Gillibrand Donates Trump Contributions, Coy On 2020

When reporters asked U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, earlier this year about running for president, she said she was “ruling it out.” Her answer was less definitive Friday, when in Western New York she was faced with a question about whether she was reconsidering.

Instead, Gillibrand employed a tactic often used by the governor, also considered a possible 2020 contender, pivoting to next year’s election instead of the one three years away.

“I’m really focused on running for Senate in 2018 and so my hope and dream is to be elected here and so that’s what I’m hoping for,” she said.

The senator has been thrust back into the national spotlight, taking a leading role as an advocate for victims of sexual harassment and assault, as well as a critic of President Donald Trump. In return, the president tweeted earlier this week that Gillibrand used to beg him for campaign contributions and “would do anything for them.”

“I think it was intended to be a sexist smear, intended to silence me on something I care very deeply about and the truth is, the president’s not going to silence me or the women who have stood up against him or the millions of women who have been marching since inauguration and showing up at town halls and running for office to be heard on the things that they care most deeply about,” she said.

According to the Federal Elections Commission, Trump did donate to Gillibrand in 2010 and 2007. The senator said the campaign gave all of his donations this week to a not-for-profit that deals with sexual violence.

She was also part of a bipartisan group that yesterday unveiled new rules for reporting sexual harassment in Congress. Despite the recent publicity, Gillibrand said the movement is not about her.

“What my job is then is to provide accountability. We have to create the structure around this pervasiveness and begin to show accountability, transparency and offer justice,” she said.

Lawmakers Want To Expand Enhance Tuition Awards To For-Profit Schools

Two state lawmakers on Friday pushed Gov. Andrew Cuomo to expand the Enhanced Tuition Award to students who attend proprietary, or for-profit, colleges in the state.

Sen. Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Victor Pichardo with the Association of Proprietary Colleges backed the expansion, which would give access to the grant to 40,000 students earning degrees at all levels.

“I’m proud that college affordability topped our list of priorities last year, but we cannot leave any student behind,” Klein said. “Those studying at proprietary colleges receive the same degree that they would receive if they opted to go to another college and those students deserve financial aid parity. I urge Governor Cuomo to sign my legislation into law.”

The colleges include institutions like Berkeley College, the College of Westchester and the School of Visual Arts. There are dozen of these colleges spread over 23 campuses in New York. The vast majority of the students at these schools are women, some 70 percent, and 41 percent are black or Hispanic.

“As the costs of higher education continue to climb, it’s essential that we expand scholarship programs so that every New Yorker has the opportunity to earn a college degree. Under current law, however, students at proprietary colleges aren’t eligible for Enhanced Tuition Awards, a clear inequity that needs to be corrected,” Pichardo said.

“That’s why Senator Klein and I passed legislation to ensure these students can take full advantage of the state’s scholarship and college opportunity programs. The measure passed both legislative chambers with strong bipartisan support, and I urge the governor to sign this bill into law as soon as possible.”

Barkan Blasts Golden Over Crash That Put Woman In Coma

Democratic state Senate candidate Ross Barkan in a fundraising email blasted Republican incumbent Marty Golden after The Daily News reported the lawmaker in 2005 was the driver in a crash the led to a woman in a coma that resulted in a large settlement to her family.

Golden had later paid the woman’s estate $750,000 to settle the matter. A Golden spokesman told The Daily News that the crash was a “terrible accident.”

Golden’s driving record, and his record on traffic issues in New York City writ large, are under scrutiny after his run-in as a passenger with a well-known bike advocate in Brooklyn. Golden is accused of impersonating a police officer, which he denies and insisted the cyclist, Brian Howland, was to blame.

In the fundraising email, Barkan writes he’s not surprised by these stories.

“The other day, a reporter asked me if I was surprised by Golden’s behavior,” he wrote. “He’s been my state senator for much of my life, so I answered honestly: no. The problem is, not enough people yet know how Golden has failed Southern Brooklyn.

I am running against him on my own record and vision. I believe in actually fixing our public transportation and keeping people safe.”

Gallivan Continues To Discuss Special Session With State Senate Leadership

From the Morning Memo:

Having legislators return to Albany for a special session is already a rare occurrence and the window for one to happen this year is quickly closing. State Senator Pat Gallivan, R-Elma, is still holding out some hope his colleagues will return to override the governor’s veto of a bill that would’ve blocked the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center from moving from its current location in West Seneca.

He said he continues to have discussions with Majority Leader John Flanagan and state Senate leadership.

“Our deadline’s not the end of the year,” Gallivan said. “We do have until we start up again next session so conceivably we could do something after the first of the year if there’s the willingness on the part of leadership and my colleagues to do this.”

It’s a long shot at best, but one the state senator will continue to pursue until the door closes. At that time, he said he’ll explore avenues.

“It’s something I believe very strongly in. This is a wrong decision. I think the governor was wrong when he vetoed this and I would hope that we could convince the governor to ultimately change his mind on this,” Gallivan said.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit to block the move to the same site as the adult facility in Buffalo, continues as well.

“There is the legal avenue and we still have a budget season coming up so even though he may have vetoed this legislation, the move is still not complete despite the construction starting. As they say, it’s not over until it’s over.”

Unshackle Upstate Urges Albany To Hold Line On Taxes

From the Morning Memo:

The Rochester-based business group Unshackle Upstate’s 2018 agenda urges state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to hold the line on tax increases and reduce regulations in the new year.

The group’s agenda comes amid what is expected to be a challenging budget year for Albany that includes a $4.6 billion budget deficit and the looming impact of a cap on deductions of state, local and property taxes.

“The proposals contained in our 2018 agenda can help New York address its multi-billion dollar deficit without adding to taxpayers’ burden. By holding the line on spending, reforming regulations that drive up the cost of construction and development, and promoting private-sector job growth, Albany’s leaders can get the state budget back on track,” said Greg Biryla, executive director of Unshackle Upstate.

“New York faces serious fiscal challenges in 2018 and beyond, but the last thing Upstate’s economy, its employers or its residents can endure are any additions to our already suffocating tax climate.”

The group wants Albany to oppose any new or expansion of existing taxes, reduce state spending and institute long-sought reforms for the prevailing wage and Scaffold Law.

And the group wants to see the state’s cap on property tax increases — limited to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower — made permanent.

“Unshackle Upstate has worked for a decade to address challenges faced by Upstate New York businesses and residents,” said Bob Duffy, the former lieutenant governor and the president and CEO of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce.

“This agenda addresses many of the concerns Rochester Chamber hears from its members on a regular basis. Working with partners like Unshackle Upstate helps Rochester Chamber grow the voice of our region’s employers and taxpayers while focusing on improving the Finger Lakes region’s economic future.”

Here And Now

Good morning and TGIF! Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with nothing public planned. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is making several media-related appearances and attend a holiday party for 1199 SEIU.

Your schedule:

At 10 a.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will announce new jobs at Strategic Financial, 115 Lawrence Bell Drive, Amherst.

Also at 10 a.m., de Blasio will make an appearance on WNYC.

At 10:30 a.m., the Assembly will hold a public hearing to review and assess the impact of funding in the 2017-2018 SFY Budget for the Department of Transportation. Hamilton Hearing Room B, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Rep. Joe Crowley, state Sen. Michael Gianaris and others will hold a news conference to announce that large trucks will be allowed on the Grand Central Parkway between the BQE and RFK Bridge. Big trucks will no longer be forced to detour onto Astoria’s local streets. Columbus Triangle, Astoria Blvd. South & 31st Street, Queens.

At 1:45 p.m., Hochul will make a joint appearance with Rep. Louise Slaughter to discuss the Republican tax plan in Congress, Kenneth B. Keating Federal Building, B-340, 3120 Federal Building, 100 State St., Rochester.

At 4:15 p.m., Hochul will tour the USS Little Rock, Canalside, Buffalo (this is closed press).

At 5:45 p.m., Hochul will attend the Little Rock commissioning ceremony, Hyatt Regency Buffalo Hotel and Conference Center, 2 Fountain Plaza, Buffalo.

Headlines:

Republicans in Congress are still trying to find ways to pay for their $1 trillion tax cut and keep lawmakers on board for the overhaul package before the end of the year.

One alarm bell that sounded Thursday was the possible defection of Sen. Marco Rubio from voting yes on the tax bill, putting the measure in peril.

President Trump touted his administration’s efforts to rollback regulations in its first year, even going as far as literally cutting red tape to highlight the effort.

U.S. Senate Republicans are trying to shield special counsel Robert Mueller from increasing criticism that his probe of Russian interference is politically motivated.

Supporters of Republican Roy Moore are searching for evidence of voter fraud in his loss in the Alabama Senate race to Democrat Doug Jones as the White House is calling on him to concede.

There’s good news for retailers as it appears Americans are spending more this holiday season than they did last year.

House Speaker Paul Ryan sought to rebut a report in Politico that’s considering leaving Congress at the end of 2018 or after the tax bill is completed.

States attorney general are suing the U.S. Department of Education over delays in loan forgiveness.

A NY1/Baruch College Poll finds 59 percent of voters statewide believe the sexual harassment charges, versus just 23 percent who don’t.

The same poll asked New Yorkers whether U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand should run for president in 2020.

A sexual harassment complaint was filed against New York City Councilman Andy King last week, according to sources, bringing a national reckoning to the corridors of City Hall.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo turned 60 last week, but he celebrated his birthday Thursday night in a style that is favored by many politicians: by holding a fundraiser. But there were also some party crashers. And while the governor is often targeted by protesters, this year there is a new angle involving the State Senate.

Protesters also picketed outside of the fundraiser of Rep. Lee Zeldin, which was headlined by former White House advisor Steve Bannon.

No longer receiving casino revenues, lawmakers in the city of Niagara Falls have struggled to close the budget gap.

In Michelle Schoeneman’s eyes, Rep. Chris Collins is giving to the wrong group this holiday season. For the second time this year, Schoeneman has paid for a billboard questioning Collins’ support of policies she believes are detrimental to Western New Yorkers.

For those who haven’t gotten their flu shot yet, now would be a good time. There are now 100 confirmed cases of the flu in Monroe County, this time last year the county had 14.

Ride-hailing is a service drivers say is becoming increasingly popular during winter weather conditions like those the arena experienced Wednesday.

New opportunities are on the horizon for refugees and immigrants in the Utica area. The Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees is one of the organizations chosen to receive grant funding through the Regional Economic Development Council awards.

The gun control group founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has endorsed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal for those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence to lose their guns.

The state Court of Appeals in a ruling Thursday found judges will now be required to instruct juries that witness identifications of suspects of a different race is less reliable than when people make IDs from their own race.

The court also ruled Thursday that wrongful birth lawsuits can begin the moment a child is born.

Officials in New York and New Jersey through Govs. Cuomo and Christie announced a deal to fully fund the Gateway Tunnel project had been formally agreed to.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is urging the state to change its borrowing practices after finding its debt load is the second highest among states in the country.

A state-backed outreach center for those struggling with substance abuse has opened in the Bronx.

The NYPD is investigating sexual assault claims against hip hop and fashion mogul Russell Simmons.

A Daily News reporter was arrested after walking into a hospital and presenting himself as a friend of the family of a patient there in order to get an interview and then fled the scene when questioned by security.

Some New Yorkers are lining up early to pay their 2018 property taxes so they can deduct them now before the Republican tax plan is put in place.

(FYI, a $10,000 cap on state, local and property tax deductions is included in the agreed-to version of the final bill).

State grants are boosting historic sites in Capital Region river towns Troy and Cohoes.

A crash that occurred on the new Tappan Zee Bridge (officially the Mario Cuomo Bridge) shouldn’t be repeated in the future based on the plans to change its current configuration.

The Cuomo administration plans to file a legal challenge should the federal government declare the project to dredge PCBs from the Hudson River over.

How U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley became a major force in New York City politics, as his star is also rising in Washington.

Extras

The FCC voted to dismantle landmark rules regulating the businesses that connect consumers to the internet, granting broadband companies power to potentially reshape Americans’ online experiences.

AG Eric Schneiderman called the FCC ruling “a blow to everyone who cares about a free and open internet,” and said he will lead a multi-state lawsuit to overturn.

Taxpayers will be able to deduct a limited amount – up to $10,000 total – of state and local income or sales taxes on their federal returns as part of the deal between Senate and House Republicans to finalize a major tax overhaul, Rep. Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican, said.

Many of the changes made to assuage the concerns of businesses and Republican lawmakers are expected to drive up the cost of the tax reform bill and will need to be paid for to ensure the legislation does not add more than $1.5 trillion to the deficit over a decade.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, told congressional leadership that he will not support the latest version of the GOP tax bill if the legislation doesn’t make the child tax credit more generous – something that would drive the overall cost up still higher.

Despite several landmark legislative wins this year, and a better-than-expected relationship with Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan has reportedly made it known to some of his closest confidants that this will be his final term as speaker, and is not expected to remain in D.C. past 2018.

Trump’s son Eric echoed his dad’s recent attack on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, saying he renmembers “when she came into his office every three days to ask him for money and ask for major campaign contributions,” adding: “There is no one who wanted to get into his office more than Kirsten Gillibrand.”

The Walt Disney Company says it has reached a deal to buy most of the assets of 21st Century Fox, the conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch, in an all-stock transaction valued at roughly $52.4 billion.

Omarosa Manigault, outgoing director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, hinted she plans to tell the public about inappropriate things she witnessed while a member of the Trump administration this year.

The New York Times announced that publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger will retire by Dec. 31 and name his 37-year-old son, Arthur Gregg (A.G.) Sulzberger as his replacement.

Freedom Caucus leader Jim Jordan will headline a fundraiser for Rep. Lee Zeldin in New York tonight — a last-minute, line-up addition that comes after Ryan backed out of an earlier Zeldin re-election event.

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman said he believes that if Hillary Clinton won last year’s presidential election, her approach to US relations with North Korea would be “more open-minded” than the Trump administration’s.

The NYC Council is launching an investigation into misconduct allegations against Bronx Democratic Councilman Andy King, who was the subject of a sexual harassment complaint two years ago.

The King probe is part of a broader investigation by NYC Council lawyers into possible sexual misconduct among staff and elected officials, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The wife of a Kentucky lawmaker who killed himself after a sexual assault allegation surfaced this week defended her husband and said she will run for his seat because “these high-tech lynchings based on lies and half-truths can’t be allowed to win the day.”

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli released a report projecting state-funded debt will reach $63.7 billion by March 31, the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year. The New York’s total debt is the second-highest in the U.S. behind California, which has $87 billion in debt.

A federal judge sentenced former Ramapo supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence to 30 months in prison for fraud involving the financing of his pet project, the town’s $58 million baseball stadium.

Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke is emerging as front-runner among four Democrats scrambling to succeed Michael Kearns, who was recently elected to the Assembly, as county clerk in a special election early next year.

The Suffolk Legislature’s Public Safety Committee effectively killed a bill that would have given it oversight over money seized by county law enforcement agencies after opposition surfaced from Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and incoming District Attorney Timothy Sini.

Unshackle Upstate, a pro-taxpayer, upstate-focused advocacy and education organization, has released its 2018 advocacy agenda.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced that New York has been designated the first age-friendly state in the nation by the AARP and the World Health Organization.

A Utica judge ruled this week that Kevin Ward Jr.’s family can move forward with their claims against Tony Stewart.

Gillibrand Proposes New Rules For Sexual Harassment Reporting In Congress

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was among the group of Republicans and Democrats on Thursday to unveil a package changes to sexual harassment reporting in Congress.

The changes, which include an end to secret settlements involving members of Congress unless a victim requests they be kept private, comes amid a firestorm of allegations of sexual harassment leveled against powerful men across a variety of industries.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken announced this month he will leave office in the coming weeks after he was accused of groping and forcibly kissing multiple women. Democratic Rep. John Conyers resigned after it was revealed he settled a sexual harassment claim, while Republican Reps. Trent Franks has resigned and Blake Farenthold has said he will not seek re-election.

“Congress should never be above the law or play by their own set of rules,” Gillibrand said.

“We should treat every person who works here with respect and dignity, and that means creating a climate where there is accountability, fairness, respect, and access to justice if sexual harassment takes place. There are real costs to sexual harassment in the workplace. We now know that many people quit their jobs because of it, or miss out on promotions or raises, all of which can throw off the entire trajectory in their careers. We must ensure that Congress handles complaints to create an environment where staffers can come forward if something happens to them without having to fear that it will ruin their careers. This bipartisan legislation would bring us much closer to that goal.”

The legislation also extends protections to congressional interns and fellows. Members of Congress found personally liable for harassment or discrimination will be responsible for paying the cost of a settlement and it must be approved by the Senate or House Ethics Committee.

Everyone who works on Capitol Hill will also be required to take harassment and discrimination training, including lawmakers.

The changes come as Gillibrand called on Franken to resign from office and, days later, called on President Trump to do the same amid allegations he has harassed and assaulted women.

In New York, where sexual harassment cases involving state lawmakers have occurred over the years, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef has called for a revised, uniform policy for sexual harassment cases.

Cuomo Threatens Legal Challenge If Hudson PCB Cleanup Ends

New York will move to file a legal challenge against the federal Environmental Protection Agency if it determines the project to remove PCB-laden muck from the Hudson River is completed, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced.

The proposal was packaged as part of the governor’s 2018 State of the State agenda. The EPA is expected to make its determination on the finality of the project by the end of the month with the filing of what’s known as a certificate of completion.

The lawsuit would be filed in cooperation with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Cuomo’s office said.

“The Hudson River is a critical economic engine and environmental treasure and New York will not allow PCB contamination to continue wreaking havoc on this vital resource,” Cuomo said.

“The data is clear: the job is not done and the EPA cannot declare that this remediation is complete. If they do, New York will take any action necessary to hold them accountable for ensuring our waterways are protected and properly restored.”

Meanwhile, Cuomo is also called on the state Department of Environmental Conservation to end the state’s concurrence with a 2002 record of decision that had been entered into with the federal government as part of the massive cleanup project.

The cleanup of PCB-contaminated sediment was paid for by General Electric Co. after the federal government ordered the project for the upper Hudson River, based about an hour north of Albany.

“EPA is working to complete the five-year review report and our review of, and responses to, the comments that we received during the public comment period on the proposed report,” said EPA spokeswoman Larisa Romanowski. “We do not anticipate finalizing the report and response to comments before the end of December. However, we intend to issue the report before we make a final determination on GE’s request for certification of completion of the remedial action.”

DiNapoli Sounds Debt Alarm

The state’s debt is expected to hit nearly $64 billion at the end of March and soar to $71.8 billion in the next four years — making it the second-highest debt load among the states in the country, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Thursday warned in a report.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration pushed back on the report, insisting in a state released by its budget office that the state’s debt actually declined.

DiNapoli’s report pointed to a combination of state-funded, voter-approved and state supported debt as well as debt taken on by entities like the Dormitory Authority, all of which have increased. Of those, what has declined is voter-approved debt, expected to reach $2.46 billion, a 6.1 percent decrease from 10 years ago.

When combined, however, those debt loads are expected to reach $63.7 billion by March 31 of next year, the final day of the fiscal year in New York.

“New York faces tremendous infrastructure challenges and the wise use of debt can be an essential part of the financing picture,” DiNapoli said. “Still, backdoor borrowing imposes significant costs on taxpayers, lacks transparency and may limit flexibility in providing important services and programs. My debt reform proposal would help ensure effective capital planning and manageable debt levels.”

The current per capita debt for the state is $3,116, or three times the median in all states. Annual debt service payments are projected to be mroe than $8.2 billion in the 2021-22 fiscal year.

The state does have a borrowing cap, but it’s expected to shrink to $58 billion by the 2020-21 fiscal year.

New York’s debt load is second only to California’s $87 billion, the report found. As a percent of personal income, it’s at 5.1 percent, second only to New Jersey.

The Division of Budget, an arm of the Cuomo administration, pushed back on the report’s findings.

“This report does not adhere to generally accepted accounting principles and includes debt that is not recognized as the responsibility of the State on OSC’s own financial statements,” said spokesman Morris Peters. “The fact is, New York’s debt has declined for five consecutive years for the first time in history and our debt to personal income ratio is at the lowest level since the 1960s.”

The report backed an amendment to the state’s constitution that would limit state-funded debt to 5 percent of personal income within the next 10 years in order to appropriately plan for the reduction.

Another amendment should ban the issuing of state-funded debt by public authorities and other similar entities.

And DiNapoli believes the state should create a council to study capital assets and infrastructure that monitors public authorities.

Debt Impact Study 2017 by Nick Reisman on Scribd