Republicans Question Policy In Budget

From the Morning Memo:

Senate Republicans are uneasy with the inclusion of broad policy concerns in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $152 billion spending proposal.

Cuomo in his budget plan included issues such his slate of ethics reforms and criminal justice law changes that have little fiscal impact.

“I don’t think that’s the appropriate place for it, but it’s his prerogative,” said Sen. Patrick Gallivan.

The governor’s maximum leverage during the year comes during budget season and it’s not unusual for him to include language in the Article VII bills that aim to see controversial measures approved with a much easier path.

Nevertheless, it rankled some Republicans who may be at odds with the policies, including Finance Chairwoman Cathy Young.

“The Senate strongly disagrees that policy should be included in the state budget and there is a lot of policy language interwoven in the appropriations bills,” she said. “We believe that the state budget should be focused on the state budget and fiscal issues such as education, infrastructure, our hospitals and nusring homes.”

The Coming Tax Fight

The inclusion of extending high tax rates on wealthy earners in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2017-18 budget proposal has the potential to set up an ideological fight over economics with Republicans in the state Senate.

“We do not agree with that,” said Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan. “It will be a major source of discussion.”

It’s an unusual place for Cuomo to be as he has sought to make the state more business friendly and through his rhetoric has been adverse to increasing taxes.

But Cuomo and Senate Republicans have done this before, partially preserving tax rates on the rich at the end of 2011 while engineering a rate cut for middle income earners.

Senate lawmakers who left a private briefing with Cuomo this afternoon indicated they think this is a tax hike.

“We’re not going to support tax increases in the New York state Senate,” said Sen. Jim Tedisco. “We’ve got regulations, we’ve got mandates. It’s not a true millionaires tax. It impacts our small businesses which creates jobs.”

There are still places in which Republicans and Cuomo can agree, including cutting taxes on those who earn less than $300,000 as well as contending with property taxes.

“Those would be the two most important parts,” Flanagan said. “I hope the governor would find it in his way to support the spending cap at the state level. We should make it statutory.”

At the same time, Flanagan said keeping those tax rates in place would only lead to more people leaving the state.

“I believe in cutting taxes. I’m trying to create jobs in an environment of economic development policy that actually helps people,” he said. “I know it’s very easy to say tax people who are wealthy, a lot of those people can move tomorrow.”

Senate To Take Up Bag Tax Bill

From the Morning Memo:

The Republican-led Senate today plans to take up a measure that block New York City’s 5-cent surcharge on plastic bags from taking effect next month.

The bill is backed by Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder, a Democrat who conferences with the Senate GOP in the chamber, as well as Republican Sen. Martin Golden and Tony Avella, a member of the Independent Democratic Conference and a declared candidate for mayor.

The bill to be taken up later today in the Senate would block any fees or taxes on carry-out merchandise shopping bags in New York City. Supporters of so-called bag taxes say the measures lessen the impact of plastic bags on the environment.

But opponents point to the burden the bag fees place on families.

“Many families have a hard time just getting by, paying for groceries, rent and heat, and now the Mayor wants to shake them down every time they shop just for the privilege of using a plastic bag,” Felder said in a statement.

“Mayor de Blasio, please do not nickel and dime New Yorkers with another tax. This will hurt lower- and middle-income families who already struggle. I’m asking New Yorkers to stand up and tell the Mayor that this bag tax has to go.”

The move is yet another effort by the Senate Republicans that appears squarely aimed at Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been at odds with the conference on issues the stem both from policy and politics.

But the potential repeal of the fee also has the support of more than two dozen members of the Democratic-led Assembly. The measure had been initially set to take effect in October, but was pushed back in an agreement reached with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

State GOP To Co-Host Inaugural Event Breakfast With Trump Group

The New York Republican Committee will co-host an inaugural breakfast with a pro-Donald Trump 501c(4) launched in the wake of his November victory, the state GOP on Monday announced.

The breakfast, to be held with the Great America Alliance on Thursday at the Lowes Madison Hotel in Washington, will be headlined by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

“We’re thrilled to welcome former Speaker Newt Gingrich to help kick-off the festivities of this historic inauguration,” said Chairman Ed Cox. “We were pleased to have him join us during the convention last summer and we’re all looking forward to welcoming him back to celebrate President-elect Trump.”

Trump is the first New York resident to be elected to the presidency since Franklin Roosevelt.

The state Republican Committee in New York helped Trump’s campaign in key swing states through mail campaign.

The committee along with the Great America Alliance will also work on a trio of events for inauguration week including a breakfast and a gala on Thursday and a parade viewing on Friday.

Katko Casts ‘No’ Vote On Obamacare Repeal

As expected, Republican Rep. John Katko voted against a repeal of the Affordable Care Act over the lack of a replacement for the measure.

In a statement, Katko said he remains opposed to keeping Obamacare as it is and wants it “either be radically restructured or replaced.”

But without a replacement measure ready to supplant the ACA as it is, Katko could not back the repeal measure this week.

I completely agree with President-elect Trump that repeal and replacement should occur at the same time,” Katko said. “This is a view that is shared by a clear majority of Americans. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to come up with a clear, viable, and effective replacement plan. When that happens, hopefully in the coming weeks, I will happily join my party in repealing Obamacare.”

Katko won a second term in November to the 24th congressional district in central New York, one of the top-tier battleground House seats in New York. Katko is the first lawmaker to win a second term in the district since it was altered in the 2012 round of re-apportionment.

Zeldin: A Republican Running On Trump’s Themes Could Win NY

Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin in a radio interview on Friday suggested the populist themes that propelled Donald Trump to the presidency could work in New York’s 2018 race for governor.

“There are themes that moved Donald Trump toward the presidency would work for a re-energized Republican Party statewide,” Zeldin said in the interview.

But in the interview with Fred Dicker on Talk-1300, Zeldin insisted he was focused on his House career, not the gubernatorial election.

“I just got sworn in last week for another term,” he said. “I’d be lying to you that coming back home from that respect is on my mind.”

Zeldin indeed sounded like he was testing the waters at the very least ahead of the 2018 race in the interview, even as he denied an interest in a statewide campaign. He’s been sharply critical of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s rhetoric of then repeal of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on New York.

A Republican has not won statewide in New York since George Pataki secured a third term as governor in 2002. Trump, a New York businessman, did not win New York against Democrat Hillary Clinton and a GOP presidential candidate hasn’t won the state since 1984.

But Zeldin believes a candidate who espouses a populist tendency on issues such as hydrofracking, gun control and Common Core could be successful statewide, while also running competitively in heavily Democratic New York City, especially the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn.

“It’s been a long time since a new Republican was elected statewide. Harry Wilson came close in the comptroller’s race in 2010,” he said. “But when you hear about draining the swamp in DC, that’s even more important as it relates to Albany. You hear about making America great again, what about making New York great again?”

Zeldin, now in his second term in the 1st congressional district on the eastern end of Long Island, was a prominent supporter for Trump’s presidential bid.

Astorino: Cuomo ‘Shirking His Responsibilities’

Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino in a video released Friday knocked Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2017 agenda and proposal to reduce the property tax burden by encouraging municipalities to develop savings plans.

Astorino knocked the plan for not including an effort to reduce mandated spending as set by Albany.

“Think about that: There are counties in this state that have to spend every property tax dollar they raise to pay for Andrew Cuomo’s mandates — and then some,” Astorino says ni the video. So to hear this governor attacking local school districts and municipalities yesterday for overspending — to see him shirking his responsibilities with no trace of shame — was remarkable, indeed.”

Astorino was the 2014 nominee for governor and is considering another run against Cuomo next year as he seeks a third term. Astorino is also running for re-election as county executive in Westchester this year.

Cuomo has argued his administration has tackled one of the biggest mandates on local governments through a cap on Medicaid spending increases for counties.

State Dems Blast Cox On Paladino Comments

From the Morning Memo:

The state Democratic Committee on Thursday afternoon knocked Republican Chairman Ed Cox’s support for Carl Paladino to continue on as a member of the Buffalo school board after making racially charged remarks about President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

“Ed Cox’s tone deaf endorsement of former Republican standard bearer Carl Paladino’s effort to remain on the Buffalo School Board is both shameful and repugnant,” said state Democratic Committee Executive Director Basil Smikle.

Cox in a Capital Tonight interview on Wednesday said he opposed removing Paladino from the school board, saying the effort to do so is for “other reasons.”

“He’s trying to get real reforms there,” Cox said. “If he focuses on that, that would be very significant. He should focus on that, totally, and get that job done.”

Paladino, the 2010 Republican nominee for governor, last month responded to a series of survey questions sent by a Buffalo newsweekly by saying he wished Obama died of mad cow disease and the first lady “returned to being a man” and lived with a gorilla in Africa.

In the Capital Tonight interview, Cox said he agreed with Paladino’s son, who also denounced the comments on social media.

But the comments have continued to spur protests and an effort to have the state Education Department remove Paladino from office.

“Paladino’s racist rant against the President and the First Lady is beyond the pale and shows just how unfit he is to be in any position of authority, much less one that directly impacts the lives of children,” Smikle said. “Conversely, Ed Cox dismissing Paladino’s latest outburst is just one more example of how out of touch he is with his fellow New Yorkers.”

At the same time, Smikle challenged other Republican leaders — including the GOP’s legislative leaders in Albany and potential candidates for governor in 2018 — to call on Paladino to step down.

“We call on other leaders of the Republican Party, John Flanagan, Brian Kolb, Rob Astorino, Tom Dadey, and Chris Jacobs to do the right thing, stand with the children of Buffalo, and demand Carl Paladino resign,” Smikle said. “Make no mistake, silence is complicity.”

Cox: Paladino Should Remain On Buffalo School Board

From the Morning Memo:

Republican Chairman Ed Cox believes Carl Paladino should remain on the Buffalo School Board, saying in a Capital Tonight interview his critics are using the comments he made about President Obama and the first lady as an excuse to kick him out of his post.

“I would like to see him continue in his current job. He feels passionately about inner city kids and doing something for them,” Cox said. “They want to get rid, but that’s for other reasons. They’re using this as an excuse. He’s trying to get real reforms there. If he focuses on that, that would be very significant. He should focus on that, totally, and get that job done.”

Paladino late last month responded to survey questions from a newsweekly in western New York about his aspirations for 2017, saying he wanted Obama to die of mad cow disease and have Michelle Obama “return to being man” and live with a gorilla in Africa.

Paladino insisted several days later he had meant to send the responses to friends as a joke.

An effort is underway by the Buffalo School Board to remove Paladino after the remarks caused an uproar, given Paladino’s prominent role in Donald Trump’s presidential election campaign in New York.

Cox in the interview noted Paladino’s son distanced himself from the remarks of his father.

“His son completely disowned his father’s statement and I retweeted that,” he said. “That was a substantive response.”

But as for Paladino’s future in elected politics — he’s talked about running for governor again in 2018 — Cox said that would be a steep climb for the Buffalo real estate developer.

“That would be up to him, but I think it would be very difficult given the comments he made,” Cox said.

Wilson Skeptical Of SUNY Tuition Plan

From the Morning Memo:

As he mulls a run for governor in 2018, Republican businessman Harry Wilson in Syracuse on Wednesday was critical of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to provide expanded tuition assistance to students whose families meet certain income requirements.

In particular, Wilson is questioning the timing of the proposal for the tuition, suggesting it’s due mainly to Cuomo’s perceived national ambitions.

“We could accomplish the same thing through expanding the tuition assistance program and make it more accessible. He’s been governor for six years,” Wilson said. “If he thinks college is unafforable, then for the last six years he could have done something about it by expanding the tuition assistance program. Why? Because it’s more sale-able to his left wing when he runs for president that he made college free.”

Wilson was a key architect of President Obama’s automobile industry task force and unsuccessfully ran for comptroller against incumbent Democrat Tom DiNapoli in 2010.

He plans to make a decision on whether to run for governor at some point later this year, noting his timeline to run statewide six years was too constrained.

“I think the happy medium of getting to the point of where it makes sense for me and family have made the decision and having enough time to run a successful race is in fall of 2017,” he said, adding, “I have no interest of being governor for the sake of being governor. I have more interest in making a difference in peoples’ lives.”