With Deep Cuts, School Budgets Pass

School officials announced this morning that more than 93 percent of school budgets across the state passed, despite deep cuts and cuts to programs and staff — the second year education officials have been forced to either raise taxes significantly or make cut back on spending.

The state School Boards Association and state United Teachers union, not surprisingly, had different takes.

“Voters realized that school officials did all they could to limit spending and taxes this year,” said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer.

Meanwhile, union officials knocked Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for a 2 percent cap on property taxes and seized on the renewed push for a millionaires tax, which Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said would be re-introduced.

“The choice to give millionaires tax breaks while cutting funding to education will result in thousands of layoffs for middle-class professionals and diminished opportunities for students,” NYSUT Executive Vice President Pallotta said. “Our students deserve better. The state needs to do its fair share and stop passing along the pain to students and local taxpayers in order to please the wealthiest and most privileged in our state.”

The average tax hike in school districts was 3.4 percent, above the 2 percent cap that Cuomo has proposed. The approved 2011-12 state budget cut more than $1.2 billion in education spending. The governor said schools can live with the state spending cuts without raising taxes by slashing overhead.

RNC Chair Decries Dems’ ’2 against 1′ Approach In NY-26

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus sent out a midnight “action alert” on NY-26, calling for “immediate” financial support for Assemblywoman Jane Corwin and accusing the Democrats of stacking the deck by running two candidates against her.

“It’s obvious the Democrats are hedging their bets and taking a ’2 against 1′ approach to win this seat and add another liberal voice in the U.S. House who champions Barack Obama’s and Nancy Pelosi’s leftist agenda of reckless spending, record deficits and higher taxes that is driving our nation to financial ruin,” the chairman wrote.

Priebus, one of a phalanx of GOP leaders to visit WNY in recent weeks in an effort to boost Corwin, said she is up against two “well-funded Democrats.”

One is a dyed-in-the-wool, tax raising Democrat being backed by ultra-liberal New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand – and by hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Democrat establishment. The other is a millionaire, supposed “Tea Party” candidate who has run three times for this seat as a Democrat and lost!

Of course, he’s referring to Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul and Jack Davis, respectively. No matter that Davis is actually a Democrat-turned-Republican who’s running as an independent. The Republicans have been trying to lump him in with Hochul, deeming them both Pelosi-loving liberals.

The chairman urged supporters to contribute to Corwin, who, as of yesterday, has already sunk close to $3 million of her own cash into this congressional run, adding: “Speaker of the House John Boehner needs every vote possible to block Obama’s leftist agenda.”

Davis Ad Dramatizes Overseas Trade

Independent Jack Davis is out with a new TV spot that focuses on one of his signature issues: Trade.

The spot features a “family” in the kitchen. Dad comes home to announce he no longer has a job because the company is moving to China. Mom, looking haggard, says: “How can we pay for my chemotherapy without health insurance.” Dad looks down, grim-faced as worried young daughter asks: “Will Mom be OK?”

Listen hard, and you can even hear the family dog barking in the background.

Cue male announcer, who says: “Both parties support trade deals that ship our jobs overseas. Jack Davis will fight to keep jobs in America.” Followed by the required candidate stamp-of-approval.

The press release announcing this ad, titled “What’s at Stake”, calls trade “the real issue both parties are ignoring.” I get it. But this spot seems a bit overwrought. It’s unclear if the family members are real or being portrayed by actors.

Davis is being attacked by both the Democrats and the Republicans now and portrayed as a potential spoiler in what was supposed to be a walk for Assemblywoman Jane Corwin. He hasn’t spoken to the media – at least not to my knowledge – since last week’s assaultgate.

He was supposed to show up at a meet-the-candidates event in Batavia yesterday (both Kathy Hochul and Corwin attended), but was called away due to an “emergency” at his factory, according to his campaign.

Here And Now

It appears most school budgets were approved yesterday. If you are looking for your district click here for Buffalo area, here for Rochester area, here for CNY, here for Capital Region,

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos says he would look at another property tax cap proposal if the governor has one.

Business Leaders are once again calling on the Assembly to pass the 2% property tax cap.

Fred Dicker finally got an answer from Skelos on whether he has clients with business before the state.

Michael Goodwin thinks Cuomo is sending mixed messages on ethics reform.

Passage of gay marriage appears to be stalled despite the lobbying of Mayor Bloomberg and other NYC pols.

Some gay marriage advocates are upset with Cuomo’s statement that the bill shouldn’t be brought up for a vote unless it is going to pass.

One person who is still very optimistic about the passage of marriage equality is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

The Governor will continue to talk ethics, property tax cap, and gay marriage in Lake Placid today

EJ McMahon is still unclear if Cuomo’s pension reform plan will actually fix the problem.

The Watertown Daily Times welcomes any talk of pension reform, in Albany or Washington, DC.

And the DN says pension reform can’t happen fast enough.

SUNY rolled out their first report cards.

The grading system compares all 64 campuses against each other.

Former budget director Laura Anglin, and now President of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York State, warns incoming college students that financial aid is going to be harder to come by because of federal cuts.

More and more, NY-26 is becoming about Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan.
More >

Golisano: ‘Pleasantly Surprised’ By Cuomo’s Success

Billionaire businessman and former gubernatorial candidate Tom Golisano, in Albany today to push his national popular vote plan, said he was both “pleased” and “surprised” by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s first few months in office.

Golisano, who had previously announced that he was leaving Rochester for Florida because of New York’s tax and business climate, commended both the governor and the Legislature for argeeing to an on-time budget reduces spending.

“I am totally pleased, not only with Gov. Cuomo, but the Legislature because they pulled together something that was very important,” he said.

He said the year-to-year reduction in spending was “remarkable.”

“I was very pleasantly surprised,” he added. “I didn’t think it would happen that easily.”

Millionaires Tax: It’s Baaaaack (Updated)

The tax on those making $1 million or more has been re-introduced into the mix, courtesy Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Herman “Denny” Farrell.

The reintroduction comes as the same day as school budgets across the state are scheduled to be vote on — a fact that Silver doesn’t fail to note in his news release.

“Quite simply, this is a moral imperative. We should not give a special handout to multi-millionaires and billionaires while our children’s educational are in jeopardy,” said Silver, noting that the affluent are already reaping the huge benefits of the Bush-era tax cuts extended by the federal government.

“This legislation not only ensures that millionaires and multi-millionaires remain in their current tax bracket until 2013, it also makes certain that a large portion of their contribution goes directly to our schools.”

Originally a surcharge for those making $200,000 or more was due to expire at the end of this year, with liberal lawmakers pushing to have the tax extended. Both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate Republicans opposed the measure, saying they would rather close a $10 billion deficit without raising taxes or borrowing.

The proposal then morphed into a “true” millionaires tax – aimed at those with a gross adjusted income of $1 million or more.

The 2011-12 state budget ultimately did not include the millionaires tax, or any broad-based tax increases for that matter. Still, supporters of the millionaires tax said it would come up again, predicting that once the full brunt of the $1.2 billion in education cuts was felt voters would clamor for the surcharge.

Sen. John Bonacic, an Orange County Republican, initially submitted his own bill, but it was quickly panned by the Senate GOP leadership. UPDATE: Bonacic’s office called to say he has NOT withdrawn the bill. In fact, it’s pending in the Ways and Means Committee, but hasn’t moved.

Sen. Tony Avella, a Queens Demcorat, has introduced legislation, but it so far does not have a majority sponsor

Corwin Adds $300K To Self-Fund Tally

…according to the latest 48-hour report filed with the FEC, which brings her tally to just over $2.7 million.

That’s close to the $3 million Jack Davis said he would drop on his campaign – his fourth bid for a House seat.

Fiala Confirmed As DMV Commissioner

Fiala

The state Senate unanimously confirmed Barbara Fiala as the new Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles this afternoon. She was appointed to the post by Gov. Cuomo back in February.

Fiala has worked in county government for 30 years in a number of different roles including county clerk and most recently, as Broome County’s first female executive. This latest gig as head of the DMV brings her back to her roots (albeit on a much higher level); she served as motor vehicles supervisor for Broome in 1981.

Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous, who also represents parts of Broome County, praised Fiala’s fair and bi-partisan approach to governing as he seconded her nomination in the Senate:

Extras

A NYC man pleaded guilty to a felony charge of making a harassing telephone call to Carl Paladino during the 2010 governor’s race.

Jane Corwin avoided reporters in Batavia and was dogged by questions about the Jack Davis ambush by her chief of staff.

Elaine’s without Elaine isn’t Elaine’s. And so, it’s closing.

Some LGBT advocates are upset Sen. Marty Golden won’t meet with them on gay marriage.

Mayor Bloomberg differs with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on whether there should be an up-or-down gay marriage vote – regardless of whether there are sufficient votes to pass the bill.

Bloomberg’s lobbying visits at the Capitol on marriage equality today included Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Sens. Greg Ball, Roy McDonald, Jack Martins, Chuck Fuschillo, Andrew Lanza and Mark Grisanti.

“Cuomo’s support for marriage equality is appearing more to be a political stunt than an act of commitment to do the right thing,” said Queer Rising’s Natasha Dillon.

Tom Golisano made a brief foray to the Capitol to lobby for the National Popular Vote, but isn’t planning a return to NY politics.

Cuomo’s rent laws video was devoid of details, Tom Kaplan notes.

Rudy Giuliani is advising a Peruvian presidential candidate.

Cuomo praised state Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs at a Democratic county leader get-together last night.

Former Gov. George Pataki is heading to New Hampshire. But he’s not running for president.

New Jersey has a tax windfall.

Newt Gingrich’s wife has a taste for Tiffany’s.

Chris Christie 2012 speculation just won’t quit. Not that he wants it to.

New York’s Board of Regents made further cuts to Regents exams.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is “possibly” open to changes in Cuomo’s 2 percent tax cap bill.

Rep. Pete King’s next Homeland Security Committee hearing will be next week. Topic: The implications of Osama bin Laden’s death.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants tax credits for fertility treatments.

Model Cindy Crawford appeared at a Mitt Romney event, but hasn’t yet formally aligned with any 2012 pesidential candidate.

Holy conspiracy theory.

Bloomberg: Floor Vote Shows Where Lawmakers Stand

A floor vote in the Senate is the only reliable way to show were lawmakers stand on same-sex marriage, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

“I think the public has a right to know where their legislator stands and the only place where you can really find that out is when they have to register that vote publicly,” Bloomberg said. Pronouncement before, off the record, couched in terms where it’s hard to know what they really mean is just not appropriate, these are up or down votes.”

Bloomberg met with Senate Republicans today to lobby for same-sex marriage legalization. Before the news conference, he met with Sens. Greg Ball, Andrew Lanza, Jack Martins and John Flanagan. He was scheduled to meet with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, as well as Sens. Charles Fuschiilo, Roy McDonald and Mark Grisanti.

McDonald, Ball and Grisanti have all been marked as possible “yes” votes for a gay marriage legalization bill by June. However, Grisanti told Liz last night that he would be a “no” vote now if the measure were to use the term “marriage.”

Bloomberg declined to discuss his thoughts on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to not introduce a gay-marriage bill until there are sufficient votes in the Republican-led Senate. Though 32 votes are needed, it’s likely that at least 34 votes would be needed in order to give moderate legislators cover and not become the “final” vote to legalize gay marriage.

The last attempt at legalizing gay marriage failed in 2009, 38-24. Cuomo said he would not want a “replay” of 2009.