Jan 20th - 6:00 am
From the Morning Memo:
When he laid out his $152.3 billion budget plan this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the spending plan was aimed solely at the middle class in New York.
“This is a very specific, focused, targeted agenda,” the governor said. “This is about helping the middle class.”
But the budget would do a lot more than just spend money. Cuomo has inserted a range of policy measures in the proposal, raising concern among lawmakers.
“The Senate strongly disagrees that policy should be included in the state budget,” said Senate Finance Chairwoman Cathy Young.
Cuomo’s budget includes non-spending measures such as his slate of ethics reforms, allowing ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft to operate outside of New York City and a plan to encourage local governments sharing services to reduce property taxes.
“There is a lot of policy language interwoven in the appropriations bills, so we need to take a strong look at that,” Young said. “We believe the state budget should be focused on the state budget and issues important to New York State.”
The governor can insert policy into the budget, granting him a degree over leverage in the process. But when it comes to complex issues such as criminal justice reforms like raising the age of criminal accountability, some lawmakers believe they should have more input.
“We’ve seen the governor with each year do more and more of this — insert policy into the budget,” said Senator Pat Gallivan. “I don’t think that’s the appropriate place for it.”
And in many instances, however, lawmakers are able to still negotiate on key concerns. Often this means controversial policies like the DREAM Act or marijuana decriminalization fall off the table.
For Assembly Democrats who have previously battled Cuomo over his education policies, the development is a welcomed one this year, Still, there’s caution over reviewing the details.
“The governor’s executive budget is a starting point,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “We’ve been having discussions within our conference; we’ll continue to have that done.”
Jan 19th - 5:35 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement Thursday condemned the bomb threats direct at three Jewish Community Centers in New York, including one in Albany.
The anonymous threats are believed to be part of a series of incidents aimed at JCC facilities across the country.
“New York State Police and local law enforcement agencies responded immediately, and while it was determined that bombs did not exist, we have zero tolerance for any individual who makes such threats – false or otherwise – which is against the law. State Police will work with our federal and local law enforcement partners, and we will do everything in our power to hold those accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Cuomo said in the statement.
“We will not allow anyone to intimidate or strike fear in the State of New York. In these turbulent times, New Yorkers reject the divisive forces of hate and bigotry. We will not permit anti-Semitism or bias incidents to go unpunished – period.”
Jan 19th - 3:57 pm
An email blast from the liberal advocacy group Citizen Action on Thursday compared Gov. Andrew Cuomo to President-elect Donald Trump.
“When it comes to cutting taxes on millionaires and billionaires and working to privatize public education, Governor Cuomo has a lot in common with Donald Trump,” the email states. “A court ruled that New York State must give public schools billions more in funding. It’s been 10 years and New York still owes $4.3 billion to our schools. In the state budget he released this week, Governor Cuomo proposed getting rid of that funding commitment altogether!”
It continues: “Because 58 percent of the missing state funding is owed to students of color, Gov. Cuomo’s move only serves to perpetuate racism in our education system. That isn’t right.”
The email was signed by Karen Scharff, a co-chair of the labor-backed Working Families Party, which has been at odds with Cuomo on enacting a variety of liberal policies over the years.
The email urges supporters to sign a petition in support of boosting education aid.
Cuomo in his budget presentation on Tuesday noted approved budgets on his watch have cumulatively added more money to school aid spending than other governors in recent history.
Cuomo wants to add nearly $1 billion in new spending for education.
Updated: Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi responded.
“Enough with the lies, Karen Scharff,” he said. “This budget keeps the millionaires tax, cuts taxes for 6 million middle-class New Yorkers and puts in another $1 billion for education funding which Gov. Cuomo put more funding for education than the last four.”
He added the court ruling does not dictate the state must spend the $4.3 billion.
Jan 19th - 2:54 pm
Republican businessman and supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis donated $10,000 to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election campaign in a contribution dated last Friday.
Two days later, the radio show hosted by Catsimatidis aired a friendly interview with the governor, who unveiled plans to introduce a bill aimed at reviving the 421a tax abatement following an agreement with real-estate developers and private-sector labor unions.
The interview featured Catsimatidis at one point praising Cuomo over his push to have the Second Avenue subway completed before the end of the year.
“Congratulations on the Second Avenue Subway,” the host said. “You must wear a size 13 shoe. You put your foot down, and you got it done.”
Catsimatidis, a Republican candidate for mayor in 2013, has given to Cuomo’s campaigns in the past. The governor, too, has made previous appearances on Catsimatidis’s radio show on AM 970, most recently in December.
Cuomo has over the years scaled back his one-on-one interviews with reporters who cover him on a daily basis in Albany.
Those appearances do not as closely coincide with donations. Records show Catsimatidis last contributed to Cuomo’s re-election campaign in July.
Catsimatidis, a prolific campaign contributor, frequently has had high-profile figures on both the statewide and national level appear on his radio show.
Jan 18th - 3:00 pm
In the latter half of 2011, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had a political problem in the making.
High tax rates on high earners was due to expire at the end of the year, a surcharge that was known colloquially as the “millionaires tax.”
The Occupy Wall Street movement had gained steam throughout the summer and into the fall, spurred by left-leaning activists concerned by income inequality.
Cuomo, who had taken office earlier in the year, was riding a wave of liberal congratulations for the legalization of same-sex marriage in June.
But as the year drew to a close, liberals were urging Cuomo to extend the tax on the rich.
In October 2011, Cuomo insisted he wasn’t going to budge on the issue, comparing it to his father’s stance opposing the death penalty, which was unpopular at the time.
“The point is, we don’t elect — the governor isn’t a big poll taking machine. And that’s what we do, we take a poll and do whatever the poll says and you wouldn’t need me … so the fact that everyone wants it, that doesn’t mean all that much,” Cuomo said. “I respect the people, their opinion matters, but I’m not going to go back and forth with the political winds.”
Cuomo insisted he backed a federal version of taxing the rich backed by President Obama.
“I support a federal millionaires tax if you will, because then it wouldn’t put any state, including this state, at a disadvantage,” Cuomo said. “A federal millionaires tax would not put this state at a competitive disadvantage.”
Here’s video from the 2011 news conference, with the issue starting at the 24:50 mark.
Weeks later, Cuomo and state lawmakers met in a special session that ultimately shuffled the tax code and kept the surcharge in place for upper income earners and providing a rate cut for middle income earners.
The deal generated $1.9 billion in revenue for the state in the coming fiscal year.
But Cuomo refrained from referring to it as a millionaires tax, at least officially, until a 2012 letter was released to The New York Times defending the administration’s relationship with the now-defunct Committee to Save New York.
“Governor Cuomo crafted and got passed a progressive taxation plan that included taxes on such high-earners rather than just allowing the Millionaires tax to expire,” wrote then-Director of Communications Richard Bamberger.
This year, things are different, but in many ways the same.
Cuomo is backing a extension outright in his proposed 2017-18 fiscal plan as the tax rates are once again to expire. He is also, once again, including a middle-income rate cut.
The governor isn’t framing the argument behind a call from progressives to provide fairer taxation as they see it, but rather one of necessity.
“We have a $3.5 billion deficit. Frankly, we don’t have the resources to lose the millionaires’ revenue now and have this state function the way it should,” he said. “The loss of revenue from the Millionaires’ Tax would be about $4 billion over two years. $4 billion is a devastating amount of revenue to lose for the state, and not only could you not do college affordability, education increase, you couldn’t do the middle class tax cut, which I think is very, very important.”
Jan 18th - 1:48 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan on Wednesday, discussing issues including homelessness, the Affordable Care Act and infrastructure spending in New York.
Cuomo insisted the conversation “was not adversarial” and that he tried to underscore with Trump his concerns over the impact of the health care law on New York’s finances.
“We discussed how the Affordable Care Act effects New York and the pitfalls of a repeal plan, which would be dramatic,” he said.
The proposed $152 billion budget proposal as unveiled by Cuomo did not include a contingency plan for repealing the measure, which is projected to result in a $3.7 billion gap in the state’s revenues.
Cuomo, too, raised the issue of infrastructure spending, and the need for federal funding for major projects such as upgrades to JFK Airport.
“We are ready to go in New York, we are ready to build,” Cuomo said. “If he wants to put money to use and put federal money to use quickly, this is the state to do it. Many of the big projects I want to get done involve federal interaction.”
Jan 18th - 10:31 am
The re-election campaign of Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported $21.9 million in cash on hand, having raised $4.4 million over the last six months.
Cuomo is running for re-election next year and an increasingly crowded field of Republicans who are potentially running for governor is also taking shape, including businessman Harry Wilson, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro.
Cuomo’s campaign began the filing period in July with just over $19 million in the bank and spent $1.579 million in expenses.
Jan 18th - 8:43 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo later today is due to meet with President-elect Donald Trump at his Manhattan tower, with plans to discuss issues related to New York’s finances.
The meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m.
Cuomo at a budget presentation on Tuesday evening said he planned to bring up a range of issues including housing, infrastructure and the impact of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act on the state.
“There are a number of issues that are highly impactful to New York. He knows New York. I think it would be helpful to him to have a discussion about how these issues affect the practical reality, of what these issues mean,” Cuomo said.
The governor has been critical of Trump’s rhetoric on immigration and the scrutiny placed on hate crimes and racist graffiti in the wake of Trump’s victory in the November presidential election.
In public of late, Cuomo has not criticized Trump by name, but rather the rhetoric on immigration and race.
Jan 18th - 6:45 am
From the Morning Memo:
As has increasingly been practice, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $152.3 billion budget includes a laundry list of non-budgetary policy issues that range from criminal justice and government ethics reforms to allowing ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft outside of New York City.
Cuomo’s budget proposal unveiled on Tuesday includes a good portion of what he had initially proposed in his overall 2017 agenda, underscoring the maximum leverage the governor has during the budget process as opposed to the back end of the legislative session.
Cuomo included a number of criminal justice issues in his budget plan, including decriminalizing marijuana and raising the age of incarceration. Cuomo also included the DREAM Act, a measure aimed at providing tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants. All three are measures that have stalled over the years in the Republican-led state Senate.
The proposal to have county governments develop cost-savings plans designed to reduce property taxes and then have voters determine the plans’ fate in a referendum — the latest effort by Cuomo to have local governments share services or consolidate — is also in the budget.
Cuomo included all 10 items in his ethics agenda for the new year in which he has sought to revive proposals for a failed special session such as term limits for state elected officials and a ban on outside income as well as expanding the Freedom of Information Law.
And the governor’s budget includes the Buy American Act, a provision designed to require the state’s procurement seek domestic-produced goods.
Budget hawks have over the years grumbled at the inclusion of non-budgetary policy issues in a proposed state fiscal plan. Some of the measures that have been included in the budget do have modest budgetary impacts.
But Cuomo has also come under pressure from a variety of groups — good-government organizations, Democratic lawmakers — to include key issues in the budget as a sign of priority and seriousness for them in the overall agenda.
Jan 18th - 6:15 am
From the Morning Memo:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this month appeared in six different venues across the state to unspool his 2017 agenda.
Now, it’s his cabinet’s turn.
As he has done in the past, Cuomo is deploying his agency and department heads to travel the state to promote his plans for Albany in the new year, usually in smaller settings to local business and government leaders.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, for instance, is touting the budget in Glens Falls later today, giving a truncated version of Cuomo’s State of the State and budget presentation.
The practice under Cuomo has been questioned over whether commissioners should be traveling the state to promote a broad agenda, and not running their state-level departments.