Cardinal Dolan Robos For Education Tax Credits

Cardinal Timothy Dolan has recorded a robocall in hopes of a last-minute rally by fellow Catholics in support of an education tax credit for those who donate to public schools and to scholarship funds that help poor kids attend private schools.

The tax credit is a top priority for the church this session, and Dolan was in Albany last week to lobby on its behalf. This call is being received by Catholic households in the diocese (Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island and the Hudson Valley), according to a source familiar with the effort.

It had been suggested that the tax credit, which is opposed by the teachers unions, and, by extension, also by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, could be part of an eleventh-hour budget trade for the DREAM Act – a priority for the Assembly Democrats that failed on the floor of the Senate last week.

But after a leaders meeting Monday, Silver said the linkage of these two issues – something he said was floated by the governor – is not “viable.” But sources say both remain alive as budget talks continue down at the Capitol.

Here’s the script of Dolan’s call, which you can listen to via the link below.

“Hello there, Cardinal Timothy Dolan here. I need your help. You probably heard that the state budget is going to be enacted within the next very few days. And we need your help to ensure that education tax credits are included.”

“You’ve heard of education tax credits haven’t you? They’re going to generate a lot of scholarship money for our families in our Catholic schools, charter schools, our private schools.”

“Now your child’s going to be bringing home a letter from school today or tomorrow and I’m asking that you join me and so many of our police, fire and labor unions and so many businesses and parents and alumni on our side in calling your state legislator to make your voice heard, using the information in that important letter.”

“Thanks a lot and God bless.”

Listen Here

Bit O’ The Green

From today’s Morning Memo (Part I of III):

In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, NYPIRG is out with its semi-regular list of fundraisers held in Albany by rank-and-file state lawmakers, legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo while the Legislature is in session.

Between Jan. 13 and March 26, there have been 126 political campaign cash events held within the shadow of the state Capitol, by NYPIRG’s count.

During that period, the Senate was scheduled to be in session 31 days and 20 nights, while the Assembly was scheduled for 32 days and 21 nights.

One of the events listed has a question mark next to it, because it’s unclear if it took place in Albany – or even within the state of New York.

Actually, no one – except the exclusive group of people who attended – knows exactly where the high-dollar “dinner & conversation” was held.

The $15,000-a-head get together with Cuomo featured cocktails and a “seated” dinner. It took place on Feb. 26, according to an invitation obtained by NYPIRG.

The location was kept secret until an interested attendee RSVP’ed – something I can’t recall ever seeing before.

But, according to the invite, it was quite an intimate affair, since seating at the unknown venue was “very limited.”

Astorino Will Give The GOP ‘Rebuttal’ At This Year’s LCA Show

Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino has agreed to deliver the GOP “rebuttal” at this year’s Legislative Correspondents Association annual show lampooning state government and politics.

The show’s 114th revue will be held June 10, a Tuesday, at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center.

“We’re thrilled that Mr. Astorino has elected to take part in a Capitol tradition that stretches back more than a century,” said LCA President Jimmy Vielkind. “With statewide elections, the relationship between Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City’s new mayor and the normal raft of legislative business, we’ll have plenty of material.”

The LCA Show is the oldest political gridiron event of its kind, featuring songs by the reporters who cover the goings on at the Capitol sending up current events in Albany and around the state with a (loosely tied together) plot.

Previous rebuttals from the Republican side have featured Sen. Dean Skelos, Sen. Lee Zeldin, Republican Chairman Ed Cox and former Rep. Rick Lazio with a mustache.

Follow @TheLCAShow on Twitter for the latest updates, and call Jean Gutbrodt at 518.455.2388 for ticket information.w

OGS Thanks You For Not Smoking In The LOB

So, who’s been smoking in the Legislative Office Building?

A source this morning passed along a memo distributed by the Office of General Services on Feb. 27 warning those who work in the LOB — the building adjacent to the Capitol that houses the offices of members of Senate and Assembly as well as their staff — not to smoke.

“The Office of General Services has recently received complaints from employees in the Legislative Office Building regarding people smoking in offices,” the OGS memo states. “Smoking is prohibited in all indoor places of employment and within 25 feet of the building. OGS would like to remind all tenants that individuals who smoke in a prohibited area are in violation of the Clean Indoor Air Act.”

The OGS memo does not say specifically where the complaints about smoking are coming from in the nine-story building.

Here’s the memo:

Tenant Information Bulletin – No Smoking in the Workplace February 27 2014 by Nick Reisman

Some Policy With That Pint? (Updated)

Lobbyists may be prohibited from buying lawmakers’ drinks, but apparently what goes underneath those drinks is fair game.

A reader forwarded this photo of a coaster that has been popping up in bars all over Albany, compliments of the state’s libraries.

The coaster is simple, direct and memorable way for libraries to urge legislators to fully fund their state aid at $102 million, as stiuplated in state Education Law. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2014-15 budget included a 4.7 percent cut to library aid, providing just $81.6 million — the same amount that libraries and library systems received 16 years ago in 1997.

The coasters have been making appearances at establishments frequented by both legislators and legislative aids. This photo was taken at Pinto & Hobbs Tavern on Washington Avenue, but the coasters have also been spotted at Center Square Pub and LAX Lounge, and anecdotal reports place them at McGeary’s and The Victory Cafe, too.

So far, no one I’ve spoken to can recall ever seeing this tried before.

UPDATE: Mike Neppl, director of government affairs for the New York Library Association, sent me the following explanation of this initiative:

“NYLA is a statewide organization with 4000 active members, but we have a small staff. I needed a time and cost efficient way to get our message to policymakers that funding should reflect what New Yorkers have long recognized – libraries are a core component of our state’s educational infrastructure on which our children, families and seniors rely.”

“Having worked in government, I know that breaking through the wall of noise is difficult. So, why not get our message in people’s hands after-hours when they’re a bit more relaxed and might be more receptive? They’ve been in action for a week or so, and have gotten a great reception from members and staffers. Plus, they’re different. NYLA brought me on to ramp up our advocacy efforts and do things differently.”

Q Poll: New Yorkers Are Pro-Pot

ICYMI from today’s Morning Memo:

A whopping eighty-eight percent of New York voters support the legalization of marijuana for medical use, with only nine percent opposed, a new Quinnipiac Poll out this morning found.

A majority of state residents – 57 percent – also back the idea of legalizing small amounts of pot for recreational use. There’s a gender gap and generation gap when it comes to this question, however, with support stronger among younger voters and men.

Fifty-two percent say pot is not a so-called “gateway,” and doesn’t lead to the use of other drugs, while 45 percent believe marijuana and alcohol are equally dangerous. New Yorkers are not eager to share details of their own pot use, with 46 percent saying they’ve tried it, and 51 percent denying that they ever have.

This poll could breathe new life into the med-mar debate, which has been on the back burner since Cuomo announced in his State of the State address that he planned to circumvent the Legislature on this issue and use his executive power to launch a limited hospital-based program to let seriously ill New Yorkers legally access pot.

This plan has been hotly debated – especially by Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, who have been carrying med-mar bills for several years now and say the governor’s proposal is clunky and unworkable. Also, Sen. Liz Krueger has introduced a full legalization bill, which the Cuomo administration has flatly rejected as a non-starter.

Scaffold Law Reform Advocates Hit Airwaves For Caucus Weekend

Advocates pushing for reform of the state’s Scaffold Law have launched a radio ad to coincide with caucus weekend, making the case that this is a minority rights issue because the law is making it too expensive for developers to build and create jobs.

Interestingly, opponents of Scaffold Law reform are also playing the minority rights card, insisting that to make the changes the industry is seeking will endanger construction workers, who are predominantly black and Latino.

The ad, paid for by the Alliance for Minority and Women Construction Businesses, started running on Albany and New York City airwaves this past Tuesday and will remain there through Saturday morning. The spot features the Rev. Jacques Degraff, who co-chairs the alliance and will also be appearing on Capital Tonight at 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. this evening.

Here’s the script:

“This is black and Latino caucus weekend in Albany. We’re coming because it’s time for a change. We can’t have business as usual, and they can’t have their usual party.”

“Our businesses are in a crisis. The Scaffold Law is killing jobs we so badly need, and killing businesses that create those jobs in our community. It’s hurting our brothers and sisters, robbing them of the opportunity to get good paying construction jobs. This is an emergency, and we’re demanding change now.”

“The caucus holds the key, and we’re demanding that they deliver. New York is the only state in the union with this law. It’s hurting our children, too. Schools aren’t being built. Our neighborhoods desperately need new schools and jobs.”

“It’s time to wake up the caucus and stop the party. I’m Rev. Jacques Degraff, co-chairman of the Alliance for Minority and Women Construction Business, and we want jobs, safety and justice. Fix the Scaffold Law now.”

State Of Politics Live: Skelos On Pre-K, Hayworth’s Comeback

In case you missed this morning’s first show, here is State of Politics Live, coming to you from the Time Warner Cable News bureau at the Capitol.

For our first show, we looked at Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos’ opposition to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s tax hike, Education Commissioner John King’s take on the Common Core implementation and former Rep. Nan Hayworth launching a rematch campaign against Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.

Daily News bureau chief Ken Lovett talked the potential for a Donald Trump candidacy as well as a new push for increasing the minimum wage on the local level.

Watch it here; no need to be a TWC subscriber.

Watch Here

Lawmakers Launch Environmental Caucus

A caucus of 33 lawmakers has been formed to back progressive environmental goals, the group announced on Thursday.

The New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators is billed as a “non-partisan” forum to consider measures aimed at protecting both the environment and public health.

The group was organized by Manhattan Democratic Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, who will chair the caucus. More leadership is expected to be announced.

The group also includes Buffalo Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti and Long Island Democratic Assemblyman Bob Sweeney, both of whom chair their respective Environmental Conservation committees in the Senate and Assembly.

“I am confident that NYSCEL will be a powerful resource for legislators who are committed to environmental preservation and the well being of our communities,” Kavanagh siad in a statement. “By bringing together legislators from across the state with a variety of expertise, we will deepen our common understanding of the environmental challenges we face and our commitment to addressing them.”

Citizen Action Hires Mercury For Public Financing Effort

The labor-aligned advocacy group Citizen Action of New York last year retained Mercury Public Affairs to help lobbying for publicly financed campaigns, records filed with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics show.

The consultant firm is being retained by the organization for $3,500 a month, with a consulting services agreement having started Nov. 1 of last year.

Citizen Action so far has paid Mercury $7,000, according to the bimonthly report filed with JCOPE.

The contract ends Jan. 31, but can be extended on a month-by-month basis.

Citizen Action last year reported $192,968 in funding from the pro-public financing group Friends of Democracy, the group co-founded by Jonathan Soros.

While the documents filed with JCOPE do not specify what the group is being retained to do, Mercury Public Affairs spokesman Michael McKeon confirmed it was to lobbying specifically on “the Fair Elections issue.”

McKeon, a former aide to Gov. George Pataki, was part of the Republicans for Cuomo effort in 2010.

McKeon also served as a spokesman for the business-backed and now-defunct Committee to Save New York.

Cuomo is expected to include financing for publicly funded campaigns in his budget proposal on Tuesday.