Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo Calls Federal Shutdown ‘Politics Over Good Government’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Washington on Tuesday knocked the ongoing shutdown of the federal government, calling it “all politics over good government” that could impact low-income families who benefit from food stamps.

“This is not an academic exercise,” Cuomo said. “You are talking about cutting the amount of food that poor families actually get. This is as real as real gets.”

Cuomo addressed the New York Democratic House caucus, he said, to mainly discuss the repeal of the $10,000 cap on state and tax deductions, a provision of the 2017 tax law that hurts high-tax states like New York.

The federal government shutdown, however, remains a predominant issue for President Donald Trump’s administration. New York is paying to keep Liberty Island and Ellis Island open each day of the shutdown, a move Cuomo said was benefiting the state because of the tourism money those attractions generate.

But he also acknowledged the trouble facing the federal workers who are being furloughed the shutdown.

“There are tens of thousands of federal employees who are feeling the pain, the instability and it’s all unnecessary,” he said. “This is all politics over good government and I hope the president comes to his senses quickly.”

Cuomo Wants Constitutional Amendment For Abortion Rights

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on Monday for a constitutional amendment that would guarantee reproductive rights for women.

“I want to take it a step further and I want to pass this year a constitutional amendment that writes into the constitution a provision protecting a woman’s right to her own reproductive health,” Cuomo said. “We’ll able to say we’ve protected women’s rights in a way no one has been able to do before.”

A constitutional amendment is a multi-year process, requiring the passage of two separately elected sessions of the Legislature and then approval by voters in the form of a referendum.

Cuomo said the constitutional guarantee is needed to go beyond statute.

“In this crazy political world, no one is really sure what happens,” he said.

He called President Donald Trump’s administration “the insane administration.”

“That’s what we have,” he said. “We have an extreme conservative agenda in Washington. It’s their morality. It’s their interpretation of ethics. And they’re going to impose it upon you.”

Cuomo, rallying with Hillary Clinton, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, again called for the passage of two measures meant to strengthen abortion and reproductive rights in New York — the Reproductive Health Act and the Contraceptive Care Act. Both bills have stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate, which flipped to Democratic control this year.

Both bills are a “prophylactic” against federal action, Cuomo said.

Passage of these measures is expected to come this month. Nevertheless, Cuomo said he would not agree to a budget deal without those measures first in place.

“I will not pass a budget until the Reproductive Health Act and the Contraceptive Care Act are passed, period,” he said.

Cuomo Shores Up The Suburbs

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wanted to underline it one more time: Long Island lawmakers will be helping their suburban constituents.

Cuomo on Sunday attended swearing-in ceremonies for three lawmakers who won battleground suburban Senate districts — Sens. Peter Harckham of Westchester County and Anna Kaplan and Jim Gaughran both of Long Island — while underscoring the need for the freshman lawmakers to vote their districts.

“This is all garbage that the Long Island delegation is going to get sucked in by the New York City delegation and they’re not going to fight for Long Island,” Cuomo said at Kaplan’s swearing in, referring to a common Republican talking point.

“These are some tough people. Anna is tough. I mean, nice, but tough. Nice tough. I don’t mean to say tough, tough, you know, but a nice tough. No one is going to roll over Anna Kaplan. She’s going to serve the people of Long Island.”

That agenda includes preserving the state’s cap on property taxes and lowering taxes, Cuomo said, as well as environmental protections, expanding the Long Island Rail Road and economic development for Long Island.

Senate Democrats won their large majority in the Senate with key victories on Long Island and in the northern Hudson Valley suburbs.

Cuomo has warned, both subtly and specifically, not to squander the victories by forcing the legislators in these potential swing seats to take difficult votes that are favored by New York City lawmakers, pointing warily to the ill-fated 2009-10 Democratic majority.

The Democratic conference itself is led by a suburban Democrat, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who represents Yonkers in Westchester County.

Finding friends in the Legislature may also be helpful for the governor as he enters his third term with a Democratic-led state Senate. The breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, which had aligned with Republicans in the chamber, no longer exists, making a bloc of suburban Democrats all the more interesting to watch in the new session.

Cuomo’s DMV Nominee Says He Backs Driver’s Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s nominee to lead the Department of Motor Vehicles said Saturday he would work to implement driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants if the measure is approved by state lawmakers.

“Once the policymakers have their say and if they pass a joint a bill and the governor signs it, I will fully implement what the legislation says and what the letter of the law is,” said Mark Schroeder, the departing Buffalo city comptroller who was nominated this week to become the DMV commissioner. “That’s what I’ll do.”

Schroeder clarified his stance on the issue a day after Cuomo’s office formally announced he would be nominated to lead the department.

Schroeder in the Assembly was opposed to the effort in 2007, when Gov. Eliot Spitzer sought to implement driver’s licenses for undocumented residents through executive action.

Schroeder called Spitzer’s approach at the time “misguided” because he did not seek legislative approval.

“The way to do it in my view is through legislation,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s my view the New York state Legislature is doing this the proper way.”

Spitzer’s effort on the driver’s licenses proposal ignited a political firestorm at the time and he ultimately withdrew the plan.

Schroeder’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the Democratic-led state Senate. For now, lawmakers in the chamber have not raised concerns to him about the issue, he said.

“I’m certain these types of issues are going to come up and I’m going to my best to talk about them,” he said.

Schroeder also plans to discuss the measure with the county clerks who run local motor vehicle offices who have raised concerns in the past.

Among those who have signaled their opposition is Mickey Kearns, the Erie County clerk and, like Schroeder, a former member of the Assembly.

At the time of Spitzer’s proposal, then-Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul was opposed. As lieutenant governor, Hochul has since changed her stance.

“I’ll do my best to do what I can to navigate and be helpful,” Schroeder said.

Will Rubber Meet Road In New Session?

Democratic control of the state Senate this year is expected to lead to the passage of long-sought liberal goals, including campaign finance reforms and changes to voter registration laws that range from early registration to making it easier to change your party affiliation.

But in recent days, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has seemed skeptical that the one-house bills that have glided through the Assembly will pass with the same ease in the new legislative session.

“Pass the Roe v. Wade that you said you would pass,” Cuomo said on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom. “Pass public finance like you said you would pass. Pass campaign finance. Pass the Contraceptive Care Act. I will sign it in a heartbeat. They have to now do what they said they would do when they passed those bills. Send me the public finance bill.”

There’s been no outward indication that the Assembly is wavering on any of these measures now that the party is in control of the state Senate.

One Capitol observer was skeptical that these measures could be approved, such as the party affiliation switch and public financing, given it could make life difficult for incumbents. Democrats 10 years ago controlled both chambers and did not take up those bills.

And earlier this week, as Cuomo was being sworn in for a third term on Ellis Island, the Democratic conference’s spokesman was needling the governor on Twitter, pointing to the 2019 agenda as one that lawmakers there have passed for years.

Still, Cuomo has been increasingly eager to bluff call with the Legislature, be it on the legislative pay increase and the salary reforms attached to it or on more complicated matters, like single-payer health care.

Underlying it all may also be some expectation setting by the governor before the session begins, one that is highly anticipated by the Democratic base in New York.

Hein To OTDA, Lacewell To DFS

Ulster County Executive Mike Hein will be nominated to become the next commissioner of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on Friday announced along with a handful of cabinet nominations and appointments.

Cuomo’s chief of staff and counselor, Linda Lacewell, will be nominated to become the next superintendent of the Department of Financial Services, a key banking and insurance regulator.

Keith Corlett, the State Police’s deputy superintendent, will be nominated to become its next superintendent.

Erik Kulleseid of the Open Space Institute will be nominated to become the commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

“This administration is laser focused on the advancement and enforcement of policies that improve the lives of residents in every corner of this state, from strengthening gun safety reforms and protecting our natural resources, to fostering economic opportunities that create new, 21st century jobs for New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “I am proud to work with these talented and dedicated individuals as we build on our progress and continue to move New York forward.”

Cuomo is beginning his third term in office this year.

Cuomo Says Funding Disparities Exist For Schools On District Level

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to target more education aid to specific schools within districts where funding inequities exist, he told reporters on a conference call on Friday.

“Why isn’t that district giving more money to the poorer schools?” Cuomo said in the call, held to discuss the overhaul of the L train line in New York City. “I advocate that they should, because the poorer schools have more need.”

Cuomo at the same time, however, dismissed the continued calls from education advocates to increase education aid by $4 billion in the state budget, a target number they say fulfills the terms of a lawsuit over aid, which the governor contends is a settled issue.

“Really what they’re saying is they want $4 billion for education. This state already spends more money on education than any other state,” he said. “I believe advocates sometimes just pick a high number to provoke the conversation, which is fine.”

The coming battle over education spending this year will likely reach an even higher pitch considering the Democratic takeover of the state Senate and the victory of freshman Sen. Robert Jackson, one of the original plaintiffs of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.

Cuomo had previously sought a district-by-district breakdown of school spending, which he said shows a disparity at the local level.

“What the list shows is that the districts are not distributing more money to the poor schools than the rich schools,” he said.

On Thursday in an interview on WCNY, Cuomo Democrats should be cautious on education aid so as to not hurt suburban school districts, many of which are now represent by newly elected Democrats.

The comments were criticized by the Alliance for Quality Education.

“Instead of being divisive, we hope Governor Cuomo will work with the legislature to get New York State back on track to meeting its obligation to provide all students with a sound basic education,” said Marina Marcou-O’Malley, the policy and operations director for the group. “We look forward to working with all members of the New York State legislature, returning or newly elected, to make fully funding schools a reality.”

Public Financing, Campaign Finance Changes On The Menu

From the Morning Memo:

Sweeping campaign finance law changes could be on the menu for the new year as Democrats take control of the state Senate for the first time in a decade with a large working majority.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview on Thursday urged the Legislature to take up legislation creating a public financing system for campaigns as well as changes to donor laws, like the closure of the loophole in election law that allows unlimited donations through a web of limited liability companies.

“Pass public finance like you said you would pass,” Cuomo said in an interview on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom. “Pass campaign finance.”

Campaign finance reform measures have largely languished in the Republican-led Senate for the last decade. A pilot program for public financing system, impacting the comptroller’s race only was approved for the 2014 election cycle.

Democratic incumbent Tom DiNapoli did not participate; his Republican opponent Bob Antonacci sought, but failed to qualify for matching funds. Antonacci was elected to the Senate last year, filling the seat held by Republican John DeFrancisco.

Cuomo again Friday said he would seek to include legislation not yet approved and include it in the budget plan.

“Well, I am going to send them the bills before. And I hope they pass them as soon as they get them,” Cuomo said.

“The budget is the catch-all. So anything that’s not passed, we will do in the budget. Because the budget is, serves an important purpose. It is a deadline for action. You know? Legislative bodies, Executives, we can talk all day long and debate details.”

Full L Train Shutdown Unnecessary, Cuomo Says

A full shutdown of the L train in New York City is no longer needed, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday, a switch that comes after years of planning to fix damage to the tunnel caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Cuomo at a news conference in New York City pointed to a European design that would fix tunnels on the line. While a full shutdown of 15 months is unnecessary, Cuomo said shut downs on nights and weekends will still be needed to complete the work on the line that runs from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

Cuomo called the change in plans to avoid the full shutdown “a phenomenal benefit to the people of New York City.”

“There would need to be some night and weekend closures of only one tube so service would still work because there are two tunnels. It would be a major, major breakthrough,” he said.

The change comes after both years of planning surrounding the overhaul of the tunnel. About 250,000 people use the line on a daily basis.

Cuomo had previously toured a tunnel on the L train line with a panel retained to study the shutdown and the overhaul of the line, including engineers from Cornell University.

Cuomo Says He Wants To Turn Page On CFE

Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted in a radio interview Thursday he backs more funding for poorer school districts in New York as he also seeks to turn aside a push from education advocates to add $4 billion in direct education aid this year.

The comments on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom come in anticipation ahead of what could be a prolonged and difficult battle over school aid in the budget this year and the perennial push from education advocates to settle what they say are the terms of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.

Cuomo in the interview Thursday insisted it was a settled matter.

“That is not an opinion. That is a fact. The CFE lawsuit was settled,” Cuomo said, while adding education advocates who have antagonized him over the issue are “wrong.”

“There are people who say the world is flat, OK?” he said.

But at the same time, Cuomo indicated he’s willing to provide additional funding to low-income and needy districts. It’s a potential olive branch extended as one of the original plaintiffs in the CFE case, Robert Jackson, will be a freshman Democratic state senator this year.

“We don’t give poor schools enough funding. That is true,” Cuomo said. “My point is the poorer schools need more funding because they have a greater challenge. Let’s give the poorer schools more.”

Still, there may not be a lot of money to stretch in school aid. Cuomo once again has signaled he wants to keep overall spending in the budget capped at a 2 percent ceiling.

Typically the lawmakers in both chambers proposed more spending on education than the governor calls for in a budget and the numbers meet somewhere in between.

Cuomo has in recent budget years proposed school aid increases, but short of the $4 billion hike advocates have sought.

Adding an additional layer to the intrigue over school funding this year was a warning from Cuomo of the political consequences of tinkering with education aid, the most costly item in the budget aside from health care.

Cuomo warned the school districts represented by suburban lawmakers could be negatively impacted as a result.

“That’s not going to sit well with the senators who just elected representing Long Island,” he said. “They’re thinking, ‘I like being senator and want to get re-elected.'”