congestion pricing debate, which previously failed to pass in Albany despite a push by then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has been met with coolness by Senate Republicans.

Majority Leader John Flanagan told reporters earlier this month after Cuomo’s State of the State address — which tread lightly on the issue — that he was opposed.

Cuomo backed a congestion pricing as a means of funding the ailing mass transit and subway system in New York City, criticism of which for him reached a boiling point with strap hangers amid a series of delays and disruptions last summer.

Patriotic Millionaires Push For Carried Interest Loophole Closure

The Patriotic Millionaires, a group of wealthy people who have backed tax hikes on the rich, are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to moved forward with a stated goal of closing the so-called carried interest loophole.

Supporters of closing the loophole say it’s a way of updating an antiquated tax law that has been taken advantage of and could yield as much as $3.5 billion.

But the closure of the loophole requires a multi-state effort, which Cuomo in his State of the State address this month said he supports.

Cuomo is scheduled to released his 2018-19 budget proposal on Tuesday.

“We strongly encourage you to include language to close the loophole in the budget bills you will be submitting to the Legislature tomorrow, and we stand ready to work with you to pass these bills into law,” wrote the group’s chairman, Morris Pearl in the letter.

The hope is that if New York acts, other northeast states would follow suit.

Patriotic Millionaires Letter to Cuomo Calling for Closure of Carried Interest Loophole in the Budget %5bJa… by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Bill Would Provide For Safe Disposal Of Prescription Drugs

A bill sponsored by Sens. Kemp Hannon and Tom O’Mara would create a system of safely disposing of unused prescription drugs through a buyback program, the lawmakers on Monday announced.

The bill would create a unified statewide program that would have pharmaceutical manufacturers responsible for the costs of the program, including public education and transportation, collection and destruction.

At the same time, the bill would require chain pharmacies and mail-order pharmacies to provide customers with on-site collection and pre-paid envelopes that can be mailed back with unused medications.

The bill is part of an effort to combat prescription drug and opioid abuse.

“New York, like the rest of the nation, continues to struggle with the opioid addiction crisis,” said Hannon, who is chairman of the Senate Health Committee. “Despite our best efforts to stem the tide of opioid related deaths, the number of deaths continue to rise. Due to the fact that some drug addictions are first supplied by leftover medication a family member or friend did not use, cutting off that supply is essential.”

In addition, the measure could have the impact of safeguarding drinking water by the prevention of drugs being improperly disposed.

“It’s incredibly important to do anything and everything we can to complement and support the efforts of local law enforcement and other community leaders to combat prescription drug abuse,” O’Mara said.

“These efforts include National Prescription Drug Take Back Days and other initiatives like this one to facilitate the collection, and safe and responsible disposal of unused medications. This proposal to greatly expand the number of permanent, locally based drop-off locations would be a very positive, cost-effective addition to the state’s ongoing, overall strategy to protect our communities and local environments.”

Updated: PhRMA has responded to the bill in a statement.

“Implementing new and costly mandated take-back programs are not the solution to proper medicine disposal and will not address prescription drug abuse. In fact, take-back kiosks are a very visible collection point for medicines, which could make them a target for abuse and diversion and put pharmacies and other locations that host these kiosks at risk. And given the Department of Environmental Conversation (DEC) is currently rolling out a two-year pilot take-back program, this legislation is also premature and duplicative because it creates a conceptually similar program through an entirely different agency.

“Instead of implementing a flawed program, we urge New York to consider meaningful, measurable and comprehensive mechanisms to educate consumers on how to safeguard medicines in the home, how to ensure patients are taking their medicines as prescribed – thereby significantly mitigating unused medicines in the first place – and how to safely and securely dispose of their unused medicines in the household trash, which is widely accepted by national government agencies as a safe and secure method for consumers to dispose of their unused medicines.”

Cuomo 2018 To Report Nearly $31M

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2018 re-election campaign is expected this week to report nearly $31 million in cash on hand as he gears up for seeking a third term later this year, according to a source familiar with the filing.

Cuomo raised about $6 million over the last half year, giving him a rough average of about $1 million raised a month.

In July, Cuomo reported having $25.6 million in cash on hand after raising $5 million.

At this time in the previous re-election cycle, Cuomo had raised $7 million, with $33.3 million in cash in the bank at the start of 2014.

Still, Cuomo is expected to easily outpace his rivals in fundraising.

This year, Cuomo’s declared Republican opponents include former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb.

State Sen. John DeFrancisco is also weighing whether to run. Several prominent Republicans bowed out of running this year, including businessman Harry Wilson, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro and now-former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the governor’s 2014 Republican opponent.

On the Democratic side, former state Sen. Terry Gipson is seeing to run against Cuomo in a primary.

“The governor is strong politically and governmentally with the strongest record of accomplishment of any governor in the nation and is leading the fight against Washington and for the people of New York,” said a Cuomo source. “Self described liberals and Democrats support him in overwhelming numbers, the suburbs are behind him, and he’s already locked in the Independence Party. Going into 2018, he’s in an enviable position.”

Siena Poll: NYers Say Sexual Harassment Is A Significant Problem

The vast majority of New Yorkers believe sexual harassment in the workplace is a “significant problem,” according to a Siena College poll released Monday.

The poll, which also reviewed how New Yorkers view race, religious, gender and LGBT relations, found 25 percent of voters surveyed have been victims of sexual harassment.

Thirty-six percent of women say that have been harassed and, of those women, 28 percent have been harassed at some point in the last five years, the poll found.

The poll comes after months of a national reckoning surrounding harassment, assault and sexual misconduct, with accusations leveled against a range of powerful men in the media, politics, entertainment and restaurant industries.

In New York, Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein is combatting a claim made last week that he forcibly kissed a former staffer outside of a bar in Albany in March 2015.

State lawmakers have proposed overhauling how sexual harassment allegations are handled in state government by creating a uniform policy. Sexual harassment in New York’s Legislature is not new, and a multiple lawmakers in the last several years have left office under a cloud of accusations leveled agains them by legislative aides.

The Siena poll, released on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, also found 39 percent of New Yorkers believe race relations in New York are excellent or good. Fifty-eight percent rate them at fair or poor.

That’s an improvement from a 2015 survey from Siena College that found 31 percent held a positive view of race relations compared to 66 percent who did not.

Still, 29 percent of New York voters surveyed say they had been treated unfairly in the last year based on their race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.

The poll of 824 registered voters was conducted from Jan. 7 to Jan. 11 and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.