Rep. Owens Attacked On Debt

Right leaning Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies has just released a new TV ad attacking Congressman Bill Owens, and accusing him of failing to live up to promises to control the debt. They have also launched a website in conjunction with the ad.

“With budget negotiations heating up, it is crucial for New Yorkers to know about Bill Owens’ record of voting for trillions of new government spending programs, paid for by higher taxes and new debt,” said Crossroads GPS communications director Jonathan Collegio. “Citizens concerned about the nation’s fiscal health need to tell Bill Owens that writing a blank check to fix the national debt is not acceptable.”

Owens, a Democrat, represents a heavily Republican congressional district. He was targeted by the GOP in 2010, but was able to hold onto his seat in part because Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman was still on the ballot. (A similar thing happened in the special election in 2009, when Owens defeated Hoffman because Republican Dede Scozzafava was still on the ballot.)

The ad is another sign that the debt debate is going to be a key issue of the next election cycle. Crossroads GPS says it will run for two weeks in the Burlington, Watertown and Syracuse media markets.

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Westchester and NYC today with no public scheduled. (Hopefully, he has air conditioning).

After public employees in Connecticut rejected negotiated concessions, NYS labor leaders are mounting a campaign to get their members to vote “yes” on deals reached with the Cuomo administration.

“I’m confident, but it is crazy out there, and would I guarantee anything right now?” the governor told the NY Times in an interview last week. “No.”

The DN is following a lesbian couple that was the first to show up at the Marriage Bureau to apply for a license until their wedding on July 24 – the day same-sex marriage becomes legal in NY.

Andrea Peyser, who supports gay marriage, says it’s an “outrage” there’s no legal protection for clerks who are resigning rather than compromise their religious beliefs.

The National Organization for Marriage is planning anti-gay marriage rallies and marches on July 24 in Manhattan, Albany, Buffalo and Rochester at which participants will call for a referendum.

Saratoga County GOP Chairman Jasper Nolan refused to speculate whether Sen. Roy McDonald, who voted “yes” on gay marriage, will receive the party’s endorsement in 2012.

Cuomo has yet to signal how he’ll act on the bill to expand taxi service in the outer boroughs. His father, ex-Gov. Mario Cuomo, serves on the board of Medallion Financial, which has a major stake in many of the city’s taxis and has opposed the bill.

Why the governor may secretly hope for a GOP presidential victory in 2012. “If President Obama loses next year, Cuomo immediately comes to the fore,” said ex-Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, a Cuomo backer.

If that’s the case, Cuomo better hope the GOP’s big donors stop sitting on their hands soon.

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The Weekend That Was

Former News International Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks was on arrested suspicion of corruption and phone hacking. She’s the 10th person to be arrested in the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

The commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police Services, Sir Paul Stephenson, resigned his post just hours after his officers arrested Brooks.

News Corp. contributed campaign cash to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and AG Eric Schneiderman.

Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper empire published “we are sorry” ads in every national paper in Britian today. (Here’s the text).

Rudy Giuliani spent two days in New Hampshire last week and remains unsure if he’ll run for president again next year.

Giuliani believes the GOP should stay out of the gay marriage debate.

The former mayor called the NYS Legislature’s vote to legalize same-sex marriage “wrong,” but nevertheless called on his party to “get the heck out of people’s bedrooms.”

Cuomo’s deal with PEF avoids the layoffs his administration had already set in motion.

It’s a “day of reckoning” for state worker unions, says EJ McMahon.

Union members will start voting on the contract next week and finish by Aug. 11.

“Re-election is the farthest thing from my mind,” said Rep. Tom Reed, explaining his hard-line position on raising the debt ceiling.

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Cuomo Announces Tentative Contract Deal With PEF

Gov. Andrew Cuomo this morning announced a tentative five-year contract deal with the 54,000-member Public Employees Federation that mirrors the agreement he struck with the larger state workers union, CSEA, back in June.

The deal includes nine days of unpaid furloughs in the first two years, zero percent raises for three years and health care concessions that the administration says will save close to $400 million over the contract term.

If adopted, the agreement will reduce workforce costs by over $1.5 billion and avert the PEF layoffs that are already underway.

As a result of this agreement, Director of State Operation Howard Glaser has already directed agencies to rescind the 20-day layoff notices that were sent out to members.

This agreement reflects the financial reality of the times. I am pleased that we could avoid these layoffs, protect the workforce and the taxpayer,” Cuomo said.

PEF President Ken Brynien has been quite outspoken in his criticism of the Cuomo administration through the contract talks. He even went so far as to say that if PEF had known then what it knows now, it would not have endorsed the governor in 2010.

Today, Brynien was singing a different tune. He said the union had finally agreed to “make the necessary sacrifices” out of a recognition of the state’s fiscal hardship and the imperiled nature of his members’ jobs.

The governor played hardball with PEF, targeting up to 4,700 jobs when the union’s leadership refused the deal offered to CSEA, and sending out two waves of layoff notices to rank-and-file members – even in the already decimated DEC.

“The agreement will preserve our members jobs and careers while bringing long term fiscal stability to the state,” Brynien said.

“We are confident this is the best agreement that could be negotiated in the current environment.”

This is definitely a win for Cuomo. He included $450 million worth of workforce savings in the 2011-2012 budget even though the union leaders insisted they would not heed his call for concessions.

He stayed tough even after his first contract agreement with Council 82, which he had hoped would serve as a model for the larger unions, fell apart due to internal strife in that shop that is still ongoing.

The PEF deal, which must still be approved by rank-and-file members – no guarantee of that, and remember: The CSEA ratification process is ongoing – also needs to be approved by the Legislature.

That means you should prepare to see senators and Assembly members back in Albany sooner rather than later. The Legislature adopted the CSEA deal very quickly during the last week of the regular session.

Just this week, Senate Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous told me he didn’t think the Legislature would be back at the Capitol until the fall.

The Senate also has yet to address the health care exchange bill passed by the Assembly during the regular session, and Majority Leader Dean Skelos seems in no hurry to do so, either.

The details of the PEF deal appear in full after the jump.

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Bloomberg Maxes Out On IDC

Sometimes it’s OK to be on the outs.

The Independent Democratic Conference, a four-member caucus in the Senate chamber, have all received $10,300 checks from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Spokesman Rich Azzopardi confirmed that the city’s billionaire mayor donated the money to Sens Jeff Klein of the Bronx, Diane Savino of Staten Island, David Valesky of Oneida and David Carlucci of Clarkstown.

“The mayor, like the members of the IDC, values progressive causes and above all we value progress over partisanship,” Azzopardi said in a statement.

Klein, the former head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee before he formed the breakaway conference, reported an impressive haul of $422,000.

Bloomberg, who also donated $250,000 to the Senate Republican housekeeping fund, also gave the maximum $10,300 to the four Republicans who vote in favor of same-sex marriage.

Schneiderman Pays Himself Back

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman raised $913,397 in contributions, but spent most of the day re-paying personal loans to his campaign, according to his campaign filing.

Schneiderman’s filing shows he made three separate loan re-payments to himself totaling $550,000. All three of Schneiderman’s 2010 loans were made at the height of the tense five-way Democratic primary.

He also reported spending $203,314 on miscellaneous campaign bills.

With the bill paying and loan settling, Schneiderman has $276,421 in cash on hand.

But Schneiderman is still a prodigious fundraiser. Notes NYPIRG’s Mahoney: With $913,397.70 in contributions, AG Schneiderman beats the total contributions raised by AG Cuomo’s two committees in July ’07 ($513,575).

Schneiderman Scores Indian Point Ruling Win

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office today is celebrating a key decision from the federal government that would require the Indian Point nuclear facility to submit an action and environmental cleanup plan for accidents before being re-licensed.

Schneiderman had sought the stipulation in the ongoing battle over the re-licensing of the Westchester-based Indian Point facility after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission decided to not require the environmental impact study, his office said.

“Severe accidents cannot be treated as impossibilities, and this critical ruling confirms that Indian Point must follow regulations to protect the public and control the effects of a potentially severe nuclear accident,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “We will not permit the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy to procrastinate or limit the relicensing review with the hope that full responsibility for protective measures can be avoided. My office will continue to take the action necessary to ensure Indian Point complies with all applicable laws and regulations, and that the surrounding communities are protected.”

Schneiderman, who has concentrated heavily on environmental cases like Indian Point and the contentious debate over high-volume hydrofracking in the Southern Tier, said the ruling confirms extra caution is needed before re-licensing the plant.

The AG has recently signed onto a petition that would require the facility, one fo the oldest operating nuke plants in the country, to assess its operating limitations. Schneiderman also wants the plant’s operator, Entergy, to conduct a seismic risk evaluation at the plant.

Extras

The financial filing deadline has reporters starry eyed from scanning through donations and expenditures. You can see Governor Cuomo’s filings here and read Nick Reisman’s wrap up below.

Cuomo also signed into law a bill banning bath salts, another one banning the sale of hookas to teens, and one banning the sale of ipecac syrup.

Cuomo also put his signature on a bill designed to provide affordable housing to Adirondacks.

Today, the state outlined how they are collecting taxes on cigarette sales on Indian lands.

Another town clerk is refusing to sign off on marriage licenses.

President Obama took his debt reduction plan to the people today.

It didn’t move House Republicans off their stance that they won’t raise taxes.

Eric Massa is back in the headlines.

GOP leaders are hopeful they can pick off veteran Democratic Congressman Maurice Hinchey in 2012.

Things are not looking good for Rupert Murdoch and News Corp.

Today, a second executive resigned as part of the phone tapping scandal.

News Corp. did release their political donations for this year, and the majority of their modest $115k went to Democrats.

Ranking Cuomo’s Contributors

Spreadsheet genie Bill Mahoney of NYPIRG has ranked all of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s January through June contributors by the amount of money they gave in one handy-dandy spreadsheet for our viewing pleasure.

Earlier, we broke out the big-name contributors, PACs and corporations who donated to the governor in his first six months.

All Cuomo Donors Ranked

State To Apply For $100M Federal Early Learning Funds

New York will apply for early learning funds from the federal Race to the Top program, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this afternoon.

The administration believes the state is eligible for up to $100 million from the Early Learning Challenge, which rewards states that follow specific criteria, including clearer learning standards and workforce development.

“A quality education is our promise to every child, and it begins with first-rate early learning programs,” Governor Cuomo said. “Early learning is critical to providing the building blocks for school readiness and student achievement, and helps create a well-rounded and educated workforce that is vital to New York’s future. I commend the Obama Administration for making quality early education a priority.”

Final criteria for the funding will be released in August and grant applications are due by mid-October. Awards will be made to states in December. New York is one of four large states — California, Florida, and Texas — eligible to receive $100 million, the largest pot of money available.

The state has already received $700 million from Race to the Top in 2010.