Andrew Cuomo

Florida Governor Says He’d Welcome More New Yorkers

From the Morning Memo:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this week poked New York officials over taxes and jobs, saying he’d welcome more residents of the state who want to move south.

“I was looking, you may have seen, the governor of New York complaining that Florida was stealing its residents,” DeSantis, a Republican, said at a news conference this week.

It’s not clear what remarks Gov. Andrew Cuomo made that DeSantis is referring to; it is likely a reference to Cuomo’s push against the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, which Cuomo has blamed on a $2.3 billion revenue shortfall.

Cuomo has said the cap has targeted high tax states like New York, enabling wealthier people to move to states like Florida, negatively affecting New York’s bottomline in the process.

But DeSantis said the departures shouldn’t be blame don Florida.

“You are driving them away and we are simply opening our arms,” he said. “I’ve been able to be very clear that Florida will always remain a low tax state. We will never see an income tax here in Florida. You’re not going hear me or any of the people in Florida push away people who want to bring jobs to our state. I’m not going to demonize people or companies. If AOC (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) doesn’t want Amazon, they can come to Florida.”

Cuomo has backed efforts to lower tax rates in New York, which have declined during his time in office. But the state’s main revenue generator continues to be the personal income tax. Forty-six percent of the state’s PIT revenue comes from its richest residents.

Cuomo Wants Stronger Penalties For Assaulting Transit Workers

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $175 billion budget includes a provision that would add a felony charge for assaulting a transportation worker.

Cuomo touted the proposal on Thursday as he is also pushing for a congestion pricing plan for Manhattan, with the proceeds to be used for shoring up the New York City subway system.

“New York has zero tolerance for anyone who flagrantly puts the lives and safety of transportation workers in jeopardy,” Cuomo said.

“By strengthening existing penalties and expanding the categories of workers included in these protections, we will prevent future assaults, ensure the safety of New York’s transportation workers and provide law enforcement the tools they need to hold offenders accountable.”

Under Cuomo’s proposal, an assault on a transit worker would lead to a $5,000 fine and up to seven years in prison.

The measure would also include DOT and Thruway Authority workers as well as airport workers.

The measure is also included in a budget that would add new penalties for those who assault working journalists.

Demonstrations Planned To Push Back Against Medicaid Cuts

From the Morning Memo:

The $550 million cuts proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the state’s Medicaid program has sent health care advocates and industry officials into demonstration mode.

The cuts, part of the 30-day amendments announced last week, amount to $1 billion when factoring in federal matching funds. The cuts were proposed amid a revenue shortfall Cuomo has blamed on the $10,000 cap on state and federal tax deductions.

“There will be no decline in the quality of care, but I cannot see how a billion dollars coming out of the health care delivery system, hospitals and nursing homes, how there won’t be a potential loss in service, loss in potential workforce,” said Healthcare Association of New York Vice President of State Policy Jim Clancy.

The Healthcare Association of New York plans to bring workers to protest the spending cuts to the Capitol on March 5, arguing a progressive state government shouldn’t be targeting health care spending.

Other advocates, like Strong Economy For All’s Michael Kink, expects weeks of demonstrations.

Health care advocates and industry groups like the Healthcare Association of New York say the cuts will have an effect not just on patients who receive Medicaid benefits, but also those who work in the health care system.

“We’re going to see a lot of advocacy, from workers, from health care activists, from the leaders of these facilities, pressuring Governor Cuomo to pay for the budget gap without cutting health care,” Kink said.

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

Cuomo Urges Congress To Boost 9/11 Victims Fund

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a letter on Wednesday urged members of Congress to restore funding to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund after the head of the fund announced reductions in payments to survivors as claims increase.

“The answer to diminishing funds is not to dilute payments to victims – it is to increase funding for all who need it and make the fund permanent,” Cuomo wrote in the letter. “All are equally heroes to the nation, and all should be equally and fully funded.”

Payments to survivors could be cut by as much as 70 percent. The federal fund has had nearly 40,000 people apply reporting illnesses related to the attacks at the World Trade Center, Pentagon or in Pennsylvania.

So far, almost $5 billion has awarded out of the fund, which restarted in 2011 to aid those with health problems.

“In New York, we will always stand with the victims of the 9/11 attacks,” Cuomo wrote in the letter. “I will work with New York’s delegation, the champions for this effort, to secure the funding that survivors deserve.”

Surrogacy Coalition Writes To Cuomo

A coalition backing bills meant to strengthen the state’s surrogacy and in vitro fertilization laws on Wednesday wrote to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to highlight the issue.

The group, known as the Protecting Modern Families Coalition, wants the passage of a bill that would end requirements for establishment parenthood for lesbian couples as well as decriminalization gestational surrogacy.

In the letter, the coalition pointed to current laws that make surrogacy restrictive for families as well as surrogates. A version of the legislation is in Cuomo’s $175 billion budget proposal.

“It’s incomprehensible to us that a woman who wants to serve as a gestational surrogate and help a family bring a baby into the world, and who meets the rigorous screening process of a surrogacy agency to ensure suitability, would be prevented by state law from being able to do so,” the letter states. “Whose interest is that serving? Certainly not that of prospective surrogates, nor of intended parents.”

The measure would also allow intended parents who have enlisted the aid of a third-party to conceive their child have a legal relationship with the child at the moment of birth.

“The Child-Parent Security Act includes comprehensive protections for surrogates,” the group wrote in the letter. “The bill would protect our right to make decisions regarding our own health or that of the fetus or embryo. It would also ensure that we have our own legal representation. These are commonsense policies that are rooted in the shared experiences of surrogates over the past thirty plus years.”

The full letter can be found here.

Cuomo Signs Bills Reducing Petition Signatures For Ballot

Bills that would reduce the number the number of needed petition signatures for ballot access were approved on Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The measure were passed by the Legislature after lawmakers this year previously approved a bill unifying the state and congressional primaries to a single date, the fourth Tuesday in June.

But with the earlier primary comes the need to collect petition signatures in order to be on the ballot, making life potentially difficult for candidates running for election this year.

One bill approved by the governor will temporarily reduce the number of petition signatures for those candidates running in the 2019 elections by lowering the cap needed to qualify. The other bill reduces the needed petition signatures for elections on the ward, town, city and county party level to 3 percent of enrolled voters of a party.

“New York has made significant progress in modernizing our voting laws and ensuring fairness in our electoral system with the passage of key legislation this year,” Cuomo said in a statement. “These changes further our progress by easing the burden for potential candidates who may not have had the chance to adjust to earlier petition dates this election, helping to ensure that candidates who want to run for office have the chance to do so.”

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.

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.”

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.