Senate GOP To Report $2.75M Raised, No Debt

Senate Republicans will report raising $2.75 million since the beginning of the year, a GOP source said.

That’s nearly three times as much money as Democrats plan to announce raising. Republicans, trying to retain and expand their narrow two-seat majority, after recapturing control of the Senate last year.

There was no immediate word on how much Republicans have in the bank or how much they’ve spent in the first six months of 2011.

It could be difficult for Republicans, given the shifting demographics, voter enrollment in New York and a presidential election year. And, depending on how district lines are redrawn, some Republicans could find themselves in overwhelmingly Democratic areas.

But Republicans can point to helping pass an on-time budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year, getting a 2 percent property tax cap and teaming up with the popular Gov. Andrew Cuomo on holding the no-new-taxes line.

Plus, with same-sex marriage finally out of the picture, deep-pocketed gay-rights groups will not be targeting vulnerable no votes in 2012.

DOH Releases New Marriage License

Did you know the state Department of Health is charged with developing the form for marriage licenses in New York?

Most people, including myself, probably did not.

But the DOH today on its homepage has a link to frequently asked questions series for the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses and released a revised marriage license.

“Our role is that we deliver the form,” said Health Department spokesman Jeffrey Gordon. “We’re in charge of making city clerks have the form. The whole process is done at the local level.”

The new licenses will go into use on July 24, when the same-sex marriage law takes effect. Reflecting the new law, the license adds “spouse” where the form originally included “bride/groom.”

The new form can be viewed here.

The FAQ also touches on whether town or city clerks can be exempt from issuing the form to same-sex couples. The town clerk in Barker, Broome County, resigned after saying she could not issue the licenses to gay couples.

From the DOH:

Yes, under New York State Law, the town or city clerk must provide a license to applicants who meet all marriage requirements for New York State.

As Expected, Cuomo Vetoes School Borrowing Plan

As promised, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today he was vetoing the last-minute pension borrowing plan for schools, a provision that slipped through the state Legislature in the final week of the extended session.

This is the first major veto in his six-month tenure.

“The people of the State of New York have made it clear that they will no longer tolerate the fiscal irresponsibility and reckless spending that has driven their property taxes through the roof,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Families across the state have been forced to cut back and live within their means and governments and school districts must do the same. New York has no future as the tax capital of the nation and this veto sends a strong message that we will not put today’s tough decisions on tomorrow’s taxpayers.”

The measure would have allowed schools to borrow more than $1 billion in bonds in order to cover pension costs plus interest over 15 years. It passed both the Democratic-led Assembly and Republican-controlled Senate just before lawmakers approved a ominbus plan to cap property taxes at 2 percent or the rate of inflation.

The plan was approved by lawmakers in classic Albany fashion — quietly and without much debate.

Education groups argued the borrowing plan was necessary in order to cover costs under the tax cap. But the plan does allow districts some narrow wiggle room in pension growth, one of the biggest cost drivers for school districts.

Senate Dems Break Fundraising Record, Still In Debt

The Senate Democrats will report raising more than $1 million over the past six months – a new record for a minority conference in a first 6 month filing by a minority in a 2-year cycle, according to DSCC Chairman Mike Gianaris.

The previous record was $831,000, set by the Senate Republicans during their brief stint out of the majority. The Senate Democrats’ previous best six-month showing while in the minority was $681,000 in 2007.

The conference nevertheless remains more than $2.3 million in debt (as of mid-January, that number stood at about $3 million). And individual senators are on the hook for that debt, as it is the result of loans from a Queens bank taken out in a desperate – and failed – attempt to retain the majority last fall.

The DSCC has spent about $300,000 since January, with most of that – between $14,000 and $15,000 a month – going to cover interest on the loan, Gianaris said. That amount will decrease as the nut is paid down, he said.

Despite the big hole the Democrats still have to dig themselves out of, Gianaris characterized this fundraising period as “remarkable” and a demonstration that donors have “confidence in the conference’s ability to come back.”

“The comeback has already begun,” the Queens freshman said. “We’re seeing tremendous confidence in our conference. We appreciate the support and we are well on our way to retaking the majority.”

The Senate GOP has yet to release its numbers, which technically aren’t due out until Friday. Obviously, the Democrats wanted to get out first to cast their haul in the best light possible and avoid the immediate comparison, which will inevitably be made.

More >

Diaz Invites Bishops To March For Marriage (Updated)

Democratic Senator Ruben Diaz, who has been the most outspoken critique of same-sex marriage, has invited Archbishop Timothy Dolan, and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio to next Sunday’s March for Marriage outside of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office.

The event is being organized by the National Organization for Marriage.

The Catholic Diocese did lobby lawmakers against the passage of Marriage Equality, but they also offered up attorneys to help craft religious protection language that ended up in the final bill.

Update: Clarifying the statement above. The NYS Catholic Conference and not the Catholic Diocese lobbied against the marriage equality bill. As for the bill language. The Conference did not work with the Cuomo administration to craft any bill language. Their Executive Director and a few lawyers were asked by the Governor to discuss their opposition to bill language, but provided no language, and didn’t see the chapter amendments until a few hours before the vote.

Here is the text of the letter Diaz sent out:

Dear Archbishop Dolan and Bishop DiMarzio:

In the great spirit of interfaith unity, I invite you to join me and my fellow ministers on Sunday, July 24th at 3PM at a March for Marriage that has been organized by the National Organization for Marriage to be held outside Governor Andrew Cuomo’s midtown office at 633 Third Avenue.

Our peaceful and prayerful rally will protest the redefinition of marriage and demand that all New Yorkers have the right to vote on this very serious social issue.

You know that I have tremendous respect for you and I am most hopeful that you and your fellow bishops and clergy will join us on the 24th.

Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz

ICYMI: Krueger Launches No Bad Apples PAC

Last night, Senator Liz Krueger sat down with Liz Benjamin to talk about the roll out of her new PAC, No Bad Apples. The mission of the PAC is to recruit and help Good Government Democrats get elected to the New York State Senate.

“It’s time for people like me to reach out to other good people, who believe in government, who believe in democracy, and convince them that maybe it’s their time to decide to be an elected official.”

Krueger says she is very pleased with the amount of money she has raised so far, but didn’t disclose her figures on the show. They need to be disclosed by the end of the week.

The senator also says she is likely to only target 2 seats in 2012 elections. She also has no plans on targeting any of her fellow Democratic colleagues, even though a few have been accused of corruption including Senator Carl Kruger who was indicted by the US Attorney’s office.

The PAC also has a facebook page, and a twitter account.

Here’s the interview from last night, in its entirety.

Thompson: Judges AND Lawmakers Deserve A Raise

It now appears to be a foregone conclusion that New York’s judges will receive a pay raise – and a fairly substantial one at that.

After a delay caused by appointment lags, the Judicial Compensation Commission finally got to work this week. Its members seem to agree that 12 years without a salary increase has been far too long for the state’s jurists, who rank dead last in compensation compared to their counterparts in other states.

But what of state lawmakers, who, like the judges, haven’t seen a raise since January 1999?

The starting salary for a rank-and-file legislator is $79,500 (compared to $136,000 for the average state Supreme Court justice). With extra pay for chairmanships and other posts, they earn just over $90,000, on average, for what is technically a part-time job.

Legislators are allowed to moonlight, of course, while judges have restrictions on doing so. But with the new ethics bill (apparently about to be signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo) requiring new disclosure of outside income, that’s looking like a less attractive option for some senators and assembly members.

Judicial and legislative compensation was traditionally linked, which is what caused the judges’ long pay lag in the first place.

Lawmakers aren’t legally allowed to vote to raise their own pay, although they can vote to boost the bottom line of the next sitting Legislature. Since there’s a nearly 99 percent re-election rate in Albany, they’re essentially voting to give themselves a raise – near political suicide.

Former NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson told me on CapTon last night said he favors a commission to regularly review legislative pay – which is how things work for the NYC Council, which has a $112,500 base pay.

“What they have there is a commission that the mayor names,” the once-and-future NYC mayoral contender told me.

“A three-person commission, every x number of years, and they make a recommendation. I think that’s a way that the state Legislature – I don’t know if it’s prohibited by the constitution – (but) put that commission together. Let them do it.”

That would, of course, take the option of using a pay raise as a bargaining chip (which Gov. George Pataki did in exchange for charter schools) away from the governor.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo hasn’t been asked about this lately, particularly given the state’s precarious fiscal position – something that needs to be kept in mind, Thompson acknowledged, as judicial pay raises are contemplated.

Here And Now

At 2 p.m. today, Albany Judge Gary Sharpe will hear a case that would change New York’s 2012 primary date so it complies with the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act. (No Link)

AG Eric Schneiderman is probing into Bank of America’s $8.5 billion settlement as part of his investigation into the mortgage crisis.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign into law his ethics reform package soon.

The Poughkeepsie Journal defends Cuomo’s position on labor negotiations and is urging public employee unions to cut a deal.

Public sector unions are waiting to see if Cuomo will sign off on an extension to a part of the Taylor law that allows them to expedite injunctions.

The number of women in the state legislature is only about 20%, and is expected to dip further.

The MTA cut 900 workers last year, but their payroll still went up $71 million.

A new state law requires camp counselors required to report suspected cases of child abuse.

Also on Cuomo’s desk: This.

Cuomo’s plan to save the state millions by cutting back on unnecessary C-sections for Medicaid patients has been nixed for now.

State courts are requesting a 62% pay raise for judges saying that would be “prudent and responsible.”

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is still not convinced that Industrial Development Agencies across the state should be getting tax breaks.

The Auburn Citizen agrees.

Speaker Christine Quinn is leading the fundraising battle for NYC Mayor.

Her Democratic rivals are far behind at this early stage.

Another NYC miracle cat.

More >


Thanks to a sloppy White House, the media easily identifies the heretofore unnamed senior intelligence analyst in the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center who tracked down Osama bin Laden.

Rep. Jerry Nadler predicts “there won’t be any Democratic votes” for a bill that ups the elligibility age for Medicare, insisting it’s off the table, along with Social Security.

The Senate Republicans have a new political Website.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who considered running for ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner’s seat on the GOP line, has a problem with the Democratic candidate, Assemblyman David Weprin.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton obliquely lamented the lack of support for taxing the rich.

Bloomberg LP promoted former Bloomberg Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, who will now be in charge of all day-to-day operations at the media giant.

TR is still popular among NY pols on both sides of the aisle.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie would start at third in Iowa among the GOP presidential contenders if he were to run.

Calling hours for Sisa Moyo are Friday.

Sen. Steve Saland gave his first national interview since voting “yes” on same-sex marriage to TIME, says he broke his silence for his grandkids.

Steve Kornacki reminds ex-Gov. George Pataki that a national campaign in 2012 “can’t be built from memories of 1994.”

A former top aide to NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly charged with impersonating city officials and prank calling top NYPD brass and politicians – including ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani – is in early plea talks with prosecutors.

Plane trouble caused former President Clinton to miss Betty Ford’s funeral.

NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn blew away the 2013 competition over the past six months, raising a whopping $1.32 million – her best haul ever.

Rep. Ron Paul is out (won’t be seeking re-election to Congress).

Carly Fiorina is in (as NRSC vice chair).

Rep. Hinchey ‘Resting Comfortably’ After Colon Cancer Surgery

Rep. Maurice Hinchey’s office announced the Hudson Valley Democrat underwent colon cancer surgery today at Albany Medical Center, where he is now “resting comfortably” and is poised to receive follow-up care.


“Following his release from the hospital, Hinchey will spend the next two to three weeks recovering in New York as per his doctor’s orders,” the statement continued.

“All of the congressman’s offices will, as always, remain open, fully staffed, and prepared to help every constituent with any issues, comments, or concerns they may have regarding Congress and the entire federal government.”

No word on the success of the procedure.

In late April, the 72-year-old Hinchey released a statement from his doctor, Randall Rissman, of Woodstock, about his “curable” form of colon cancer. The doctor predicted the congressman would “respond extremely well to the course of treatment we’ve developed for him” and “make a full recovery.”

The Rissman also said at the time that Hinchey would be able to maintain a “full congressional schedule” while undergoing treatment, which started with radiation at Ulster Radiation Oncology Center in Kingston. A brief course of chemotherapy will follow today’s surgery.

Hinchey weathered a tough re-election battle last fall. His campaign was marked by several missteps, most of which stemmed from his dust-up with Kingston Freeman correspondent William J. Kemble.

Republicans and hydrofracking supporters tried to help Hinchey’s Republican opponent, George Phillips, who was making a second attempt at unseating the congressman. Hinchey won, but Phillips didn’t concede until Nov. 19.

Phillips has since indicated he intends to try to unseat Hinchey a third time next fall, and he’s already raising campaign cash. Of course, the lines of NY-22 will be different by then – assuming the district continues to exist.

That’s a safe bet at the moment, considering the NY-9 developments and the target on Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle’s back in NY-25. But things could change considerably between now and then.