The No Club

By request (from the comments section), here’s a list of the senator who cast “no” votes on the budget bills.

You’ll notice Democratic Sens. Ruben Diaz Sr. (Bronx) and Tom Duane (Manhattan) were in the negative on every single bill. Sen. Bill Perkins (Harlem) was excused for the first two votes, I’m told.


David Koch Continues NY GOP Support

Wisconsin wasn’t the only state engaged in a heated budget battle that saw an influx of cash from conservative billionaire David Koch.

Koch, who is best known as a Tea Party funder (and the guy impersonated by NY-26 candidate/Buffalo Beast editor Ian Murphy during his prank call to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker), helped finance the counter-protest during the Badger State’s union-backed “week of rage.”

He also ponied up another $100,000 to the state GOP’s housekeeping account here in New York, according to the majority’s off-cycle campaign finance report on file at the state Board of Elections. That was the bulk of the cash the party reported raising since January.

It took in another $50,000 from H.J.K. LLC. and now has $131,802 on hand in its housekeeping account and $104,547 in its general account (the Westchester GOP was the biggest contributor there, sending in $25,000).

Koch has given $173,500 to the GOP since 2000.

All of Koch’s contributions to the party originate from a PO Box in Witchita, Kansas, which is the home base of the family business, Koch Industries. David Koch lives with his wife, Julia, in NYC, but he’s still reportedly banking out in the heartland.

Koch has spread his campaign cash around in New York. He and his wife, Julia, contributed $87,000 to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he ramped up his 2010 gubernatorial bid.

The labor-backed WFP called on Cuomo to return that cash, insisting Koch’s uber-conservative policies aren’t in line with New York’s Democrat-dominated ideology. But the governor has declined to do so (or at least it appears that way, according to Newsday’s Dan Janison, who was the last to report on the Koch-Cuomo connection).

Nadler, King, Maloney Seek 10th Anniversary 9/11 CODEL

Here’s the letter from Reps. Jerry Nadler, Carolyn Maloney and Pete King to House Speaker John Boehner seeking an official CODEL – a special congressional delegation visit – that would bring all of their colleagues to NYC to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are apparently on board with this idea, which the House members say would “send a strong message to the nation and the world that, 10 years later, we remain unified; that the spirit of New York City and the nation are strong and unshaken; that our commitment to freedom has never wavered; and that we will always honor and remember the victims, the first responders, survivors and their families.”

9-11 CODEL Letter – March 29 2011 – FINAL

Stavisky Sets The Record Straight

A feisty Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky put Sen. Mark Grisanti in his place last night after he claimed the Democrats had done nothing to advance UB2020 when they controlled the chamber.

Savisky, a Queens Democrat who used to chair the Higher Ed Committee during her party’s brief stint in the majority, noted that she – with an across-the-aisle assist from Republican Sen. George Maziarz and the ill-fated (now former) Sen. Bill Stachowski and others – passed a UB2020 bill in 2009.

“That bill passed this house,” Stavisky said. “You are mistaken. You are wrong. I vote aye.”

The Abzug-Ferraro Connection

Attorney Jerry Goldfeder wrote in this morning to note the “profound” arc of history in today’s funeral services for the late Queens (and VP contender) Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, who is being laid to rest on the anniversary of the death of the late Manhattan Rep. Bella Abzug.


Goldfeder described Abzug as “a great pioneer whose achievements and fighting spirit led to the success of many women, including Gerry,” adding: “We should take a moment to salute the memory of Bella as we mourn Gerry Ferraro.”

For those not in the know, Abzug was pounding on the glass ceiling even before many were willing to acknowledge it existed. She was an attorney in the 1940s – a time when very few women practiced law – and took on civil rights cases in the South. She was active in the organization Women Strike for Peace and landed on the master list of Nixon opponents.

Abzug served in Congress, representing a Manhattan district (and part of the Bronx, too, for a while) from 1971 to 1977. She introduced the first federal gay rights bill, the Equality Act of 1974, with then Rep. – and future NYC Mayor – Ed Koch.

She ran for the US Senate in 1976, but was defeated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. She lost a NYC mayoral bid in 1977 and two attempts to return to the House in 1978 and 1986.

Abzug was also Manhattan BP Scott Stringer’s cousin, and he likes to tell the story of how he got his start in politics by campaigning on her behalf at the age of 12.

Grisanti: UB2020 ‘Is Not Dead’

Here’s Buffalo Sen. Mark Grisanti explaining on the Senate floor last night why he was voting “yes” on the budget, even though it did not include the UB2020 plan – arguably the No. 1 policy issue for WNY legislators.

The Democrat-turned-Republican freshman lawmaker chided members of the minority for griping about the fact that UB2020 wasn’t included in the final budget bill, noting Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pledged to hold a summit prior to the session’s end to try to get the long-stalled plan unstuck.

Sen. Tim Kennedy cited the lack of a UB2020 piece of the budget as his motivation for voting “no” on the plan. Grisanti, who had pledged prior to his election during a CapTon interview (and elsewhere) to vote “no” on anything that didn’t include UB2020 – and even follow the lead of former Sen. Bill Stachowski and hold things up if he could – said Cuomo’s promise helped change him to a “yes”.

“If you want to sit there and denounce the commitment of your own governor who has stated five times in a press conference that there’ll be a summit in Buffalo, you don’t have to attend, that’s fine,” Grisanti said.

“If you want to doubt what happened here in this Senate, of a 55 to 1 vote, that’s fine. But what I didn’t see, is I didn’t see the Democrats on that side talking to their Democratic friends in the Assembly to push that bill forward as I was doing – not only with the Republicans – but meeting with Deborah Glick and other members. This bill is not not dead. This bill has moved faster in the last 90 days than it has in three years.”

To be fair, Kennedy did send a letter to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver following the Senate’s passage of the UB2020 bill, urging him to take up the measure.

DiNapoli Concurs With Cuomo On Budget (For Now)

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli released a statement echoing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sentiment that the budget passed by the Legislature is “significant for what it does not do,” eschewing new taxes, fee hikes and one-shots in favor of spending cuts.

The comptroller also praised the fact that the 2011-2012 plan doesn’t rely on borrowing to pay operating expenses – a big no-no in the world of responsible budgeting.

“These are welcome changes from the short-term fixes and budget gimmicks of the past,” said DiNapoli, (who, of course, is a former assemblyman and voted in favor of all those budgets that included the same “fixes” and “gimmicks” he’s now decrying).

The comptroller acknowledged the budget will not come without considerable “pain,” especially for school districts and health care providers who are now facing a “formidable challenge to absorb significant cuts in funding.”

When school districts present voters with their proposed budgets in May, we will start to see the impact of these cuts at the local level,” DiNapoli continued. “In addition, the cuts in health care must be managed to minimize the impact on those most in need of care.”

“Now comes the hard part. The state, local governments and school districts must now not only do more with less but do it better as well. All of us in government have to watch tax dollars and monitor spending very closely.”

“My office will begin its comprehensive review of the budget and will issue a report soon after the Financial Plan is released by the Division of the Budget.”

Cuomo Praises Lawmakers In Video Victory Lap

Gov. Andrew Cuomo just released this Web video, essentially taking a victory lap and thanking legislative leaders for getting an on-time budget passed that contained almost everything he proposed in his executive spending plan.

During the 2 minute address, he calls the budget a “transformational moment of our state” and touts the defeat of “the special interests and their lobbyists.” He also goes out of his way to praise the Legisalture for heeding his call to pass a budget that includes deep spending cuts and no new taxes – and for doing so in time to meet the April 1 deadline.

…Not that they had much choice in the matter, considering his threat to employ the all-or-nothing budget extender method. Anway, everyone now lives to fight another day over mandate relief, ethics and redistricting reform, a property tax cap, the rent control laws and whatever else crops up prior to the session’s scheduled end on June 20.

Here is the complete transcript:

“This is a transformational moment for our state. The first step to the road to economic recovery. It wasn’t easy, but we overcame the special interest and their lobbyists. And we did the people’s business in Albany.”

“The new budget changes the way our state works in many many ways. It closes the current $10b deficit. It cuts waste and inefficiency and begins significant consolidation of our state government. It overhauls our economic development efforts to create good jobs for New Yorkers throughout the state.”

“What the budget does is impressive, but what the budget doesn’t do is also impressive. It doesn’t raise taxes. That is what I promised when I was elected, and that is what we did.”

“It is a new day in Albany. Government needs to recognize the new economic reality. Government needs to tighten it’s belt and cut the waste. Just like every family in this state has done. And we must refocus government on improving performance, not growing bureaucracy.”

“Our goal is to have the world class education system here in New York. The best health care system. And a thriving economy proclaiming New York is open for business. We have more to do to clean up Albany, and restore the promise of New york State government. But this was a great step.”

“I applaud the state Senate and Assembly. They performed admirably. And the government worked as it should. We put aside politics to get this done. We weren’t Democrats or Republicans. We were New Yorkers first, and we acted that way.”

“My friends, I took office about 90 days ago. I said my goal was to give you a government that functions, a government that is competent, and a government of integrity. In short, a government that works for you. This budget works for the people of New York. We have more to do, but we are one our way together.”

Cuomo To Tap Perales As Secretary Of State (Updated)

On the eve of the Somos el Futuro spring conference in Albany this weekend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is posied to
Cesar Perales, civil rights attorney and co-founder of the nonprofit Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, to serve as his secretary of state.


Perales is yet another veteran of the first Cuomo administration. He served as Mario Cuomo’s state Social Services commissioner during the former governor’s first two terms. In 1991, he was named deputy mayor for Health and Human Services by then-NYC Mayor David Dinkins.

Perales left government in 1994 to become senior VP at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. While at the hospital, he developed a Community Health Care system that received national recognition. He returned in 2003 to the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, which he founded in the early 1970s, and remained there until 2010.

There’s now a tradition of naming a Latino (or Latina, as the case may be) to this post. Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer named Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez, who had close ties to ex-Assemblyman-turned-lobbyist Roberto Ramirez, to the position. She stayed through much of the Paterson administration, resigning last July to take a job with the AARP.

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Here And Now – Pigs Fly Edition

They did it, they actually did it. The Senate wrapped up its budget bill passing shortly before midnight. The Assembly took a little longer, getting the job done just after 1 a.m.

It was the first on-time budget in five years. Had it passed just an hour earlier, it would have been the first early budget in 28 years.

As promised by Cuomo, the $132.5 billion budget closes the $10 billion budget deficit with no new taxes.

“Although ‘the millionaire’s tax’ was not included in the final budget agreement, we will continue our efforts to convince our partners that it was and is the right thing to do at this time,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in a post-budget passage statement. (No link).

The protestors did not spend the night in the Capitol, as they weren’t allowed to stay once the Legislature had wrapped up its business. Several hundred of them did sleep in the Empire State Plaza, however, and will be returning for more demonstrations today. (No link).

They did, however, turn the Capitol into a “place of pandemonium well into the night,” writes Thomas Kaplan, banging on the legislative chamber doors as lawmakers rushed to pass the budget before midnight.

Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari said the protestors “threatened us,” and defended the decision to restrict public access to parts of the Capitol.

There was one arrest. A protestor was charged with harassment and criminal possession of a weapon (?) after smacking a Senate staffer in the head – perhaps accidentally – with a cymbal.

The protestors got fed thanks to the “pizza diplomacy” of Sens. Bill Perkins and Kevin Parker.

The repeal of the MTA payroll tax may have to wait until next year, said Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

Public schools received a small boost in education aid, but are still experiencing deep funding cuts.

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