Assembly Unveils Its Tax Cap, Includes Pensions Exemption

As promised, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today unveiled a 2 percent cap on local and school property taxes that excludes the growth of pensions.

Other differences from the plan backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo include providing for unexpected growth in the property base, allowing a “carryover’ provision of up to 1.5 percent from one yeat to the next, and allows for any increase in the full value of taxable property.

The measure would also allow 60 percent of voters to override the cap for a special project, a provision that was included in the Cuomo proposal whichy passed the Republican-led Senate Jan. 31.

Included in the Assembly proposal is an expiration date for the cap, which woulde be tied to rent control laws. Recall that after the idea was floated, it was quickly shot down by Cuomo’s office.

“This property tax cap proposal is designed to save money for the working families across the state struggling during these difficult economic times, while ensuring that our school districts and local governments are not denied the ability to deliver critical services,” Silver said in a statement.

“This model will allow for adequate growth, without shortchanging our schools and communities.”

The Cuomo proposal was unlikely to pass the Democratic-controlled Assembly. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos in recent days has signaled a willingness to at least look at the Assembly cap proposal.

Dialing For Jane? (Updated)

Trust the Green Party’s Ian Murphy to end his extremely odd (not to mention longshot) NY-26 campaign with a bang.

Murphy may be barely registering in the polls, garnering somewhere between 1 and 2 percent of the vote, but he nevertheless is doing everything he can to make this race interesting – and tweak his Republican opponent, Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, as much as possible in the process. (If you don’t believe me, consider Exhibit A: The fake Corwin campaign Website Murphy admitted to setting up).

According to the Buffalo Beast Website, which Murphy edits, the candidate crashed a Corwin phone bank, changing his appearance by buzzing and dying his hair and donning thick-framed reading glasses and posing as “Steve Smith, eager Republican wanker.”

UPDATE: Corwin spokesman Matthew Harakel sent this statement on Murphy’s account: “All of the quotes are made up. This is completely ridiculous. We’re trying to have a serious discussion on the issue.”

Murphy, who is perhaps best known for a prank phone call to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker during which he pretended to be Tea Party-funding billionaire David Koch, used his telephone skills (or whatever it is you want to call them) to inflict some damage on Corwin. Here’s an excerpt from the blog about his experience:

“I actually spoke with roughly 100 people, and the majority of them were extremely upset with the harassment by phone.”

“Unless they immediately relented and said they were voting for Jane, their name went back into the system, and we’d call them until their spirits were thoroughly crushed. It’s an odd campaigning strategy — one that is no doubt backfiring.”

“People are sick of the media saturation–the constant lies spewing from camp Corwin. These calls seemed to represent the last straw for a lot of folks.”

“‘Um, Bob?’ I beckon the supervisor.”

“‘Yeah, Steve, what is it?’”

“‘Some of these people are saying that Jane is going to end Medicare–just because that’s what the Wall Street Journal wrote. What should I tell them–should I lie?’”

“‘Hmm…’ Bob thinks about this for a few seconds. “They’ve been asking about Medicare?’”

“‘Yeah.’ And they were.”

“‘Shit,’ he mumbles under his breath. ‘Don’t lie. Tell them that, if they’re 55 or over, Jane’s plan won’t change their Medicare. And if they’re 54 or under tell them that Jane’s plan will…um…make things…better.’ He walks away.”

I can’t vouch for the veracity of Murphy’s account, although The NY Observer’s Azi Paybarah Tweeted yesterday that the Green Party candidate had pulled this stunt, I was alerted by Jack Davis’ campaign manager Curtis Ellis. Considering the fact that Davis’ has been siphoning votes from Corwin, that’s pretty noteworthy.

A Good Day For Voting

Western NY residents are no strangers to bad weather, so it’s hard to say whether rain would have (ahem) dampened turnout in NY-26. Still, a bad forecast is something the candidates don’t have to worry about any more, according to weather.com anyway.

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Here And Now

Polls are open in NY-26.

Politico will be watching for 5 things in the race tonight.

In DC, Republicans and Democrats are still fighting over what tonight’s outcome may mean for healthcare reform.

You can bet a lot of members of Congress will be watching the results closely tonight.

Washington Post thinks Kathy Hochul might just be a better candidate, and all this talk of medicare is just noise.

Jane Corwin admits that she made mistakes during the campaign when it comes to Medicare.

If you live in NY-26, expect a phone call or two today.

Kathy Hochul won’t be heading to the polls today, because she lives just outside the district she is seeking to represent.

Jane Corwin is voting at Clarence Fire Hall at 9am. (no link)

No word yet on where Jack Davis is voting. My apologies, Jack Davis voted at 7am this morning at the Clarence Senior Center. (no link)

Speaker Silver briefed his conference on their tax cap proposal Monday.

As we reported on SOP, we could see the bill as soon as today.

The yet unseen ethics bill will reportedly not contain campaign finance reform.

The debate over teacher evaluations raged on at the Capitol on Monday.

UB2020 is still being held up over tuition.

Gov. Cuomo is going to listen to a presentation on NYSUNY2020 today at 11:30am. (no link)

State Legislators in both houses are pushing a package of bills that could increase paydays for medical malpractice attorneys.

NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn is in Albany today to push for rent regulation laws.

Advocates for strengthening the laws are setting up tent cities throughout NYC this week.

Cuomo is getting mixed reviews on his rent regulation message.

President Obama will tour the tornado damage in Joplin, Mo. this weekend.

Rep. Pete King is telling people that Rudy Giuliani is very close to jumping into the 2012 race.

Biden 2016?

Sarah Palin’s Arizona?
More >

Silver: Property Tax Cap In 24 To 48 Hours

The long-awaited Assembly version of the cap on local property taxes will be unveiled and introduced in the next 24 to 48 hours, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said this afternoon.

Silver, who has been characteristically tight-lipped about the details in the measure such as specific carve-outs, said the bill would be coming “soon” and that he’s been discussing the issue with his Democratic conference.

“Twenty-four, 48 hours, I think we will be introducing a bill,” Silver said after some prodding by reporters.

The Republican-led Senate approved Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s preferred 2 percent cap on property taxes Jan. 31, but it’s unlikely that the measure as it stands would be approved by the Democratic-dominated Assembly.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos has said in recent days that he would be open to reviewing the Assembly proposal. The prospect of letting the bill expire or “sunset” after 3 to 5 years has been shot down by Cuomo’s office.

Extras

Might NY-26 be more about the crash of Flight 3407 than Medicare?

David Bellavia is roboing for “conservative Republican” Jack Davis.

“When you get those big guns coming in from Washington using scare tactics, quite frankly it scares a lot of people,” said Assemblywoman Jane Corwin.

All three top NY-26 candidates turned down The Buffalo News’ invitation to participate in a live chat with readers.

The outcome in several recent state legislative races does not bode well for Corwin.

Corwin admits she didn’t move quickly enough to quash the Democrats’ Medicare attacks.

Rudy Giuliani, still undecided about 2012, is heading back to New Hampshire next month.

There’s a push to change the process by which candidates are selected to run in special elections.

The Obamas had a little car trouble in Ireland.

A plume of volcanic ash caused the president to cut his Ireland trip short.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos are enjoying week two of their detente.

Sen. John Bonacic said he believes legalizing same-sex marriage would actually be an economic drain on NY. Advocates disagree.

Focus on the Family President Jim Daly on the same-sex marriage battle: “We’re losing on that one, especially among the 20- and 30-somethings…We’ve probably lost that.”

MSNBC hired former RNC Chairman Michael Steele.

Rep. Jerry Nadler OpEds on the importance of spending on infrastructure.

Sen. Tony Avella thinks Mayor Bloomberg has a “vendetta against firefighters” and is “fixated with closing firehouses.”

The Judicial Conduct Commission has a new vice chair.

Steve Kornacki looks at Cuomo’s Hillary Clinton problem in 2016.

The MMA bill passed in the Senate, and now heads to the Assembly.

Fox News Channel is disputing a quote by an unnamed Republican that Roger Ailes thinks Sarah Palin is an “idiot”.

Paper Tally In NY-26

Considering the unpredictability of special elections and the closeness of the polls in NY-26, it’s entirely possible tomorrow’s fight for the WNY seat vacated by former Rep. Chris Lee will come down to the paper.

If that’s the case, we won’t know the results for several weeks – perhaps even months, depending on the final machine tally(recall the never-ending battle in NY-20). The last day for absentee ballots to arrive and be counted, assuming they were postmarked by midnight tonight, is May 31. The deadline for military and overseas ballots is June 6.

According to the state board of elections, there are 592 military and overseas ballots out for the NY-26 race.

The district includes all of Genesee, Livingston, and Wyoming counties, and parts of Erie, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans counties. We here at CapTon called all of those local boards of elections today and received the following tallies of absentee ballots (in no particular order):

- Erie County: Approximately 2,200 out. No firm number on the number returned. That will be tallied tomorrow.

- Monroe County: 924 out, 422 back.

- Orleans County: 213 out, 132 back.

- Niagara County: 1,101 out, 733 back.

- Livingston County: 521 out, 375 back.

- Wyoming County: 250 out, 234 back.

- Genesee County: 633 out, 415 back.

So, by my count, (and someone should check my math here), that’s 6,434 pieces of paper out there – at least. And keep in mind that does not include any emergency affidavit ballots filled out at polling places tomorrow due to machine failure or other problems that can be counted on to crop up on Election Day.

That’s a lot to litigate. Just saying.

Alesi Wants Meeting With Cuomo, Clarifies ESPA Appearance

Don’t read too much into his appearance at the Empire State Pride Agenda‘s event this past weekend, Sen. Jim Alesi said.

The Perinton, Monroe County, Republican said today his appearance at an ESPA event in Rochester was part of a busy weekend of meeting with constituents, including members of the Conservative Party and labor.

“I don’t think anyone should read anything into my presence at any event, whether it’s a Conservative dinner, or whether it’s a marriage equality dinner and by the way, it’s not the only issue in the GLBT community,” he said.

He added that he was “very warmly received” at the dinner and was invited by a friend.

“And again, most of the people at that dinner are people that I know from banking from professions, from other walks of life, and it was representative of the community that we live in.”

Alesi, who vote no in a visibly anguished moment in 2009, is considered a pivotal vote in the Republican-led Senate for same-sex marriage legalization this year. He has not said how he will vote.

Though he’s been pegged as a possible yes vote this time around, Alesi surprised some Albany watchers for saying he would run for re-election.

Alesi’s vote is seen as important because he is the first GOP lawmaker to vote, based on alphabetical order. However, based on the strategy Cuomo is employing to make gay marriage a reality, a complex choreography could be in put in effect on the day of the possible vote.

Alesi also said he was not one of the lawmakers who talked to Gov. Andrew Cuomo about same-sex marriage, but he has requested a meeting with the governor to talk about the issue.

I haven’t met with the governor at all. I actually have asked for an opportunity to meet with him personally. I think that it’s fair because I have a very diverse constituency. He is driving this issue very hard. I think that because I am the first voter to vote in the Republican conference I have a little extra burden because that will for some extent lead the way for some of the other voters in my conference.

‘Bones’ Jones: Take It From Me, MMA Is Safe

The state Senate is taking up a bill that will legalize mixed-martial arts in New York.

On hand to help secure votes for the bill’s passage is UFC light heavyweight champ and fellow Union-Endicott graduate Jon “Bones” Jones.

Jones says the sport is much safer than when the UFC first came on the scene, which is why New York may is hesitant to join the other 31 states that have legalized MMA.

“The original UFC that came, there wasn’t as many rules to protect the fighters like ‘fish-hooking’ and pulling hair; it was very barbaric at first,” said Jones.

“The UFC has come a very long way. There are so many rules and regulations and testing to make sure that we’re as healthy and safe as possible.”

Jones also pointed out he doesn’t have too many scars as a result of his bouts.

‘Lonely’ Silver Critic Wants To Leave Legislature (Updatedx2)

Buffalo Assemblyman Mark Schroeder, a frequent – and often lone – critic of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver among his fellow Democrats, is trying to depart the chamber by running for local office back home in Buffalo.

Schroeder sent a letter to Erie County Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan seeking his support in a run for city comptroller – a campaign he’ll announce at 10 a.m. on June 4 at the Buffalo Irish Center.

UPDATE: Sorry, I had my county and city comptroller posts mixed up. The city position has been vacant since February when its former occupant, Andy SanFilippo, resigned to become a deputy under state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. The county comptroller, Mark Polocarz, is running this fall against GOP Erie County Executive Chris Collins.

In the letter, Schroder touts his ten years in public service and two decades in the private sector. He also cites his record for “independence”, adding:

“As any observer of state government can tell you, no one in the state Capitol is more independence than I am. It might make Albany a lonely place for me sometimes, but my constituents deserve a voice that will speak out on their behalf, no matter what the consequences.”

UPDATE2: Also, Schroeder, who insisted in a Buffalo News interview that his desire to run locally has nothing to do with either his rocky relationship with Silver or a concern about redistricting, expressed upset over the “unfair” process by which a comptroller candidate will be selected.

And now he’s seeking the support of the very party structure he criticized. Not unusual, just interesting to note.

Schroeder Announce