Jan 10th - 2:54 pm
Sen. Tom Libous this morning lamented the idea that the Assembly Democrats might try to tie a property tax cap to rent control, saying that might not be “healthy” and noting that such linkages have caused late budgets in the past.
“That’s, I think, one of the things that has kept this place from moving forward in the past is that everything got tied into othe budget, everything got tied into one negotiation,” Libous said.
“Everything got tied into one negotation,” Libous said. “But let’s see how it played out. It’s still early in the session.”
Libous seemed to open the door to a reauthorization of the so-called millionaire’s tax, suggesting that re-upping an existing tax that’s set to sunset might not be exactly the same as passing a whole new tax, which the Republicans have said they won’t do. (Gov. Andrew Cuomo said she he wants the tax on the rich to die on schedule).
The deputy majority leader also suggested reporters are getting a bit ahead of themselves with all this talk about budget deals, saying:
“It’s going to be a long session, there are going to be a lot of issues that are going to have to be dealt with. We’ll deal with them, and I think you’ll find that many things are going to be dealt very much in the open this year unlike some of the things in the past.”
NOTE: If you watch all the way to the end of this video, you’ll catch Senate Minority Leader John Sampson having a moment with the last self-professed amigo, Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., who was praising Sampson yesterday for elevating Latino members to ranking and leadership positions.
UPDATE: Libous (through Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif) sent a statement clarifying his remarks, whicih appears in full after the jump. In short, the Republicans are “100 percent in support” of letting the millionaire’s tax sunset.
Jan 10th - 2:40 pm
AG Eric Schneiderman, who pushed for gun control during his Senate tenure, addressed the Arizona shooting in an e-mail to supporters today that featured the subject line: “Day Ten.”
Most of the message focused on what the newly-minted AG has done since he took office on Jan. 1 (filed his first lawsuit, held a public swearing-in ceremony with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, actor Alec Baldwin and Sen. Chuck Schumer, among others).
Schneiderman ended with this:
“I would be remiss if I didn’t pause to comment on the senseless tragedy in Arizona that took six lives this weekend, including those of a young girl and a federal judge, and injured even more, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.”
“I send my deepest condolences to the friends and families of the victims of this terrible shooting.”
“There is simply no place in our society for this type of horrific violence, and in the weeks to come, I will continue to talk about the need to implement common-sense measures to prevent these types of catastrophes, including keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of those with severe mental illness.”
There has been a renewed push for gun control at the federal level, most notable by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, who has been one of the nation’s most prominent gun control advocates since the LIRR shooting that killed her husband, severely injured her son and propelled her into politics.
But the response – policy-wise, anyway – at the state level has been muted. As far as I can tell, there was never even a statement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
I’ve asked for one, as well as a comment on whether the administration has any second thoughts about safety now that the governor has re-opened the second floor and removed the concrete barriers from outside the Capitol. So far, no response.
Jan 10th - 2:21 pm
The comptroller is speaking out against the “vilification” of public employees, saying they should be part of the discussion when it comes to trimming state expenses.
“It’s important for us to keep in mind that public employees provide important public services,” DiNapoli said.
“And we are going through a tough time. There are going to have to be reductions in spending. We’re going to need to figure out smarter ways to handle all our obligations. But from my experience of running a government agency, having public empoyees engaged in that discussion of how we can economize, how we can be more efficient, that’s how you get a better result.”
Interesting: Rassmussen has a new poll out today that found support for public employee unions has fallen across the nation.
DiNapoli called for a “more civil discourse” that doesn’t “demonize” state workers. Asked if he was referring to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s rhetoric, he responded flatly: “No.”
But the comptroller, who hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with the governor (who cleared DiNapoli in his pay-to-play pension fund probe shortly before the November elections, but neither endorsed him nor campaigned with him), wouldn’t say specifically who he had in mind, saying: “I don’t have a list.”
“I think we all read the papers, letters to the editor,” DiNapoli said. “I’m not singling out any individual. I think we all read the same newspapers, and I think we all know who I’m referring to. If you want me to compile a list of names of people, I will.”
Jan 10th - 1:38 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo just launched a new Website that seeks input from the public on how to reform the Medicaid system and also track the progress of his newly-created Medicaid redesign task force.
The site includes electronic forms for Medicaid stakeholders and the public to write in with their cost-cutting ideas. It will also include listings of the team’s public hearings and prepared reports. The administration hopes it will be an “integral component to the reform process.”
“It is imperative for the public, as well as stakeholders and government officials, to be part of the process of reforming the State’s Medicaid system, and this Web site will help make that happen,” Cuomo said in a press release.
“The Web site will be a component to developing our plan to reign in Medicaid costs without compromising care.”
Jan 10th - 12:37 pm
As the NYC Council’s public flogging of the Bloomberg administration for its poor response to the Christmas weekend blizzard continues, the mayor’s office has released the results of its preliminary review of its performance that found problems in six key areas:
1) The decision not to declare a snow emergency; (2) insufficient accountability tools that led to a lack of real-time information on street conditions; (3) insufficient and delayed deployment of City assets that could have assisted with snow removal operations; (4) failure to procure and preposition private resources; (5) insufficient communication within City government and to the public; and (6) problems with emergency communications and response.
The report includes a 15-point action plan designed to address these trouble spots (and, in the process, continues the attempted rebuilding of the mayor’s reputation, which has taken a significant beating in the wake of the storm).
Jan 10th - 12:25 pm
Here’s Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver during a CapTon interview last week making, for the first time that I can recall, a connection between the passage of stricter rent regulations when the existing laws sunset this year and the property tax cap that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing.
This link, which Silver has so far refused to call a trade, is very interesting, since it’s being opposed by REBNY.
REBNY’s Steve Spinola, who, as you’ll recall, is playing a big role in the Committee to Save NY, which is backing Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the budget battle, told the Times that kind of swap would be “unacceptable,” adding:
“The game of the Legislature is to negotiate and to make connections, and that’s traditionally what Albany and Washington have done. We saw nothing happen in Washington because of that policy, and I’m not sure anything gets accomplished in New York.”
Silver told me:
“People need relief from high property taxes. We need to have a program that allows people to afford to live in their homes. The governor’s absolutely right about that. We need a program in the city of New York and its suburban communities that continues rent regulation for the same reason.”
“…I just think it’s the same concept. People have to be able to afford to live in their homes. That’s what it’s about. And whether it’s property taxes in single-family homes on Long Island, Westchester or all across the city and upstate New York or it’s rent regulation, which keeps the cost of rental property down…the concept is the same.”
Silver stressed at the Capitol today that this isn’t a matter of linking one issue to another, necessarily, but “what’s important is that we all look at each other’s viewpoints.”
(FYI, former Assembylman Michael Benjamin: This interview was conducted on State of the State day, which was last Wednesday, Jan. 5, shortly after NY1′s Erin Billups interviewed the speaker in his office at the Capitol).
Jan 10th - 11:14 am
Saturday’s shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has raised the question about how much protection – if any – members of Congress should have in the course of doing their jobs at a time when political rhetoric is unusually heated.
Here’s Sen. Chuck Schumer speaking on “Face the Nation” yesterday about how threats are inherently part of the job for elected officials and usually don’t amount to anything, although they are taken seriously.
“There are handful of threats that are made every…month,” Schumer said. “They investigate them thoroughly.”
“Almost inevitably, they tend to be people who are mentally unstable, not people with political motivation. In almost every case, those people make the threat but take no action, and they’re handled effectively and quietly.”
Jan 10th - 11:09 am
There has been a lot of talk about gun control in the wake of Saturday’s Arizona shooting, but that isn’t the only policy issue likely to be debated following the tragedy.
Robert Bernstein, executive director of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, issued a statement this morning urging lawmakers not to look to “quick fixes” if it is determined – as it appears to be the case – that the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, is suffering from an untreated mental illness.
It would be a mistake to conclude that incidents such as this are characteristic of people who have mental illness,” Bernstein wrote.
“In fact, these events are very rare. Studies show that having a mental illness, in itself, does not increase one’s propensity to commit serious violence; other factors come into play, including co-occurring substance abuse, trauma and, perhaps in this instance, today’s vitriolic political climate.”
“…Our hope is that this time we will come together in the wake of tragedy in a different way. Rather than stigmatizing people who have mental illnesses with false stereotypes or pursuing laws that try to use courts to compensate for gaps in basic services, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law urges a meaningful effort to address the core issues here.”
“The nation’s system of community mental healthcare, now struggling to provide even late-stage crisis services, should be equipped to ensure that early, effective assistance is available to people who need it.”
Bernstein noted that past shootings – at Virginia Tech, in the New York City subway system and elsewhere – have led elected officials to efforts to enact laws making it easier to commit people to psychiatric hospitals or to court-order outpatient treatment.
Jan 10th - 11:01 am
Jan 10th - 7:59 am
Posted by Liz Benjamin in [...]
Two House members said the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will cause them to carry weapons to defend themselves.
Members of Congress have been asked to review their security arrangements.
Doctors are encouraged by Giffords’ response after her emergency brain surgery.
The DN got inside shooter Jared Lee Loughner’s house and found a shrine with a skull in the backyard.
Students and teachers at an Arizona community college were frightened by Loughner’s erratic behavior.
Mayor Bloomberg and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy slammed the lax gun laws that enabled Loughner to purchase his firearm.
McCarthy will seek to ban the type of high-capacity semi-automatic-weapon magazines used by Loughner in Saturday’s rampage.
The Times deems Loughner “very much a part of a widespread squall of fear, anger and intolerance that has produced violent threats against scores of politicians and infected the political mainstream with violent imagery.”
The politics of anger is being hotly debated.
Rep. Tom Reed said the government won’t change the way it does business just because of “some lunatic who goes on a rampage.”