Cuomo’s 30-Day Amendments: Close Prisons, Bring Back Medicaid Redesign

Changes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $175 billion budget plan include the closure of three prisons, the reconstitution of the Medicaid Redesign Team and costs shifts in the Medicaid program itself designed to save $550 million.

The changes come as the state grapples with a $2.6 billion revenue shortfall, which Cuomo has blamed on the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions.

At the same time, the updated financial plane will revise the estimated collection in the state’s main revenuer generator, the personal income tax, by a decrease of $3.8 billion in total over two years.

“The federal government’s politically motivated changes to state and local tax deductibility have already cost New York $2.6 billion,” Cuomo said. “As Washington continues their economic civil war by restructuring the economy to benefit red states, we are taking action to maintain a strong Financial Plan and safeguard New York’s fiscal integrity.”

It’s not year clear which prisons will be closed. Budget language shows the governor would have the discretion to determine which prisons are shut. The governor’s office pointed to a reduction in the overall state prison population.

There are 54 prisons New York state operates, but the prison population has declined since Cuomo took office in 2011, decreasing from 56,419 inmates to 46,973.

No layoffs are planned, and the state would help employees transition to a new facility or position.

Cuomo’s amendments propose taking funding for health care transformation, which is yet to be spent, to be used for housing services. Indigent care payments will also be reduce. The amendments propose an across-the-board drop in Medicaid provider reimbursement — a decline that will not impact payments as required by federal law or direct payments authorized under mental hygiene law.

The proposal is already causing anxiety from the Greater New York Hospital Association and 1199, the powerful health care union that has been key to Cuomo’s base of support.

“Our message to Albany is simple: no health care cuts,” said Kenneth E. Raske, President of GNYHA.

“New York’s safety net hospitals have already been cut to the bone and cannot absorb them. If these cuts happen, access to care in vulnerable communities in New York City, the Hudson Valley, Long Island, and across the State would be severely threatened. Many hospitals would curtail vital services—and some would close their doors for good. Tens of thousands of health care workers would lose their jobs. We will take our message to the public that these cuts would spell disaster for health care in New York, and we will do so with every resource at our disposal.”

Redesigning the Medicaid program was a project of the governor’s first term in office, winning the buy-in of both 1199 as well as the state’s hospital networks.

“Too many of our community hospitals and nursing homes are already struggling to keep their doors open, and the widespread closures caused by these proposed cuts would leave tens of thousands of New Yorkers in healthcare deserts,” said George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU.

“As we seek to balance this budget, it cannot be done on the backs of our most vulnerable communities, and the dedicated workers who provide exceptional care. New York is known a leader in healthcare delivery and development, and the only way we will grow is if we continue to invest in its people. Now is the time for Albany to stand up for the health of its residents, by protecting access to vital quality care.”

The proposal will also keep to a planned $250 million in the rainy day fund, which is the first of two planned deposits.

James Suggests Litigation Likely Over Trump Emergency Declaration

New York Attorney General Letitia James criticized President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on Friday meant to access funds to build a border wall and indicated she will launch a legal challenge as a result.

“Declaring a National Emergency without legitimate cause could create a Constitutional crisis,” said James, a Democrat who took office this year.

“This action will harm Americans across the country by diverting funds necessary to handle real emergencies and real disasters to advance the President’s personal agenda. We will not stand for this abuse of power and will fight back with every legal tool at our disposal.”

Trump on Friday declared the emergency after a federal budget appropriation bill set aside far less than the $5 billion the president is seeking to build the wall on the southern border with Mexico, a signature campaign pledge.

Legal experts have indicated the declaration is likely to face several legal challenges.

30-Day Amendments To Address AIM Cuts

Updates to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $175 billion budget proposal could bolster the local governments affected by the cuts to the aid to municipalities program, a source familiar with the plan said Friday.

An amendment to Cuomo’s budget will earmark tax revenue expected from the plan to collect sales tax from out-of-state internet retail purchases for towns, villages and cities impacted by the AIM funding cut.

Cuomo’s budget estimates the internet sales tax collection will generate an estimated $110 million for local governments.

Cuomo’s budget proposed cutting AIM funding for communities that do not overly rely on the money, less than 2 percent of their overall revenue in 2017.

But local governments raised concerns, saying that even for communities that do not have a large share of the money, it would still lead to cuts to services or an increase in taxes.

Cuomo at a press conference earlier this week acknowledged the concerns raised by the AIM cuts, saying they would be dealt with in his 30-day budget amendments.

“We’re going to be taking a second look at this in this budget,” Cuomo said. “But it’s all money and we have a $3.2 billion deficit to get back to the funding levels that I proposed.”

Upstate Officials Would Have Taken Amazon Jobs

From the Morning Memo:

As Amazon announced it was pulling out of a project to build a campus in Queens, upstate officials quickly said they would have happily taken the offer, which would have amounted to anywhere between 25,000 to 40,000 jobs.

Broome County Executive Jason Garnar in a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said he was waiting by the phone in case he called.

“You have our strong support in Broome,” he wrote. “We would welcome you with open arms.”

The same went for Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, who issued a joint letter with Sen. Joe Griffo.

“Our area would benefit greatly from the jobs and economic infusion that a company such as yours would bring if it chose to establish a presence here and would serve as a great ambassador for Amazon,” they wrote.

It’s unlikely the company will take any of the upstate officials up on the offer, given Amazon’s decision to not reopen its nationwide search for what it was dubbing its second headquarters.

And the small to mid-size cities seeking the project are even more unlikely to be able to accommodate Amazon’s housing and transportation needs, even as they tout what makes their areas great, be it a strong public university or a drone manufacturing facility.

But the calls underscore the desperate need for jobs and broader tax base in many upstate communities that are contending with an eroding population — virtually the opposite issue facing the New York City economy at this moment, as officials there fought back against the proposal.

There wasn’t much mention, though, of the tax incentives the company was to receive if it created the promised jobs — some $3 billion. Critics had questioned the size of the tax break package for one of the world’s richest companies, which had spurred a nationwide contest for the project.

Some states did unveil even larger tax incentive plans, including New Jersey, which may ultimately benefit from the rejection of Queens.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public events or interviews announced as of yet.

The NYS Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus holds its annual Albany “caucus weekend” starting today.

President Donald Trump delivers remarks “on the national security and humanitarian crisis on our southern border” in the White House rose garden at 10 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence travel to Krakow, Poland, where they will participate in a tour of Auschwitz I, and also a tour of Auschwitz II- Birkenau. They will then travel to Munich, Germany, where the vice president delivers remarks and participates in the John McCain Dissertation Award Ceremony.

At 9 a.m., Brooklyn Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte attends the 12th Annual Emerging Manager and MWBE Conference, hosted by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Albany Capital Center, 55 Eagle St., Albany.

At 10 a.m., Long Island state Sen. Todd Kaminsky hosts a Climate & Community Protection Act hearing to discuss the bill, Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building 1550 Franklin Ave., Mineola.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear live on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show and take calls from listeners.

Also at 10 a.m., Queens state Sen. Jessica Ramos discusses a new piece of legislation she introduced that would eliminate the sub-minimum wage for food service workers and service employees who receive tips in New York, 32-37 Junction Blvd., East Elmhurst.

At 11 a.m., “The Capitol Pressroom” features City & State staff reporter Zach Williams, WCNY.

At 3 p.m., Bronx Rep. Adriano Espaillat hosts his annual Bronx office open house event celebrating African-American history and culture, 2530 Grand Concourse, Bronx.

At 3:40 p.m., the New York State My Brother’s Keeper fellows will participate in a workshop focusing on providing leadership development in public speaking and presentations, NY State Museum, Huxley Theatre, 222 Madison Ave., Albany.

At 7 p.m., NYC Councilman Francisco Moya and the NYPD hold a town hall on combating gang-related activity, St. Leo Catholic Academy School, 104-19 49th Ave., Queens.

Headlines…

Hard-fought legislation that gives President Donald Trump 55 additional miles of fencing along the US-Mexico border — well short of what he requested — is on the way to his desk after a bipartisan House vote.

The Justice Department has warned the White House a national emergency declaration is nearly certain to be blocked by the courts on, at least, a temporary basis, preventing the immediate implementation of the president’s plan to circumvent Congress and build the wall using his executives powers.

In declaring a national emergency to try to build his long-promised border wall, Trump will invoke extraordinary and seldom-used authorities to bypass Congress’s constitutionally granted power of the purse. Democrats are fuming, but it’s unclear what their legal standing is.

A federal judge in Washington dismissed a lawsuit filed by the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) attempting to halt expedited construction of the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico through its National Butterfly Center in Texas.

Trump’s physician said the recent physical the president underwent showed that he was “in very good health,” but also revealed that he had gained weight and was now considered obese under the government’s own guidelines.

Trump weighed in at 243 pounds versus 239 pounds last year.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put a vote on a Green New Deal on the Senate calendar in a move that seemed designed to pit Democratic leaders who haven’t supported it against progressives who do. But Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said: “Bring it on.”

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke will hold an event today at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as the Texas Democrat mulls a 2020 presidential bid, a spokesperson confirmed to The Hill.

Less than eight months after Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stunned the political world by unseating a powerful Democratic congressman, her home state is emerging as an epicenter of House primary challenges in 2020

The F.B.I. is looking into whether the singer-songwriter Ryan Adams, 44, committed a crime by engaging in sexually explicit communications with an underage fan, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the matter.

Trump’s company is scrapping plans for two new hotel chains announced two years ago, casting blame in part on a hostile political environment.

The watershed moment that led Amazon to reconsider coming to Queens came on Feb. 4 — when a fierce political foe, Deputy Senator Majority Leader Mike Gianaris, was appointed to a state board with the power to thwart the project, said anonymous sources involved in the discussions.

The company tried to reach out to Gianaris — but he rejected three invitations to meet, according to a source. (See above link).

Gov. Andrew Cuomo lashed out at Long Island’s Democratic senators after Amazon withdrew from the project and he partly blamed the move on the Senate’s Democratic majority, which he says will have to reckon with the voters in the next election cycle.

“The New York State Senate has done tremendous damage,” Cuomo said in a statement. “They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio took a different approach, saying: “Sure, there was some voices that raised critiques, but that’s part of democracy. I really think in the end this was Amazon’s choice that it was a huge mistake and they have to be held accountable for their own decisions.”

The mayor also said he was “flabbergasted” by the company’s decision, adding: “(W)hy on earth after all the effort that we all have put in would you simply walk away? It doesn’t make sense given everything that has been done here and that if they had a concern why didn’t we talk about it and try to address it.”

De Blasio might turn out to be the biggest loser in the Amazon mess, after spurning his progressive base by offering massive subsidies to lure the company to the Big Apple. Now doesn’t even get to brag about new jobs as he flirts with a potential 2020 run.

Politicians and activists who’d opposed Amazon building a new headquarters in Queens staged a victory rally after the company announced it was scrapping the project, but were confronted by furious Long Island City business owners who blasted them as “job killers.”

When Amazon announced that it was abandoning plans for an additional corporate headquarters in New York, no one was more surprised than the union leaders who were in talks with the company the day before.

Amazon’s decision to step away from its plan to build a second headquarters in New York after being offered billions of dollars in state incentives drew sharp reaction from across the political spectrum and stoked new worries about the state’s business climate.

Andrea Peyser: “With their ‘Take these jobs and shove it’ attitude, New York’s sanctimonious, progressive politicians and assorted naysayers should be proud of themselves. But what about the rest of us?”

Everyone loses,” said Baruch public affairs professor Doug Muzzio. “The self-proclaimed progressives will claim a victory. They’ll say it showed that the largest corporation in America can be brought to its knees, and they’ll say it’s the end of corporate welfare, but there are no real winners.”

More >

Extras

“Amazon’s sudden decision to cancel its plan to build a corporate campus in Long Island City, Queens, amounted to a stunning rejection for the two often-at-odds politicians who had heralded its arrival, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the biggest win yet for emboldened left-wing progressives in New York.”

Both the mayor’s and the governor’s offices reportedly reassured Amazon executives that, despite the vocal criticism, the deal they had negotiated would be approved. But the company appeared upset at even a moderate level of resistance.

Among those celebrating the demise of the Amazon HQ2 project in Long Island City: Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Central New York officials hoped that Amazon’s decision to put its new corporate headquarters in New York City would have a spin-off benefit for their region. Today’s news dashed those hopes.

Moody’s called Amazon’s decision a “setback for the city,” but acknowledged that it remains in a good financial position overall.

The White House confirms that President Donald Trump will sign a bill averting a potential partial government shutdown at the end of the week, but will also take “other executive action — including a national emergency” as he seeks to keep his border wall pledge.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she “may” file a legal challenge if the president does indeed declare a national emergency to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

CNN and a trio of NBC networks will host the first two Democratic presidential primary debates of the 2020 cycle, which will feature a maximum of 20 candidates, the Democratic National Committee announced.

The debate could be held over two consecutive nights in prime time, given the anticipated size of the field, the DNC said.

U.S. retail sales fell in December, posting the biggest drop since September 2009 and delivering more evidence that last year’s holiday sales fizzled unexpectedly. Even e-commerce suffered a big setback.

The U.S. Senate confirmed William Barr as attorney general, placing the veteran government official and lawyer atop the Justice Department as special counsel Robert Mueller investigates Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Here’s a line I never expected EJ McMahon to write: “State Sen. Julia Salazar, a democratic socialist from Brooklyn, is backing an idea that could appeal to limited-government conservatives across New York.”

An action plan unveiled by federal officials today offered a murky timeline for setting national limits on PFOA in drinking water.

Americans still want tougher gun laws but there is less urgency a year after the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., according to a poll released by Marist College and the NPR/PBS News Hour.

Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo’s senior adviser, mocked Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott with an apparent reference to the Parkland school shooting in a tweet that was later deleted.

Embattled New York City Councilman Rubén Díaz Sr. came out swinging at a rally with supporters after a committee that he chaired was dissolved following his claim that the council was “controlled by the homosexual community.”

The Kings County Democratic County Committee voted overwhelmingly to endorse Councilman Jumaane Williams for public advocate this week, marking a leftward shift for an organization that had been seen as tightly controlled by centrist party bosses.

Grammy-winning rapper Cardi B is calling out Greene Correctional Facility in the Hudson Valley town of Coxsackie for alleged mistreatment after an inmate death.

Democratic Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, who represents Sullivan County and part of Orange County, announced her opposition to the governor’s proposed congestion pricing plan for NYC.

The Niagara Falls Democratic Committee made no endorsements of City Council candidates at its meeting yesterday, instead deciding on an open primary

Cuomo Blames Senate Democrats

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement blamed the state Senate, led by his own party, for the sinking of a deal to bring up to 40,000 Amazon jobs to Queens tied to $3 billion in tax breaks.

Amazon announced Thursday it was pulling out of the deal amid a political backlash to the proposal.

Cuomo in his statement pointed to the project as a chance to diversifying the city’s economy from real estate and the financial sector.

“However, a small group politicians put their own narrow political interests above their community — which poll after poll showed overwhelmingly supported bringing Amazon to Long Island City — the state’s economic future and the best interests of the people of this state,” he said in the statement. “The New York State Senate has done tremendous damage. They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity.”

Democrats, who gained control of the state Senate this year, had nominated Sen. Mike Gianaris to a board that potentially had the power to veto the tax breaks.

Gianaris in a statement did not take credit, but blamed the company for its failure on outreach.

“Today’s behavior by Amazon shows why they would have been a bad partner for New York in any event,” he said. “Rather than seriously engage with the community they proposed to profoundly change, Amazon continued its effort to shakedown governments to get its way. It is time for a national dialogue about the perils of these types of corporate subsidies.”

Cuomo had been a chief booster for the deal and defended it amid growing criticism over the size of the tax incentives as well as the company’s opposition to unionizing its workforce. The governor had said Amazon would have meant a $27 billion boost to the New York City economy as the six-figure jobs moved to Long Island City.

At the same time, New York had offered a smaller tax incentive plan than other states.

Still, Republicans and liberal opponents of the deal blamed the governor for the proposal, arguing he had negotiated it in secret with little buy in for other officials.

“The fundamentals of New York’s business climate and community that attracted amazon to be here – our talent pool, world-class education system, commitment to diversity and progressivism – remain and we won’t be deterred as we continue to attract world class business to communities across New York State,” Cuomo said.

Amazon Tried To Enter New York In A Transitional Moment

A large company based elsewhere in the country shows some interest in bringing jobs to New York City, maybe construct a large, marquee foothold in the city.

The company is rebuffed by labor advocates for its anti-union stance. Elected officials point to the company driving small businesses out of main street. We’re not against good jobs, but we are against companies that fail to share New York values.

That was the reception Walmart got in the previous decade as it sought to build a site in New York City.

The parallels between Walmart and Amazon aren’t perfect, of course.

Walmart employs many low-wage workers; Amazon was seeking to bring up to 40,000 jobs, many earning well into the six figures, in exchange for $3 billion in tax incentives.

But the company’s plan, backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, ran aground much in the same way Walmart’s ill-fated efforts 10 years ago: A confluence of populist politics, a backlash to large-scale economic development tax incentives and a rapidly changing city ultimately sank the agreement.

Indeed, the reasons for opposing Amazon seemed checked virtually every box in the progressive movement.

Opponents were spurred by the $3 billion in tax breaks benefiting the world’s richest man, the company’s stated opposition to unionization, Amazon’s contracts with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, the working conditions at the company’s warehouses and the impact the company would have had on the value of real estate in rapidly developing Long Island City.

The expense of living in New York, the uncertainty of your job, the fear of living as an undocumented immigrant, the power of a billionaire getting your tax dollars were all rolled into one very tangible news story in the age of President Donald Trump.

The deal would have been coupled with support for affordable housing as well as employment opportunities — highlighting a disconnect between the progressive movement, black and Latino voters and a split between labor unions.

The company’s plans for Queens were unfurling months after Rep. Joe Crowley was defeated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in an upset Democratic primary and amid whispers of more primary challenges to the Democratic establishment’s left flank.

All this opposition came despite public polling, including a Siena College survey, that should broad statewide support for the deal — suggesting the criticism was mostly being stoked by an echo chamber on Twitter.

At the same time, the wide-open field for New York City public advocate gave more than a dozen elected officials and candidates an opportunity to sound off against the deal — with the megaphone of a campaign in front of them.

“Their corporate culture is so anti-union, that they decided to leave the city of New York rather than remain neutral,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, one of the chief opponents of the proposal, at a rally on Thursday.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union in a statement blasted the company on the way out as well.

“Rather than addressing the legitimate concerns that have been raised by many New Yorkers Amazon says you do it our way or not at all, we will not even consider the concerns of New Yorkers – that’s not what a responsible business would do,” said Chelsea Connor, a spokeswoman for the union.

But labor was not wholly opposed by organized labor. 32BJ in a statement called the decision by the company to pull out a blow to unions.

“For labor however, this is also a missed opportunity to engage one of the largest companies in the world and to create a pathway to union representation for one of the largest groups of predominantly non-union workers in our country,” said Hector Figueroa, the union’s president.

In Albany, there was surprise that the company had not done more to actively engage lawmakers and critics of the deal. That left the plan’s defense to the governor.

Cuomo last week said the state Senate, which had nominated Amazon deal critic Sen. Michael Gianaris to a board with veto power over the deal, would be to blame for the deal falling through. A Siena College poll this week found a broad swath of voters in New York City, union households and the suburbs backed the proposal.

The third term for the governor is about making the center hold as his party shifts further and further away from his political comfort zone. Third terms can be real pains, scuttled by boondoggles like a bad response to a snowstorm or the failure to get a football stadium built on the west side of Manhattan.

This chapter is wholly different, one in which the politics of the moment overcame anything else.

Cuomo Signs Child Victims Act

The Child Victims Act, a measure that extends the civil and criminal statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The governor held the signing in the newsroom of The Daily News, which had led an editorial campaign pushing for the measure’s approval over the last several years.

“We are here today because survivors who endured unimaginable pain came forward with great courage and sacrificed their own privacy to make change for others,” Cuomo said.

“This bill brings justice to people who were abused, and rights the wrongs that went unacknowledged and unpunished for too long. By signing this bill, we are saying nobody is above the law, that the cloak of authority is not impenetrable, and that if you violate the law, we will find out and you will be punished and justice will be done.”

The bill is meant to make it easier for the victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits, allowing a civil suit to begin before they reach the age of 55. Survivors and victims whose claims have been denied due to the passage of time can also have a one-year look-back window to begin a lawsuit.

“After years of unnecessary delay, the Child Victims Act is finally a reality and justice is coming for countless New Yorkers,” Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “Survivors who fought so long and hard deserve our love and admiration. With this new law, we are empowering those who have suffered unspeakable abuse and holding sexual predators accountable.”

Amazon Drops Bid For New York

Amazon has dropped its bid for a campus in Queens that would have brought up to 40,000 jobs to Long Island City tied to $3 billion in tax incentives.

A Siena College poll earlier this week showed broad support among voters statewide for the deal.

The move came amid opposition from elected officials on both the city and state level.

Senate Democrats last week nominated a prominent critic, Sen. Mike Gianaris, to a board that could have had a veto over the tax breaks for the company.

“After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens,” the company said in a statement.

“For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term. While polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.”

Gianaris had been critical of the size of the incentive package. Critics also pointed to the company’s opposition to unionizing its workforce as a problem for New York City.

The move is a blow to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who had touted the plan as a major investment and boost for the state’s economy.

Cuomo had said Democrats in the Legislature would be blamed for opposing the deal.

The company selected both Queens and northern Virginia for the site of its new campus, dubbed HQ2 by the company.

For now, the company has no plans to reopen the search for another site.