Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo Is Sticking With Biden

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in an interview on CNN Tuesday said he continues to believe former Vice President Joe Biden has the best chance of unseating President Donald Trump next year.

Biden is reportedly due to enter the race for the Democratic nomination in the coming days.

But the former vice president’s behavior toward women — touching, hugging and kissing without permission — has come under scrutiny in recent weeks as he prepares to start his third campaign for the presidency.

Cuomo in the interview on CNN was not asked about the allegations against Biden, but maintained the former vice president “has the personality for the moment” to defeat Trump.

“I think he has the best chance of defeating President Trump, which is the main goal here,” Cuomo said. “I think he can unify the Democratic Party and, again, focus on the goal, the goal is defeating President Trump and Joe Biden is in the best position to do that.”

Cuomo, re-elected to a third term last year, has not made any public moves toward launching a campaign for the White House himself.

Cuomo Says He Opposes Granting Inmates The Right To Vote

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a television interview on Tuesday said he opposes Vermont Sen. Bernie Sander’s proposal that inmates be allowed to vote while incarcerated.

Sanders, who is mounting his second bid for the Democratic nomination for president, said at a CNN town hall event on Monday that the right to vote is “inherent” and becomes a “slippery slope” once its denied.

But Cuomo, who has worked with Sanders on issues like college tuition and the minimum wage increase, broke with him on the issue.

“You are in prison for a felony, you’re paying your debt to society. I don’t think you should have a right to vote and participate as a full citizen,” Cuomo said in an interview on CNN’s New Day.

“Once you pay your debt to society, you’re out, you’re on parole, you’re being assimilated back into society, fine, then you have a right to vote. But I totally disagree with Bernie Sanders.”

Cuomo and state lawmakers have in recent weeks sought to advance a series of criminal justice law changes, such as curtailing cash bail for misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges. The state next year is moving forward with the closure of up to three prison facilities as well.

Cuomo last year approved an executive order extending voting rights to people on parole.

Cuomo Says Mueller Report Raises ‘A Legitimate Case’ For Impeachment

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in an interview on CNN Tuesday morning said the report into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election raises a “legitimate case” for impeaching President Donald Trump.

A redacted version of the report, released last week by the Department of Justice, determined the president’s campaign did not coordinate with Russia in a documented effort to sway the election. But at the same time, the report detailed efforts by Trump while in office to thwart the investigation, led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Ultimately, Mueller could not conclude if Trump obstructed justice, leaving the question up to Congress.

“It does raise very real questions and it does raise a legitimate case that should be considered for impeachment,” Cuomo said when asked if the House of Representatives should move forward with impeachment proceedings. “Whether or not the Democrats go down that road is a different question.”

Cuomo derided U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s public interpretation of the report, calling it “unusual as a matter of process.”

“I think he was deceptive with the American people,” Cuomo said. “I think he put the president’s best spin on the report.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a conference call with Democratic lawmakers on Monday sought to tap the brakes on impeachment, pointing to congressional inquiries that are currently underway.

An impeachment push would be backed by the Democratic base, but some in the party worry the effort would backfire and help embolden Republicans ahead of the 2020 election.

On Earth Day, Cuomo Touts Bag Ban

Gov. Andrew Cuomo ceremonially signed into law restrictions on single-use plastic bags as well as a 5-cent surcharge on paper bags as a recognition for both Earth Day, but also as some local governments and environmental groups are seeking to go even further.

The approval of the ban, part of the state budget agreement last month, is the culmination of a push by lawmakers at both the state level as well as in local governments, to curtail the use of plastic bags, long seen as a source of air, ground and water pollution.

The fee on paper bags will go toward the Environmental Protection Fund as well as locally run reusable bag programs for county governments that opt in. The ban itself will take effect next March.

Taken together, the ban and fee is perhaps the most major shifts the state government is making for everyday consumers in the state to aid the environment since restrictions on pesticides were approved in the last century.

“So the banning of plastic bags has been something that we have fought for years, literally,” Cuomo said at one of two stops on Monday on Long Island and in Kingston.

“But think about it. It is a minor inconvenience. We can provide bags that are reusable. When you go to the store you use the reusable bag, and you bring it home. That’s it. Well, then I have to remember to bring the reusable bag. Yes, like you have to remember to go to the store, and you have to remember to bring your keys, and you have to remember to find a way to get there, and you have to bring your wallet or your purse to pay, and don’t forget the phone because you can’t go anywhere without the phone. So yes, you have to remember to bring the reusable bag.”

The statewide ban was not always a sure thing, however.

New York City approved a fee on plastic bags, seen by some Democrats in Albany as a regressive tax on poor shoppers. Ultimately the Legislature voted to overturn the fee and Cuomo appointed a commission to study the issue.

The end result: The single-use plastic bag ban, plus the paper bag fee, along with programs for reusable bags.

Some lawmakers want to go further, however: Assemblywoman Pat Fahy has introduced legislation that would include restaurants in the plastic bag ban.

And in Suffolk County, officials there on Monday signed into law restrictions on plastic straws in restaurants as well as a ban on the use of Sytrofoam.

Those actions may get more attention in the next year or as early as the next few weeks when lawmakers return from their spring break.

“We are borrowing it from our children,” Cuomo said. “And our responsibility as parents, as citizens, is to leave this place better, safer, cleaner than we found it. And we have a long way to go before we can say we’ve left them a state, a country, a planet that is safer and cleaner than the one we inherited. But New York will lead the way.”

Cuomo Urges Congress To Reauthorize Sept. 11 Victims Fund

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement on Friday urged Congress to take up an extension of funding for Victim Compensation Fund, which provides health and medical benefits to first responders.

“It is our responsibility as a nation to support those who are still suffering from the 9/11 attacks, and I call on the federal government to join the New York Congressional delegation’s efforts to take immediate action to fully fund the Victim Compensation Fund and honor the sacrifice these brave New Yorkers have made for their country,” Cuomo said.

The fund has about $2 billion left, but action is yet to be taken on extending it. The Democratic governor said any lapse in funding to support Sept. 11 victims would be “disgraceful.”

“We should not be diminishing payments to these heroes, we should be increasing funding for all who need it and making this fund permanent once and for all,” he said.

Cuomo Dings Senate Democrats

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday at a press conference took both veiled and direct swipes at Democrats in the state Senate who have been critical of his administration.

The governor’s relationship with Senate Democrats has been strained since top lawmakers there had criticized a now-shelved project for Amazon to bring up to 25,000 jobs to Long Island City tied to $3 billion in incentives.

At the same time, three Democratic lawmakers — Sens. Alessandra Biaggi, Jessica Ramos and Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou — blasted Cuomo for holding a fundraiser in March amid the budget talks, even as several Democrats, including those legislators themselves, had held fundraising events during the negotiations.

Cuomo was critical of Biaggi after The New York Times reported the Bronx freshman was in an argument with Sen. Kevin Parker. Biaggi in the discussion noted she had backed Parker amid calls for an Ethics Committee investigation into a tweet he had sent to a Senate Republican spokeswoman, Candice Giove, telling her to “kill yourself.”

The governor during the question-and-answer session was asked by NY1’s Zack Fink, who had reported last week that Biaggi quashed an investigation, about the incident.

“You cannot drop an investigation as a personal favor to another member,” Cuomo said. “That violates your fundamental responsibility. On those facts, yes, and that’s why I don’t want to comment on it any further because there may be a subsequent investigation.”

Senate Democrats, including lawmakers in the room at the time, deny Biaggi formally moved to block an investigation into Parker’s behavior.

“No investigation was ever dropped,” said Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy on Twitter. “Incident was handled by leadership. Member was talked to and was made clear he had to take steps to ensure this would never happen again.”

Meanwhile, Cuomo took a less direct shot at Sen. James Skoufis, who has come under criticism for introducing a bill backed by the online rental site Airbnb. The bill is opposed by the Hotel Trades Council, which has pointed to an Airbnb-supported independent expenditure committee supporting Skoufis’s election.

Cuomo’s remarks came in the context about the effectiveness of publicly financing campaigns.

“You can almost track an interest that has a connection to a piece of legislation in Albany to an IE that is a multi-million dollar expenditure on that behalf,” Cuomo said. “I don’t think there’s any difference between Airbnb and 32BJ and charter schools or REBNY or the teachers unions, but this is where the money is coming from and it’s coming for a very specific purpose.”

Cuomo Moves To Expand MERIT Program For Gold Star Families

The state will move to expand an existing scholarship program that covers the cost of a public college and university education for Gold Star families, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday at a news conference.

Cuomo will expand the program through executive action, a move that comes after the Higher Education Committee in the Democratic-led Assembly this month blocked a Republican-sponsored bill to do the same.

“Military service is more than just the active military member, I believe the entire family is in service,” Cuomo said. “We thank you and we applaud you and we are all in your debt.”

Democratic lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly had in recent days moved to back legislation that would have accomplished the same goal, with the measure taking effect after the passage of the next state budget in April 2020.

But Cuomo on Wednesday said he wanted the expansion to take effect immediately.

“I don’t want to send any misimpression for veterans families that there isn’t anything but total support for them,” Cuomo said.

The bill being blocked led to a political backlash for Democrats in the Assembly. President Donald Trump tweeted his criticism about the episode and Republicans in both chambers decried the development.

Republicans pointed to the passage of the DREAM Act in the budget, which provides access to state tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants.

Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan cheered the development of the MERIT expansion.

“Families of individuals who paid the ultimate price will have their lives changed forever as a result of their sacrifice,” Flanagan said. “As a state, this is the least we can do to honor their service, their commitment and their bravery, and to make life just a little bit easier for their sons and their daughters.”

The MERIT program provides up to $24,250 for on-campus students to family members and dependents of military members who died while in combat or in preparation for combat. The expansion would include Gold Star families who have had service members die while serving in any capacity in the military.

Assembly Democrats had pointed to the fiscal implications of the bill passing outside of the budget. In the past, Cuomo has vetoed bills for that reason, including twice striking down a measure that would expansion pension benefits for veterans who are public employees. Cuomo eventually approved that measure.

But Cuomo said the MERIT program warranted “a special exception.”

“There was a tremendous outpouring from veterans and their families across the state when the bill was set aside,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo: One World Trade To Be Lit In Honor Of Notre Dame

One World Trade Center in New York City will be lit with the colors of the French flag on Tuesday in honor of Notre Dame after a devastating fire there destroyed the cathedral’s ceiling and spire and heavily damaged the structure.

“Our hearts ached as we watched a devastating fire ravage one of the world’s most sacred and celebrated religious monuments,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “The Notre Dame Cathedral’s centuries of history, art and iconic architecture are irreplaceable, and we are deeply grateful to the brave first responders who worked diligently to extinguish the flames and save portions of this significant piece of French and Catholic history.”

French officials believe the structure itself will be saved as a major restoration project gets underway.

“New York stands in solidarity with the people of France and Catholics worldwide who are mourning this tremendous loss,” Cuomo said. “Today, I am directing that One World Trade Center be lit in the colors of the French flag as a tribute to the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral.”

Cuomo Releases 2018 Tax Return

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s federal tax rate declined in 2018, a product of a tax law he’s railed against for its effect on high-tax states like New York.

But the governor also was impacted by by the state and local tax deduction cap of $10,000 — reporting $12,894 in state taxes.

EJ McMahon of the Empire Center pointed out the federal tax law, passed in 2017, also rolled back the alternative minimum tax, which likely benefited Cuomo’s taxes.

Cuomo made his 2018 tax return public on Monday, showing he paid an effective tax rate of 18.5 percent last year, a decline from the 19.6 percent effective rate he paid in the previous year.

Cuomo’s income stood at $211,289. He overpaid his federal taxes by $3,306 and his state taxes by $562. Both will be applied to next year’s tax returns.

Cuomo reported a $11,000 contribution to HELP USA, the non-profit he founded.

The governor does not own the home he shares in Westchester County with his partner, celebrity chef Sandra Lee, but both split household expenses, including property taxes.

Cuomo did not report any new book income from his memoir “All Things Possible.”

State lawmakers in the budget approved last month backed a resolution increasing the salary for the governor from $179,000 to $200,000, retroactive to Jan. 1, and enacts a recommendation from a pay commission announced late last year that also supported salary increases for lawmakers.

In the coming years, the governor’s salary will grow to $250,000 by 2021. The lieutenant governor’s salary will reach $220,000.

The pay increases are tied to the passage of budgets approved by the start of the state’s fiscal year, April 1.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and her husband, William Hochul, reported $876,252 in joint income last year, paying an effective federal tax rate of 28 percent. They contributed $25,158 to charity, including a number of Buffalo-area entities, as well as the National Audubon Society, the United Way and Planned Parenthood.

Cuomo Breaks Out Veto Pen

Gov. Andrew Cuomo struck out millions of dollars in additional, duplicative or out-of-date spending in the $175 billion budget, his office announced on Friday.

The spending includes overtime, spending for the Office of Cultural Education, expenses for a wage theft investigation and money for the Highway Emergency Local Help Patrol.

In many instances, Cuomo’s office said there was already adequate funding in the budget to pay for these programs. In other instances, the appropriate for the money had been expended seven years ago. And in other cases, the spending was duplicated elsewhere in the budget.

Six appropriations were vetoed on constitutional grounds, including a re-appropriation for clearwater projects. Eight appropriations were struck down due to having been previously vetoed.

All told, Cuomo vetoed 123 lines of spending from the budget, which lawmakers approved in the early-morning hours of April 1, the start of the state’s fiscal year.

Cuomo earlier in the budget talks had warned lawmakers about spending too much in the budget, given the potential for a fiscal downturn as early as next year.

The agreed-to budget ultimately kept state spending growth at a 2 percent increase.

The full list of vetoes and their explanations can be found here.