Take ‘Em Out And Shoot ‘Em

NY magazine’s Chris Smith has a great piece today about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s dual endgame approach to the budget battle – both of which had him winning, regardless of the outcome.

And, as we now know, he appears to have won big, with the Legislature giving him the bulk of what he proposed in the executive spending plan.

For some insight of Cuomo’s velvet glove approach with the Legislature, consider the following passage:

A former Cuomo operative remembers one of his old boss’s favorite tales about a predecessor, Nelson Rockefeller. Cuomo quizzed one of Rocky’s powerful aides, Alton Marshall, about the wealthy governor’s success with the Legislature.

“Ah, Rocky,” Marshall told him. “Rocky would bring ’em over to the mansion, he’d sit around, they’d have a few bottles of wine, they’d have some cigars. He’d say, ‘What do you need? How can I help you? I like you.’ Oh, yeah, Rocky, he owned ’em. They loved him. He was charming.”

Cuomo, the ex-aide says, was inspired, believing he had the skills, if not the libations, to work the same magic. “Yeah,” Marshall said, “and you know, every once in a while, you gotta take one of these guys outside and shoot him.”

For an example of this, look no further than the treatment Assemblyman Dick Gottfried when he dared to criticize the Medicaid Redesign Team plan.

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo got a big budget win yesterday with an early agreement with legislative leaders on a spending plan that closely mirrors what he proposed back in February.

The framework budget adds just $250 million to Cuomo’s original plan, cuts state spending by more than 2 percent, reduces Medicaid by $2.8 billion and places a 4 percent cap on future education and Medicaid spending.

The agreement will restore $272 million worth of the $1.5 billion in education funding cuts Cuomo sought.

It remains unclear how that cash will be allocated, and that’s just one of a number of details that wasn’t available last night.

AQE is not happy.

The “definitive agreement” extends the Excelsior Program, makes permanent Power for Jobs, funds for the Tug Hill Commission, and cuts 2,000 more prison beds than expected.

It does not, however, include a millionaire’s tax, a property tax cap, extension of the rent laws, a med-mal cap or UB2020.

Insiders predict the Senate Republicans will kill stronger rent protections for NYC residents and kill the tax cap in the process.

Meet the new Gov. Steamroller – and this one gets results.

The state has not adopted an early budget since the first year of former Gov. Mario Cuomo’s administration.

Chris Smith writes of “Cuomo-Toto” in which the governor pulled back the curtain on Albany’s inner budget workings and “carefully crafted two endgames in which he wins either way.”

“My boat is bigger.”

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And Now, On To The Next Fight

Just because the budget battle appears to have ended doesn’t mean legislative leaders will spend the remainder of the 2011 session twiddling their thumbs.

There are a number of contentious issues that remain undone, particularly extension and potential strengthening of the rent laws, which are scheduled to expire on June 15.

After today’s Red Room press conference, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said there are “tons of other issues that we’ll be discussing once the budget is passed.”

Added Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver: “We’ll be here awhile.”

Silver expressed hope that the rent control fight won’t go down to the wire the way it has in years past, saying: “We set a precedent here, hopefully, by doing things early.”

‘Do You Feel It?’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was (understandably) in a very good mood this evening as he announced his first budget deal with legislative leaders in the Capitol’s Red Room. The press conference produced some rather humorous moments…like this one:

Bloomberg Not Pleased With Budget Deal

Mayor Bloomberg just released a statement in response to the news that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have reached a budget deal. In short, he’s not thrilled, although he’s encouraged to see the state moving toward an on-time budget.

Keep in mind: We’re not sure how much of the $270 million worth of restored education aid will be heading in NYC’s direction. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said the city will receive a fair share. But there are not details on that as of yet. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said the allocation will be “regionally balanced.”

“At the outset of the budget process, we urged the Governor and State Legislature to adopt a budget that treats New York City equitably and provides the mandate relief and reform that would allow us to absorb the State’s heavy cuts,” the mayor said.

“This budget agreement appears to fail on both counts, and worse, it passes heavy new costs down to the City. Voters should remember that New York City was singled out by Albany and eliminated from the revenue sharing program, while other localities took no more than a three percent cut.”

“We appreciate that some of the cuts in education aid were restored. But make no mistake: the final budget still cuts New York City more than ever before. The restorations are merely a fraction of the $600 million necessary to avoid additional layoffs and cuts in the City’s budget – beyond what was announced in February – for the upcoming fiscal year.”

“While the outcome is disappointing and the results will be painful, it is encouraging that the Governor and State Legislature have worked together to produce an on-time budget.”

“We hope that same spirit of collaboration leads to action on the hard work that remains to enable the City to do more with less: by stopping pension costs from skyrocketing further with a new tier for the City and ending the last-in, first-out law that exacerbates the negative impact of Albany’s teacher layoffs on our public school children.”

‘Definitive Framework’ Of $132.5 Billion Budget Deal

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders triumphantly announced a deal on a 2011-2012 budget that “in theory” could deliver the state’s first early budget since the last time a Cuomo was in the executive mansion.

“We worked through very, very difficult issues,” the governor said. “We not only got it done, but we got a great piece of work done. I believe that.”

The governor said the budget – which spends about $250 million more than he proposed, yet still clocks in at $132.5 million overall – is a victory for New Yorkers. He called it “the people’s budget.”

But it’s also a huge win for Cuomo himself, who gets a large portion of what he wants here – thanks largely to his overwhelming popularity in the polls and the extender power bequeathed to him by former Gov. David Paterson.


Some details remain to be worked out in conference committees. Bills will start being sent up for passage on Tuesday and the budget could be early, but definitely will be passed by the April 1 deadline, the governor said. He left open the possibility of messages of necessity to circumvent the three-day aging process.

Albany hasn’t seen an early budget – one adopted before the April 1 deadline – since 1983. That was former Gov. Mario Cuomo’s first budget; 27 of the last 36 budgets have been late.

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The Weekend That Was (So Far)

The legislative leaders are gathering right this moment at the Capitol to meet behind closed doors with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The expectation is there will be a deal to announce before the day is out.

So far, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and top staffers (Jim Yates and Dean Fuleihan) have arrived. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is in the building, and we haven’t seen him arrive yet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he hasn’t slipped into the governor’s office somehow.

UPDATE: Silver is apparently already inside the gov’s office. Senate Minority Leader John Sampson, who had a press conference in NYC this morning, was the last leader to arrive. LG Bob Duffy is here, too.

So, now we wait. Until then, some reading material…

If there is a deal, presumably the sticking points of med-mal and prison closures have been worked out.

Seven state workers won $319 million in the Lottery…at least they don’t have to worry about getting laid off anymore.

The Times calls for equity in the education aid cuts, hoping to ease the burden on poor districts that stand to be disproportionately impacted.

Larry Levy warns “King Andrew” not to misjudge his opponents.

Semi-First Lady Sandra Lee is organizing what she hopes will be the world’s largest bake sale to raise money for the NYC Food Bank.

Mayor Bloomberg spoofed “Spider Man” and “Mamma Mia” in his annual Inner Circle Show response. Photos!

Sen. Chuck Schumer says the 2010 Census numbers are “dead wrong” and “cry out for investigation.”

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Weekend Open Thread

The unexpected death of the late former Rep. Geraldine Ferraro. The conceptual budget agreement that wasn’t (so far, at least). Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s overt threat of employing the extender option. The 2010 Census numbers and potential NYC undercount.

Yup. Nothing to discuss here. Nothing at all.

Happy weekend.

- LB

Obama Lauds Ferraro’s Breaking Of ‘Barriers For Women’

President Obama has issued a statement lauding the late former Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, praising her for her success in breaking the glass ceiling in the traditionally male-dominated world of US politics.

“Michelle and I were saddened to learn about the passing of Geraldine Ferraro. Geraldine will forever be remembered as a trailblazer who broke down barriers for women, and Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life.”

“Whether it was as a public school teacher, assistant district attorney, Member of Congress, or candidate for Vice President, Geraldine fought to uphold America’s founding ideals of equality, justice, and opportunity for all. ”

“And as our Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission, she stood up for those ideals around the world. Sasha and Malia will grow up in a more equal America because of the life Geraldine Ferraro chose to live. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her husband, John Zaccaro, her children and grandchildren, and their entire family.”

This is particularly interesting given Ferraro’s comments during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary in which she suggested Obama’s success was due to the fact that he was black. Specifically, she said:

“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.”

Clinton, who walked a fine line during the campaign of stressing the fact that she was a female candidate and trying not to make that the defining issue of her White House bid, made a point of saying she did not agree with the sentiment that sexism is more prevalent in American than racism.

Ferraro ended up resigning her unpaid fundraising post on Clinton’s campaign and blamed the Obama campaign for sparking controversy over her comments. She also didn’t stop speaking out about what she deemed Obama’s “terribly sexist” approach and even suggested she would not vote for him.

Cuomo Mourns ‘Dear Friend’ Ferraro

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has released the following statement following the death of former Rep. Geraldino Ferraro, who got her political start in the governor’s native Queens:

“I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my dear friend Geraldine Ferraro. Through her life in the public arena, Geraldine’s accomplishments served as a milestone in our country’s acceptance of equality and diversity. She is proof that a person can make a difference, and make a difference is what Geraldine did throughout her life.”

“She made a difference as a young prosecutor in Queens, as a congresswoman, as the first woman and first Italian-American to run for vice-president on a major party line and as a lawyer in private practice. As a role model for women across the world, she demonstrated that glass ceilings can be shattered. I had the honor and privilege to work with Geraldine for many years and I learned a great deal about courage and leadership from her.

“Over the last few years, as Geraldine has struggled with illness, she demonstrated every day what it means to be courageous, to be strong and, no matter what the circumstance, to fight for what you believe. Simply put, our nation is stronger because of her service and our lives are enriched by the lessons she taught us.”