State Senate

Senate GOP: Come Back, Hold Or Reject

For the Senate Republicans, their possible plans boil down to this: reject Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s latest proposal to end the impasse, return this weekend and pass it before Passover starts on Monday or wait until after Easter.

That’s according to Deputy Senate Majority Leader John DeFrancisco in a radio interview with Fred Dicker on Talk-1300 this morning.

“One option is go back immediately or least get it done before Monday night,” he said. “The other option is to wait for after the holidays and not get paid for that period of time which I’m more than happy to do. The last option is to reject what this final agreement is.”

DeFrancisco indicated he is not exactly in a great rush at this point.

“We’re all going to be back at least by the 24th,” he said. “The world isn’t going to come to an end.”

In the interview, DeFreancisco indicated Cuomo himself had already started hedging on an on-time budget at the beginning of last week when he suggested the state may have to pass a temporary extender measure to fund the governor. Lawmakers did just that on Monday, approving a bill that funds state government until May 31.

Cuomo has said he wanted more insight into the federal government’s plans in terms of potential cuts to state before setting the state’s own spending priorities.

“He almost conceded the budget would be late and in fact actually said it would be better if we didn’t have an on-time budget because we don’t know what the federal funding would be,” DeFrancisco said. “To me, those statements just don’t make sense.”

Hoylman Part Of National Push For Trump’s Tax Returns

From the Morning Memo:

Democratic Sen. Brad Hoylman on Thursday was part of a national call with fellow state lawmakers from around the country on an effort that is aimed at requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.

The latest push from Democratic state lawmakers comes about a week before taxes are due in the United States.

The measures, backed in 26 state Legislatures around the country, would require a presidential candidate release their tax returns in order to gain ballot access.

“My constituents were frankly sickened that they didn’t have a complete picture of the president’s potential conflicts of interest before they cast their votes,” Hoylman said.

Trump has so far declined to release his tax tax information, which has been a tradition for presidential candidates in the post-Watergate era. Pieces of Trump’s taxes have leaked to the press, though a full picture of his finances hasn’t emerged yet.

Hoylman was joined by lawmakers from California and New Jersey on Thursday who back similar measures in their states.

“We have seen an incredible response from voters to this legislation,” Hoylman said. “There is a very strong interest among the American people to know what is being hidden in the president’s tax returns. That’s why we are joining with 135 other cities on April 15 to call on Donald Trump to release his tax returns.”

Lawmakers Mull Latest Cuomo Proposal

Lawmakers are mulling the latest proposal to end the budget standoff at the Capitol, six days after the budget was due.

A Cuomo administration source on Thursday said the proposals include linking charter school funding to traditional public school aid. At the same time, the potential compromise would have a panel of law enforcement officials and social workers determine post-supervision release under the raise the age policy concern.

Linking the 421a tax abatement expiration to expiring rent control is off the table.

It’s a plan that Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says he can accept, but the broader conference needs to review the language.

“We started a discussion earlier I’d say with this compromise solution and we spoke to the conference about it,” Heastie said. “I’d say other than the more detailed language I’d say we’re OK with it.”

Democratic lawmakers spent the day on Thursday waiting for word of a deal as Heastie shuttled back and forth to meetings on the second floor.

The Assembly does plan to vote on remaining budget bills that have been printed and already approved by the Republican-led Senate. There’s still hope for a final revenue to be considered on Friday.

“We’re here, ready to work and we want to shut this down,” Heastie.

A Senate spokesman in a statement Thursday said no deal was in place yet, but talks continue, he said.

“Senator Flanagan met this morning with the governor and other legislative leaders, and talks centered around a potential compromise that would bring resolution to the budget,” he said. “As a result, he is discussing the proposed changes with a number of our members. While we have had these discussions, there is no final deal.”

IDC: $10M For Immigrant Legal Aid

The state budget will include $10 million for immigrant legal aid efforts, the Independent Democratic Conference on Wednesday announced.

“This is a country built by immigrants and we must do everything we can to protect our immigrant communities,” said Senate IDC Leader Jeff Klein in a statement.

“These vital funds knock down the financial wall immigrants face during deportation hearings by providing free legal assistance. The Independent Democratic Conference recognized the true urgency for funding immigrant legal defense services and delivered to ensure that families aren’t torn apart. I want to thank Gov. Cuomo on behalf of the IDC for his leadership on this critical issue.”

The announcement was first reported by The Daily News.

The money comes after the DREAM Act, a measure that would provide tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants, failed to make it into the final budget agreement, according to lawmakers.

The funding includes money for the Vera Institute of Justice as well as the New York Immigration Coalition, Empire Justice Center, Northern Manhattan Immigration Coalition for Immigrant Rights and the Hispanic Federation and $1 million to Catholic Charities Community Services.

The money will be awarded to the groups through the state’s Office of New Americans and can be put toward immigrant defense services that would prevent deportation, green card application processing as well as job assistance.

Kennedy: ‘We’re Reverting Back To The Bad Old Days’

As we continue to wait for the passage of a budget bill, Democratic state Senator Tim Kennedy ripped into the process that’s led to gridlock at the Capitol. He placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of his colleagues across the aisle.

“Here we go again. We’re reverting back to the bad old days and the Republicans in the majority own this process,” Kennedy said.

Despite the bad feelings, the senator said he does believe the final budget will be a positive one for taxpayers throughout the state, particularly upstate. Among it’s selling points he said he believes the bill will include increased funding for education, the framework for the Buffalo Billion², and the legalization of ride-hailing for Upstate/

“We’ve been fighting aggressively to make sure that we get ridesharing as part of this budget and it looks like that’s exactly what’s going to happen,” he said.

Kennedy said state senators have seen about 90 percent of the proposed language so far, but are still waiting on final deals for things like the so-called Raise The Age bill and education runs. They’re also waiting to see the proposed details of the second phase of the Buffalo Billion economic initiative, even though it was fully-funded in Monday’s extender bill.

“I asked about that language last night on the floor and it was committed to us that the Buffalo Billion language will be in the final budget. Again, that language is yet to be determined. We are yet to see that final language,” Kennedy said.

In the meantime, he said the funding is flowing and he’s confident the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council will make sure it gets to the right places. That includes funding to extend Buffalo’s Metro Rail, education initiatives like Say Yes to Education, and other worker training initiatives.

Kennedy also said talks about increased financial disclosures for REDC members appears to be dead.

“From what we’re hearing, the Regional Economic Development Councils will move ahead as they had previously existed, but again that language has yet to be determined in the final budget,” he said.

Senate Republicans Cast Blame Over Raise The Age

In statement after statement on Monday afternoon, Senate Republicans took a tough-on-crime posture when it came to raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York, blaming Assembly Democrats for pushing for an expansive number of charges that would be tried in Family Court.

“Unfortunately, the Governor and the Assembly Speaker care more about keeping teenage drug gang members, murderers and rapists out of jail than they do about funding our public schools, providing tax relief for our families and rebuilding our infrastructure,” said Sen. Tom Croci, a Long Island Republican.

Added Rochester-area Sen. Rich Funke: “Some of these politicians want to treat violent felons, murderers, and rapists as kids under the law. Instead, I believe we need a Raise the Age plan that protects public safety first. I remain committed to securing a budget that brings ridesharing upstate, rejects millions in proposed taxes and fees, and fully-funds our region’s top priorities, like job training, education, and public safety.”

Ditto for Sen. Fred Akshar, a former police officer.

“Shame on the New York City Democrats who are willing to compromise public safety by not holding violent 16 and 17 year olds accountable for rape and murder,” he said. “These are violent individuals who prey upon our communities and didn’t simply ‘make a mistake.'”

An Assembly spokesman noted on Monday afternoon these claims aren’t true, that the talks did not center around felonies like rape and murder. Lawmakers were at odds over what constitutes a violent crime. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie used the example in a gaggle with reporters of a brick being thrown at a car window.

“Disgusting,” Assembly Democratic spokesman Michael Whyland wrote on Twitter in response to Croci’s statement. “Shame someone in the Legislature like this Senator is so misinformed- violent crimes like this haven’t been part of negotiations.”

Republicans may be trying to stake out ground now on why a full budget isn’t in place now, blaming Democrats for their approach on crime on an issue that lawmakers involve insist they are very close on.

One issue with an extender bill now is the efforts made over the last week may be undone following the lack of a deal on a broader budget.

Klein: Shutdown Would Have Meant ‘Chaos’

In the end, the threat of a government shutdown — perhaps strongest in the closely divided state Senate — was defused after Democratic lawmakers from both conferences backed the legislation to continue to temporarily fund state government.

Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, who had insisted he wouldn’t back a budget without raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York to 18 included in it, backed the extender, saying his priority was to keep government running in New York.

At the same time, Klein said including the measure in the temporary appropriation would have not have been the place to do so.

“A budget extender is not supposed to include the policy issues we are yet to agree upon,” he said following the vote. “It’s suppose to keep government running.”

And not have the funding in place to meet the state’s payroll needs would have caused even more trouble, Klein said.

“There would have been total chaos. People would not have been paid today in our hard-working state workforce,” he said. “Let me be clear: that’s what that was about today. That was continuing and make sure government works.”

Klein, too, was hopeful for a resolution that includes the measure which has been especially important for his newest members from New York City.

“It makes no sense for us to not achieve those result which were so important to New Yorkers,” he said.

DeFran Blames Cuomo For Budget Blow Up

Deputy Senate Majority Leader John DeFrancisco blamed Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the lack of a conclusion on the state budget process, saying the governor’s perceived national ambitions have gotten the better of him.

“I don’t think he lost his touch,” the Syracuse Republican said. “I think he lost his focus. The focus is no longer on getting a budget. The focus is on his political future.”

DeFrancisco is an increasingly outspoken critic of Cuomo and has publicly toyed with running fro governor next year. Cuomo has said he’s seeking a third term.

The Republican-led Senate approved budget extender legislation on Monday following a legislative impasse on key issues, including raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18 in New York.

Cuomo last week blamed the federal government and potential cuts from the Republican-led Congress for uncertainty he said at the time could result in a temporary spending plan.

DeFrancisco said that could not be the case, considering the federal budget doesn’t fully take effect until the autumn.

“I don’t think the feds have anything to do with negotiating this budget,” he said. “But everyone is going to have make their own judgments whether the governor is accurate in his characterizations which seem to change periodically — about hourly, come to think.”

Cuomo, he argued, could have done more to get an agreement in place.

“The governor has an awful lot of authority under the budget process,” he said. “I know how just about close we are on every issue. It seems to me rather than having contradictory statements and trying to twist arms, we could have gotten it done.”

‘Not Everyone Acts Like An Adult’ In Talks, Gallivan Says

The negotiations over raising the age of criminal responsibility clearly frustrated Sen. Pat Gallivan, who complained in an interview that “not everybody acts like an adult” in the talks.

“The frustration is not everybody acts like an adult in the room and they should,” said Gallivan, who was one of the key lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Senate negotiating the bill. “It doesn’t make sense. A lot of people get upset. Nonetheless, we’re at this point now and we have to be responsible to make sure government continues and services continue.”

Talks extended in the weekend to negotiate an agreement over the provision, one of the more contentious policy measures included by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his $152 billion budget proposal.

But there was an impasse between the governor and the Legislature over the issue as the discussion dragged into the minutiae of the policy. Cuomo had indicated a week ago — his last public appearance — the issues surrounding the budget stemmed from financial concerns, not policy.

On Friday, Cuomo seemingly reversed himself, saying it was thorny policy matters such as juvenile justice reform creating the gridlock.

Gallivan said talks will continue over the issue, even as the bad feelings from the last week remain rather sore.

“I can’t predict what happens after today,” he said. “But negotiations will continue and if all parties act like adults and be responsible in their positions and put policy before politics, we should get it done in fairly short order.”

Gallivan added: “We’re not going to go forever without a budget.”

Senate Dems: Don’t Vote On Budget Without Raise The Age Deal In Hand

The mainline Democratic conference in the state Senate on Sunday urged the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference to block any votes on budget bills until a concrete agreement on raising the age of criminal responsibility is in place.

In a statement, Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy said the IDC should back an effort by the mainline conference to deny a quorum in the chamber until the deal is ready.

“With negotiations continuing, passing some budget bills before talks conclude will weaken efforts to achieve real reforms in this budget,” Murphy said. “The IDC should stand up and help Senate Democrats maximize our ability to achieve a real Raise The Age solution, and that means preventing Senate Republicans from advancing only parts of the budget to the detriment of outstanding issues.”

In classic Albany fashion, sources have described a budget as being in virtual agreement, though the Legislature insists negotiations continue. A key sticking point continues to be raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18 and an agreement that issue could pave the way for an official statement on a deal for a broader budget.

The IDC has been negotiating the raise the age policy in the budget, with the conference’s leader, Jeff Klein, calling it a priority in the budget. The IDC has said it will not back a budget without the measure in place.

In a tweet, IDC spokeswoman Candice Giove wrote, “While the @NYSenDems continue to play political games, the @IDC4NY continues to fight for #raisetheage.”