Caputo Crusades For Cuomo

As previewed in today’s NY Times, Carl Paladino’s former campaign manager, Michael Caputo, is signing on to support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget agenda and e-mailing Tea Partiers in hopes they will follow his lead.

Caputo told the Times that he still “can’t stand” the Democratic governor, who defeated the Buffalo businessman in a landslide win last November.

But he has managed to put aside his dislike for Cuomo long enough to pen a missive that praises his fiscally conservative agenda – all the while insisting the governor sounds “an awful lot” like the mean he beat at the polls.

In the e-mail, which will be sent to some 10,000 activists, Caputo lauds Cuomo for standing his ground when Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver floated the idea of linking the property tax cap to renewal of the rent control laws and also (so far) resisting calls from Assembly Democrats and their allies in organized labor to extend the millionaires tax that is scheduled to sunset at the end of this year.

“Like you, I oppose the Democrat Party’s progressive agenda,” Caputo writes. “Like you, I fought like Hell to stop Andrew Cuomo’s campaign for Governor of New York State. I don’t much like him; I’m still angry about his dirty campaign against Carl.”

“But, at the risk of a localized lightning strike, I must admit the Governor’s early fiscal moves are conservative, responsible and absolutely necessary.”

“…I am a die-hard Republican who fought in the trenches for Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp and Carl Paladino. I’m as conservative as you can get, and last year I spent most of my time criticizing Andrew Cuomo.”

“It is starting to look like I may end up eating a few of my words. But I would happily sit for that meal if the Governor delivers real fiscal reform. In fact, I am writing to tell you I will work to push Cuomo’s fiscal agenda.”

“Right away, I will contact my legislators and ask them to vote for the two percent property tax cap, but only if it includes mandate relief for local governments. I’ll ask them to cut spending, not raise taxes, to balance the budget. And I am writing to encourage you to do the same.”

Caputo includes a sample letter for recipients of his e-mail to send to their respective lawmakers and also a link that will helps them locate their representatives. His (very lengthy) e-mail appears in full after the jump.

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Megna: ‘People Are Going To Howl About This Budget’

The buzz at the Capitol today is over a report that Governor Andrew Cuomo is going to introduce fundamental changes to the way the budget process works by eliminating automatic spending increases that are currently required by law.

“I think it is very significant. And I think it is very exciting,” Budget Director Robert Megna said in an interview on Talk 1300 AM’s “Live at the State Capitol with Fred Dicker.”

“We at the budget division have been saying for many years that the reason we have these gaps is because we have laws on the books that do not change, that drive costs.”

Cuomo administration officials say those automatic increases have been in place for decades, and translate into roughly a 13 percent for education and medicaid. So, for example, what would have been described as a 10 percent cut in funding in the past, was instead a 3 percent increase in funding.

Sources inside the Cuomo administration say that eliminating these automatic increases would cut the proposed budget gap to roughly $2 billion, as opposed to the $10 billion expected for this year. Megna wouldn’t confirm the exact number when asked, but he did suggest that Cuomo was going to propose reforms to eliminate recurring budget gaps.

‘I think people are going to howl about this because the Governor is trying to change the way we fundamentally do the budget. And we on the first floor appreciate this,” Megna said.

Bloomberg’s Undercover Gun Project

Mayor Bloomberg today unveiled several videos shot during an undercover investigation at an Arizona gun show that depict the sale of a Glock pistol with a 33-round extended magazine – just like the weapon used in the Tucson tragedy – being legally purchased with no background check.

The mayor, who has been crusading against illegal guns for years now, said the videos reveal a “dangerous gap in our existing federal gun laws.”

“We have demonstrated how easy it is for anyone to buy a semiautomatic handgun and a high capacity magazine, no questions asked,” Bloomberg said in a press release.

“This country must take two simple steps to stop more of the 34 murders that occur with guns every day: make every gun sale subject to a background check, and make sure the background check system has all the required records in it. ”

“Congress should act now, but gun show operators shouldn’t wait. They can do the right thing today by making sure that every gun sale at their shows is subject to a background check. Four of the seven gun shows we investigated in 2009 have agreed to make that reform, and there is no doubt it will save lives.”

More details and videos can be found here.

Cuomo Uncovers Budget ‘Sham’

As he prepares to unveil his first executive budget tomorrow, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has penned an OpEd slamming the entire budget process, calling it “the real Albany sham.”

Cuomo writes that the growth of the state budget is “dictated by hundreds of rates and formulas that are marbleized throughout New York State laws that govern different programs – formulas that have been built into the law over decades, without regard to fiscal realities, performance or accountability.”

These formulas, which predominantly mandate education and Medicaid funding, increase rates annually, calling for an overall 13 percent increase in both areas next year. Cuomo deems this information “close to a state secret” and calls that boost “wholly unrealistic.”

“This is the system that has brought New York to the brink, and it is why we are the highest ‘spending-and-taxing’ state in the nation with programs that fail to perform for the people,” Cuomo writes.

“This all must end. We need fundamental reform in the budget system that allows us to recalibrate spending this year to a sustainable level and replace ‘the special interest protection program’ of automatic, unrealistic increases. There is no such thing as “permanent” laws and they must all be reviewed and replaced or modified when necessary.”

The governor’s OpEd appears in full after the jump.

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DioGuardi ‘Maybe’ Planning Re-Match With Gillibrand

Former Rep. Joe DioGuardi confirmed to CapTon’s Mike Whittemore that he’s definitely mulling another run for office, but hasn’t yet decided which race to enter. Among the possibilities: Another challenge to Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who’s up again in 2012.

“Maybe,” DioGuardi said. “Let Kirsten Gillibrand now do what she said she was going to do then lets measure her actions and words.”

“Let’s see what Obama does. Everybody is assuming it’s going to be very tough for Republicans in two years because Obama is running for president. Hey, we’re not out of this yet. Unemployment is not going to come down dramatically…In fact it may not come down at all.”

DioGuardi petitioned his way onto the ballot after failing to make the cut at the party’s convention. (He did, however, get the Conservative Party nod, which explains his presence here at CPAC). He defeated Bruce Blakeman and David Malpass (who is also here, along with his wife) in last September’s primary, but then lost big to Gillibrand in November.

The former Westchester County congressman said the no-so lame duck session in 2010 was “good” for Gillibrand because it produced results, thanks to the president’s pragmatic approach, adding:

“(S)he benefitted, but a horse race is not one lap, you got to go around and then you have that final lap and many times the horse that wins, it’s that final lap that counts most. I’m that kind of person. I’m not a sprint runner, I’m a long distance runner. I’ve been that way all my life.”

Shaking The Money Tree

Compliments of NYPIRG: A list of 37 fundraisers held/scheduled to be held in NYC or, better yet, in Albany in the shadow of the Capitol this legislative season.

The highest-dollar event so far: A $15,000-a-head shebang on Feb. 17 for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

This event (which, unlike most of the others here is being held in Manhattan, not Albany, at the Top of the Rock), is specifically billed as an effort to raise cash to fuel Cuomo’s budget battle with organized labor.


Marlin: Nation’s Eyes On Nassau County

Conservative commentator and NIFA Board member George Marlin told me this morning that the fiscal woes of the state’s second-richest county will “tell a broader story about the state and quite possibly the nation.”

“When the second-richest county in the state and the third-richest county in the nation gets in trouble, all the others are watching,” Marlin said during a brief interview outside the CPAC conference at the Holiday Inn on Wolf Road.

“We could show the way for others down the road. If we’re in trouble, what does that mean for the others? The eyes of the state are going to be on us, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if governors of the other states are watching, too. This has national impact.”

The NIFA has given Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano until Feb. 15 to come back with new budget numbers and has so far taken a pass on freezing public employee salaries.

Mangano has accused the board of being politically motivated and more in line with Democrats, although Marlin was a big booster of the county executive during the 2009 election, which led to his surprise ouster of former Executive Tom Suozzi.

Mangano has threatened to sue the board. Marlin said he met with the county executive after the unanimous 6-0 vote to put the county under state supervision last week and used Mangano to work collaboratively with NIFA, but thus far to no avail.

Marlin also told me he was at the first roundtable meeting of Cuomo’s economic advisory council in Manhattan last Friday (also attending: Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown; Frank Zarb, former chairman of the NASDAQ stock exchange; Felix Rohatyn, special advisor to chairman and C.E.O., Lazard; former chairman, Municipal Assistance Corp.)

Unlike those others, Marlin is not a member of the council, but was there by “special invitation.” He refused to offer any details about the governor’s budget, although he did allow a briefing was given. He said everyone in the room agreed not to speak to members of the media.

DCCC Targets Hayworth, Buerkle

The DCCC has included two New York congresswomen – Nan Hayworth (NY-19) and Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25) – in a new radio and grassroots campaign that targets potentially vulnerable House Republicans across the nation.

The ad accuses 19 GOP members of “choosing a partisan plan that will cost jobs and make America less competitive over the President’s common sense solutions to create jobs and get the economy moving again.”

The campaign will include radio ads (starting in drive time today), Web ads, automated phone calls, live phone calls, and e-mails in targeted districts throughout this week.

Here’s the text of the Buerkle ad; the full list of targeted House members appears after the jump. UPDATE: Click here to listen to the ad.

“Here in Central New York the recession is still hitting hard, good job openings are really scarce. So it was good to hear President Obama’s plan to make the economy work for the middle class again. Invest in education to train our children for the jobs of the future, maintain America’s lead in technology with more research and development, and reduce the deficit with an overall budget freeze. That plan makes a lot of sense.”

“But Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle supports a plan in Congress that would cut education by 40 percent. And her plan would cut science and technology research by 40 percent, too. Research and development is how we get the new products that create new jobs. How does cutting that help us compete with China and India? It doesn’t make sense.”

“We should tell Ann Marie Buerkle to work with President Obama to create jobs, instead of supporting a partisan plan that costs jobs.”

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Skelos: First Step To Tax Relief Comes Today

Here’s Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos discussion the property tax cap program bill sent to the Legislature by Gov. Andrew Cuomo late last week that the Senate intends to pass today – apparently with bipartisan support.

Click here to read the 74-page bill, which teachers union officials say appears even stronger than what Cuomo discussed last year on the campaign trail. This is the first program bill of Cuomo’s short tenure in office.

Skelos, who revealed at the ABNY breakfast last Friday that his chamber would take up the 2 percent cap this week, said he hasn’t yet discussion this matter with the Assembly Democrats, choosing to leave that to Cuomo.

“We intend to pass the property tax cap bill tomorrow in the Senate, a two percent cap,” said Skelos, who was talking to CapTon’s Mike Whittemore at the CPAC conference in Colonie.

“It’s a program bill of Governor Cuomo. And it’s fulfilling our commitment to the voters that we have to bring property taxes under control. And the state itself has to cut taxes, cut spending and create private sector jobs. The governor gave us the program bill. I assume he’s going to send it over to the speaker also. So, this is the first step.”

Cuomo’s decision to send the Legislature his cap in a program bill apparently caught the Assembly Democrats, who aren’t uniformly supportive of the measure, by surprise.

The governor didn’t give the Democratic majority a heads-up about the bill, which many expected to show up in the executive budget proposal tomorrow. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was observing Shabbat and therefore didn’t see the legislation until sundown Saturday. Silver spokeswoman Sisa Moyo told the Times:

“The speaker stated at the State of the State that the Assembly is committed to passing a property tax cap bill. We look forward to working with the governor and our colleagues in the Senate on this issue in the upcoming budget.”

The Senate twice passed a one-house property tax cap bill when the chamber was under Democratic control, but that was back when it was assured the Assembly Democrats wouldn’t take up the measure, making the vote entirely symbolic. Then-Gov. David Paterson pushed for the Assembly to follow suit, insisting voters had a right to know before the 2010 elections where their legislators stood on the issue, but Silver did not heed that call.

The cap is expected to pass today with all of the 32 Republicans (assuming everyone is present) voting “yes.” It’s unclear how many Democrats will join in, although the four-member Independence Democratic Conference is likely to support the measure, too.

‘Inspect What You Expect’

The man who brought you “Stop the Sag” has a new informational YouTube video that informs parents how to regularly search their children’s rooms for guns, drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Brooklyn Sen. Eric Adams tells parents they have a “duty and an obligation” to keep tabs on their kids, who he says have “no First Amendment rights” while they’re living at home.

The video, which is part of a multimedia campaign to combat gun violence, was shot at Adams’ own home. In it, the senator methodically goes through several rooms in his house, urging parents to run their hands over pillows to search for any telltale bumps, check baby dolls for drugs and look for small-caliber guns inside jewelry boxes.

Something as simple as bullets or an the empty body of a ballpoint pen should trigger suspicion and be the jumping-off point for conservations with kids, Adams insists.

“What I would like to show here is to empower parents on how to search a room inside their room,” the senator says.

“It’s imperative that you should know what’s inside your household, and no one can state that you can’t search a room in your own home. You write the Constitution. There are no First Amendment rights inside your household. It is your obligation and responsibility not only to protect the child that may be using an illegal drug or carrying an illegal gun, but you also have to protect the members of the household.”

Adams is a somewhat controversial figure in the Senate. An outspoken former cop, he’s infamous for once yelling out “Show me the money!” during a floor debate about pay hikes (legislators haven’t seen their base $79,500 salary increase since 1999) and last week injected the issue of race into a debate over resource allocation.