Andrew Cuomo

Brown Lauds Cuomo’s Vote Total

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown on Friday lauded Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s vote total in his 2018 re-election victory as the state Board of Elections formally certified last month’s results.

All told, Cuomo received 3.6 million votes, about 60 percent of the overall total.

“With all votes counted, Governor Cuomo received more than 3.6 million votes, securing nearly 60 percent of the electorate and making history with a record number of votes in a gubernatorial election. On behalf of the New York State Democratic Party, I congratulate Governor Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Hochul on this historic win,” said Brown, the chairman of the state Democratic Committee, which Cuomo controls.

“With Governor Cuomo’s resounding victory, the people of New York have chosen a proven progressive leader to stand up to this federal government and given him a mandate to continue to build on his record of groundbreaking accomplishments. We look forward to seeing what more Governor Cuomo can achieve for New Yorkers in his next term.”

Cuomo defeated Republican Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro to win a third term last month.

With A Nod To FDR, Cuomo Plans 2019 Agenda Preview

Gov. Andrew Cuomo next week will begin the roll out of his 2019 agenda in a speech on Monday sponsored by the FDR Center in New York City.

Cuomo in an interview Friday on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom indicated the agenda would broadly contend with the “assault” from the federal government and the policies of President Donald Trump’s administration.

“We are starting new,” Cuomo said in the radio interview. “This first year for me is nothing like the past years. It’s like you wake up one morning, God forbid your house has burned down, the whole situation is different. The whole federal government is attacking us.”

The roll out will include the backing of 15 bills Cuomo will push to see approved in the coming legislative session, the first in 10 years in which Democrats will control both the Assembly and state Senate.

Cuomo has already indicated a slate of proposals for the Legislature to tackle next year will include measures meant to make it easier to vote in New York and bill aimed at strengthening abortion rights in New York as well as new gun control measures. At the same time, Cuomo said he wants to tackle climate change concerns next year.

Much of the agenda will be inspired by Franklin Roosevelt, who also served as governor of New York, who used his time in office to unveil what would become a blueprint for the New Deal.

Cuomo said Friday he has “immersed” himself in Roosevelt.

“The speech is going to get to the meat of the specific legislative issues,” Cuomo said. “This is not going to be a lot of rhetoric and retrospective. We have a new Legislature. I want to say here are my priorities.”

Cuomo To Congressional Dems: Don’t Fund The Wall

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview on Tuesday urged Democrats in Congress to not provide funding for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border as President Donald Trump has threatened a federal government shutdown over the issue.

“I have three pieces of advice: don’t give the president the wall, don’t give the president the wall, and don’t give the president the wall. The president wants as a wall as a political symbolic metaphor to vindicate his angry, divisive rhetoric in the campaign,” Cuomo said in the interview on WAMC. “That’s what he means by the wall. That’s why during the campaign I said he wants to build walls, we want to build bridges. He wants to separate people, he wants to divide people. We want to connect people.”

Trump met in the Oval Office on Tuesday with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to become the new speaker of the House of Representatives in January. The meeting devolved into an at-times heated exchange over funding for the wall and border security.

“If the president was being more genuine and less political, he should have asked for border security, which is correct,” Cuomo said in the interview, which was conducted before the Oval Office meeting.

“You can’t have a controlled border entrance if you don’t have controlled points on the border where people are stopped from coming in. So, if he was reasonable and said look I want to make sure we have border security and we bring in a private firm and whatever it is, it’s lasers, it’s light beams, cameras, some places of fences, maybe even some places a wall. But that’s not what he’s saying. He’s saying I want a political monument to division. And their answer must be no.”

Cuomo, Sort Of, Denies He’s Paying Iowa Consultant

Last week, The Times Union reported Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign over three years has paid an Iowa-based consultant $280,000.

On Tuesday in a radio interview, Cuomo denied it. Or at least denied it was tied to any presidential campaign he would be launch.

“The last time you were with us you said you weren’t running for president,” said Alan Chartock of WAMC. “But since then, The Times Union reports your campaign has paid an Iowa political consultant $280,000 from 2014 to 2016. If you aren’t running, how come?”

Cuomo responded, “That assumes I paid an Iowa consultant $280,000 and if I paid an Iowa consultant $280,000 it would be news to me.”

Chartock said, “Interesting. So the report’s wrong?”

“Stranger things have happened,” Cuomo said.

As reported by The Times Union, Cuomo’s campaign paid the Iowa-based Analytics Media Group $278,876 between 2014 and 2016.

Cuomo, known for being something of a micromanager, may very well not know about the disbursements. Or, more likely still, the money may not be for cultivating a presidential campaign.

Cuomo Emphasizes Performance In Pay Hike

As lawmakers are poised to receive their first legislative pay increase since 1999, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is focusing on the stick, not just the carrot.

In a radio interview on Tuesday, Cuomo pointed to the provision in the pay commission’s report released Monday that tied future phased-in pay boosts to performance. In this case, performance is considered a state budget that is approved before April 1, the start of the state’s fiscal year.

“The way the world works now is people pay for performance,” Cuomo said in the interview on WAMC. “The raise is contingent on performance.”

Lawmakers’ base pay will grow from $79,500 to $110,000 next year and eventually reach $130,000. But those increases are tied to the passage of an “on time” budget — an issue that has been a major touchstone for Cuomo when it comes to governing.

There are indeed several sticks tied to the pay raise carrot, including a cap on outside income and an end to legislative stipends. The provisions have the force of law unless the Legislature acts by the end of the year.

Cuomo’s own pay would grow to $250,000, but the phase is tied to the budgets passing by the start of the fiscal year as well as a resolution of the Senate and Assembly. Unlike the Legislature, Cuomo’s pay raise is not being coupled with a ban or limit on the amount of money he can earn outside of his day job.

Cuomo Urges State Department To Maintain Buffalo Resettlement Sites

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, sent a letter Tuesday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling on the state department to maintain refugee resettlement sites in Buffalo.

The governor expressed concern the Trump Administration will close sites after it announced it plans to cap the number of refugees allowed in the United States to 30,000 next year. It is the lowest number set by a president since the program was created in 1980 and represents a 15,000 person reduction from 2018.

“It is my understanding that the State Department is now considering reducing the number of refugee resettlement sites in Buffalo after the Administration’s unconscionable move to lower the refugee cap to record lows,” Cuomo wrote to Pompeo. “It is critical that all four of these existing resettlement agencies are kept open to continue the essential work of welcoming refugees to our community.”

The four agencies are Jewish Family Services, Journey’s End, the International Institute and Catholic Charities. Cuomo said over the past five years 6,298 people have resettled in Buffalo, more than one-third of the total refugees who have come to New York State.

“The resettlement agencies have helped thousands of refugees find jobs and provided the training to help refugees establish dozens of new businesses. They have also helped newly arrived children enroll in a number of Buffalo schools, adding to the diversity and richness of our education system,” he wrote.

In addition, he said the organizations have cultivated volunteer networks, “including many people who welcome refugees as an expression of their faith.”

Pay Report Icily Received

From the Morning Memo:

There was very little enthusiasm in the statement released Monday evening by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie reacting to a 30-page report detailing a special compensation board’s decision to boost the pay of state lawmakers, but also limit their outside income to less than $20,000 and end the stipend system.

“I have not yet read the report in full,” Heastie said.

“As I review it, I will be guided by the principles of the sanctity of independence and respect for the legislative branch which are embedded in the New York State Constitution. Above all else, as a new legislature is about to be seated, these principles must be maintained.”

Lawmakers have maintained the purview of the commission was to determine legislative salaries, a narrowly defined focus as prescribed by the law that created the panel of former and current comptrollers in the first place.

The report released Monday and posted online did answer key questions, though, when it comes to how much wiggle room lawmakers would have with their outside pay. Answer: Not much.

The pay panel’s report in large part embraced legislation that has been proposed limiting legislative pay in the past, based on a model followed by the U.S. Congress. Income will be restricted to public-sector pay, military service, or the practice of medicine, with additional few exception.

The limits could very well lead to a series of retirements for lawmakers given the choice of giving up their business or their public office.

The commission’s recommendations have the force of law unless the Legislature acts by the end of the year, though that is being questioned.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, was pleased with the outcome. His pay will be raised should a joint resolution of the Legislature be adopted to $250,000 in the coming years. And Cuomo, who has received outside income of his own in the form of a book deal for a memoir published by HarperCollins, insisted lawmakers could clear up the legality of the commission’s decision by passing an income cap of their own.

“I do expect a challenge, for political reasons,” Cuomo said in an interview on WNYC radio Monday morning.

“But the Legislature can handle the ban, because if there’s any question of the commission’s authority – the Democrats are all in favor of a ban on outside income, anyway.”

Cuomo Approves Bill Shielding Non-Profits From Federal Tax Law

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday approved a measure that is meant to shield non-profit entities from the impact of the 2017 federal tax law by decoupling the state tax code from the changes made to provision in the federal law applying to commuter benefits.

“The federal tax bill egregiously raises costs on non-profits operating in New York State,” Cuomo said. “By decoupling from this area of the federal tax code, we are taking action to protect these critical organizations from the federal assault and sending a strong message that New York stands with the non-profit community.”

The federal law would have led to an added 9 percent tax on non-profits, Cuomo’s office said, hitting organizations for costs incurred for transit or parking, counting it toward taxable income.

“The change made to the federal unrelated business income tax seriously hurts non-profits in New York and put many of them at risk,” said Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, a Democrat who backed the bill. “Preventing this unintended tax at the state level is the right thing to do for employees, for non-profit employers, and for the New Yorkers who rely on the vital work done by our not-for-profit sector. I commend the Governor for taking this important action.”

The state decoupling measure had bipartisan support in the Legislature.

“The change made to the federal unrelated business income tax seriously hurts non-profits in New York and put many of them at risk,” said Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, the Republican sponsor of the legislation. “By signing this legislation, Governor Cuomo is standing up for these groups. I commend the Governor for taking this important action.”

Cuomo has railed against the impact of the federal tax law on New York and its $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, a provision that impacts high-tax states like New York.

Cuomo: Outside Pay Cap Could Be Challenged

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview on Monday said he expects a commission’s move to limit the amount of money state lawmakers earn outside of the Legislature will face a legal challenge.

And the Legislature can make the argument moot by passing a similar measure themselves into law, Cuomo said on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show.

“I do expect a challenge, for political reasons,” Cuomo said. “But the Legislature can handle the ban, because if there’s any question of the commission’s authority – the Democrats are all in favor of a ban on outside income, anyway.”

A commission composed of current and former comptrollers last week signaled they would back pay raises for state lawmakers and statewide elected officials. Legislative pay is set to grow from $79,500 to $130,000 by 2021. But the commission paired the pay raise with a cap on how much lawmakers can earn while moonlighting at jobs like law firms and consultancies, limiting that income to 15 percent of their legislative salary.

The pay panel’s full recommendations are set to be released later today along with the details of how the pay limit would work. The pay panel has insisted its recommendation for limiting legislative pay on the outside, plus an end to the stipend system for legislative leadership posts, has the force of law unless lawmakers act by the end of the year.

Cuomo, in the interview, said he continues to back a pay raise for lawmakers.

“I also agree there should be a ban on outside income,” he said. “I’ve said that for many, many years. The commission found there way to that and that’s good news.”

The commission also set in motion a pay hike for the governor, hitting $250,000 in the coming years. The pay increase must be approved by lawmakers, however, and Cuomo deflected questions about it.

“You have me. I’m not going anywhere,” Cuomo said. “I’m not doing this because of the money.”

Q-Poll: Tax Breaks For Amazon Jobs Splits Voters

A majority of voters in New York City approve of Amazon locating an office in Long Island City in Queens, but are split over the $3 billion in tax incentives in exchange for 25,000 jobs, a Quinnipiac poll released on Wednesday found.

The poll found voters approved of the Amazon move 57 percent to 26 percent, with a similar margin of Queens voters, 60 percent to 26 percent, supporting the decision.

But the $3 billion in tax breaks linked to the creation of tens of thousands of jobs over a 15-year period is being received with less enthusiasm: 46 percent approve of the incentives, 44 percent do not. But Queens voters, 55 percent to 39 percent, approve of the incentive package.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pushed back against the criticism of the tax incentive package, saying Amazon would have taken its headquarters elsewhere and to other states that had offered similar, if not larger, proposals.

Cuomo has received mixed support for his handling of the Amazon deal, with 34 percent approving and 38 percent disapproving.

Most voters, 31 percent, say the biggest issue for Amazon in Queens is housing, with 25 percent concerned about transit and 20 percent worried about the quality of life.

The poll of 1,075 New York City voters was conducted from Nov. 27 to Dec. 4 and has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.