Silver, Cites ‘Moral Imperative’ On Millionaires Tax

The war of words continues on the millionaires tax, with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, late this afternoon rapping Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’ criticism of the surcharge’s revival.

The moral imperative is that Senator Skelos stand up for 99 percent of the taxpayers, not the 1 percent he’s protecting who are millionaires and multi-millionaires about to get yet another tax windfall in six months. I encourage the Senator and his colleagues to think about the teachers who are getting laid off, about what is best for the education of our children, what is best for our seniors, and what is best for our working families. This is the real moral imperative, not tax breaks for the super-rich.

Skelos earlier declared the tax “dead” in a statement and told reporters the debate is over.

“I don’t think taxing and now increasing spending is necessary,” he said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also said he thought the issue was laid to rest, after it was not included in the state budget. The governor wanted to close the $10 billion deficit in the 2011-12 budget without new taxes or new borrowing.

“We’ve reined in state spending. We now have to rein in local government and school district spending,” he said in Lake Placid. “And I think the message is communicated and I think you saw that in a lot of these school district budgets.”

Extras

Lobbyist Allison Lee, the wife of Rep. Maurice Hinchey, was charged with DWI.

President Obama is mocking birthers by selling “Made in America” t-shirts with his visage on them.

Former aides to ex-Gov. George Pataki and ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani have joined forces to form a new consulting firm.

Sen. Liz Krueger is starting a new PAC called “No Bad Apples” (NBA, get it?) to help reform-minded Democrats get elected to the Senate in 2012. (Second item).

Clyde Haberman: “(H)aving Mr. Bloomberg lobby in Albany for your cause is a little like asking someone to pray for rain during a severe drought. It can’t hurt. But there is no solid proof that it does much good.”

NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s negatives outweigh his positives for the first time in over a year.

Pension data for teachers and school administrators is now on-line.

Sen. Greg Ball, still an “absolute maybe” on gay marriage, is seeking protections for religious institutions.

Bill stealing intrigue in the Senate.

Maria Shriver appeared at an Oprah taping as more details emerged about the mother of her estranged husband’s out-of-wedlock child.

Rep. Pete King would love to run for president – as long as he doesn’t have to campaign.

Mayor Bloomberg had a change of heart over releasing the list of fire houses slated for closure.

Carl Paladino tried – with mixed success – to defend Jane Corwin on MSNBC.

American Crossroads has switched its focus off Davis and onto Hochul.

Former Rep. Chris Lee reclaimed $100,000 from his campaign committee to close the books on the $1.1 million he loaned it in 2008.

C-span.org is airing the Corwin-Hochul debate at 5:30 p.m.

Malpass Mails For Corwin

Former (and future?) US Senate contender David Malpass is using his Grow PAC to help GOP NY-26 contender Jane Corwin, sending out mail that seeks to counter the Democrats’ use of Medicare reform as a wedge issue.

The mailer basically argues that by backing federal spending cuts and helping create jobs, Corwin will be “getting America’s fiscal house in order…the best insurance for our seniors.”

No mention is made of the fact that Corwin has expressed support for Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to overhaul Medicare, changing the traditional delivery system of health care for millions of seniors across the nation.

The Democrats have been slamming Corwin on this, while the Republicans have tried turning the tables on her opponent, Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul, insisting she, not Corwin, is actually the one who wants to cut Medicare and Social Security.

Malpass established Grow PAC not long after he lost his bid to challenge Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the 2010 cycle.

He finished second to former Rep. Joe DioGuardi in the GOP primary, and DioGuardi subsequently lost to Gillibrand in the general election. Through his PAC, Malpass is trying to keep his hand in the NY political mix while he mulls whether to mount a re-match against Gillibrand in 2012.

Interestingly, Gillibrand was an early backer of Hochul and is heading to Buffalo Saturday afternoon to campaign on her behalf.

Grow Pac 11-01 Gotv2

Silver Only ‘Minor’ Tweaks Needed On Tax Cap

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told me during a CapTon interview that will air this evening that he believes only a few “minor details” have to be changed in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tax cap bill, and he is not “necessarily” wedded to the idea of exempting pension costs.

Silver said he found Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’ sudden willingness to negotiate on the tax cap “very encouraging because I think that there are a few minor details that have to be changed in that tax cap.”

The speaker continued to be nebulous about when, exactly, he might introduce his own version of the tax cap bill, and also did not specifically address what might be exempted from the cap. He did, however, say there should “not be exemptions on pensions, per se.”

“There should be exemptions on things that are, you know, surprises, in effect, to the districts,” the speaker said. “Things that grow out of proportion. Not because of things they did or prior commitments that have been made. And, you know, a few things like that, and that’s it.”

The speaker confirmed in a Buffalo News interview that his house is pushing for the cap to sunset. Although he refused to be nailed down on a specific time frame, he did say it should last longer than three years.

Rep. Allen West Robos ‘Critical Tea Party Alert’ For Corwin

It’s tough to imagine a better Tea Party surrogate than Rep. Allen West, the retired Republican US Army Lt. Col. elected to represent Florida’s 22nd CD last fall.

West is trying to put to rest the fight out in NY-26 over which candidate can legitimately claim the Tea Party mantle, coming down squarely on the side of Assemblywoman Jane Cowin with a robocall that is being sent to about 30,000 households across the district.

West is one of 20 military veterans in this year’s House freshman class that have endorsed Corwin’s congressional bid. Here’s the script of his call, which can also be heard here:

“This is Lieutenant Colonel and Congressman Allen West with a critical Tea Party alert.”

“Jane Corwin is the only endorsed Tea Party candidate and the only candidate who will stand up to Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and their out-of-control spending agenda. Our national debt is out of control. And it’s simple – we need Jane Corwin to be a part of the Majority in the House of Representatives to bring fiscal discipline back to Washington, DC.”

“Furthermore, Jane’s opponents have only one goal, and that is to scare seniors. Jane will be a fighter on Capitol Hill to preserve Medicare for our future generations.”

“I call upon each one of you, for both your children, and your grandchildren and our nation’s future – Elect Jane Corwin on May 24th. Jane is truly who we need at this critical time in our republic’s history. Thank you very much. And God Bless America.”

NYSUT Launches “Students First: The Reality Tour”

In a not-so-veiled reference to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “People First” campaign, a coalition of education advocacy groups are launching the alternative “Students First: The Reality Tour.”

From their release:

“In six simultaneous events across the state, parents, students and teachers organized by the Alliance for Quality Education, Citizen Action of New York and New York State United Teachers will launch a statewide “Students First: The Reality Tour.” The purpose of the tour will be to tell the stories of the local impacts of the $1.3 billion state cut to public schools. Data summarizing statewide and local cuts in teachers, programs and other will be released. AQE will release a video presenting testimonials on the impact of the cuts from districts statewide.”

All events are being held Thursday in Buffalo, Rochester, Watertown, Troy, Albany and Yonkers.

Cuomo is traveling the state to stump for his big 3 goals: gay marriage legalization, an ethics overhaul and a tax cap. The last item has the eternal ire of education groups, who say it will unfairly hurt school, and point to mandated cost-drivers such as pensions and health care placed on schools.

Earlier today, NYSUT issued a statement cheering for the millionaires tax revival in the Assembly. However, Cuomo, speaking in Lake Placid, agreed with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos in declaring the issue over.

Hochul Asserts Her Independence, Swipes At Corwin

ICYMI: Kathy Hochul told me during a CapTon interview last night that the Republican effort to portray her as a puppet of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is a “distraction” and insisted her record demonstrates an ability to think independently of her own party’s leaders.

Specifically, Hochul cited the fact that she spoke out against then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s ill-fated effort to let illegal immigrants get driver’s licenses just five months after he appointed her to the post of Erie County clerk. She then sought to pivot the conversation back to her topic of choice: Medicare.

“All this distraction about leadership down in Washington, no one’s talking about it…I’ve been all over this district, not one person has raised this. They’re more afraid of the Medicare issue, the proposal in Washington to decimate Medicare.”

“Those are the words of the Wall Street Journal, not my own: End Medicare as we know it. So, it’s the end of the game here, and they’re just trying to throw everything but the kitchen sink at me. And it’s not working.”

Hochul took a swing at Corwin at the end of the interview, saying she would have chosen to fire a taxpayer-funded staffer who got into an alleged tussle with another candidate, (Jack Davis), while moonlighting as a tracker. I asked if she believes this whole mess was actually a set-up, as the Davis campaign insists, and she replied:

“That’s between them and the Jack Davis campaign. That’s their battle…When you watch any ads that come out against me, the Corwin campaign is obviously masterful at clipping video and using it inappropriately. So I think you’ve seen a lot of evidence of that in this campaign.”

Cuomo On Gay Marriage: ‘I’m Doing Everything I Can’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, speaking in Lake Placid today for his “People First” tour, defended his strategy on same-sex marriage legalization, saying that he was doing everything he can to put a bill before the Senate by June.

You know, I think it is a critical issue, I think it is an issue where the people of this state have evolved on this issue. A majority of the people in this state now approve of marriage equality. We’re making progress. I’m doing everything I can. We’ll see. We’ll keep our fingers crossed. I’m cautiously optimistic. We had a very good and different session, legislative session, in the last few months.

Some gay marriage advocates have charged that Cuomo’s support of same-sex marriage is merely trying to score political points and criticized the governor’s decision to not put a bill before the Republican-led Senate unless the votes are available.

Cuomo said last week he wouldn’t introduce a program bill that would fail and have a “replay” of 2009, when gay marriage bill failed in the Senate, 38-24.

This time around, and with Republicans in control, a coalition of gay marriage advocates are trying to persuade fence-sitting senators to approve the bill. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was in Albany on Tuesday to personally lobby in favor of the issue.

Cuomo, speaking to reporters, also seemed to dial back his rhetoric of slamming lawmakers.

“We’re making progress in Albany that we haven’t made in years and I want to keep that spirit going,” he said.

Who’s Losing Their Job In The Courts?

The state court system has provided a list of which positions are being cut, showing a concentration of job losses in the New York City boroughs.

The courts cut 600 jobs today, which Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and CSEA blamed on the cuts in the approved 2011-12 state budget.

Lay Offs,Court

NYSUT Praises Millionaires Tax, Skelos Declares It Dead

Getting to this a little late, but the state United Teachers union is applauding the revival of the millionaires tax in the Assembly, even if it’s not going anywhere in the Senate.

“In every corner of the state, New Yorkers, after carefully examining the difficult choices made by their school boards, voted ‘yes’ in near record numbers on school budgets to ensure students and education programs did not suffer further harm,” NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi said. “Voters showed they value public education, support their local schools and recognize that teachers and other employees have, too, sacrificed in order to preserve programs and jobs. The state – and the wealthy — must do their part, too.”

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos told reporters earlier today that the millionaires tax debate is “over.” His office went further this afternoon, having the Long Island Republican declare in a statement that the issue is “dead.”

The personal income tax surcharge is dead. It died at the end of March, when the Legislature approved a new state budget that did not extend it; a position supported by Senate Republicans and by Governor Cuomo.

I caught up with Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari, D-Cohoes, Albany County, who defended the introduction of the tax, even if it appears to be a political point to score.

“We have to stick to our principles,” he said.