With NY Still Trailing On Taxes, Biz Groups See More Work Needed

From the Morning Memo:

The Tax Foundation once again ranked New York among the states with the worst tax climate in the nation — something that doesn’t surprise the business groups that lobby for changes in Albany.

The group ranked New York 49th in the nation in overall taxes — a spot the state has typically held in recent years, despite a push to cut taxes and cap property tax levy increases on the local level.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration knocked the report and the Tax Foundation (which candidate Cuomo has cited in campaign literature), while also pointing to the strides the state has made on the issue.

“Their obvious ideology aside, the facts are that this administration has been rigorous and effective in constraining State spending growth to the lowest level in modern history – resulting in lower taxes for all New Yorkers,” said Division of Budget spokesman Morris Peters.

“We now have the lowest corporate tax rate since 1968, the lowest manufacturers tax rate since 1917 and, with the new income tax cuts phasing in this year, the lowest middle class tax rates since 1947.”

The Business Council, in a tweet, also noted the gains the state has made.

“We’ve made some decent strides in recent years, but clearly much more can and must be done,” the group said.

And Unshackle Upstate called the ranking part of the “sad status quo.”

“Our leaders in Albany must step up, embrace and enact an aggressive agenda that reduces our tax burden, cuts regulatory red tape and promotes private sector job growth,” said Executive Director Greg Biryla. “Until that happens, we’ll continue to be in the economic basement with New Jersey.”

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.

President Donald Trump receives his daily intelligence briefing, and will speak on the phone with the governor of Iowa.

Trump will then participate in a meeting with the Senate Finance Committee, and have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence.

At 8:45 a.m., Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa speaks at Berkeley College’s “Women in Media: The Courage to Own Your Story” conference, 12 E. 41st St., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., hundreds of charter school parents from Brooklyn join state Sen. Jesse Hamilton, New York City Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr. and other Brooklyn community leaders at a rally to celebrate the impact of charter schools on Brooklyn’s communities, Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn.

At 9:15 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul discusses women in leadership at the Westchester Women’s Agenda meeting, 78 North Broadway, White Plains.

At 10:30 a.m., Manhattan DA write-in candidate Marc Fliedner will be receiving the personal endorsement of Curtis Sliwa, who is a radio host and founder of Guardian Angels, 1 Hogan Pl., Manhattan.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Republican NYC mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis will hold a press conference to discuss issues that affect El Barrio and the community’s support of her campaign, “La Guardia’s Lucky Corner” 116th Street and Lexington Avenue, the Bronx.

At 11 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Letitia James hosts a press conference to discuss how the city’s Education and Homeless Services’ departments have failed to adequately provide support and resources for homeless students, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will “break news about…the continuing refusal” of his Democratic opponent, Sen. George Latimer, to pay his household tax debts, 148 Martine Ave., White Plains.

At noon, Community Access and other mental health advocates call on the de Blasio administration to improve relations between the NYPD and the mental health community, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli gives remarks at state Sen. Liz Krueger’s Senior Resource Fair, Temple Emanu-El, 1 E. 65th St., Manhattan.

At 2:45 p.m., Rep. Elise Stefanik will visit and tour Prairie’s Orchard in Malone in her continued efforts to get feedback from North Country farmers for the upcoming Farm Bill in Congress, 111 County Route 24.

At 5 p.m., the Bronx Young Democrats host a young professionals night fundraiser with NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray, Gun Hill Brewery, 3227 Laconia Ave., the Bronx.

At 5:30 p.m., the NYC Voter Assistance Advisory Committee holds a public meeting, 100 Church St., Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Councilman Steve Levin will host a town hall with residents of Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, the Brooklyn Navy Yard area, Downtown Brooklyn, Dumbo, Fulton Ferry, Greenpoint, Vinegar Hill and Williamsburg, St. Francis College, 180 Remsen St., Brooklyn.

Also at 6 p.m., the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce hosts a “Women of Influence” discussion with Public Advocate James, 125 Park Ave., Manhattan.

At 6:15 p.m., Hochul speaks at the at Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce annual meeting, Gargiulo’s Restaurant, 2911 West 15th St., Brooklyn.

Headlines…

Nikki Haley will seek to focus world attention today on Iran’s actions in the Middle East in an early test of whether Trump’s toughening position on the Islamic Republic is alienating allies and leaving the U.S. isolated internationally.

Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said that “cavalier” threats to start war on the Korean peninsula are “dangerous and short-sighted”, urging the United States to get all parties to the negotiating table.

Two leading senators, hoping to stabilize teetering health insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act, reached a bipartisan deal to fund critical subsidies to insurers that Trump moved just days ago to cut off.

Rep. Mark Walker, of North Carolina, a leader of the 170-member Republican Study Committee, blasted the nascent bipartisan deal to fund Obamacare insurer payments as a bailout.

A federal judge in California ordered the Trump administration to turn over emails, letters, memos and other materials related to its decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Trump told the widow of a Green Beret who died in Niger that the soldier “knew what he signed up for…but when it happens it hurts anyway” during a five-minute phone call.

An Obama administration reunion tour is unfolding in New Jersey, as a cavalcade of luminaries has paraded into the state in recent days, including former Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, former Secretary of State John Kerry, and tomorrow, the former president himself, urging voters to make Philip Murphy, the Democratic candidate, their governor.

The groundswell over the Harvey Weintein sexual harassment that has rocked Hollywood moved into California’s capital as more than 140 women — including lawmakers, senior aides and lobbyists — came forward to denounce what they describe as pervasive sexual misconduct by powerful men in the nation’s most influential legislature.

Bob Weinstein, younger brother and business partner of Harvey Weinstein, has been accused of sexual assault two weeks after his brother’s allegations surfaced.

Amazon Studios says it has accepted the resignation of its top executive, Roy Price, following sexual harassment allegations made by a producer on the Amazon series “Man in the High Castle.”

The Obama administration knew that Russia had used bribery, kickbacks and extortion to get a stake in the US atomic-energy industry — but cut deals giving Moscow control of a large chunk of the US uranium supply anyway.

Trump hailed the carved symbols of Confederate racism as “beautiful,” and now he’s defending statues dedicated to Christopher Columbus — the man responsible for genocide of North America’s indigenous people.

Former White House spokesman Sean Spicer was grilled for hours Monday by the special counsel investigating possible Russian interference in the election.

As Trump’s first congressional supporter in 2016 and then appearing on countless TV news programs on the president’s behalf, there was no doubt that Collins remains a key member of Congress for the president’s battles that lie ahead. VP Mike Pence’s visit to WNY yesterday underscored that.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said it received no prior warning of Cuomo’s announcement that General Motors and Cruise Automation will begin a self-driving car test in Lower Manhattan next year.

“The city wasn’t give much notice of this idea and we certainly weren’t consulted,” said de Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips, a spokesman. “We have very real safety concerns. We are obviously looking forward to some detail on this idea before any cars hit the streets.”

More >

Proposed Regs Seek More Oversight Solitary Confinement

Regulations backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday would allow for those in solitary confinement to have at least four hours of time outside of their cell.

The regulations would apply to local jails, Cuomo’s office said.

The move also will require new reporting guidelines to the State Commission of Correction, including any decision that puts a person in solitary confinement for more than a month and if any person is placed there who is under the age of 18.

“Amid public reports of misuse and abuse of solitary confinement, these new standards will inject much needed uniformity, accountability and transparency in the process for all local jails,” Cuomo said in a statement. “These new standards will help root out unacceptable behavior and build upon the landmark reforms put into place at state prisons, creating a consistent level of quality and fairness at all facilities across New York.”

The regulations will be published in the State Register, making them subject to public comment.

The regulations will also require the decision to confine a pregnant inmate is reviewed by the chief administrative officer and that any time essential services are denied to an inmate, the commission review the decision.

Extras

A federal judge in Hawaii has blocked President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban one day before it was set to take effect.

Trump’s approval rating for handling the federal government’s response to recent hurricanes has dropped 20 points in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.

The Miami Heat basketball team, which has held a charity golf tournament at Trump’s Doral golf course for four straight years, will shift that tournament to another course in 2018, a team spokesman said, declining to give a reason for the change.

Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci’s new media organization is sparking outrage for a poll question asking readers how many Jews they thought had been murdered during the Holocaust.

Harvey Weinstein was forced out of his namesake company’s board a week after he was fired from the business itself.

Republican Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino, who had been nominated to head the DEA, withdrew his name from consideration for the job after a blockbuster Washington Post/60 Minutes report detailed his role in a push to prevent law enforcement from cracking down on drug-company malfeasance in the midst of the country’s worst addiction crisis ever.

A top (Democratic) FCC official is putting pressure on her colleagues to end their silence amid Trump’s threats against TV networks that are critical of his administration.

Hillary Clinton said she does not plan to run for president again, but will continue her criticism of Trump.

George Soros, the hedge fund manager and Democratic donor, has moved the bulk of his wealth to Open Society Foundations, which promotes democracy and human rights around the world.

The Trump administration is planning an increase in federal immigration jails across the country for the thousands of additional undocumented immigrants its agents are arresting.

Democratic U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine, of Virginia, and Michael Bennet, of Colorado, have joined together to propose new legislation that would build on the Affordable Care Act, rather than a repeal and replace effort that has been proposed by the GOP.

Trump, in defense of his claim that President Barack Obama didn’t call the loved ones of fallen soldiers, floated the idea that reporters ask his chief of staff, retired Gen. John Kelly, whether Obama called him after his son died in Afghanistan.

Alicia Preston, a Republican political consultant in New Hampshire who worked on former Gov. George Pataki’s 2016 presidential campaign, takes issue with potential 2020 contender Cuomo’s handling of the ongoing casino revenue disagreement between the Seneca Nation, the state and Niagara Falls.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman proposed that state law should be changed to require school bus companies to maintain copies of all red-light camera violations, report them to the DMV and school districts; and use any violations in its evaluation of bus drivers.

While in Albany today, Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter discussed three new pieces of legislation she’s pushing that will help make it easier to kill – or cull- deer in urban and suburban areas.

The John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital reflects a new mentality in Buffalo, one focused on the future instead of the past, Cuomo said at a dedication today marking the completion of the new facility.

In 2011, Democratic Syracuse mayoral candidate Juanita Perez Williams’ corporation counsel office hired her ex-husband’s law firm in a deal Syracuse city officials later called secretive and illegal

At Cuomo’s urging, New York is poised to adopt new standards for the treatment of prisoners held in solitary confinement in local jails.

Rep. Chris Collins, who is facing an ethics investigation stemming from his involvement in a struggling Australian biotech firm, spent more money on lawyers in the past three months than he raised for his re-election campaign. He was expecting to raise more than $400,000 with VP Mike Pence’s help today.

About 80 people protested outside the suburban Buffalo restaurant where the Collins fundraiser was held.

Sen. George Latimer, the Democratic Party Nominee for Westchester county executive, was involved in a serious car crash in New Rochelle over the summer in the midst of his primary battle against County Legislator Ken Jenkins.

General Motors plans to become the first company to test self-driving cars in New York City, in some of the world’s worst traffic, as traditional automakers battle technology titans to take the lead in the development of autonomous vehicles.

Though Republican North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik has more cash on hand than all of her NY-21 opponents combined, Don Boyajian, an environmental and town attorney from Saratoga has a sizable early lead on his fellow Democrats.

Onondaga County has the dubious distinction of having some of the state’s highest rates of sexually transmitted disease.

Cuomo: ‘Chutzpah’ For Pence To Come To NY

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday criticized Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to New York amid proposals in Washington for tax reform the governor says will hurt the state.

“Why would you have a tax cut plan that is actually a tax increase for New Yorkers?” Cuomo said in Plattsburgh. “It take chutzpah they would say for the vice president to come in here and campaign.”

Pence was in western New York on Tuesday, appearing alongside Rep. Chris Collins and attending a fundraiser for the Republican lawmaker.

Cuomo and Collins have traded jabs over the last several months on a variety of health care and tax proposals, including a measure that would have shifted the burden of Medicaid spending from county governments to the state.

Now, Cuomo is knocking Republicans for a proposal that would end the deduction of state and local taxes, a move that would likely impact high-tax states like New York.

Cuomo has argued the state sends back a disproportionate share in taxes to Washington compared to what comes back in federal spending.

“We’ve given plenty,” he said. “For them to be trying to take money from New York to give to other states because it suits their politics is reprehensible.”

Heastie: Con Con Not Best ‘Vehicle’ For Change

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Tuesday reiterated his opposition to holding a constitutional convention, calling it the wrong “vehicle” to making changes to the state constitution.

“I believe most of the members believe as I do that the constitution is a document we want to protect from the whims of special interest money from outside the state that would like to see partisan changes to the constitution,” he said.

Heastie and the Assembly Democratic conference were in Albany Tuesday for a closed-door meeting, discussing issues ranging from federal budget cuts, the state’s financial concerns and in “generic terms” discussions surrounding the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Heastie said the constitutional convention, which voters will determine whether to hold in a referendum next month, was part of the discussion. He said the conversation stemmed from a “refresher” on the convention and the referendum, which is held every 20 years.

Labor unions, environmental groups and some conservative organizations have opposed the convention — called a con con — over concerns it would put at risk legal rights and protections in the existing constituion.

“I believe that most legislators believe as I do that there is a vehicle to change the Constitution and that’s through the Legislature,” Heastie said. “As I’ve said before and to some of the people who support a convention, this just opens up the entire document and you can propose any change you want.”

Assembly Supportive Of Flood Relief Aid, But Non-Committal On Return

Assembly Democrats on Tuesday indicated they’d back a plan to boost flood relief aid in Lake Ontario and the surrounding area — some $35 million.

But it’s not clear when that funding may be given the OK by the full Legislature.

“The quickest that we are all back in here, I believe that will be one of the things that’s on the agenda whether it’s in a special session or if we come back in January, very soon after that,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

Assembly Democrats returned Tuesday at the Capitol to meet privately for several hours. The meeting followed multiple comments about a possible special session from Governor Andrew Cuomo over the last several weeks, with flood relief among the items being considered.

“Hopefully whenever we reconvene, we’ll get the money into the hands of people who need it to rebuild their communities,” said Joe Morelle, the Assembly majority leader.

Lawmakers and Cuomo earlier this year approved $45 million for communities hit hard by the rising waters of Lake Ontario. But that was half the amount lawmakers had originally sought.

“It was certainly more art than science because we didn’t know the level of interest would be and the level of damage would be, so we talked about that if the dollars were sufficient, coming back and doing another appropriation,” Heastie said.

Meanwhile, Cuomo has also suggested the Legislature may need to return to contend with federal budget cuts to public welfare hospitals and children’s health insurance unless Congress acts.

“I think we’re fine, but if some severe federal action comes, I think it will be a larger conversation between the Assembly, Senate and the governor. But if nothing else happens, we may not have to come back,” Heastie said.

NYSUT Protests Anti-Latimer Mailer

The statewide teachers union is protesting the use of its logo in a mailer knocking Democratic Westchester County executive candidate George Latimer, saying its use was unauthorized by the labor group.

The mailer criticizes Latimer, a state senator, over school-aid funding. It includes a New York State United Teachers union logo, citing a cut in funding for school districts.

“As senator, George Latimer has been a fearless champion for students and teachers, and a relentless fighter for more funding for public schools in Westchester County and across the state,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. “Any suggestion to the contrary is political nonsense.”

Republican Rob Astorino’s campaign responded, blasting Latimer once again over taxes owed on a home owned by his wife that faces estate issues following the death of his mother in law.

“NYSUT should be asking why the Latimers refuse to pay five years worth of school taxes on the second home in Rye,” said Astorino spokesman Bill O’Reilly. “Or do state senators no longer have to pay school taxes?”

Cuomo: Tax Plan Uses NY As A ‘Piggy Bank’

With Vice President Mike Pence in western New York to push the Trump administration’s plans for tax reform, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was also in Buffalo on Tuesday to decry the proposals.

Cuomo at an event signaled out the push to end the deduction of state and local taxes, a move that is expected to impact high-tax states like New York. Subsequent proposals have suggested a compromise that would cap the deductions, but that could still impact areas like the New York City suburbs which have a higher cost of living.

“Why is it worse for New York? Because we have some of the highest taxes in the United States of America,” Cuomo said. “So what it really is is Washington’s attempt to cut taxes in other parts of the country by using New York as a piggy bank and that is something that we cannot allow to happen. It would literally change the competitiveness of this state overnight.”

Cuomo called on members of the state’s House delegation to oppose the end to the deduction.

Republicans in New York have not necessarily embraced the plan, with some lawmakers on the state level expressing opposition. That included Sen. Patrick Gallivan of western New York, who said on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom earlier Tuesday he was opposed to plan.

Tax Foundation: NY Ranks Second To Last In Tax Climate

The Tax Foundation on Tuesday released its annual rankings of states’ tax climates, ranking New York 49th overall in the country.

The state lands between New Jersey at 50 and California, ranked 48th.

The state ranks second-to-last in individual taxes and 47th in property taxes. New York is also 43rd in sales tax.

The state does fare better when it comes to its corporate tax ranking at 7th in the country.

New York has typically ranked at the back of the pack when it comes to its tax climate in the group’s survey of U.S. states.

Updated: The Division of Budget, part of the Cuomo administration, pushed back against the ranking.

“Their obvious ideology aside, the facts are that this administration has been rigorous and effective in constraining State spending growth to the lowest level in modern history – resulting in lower taxes for all New Yorkers,” said DOB spokesman Morris Peters. “We now have the lowest corporate tax rate since 1968, the lowest manufacturers tax rate since 1917 and, with the new income tax cuts phasing in this year, the lowest middle class tax rates since 1947.”