Mar 27th - 6:50 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo in February unveiled a budget that included a menu of policy measures, an extension of an expiring tax rate on millionaires and a boost in school aid.
At the time, Cuomo did not include any contingency plans for action on the federal level, such as a repeal of the Affordable Care Act or cuts in spending that would impact the state, save for a desire to have expanded powers over the budget without the consent of the Legislature — a non-starter with lawmakers.
On Monday, days before a budget is supposed to be in place, Cuomo suggested the federal government and President Donald Trump’s administration has made for too much uncertainty at the state level.
“Ultraconservatives are targeting Washington,” he said in an interview on NY1 late Monday afternoon. “Make no mistake.”
Cuomo raised the possibility of an “extender” budget that would be in place, suggesting current spending levels — and tax levels — would stay the same as a result.
Still, Cuomo insisted he and state lawmakers are “very, very close” to an agreement on a thorny policy issue in the spending plan: Raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York to 18.
And Cuomo said he still was seeking a budget approved before the start of the new fiscal year, which takes effect on April 1 — a streak he has more or less been able to keep to since taking office.
Cuomo has postured over the budget virtually every year he has been in office in the final days of the negotiations, emerging from closed-door meetings to suggest the talks remain up in the air or major issues are yet to be locked down, sometimes to the bewilderment of legislators who thought they were close.
The schtick can be seen as a way to bluff or under promise in public and over deliver on the final result, even as other, more politically sensitive issues, potentially fall off the negotiating table. Earlier on Monday, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan denied an “extender” budget was on the table.
“Everyone postures in budget week,” Cuomo said on Monday.
It’s not yet clear if Cuomo is indeed bluffing once again. Cuomo has had visibly tougher budget seasons, including changes to the state’s education policies that had been deeply opposed by Democratic lawmakers and the state’s teachers unions.
Cuomo said he is “not willing to pass a budget that spends more money than we have a reasonable expectation of collecting.”
“This budget,” he added, “has been particularly problematic.”
Mar 27th - 5:12 pm
There’s very little love lost between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Rep. John Faso after this month’s feud over Medicaid spending.
Faso had backed an amendment along with Rep. Chris Collins into the doomed American Health Care Act that would have required the state to takeover the county share of Medicaid funding in New York — a proposal that had been staunchly opposed by Cuomo.
The governor’s office marshaled its resources in a bid to push back against the provision and the AHCA ultimately failed to gain enough votes for passage in the Republican-led House of Representatives.
A Democratic insider over the weekend noted the history Cuomo and Faso shared: Namely the part the congressman played in the Cuomo’s attorney general investigation into the pay-to-play pension fund scandal of the last decade. Cuomo in 2010, while still AG, settled with Faso’s former firm.
As part of the agreement, which stemmed from Manatt Phelps & Phillips acting as an unlicensed placement agent, the firm agreed to a five-year ban from appearing before any public pension fund in New York and a $500,000 fine and cooperate with the ongoing investigation.
“John Faso didn’t think the rules applied to him when he was a lobbyist and, with this continued assault on his own constituents’ healthcare, he clearly doesn’t think he’s accountable to those who elected him,” said the Democratic insider. “There’s a theme here and it’s a disturbing one that voters are paying attention to.”
Cuomo did not endorse in the 19th congressional district race last year, in which Faso defeated Democrat Zephyr Teachout, who had run against the governor in a 2014 Democratic primary.
Faso still plans to push the Medicaid amendment as a standalone measure.
Mar 27th - 6:00 am
From the Morning Memo:
Republican Rep. John Faso is not giving up on his push to require the state to takeover the local county government share of Medicaid costs, a provision that became a major sticking point for Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the final weeks before the death of the American Health Care Act.
“I think it’s something that’s long overdue,” Faso said in a Capital Tonight interview on Friday. “I ran partially on this point.”
Faso, elected to the battleground 19th congressional in November, along with western New York Rep. Chris Collins, pushed for a provision in the doomed AHCA that would have required the state take on the county costs of the Medicaid program by 2020.
Cuomo blasted the proposal for the hit New York’s budget and hospitals would potentially take as a result of the plan, warning it could lead to a tax increase.
But Faso, despite drawing the ire of Cuomo and now a Democratic ad campaign in the wake of the episode, says he is open to working with the governor on the issue.
Cuomo has raised the possibility of suing over the issue, citing state sovereignty issues.
“I don’t think there’s a basis for that claim,” Faso said of the potential legal challenge. “The governor made a lot of wild charges over the last week. I hope he calms down because we need to address this problem.”
While Cuomo has been vocal in his opposition — his aides continued to promote editorials over the weekend knocking Collins and Faso — the issue remains a potent one for county government leaders who feel squeezed by the mandated spending.
“This has been 51-year mistake that started in the Rockefeller administration,” Faso said. “Upstate keeps losing jobs. We keep losing people Part of it’s because of our high property taxes and part that is because Albany has designed a program where they shift part of the cost onto local property taxpayers.”
Mar 27th - 5:30 am
A majority of New York voters opposed the passage of the American Health Care Act, the Republican-backed measure that failed to gain enough votes for passage last week in the House of Representatives, according to a Siena College poll released on Monday.
At the same time, most voters approve of keeping and improving the still-in-place Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, by a wide margin, the poll found.
The poll comes after Gov. Andrew Cuomo railed against the passage of the AHCA, an effort that ramped up last week after Republicans added a provision that would have required the state to assume the counties’ share of Medicaid costs.
Cuomo’s approval and favorably ratings both declined from last month’s poll, though many of the policies he is pursuing in the state budget plan remain popular.
The poll found New York voters opposed the American Health Care Act, which would have overhauled the current ACA, 56 percent to 27 percent.
At the same time, a broader margin, 67 percent to 30 recent, said they wanted to keep the Affordable Care Act in place.
Regionally, support for the Affordable Care Act is strongest in New York City, where 75 percent of voters want to keep it. However, 60 percent of voters in upstate New York and 62 percent in the suburban counties outside of New York City want to keep the measure in place, the poll found.
Not surprisingly, 69 percent of Republican voters want the measure repealed.
House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday declared Obamacare is the “law of the land” and will be for the “foreseeable future.”
Still, New Yorkers are mixed on the results of the current health care law. Most, 75 percent, believe it has expanded access to health care. But a near majority, 49 percent, believe it has also hurt small businesses’ efforts in being profitable.
Cuomo, a vocal opponent of the measure, saw his popularity dip from last month.
The poll found his favorability rating stands at 54 percent to 30 percent, a decline from February when it stood at 60 percent to 34 percent. His job performance rating has dipped below water again, standing at 47 percent to 52 percent. In February, 50 percent of voters had a positive view of the governor’s job performance.
President Donald Trump’s favorability rating in his home state continued to decline to 33 percent to 63 percent. His job performance rating stands at only 27 percent in the deeply Democratic state.
On key issues facing Cuomo in this week’s end-game budget talks — extending a tax rate due to expire on millionaires, allowing ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft to operate outside of New York City and free tuition for SUNY and CUNY schools — there continued to be majority support among voters.
The DREAM Act, a proposal that would provide tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants, and a proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York to 18, showed support of just over 50 percent among voters.
The poll of 791 registered New Yorkers was conducted from March 19 through March 23. It has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.
Mar 24th - 4:53 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement took a victory lap after the House Republican health care bill was yanked on Friday afternoon.
Cuomo, in a statement, called for the measure to die “once and for all.”
“This bill appears to be on life support for now – it should be killed once and for all,” he said.
“Republicans leadership may have counted on the complexity of the issue to confuse the debate, but at the end of the day it’s actually quite simple. This Congress tried to play the people of this nation for a fool – they were wrong, and they lost.”
Cuomo had opposed the measure, the American Health Care Act, but had kicked his opposition to the bill into high gear after Reps. Chris Collins and John Faso added an amendment that would have required New York state government to take on the costs of the Medicaid program currently paid for by counties in New York.
Faso and Collins had portrayed the measure as a property tax relief plan that would also bring needed votes for the bill from upstate Republicans.
But Cuomo had been on war footing over the provision, warning of the grave budgetary implications for the state: Some $7 billion in costs that would have hit in 2020.
“We saw Members of Congress openly bribe one-another at the expense of their own constituents, racing each other to decimate New York’s healthcare system while attempting to ram through a piece of legislation that would jeopardize the healthcare of 24 million people and supported by only 17 percent of Americans,” Cuomo said.
“Some Republican Members of Congress apparently forgot who put them there in the first place. So let me remind them: you are elected to fight for your constituents – not hurt them. For the first time in my life, I witnessed New York elected officials pound their chest proudly while cutting nearly $7 billion in funding for the people they serve, tripping over themselves to cut taxes for millionaires while simultaneously cutting healthcare services for seniors, women, and the disabled and killing jobs across the state.”
Mar 24th - 6:15 am
From the Morning Memo:
Despite infighting among House Republicans, Rep. Chris Collins said in an exclusive interview last night that believes the Affordable Care Act replacement bill will be passed today.
Collins said the Trump team reminded the House GOP conference behind closed doors last night on Capitol Hill that if the bill isn’t passed, the president would move on to tax reform. And if so-called “Obamacare” is left as is, the GOP will own it.
“Come 2018, you will see 50 percent increases in premiums,” said Collins, a longtime Trump ally. “There are several counties that don’t have a carrier right now for 2018, let alone 2019, and they may try to blame Obama and Pelosi. But we’re the governing body today, and all someone is going to know is that if they can’t get insurance next year is that it’s the Republicans who are in charge.”
Collins also defended his amendment that would shift the counties’ share of Medicaid to the state – a move designed to appeal to his fellow moderate upstate House members and would only apply to New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has described the idea as “radical conservative ideology in Washington” and tantamount to declaring war on his state
Collins, in turn, said Cuomo is “bullying” elected state officials and hospitals to issue public statements criticizing the idea.
“These guys react to this governor because he controls those purse strings,” the congressman said. “He has sharp elbows, who I’ve basically called a thug and an extortionist.”
After it became clear he didn’t have enough support to pass it, House Speaker Paul Ryan called off a vote on the AHCA yesterday that was scheduled to coincide with the seventh anniversary of the Affordable Health Care Act’s signing. All eyes will be on Washington today to see if a vote takes place, as the White House has insisted.
Mar 23rd - 2:51 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo raised the possibility Thursday of suing the federal government over a proposal that would shift county Medicaid costs onto the state.
At the same time, Cuomo said the amendment backed by Reps. Chris Collins and John Faso in the American Health Care Act has complicated the state budget picture as the spending plan is expected to be approved next week.
“It has added an uncertainty and chaos to the state’s finances that makes doing the budget a much more difficult exercise because you just don’t know what’s down the road,” Cuomo said. “If we’re facing a $6 billion hole, we have to know that.”
The Medicaid cost itself, however, would not take effect until 2020.
Cuomo in a conference call with reporters insisted the budget wouldn’t be late, but he indicated some changes may be made as a contingency to a potential federal health care overhaul.
“You have to have a budget,” Cuomo said. “The question is what is in that budget if you don’t know the basic financial future of aid and revenues from Washington. That we have to see. We’re evaluating it as it goes.”
Cuomo has railed against the Medicaid takeover for the last several days, issuing a series of statements that could fill a textbook blasting the measure and warning of its potential implications for New York’s taxpayers.
Cuomo’s $152 billion budget proposal released in January does not contain a specific proposal that would be triggered if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. New York is among the states that participated in the Medicaid expansion.
But the governor has sought to make changes to the budget after it is approved, language Democrats and Republicans alike in the state Legislature insist is a non-starter.
“I will be talking to the leaders about it because if you don’t know the immediately financial future, it is very hard to do an intelligent budget,” he said on Thursday in the call.
Once again, Cuomo warned against the dire implications of the Medicaid takeover, saying it would amount to a crippling tax increase that he doesn’t want to impose.
A deal maker with the Legislature in Albany himself, Cuomo knocked the effort to use the amendment as a way to trigger more votes for the House bill, whose passage on Thursday is in serious doubt.
“It’s outrageous quite frankly that Collins and Faso were buying votes and giving the IOU to the state of New York,” he said. “If they wanted to buy votes, as despicable as that is, they’re buying votes and don’t want to pay for it themselves.”
As for the potential lawsuit, Cuomo suggested his argument would rest on a state sovereignty claim.
“We are seriously considering a lawsuit on behalf of the people of the state of New York to show what kind of a scam the delegation is trying to perpetrate on the people of the state,” he said.
Mar 23rd - 5:45 am
From the Morning Memo:
The feud over the Republican-backed proposal to have New York assume county Medicaid costs continued on Wednesday and even dragged in a pet project of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s: The Buffalo Billion.
Rep. John Faso, who had pushed to have his amendment with Rep. Chris Collins aded to the overall health care package to be voted on later today in Washington, questioned why Cuomo is so staunchly opposed to the Medicaid takeover when his administration has spent so heavily on economic development.
“Well, speaking of fairies, its very interesting because I’ve watched Cuomo budgeting process for a number of years and I do think he has a few fairies that fund some of his projects,” Faso said on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show. “I noticed a Buffalo Billion. Two weeks ago he announced a Brooklyn Billon and now a Bronx billion.”
“So the notion that out of a $160 billion budget in Albany that the governor and the legislature cannot with two and a half years to plan cannot takeover the cost that is destroying upstate communities defies logic and common sense.”
That led to a rebuke from Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who in a statement blasted Faso for having done “nothing to help western New York” while in the Assembly. Faso a Hudson Valley Republican, representing a district on the opposite side of the state.
“Faso’s tone deaf and ignorant dismissal of the progress that has been made, all while he and his sidekick Chris Collins try to dismantle the region’s healthcare network, should tell you everything you need to know about their priorities,” Hochul said.
“Faso and Collins are not fighting for Western New York, they’re not fighting for New York, they’re only fighting for their billionaire benefactors and Paul Ryan’s radical anti-Middle Class agenda.”
Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, a two-term lawmaker from Long Island, released a 1,000-plus word statement on Wednesday night denouncing Cuomo’s opposition to the Medicaid takeover plan.
In the statement, Zeldin revealed he and the governor spoke “one-on-one” for 30 minutes about the plan.
“As I have stated previously, the Governor really needs to dedicate way more of his time getting his own house in order, because it’s a house of cards right now that is filling Albany’s swamp rather than draining it,” Zeldin said.
At the moment, the fate of the House Republicans’ American Health Care Act is a tenuous one. Rep. Dan Donovan, a Staten Island Republican, announced Wednesday afternoon he is opposed to the bill, citing in part the Faso-Collins amendment’s impact on New York City.
Mar 22nd - 2:59 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo in yet another statement issued Wednesday on the House Republican proposal to have New York assume county Medicaid costs warned an income tax increase would be likely if the plan was put in place.
In the statement, Cuomo warned the provision, backed by New York Republican Reps. John Faso and Chris Collins, would result in a 26 percent tax increase on “middle income” New Yorkers.
“If this bill is passed as is, our federal representatives will be responsible for massive income or sales tax increases or devastating cuts to New York’s healthcare system,” Cuomo said. “That is the plain reality. No political rhetoric can change it. New Yorkers will hold them accountable for their vote. This is radical conservative ideology at work rather than real public policy to help the very people of this state who elected them.”
This statement in some respects is also aimed at Republican lawmakers in the Senate, whose majority leader, John Flanagan, on Tuesday said he was skeptical of the Medicaid takeover plan and its impact on the state’s finances.
In a separate statement, Cuomo released figures that tallied how much hospitals in Faso’s 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley would lose if the American Health Care Act is approved, finding $13.6 million in cuts for the more than dozen facilities.
The House bill is facing a backlash, however, from conservatives in Congress who believe it does not go far enough in scrapping the Affordable Care Act. A vote is scheduled for Thursday and, if it passes, would most likely be changed in the Senate.
Mar 22nd - 11:10 am
Syracuse Republican Sen. John DeFrancisco in a radio interview on Wednesday morning lashed out Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying he hopes a strong candidate runs against him next year, even raising the possibility of his running himself next year.
“I certainly hope we field a good candidate and give it the best shot for the taxpayer who is bearing the burden of these policies,” DeFrancisco told Fred Dicker on Talk-1300.
He added: “We need someone with a much more conservative philosophy. I’m going to support whoever gets the nomination as long as they have the right philosophy.”
And he didn’t shut the door to running himself next year as Cuomo seeks a third term. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, the Suffolk County lawmaker who edged out Flanagan in a 2015 leadership vote to replace Dean Skelos, has also said he’s interested in running.
“I never say never, but I don’t see it happening,” DeFrancisco said. “I get frustrated on so many occasions that I would love to run. But realistically that is something that has to be looked at carefully.”
The threat may be an empty one for the deputy majority leader who has been at odds with the governor on a variety of issues over the years and hasn’t been afraid to make them known.
But the comments are unusual ones to make amid the height of the budget talks and with a spending plan due to pass next week. Still, DeFrancisco even raised the possibility of the talks on key issues such as raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York to 18 and a plan to provide free tuition to public colleges and universities as going beyond April 1, the start of the fiscal year.
DeFrancisco was critical of the plan to provide free tuition to SUNY and CUNY schools, saying taxpayers will still ultimately foot the bill for the plan that would benefit families who make less than $125,000. He indicated there was opposition, too, within the GOP conference to a proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility, a key issue for the Independent Democratic Conference, which has pledged to vote as a bloc against a budget that does not include the policy.
“This year I think the disagreement is just as strong in conference on raise the age and free tuition as it was on the minimum wage,” he said.
Ultimately, Senate Republicans voted to back a minimum wage hike that phases in to $15. DeFrancisco, however, says this year may be different.
“People succumbed to the pressure of an on-time budget which has to happen or the world is going to end,” he said.
The interview came with Dicker, who has been critical of Flanagan’s leadership in the Republican conference. Flanagan on Tuesday signaled he was concerned with the proposal on the federal level to have the state assume county Medicaid costs. DeFrancisco, however, embraced the proposal.