Mar 28th - 9:30 am
In the final days of his budget battle with the Legislature, Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened lawmakers with the shutdown vs. extender bills option, saying he felt completely comfortable that he would win in the court of public opinion.
Turns out, he was right.
Today’s Siena poll shows New Yorkers, by a large 67-27 percent margin, would have preferred to see the Legislature pass Cuomo’s budget in an extender bill – even if it could not be amended at all – than to opt for shutting down the government. A whopping 90 percent said an on-time budget is important.
Cuomo’s popularity remains high, although he was slightly dinged in this budget fight. The governor’s favorable/unfavorable rating is 69-20, down from 77-16 last month. Fifty-one percent say he’s doing an “excellent” or “good” job, down from 57 percent.
While Cuomo has fallen below 70 percent, more than two-thirds of voters still view him favorably, including two-thirds of Republicans and more than half of conservatives,” said Siena poll spokesman Steve Greenberg.
“His biggest drop in favorability since February was recorded by voters younger than 35, conservatives, African Americans, and voters earning less than $50,000. And it was largely among those same groups where his job performance rating fell the most.”
Nearly three-quarters of New Yorkers said they most trusted Cuomo during the budget talks, compared to seven percent for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and five percent for Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.
One silver lining for Silver: Support for the millionaire’s tax continues to be strong. Seventy-one percent agree with the Assembly Democrats that it should be continued. Voters also strongly supported inclusion of both the rent laws (63) and a property tax cap (73 percent) in the budget, but neither made it into the framework agreed to last night.
Mar 27th - 7:25 pm
Just because the budget battle appears to have ended doesn’t mean legislative leaders will spend the remainder of the 2011 session twiddling their thumbs.
There are a number of contentious issues that remain undone, particularly extension and potential strengthening of the rent laws, which are scheduled to expire on June 15.
After today’s Red Room press conference, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said there are “tons of other issues that we’ll be discussing once the budget is passed.”
Added Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver: “We’ll be here awhile.”
Silver expressed hope that the rent control fight won’t go down to the wire the way it has in years past, saying: “We set a precedent here, hopefully, by doing things early.”
Mar 27th - 7:08 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was (understandably) in a very good mood this evening as he announced his first budget deal with legislative leaders in the Capitol’s Red Room. The press conference produced some rather humorous moments…like this one:
Mar 27th - 6:40 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders triumphantly announced a deal on a 2011-2012 budget that “in theory” could deliver the state’s first early budget since the last time a Cuomo was in the executive mansion.
“We worked through very, very difficult issues,” the governor said. “We not only got it done, but we got a great piece of work done. I believe that.”
The governor said the budget – which spends about $250 million more than he proposed, yet still clocks in at $132.5 million overall – is a victory for New Yorkers. He called it “the people’s budget.”
But it’s also a huge win for Cuomo himself, who gets a large portion of what he wants here – thanks largely to his overwhelming popularity in the polls and the extender power bequeathed to him by former Gov. David Paterson.
Some details remain to be worked out in conference committees. Bills will start being sent up for passage on Tuesday and the budget could be early, but definitely will be passed by the April 1 deadline, the governor said. He left open the possibility of messages of necessity to circumvent the three-day aging process.
Albany hasn’t seen an early budget – one adopted before the April 1 deadline – since 1983. That was former Gov. Mario Cuomo’s first budget; 27 of the last 36 budgets have been late.
Mar 25th - 3:03 pm
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on the budget talks earlier today: “Everything is on the table; everything is being discussed, everything is on the table.”
No bills yet. But that doesn’t really mean anything. A lot of that bill language is pretty redundant. They can get started with the printing of the less-controversial stuff tomorrow, just not education or health care – at least not as things stand now.
The speaker said he’ll be in Albany as long as it takes to close the budget, but won’t be working Saturday because it’s Shabbos. “I did bring enough underwear though, if you’re interested,” the speaker quipped.
“I would hope to close the budget today,” Silver added. “If not today, tomorrow. If not tomorrow, Sunday.”
The final product will be close to what the governor proposed “within reason…plus or minus a number – not significant – still being discussed.” On med-mal, which has emerged as a big sticking point in these final days, apparently: “Always being discussed.”
UPDATE: Silver met briefly with the governor this afternoon and then left the Capitol to catch a flight. He is reportedly headed home to NYC for Shabbos.
Mar 25th - 1:01 pm
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, after meeting solo with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said: “We’re making progress, and I’m still very optimistic that we can close down things today.”
Skelos couldn’t say why Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver wasn’t at the closed-door get together, adding: “I don’t know if he was invited.”
This smells like a divide-and-conquer strategy to me. Assembly Democrats say the speaker is very concerned about the possibility that Cuomo will cut a deal with the Senate Republicans and leave him scrambling.
Asked if the speaker is still cooperating with the other two men in the room, Skelos replied: “We are working with the governor and hope to have a budget today.”
He also said there are “loose ends” that still remain to be tied up, but school aid is “pretty much closed down” with a tentative agreement to restore some $250 million worth of the $1.5 billion Cuomo cut.
Silver told reporters he wasn’t aware that Skelos and Cuomo were meeting, insisting: “I have no sticking point with anybody; it’s very close.” The speaker also said he’s “in tandem” with the governor on the budget.
Mar 25th - 11:44 am
Faith leaders from around the state will be asking their congregations to pray for Gov. Andrew Cuomo this weekend in hopes that he will have the “wisdom to protect the most vulnerable from immoral cuts,” according to a press release.
Bishop Orlando Findlayter of the New Hope Christian Fellowship is among the faith leaders who will be preaching on this topic Sunday. He’ll be opening the doors of his Brooklyn church to members of the press to make his plea public.
“As religious leaders we believe the governor’s plan to balance the state’s budget by reducing educational funding while protecting millionaires is unconscionable,” said Findlayter. “We urge our legislators to stand with our children and oppose this detrimental budget.”
Findlayter is not new to this type of engagement in politics from the pulpit. Back in 2008, he urged the NYC Council to reject Mayor Bloomberg’s push to extend term limits so he could run for re-election in 2009. At the time, the mayor was reaching out to clergy members in hopes of gaining their support for his (eventually successful) push to change the term limits law.
This strikes me as a bit of a Hail Mary (pardon the pun, please) pass when it comes to the millionaire’s tax, since both Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Cuomo have refused to move off their opposition to extending it past its sunset date this year.
Skelos went so far as to declare the millionaire’s tax off the table and dead yesterday. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver refused to go quite that far in public, but members of his Democratic conference admit they’ve given up hope of including it in the final budget deal.
It’s possible the April 15 revenue numbers will be less robust than expected, leaving a larger-than-anticipated revenue hope that lawmakers have to fill. If that occurs, perhaps the millionaire’s tax will return, but I doubt it.
On the budget front, legislative leaders are still holding out hope for a handshake deal today, but the governor appears unlikely to bless that particular union. The Senate GOP is conferencing at noon. Silver needs to leave sometime this afternoon in order to be back in NYC before sundown to start observing Shabbat.
Mar 24th - 4:10 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is choosing to play his cards very close to the vest in the wake of his three-way, closed-door leaders meeting earlier today, despite the fact that legislative leaders expressed hope of reaching a conceptual budget sometime tomorrow.
While Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver came out of the meeting in the governor’s Capitol office to continue their optimistic talk with reporters, Cuomo did not emerge and chose instead to issue the following statement through his spokesman, Josh Vlasto:
“Governor Cuomo today met with Senate Majority Leader Skelos and Assembly Speaker Silver and progress towards a budget agreement continues. As the deadline approaches, we continue to work towards an on-time, amicable resolution.”
“As the Governor has said repeatedly, he is steadfastly committed to delivering a people’s budget that accomplishes the necessary reforms which he promised to the people of the State of New York.”
Mar 24th - 12:51 pm
Thanks to CapTon’s Mike Whittemore and YNN’s Solomon Syed, who’s lending a hand down at the Capitol during the budget crunch, here’s footage of the entire post-leaders meeting press gaggles held by Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
You’ll notice that Skelos is considerable more definitive than Silver about getting a “conceptual” budget deal – and perhaps even more – by tomorrow, saying he plans to keep his members in Albany through the end of the week even though there’s no scheduled session.
Silver is fairly tight-lipped, as is his way, saying very little other than to express hope that a deal will be reached by the weekend.
As Skelos notes, Silver is an Orthodox Jew who observes the Sabbath, which takes him out of pocket from sundown tomorrow to sundown Saturday. But that doesn’t preclude members of his staff from continuing to negotiate through the weekend, if necessary.
Mar 24th - 12:17 pm
As I reported earlier today, the legislative leaders are pushing to have a handshake deal on the 2011-2012 budget before the end of the day tomorrow in hopes that the bills will be printed and ready to vote on by early next week.
And that, of course, would be a big win for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who would be able to say he not only got an on-time budget, but managed to wrangle an early agreement from the traditionally slow-footed Legislature.
After meeting with Cuomo behind closed doors late this morning, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver both emerged – separately, with the senator coming out first – to say that they are moving toward an agreement tomorrow.
According to CapTon’s Mike Whittemore, who staked out that leader’s meeting, Cuomo did not emerge to speak to reporters, so it’s difficult to say where he stands on this.
Skelos said he will be keeping his majority conference members in Albany through tomorrow, even though the Legislature is not scheduled to be in session.
” Staff members will be working through the evening, we would like to have conference tomorrow at some point and an agreement by mid-afternoon,” Skelos said.
“As you know the speaker observes the Sabbath so we’re hopeful we can get it done before the speaker observes the Sabbath.”
A number of Senate Democrats, however, are already headed back to NYC, I’m told – not that it matters all that much, since no bills will be either printed or sufficiently aged for voting on until next week.
Silver was not asked whether he’ll be keeping his conference in town. He and Skelos both said that neither the rent laws nor the property tax cap will be in the budget deal.
On the millionaire’s tax, Skelos reiterated his no-how, no-way stance, while the speaker was a bit evasive, saying only: “We’re talking about a lot of things.”
“That’s gone,” the majority leader insisted. “It’s off the table. It’s gone. It’s dead. It’s not going to happen.”
Quotes and video on their way. UPDATE: Some quotes added throughout.