Senate GOP Will Vote On Tax Cap Next Week

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos told business leaders in Manhattan this morning that the Republicans plan to take action next week on a property tax cap – a top priority for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“We need to get this done this year,” Skelos told the crowd at the ABNY breakfast.

“Many of you in this room, such as myself, live in either Nassau, Westchester, Rockland (counties), and we’re paying the highest property taxes in the country.”

“It makes it difficult for businesses to survive and grow. It makes it difficult for seniors who want to stay here to be able to stay. And it makes it very difficult for young people, such as my son, who are looking to buy their first home.”

The Senate passed a one-house property tax cap bill last year when the Democrats were still in control. (The Assembly did not follow suit, despite then-Gov. David Paterson’s multiple calls for the Democrat-dominated chamber to do so, saying voters had a right to know where their respective lawmakers stood on the issue).

Skelos did not say which property tax bill the GOP would be bringing to the floor, and, of course, the devil is in the details on this one.

Earlier this week, the Democrats held a press conference to profess their support for Cuomo’s two percent property tax cap. But they also called for a companion circuit breaker, which the governor has made clear he opposes.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has said his chamber is open to a cap, but he hasn’t gone into any detail. (He did, however, say he would be able to pass a cap even if it wasn’t linked to new rent regulations – a pairing the governor rejected).

It will be interesting to see if Cuomo includes the cap in his budget proposal, which will be unveiled next Tuesday.

Paladino Splits With Caputo On Adams

Carl Paladino and his former campaign manager are decidedly not on the same page when it comes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s selection of state Business Council President Ken Adams to serve as CEO of the Empire State Development Corp.

In the wake of yesterday’s announcement about Adams, Caputo took to Twitter to to express his disapproval, saying alleging his selection had been a “quid pro quo” in exchange for the Business Council’s support of Cuomo in the 2010 governor’s race – its first-ever endorsement of a gubernatorial candidate.

Paladino, however, praised Adams during a brief interview at YNN Buffalo last night, saying:

“I think that he has a great opportunity to do the right and certainly he has the knowledge and hs brings the credentials to occupy that office.”

Adams, as you’ll recall, was the host at the Business Council’s annual meeting at the Sagamore over the summer where Paladino’s speech (apparently well-received by the attendees) was greatly overshadowed by his fight with the Post’s Fred Dicker.

Paladino and Caputo had something of a push-pull relationship during the campaign, so it’s not unusual for them not to be on the same page. However, I also don’t think this is a sign that Paladino is going soft on his old opponent.

To the contrary, he has been quite clear that he thinks Cuomo as governor leaves quite a bit to be desired so far.

CPAC Line-Up

State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long today released the line-up for his 44th annual Political Action Conference, which will draw Republicans and cosnervatives from across New York to the Holiday Inn on Wolf Road.

The conference, which Long said has more people registered than ever before, will kick off Sunday at 12:30 p.m. More information is available here.

E. J. McMahon is scheduled to speak about the budget. NYC Councilman Eric Ulrich, a Queens Republican, will discuss term limits. Sheriff Adrian “Butch” Anderson will address law enforcement and newly-elected GOP senators Lee Zeldin (Long Island) and Pat Gallivan (Buffalo) will be on a panel with Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (Melrose).

All of the newly elected Republican House members will abe on a panel to discuss their plans to change Washington.

On Monday, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a GOP rising star who ousted Democratic veteran Andy Spano in 2009, will speak along with Andy Sullivan, described as a “hard hat survivor of 9/11 and Ground Zero Mosque opponent.”

Others expected to participate include: Former LG Betsy McCaughey, pro-life advocate Kathy Gallagher and the Rev. Michel Faulkner, who ran an unsuccessful challenge to Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel last fall.

The luncheon speaker is frequent Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity fill-in Mark Steyn.

Long’s party is enjoying a high point at the moment.

After the chairman’s preferred gubernatorial candidate, former Rep. Rick Lazio, lost to Carl Paladino in last September’s GOP primary, the Conservatives got behind the Buffalo businessman, who went on to win enough votes on their line to boost them to Row C on the ballot.

In addition, the Conservatives’ message of fiscal discipline is very popular of late – so much so that Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is starting to sound awfully like he might need to check his registration. Long is such a big fan that he has launched a robocall campaign calling on state lawmakers, particularly “liberal” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, to support the governor’s agenda.

Senate Dems: GOP Creating ‘Constitutional Crisis’

Senate Minority Leader John Sampson is upping the ante considerably this morning in his war of words with Majority Leader Dean Skelos over rules changes, accusing the GOP of creating a “constitutional crisis” by moving to strip LG Bob Duffy of his right to break a tie in a leadership vote.

Samspon accused Skelos of seeking this change “just because (Duffy) is a Democrat,” deeming that “political pandering at its worst, and something Republicans never would have attempted were the Lt. Governor a member of their party.”

The minority leader said the majority’s attempt earlier this week to “ram through” the changes with virtually no notice to the Democrats and no public input “guarantees a step backward to the separate and unequal chamber the Senate was for far too long.”

“Further, the Senate Republican proposal to create a ‘working group’ to review Senate rules after they have been adopted without any public notice or input is like convening a jury after the prisoner has been sentenced,” Sampson said.

“After having already broken their promise to pass Mayor Koch’s pledge to clean up Albany with independent redistricting, ethics, and budget reform, the Senate Republicans’ ‘working group’ is nothing more than another empty promise, not worthy of the people of New York or the Senate which serves them.”

Sampson had asked Skelos to reconvene the temporary committee on rules that had bipartisan members – three Democrats and three Republicans – in hopes of coming up with changes that both sides could agree on.

The “working group” to which the minority leader refers was as far as the majority leader was willing to go. He also noted in a letter to Sampson that appears below that he is indeed making good on his pledge of bipartisanship by offering three Democrats committee chairmanships. (The fact that those all went to members of the breakaway IDC makes that a tough argument for Sampson to swallow).

A Senate spokesman informs me the GOP plans to move forward with its rules changes next week, most likely on Monday. Assumedly, Sen. Ken LaValle will make it to the Rules Committee to vote this time.


DiNapoli: Dirty Ex-Pols Don’t Deserve Pensions

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is proposing legislation that would strip public officials of their pension benefits if they are convicted of a felony.

Convicted ex-pols like Joe Bruno, Alan Hevesi and recently deceased Guy Velella all collected pension benefits despite corruption convictions.

DiNapoli’s bill also imposes a penalty of up to twice the amount of money a public official garnered as a result of a crime committed while in office and elevates Official Misconduct to a felony – which, in the case of the Senate and Assembly, would also result in the lose of one’s seat.

“When public officials break the law while performing their public duty, they should forfeit their public pension, plain and simple,” DiNapoli said in a statement.

“It’s time to take away the pension of anyone found guilty of committing a felony in the course of his or her official duties. No one who violates the public trust should be allowed to receive a taxpayer-funded pension.  And the tough sanctions I’m pushing will remind every public official that violating the public trust will not be tolerated.”

The state constitution does not allow retirement benefits of sitting public officials to be reduced, but they would be subject to the penalty of up to twice the amount they benefited from their crime.

The pension forfeiture portion of the bill would apply to all public employees who are sworn in subsequent to the bill’s enactment – they would also be subject to the hefty financial penalty of up to twice the sum they unlawfully collected.  This includes state and local elected officials, officers and appointees, including directors and members of public authorities and public benefit corporations who are convicted of a “job-related felony.”

DiNapoli first floated this idea back in December when he said he was researching ways of stopping pension checks from going out to former politicians with felony records.

Here is the bill:


Moonlighting Lawmakers

As the governor and legislative leaders discuss (behind closed doors) ethics reform that would require lawmakers to fully disclose their outside income, NYPIRG has released a breakdown of where moonlighting legislators are making their cash.

To date, much of the focus has been on whether lawyer-legislators would be required to reveal their client lists. NYPIRG notes that only 45 of the 211 seated assembly members and senators are, in fact, attorneys – a lot less than you might think.

Thirty-nine legislators indicated they have more than one source of outside income. (NYPIRG did not count investments or pensions for this review).

Sevety-six lawmakers – 48 of whom are serving in the Assembly Democratic conference – have no outside jobs at all. That explains why so many of them are anxious to see an increase of their $79,500 base pay, which hasn’t gone up since January 1999.

The bulk of legislators (47) who are earning outside income are in the real estate industry, which is, of course, a big special interest in Albany. REBNY, for example, is a major contributor to the pro-Cuomo Committee to Save New York and is gearing up for a big fight over the rent control laws, which are set to expire at the end of the year.

Real estate interests were also big contributors to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2010 campaign. According to the NY Times, they accounted for one in every five dollars worth of campaign cash that Cuomo received in the last six months of 2009.

UPDATE: Just for kicks: The lifeguard listed here is, as many are probably aware, Long Island Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg. At least one of the three lawmakers who say they’re employed in a “religious” capacity is, I believe, Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. Another might be Assemblyman Karim Camara.

NYPIRG- sources of outside income

Here And Now

Cuomo is taking full advantage of the Executive Mansion.

Incoming ESDC President Ken Adams describes vision for New York in interview with The Business Review.

Cuomo has a lot of hurdles in this year’s budget, Newsday suggests.

Workers in upstate youth facilities are bracing for Tuesday’s budget.

Lawmakers and the Governor are quietly discussing ethics reform.

Recent polls suggest New Yorkers are warming up to gay marriage.

City Hall lists Sen. Maziarz as one of the state’s winners this week, for securing a leadership role.

Several Senate Democrats in NYC might lose their district offices.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has declared war on scammers.

Nassau County continues to argue they have balanced their budget.

Federal officials are now looking into the Sanitation Department’s “slowdown” during the Christmas storm.

Mayor Bloomberg is counting down the days until Feb. 2.

Sen. Gillibrand
is going to serve on the Armed Services Committee.

She is in the Capital Region today calling for an extension to a research and development tax credit.

Look out for tonight’s YNN / NY1 / Marist Poll on Senators Schumer and Gillibrand. (No Link)
More >

NY1-YNN/Marist Poll: Cuomo Riding High

An exclusive NY1-YNN/Marist poll reveals New Yorkers are so far pleased with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s performance in office so far and believe he is already improving the way things work in Albany.

Cuomo’s favorable/unfavorable rating is 71-17, and he receives high marks across regional and party lines (even self-professed Tea Partiers like the Democratic governor).

Close to half of voters (48 percent) approve of the job Cuomo’s doing to date, although 19 percent say they’ve yet to form an opinion.

“Out of the starting gates, it’s so far so good for Governor Andrew Cuomo,” siad Marist pollster Lee Miringoff. “His numbers surpass initial polls on the previous three governors and are comparable to his father’s.”

More than seven in 10 think the governor is a good leader compared to 15 percent who do not and 13 percent who are unsure.

Perhaps even better news for Cuomo: There has been a sharp decline in the propostion of registered voters who think the state is moving in the wrong direction. Although a majority – 52 percent – still feel New York is headed down the wrong path, 78 percent said as much when Marist posed that question back in October.

This all bodes well for Cuomo in the coming budget fight , particularly when you consider the fact that the Senate and the Assembly are polling in the low double digits, 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively, when it comes to job performance.

For more on this poll, which is in keeping with recent public polls conducted by Siena and Quinnipiac, check out my CapTon interview with Miringoff below. The poll summary and crosstabs are after the jump.

More >


Bill Clinton is coming to UAlbany on March 2.

The former president says his wife, Hillary Clinton, wants to be a grandmother more than she wants to be president.

Mayor Bloomberg tapped “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart to serve on the board of the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum.

Crain’s: “Cuomo Annoints Kenneth Adams to Lead ESDC.”

Sen. Ken LaValle is the Senate GOP’s new majority conference chairman.

A Senate GOP stipend list.

Finally. Welcome to the 21st Century, state Capitol.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos predicts the GOP’s rules changes will pass with bipartisan support.

State Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs tries to keep the peace.

Education Reform Now is mailing.

Mayor Bloomberg is a fan of high-speed rail.

Brooklyn “insurgent” Lincoln Restler’s official photo at the White House Christmas party gets some attention.

News Corp. will launch its iPad-only publication on Groundhog Day.

Bloomberg still holds a grudge against Staten Island Chuck.

NYC school kids don’t get snow days too often.

The mayor’s image has been reborn – at least among the public school set.

Kids who were supposed to take Regents exams today will have to wait until June.

Bloomberg biographer Joyce Purnick on Bloomberg: “He’s one of the most pragmatic people I’ve ever met. If you look at his profile, while he takes risks, he hedges.”

Vintage Guy Velella.

Jay Carney is the new White House spokesman.

State School Boards Association members are warming to the governor’s competitive grant proposal – as long as the cash doesn’t come out of their existing aid.

The president nominated some New York judges.

Alaska has until May 31 to release former Gov. Sarah Palin’s e-mails.

Senate GOP Embraces Ball

It’s hard to overstate just how much members of the Senate – even his fellow Republicans – didn’t want former Assemblyman Greg Ball to join them in their chamber.

Think I’m engaging in a little political hyperbole?

Well, perhaps you’ve forgotten about this. Or how about this? (Yes, once upon a time, back before he pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges, former Sen. Vincent Leibell was a pretty popular guy around Albany).

But since he defeated the SRCC’s preferred candidate, Somers Town Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy, in a GOP primary last September and then went on to defeat Democratic Westchester County Legislator Mike Kaplowitz, the GOP has warmed to Ball. (Makes sense, considering their slim two-seat hold on the majority, although the four-member IDC does arguably give them some breathing room).

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos gave Ball a committee to chair (Homeland Security, which comes with a $12,500 lulu). But, then again, all the Republicans got committees – and even some Democrats did, too!

No, the real proof of Skelos’ love for Ball comes in the form of a Jan. 31 fundraiser that the majority leader will host for the freshman lawmaker at McGuire’s. Tickets start at $500 (general admission) to $10,000 (victory sponsor).