Andrew Cuomo

An On-Time Budget Is Agreed To, But Wait It Isn’t?

Ah, spring is in the air! Is a potential budget deal — or at least a plan to have it done on time?

It’s not clear.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins certainly thought there was at least an agreement to have a budget done by the end of the month.

Out came Gov. Andrew Cuomo a few hours later to contradict them, saying he would never agree to that.

“I would never commit to doing a budget on time,” he said at a news conference in the Red Room

This was the same governor, of course, who tied on-time budgets to the idea of government functionality. He even gave out photo-op door prizes when three budgets were done on time in a row (hockey pucks for a “hat trick”) and four budgets in a row (a baseball bat for a “grand slam”).

On Tuesday, Cuomo employed a different sports metaphor: Things are at the 5-yard line, but it’s not a touchdown just yet.

Cuomo’s suggestion that the budget could be late may be designed to nudge lawmakers toward is way of thinking ultimately, given the pay raises at stake for both the executive and Legislature if the spending plan is late.

Q-Poll: Cuomo’s Approval Rating Inches Back Up

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s job approval rating has improved to 50 percent, the first time he’s reached threshold in nearly a year, according to Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday morning.

The poll found 50 percent of voters approve of the job Cuomo is doing as governor, with 41 percent registering disapproval.

His approval rating in the poll last reached this level in May 2018, when he had a 54 percent to 39 percent spread.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who launched her presidential campaign this past weekend, has a 46 percent approval rating.

Most voters, 61 percent to 35 percent, believe they can afford to live in New York, including 67 percent of upstate voters and 55 percent of New York City residents.

Voters by a wide margin also back legalizing marijuana 65 percent to 32 percent.

Still, other major issues in the budget, such as ending cash bail for non-violent charges, receives mixed results. Voters support ending cash bail 45 percent to 42 percent. Democratic voters strongly support it, 57 percent to 30 percent.

Similar to a Siena College survey released Monday, Quinnipiac’s poll found support for bringing Amazon back to New York City after the company pulled the plug on planned expansion in Queens.

Voters by a 64 percent to 28 percent margin believe the governor should revive efforts to woo the company back. And voters by a 59 percent to 32 percent margin believe the promised 25,000 jobs are worth the $3 billion in tax incentives.

The poll of 1,216 registered voters was conduct from March 13 through March 18. It has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.

MARCH 20 NY GOV+BP by Nick Reisman on Scribd

New York City Casino Push Intensifies

From the Morning Memo:

An effort to accelerate the licensing for a downstate casino is heating up, with MGM, Genting and Sands all seeking a piece of the action, even as Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to throw cold water on the idea.

On Tuesday, former Gov. David Paterson was at the Capitol to promote Sands’s effort, which would involve the construction of a new venue somewhere in the five boroughs.

Genting, meanwhile, has sought to make its case that as an existing racing operator in Queens, it would be able to quickly convert its venue at Aqueduct in Queens.

“Unlike other aspirants that will have to start from scratch and face massive regulatory and vetting hurdles, Resorts World is a proven operator ready to move immediately once given the authorization,” said Michael Levoff, a senior vice president with the company.

“Resorts World NYC has been operating in Queens for over seven years, generating over $2 billion in much needed revenue for the state’s public education programs and over a thousand family sustaining union jobs. Converting our facility into a full casino would generate instant value for New Yorkers in the form of not only thousands of more good-paying union jobs, but hundreds of millions of dollars each year in additional revenue for the state.”

The Business Council of Westchester, meanwhile, made its pitch for MGM to be able to convert its Empire City racino in Yonkers to a full casino as well.

Doing so “would dramatically transform the benefits our largest employer is able to offer in the local area — as well as significantly boost the benefits for the state’s education system.”

The effort by the Las Vegas-based Sands has also attracted the attention of New York Communities for Change, which in a statement highlighted the company’s ownership: Sheldon Adelson, the prominent Republican donor.

The group’s executive director in a statement pointed to Adelson’s support for President Donald Trump as well as efforts to block workers from unionizing in Las Vegas.

“His two-decade crusade to block union organizing and keep his Vegas property as one of the only non-union facilities in a sea of union hotels on the Vegas strip should immediately disqualify him from doing business in union-strong New York,” Westin said.

All of this may be moot, however, as Cuomo has been skeptical of the push to end the upstate casinos’ exclusivity before 2023.

“Long term, you’re still hurting the competitiveness of the upstate casinos because this was always the point: We wanted the person driving from Queens upstate if they wanted to go to a casino,” Cuomo said at a news conference.

Cuomo Muses About Rolling Back Film Tax Credit

What’s good for Amazon is also good for Hollywood?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a news conference said he would be supportive of rolling back the state’s $420 million film tax credit it could bolster education and health care spending.

“If it’s between film tax credit and Medicaid, I would say film tax credit,” Cuomo said. “If it’s between film tax credit and education, I would say film tax credit.”

Cuomo also mused about the possibility of the Democratic-led Senate supporting a cut to the tax credit program as well, which has led to a flood of movies and TV shows being filmed in New York in recent years.

There’s also some clear subtext: Cuomo has blamed the state Senate for the failed Amazon project in Queens, which would have linked $3 billion in tax incentives to up to 25,000 jobs in Long Island City.

The district of Sen. Mike Gianaris, a prominent critic of the deal, includes Silvercup Studios in Queens.

“The Senate is against tax credits, right? If they need to find funding, I wouldn’t be surprised if they propose cutting the film tax credit,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo has criticized the legislative budget resolutions for spending too much and not balancing out with new revenue.

“If the Senate could use that to close their gap, it’s something I would be open to because these are hard choices,” Cuomo said. “I can see them being wholly consistent and saying I would be the film tax credit, because that’s the exact same point.”

Cuomo Throws Cold Water On NYC Casino

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a news conference Tuesday said he was skeptical of a push by casino operators to expand into New York City, suggesting the revenue numbers projected by the companies were overly rosy.

At the same time, Cuomo said the casino expansion downstate would still hurt the four upstate casinos that were given exclusivity rights until 2023.

“Long term you’re still hurting the competitiveness of the upstate casinos because this was always the point: We wanted the person driving from Queens upstate if they wanted to go to a casino,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo’s budget director, Robert Mujica, last week also cast doubt on the possibility of expanding casinos in New York City ahead of the 2023 timetable, saying the revenue would not necessarily aid the state immediately.

MGM and Genting currently operate racinos in Yonkers and in Queens. Sands wants to build a casino in one of the five boroughs, promising construction jobs along with it.

Cuomo Calls Double-Jeopardy Loophole Closure ‘A Safeguard’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview on Monday signaled his support for a bill that allow New York prosecutors to bring cases against those who have received presidential pardons.

The double jeopardy legislation is being considered by state lawmakers this month after meeting with Attorney General Letitia James, who has investigated several aspects of President Donald Trump’s business interests, including an effort in 2014 to purchase the Buffalo Bills.

“I think you’re in a situation now where you have a White House and an administration that is defying the rule of law, disrespecting the Department of Justice,” Cuomo said on WAMC this morning.

“I think there should be a safeguard.”

The bill was initially proposed as President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, would receive a presidential pardon following money laundering and fraud convictions.

Other Trump former campaign and administration figures are facing legal scrutiny as well as part of a widening case surrounding the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

But an amended version of the bill would only allow prosecutes to seek charges against those who have worked for a sitting president or were part of their family.

Cuomo Questions Benefit Of Mobile Sports Gambling

New York is in the process of allowing casinos to take bets on sporting events, but punching in a wager on your phone may not be coming soon.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview on Monday said he was skeptical about the economic impact of legalizing mobile sports betting.

“Sports betting, first of all, does not make you much money,” he said on WAMC’s The Roundtable, noting New Jersey’s sports betting program generates about $13 million in revenue.

“Thirteen million dollars is something like a rounding error in our budget,” Cuomo said.

Commercial casinos will soon be able to operate sports books at their locations based on regulations being developed by gaming regulators.

Some lawmakers have sought to expand sports betting to include mobile devices, with one provision included in the Senate’s budget resolution. Cuomo, however, did not include the measure.

“I don’t think the economic benefit is there,” he said.

Cuomo Issues Pardon To Immigrant Facing Deportation

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday issued a pardon to an immigrant facing deportation and currently being held at a correctional facility in New Jersey.

Cuomo’s pardon was issued to Baba Sillah of the Bronx, who traveled to the U.S. at the age of 22. He is married to a U.S. citizen and has five children. He entered the country as a visit and was not allowed to work to sell clothing without a license. He has been charged with several misdemeanors and violations.

He has worked as a porter for 15 years and paid taxes, Cuomo’s office said.

“While President Trump is obsessed with building walls to keep immigrants out, the New York family knows that its diversity is our strength,” Cuomo said. “Compassion and justice is the Empire State way and Mr. Sillah is a father of five who deserves to remain with his family.”

Sillah was detained in January after appearing for a routine appointment with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. His deportation for February was stayed after an emergency application was made to a federal district court.

With the pardon, Sillah will be able to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility to prevent his removal.

“We commend Governor Cuomo for issuing a pardon and showing immigration authorities what we know, that Baba Sillah is a hardworking New Yorker who belongs back with his family,” said 32BJ President Hector Figueroa. “We will continue to support him and his family until he is returned home to his wife and kids who depend on him.”

Cuomo Admin Again Blasts Legislative Budget Plans

The budget resolutions approved this week in the state Senate and Assembly failed to curtail spending or, in the Senate’s case, be backed up by new revenues, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top budget official said Thursday in a statement.

Division of Budget Director Robert Mujica called the Senate’s proposal “wholly incredible” for raising spending by almost $3.5 billion without corresponding spending cuts or tax increases.

The Assembly’s spending increase is also “not acceptable and is still billions out of balance.”

And the statement knocks the Senate plan for not funding a $40 million tax assessment for Nassau County.

“It is another obvious political charade,” Mujica said.

“It is like the $3 billion New York was supposedly giving to Amazon. It never existed. There is no funding for Nassau’s tax assessment, there is no $3.5 billion of extra spending as the Senate promises its supporters. The continued creation of these false political expectations makes the reality of an on-time, responsible government budget virtually impossible.”

The statement will likely only lead to more grumbling from Democrats in the Senate and Assembly amid an increasingly truculent budget season.

On Wednesday, Mujica, along with secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa held a press conference with Counsel Alphonso David to announce a reversal in cuts to Medicaid spending, but also knocked the legislative budget resolutions, which do not carry the force of law and largely aspirational documents.

DeRosa in one instance said the budgets were written in “fantasy land” and lacked grounding in reality.

Cuomo earlier this week had suggested Assembly Democrats were in the pocket of the state’s teachers union for opposing a permanent cap on property tax increases while also saying Senate Democrats were not accustomed to governing.

The press conference came after one lawmaker, Sen. Zellnor Myrie, contended that Cuomo’s criticism of Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the first black woman to the hold post, was gender and race based.

Democrats have quietly pointed to Mujica’s resume as a Republican Senate Finance Committee official before joining the Cuomo administration, as well.

On Twitter, Senate Democratic conference spokesman said of Mujica’s statement that it “sounds like this statement was written in fantasyland.”

Stewart-Cousins Talked To Cuomo About ‘Disparagement’ Of Senate Dems

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins spoke with Gov. Andrew Cuomo after Sen. Zellnor Myrie blasted what he said was the governor’s criticism of her, suggesting they were gender and race-based.

Stewart-Cousins, speaking with reporters after a joint budget conference meeting, said she did not believe Cuomo’s criticism was racially charged or due to her being a woman. But she did raise a broader issue she had with Cuomo’s “disparagement” of Senate Democrats.

“I didn’t have a concern about any of these things,” she said. “I had a concern about a constant sort of disparagement of the conference that I addressed.”

Cuomo and Senate Democrats have had an increasingly rocky public relationship. Cuomo lashed out at the conference earlier this year when Amazon pulled the plug on a planned project in Queens that would have created up to 25,000 tied to $3 billion in tax incentives.

Cuomo blamed the conference for nominating an Amazon critic to a board with potential veto power over the deal.

Cuomo further rankled Senate Democrats this week when he suggested they were not yet accustomed to governing in Albany. Senate Democrats gained power for the first time in a decade in November.

Stewart-Cousins, meanwhile, said the conversation, taking place just as the budget season begins a more intense phase this month, allowed things to “move forward.”

“I think it’s important that we are all focused on making sure that we are serving the people of New York state,” she said. “We’re moving forward.”

In a statement, top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa in a statement also indicated the governor’s office was ready to move on as well.

“The whole episode was absurd,” said DeRosa, the secretary to the governor. “Our sole focus is getting things done for New Yorkers and we will challenge any governmental or political position that undermines that or stands in the way of progress.”