Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo Says He Won’t Back A Budget Deal Without Ethics

A budget without ethics reform is a no-go, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters in a conference call on Friday.

Cuomo in the call, held to discuss state preparations for the coming snowstorm this weekend, called reform measures such as efforts to crack down on independent expenditure committees, public financing and new regulations for lobbying the most difficult items in the negotiations.

“I’m not going to pass a budget without ethics reform and I’m not going to allow cherry picking of the budget where we pass just the easy bills and not the hard bills,” Cuomo said.

The Democratic-controlled state Legislature in recent weeks has approved a flurry of bills that had stalled under Republican control in the state Senate, including provisions meant to make it easier to vote and protections for transgender New Yorkers. They plan next week to pass legislation aimed at strengthening abortion rights and access to contraception.

Cuomo has included this measures in his $175 billion budget proposal as well.

In addition to the ethics legislation, Cuomo pointed to his proposal for a congestion pricing toll plan in Manhattan as well as a push to gain more control over the leadership of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as additional heavy lifts.

The process this year — the Legislature acting virtually on its own — has been an inverse of previous years in which the budget proposal was a clearinghouse for headline-inducing policy measures.

“You can’t pass a budget piecemeal,” he said. “This is a different dynamic than past years. We’ve made that point numerous times.”

But the reform measures, he says, will be the bigger sticking point.

“It’s also difficult practically. I put forth lobbying reform. That is very close to home,” Cuomo said. “I put forth a Freedom of Information Law for the Legislature which progressive legislators have proposed in the past. Why? Because they don’t want the Freedom of Information Law.”

The budget is scheduled to pass by the end of March.

Gov’s Budget Omits Male Contraception Coverage

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $175 billion budget plan does not include insurance coverage for male contraception, explicitly omitting language that would include condoms and vasectomies.

It’s one of the key differences from the legislature’s version, the Comprehensive Contraception Care Act, which offers equitable coverage.

“The legislature feels very strongly that contraception is a two way street, men and women, and of course, when you’re talking about condoms that’s a public health issue that protects women and men from sexually transmitted diseases,” said Sen. Liz Krueger Tuesday night in a Capital Tonight interview. She is a co-sponsor of the Legislature’s version of the contraception bill.

Both versions read: “All FDA-approved contraceptive drugs, devices, and other products. This includes all FDA-approved over-the-counter contraceptive drugs, devices, and products as prescribed or as otherwise authorized under state or federal law.”

But the Governor’s version immediately tacks on, “notwithstanding this paragraph, an insurer shall not be required to provide coverage of male condoms.”

The legislature’s bill allows “voluntary sterilization procedures,” where the executive proposal specifies solely “voluntary sterilization procedures for women.”

“We’re legislators. We need to read, we need to review, we need to make the decision whether we agree with something or we need to change it and we have the ability,” Krueger said. “Now, thanks to both houses being Democratic, to pass the kinds of bills we believe are literally in the best interests of New Yorkers.”

Both versions are congruent in covering up to 12 months of contraception, education and counseling services and follow up services.

Next week the state Senate is expected to pass the CCCA along with the Reproductive Health Act.

Cuomo Admin Says Early Voting Will Be Paid For

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office in a statement Thursday sought to allay concerns local governments would not have the funding to pay for the cost of early voting, pointing to a provision that would collect sales taxes on internet purchases from out-of-state retailers and the plan to consolidate the state and federal primaries into one day.

The primary consolidation is expected to save $25 million, while the sales tax enforcement would take in an additional $390 million.

County governments are charged with running elections through local boards of election. Local government advocates have raised concerns with the early voting bill not being coupled with a funding in the governor’s budget proposal for the measure.

“While the federal government works to disenfranchise voters, in New York we are committed to making voting easier and ensuring every New Yorker has an opportunity to exercise this sacred democratic right to make their voices heard,” said Dani Lever, the governor’s communications director. “”This year, Governor Cuomo proposed a comprehensive set of reforms to improve our democracy, including making Election Day a State holiday, synchronizing federal and state elections, and enacting voting by mail, same day and auto registration, and early voting.

“The Budget more than covers the cost of early voting by merging state and federal primaries to save counties $25 million and eliminating the internet tax advantage to ensure collection of sales taxes, delivering $390 million to local governments.”

State lawmakers last week approved the early voting legislation, which has been sent to Cuomo’s desk for his signature.

State To Assist Furloughed Federal Workers

New York officials are moving to provide support for the federal government workers who have been furloughed or have missed paychecks due to the ongoing and record-long shutdown in Washington.

“It is unconscionable that the President is holding hostage the wages and livelihoods of hard-working Americans in an attempt to advance his hateful and regressive political agenda,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

“While the federal administration steps on the backs of workers, New York State is stepping up to help in any way we can. These measures will ensure furloughed federal workers in New York receive prompt and special one-on-one services so they can obtain the vital safety-net benefits they need during this hard time.”

Federal workers will receive back pay once the government re-opens. But until then, workers have missed at least one paycheck due to the shutdown. Some workers, like airport security workers, are at work without pay.

The Department of Labor has been called on to speed up the application process for unemployment insurance and extend the hours of its call center. At the same time, Cuomo called on the department to coordinate with federal public workers unions to make members aware of the benefits that are available.

Some workers on furlough or working without pay may be eligible for emergency assistance in order to meet basic needs through the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

Cuomo Wants A Tax Return Disclosure Law For Candidates

Candidates for statewide office and the Legislature should disclose up to a decade’s worth of tax returns in order to qualify for the ballot, according to a provision in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal.

Candidates for statewide offices — governor, attorney general and comptroller among them — would have to disclose 10 years of state and federal tax returns.

Those running for state Senate or Assembly would have to disclose 5 years of returns.

The provision cannot apply to candidates for federal office, such as president, Senate or the House of Representatives.

“While this federal administration seems intent on operating in secrecy and darkness, New York State is working to provide the public with more information to better inform their choice at the ballot box,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Mandating that this critical information be made public will shed sunlight and sunshine on potential conflicts of interest and increase the ethical standards of public officials serving New Yorkers.”

Typically statewide officials, including Cuomo, disclose their tax returns every April by making copies of them available to the press, as part of a long-standing custom dating back to the post-Watergate era.

During the 2018 re-election campaign, Cuomo pushed his Democratic primary opponent Cynthia Nixon and later his Republican challenger Marc Molinaro to release 10 years’ worth of tax returns.

Ultimately, Nixon released one year five years of tax returns; Molinaro released one year.

Cuomo Says He’s A ‘Fan’ Of Gillibrand

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview Thursday said he is a “fan” of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, insisting he was not endorsing any of the Democrats running or potentially running for the presidential nomination.

Cuomo had previously called former Vice President Joe Biden the Democrat with the most “credibility” and presents the “best case” among the field of potential candidates to run against President Donald Trump.

“My two cents, I think of all the names that are out there, I think Joe Biden has the best base,” Cuomo said in an interview on WAMC radio in Albany earlier this month. “I think Joe Biden brings most of the secret ingredient you need for a Democrat to win, which is credibility.”

Gillibrand, who worked for Cuomo as a top attorney at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, filed an exploratory committee this week.

“We’re personal friends for more years than I care to remember. I also know Joe Biden and what I said about him I believe,” Cuomo said in an interview with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer this morning. “There will be more people getting in the race, so it’s way to early to talk about who’s in, who’s out and preferences.”

Cuomo said his comments about Biden, whom he has had a long-standing relationship with, are “not mutually inconsistent” with Gillibrand’s candidacy.

“I haven’t endorsed anyone. What I said about Joe Biden was not an endorsement,” Cuomo said. “It was a statement of fact. Let’s see who gets into the race.”

Cuomo Explains Opt-Out Clause For Marijuana Sales

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday defended the proposal that would allow local governments to opt out of the law allowing for adult-use marijuana sales in New York, calling the issue a still-controversial matter in some parts of New York.

“This is a controversial area,” Cuomo told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer this morning. “Some people think it’s a no-brainer, so to speak. Some communities have real concerns and my opinion is democracy still exists, especially on an issue like this where people still have differences of opinion.”

The opt out clause would allow both large cities and counties to vote on whether to allow the program.

“They would affirmatively have to vote to opt out,” Cuomo said. “The main question is whether they would have to opt in or opt out.”

He predicted that “New York City is going to opt in.”

Not everyone is pleased with the opt-out clause. Sen. Julia Salazar called the provision “unacceptable.”

“New Yorkers have been enormously harmed by criminalization,” she wrote on Twitter. “Alleviating that harm must be our top priority.”

Cuomo’s proposal would decriminalize marijuana everywhere, but the opt out would prevent retail sales in the areas that choose to do so.

Marijuana purchases would be limited to those age 21 and older. Lawmakers and Cuomo are also likely to move toward some form of criminal justice law changes related marijuana convictions.

Protections for Journalists in 2019 Budget

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo included a proposal in his 2019 budget address drawing journalists into a protected fold.

It elevates the penalty for assaulting a journalist from a misdemeanor, to a class D felony offense.

“Reporters have a tough enough job as it and it is unacceptable and unconscionable that they increasingly have to endure the threat of physical harm for just for doing their jobs,” Cuomo said in a statement. “While the current federal administration is fostering an environment that normalizes and even encourages attacks on the press, New York is taking a stand. It is my hope that other states join us in enacting these protections into law once and for all.”

Cuomo cited the Trump Administration as the proposal’s root cause, noting an increased level of animosity towards reporters and chastising the President’s favored phrase “fake news” bestowed upon certain members of the media and outlets.

Cuomo Outlines Lobbying Reforms

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to strengthen regulations for lobbyists in New York, including new reporting requirements for minimum disclosure set at $500, a code of conduct for those who seek to influence public policy and a ban on political consultants from lobbying officials they helped elect.

“We can do more to ensure the public trust and that’s why we want to enact a public Code of Conduct for lobbyists that stops self-dealing and conflicts of interest so everybody knows who they’re working for,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“With this proposal, we will ban political consultants from lobbying the politicians they helped elect, expand the lobbying ban to crack down on the proverbial revolving door and increase penalties for lobbyists who fail to follow the law.”

The proposals were outlined in Cuomo’s 2019-20 budget proposal, due at the end of March.

The provisions would also require lobbyists to further disclose campaign donations in order to identify them as bundling contributions. Lobbyists would also be blocked from giving candidates loans.

Penalties for failing for lobbyists who fail to follow disclosure requirements would also be increased, including possible debarment.

Cuomo Calls For Lower Contribution Limits

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, one of the state’s most prodigious political fundraisers, is calling for lower caps on the amount of money candidates for office can raise.

Statewide candidates would have donations to their campaigns capped at $10,000 for a primary and $15,000 for the generally election, a decline from the $44,000 limit in a general election contest.

Candidates for the state Senate would have their contributions capped at $5,000 each for the primary and general election, down from the $11,000 general election limit and $7,000 ceiling in a primary.

In the Assembly, candidates there would be limited to $3,000 in both the general and primary election.

Cuomo has also called for the public financing of political campaigns with a small donor matching system.

“For far too long, rich corporations and the wealthiest one percent have influenced our elections and drowned out the voices of ordinary New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “Now is the time to implement real campaign finance reform in New York. Let’s overhaul our campaign financing system by incentivizing candidates to focus on small donors, not large corporations, and lowering campaign contribution limits and give the power back to New Yorkers once and for all.”

Cuomo is known for being an aggressive fundraiser. He spent $35.5 million on his re-election campaign. The entire four-year cycle, Cuomo spent $43.1 million. He has $5 million left in his campaign account.