Cuomo Willing To Bet On Tax Cap Passage

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is so confident his 2 percent property tax cap will be passed by the Legislature before the session ends that he’s willing to bet on it – and with reporters, to boot.

At the two-minute mark in this Q&A video (recorded after Cuomo’s “People First” tour stop at Hofstra University this morning), the governor is asked whether the Democrat-controlled Assembly will eventually follow the Senate’s lead and pass a cap bill, and he replies:

“I think at the end of the day, there will be a property tax cap passed. (Aside: Notice he doesn’t say “MY” property tax cap, but rather “A” property tax cap, interesting). You sound dubious…So, why don’t we make a side wager on this. You’ll give me odds because it’s been 15 years. You want to give me two-to-one odds? What odds will you give me?”

In the end: No odds and no bet.

The governor goes on to discuss – very broadly – his soon-to-be-introduced (within days, he says) Tier VI proposal, saying:

“We can’t afford the public pension system we have in this state. Period. We just can’t afford it. The increase in public pensions has been astronomical. What is driving the taxes that we were just talking about, one of the things is the public pension system. It is unaffordable for local governments. It is unaffordable for the state government.”

PEF, CSEA Knock Tier VI Plan

The state’s two largest public-employee unions blasted a proposal floated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office to offer a less-generous Tier VI pension program, which comes as the governor continues to negotiate a new contract for the bulk of the state workforce.

Civil Services Employees Association President Danny Donohue complained that the news leaked to the Associated Press, which moved the story this morning:

“It is very clear from the Cuomo administration’s leaks about plans to seek Tier VI pension changes for public employees that the governor does not care about the impact of his policies on working people.”

“The governor is engaging in political grandstanding to impress his millionaire friends at the expense of working people and the services they provide to the people of New York.”

And the Public Employees Federation also criticized the idea, calling it unnecessary:

“We think it’s unnecessary,” said spokeswoman Darcy Wells. “We think there are significant changes under Tier V and there hasn’t bee enough time to see any changes there. If the state’s going to continue to chip away at the benefits package and jobs security then the state is not going to be able to continue to support quality workforce.”

Charges Against IMF Chief

…As filed by Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr.

- Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree, a class B violent felony, two counts;

- Attempted Rape in the First Degree, a class C violent felony, one count;

- Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, a class D violent felony, one count;

- Unlawful Imprisonment in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor, one count

- Forcible Touching, a class A misdemeanor, one count;

- Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree, a class B misdemeanor, one count.

Strauss-Kahn Criminal Court Complaint

Back To The Future For Bloomberg Admin On Gansevoort

NYC Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith is at the Capitol today to lobby state lawmakers on an issue the Bloomberg administration thought it had put to rest back in 2008.

The city is facing a $25 million hole in its capital budget if the Legislature doesn’t re-vote to amend the Hudson River Park Act and allow a Department of Sanitation marine transfer station to be built on Gansevoort Peninsula on the West Side of Manhattan – a major component of the mayor’s historic Solid Waste Management Plan.

This was a very contentious issue back in the day, and it took a lot of doing to get Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, in particular, to sign off on the measure.

But both the Assembly and the Senate eventually passed the amendment – over the objections of three local lawmakers, Assemblymembers Deborah Glick, Richard Gottfried and Linda Rosenthal – thanks to a big push by Mayor Bloomberg and NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

The problem: The deal came with a memorandum of understanding that had to do with replacing and paying for any parkland alienated by the construction of the transfer station.

The MOU wasn’t drafted at the time the legislation was passed in 2008, and it still remains unsigned.

Part of the Gansevoort plan requires the state putting up a $25 million match to the city’s funding of the project. That could be a sticking point, considering the state’s ongoing fiscal troubles and the deep cuts handed to NYC in the budget Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed through the Legislature earlier this spring.

Would-Be Gillibrand Opponent Makes Rounds Upstate (Updated)

YNN Syracuse received the following advisory from the Tioga County GOP today:

Nassau County, NY Comptroller and potential candidate for the US Senate in 2012 George Maragos will visit the Village of Waverly in Tioga County, NY on Tuesday, May 17th, 2011.

Maragos will meet with key leaders of the Tioga County Republican Committee starting at Noon at The Club at Shepard Hills, 17 Chemung St, Waverly, NY 14892 to discuss his plans. Maragos recently announced the formation of an exploratory committee to seek the Republican nomination for the US Senate.

Maragos has over 35 years of senior management positions and accomplishments with leading organizations in Banking, Consulting and Information Systems. As president of SDS, he guided the firm’s growth for 20 years. Prior to SDS, Mr. Maragos was a Vice President of Citicorp and the Director of Telecommunications for Treasury Systems.

As you’ll recall, Maragos briefly toyed with the idea of throwing his hat into the ring last fall – less than a year after he had ousted Democratic incumbent, Howard Weitzman, in what was a very bad year for Nassau County Democrats (they also lost the county executive’s office and control of the county Legislature).

UPDATE: A reader reminds me that Maragos wanted to challenge Sen. Chuck Schumer, not Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and couldn’t get sufficient support among fellow Republicans to run. Schumer ended up handily defeating consultant Jay Townsend, winning a third six-year term.

As for the Gillibrand race in 2010, the GOP line ultimately went to former Rep. Joe DioGuardi, who won a three-way primary after landing the Conservative Party line free and clear in the minor party’s convention.

DioGuardi lost big to Gillibrand, who was elected statewide for the first time to serve out the remaining two years in Hillary Clinton’s old term. She has to run for a full six-year term in 2012.

Maragos signaled his interest in 2012 earlier this year.

At least two of Gillibrand’s 2010 opponents – DioGuardi and David Malpass – have expressed interest in a possible re-match, too, although with President Obama at the top of the ticket, it might be tough to dislodge her next fall.

The junior senator’s numbers recently took a hit, but her fundraising remains strong.

Committee To Save NY Spent $4.8M Lobbying

The Committee to Save New York, the consortium of business interests and allies of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, spent $4.8 million in March and April lobbying the Legislature on the state budget and the 2 percent cap on property taxes.

The group, which registered for lobbying activity with the state after good-government organizations issued concerns, was formed to back Cuomo’s fiscal agenda at the beginning of the year.

The committee filed its financial statement with the Commission on Public Integrity today, showing the bulk of its money — about $4.1 million — was spent on TV, radio and Internet advertising.

The lobbying and PR shop DKC reported $10,000 worth of work on behalf of the group.

The committee’s filing covers March and April; the budget passed two days shy of the April 1 deadline, the start of the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The committee, which includes business groups, conservative labor unions and lobbyists with ties to Cuomo, reported spending nearly $2.6 million in January and February.

Cuomo’s proposed budget aimed at cutting spending for the first time in 15 years. The governor’s first budget also had to close a $10 billion deficit, which he pledged to do without new borrowing or new taxes.

The committee, whose board at one point included the now-head of the Empire State Development Corp. Kenneth Adams, was with the governor the entire time on the budget, running ads touting his proposal as a means to restore New York’s fiscal health.

And in the end, Cuomo got the budget he wanted passed the Legislature: no broad-based tax increases and deep cuts to the state’s most expensive items, education and health care. More >

Lawsky Nominated To Lead Financial Services Department

Confirming what we already knew (thanks to a gun-jumping email from the Citizens Budget Commission) Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s chief of staff Ben Lawsky is being nominated to become the first superintendent of the new Department of Financial Services.

The agency combines the departments of banking and insurance, which is part of Cuomo’s overall plan to re-size state government.

Lawsky’s appointment is not that much of a shock. It was “broken” thanks to an errant email sent by the Citizens Budget Commission and obtained by The New York Times. Before joining the Cuomo administration, Lawsky worked in the Cuomo attorney general office.

The newly formed department was originally supposed to include the state Consumer Protection Board and be called the Department of Financial Regulation, but it was scaled back after insurance and baking industry officials raised concerns.

In addition, Cuomo also announced former Bronx Borough President Freddy Ferrer would be nominated to the MTA board. James J. Wrynn is being nominated to become deputy superintendent at the Department of Financial Services. Cuomo also made nominations for the Council on the Arts and for members of the Public Health and Health Planning Council (a full list is after the jump).

And John Milgrim, a press aide for Cuomo in both the AG’s office and the governor’s office is being moved over to become spokesman for Inspector General Ellen Biben, replacing Kate Gurnett. More >

Duffy: Comparing Cuomo To Spitzer An ‘Overreaction’

Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy said this morning that he rejects the notion that Gov. Cuomo is adapting the “steamroller” style made famous by Eliot Spitzer to push the Legislature in his direction, calling it an “overreaction” by critics.

“I think [Gov. Cuomo] has been very clear and very specific in terms of his expectations and he’s also been respectful,” Duffy said.

“I have listened to him speak. He is not calling out individual legislators; he’s not embarrassing anybody. He’s stating facts that I think everybody understands. I don’t think there has been a governor in recent memory who has done more to create relationships with the legislature.”

Lawmakers have been pushing back on the governor in recent days for his criticism of the Legislature. Last week on Capital Tonight, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said ethics reform should include the executive branch, and today, Speaker Sheldon Silver called the effectiveness of the governor’s tour across the state “irrelevant.” Silver also said over the weekend that his members would rather cut deals “than listen to speeches.”

Duffy spoke to reporters following a speech to the NYS Coalitions of Community Development Financial Institutions at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Albany.

Silver On Cuomo’s Tour: ‘We’re Here’

Asked by reporters today to gauge the effect of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s statewide tour on the Big 3 Issues, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said it was “irrelevant.”

“It’s irrelevant. As far as I’m concerned, I’m here, we’re governing and that’s the important thing,” Silver said.

Spokesman Michael Whyland later clarified to say Silver meant it was irrelevant as to whether the governor was in Albany, meaning the work of state government will grind on.

Silver did say over the weekend that his members would “rather cut deals than listen to speeches.”

Cuomo was in Nassau County today to push for his major agenda items with now six weeks to go before the Legislature wraps up their official business in June. Cuomo wants a 2 percent cap on property taxes, an ethics overhaul and the legalization of gay marriage.

There is increasing daylight between the Legislature and the governor — with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos telling Liz last week that he sees shades of Eliot Spitzer in Cuomo’s behavior. Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy said earlier today that comparing Cuomo to Spitzer was an “overreaction.”

Trump Picks Business Over Politics, Won’t Run In 2012

He’s not even waiting for the season finale of “The Apprentice”…here’s the statement in full.

“After considerable deliberation and reflection, I have decided not to pursue the office of the Presidency. This decision does not come easily or without regret; especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country.”

“I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election. I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done half heartedly. Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector.”

“I want to personally thank the millions of Americans who have joined the various Trump grassroots movements and written me letters and e-mails encouraging me to run. My gratitude for your faith and trust in me could never be expressed properly in words.”

“So, I make you this promise: that I will continue to voice my opinions loudly and help to shape our politician’s thoughts. My ability to bring important economic and foreign policy issues to the forefront of the national dialogue is perhaps my greatest asset and one of the most valuable services I can provide to this country.”

“I will continue to push our President and the country’s policy makers to address the dire challenges arising from our unsustainable debt structure and increasing lack of global competitiveness. Issues, including getting tough on China and other countries that are methodically and systematically taking advantage of the United States, were seldom mentioned before I brought them to the forefront of the country’s conversation.”

“They are now being debated vigorously.”

“I will also continue to push for job creation, an initiative that should be this country’s top priority and something that I know a lot about. I will not shy away from expressing the opinions that so many of you share yet don’t have a medium through which to articulate.”

“I look forward to supporting the candidate who is the most qualified to help us tackle our country’s most important issues and am hopeful that, when this person emerges, he or she will have the courage to take on the challenges of the Office and be the agent of change that this country so desperately needs.”

“Thank you and God Bless America!”

“Donald J. Trump”