Andrew Cuomo

New York To Assist Puerto Rico With Building Power System

New York will provide design and engineering support for Puerto Rico to build a power system meant to bolster the island’s electric grid following the damage cause by Hurricane Mario, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday said.

The announcement by Cuomo came at the annual SOMOS conference in Puerto Rico.

“New York will not leave our fellow Americans behind and will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Puerto Rico on the path to recovery until the job is done,” Cuomo said. “The state-of-the-art technology and training expertise we are providing today will help the island rebuild stronger and make it more resilient in the face of future storms so that our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico don’t have to relive the nightmare of Hurricane Maria going forward.”

At the same time, the New York Power Authority will work with Puerto Rican officials to ensure the Culebra power plant can provide electric service for Culebra and Vieques should the island systems be disrupted.

And the power authority will work to update the Humacao Industrial District, which was damaged during the storm.

“Since day one after Hurricane Maria, under Governor Cuomo’s direction, NYPA has been on the ground assisting Puerto Rico with restoring its electric system and hardening it for future potential storms,” said New York Power Authority President Gil Quiniones.

“Puerto Rico is particularly vulnerable to devastating tropical storms and we at NYPA are honored to bring New York State’s utility expertise to the islands to help them harden their systems and provide affordable and renewable energy to residents and visitors on these beautiful islands.”

Amy Schumer To Attend Cuomo Birthday Fundraiser

Comic Amy Schumer will be the celebrity in attendance for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s annual birthday bash fundraiser, according to an email sent to supporters by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election campaign.

Schumer joins a list of bold-faced names who have headlined Cuomo’s fundraisers held around his birthday, including Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Joel and Mary J. Blige.

Amy Schumer is the cousin of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Last year, Amy Schumer said she voted for Cynthia Nixon, the governor’s Democratic primary rival following a rather public back and forth over her endorsement.

The Dec. 4 event billed as a “birthday celebration” will be held at the Essex House at Central Park South in New York City, according to an invitation sent out by the Cuomo campaign. Cuomo will turn 62 on Dec. 6.

Tickets to the event range from $5,000 for an individual to $25,000 for a bundled donation.

Criminal Justice Reform Group Backs Cuomo In Funding Fight

From the Morning Memo:

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo tussles with district attorneys over funding for key criminal justice law changes, a reform group has his back, cheering his opposition to providing prosecutors with more money to pay for evidentiary discovery reform.

District attorneys, as well as Attorney General Letitia James, have called for a boost in funding for the discovery law changes that will require an expedited processing of evidence. DAs have called the change set to take effect at the beginning of the new year an unfunded mandate that will require more staff and new technology.

Cuomo on Wednesday with reporters said he didn’t see a need for more funding. And criminal justice reform groups agree.

“We applaud Governor Cuomo for pushing back on the disingenuous rhetoric that is being distributed by system actors only interested in keeping the status quo,” said Zoë Towns, the senior criminal justice reform director at FWD.us.

“The reality is the pretrial reforms passed in 2019 will lead to tremendous savings for counties throughout New York because legally innocent people will be awaiting trial at home with their families rather than in costly jail cells.”

Cuomo’s budget office has noted county prosecutors will benefit from bail law changes, which end cash bail for many criminal charges and reduce the number of people in county jails as a result.

Cuomo Says Balance Needed For Adirondacks

A balance between tourism, economic development and preservation is needed for the Adirondacks amid growing concerns the park is being overrun with visitors in recent years, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday.

The Adirondacks have gained increased attention as a destination in recent years, with the state focusing on attractions within the North Country. But with the focus on the Adirondack Park, the area has seen a sharp rise in the number of people using the area for recreation.

“That’s the good news. The bad news is the tourism increase is actually creating issues,” Cuomo said. “Parking issues, traffic issues and there’s a real question of what’s the maximum use of the resources without damaging the resources.”

Officers at the Department of Environmental Conservation have called for increased staffing to handle the influx of people and cars into the area. During the summer, video and pictures from the High Peaks wilderness area showed long lines of cars parked alongside roadways near trail heads.

Environmental groups have raised potential fixes, including permits for entering or parking in the Adirondack Park.

Cuomo, during an unrelated event at the Albany Airport on Wednesday, did not go into specifics, but acknowledged state officials, along with the DEC, are discussing the problem.

“It is a legitimate issue,” Cuomo said. “We’re working on it. It’s not black and white.”

More Funding For Discovery Law Changes Isn’t Necessary, Cuomo Says (Updated)

Additional money for local prosecutors as well as state Attorney General Letitia James to implement changes to evidence discovery isn’t necessary, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters on Wednesday.

District attorneys over the last several months have called for more funding in order to handle the expected increase in their offices’ workload to process evidence so it is made available on a faster basis to the defense — a key criminal justice law change approved earlier this year and is set to take effect in 2020.

But Cuomo questioned with the district attorneys, as well as the attorney general’s office, needs the money.

“They’ve gotten a lot more funding,” Cuomo said. “Everybody says they always want more funding. This year funding is going to be very difficult. We have a big Medicaid problem. The answer to everyone’s problem is always more funding.”

Cuomo’s office has previously pointed to the savings local county prosecutors should wring from the elimination of cash bail, which will lead to a decline in the number of people in county jails for certain offenses.

“I think they’ve gotten additional funding and they’re getting additional funding,” Cuomo said. “So no, I don’t think they need more funding.”

But local district attorneys see it differently. The expectation is the discovery law changes will cost millions of dollars for county governments to implement in order to process and review evidence.

District attorneys last month testified at a state Senate hearing on the issue, pointing to the challenges their offices will face come next year.

“That is a real challenge for rural, midsized and large counties across upstate,” said Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan, a Republican. “So, the state should really do what I said in the testimony, put your money where your mouth is,” Jordan said. “If they believe this is an important reform, let’s fund it so we can comply.”

Updated: Attorney General Letitia James’s office declined to comment when asked about the governor’s remarks.

Albany County District Attorney David Soares’s office, meanwhile, in a Twitter play-on-words referencing the governor’s event at the Albany Airport announcing the opening of a new exit, called Cuomo’s stance “an off ramp to chaos.”

Freeman Klopott, a spokesman for the Cuomo administration’s Division of Budget, said money is available for the criminal justice law changes being enacted.

“New York State is creating a more equitable justice system as we eliminate cash bail for minor offenses, speed the time to trial, transform the discovery process, raise the age of criminal responsibility, decriminalize marijuana, and invest in indigent defense,” he said.

“There is no question resources are available for the implementation of these critical reforms as the State invests more than $300 million to support them and local governments will recognize hundreds of millions of dollars in annual savings from a declining inmate population.”

The current-year budget includes $200 million in revenue for counties outside of New York City, derived from the closing of a Internet sales tax loophole. At the same time, Division of Budget points to a decrease in the populations of local jails that will result in savings.

Cuomo Says He Would Consider Calling Special If SD-50 Is Vacant

If Republican Sen. Bob Antonacci wins a judgeship and leaves the state Senate, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he would call a special election to fill the central New York district.

“He has to win, then he has to resign and then clock starts running and then we look at it then,” Cuomo said.

Asked if the seat is vacant by Jan. 1, Cuomo said, “my inclination is to be able to call a special.”

Antonacci, a Republican elected last year to the district represented by Sen. John DeFrancisco in a narrow race against Democrat John Mannion.

If the state Senate special election is held on April 28, the same day as the presidential primary in New York, Democrats would potentially have an advantage given the expected heavy turnout that day. Cuomo has previously said he would call a special election for a western New York House district on that day.

Cuomo And Trump Spar Over Taxes, Bail Law Changes

This all has a bit of a pro-wrestling like taste to it, but here it is nevertheless: Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Donald Trump have reignited their war of words in recent days after the president formally announced he would become a Florida resident.

Tuesday saw the latest eruption by Trump on his preferred form of mass communication, Twitter, after Cuomo said last week “good riddance” to the president and suggested he was leaving the state to limit his legal exposure in a suit over disclosing his taxes.

Trump tweeted that it is “So sad to see what is happening in New York where Governor Cuomo & Mayor DeBlasio are letting out 900 Criminals, some hardened & bad, onto the sidewalks of our rapidly declining, because of them, city. The Radical Left Dems are killing our cities. NYPD Commissioner is resigning!”

Cuomo, in response, said it took some chutzpah for Trump to call New York “our” city when he has moved to Florida.

“The move was an obvious legal tactic to convince a judge not to grant the Manhattan District Attorney’s motion to force production of Trump’s tax returns as Trump could claim he was no longer a New York resident,” Cuomo said in a statement. “His trick failed when a judge ruled yesterday that his New York taxes must be released. The President’s tweet admits the truth when his stated reason for leaving New York was ‘overzealous prosecutors.’ The President clearly believes the justice system can be politically manipulated – maybe his justice system can be, however the New York State justice system cannot be.

Cuomo pointed out the bail law changes are “essentially the same bail reform law New Jersey passed several years ago under Republican Governor Chris Christie, his Transition Director.”

Cuomo Signs Bill For Opioid-Related Death Certificates

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday approved legislation that will require death certificates in cases of opioid overdoses to specify which opioid was specifically involved in the death if possible.

The measure is meant to provide more information so that public health officials can better address opioid addiction.

Under existing law, if a person dies of an opioid overdose, there is no requirement the death certificate list which opioid is the cause. The new measure takes effect immediately.

“New York has taken the most aggressive actions to combat the opioid crisis of any other state in the country,” Cuomo said. “This commonsense law will go a great length to ensure we have the most accurate information to be able to stop this public health scourge once and for all.”

The measure was backed in the Legislature by Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre and Sen. John Brooks.

“The opioid crisis we are facing has been a significant problem for far too long. Currently there is no requirement that the death certificate include the specific opioid involved,” Brooks said.

“This has led to a lack of information about which types of opioids are the most deadly. By recording this information, more data will be available to better track which opioids are causing the most deaths and more communities in need will be better equipped to combat this crisis.”

Cuomo Says Medicaid Gap Is A ‘Major Problem’

A gap in Medicaid spending is a “major problem for the state” Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged on Tuesday to reporters.

The gap for the program, which provides health care for low-income people, could be as high as $3 billion. The has delayed Medicaid payments, including a $2 billion delayed payment this spring, in a sign the budget crunch is deepening.

This means a $1.5 billion cut before the end of the fiscal year on March 31 is a potential.

“We have a reduction in federal aid, we have an increase in labor cost, we have an increase in coverage for the program, which is a good thing,” Cuomo said. “They’re all good factors beside the reduction in federal aid. But it’s going to be a major financial issue for the state.”

His administration has specifically pointed to rising costs due to the increase in the minimum wage and an aging population as well as increased enrollment.

It’s not clear how Cuomo plans to contend with the Medicaid gap in his budget proposal, due out by early next year. Cuomo also wants to keep spending relatively flat in keeping with an annual 2 percent limit in growth and has pledged to not back any broad-based tax increases.

Politically, it’s also an election year for state lawmakers, typically when the Legislature is eager to add more spending.

Cuomo Says He ‘Wouldn’t Advocate Ending’ Fusion Voting

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he is not pushing to end fusion voting, the process that allows candidates for elected office to run on multiple ballot lines.

The questions surrounding the future of fusion voting is potentially under consideration by a commission that has been tasked with assembling the guidelines and rules for a system of publicly financed campaigns.

Fusion voting is the lifeblood for groups like the Working Families Party, a ballot line that often endorses Democrats in general elections. The liberal WFP initially endorsed Cynthia Nixon’s primary bid against Cuomo in 2018 and later the governor took the party’s ballot line after Nixon lost.

The episode is fueling concerns from the WFP that Cuomo wants to curtail fusion voting or at least minor parties. One of Cuomo’s appointees to the commission, Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, is a critic of the practice.

“Let’s see what the commission comes up with, but I wouldn’t advocate ending it, because I have done it continually as a practice,” Cuomo said during a brief question-and-answer session with reporters in Schenectady. “If I didn’t believe in it, I wouldn’t have done it. It would be like saying you don’t support journalism. It would be hard for you to say that.”

Cuomo reiterated that he has “run with fusion voting” and therefore supports it. Cuomo has held the WFP line in elections, along with the ballot line created at his behest, the Women’s Equality Party, and the Independence Party.

In 2002, he had the backing of the Liberal Party in an ill-fated run for governor. Cuomo ended his campaign as he ceded the Democratic primary to Carl McCall, and the party died soon after.

“I know it’s controversial,” he said of fusion voting. “I know a lot of editorial boards and good-government groups are against it.”

In recent days, the commission has begun to publicly consider a more direct approach that would affect minor parties: Raising the threshold for ballot qualifications from 50,000 votes in the gubernatorial election to as many as 250,000.

The commission could overhaul the structure of political campaigns and campaign fundraising, based on the recommendations in its report due to be released by the end of the month.

“It is up to the commission to design an entire system and these thins have to work together,” Cuomo said. “Public finance is a very big move, it’s a positive move, but it’s a very big move.”