The LG Question

Here’s some footage of the verbal tussle between Sen. Liz Krueger and Sen. Tom Libous during yesterday’s Rules Committee meeting at which senators debated the GOP’s attempt to change the chamber’s rules – including a bid to end the LG’s ability to weigh in on procedural deadlocks.

The Republicans, who hold a slim 32-30 majority, wanted to block LG Bob Duffy (or anyone who holds his No. 2. post in the future, for that matter) from being able to cast a deciding vote on key questions like choosing the Senate president.

The debate over when the LG has the right to weigh in while presiding over the Senate has been raging on and off for years now.

Krueger asserted during her back-and-forth with Libous that the powers are laid out in the state Constitution, but the Binghamton Republican insisted that is not, in fact, the case, noting this question has divided state government scholars.

The issue is moot in the short term since the rules changes sought by the GOP failed to pass the committee. (Apparently, Sen. Ken LaValle was absent and failed to submit a written vote sheet, robbing the majority of the 13 votes necessary to move the changes to the floor).

The Democrats called the effort a “power grab” – a characterization the Republicans rejected. The whole mess has been laid aside for at least a week.

Conservatives Target Silver, Assembly In Robocall

The state Conservative Party is launching a robocall today targeting so-called “liberal Democrats like (Assembly Speaker) Sheldon Silver” who are “fighting like hell to keep picking your pocket.”

The call, which will start to ring on phones statewide at 9 a.m., urges respondents to contact their local assembly member to express support for a budget that cuts spending and holds the line on taxes, fees and borrowing.

The call features the voice of Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long, who surprised political observers last week by declaring his strong support for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget plans and announced a campaign of callers, mailers and, if money allows, even TV ads to support the Democratic governor’s agenda.

“At our 44th Annual Conference, beginning on Sunday (January 30) at the Holiday Inn in Albany, we will begin our next phase to end the out of control spending that occurs when Legislators keep raising taxes, fees and borrow to fund Albany’s special interests and failed liberal/socialist programs designed to keep people dependent on government handouts”, Long said in a press release.

Long made it clear to me during a CapTon interview last week that this unusual political marriage is likely to last only as long as the budget battle. The Conservatives will undoubtedly be opposing Cuomo on social issues like the legalization of gay marriage and the protection of abortion rights.

Silver is the only lawmaker named in the Conservatives’ call. There is no mention of the governor. (Recall that Long and his party backed former Long Island Rep. Rick Lazio in the gubernatorial race last year, but then switched to Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino after he defeated Lazio in the GOP primary).

Here’s the call script:

“This is Conservative Party chairman Mike Long. I am calling about the budget battle that is happening in Albany right now.

“This might be the last chance for taxpayers to get spending and taxes under control – with no new taxes, no increased fees, and no new borrowing.

“But liberal Democrats, like Sheldon Silver in the Assembly, are fighting like hell to keep picking your pocket.

“Please take a moment now to call your Assembly Member at 518-455-4100.

“Tell them you stand with the Conservative Party and demand they support a budget that cuts spending, and does not increase taxes, fees or borrowing.

“Please call your Assembly Member now at 518-455-4100.”

Q Poll: NYers Wait And See On Cuomo, Target State Workers

Today’s Q poll finds New Yorkers have adopted a wait-and-see stance on Gov. Andrew Cuomo, with 36 percent saying they don’t know enough about him to form an opinion yet.

Cuomo’s favorable/unfavorable rating is with 47-11. The Q pollsters didn’t ask the job approval question, reasoning that the newly-minted governor hasn’t yet been in office long enough to have much of a track record.

It should be noted that these findings aren’t in keeping with a recent Siena poll that pegged Cuomo’s favorability rating at 70 percent – the highest it has been in well over a year.

According to the Q poll’s numbers, however, Cuomo isn’t enjoying much of a honeymoon period. Instead, the poll’s Mickey Carroll said, the governor is getting a “so-so welcome.”

New Yorkers agree (77 percent) with Cuomo’s assessment that the state is in horrendous shape, financially speaking. But they’re not fully on board with his plans to remedy the problem.

The one clear area of agreement between between the new governor and his constituents statewide is on freezing the salaries of state employees. Voters support the idea, 75-20, with 68-25 percent support among Democrats and 73-24 percent from voters with at least oneunion member in the household.

New Yorkers are split, 4-47, on the idea of layoffs, which Cuomo is reportedly mulling in big numbers – anywhere form 10,000 to 15,000 jobs may be on the chopping block when he unveils his budget next week.

They are less ambiguous when it comes to cuts to education and Medicaid – both of which are undoubtedly coming down the pike. Voters are not in favor of spending slashes in either category, opposing them 79-18 and 69-28, respectively.

Given a choice between tax hikes and service cuts to balance the budget, voters choose the later, 60-27, but generally believe (74-19) the former will happen despite Cuomo’s claims to the contrary.

By an overwhelming 82-13 percent margin, voters support a cap on property tax increases, with strong support from every group. But no details were offered in the poll question on how the cap would work, and therein lies the rub.

012611 NY GOV + BP

Technical Difficulties

CapTon regulars are by now all too painfully aware that we’ve been experiencing some problems of a technical nature that are far beyond my capacity to fathom.

Please accept my apologies.

This has been an intermittent problem for the past 13 hours or so that I believe has now been fixed. Thanks so much for your patience.

Due to the late hour, I’m going to forgo Here and Now unless there’s a big outcry for it. It just feels a little besides the point at the moment. Rest assured it will return bright and early tomorrow.

Sincerely,

LB

Bloomberg, McCarthy: SoU A Missed Opportunity

NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy were not so thrilled with the president’s speech.

The pair each released a statements acknowledging Obama struck the right tone on several fronts, but they were critical of him for missing out on the chance to rally support behind the movement to make it more difficult for potentially dangerous people to get their hands on guns and ammunition.

Bloomberg is calling for stricter requirements to purchase a firearm.

McCarthy is pushing for renewed ban on the sort of high capacity ammunition magazines that were used in the Tucson shooting earlier this month and in the Long Island Railroad shooting that claimed the life of her husband and gravely wounded her son.

Both statements appear after the jump.

More >

Cuomo Praises The President’s SoU

Gov. Cuomo released a statement sharing his reaction to President Obama’s State of the Union address.

Not surprisingly, the governor was effusive in his praise of the president’s message.  In fact, it has been noted that Cuomo and Obama share strikingly similar centrist mantras of fiscal austerity and bipartisanship.

Here is the governor’s statement in full:

“President Obama tonight outlined a strong, transformative and positive path for our nation. His State of the Union address underscored the need for austerity, innovative thinking and collaboration on both sides of the aisle.

“Promoting private sector job growth through economic development and restrained government spending is the right tactic to put our country on the right track. As President Obama fully understands, New York and many other states are working hard to address multi-billion dollar deficits. I had the pleasure of meeting with President Obama last week at General Electric’s facility in Schenectady, where he announced his new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. I applaud his foresight in recognizing that it takes a focused approach and a harnessing of private sector resources to fully open our economy to future development and progress.

“As a nation, all Americans must refocus their energies to create solutions for future generations. President Obama’s leadership will continue to pave the way for our nation to thrive and prosper, and I look forward to working with him and our federal representatives to tackle the sizeable challenges facing New York State and our country.”

‘Our Generation’s Sputnik Moment’

Excerpts from the State of the Union address President Obama will deliver at 9 p.m. this evening:

“With their votes, the American people determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties. New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or not at all – for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics.”

“At stake right now is not who wins the next election – after all, we just had an election. At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else.”

“It’s whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It’s whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world. We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again.”

“But we have never measured progress by these yardsticks alone. We measure progress by the success of our people.”

“By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children. That’s the project the American people want us to work on. Together.”

“…Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸we had no idea how we’d beat them to the moon. The science wasn’t there yet. NASA didn’t even exist.”

“But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.”

“This is our generation’s Sputnik moment.”

Extras

President Obama, on the defensive as the GOP pushes for fiscal austerity, will call for a spending freeze in tonight’s SOTU.

In case the speech gets really boring.

A ConEd manager has been charged with accepting some $4 million in kickbacks from a contractor.

Why aren’t there more women in NY politics?

Former Sen. Frank Padavan had a mild stroke and was hospitalized.

Four people are vying to be the next executive director of the embattled NYC Board of Elections.

The e-cigarette bill is moving in the Assembly.

Former AG Andrew Cuomo’s Public Integrity Commission appointee has vacated his post.

A judge ruled against the ex-AG in a real estate dispute.

Rahm Emanuel is back on the Chicago mayoral ballot.

NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio felt Emanuel’s pain.

The bipartisan spirit is catching.

County executives weigh in on Cuomo’s agenda.

Rudy Giuliani has mixed feelings about the Tea Party.

Dan Collins thinks Giuliani is frozen in time.

The president trumps rock stars when it comes to autographs, a Marist poll found.

Welcome back to the blogosphere Jude Seymour.

Reps. Anthony Weiner and Pete King will stop sniping at one another long enough to sit together at the SOTU tonight.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Rules Fallout (Updated)

The Senate Democrats, not surprisingly, focused on the IDC ringleader, Sen. Jeff Klein, in their response to the news that the Republicans had provided three of the four renegade former minority members with committee chairmanships.

“They unnecessarily created a committee to purchase the loyalty of their newest member,” Senate Democratic spokesman Austin Shafran said in a prepared statement.

“Instead of reducing government, they’re only making it bigger and more costly for the public It’s clear this was never about independence, but power, perks, and now the payoff.”

UPDATE: IDC spokesman Rich Azzorpardi responded:

“That’s preposterous. If the members of the Independent Democratic Conference chose to sit back, ignore the problems and remain a part of the Senate Democratic Conference, they would have been better off financially.”

Azzopardi noted all four IDC members lost money by departing the minority conference (a bit of a strecth for Carlucci, since he’s a freshman, although he made $128,500 as Clarkstown town clerk – a far cry from the $79,500 and $12,500 lulu he’s now receiving).

Klein and his fellow IDC members – Sens. Diane Savino, David Valesky and David Carlucci – have repeatedly insisted their departure from the Democratic fold was not spurred by a desire for more power following their party’s loss of the majority, saying they would have simply crossed the aisle to join the GOP if that were indeed the case.

More >

Senate Dem Spokesman: GOP Rules Changes ‘Toxic’

Here’s a summary of the nine (so far identified) rules changes put forward by the Senate Republicans, which the Democrats are denouncing as a power grab that will cast the chamber back into the dark ages.

The summary was provided by the Democrats, whose spokesman, Austin Shafran, called the changes “absolutely toxixc to good government” and insisted they would codify the operation of government in “secret” and “behind closed doors.”

Some of the rules are cleaning up a mess created by the 2009 Senate coup, such as the elimination of the post of VP for Urban Policy and Planning – a job that was given to former Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. as part of the deal that brought him back to the Democratic fold and ended the 31-day stalemate.

Another re-connects the president pro tempore and majority leader posts – jobs that were split following the coup, with the former going to Sen. Malcolm Smith and the latter to Espada.

Yet another change would require the temporary president to be elected by the majority of senators elected (the current rule just says the Senate “shall choose” without specifying how) and also bars the lieutenant governor from casting a tie-breaking vote.

The GOP also resurrected an old committee, Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, which was awarded by Majority Leader Dean Skelos to Sen. Jeff Klein, the Bronx Democrat who is the ringleader of thefour-member Independent Democratic Conference.

Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif said the changes are “additional rules that will help the committees function,” adding: “We’ve made some small changes, and we’re going to continue to work with Republicans and Democrats.”

12411 Senate GOP Proposed Rule Changes[1]