Here And Now

State lawmakers will spend the day continuing to try to hammer out those final details of the framework budget agreement announced lare Sunday afternoon. Some headlines while we wait…

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been diminished by Cuomo’s power, Nick Confessore writes. But the Rockefeller Institute’s Bob Ward notes: “The role for the Legislature often is to wait out a governor – and certainly the speaker has proven he’s a master of that.”

Under his deal with legislative leaders, Cuomo will have the final say on prison closures and communities that lose facilities will get less economic development aid to ease their transitions.

One person familiar with the talks on the prison portion of the budget said the Senate Republicans “just gave up and completed folded…like a cheap suit.”

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is waiting for more details on the budget.

In response to criticism that Sunday’s deal is lacking in specifics, Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto said: “The programs have been agreed to, the pots of money have been agreed to and the concepts have been agreed to.”

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman warned the $170 million funding loss for the court system will require hundreds of layoffs.

The budget battle hasn’t put much of a dent in Cuomo’s popularity.

Fred Dicker says Cuomo pulled off “the near-impossible” in getting the Legislature to go along with most of his executive budget through “force of will and a fierce work ethic.” He also gives some of the credit to two previous governors: David Paterson and George Pataki.

The Cuomo and Bloomberg administrations traded barbs over the budget.

The DN praises Cuomo’s budget performance, but wants more – namely mandate relief and a LIFO repeal.

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ADDED: Senate Democrats are unhappy over another round of rules changes the GOP is planning to push through.

What’s not in the budget deal: A lot of stuff that’s pretty popular.

Mayor Bloomberg called the Albany budget deal an “outrage.”

“No silver lining for schools” in the budget, says NYSSBA Executive Director Tim Kremer.

The Medical Society is “more than disappointed” about the lack of a med-mal cap in the budget agreement.

Greg David names the “fathers” of Cuomo’s budget victory: Larry Schwartz (still working on the second floor) and former Gov. David Paterson.

New York’s “Wisconsin moment”?

Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan isn’t convinced the millionaire’s tax is completely dead.

Sen. John Bonacic says the millionaire’s tax “may still be alive as we go down the road.”

AQE hasn’t given up hope yet.

Michael Caputo thinks counties should be able to opt out of Medicaid.

The entire Queens state Senate delegation is calling for a federal investigation into the 2010 Census numbers.

Senate Minority Leader John Sampson plans to raise campaign cash by letting freshmen colleagues roast him.

Cuomo signed legislation extending federally-funded unemployment insurance benefits through 2011.

Members of Congress are trying to help Bloomberg do an end-run around a Supreme Court ruling that blocked his demand that all taxis become fuel efficient.

VOCAL-NY is planning a “non-millionaires” rally at the Capitol Wednesday. (This one could go all night).

Sen. Chuck Schumer wants a safety audit of the LI Expressway.

Embattled Sen. Carl Kruger thanked his supporters and shared his home phone number.

A reporter explains how he wasn’t really locked in a closet by VP Joe Biden, and Biden’s staff apologizes.

Ex-White House spokesman Robert Gibbs might get a Facebook gig.

The Times has launched its digital subscriptions.

Weiner: Nonpartisan Redistricting Puts NY At A Competitive Disadvantage

ICYMI: Rep. Anthony Weiner told me during a CapTon interview last Friday that he is perfectly comfortable seeing the responsibility of redrawing district lines remain in the hands of elected officials, insisting politicians can be fair and balanced in this instance.

Weiner joked that he would like to see two GOP seats eliminated (doubtful), and and stressed that he’s among the downstate pols who aren’t buying the Census 2010 numbers, calling them “mind-boggling in many ways” based on both previous estimates, “common sense” and “real, hard analysis.”

“I am concerned about the idea of having…nonpartisan redistricting when we have states like Texas that are doing the most partisan things imaginable to eliminate Democratic seats,” the Brooklyn/Queens congressman said.

“I believe that the fair process here can be the political process, too.”

“I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with saying: let politics have its way. Especially since you have a Republican Senate and a Democratic Assembly, I’m not sure nonpartisan redistricting is necessarily going to get us any better outcome.”

Of course, Weiner, who is actively mulling a 2013 mayoral run (which would be his third), isn’t in any danger (that I know of) of being redistricted out of existence or losing if his own district lines are changed.

Weiner is far from alone in holding this particular view. His former boss and mentor, Sen. Chuck Schumer, said much the same thing – much to the chagrin of former NYC Mayor Ed Koch.

New Roosevelt Dems & Co. Brand Martins A Liar

New Roosevelt Initiative founder Bill Samuels made good on his pledge to target GOP senators (well, one anyway) in their home districts in hopes of pressuring them into submission on the issue of redistricting reform.

Samuels and a host of reform-minded Democrats traveled by bus out to the Nassau County district of freshman Sen. Jack Martins to protest outside his district office and highlight his renegging on the NY Uprising reform pledge promise that called for creation of an independent redistricting commission in time for the 2012 elections.

(Recall that the Senate GOP passed a constitutional amendment bill that would change the way lines are drawn in the long term, but only if two independently elected Legislatures vote “yes” on that measure and it then passes in a public referendum. All that cannot possibly happen by 2012).

Among the speakers at the protest was Brooklyn District Leader Lincoln Restler, of the New Kings Democrats, who started out with a joke.

“We from Brooklyn, we know a little something about corrupt leadership,” Restler said. “We thought Jack Martins was going to be different.”

“He signed a pledge. He made a promise to you and to me and the people in Nassau County that things were going to be different. That he was going to support a fair redistricting process, an independent redistricting process. But in just three months he has demonstrated loud and clear that this is a man who cannot keep his word.”

Martins told Long Island Business News: “I fully and unequivocally support redistricting reform and voted in favor of the most recent constitutional amendment that was passed by the Senate…Unfortunately, there are still those who would have the very process of reform turned on its head to become a bitter, partisan one.”

Cuomo Admin Volleys Back At Bloomberg

After releasing a statement last night expressing his disappointment with the budget framework agreed on by the governor and legislative leaders, Mayor Bloomberg is continuing to criticize the deal today, telling NYC residents to expect cuts that are “greater than expected,” although he wouldn’t go into detail.

Cuomo administration spokesman Josh Vlasto fired back at the mayor just now with the following statement that basically reiterates the governor’s positions that 1) the city isn’t seeing a state aid cut because its funding was zeroed out last year so 0 -/+ 0 is still 0, and 2) Bloomberg is sitting on a surplus of more than $300 million – a figure City Hall has rejected.

“Facing an historic $10 billion deficit, the budget agreement between the Governor and the state legislature closed the gap with shared sacrifice from communities across the state,” Vlasto said.

“The budget not only addresses the short term crisis but also puts the state on a path of long term fiscal stability and growth. The agreement restores tens of millions of dollars in additional education aid, millions to keep senior centers open, and millions to protect the homeless.”

“AIM aid to the city was not cut 100 percent. AIM aid was eliminated last year, so it is a zero percent decrease for fiscal year 2011-2012. Prudent budgeting would not have counted that as an increase.”

“In addition, the City Department of Education has a surplus of over $300 million and the City revenue position has improved so they have much less pressure on their overall budget.”

AG Says Indian Point Is Resisting Regulations, Files Petition

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has filed a petition with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission urging it to take enforcement action against the plant for its failure to comply with fire safety regulations.

Schneiderman says that compliance with these safety requirements is vital to ensuring the facility would be able to safely shut down during and after an emergency.

“In the wake of Japan’s crisis, our country’s nuclear facilities should be bolstering their safety measures, yet Indian Point is looking to weaken its precautionary measures,” Schneiderman said in a press release.

“It is absolutely essential for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to compel the facility to comply with all fire safety measures – both to secure the plant’s emergency systems and ensure the safety of the tens of millions of people living in the region.”

According to the AG’s office, the plant has not complied with safety code requirements, including installing required fire detectors or fire suppression systems and strengthening electrical cables to withstand fire damage. He also notes that installing automatic response systems should be put in place, rather than employees performing a series of complex manual actions.

Earlier this month Schneiderman put pressure on the NRC to consider seismic risk in relation to the re-licensing of Indian Point, an argument the state has heretofore been unsuccessful in making while seeking to prevent the nuclear plant from getting permission to remain open for another 20 years.

Meanwhile, according to today’s Siena poll, Nearly three-quarters of voters say they are “concerned” about the safety of New York’s nuclear power plants and a majority opposes building new nuclear power plants in the state.

Smith: Cuomo’s Budget Could ‘Come Back To Bite Him’

NY magazine’s Chris Smith, who’s getting a lot of attention for his well-timed cover story of Gov. Andrew “The Gamer” Cuomo, was on “Morning Joe” today and said the budget Cuomo negotiated with the legislative leaders is “regressive in a lot of senses” and could come back to haunt him if he runs for president.

Smith’s remarks on this start at about the 5:30-minute mark, when Mika Brzezinski notes a recent Times editorial that pointed out how low-income school districts are disproportionately hurt by Cuomo’s $1.5 billion education funding cut – all but $270 million of which is included in the framework agreement announced yesterday.

Asked by Mark Halperin what stands between Cuomo and the White House, Smith replies: “Five years, you know. As we know, things can change pretty quickly. One of his friends said to me: ‘You know, It’s very hard in 2011 to run for president in 2016.’”

“He certainly has helped his chances through this process,” Smith added. “But he owns this budget in a way that previous governors have not.”

“And if there isn’t an economic recovery in the state and nationally in the next year. If homelessness and schools really are blatently. (Here Brzezinski chaims in: “That’s the gamble.” …then it’s going to come back to bite him.”

There’s also some chatter about how Cuomo’s signature issue for a long time – fighting homelessness – gets largely overlooked in this budget.

I’ve been contacted over the past several days by NY operatives on the left who argue that Cuomo has lost for winning in this budget.

They think he has badly damaged his “brand” by trying to have it both ways – socially liberal and fiscally conservative – and picking fights with select unions (public employees, mainly) that it could be difficult for him to win a Democratic presidential primary in 2016 – or whenever it is that he runs….if he runs.

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Charges Mount Against Espadas

The charges filed against former Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. and his son, Pedro G. Espada, now include tax and wire fraud.

We were expecting this, but just in case you really enjoy reading legal documents….here it is. Pedro Espada’s court date is Sept. 12.


Hevesi Sentence Postponed, AG Seeks Max Penalty

Sentencing for disgraced former state comptroller Alan Hevesi has been postponed. A source tells NY1′ s Josh Robin that Hevesi is undergoing a routine medical procedure, but is “ok.”

Hevesi was originally scheduled to be sentenced today for his role in influence-peddling at the state pension fund. The case has been transferred to another judge, and the next court date is April 4.

Josh also reports that state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is asking the judge for the maximum sentence of four years against the 71-year-old Democrat.

He pleaded guilty in October to accepting campaign contributions and free travel in exchange for investing state pension money with a certain firm.

Hevesi’s lawyer had asked the judge to recuse himself due to conflict of interest. The judge called the issue “meritless,” but transferred the case nonetheless.

Megna: Spending Plan Will Help Balance Future Budgets

Speaking on Talk 1300 AM’s Live From The State Capitol With Fred Dicker this morning, state Budget Director Bob Megna explained how his staff was challenged by the governor to not only solve this year’s budget crisis, but set the foundation to easily balance the books next year.

The spending plan calls for two-year appropriations on health care and education, cutting about $2 billion with fixed rates of growth.


“I think the constitution allows for two-year appropriations,” Megna told Dicker.

“[The governor] didn’t look at it as a one-year problem. Typically, we’ve gotten locked into a place where we look at budget problems as one-year problems. I think the governor saw this is more of a fundamental long-term problem not just a short-term problem and that pushed us to explore a little bit more what options we had.”

Megna is still optimistic a budget will not only be passed on time, but perhaps a day early. He says his staff is working with the legislature to get bills printed and passed as soon as possible.

“We’ll be spending all of our energy in getting these bills passed,” he said.