CSNY Backs Up Cuomo In School Funding Battle

On the heels of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s war of words with school districts yesterday, the business-backed Committee to Save New York has hit the airwaves with a new TV ad – its third of this budget cycle, I believe – in support of the governor’s education funding cuts.

The new 30-second spot, entitled “Worth,” hit the airwaves in some markets this morning. There’s also a radio version that can be heard here. Both will eventually be running statewide. CSNY spokesman Bill Cunningham said the buy is “substantial.”

It reinforces the governor’s claims that districts are spending too much on administrative costs – including superintendents’ salaries, which he has proposed capping (although that’s a program bill that came after his 2011-2012 budget was unveiled).

Here’s the script for the TV spot:

“When it comes to school spending, is New York getting its money’s worth? Twenty-one cents of every education dollar is spent on something other than teaching our kids.”

“Forty percent of school supervisors make over $200,000 a year. And while New York ranks first in education spending, we’re 34th in performance. The governor’s plan targets bureaucratic waste, and protects our students and teachers. Tell your lawmaker to support the governor’s plan.”

Here And Now

Radiation from Japan’s heavily damaged nuclear power plants could reach New York this weekend, but not in sufficient amounts to cause concern.

Mayor Bloomberg is still paying for that Irish joke.

Critics are questioning Bloomberg’s insistence that he’ll need to lay off 4,600 teachers if he doesn’t get what he wants from Albany.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo went on the warpath against school districts.

Shenendehowa Superintendent L. Oliver Robinson called Cuomo’s claims that school districts are playing politics when they say they can’t sustain his proposed cuts “absolutely obscene.”

Legislative leaders, who have proposed restoring some education aid in their respective budgets, stood by while Cuomo chastised the districts and later did not leap to their defense.

Some 100 districts statewide don’t have sufficient cash in reserve to cover the cuts Cuomo’s seeking, according to state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

However, most districts have enough stashed away to make up the difference for the next year – or they did at the end of the 2009-2010 school year, which is the last available information.

The Bloomberg and Cuomo administrations are at odds over LIFO again.

The Post thinks Cuomo is suffering from “Albany ailment.”

More >


Buffalo Beast editor Ian Murphy (the guy who punk’d Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker) is reportedly getting into the NY-26 race on the Green Party line.

State Green Party Co-Chair Peter LaVenia said Murphy is willing to change his registration to run.

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership endorsed Assemblywoman Jane Corwin’s NY-26 bid. (Fifth item).

Gov. Andrew Cuomo tried to make peace between NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

Brown accepted Bloomberg’s apology.

Brown said Bloomberg “sounded genuinely apologetic” and “did the right thing,” and also told him: “I should get up there and see for myself.” No word on when that might occur.

Sen. Tom Duane, a caucus of one in the Medicaid debate.

Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch will back NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn in 2013 if NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly doesn’t run.

Two former Assemblymen – John Faso and Richard Brodsky – will debate whether Wisconsin should come to New York (from a policy standpoint) next Wednesday, March 23 at 8:30 a.m. in Meeting Room 1 on the Concourse. (No link).

A Hampton Inn owned by Carl Paladino had a carbon monoxide scare about which the Buffalo businessman isn’t talking.

According to Empire Center, 996 state employees earned more than the governor’s $179,000 salary in 2010 – 96 more than in 2009 (1,119 state employees earned more than the governor’s self-imposed $175,000 salary).

Cuomo skipped marching in St. Patrick’s Day parades to work on the budget in Albany.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is “optimistic” SUNY Empowerment can and should be in the budget deal. Cuomo’s not so sure.

The DMV turned over data to the IG and the State Police in connection with the fatal Bronx bush crash.

A judge refused to sign off on a $1.4 million settlement between the Tishman Construction Co. and nearly 750 sickened Ground Zero workers.

The IDC pushed historic renovation tax credits into the Senate GOP’s budget resolution.

Here’s Cuomo talking about the power of positive thinking in budget negotiations, followed by Senate Minority Leader John Sampson discussing the importance of collegiality. (Cuomo twice tugged on Sampson’s suit during the post-leaders meeting press conference to remind him to stay on the “glass is half full” script).

Weiner Defends Click And Clack

If you’re a fan of public radio, you will very much appreciate this video of Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Queens Democrat, “thanking” his GOP colleagues – tongue firmly in cheek – for pushing a vote on whether to defund NPR, “protecting” the American people from Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers.

If you are not a fan of public radio, please, don’t watch this.

The measure passed, 228 to 192, with one member voting “present.”

Happy Political St. Patrick’s Day!

Bringing new meaning to the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow…Compliments of Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, who stopped by the CapTon studio for an interview that will air tonight at 8 p.m and 11:30 p.m.

In case you’re curious, “Leprechaun Droppings” are in fact double-dipped chocolate covered peanuts. And they’re made at Sweet Expressions, a confectioner in Canandaigua.


Senate GOP Keeps 1/3 Of Pledge To Koch

A reader noted the one-house spending plan passed earlier this week by the GOP-controlled Senate included – almost verbatim – the NY Uprising budget reform pledge signed by nearly every single member of the chamber, both Democrats and Republicans, during the 2010 campaign.

On. P. 42 of the Senate budget resolution, which passed along party lines on Tuesday, is language that calls for creation of a Legislative Budget Office, a requirement that the Legislature and governor adopt budgets balanced in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and a mandate for the Budget Division to adopt a five-year financial plan.

(NOTE: I stand corrected, the resolution passed almost along party lines. The four Independent Democratic Conference members voted in favor along with the Republicans).

The NY Uprising pledge called for “responsible budgeting.” The only area where the former NYC mayor and the Senate differ in this case was on the budget office, which Koch wanted to see wholly independent of both the Legislature and the executive branch.

As you’ll recall, the NY Uprising pledge actually called for a trio of reforms to budgeting, ethics and the redistricting process.

So far, there’s been a lot of three-way back room talks on overhauling the state’s ethics laws, but no bill. There has also been a lot of fighting over redistricting reform, with the Senate GOP (and the IDC) passing a constitutional amendment bill that Koch says does not meet NY Uprising standards.

Ironically, the Senate Democrats, who have been gleefully slamming their Republican colleagues for renegging on their promise to Koch, all voted “no” on the budget resolution. So, in a roundabout way, they also voted “no” on the NY Uprising budget reform. Go figure.


NYSUT Insists The Pain Is Real

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s accusation this morning that school districts and their allies are playing politics with kids by using the threat of teacher layoffs to try to scare lawmakers – and the public – into opposing the governor’s education funding cuts hasn’t stopped them from doing…well…just that.

NYSUT sent a letter this month to all 211 legislators warning that Cuomo’s proposed cuts are so large that to approve them would “send our schools into reverse gear, resulting in devastation to public schools and the state’s working families.”

The statewide teachers union has tallied projected reductions from 232 districts that have crafted their budgets so far and determined they collectively plan to eliminate 13,560 positions – mostly through layoffs.

The union projects there will be another 5,000 jobs lost when the outstanding 475 to 500 districts complete their spending plans.

Both the Senate and Assembly have proposed restoring some of Cuomo’s $1.5 billion worth of education aid cuts in their respective one-house budgets. But NYSUT is looking for a lot more than that – including restoring the state subsidy to SUNY hospitals, extending the millionaire’s tax, restoring cuts to SUNY and CUNY schools and rejecting the tax cap.


Cuomo Cites DiNapoli In Education Reform Push

Governor Andrew Cuomo is still on the education reform warpath. Speaking at the capitol earlier today, he called on the system to “Reduce the waste. Reduce the fraud. Reduce the abuse.”

Now, he is using Comptroller DiNapoli’s report on school reserve funds as more ammunition for his argument that school districts can find the 2.7% in cuts through being more efficient.

“Today’s report from the Comptroller’s Office finds even more evidence to support the education budget I proposed. The report says all but roughly 100 of the State’s 696 districts have enough reserves to cover the proposed reduction for this year,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“That’s only reserves. This does not include any renegotiation of health benefits or salaries and it does not include rooting out waste or finding greater efficiencies. The oft-repeated scare tactic from various interest groups that teachers must be fired simply is not so. And what’s worse, it uses students as pawns in a political game.”

DiNapoli’s report also warns that twice as many schools would be at risk of depleting their reserve funds next year if districts don’t cut spending, or increase revenue.

Cuomo: Rent Control And Tax Cap ‘Connected’ (Updated)

Back in January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo shot down Speaker Sheldon Silver’s call for linking a property tax cap to rent regulation.

As you’ll no doubt recall, the governor even went so far as to call the idea of linking different bills “a mistake.”

Apparently, the governor has had a change of heart since then. Today, he appeared to open the door to the idea of linkage. While making the point that he’d like the two issues to get resolved in the budget, Cuomo said the two are “connected.”

“For example, the rent issue and the property tax cap; my position is, we’d like to see them done in the budget,” Cuomo said.

“Now you could say they are not really budget issues, property tax cap more so, but they are going on at the same time. I think they are relevant, I think they are connected, I’d like to see them done in the budget. If they are not done in the budget, can you do them after the budget. Certainly you could.”

Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto clarified the comments afterwards. “The governor was not linking them to each other but expressing his preference to see them done in the budget,” Vlasto said.

(Liz B. notes: Technically speaking, the definition of “connect” is “combine, link.” Just sayin’…)

In an interview with CapTon last week, Speaker Silver reiterated his belief that rent regulation and a property tax cap should be done together, because they both deal with housing.

UPDATE: There are statements now in response to Cuomo’s comments from the Real Rent Reform Now campaign and Sen. Adriano Espaillat. Both appear after the jump.

More >

AQE, Students To Cuomo: Two Can Play Political Game

The Alliance for Quality Education is firing back at Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who this morning accused school districts of playing politics when they say his proposed funding cuts would force teachers to lose their jobs, hurting kids in the process.

“Governor Cuomo is in denial when he says he can cut $1.5 billion from schools without hurting kids and the people of New York know it,” said AQE Executive Director Billy Easton.

“The Governor says people who support quality public schools are playing politics, meanwhile he is robo calling voters homes and there is a committee of millionaires doing direct mail to force through school cuts and finance tax cuts for the wealthiest New Yorkers.”

“Exactly who is playing politics? Local schools are slashing programs and preparing pink slips for teachers—it’s in the headlines of every paper across the state. The simple truth is Governor Cuomo’s budget will hurt kids and help millionaires.”

Meanwhile, AQE has released the finalists in its “Dear Governor Cuomo” video contest. Students from all over the state offered submissions that illustrate the impact they think the governor’s $1.5 billion worth of education aid cuts will have on their schools if approved by the Legislature.

Some of the videos are pretty hard-hitting. One example appears below. The other can be viewed here.