FEMA reportedly has more money on hand than originally thought – perhaps even enough to last until new funding kicks in on Oct. 1.

If FEMA can make it through the end of week, Congressional leaders might be able to avert the fiscal standoff that has been brewing in Washington.

President Obama has a LinkedIn profile, but it could use some updating.

Bill Clinton talked to Newsmax and gave the GOP a talking point. Why?

The pros and cons of Christie 2012.

Christie vetoed the so-called “Snooki Subsidy.”
AG Eric Schneiderman got a lot of positive ink this past weekend.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill allowing non-licensed professionals to hold a minority share of ownership in New York’s engineering and architecture firms.

Mayor Bloomberg pledged to support the Obama administration’s plan to give state’s relief from the reading proficiency requirement in “No Child Left Behind.”

A defense attorney says the mayor and key staffers were given immunity when they testified before the Grand Jury in the John Haggerty trial.

Ben Smith offers more examples of the third term curse, from which Bloomberg seems to be suffering in a big way.

Purdue University has dropped its bid to build an applied science school in NYC because it found the financial backing coming from the city for the project insufficient.

Sen. Malcolm Smith’s spokeswoman is not in Madrid and has not been robbed.

Cuomo wants the taxi bill standoff resolved.

Mitt Romney took pains to avoid getting photographer entering Trump Tower for his meeting with The Donald.

Herman Cain will meet with Ed Koch next week before meeting with Trump.

Lady Gaga attended a high-dollar Obama fundraiser and asked the president a question about anti-bullying efforts.

Jon “Bowzer” Bauman goes to bat for failed NY-9 Democratic candidate David Weprin, blaming his loss in large part to the “provincial aggression” of Orthodox Jews.

A GOP Queens NYC Council member is reportedly mulling a party switch.

The cash-strapped MTA is finally ready to part with some of its real estate holdings, including a former subway HQ in Brooklyn.

William Kennedy fans, rejoice!

Canal To Reopen For Stranded Boats

The state’s canal system will reopen for a two-week window later this year in order to help vessels trapped since tropical storms Irene and Lee move.

“This is welcome news to boaters and commercial vessels with no other reasonable alternative to returning to their home ports,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “We are pleased to be able to continue the important storm recovery efforts that will rebuild New York and restore our transportation infrastructure.”

The canal system will reopen to commercial and recreational traffic beginning Thanksgiving weekend and run through Dec. 18. The system has been closed in the Mohawk Valley since the flooding from the tropical storms.

Cuomo’s office said crews will continue to conduct “extensive” repairs to the canals, including the addition of new hardware, restoration of electricity and debris removal. Parts of the canal will be dredged in order to remove refill deposited during the storms.

The closure of the canal system stranded many boats, including two large tour boats in the Great Lakes.

The Sad Legislative History Of The War Of 1812 Bill (Updated)

Once again, the measure that would create a commission to commemorate the coming 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 was vetoed, the third time the measure has been shot down in as many years.

In addition to creating the commission, the bill would also provide for the promotion of reenactment events across New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo rejected the bill because of its $1.4 million price tag. But he did leave the door open to the commemoration of the War of 1812 being included in a plan developed by the regional economic development councils.

The vetoes were part of a package of bills that Cuomo signed and struck down on Friday.

“Although cultural and historical tourism is an important industry,” Cuomo wrote in his veto message, “the Commission’s activities are estimated to cost the State over $350,00 annually and $1.4 million over the lifetime of the Commission. I believe the goals of this bill would be better suited to be considered in a more comprehensive manner by the Regional Economic Development Councils.”

The bill, carried in past years by former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, D-Greenburgh, was vetoed in 2009. And 2010.

Then, as now, Gov. David Paterson wrote in his veto message that the cost of the bill was too high to consider, given the state’s fiscal problems.

Cuomo’s veto is sure to disappoint local historians, especially in Central New York, have been working on commemoration activities in anticipation of the anniversary.

Update: Assemblywoman Addie Russell, the new sponsor for the bill, disputes the idea that the measure would cost the state any money. She says the Division of Budget is misinterpretating a clause in the bill about the commission communicating with state agencies.

“The DOB continues to put a fiscal note on this bill which is completely out of touch with what the reality will be,” she said.

She added that the commission would actually help raise private funds for the events.

“To not have a commission in place in time for the 200th anniversary I think sends a very poor message,” she said.

Mail-Order Prescription Measure Remains In Limbo

A measure that would prohibit insurance companies from requiring mail-order prescriptions still remains in limbo, but the two sides arguing over the bill aren’t budging.

The bill, which is opposed supported by the bricks-and-mortar pharmacy industry, is yet to be delivered to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (and, contrary to rumors around the Capitol last week, there was no deadline for the bill to be delivered on Friday). Cuomo is yet to take a position on the bill.

Business groups oppose the measure because they say it will ultimately drive up insurance costs for companies, which will be passed on to the employee.

Many health insurance plans now require some scripts be filled through the mail as a cheaper alternative.

But pharmacies argue the bill provides for consumer choice. In a statement that was sent in response to a Troy-based company urging the governor to kill the bill, Charles Catalano, the chairman of the Board of Directors of the New York City Pharmacists Society, plays up that consumer choice argument:

The truth is that the bill going to Governor Cuomo would introduce choice for consumers and insurance plans in how patients fill their prescriptions, and would require local pharmacies – whether independents or chains – to meet all the requirements of insurance plans when it comes to co-pays and cost. It is a consumer choice plan. It does not ban mail order, just limits mandatory mail order. It creates a level playing field for pharmacists, for insurers and for patients.

The Pharmacy Benefits Managers, the prescription middle men who take billions of dollars and thousands of jobs out of New York by mandating mail order, know they cannot compete with retail pharmacies on service in meeting the needs of customers, especially those who are elderly or have special needs. They also rely on enforced secrecy to refuse to allow their claims to be cheaper to be tested by the market in the light of day.

Sampson: Time To Negotiate On Taxi Bill

Senate Minority Leader John Sampson chimed in this morning on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desire to re-negotiate the livery cab bill that’s yet to be approved.

Cuomo, in the first of two radio interviews this morning, said he wants to bring people together to negotiate changes to the measure, which would allow livery cabs to pick up street hails.

The bill is designed to improve taxi access in the outer boroughs of New York City, but has been criticized for lacking necessary language to aid the physically disabled.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, brushed aside word that support was weakening for the bill late last week, saying it would bring in $1 billion in revenue for the city.

Here’s Sampson’s statement:

“To avoid a possible veto, I agree with the Governor that now is the time for the parties to come together and negotiate an attainable solution.

“The City needs the funds the bill would generate for its enacted budget, and while current medallion owners are concerned about the value of their existing investment there is also a clear and compelling need for increased transportation options for the Outer Boroughs and Upper Manhattan.”

Empire Center: New Yorkers Escaping To Warmer Climes

The New Yorkers leaving our state are more likely to head to south than anywhere else — where both the tax climate and economic climate are generally more hospitable.

But those numbers have slowed in the last five years after the economic recession battered Florida especially hard, the fiscally conservative Empire Center found in a report released today.

And in the last several years, migration to North Carolina has increased, outpacing Florida in 2009.

The Albany-based think-tank ran the numbers using data from the Internal Revenue Service. The numbers show the year-to-year movement of taxpayers and their dependents.

Meanwhile, the Empire Center also found that those with higher incomes are leaving the state and lower-income filers are moving to New York, with a net income loss of $37 billion from 2000 to 2009.

Incomes change over time, so this does not necessarily mean New York was $37 billion worse off at the end of
the period than it would have been if no moves had occurred during this period. At the very least, however, the average incomes of migrating taxpayers reflect New York’s ongoing loss of earning power – and, in many cases, job skills — to other states.

The migration of out New York — especially the jobs-starved upstate region — has confounded elected officials for years. A new sense of urgency seems to have sent in over the last several years as the state is set to lose two more House seats after it failed to grow at a faster rate than the rest of the nation.

The migration is generally blamed on the state’s poor business climate and reputation for having a high tax burden. But it also follows trends that are often seen in northeastern states — a loss of a manufacturing base and companies preferring to move their businesses to warmer temperatures where they can operate year-round.

RB Taxpayer Migration Final

Cuomo To Regional Councils: Cooperate Or Die

Different regions of the state must work together if they want to remain competitive for job creation ideas, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a radio interview this morning.

In the pre-taped interview with Susan Arbetter of The Capitol Pressroom, Cuomo also revealed some of the criteria for what a successful job-creation plan would look like.

“We want plans that have a high degree of predictability — plans that we believe will be a success,” he said. “We don’t want pie in the sky. We want plans that we predict will succeed.”

The Cuomo administration earlier this year created 10 regional economic development councils that will compete for up to $100 million in grants and tax credits in exchange for developing job-creation plans.

It’s a plan that Cuomo has said works on the federal level and will help foster good ideas.

He said cities, towns and villages within a region should work together to compete for the economic-development money.

“Here’s the practical: if you haven’t cooperated on the application, it will not be competitive, it will not be competitive and it will not win,” he said.

The governor also reiterated that he would make his position on the expansion of casino gambling in New York known in January (when the new session and budget season both start), but added that regions shouldn’t include gaming as forgone conclusion in their job creating plans.

Do so would be “speculative,” he said.

“The state would need to amend the constitution, which means it would take a couple of years at a minimum. These plans need to have a predictable plan,” he said. “If they are speculating that we may have gaming and it passes two legislatures, I don’t know if that would be the basis of a competitive plan; that would be speculative.”

In addition to the regional councils, Cuomo earlier this summer announced the launch of a new advertising campaign designed to lure private-sector businesses to the state.

And on Tuesday, former President Bill Clinton will be here in Albany to address the main economic development councils chaired by Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy. Cuomo said in a separate radio interview this morning that having his old boss deliver the keynote address is “a hoot.”

NYSAC To State: Please Take Local Share

As upstate counties continue to rebuild after being slammed by tropical storms Lee and Irene, the State Association of Counties sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking to relieve county governments of the local matching funds required by FEMA.

“While FEMA money has been made available, it requires a 25% state and local match. Historically this has been split equally between State and local governments,” wrote Stephen Acquario in the letter sent Sept. 7.

There’s no estimation for how much money it will cost individual counties to rebuild after the storm, though much of the FEMA money is in limbo as gridlock continues in Congress. Cuomo has estimated the total cost of the storm to be about $1 billion.

Cuomo, along with three fellow governors from both parties, called on Congress to end the political squabbling and approve the aid.

Acquario, in the letter, says much of the help that has come to counties so far is largely due in part to the governor’s quick response and slashing of bureaucratic red tape.

But he notes that the recession and storms have provided in a double whammy to the municipal governments.

“Our storm-ravaged counties, already struggling under enormous stress caused by the recession, do not have sufficient resources to effectively manage the recovery and rebuilding, while also meeting local public health, safety and economic revitalization needs,” he wrote.


Siena: Continued Trouble For Obama In NY

The latest Siena poll brings more mixed news for President Obama, who continues to see anemic numbers in Democrat-dominated New York, but nevertheless still leads the pack of his would-be GOP challengers.

New Yorkers are evenly divided (47-47) over whether they are prepared to re-elect Obama or the generic “someone else” next fall, but the president enjoys 20-point leads over the Republican frontrunners – Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Obama leads Perry 56-33 percent, little changed from 55-37 percent last month. He leads Romney 56-36 percent, virtually unchanged from 55-37 percent last month.

Obama’s job performance rating is up slightly from an all-time Siena poll low last month, but 61 percent continue to give him negative marks.

And for the second month in a row, his favorability rating is a lackluster 52-45 in a state where his fellow enrolled Democrats outnumber Republicans by about two to one.

Interestingly, New Yorkers are almost evenly divided (47-49) when asked if they agree with the sentiment that Obama was a great candidate, but is now a poor president.

Americans are very worried about a double-dip recession. Asked if they believe Obama will win next year, 45 percent said yes, while 42 percent believe a Republican will be taking the oath of office. Independents believe the GOP will prevail in 2012, which is not a good sign for the president.

SNY092611 Crosstabs

Cuomo Hopes For No Layoffs, But…

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this morning that he hopes his administration won’t have to begin a round of layoffs of state workers, but told John Gambling that any job cuts would be “manageable.”

The comments come on the eve of the end of the contract vote by the Public Employees Federation, the union of mostly white-collar workers with about 50,000 members.

Cuomo and the union’s leadership agreed to a contract similar to the one that was backed by CSEA members. It calls for wage freezes and a greater share of health insurance.

The New York Post reported this morning that the Cuomo administration was prepared to move forward with up to 3,500 layoffs if PEF’s rank and file doesn’t approve the deal.

“I hope we don’t have to lay anyone off,” Cuomo said, adding that he wouldn’t want to place undue hardship on families. “Either way, it’s going to be manageable for us from an operational point of view.”

Turnout for the PEF vote is reportedly higher than usual. The 2011-12 state budget includes $450 million in workforce concessions.

Cuomo, who has also sought a new, less generous pension tier for state workers, restated his desire to cut back on costs.

“We can’t afford the salaries and the benefits we were paying in the past,” he said, adding, “We have to recalibrate our contract with public employees.”

The governor also reiterated his views on a bill that would allow livery cabs to pick up street hails, calling the measure “complicated.”

Though the bill passed the Legislature in June, support is believed to be weakening for the bill after advocates said it doesn’t go far enough to help the disabled.

The bill is expected to raise money for the city by adding more than 1,000 yellow cab medallions. Last week, Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said he hoped the governor would sign the bill.

“This is complicated. I always get the complicated ones,” Cuomo said. “A lot of good ideas, a lot merit to the bill. Also one of the positives on the bill and Speaker silver’s point, is that it would raise about a billion dollars. Complications: There’s a major issue about the disabled access to the cabs. But there are some issues that we have to work through.”