Gillibrand Says She’s Running For President

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday in an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert announced she is forming a committee to run for president of the United States..

“I’m filing an exploratory committee for president of the United States tonight,” she said, according to a video clip released by the show.

Gillibrand, who had flipped a Republican-held upstate House district in 2006, was appointed to the Senate in 2009, filling a seat vacated by Hillary Clinton following her nomination for U.S. secretary of state.

As a member of the House, Gillibrand held moderate fiscal views. Reflecting a more liberal base of support, she began to emphasize concerns closer to the broader Democratic party in New York, including support for gun control and family issues.

“I’m going to run for president of the United States because as a young mom, I’m going to fight for other peoples’ kids as hard as I fight for my own,” she told Colbert.

Gillibrand pledged to fight “institutional racism, the corruption and greed of Washington, taking on the special interests that right legislation in the dead of night.”

“I know I have the compassion, the courage and the fearless determination to get that done,” she added.

Gillibrand joins a growing field of candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has the standing endorsement of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is also considering a run as is California Sen. Kamala Harris and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Extras

Trump’s nominee for attorney general, William Barr, urged Congress to include border security funds in a bill to reopen the government, but stopped short of fully endorsing the president’s proposed border wall.

A federal judge in New York blocked the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, a win for critics who say the question is unnecessary and would cause fewer immigrants and minorities to respond to the decennial survey.

No Democrats attended a lunch with Trump designed to reach an agreement to end the government shutdown and fund a border wall, the White House said.

The U.S. economy is taking a larger-than-expected hit from the partial government shutdown, White House estimates showed.

Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is taking Washington by storm, but some Senate Democrats see her exploding appeal as more of a sideshow than meaningful statement about the future of their party.

Ocasio-Cortez and her Republican critics have both called her proposal to dramatically increase America’s highest tax rate “radical” but a new poll indicates that a majority of Americans agrees with the idea.

Assaulting on-the-job journalists would become a felony in New York state under a proposal put forth by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his State of the State/budget address.

Sports gambling should be permitted at four upstate casinos, Cuomo said, though the Gaming Commission has yet to issue regulations as to how that would work.

Funding to the state’s public schools would go up nearly $1 billion under Cuomo’s proposed budget, but education advocates were hoping for about twice as much.

Also in Cuomo’s budget: An investment of $150 billion in critical infrastructure improvements, most of it on transportation and environmental projects.

Cuomo proposed extending mayoral control of New York City schools for an additional three years, which would be the longest extension for Mayor Bill de Blasio and could signal some newfound comity between the governor and mayor.

Former NJ Gov. Chris Christie, in his new tell-all about working on Trump’s campaign, paints a scathing portrait of first son-in-law Jared Kushner — depicting him as a vengeful, underhanded dullard ill equipped to work in the White House.

The Federal Aviation Administration is bringing thousands of furloughed inspectors and engineers back to work as the partial government shutdown drags on, the agency said.

The MTA considered an idea similar to the L train tunnel fix Cuomo has decided on five years ago, and dismissed it due to serious safety concerns – including the potential for the spread of cancer-causing dust that could harm commuters and workers.

De Blasio is going to Eastport, Maine to visit his 92-year-old aunt, and while there, will help raise money for the Eastport Arts Center, which provides year-round programming in a former Baptist church that was built soon after Maine became a state.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul is going to Canada for outpatient surgery for treatment of a hernia related to an attack by a neighbor outside his home in 2017 — but don’t accuse the staunch opponent of all things socialist of seeking public health care. He’ll be paying for his care in full.

After spanning the Hudson River for more than six decades, a big chunk of the old Tappan Zee Bridge was toppled in a controlled blast today to the delight of hundreds of onlookers.

The field of candidates running for New York City public advocate in the Feb. 26 special election remains massive after 23 candidates submitted ballot petition signatures to the city Board of Elections to get on the ballot,

Queens state Sen. Jose Peralta, who was rushed to a hospital and died unexpectedly at the age of 47 the day before Thanksgiving, was killed by complications of leukemia, the city medical examiner revealed. He was the first Dominican American elected to the chamber, and the governor has proposed naming the DREAM Act in his memory.

Some Communities Could See AIM End

State funding to municipalities through the AIM program could end for local governments that receive a relatively small portion of the funding when compared to their overall budgets, according to a provision in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $178 billion spending proposal.

Cuomo in previous years has not proposed any increases to the AIM program, much to the chagrin of local government advocates in New York.

This is the first time he’s proposed scaling back the program for communities his budget contends do not overly rely on the program, namely local governments that receive 2 percent or less of their total fiscal expenditures in 2017.

The impacted communities have about $1.6 billion in reserves.

The remaining $655 million in AIM to other communities would continue.

Cuomo Proposes $178 Billion Spending Plan

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday proposed a $178 billion spending plan that seeks legalize adult use marijuana, hikes education spending by $956 million and seeks to codify aspects of the federal Affordable Care Act into state law while adhering to a 2 percent cap on year-over-year state spending.

The budget also closes a $3.1 billion budget deficit.

Cuomo is also backing the legalization of adult-use marijuana officially, estimating $300 million in revenue. Adult-use marijuana would be limited to those over age 21 and local governments would be allowed to opt out.

Cuomo also pledged to aid communities that have been impacted by harsh drug laws with the legalized marijuana law.

The proposal has three-tax plan for adult-use marijuana.

The first tax includes $1 per dry weight gram of cannabis and 25 cents per dry weight of cannabis trim. Another tax would be imposed on the wholesaler to a retail dispensary of 20 percent of the invoice price. And a third tax is a 2 percent tax of the sale from wholesaler to retailer of the invoice price.

Revenues will be used for data tabulation, monitoring and reporting, the governor’s traffic safety committee, small business development, mental health treatment and research on cannabis uses as well public health education.

Cuomo’s education spending proposal also seeks to increase foundation aid by $338 million, far short of what education advocates are seeking to fund schools.

But Cuomo is also seeking to change how individual school districts fund poorer schools, pledging to push for equity on the local level.

This is Cuomo’s first budget of his third term with an all-Democratic state Legislature for the first time in his tenure. Lawmakers are already approving a flurry of top-line policy issues such as reforms to the state’s voting laws, protections for transgender New Yorkers, with more bills on gun control and abortion rights expected to come.

Still, Cuomo has signaled he wants to go further on election reform issues, including extending primary day voting hours for upstate counties. He also called for the passage of the DREAM Act, being named after the late state Sen. Jose Peralta.

Cuomo called for congestion pricing for the MTA

He wants a ban on campaign contributions from corporations and the creation of a public financing system.

On gun control, Cuomo wants an extended background check for firearm purchases.

Many of these measures, some of which have been long stalled in the Republican-led state Senate, are likely to be approved given Democratic control of the state Legislature.

Lawmakers are already signaling they will take up many of the proposals outside of the budget, an inverse of previous years in which major policy matters were included in the final budget deal.

“It’s a lot, no doubt about it,” Cuomo said. “But a lot has been bottled up for so long. In a way, I feel like the state has been liberated by the Senate Democratic caucus.”

But bigger fights are coming on education spending as newly elected Democratic lawmakers have called for a $4 billion increase in school aid in order to satisfy the terms of a funding lawsuit Cuomo insists is a settled matter.

Cuomo is calling for a new funding formula meant to benefit poorer schools, calling it “education equity” — the product of a review of school-by-school spending the governor said showed glaring disparities in how money is being spent.

The budget proposes to boost education aid overall to $27.7 million.

Lawmakers are almost certainly to push Cuomo to do more spending on schools as is usually the case each budget season. Sen. Robert Jackson, however, is one of the initial plaintiffs of the funding lawsuit from the previous decade and has pledge to boost education aid as advocates hav sought.

The budget is expected to pass by March 31, the final day of the state’s fiscal year.

Lawmakers Approved Protections For Gender Expression, Transgender New Yorkers

A bill that would create legal protections for transgender New Yorkers and gender expression was approved by the Democratic-controlled state Legislature on Tuesday, the most significant piece of LGBTQ rights legislation to be approved in the last seven years.

Cheers erupted in the state Senate, now under Democratic control, shortly after the 42-19 vote was announced.

“When we’re able to pass marriage equality, none of us thought it would take eight years to get to today,” Stewart-Cousins said. “But we are here.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the measure into law.

Aspects of the bill were first approved in the state’s civil rights regulation by Cuomo in 2015 after Republicans, who controlled the Senate at the time, declined to take up the bill.

“The passage of GENDA – 16 years in the making – will codify our progressive reputation and ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation are treated equally and with respect,” said Sen. Brad Hoylman.

“As the Trump administration continues to roll back protections for LGBTQ Americans, today’s victory sends a strong message to LGBTQ people across New York: you are loved, understood, and protected by your state government. We will not let you down.”

Lawmakers had previously in 2002 approved the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act, but advocates have argued the legislation fell short of protections for transgender and gender expression when it comes housing, the workplace and other facets of life.

“Today is an historic day,” said Assemblyman Richard Gottfried.

“The Assembly has passed the bill 11 times, but the Senate’s Republican Majority refused to let the bill have a floor vote. Today, the new Democratic Majority has joined us in protecting the rights of New Yorkers regardless of gender identity or expression. I look forward to Governor Cuomo signing GENDA into law.”

Senate GOP: Use Marijuana Money For Tax Relief

If the state legalizes adult use marijuana, Senate Republicans want the revenue to go toward some form of tax relief.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo later today is expected to propose a marijuana legalization plan that is projected to bring the state an estimated $300 million in tax revenue.

It’s not yer clear where Cuomo will propose using the money, but he has indicated that he wants any program to in large part benefit low-income communities that have been impacted by harsh drug laws.

“We don’t know the specifics,” said Sen. Joe Griffo, the deputy minority leader. “We await to see what the proposal will look like.”

Senate Republicans on Monday released a pre-buttal of sorts to Cuomo’s budget and State of the State presentation. They called for a permanent tax cap and other forms of tax relief.

Republicans at a Capitol news conference were also seemingly resigned to a marijuana provision passing, given the Democratic control of both chambers of the Legislature and an end to mandated state spending through a constitutional amendment.

But the marijuana tax revenue could be a highlight of the budget negotiations.

“If you really want to change the profile of New York let’s do something that is dramatic and substantive lets have a significant reduction in taxes we could look at both the property and income tax right now,” Griffo said.

Still, he cautioned that the revenue may not be as initially advertised and some projections may be a bit rosy.

“When they told us that legalizing gaming would be an economic cure for upstate New York, we now know these casinos are looking for bailouts and help,” Griffo said.

Plastic Bag Ban ‘Nearly Perfect’

Catskill Mountainkeeper says Governor Cuomo’s plastic bag ban while “nearly perfect,” has potential to replace one problem with another.

The environmental nonprofit group is calling on the Governor to include language that would place a fee on other single-use bags.

In a statement Monday, Katherine Nadeau, Deputy Director at Catskill Mountainkeeper, said, “Plastic pollution poisons our environment. Governor Cuomo’s commitment to banning plastic bags and expanding the Bottle Bill puts our state on the path to protect wildlife and water quality while addressing an ongoing litter issue. But if New York bans single use plastic bags without putting a fee on other single use bags, we’d be bunting when we need a grand slam.”

The group notes the bulk of refuse collected in roadside cleanups is plastic.

On a similar note, they called the bottle bill expansion “spot-on.”

“While drink bottles without a five-cent deposit litter our roadways and hiking trails, we rarely find redeemable bottles. Applying the five-cent deposit to additional beverages will help prevent litter, and is exactly what the Catskills need. We applaud Governor Cuomo’s commitment to expanding our bottle redemption laws.”

The Governor will deliver his combined 2019 state of the state budget at 2p.m. later today.

4 Things To Watch For On Budget Day

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo his proposed 2019-20 state budget today at 2 p.m. in Albany. It’s the first spending proposal of his third term and his ninth overall during his tenure as governor. The day kicks off a two-and-half month ride of negotiations and haggling over how the state will spend roughly $170 billion. Here are four things to watch for:

1. What surprises will there be?

Cuomo has already begun rolling out a series of budget proposals for banning plastic bags, expanding the bottle deposit law, raising the age of buying tobacco products to 21 and dropped hints about his plans for adult-use marijuana legalization. Many of these proposals themselves are yet to be fleshed out. But Cuomo also likes to hold back one last major piece in his budget presentation to secure headline-capturing issue. This year is a bit different, however, given the Democratic-controlled Legislature march to passing a series of long-bottled up bills, including voting law changes on Monday. Coming up next, lawmakers will be tackling LGBTQ issues, gun control and abortion rights — all provisions that won’t have to be included in the budget. Perhaps this is music to the ears of state budget traditionalists, since this will leave remove a lot of policy from the budget talks.

2. What will Cuomo do for health care?

The governor has already indicated he wants to find a way to thread the needle on the call for single-payer health care by some Democrats in the Legislature. Cuomo has questioned the cost a single payer bill would have on the state. Instead, he’s called for the codification of the U.S. Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, that would set in law the state’s health exchange and bolster the provisions of a law under constant challenge on the national level, but increasingly popular, especially with Democrats.

3. Will education be the marquee fight?

Aside from health care, spending for schools remains the next costliest item in the state budget. Cuomo is once again being prodded to boost education spending by $4 billion in direct aid to schools, as per advocates who say the state isn’t fulfilling the terms of a lawsuit from the previous decade. Cuomo contends the state has settled the matter, but what’s to turn the page from the decision, known as the Campaign For Fiscal Equity. Cuomo in recent weeks has pointed to what he calls an inequity in district-level school funding, which he wants to remedy. But will that be enough, especially for advocates and lawmakers like Sen. Robert Jackson, a plaintiff in the initial lawsuit?

4. An MTA plan?

Cuomo in a radio interview Monday once again insisted he doesn’t control the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, pointing to the veto power held by the members he doesn’t appoint to the 14-member board. He compared the push for more control over the MTA to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s effort to consolidate power over New York City schools in the 2000s. The conversation indicates Cuomo will be seeking a firmer hand over the MTA, more than he has now, in order to tackle the transit crisis many advocates blame him for ignoring over the years.

Cuomo Twice Thanks Outgoing State Dem Chair

From the Morning Memo:

The New York State Democratic Committee sent out a statement from the governor last night, thanking the outgoing chairman and Buffalo mayor, Byron Brown, for his service.

Brown was handpicked by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2016 to lead the party, and performed in that position loyally ever since. However, in a bit of a surprise move, Cuomo has denied to have Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs return to head the state party that he originally chaired during former Gov. David Paterson’s tenure.

The governor briefly thanked Brown in an early press release, but then elaborated on it later in the day with a longer statement.

“Byron Brown is one of New York’s most accomplished and inspiring Democratic leaders, and we are so grateful to him for his service to our party as committee chair,” Cuomo said.

The statement appeared to be rather quickly put together, with the governor alternating between the first and third person point of view.

“During his tenure, Democrats gained new U.S. House seats and flipped the State Senate, and the Democratic governor won more votes than any governor in history,” it read.

“At the same time, Byron partnered with the governor to bring about Buffalo’s historic transformation and resurgence, and while we will miss him on the committee, we understand that he is bringing renewed focus to lift Buffalo to even greater heights. On behalf of all New York Democrats, I thank Byron Brown for his unparalleled record of accomplishments and historic victories.”

At least in Western New York, the leadership change did not seem to be perceived as a slight to Brown. The Erie County Democratic Committee Chair Jeremy Zellner issued a statement congratulating Jacobs, while also thanking Brown for his service.

The outgoing chair did not release his own statement, or explain why he was being abruptly replaced.

Here and Now

The partial federal government shutdown continues, heading toward the one-month mark with no end in sight.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be delivering his combined State of the State/2019-20 budget address this afternoon in Albany.

The Senate and Assembly are continuing to steam through long-stalled legislation now that the Legislature is under complete Democrat control, planning to pass GENDA and a ban on gay conversion therapy.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence join members of Congress for lunch at the White House.

At 9:30 a.m., Queens Borough President Melinda Katz hears a presentation from the New York City Department of Transportation about its ongoing sidewalk pedestrian ramp upgrade program, Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Blvd., Queens.

At 10:15 a.m., the state Board of Regents meets, 89 Washington Ave, Albany.

At 10:30 a.m., the NYC Council members Jumaane Williams, Vanessa Gibson, I. Daneek Miller and several other officials honor Martin Luther King Jr. and decry senseless gun violence, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 10:30 a.m., the Senate Republican Conference will be unveiling its “Real Solutions” budget plan, Room 315, state Capitol, Albany.

At 11 a.m., the state Senate is in session, Senate chamber, state Capitol, Albany. LG Kathy Hochul will be presiding.

Also at 11 a.m., SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson delivers her State of the University System address, Albany Capital Center, 55 Eagle St., Albany. UPDATE: Johnson will deliver her address on Thursday, Jan. 31. This event has been changed to accommodate the governor’s budget.

At noon, the MTA holds a special board meeting, MTA Board Room, 2 Broadway, 20th floor, Manhattan.

At 12:30 p.m., climate activists host a press conference in support of a real “Green New Deal,” Empire State Plaza, Concourse, Albany.

At 1 p.m., Sen. Brad Hoylman, Assembly members Richard Gottfried and Deborah Glick, legislative colleagues and advocates will host a press conference following the Legislature’s historic vote on the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act and legislation to ban conversion therapy, outside the Senate chambers, 3rd Fl., state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 1 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Youth Services meets, 250 Broadway, 14th floor, Committee Room, Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., the True Blue NY grassroots coalition hosts a press conference announcing the People’s First 100 Days Agenda, Million Dollar Staircase, state Capitol, Albany.

At 2 p.m., Cuomo delivers the State of the State Address, Kitty Carlisle Hart Theatre, The Egg, Center for Performing Arts, Empire State Plaza, Albany. Hochul will also attend, as will NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and other elected officials from around the state.

At 4 p.m., the SUNY board of trustees and its committees meet, State University Plaza, 353 Broadway, Albany.

5:30 p.m., the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund and other partners host a candidates forum for New York City’s public advocate special election, Brooklyn Law School, 250 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

Also at 5:30 p.m., Albany City Treasurer Darius Shahinfar, joined by local elected officials from around Albany County, will make a major announcement, Ancient Order of the Hibernians, 375 Ontario St., Albany.

At 6:30 p.m., City & State hosts the Health Power 50 networking reception, which celebrates the 50 most influential people in New York’s health care sector, The Mezzanine, 55 Broadway, Manhattan.

Headlines…

Hillary Clinton reminded her Twitter followers that she predicted President Donald Trump would be a “puppet” to Russian President Vladimir Putin if elected following the president’s denial of a New York Times report that Trump’s deferential treatment toward Putin caused the FBI to consider he might have been working for Russia.

While polls show that a majority of Americans blame Trump and Republicans and do not support a border wall, Republicans are reading a different line in the polling: Support for the wall is growing and hardening among Republican voters.

Trump bought piles of burgers – 1,000 he said – and slices of pizza from fast food joints to feed the Clemson University football team, as members of the White House staff are furloughed and couldn’t make a meal for the event last night.

Piles of burgers and fish sandwiches from McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King, still in their boxes and wrappers, were served on trays in the candlelit dining room. Tubs of dipping sauces were stacked in silver gravy boats. On another table, heat lamps kept French fries and Domino’s pizzas warm. Salads were available, too.

Trump’s inaugural committee spent millions of dollars on lavish payments to friends and political allies, including $1.5 million to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC.

Embattled Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King was stripped of all his committee assignments in a stunning intra-party retaliatory move — and the full House is separately expected to reprimand him – after his questioning why phrases such as “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” are considered “offensive.”

Trump’s attorney general nominee, William Barr, will tell senators at his confirmation hearing that “it is vitally important” for special counsel Robert Mueller to be allowed to conclude the investigation into Russian tampering during the 2016 election.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will appear on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” tonight, where she is expected to reveal a major move toward running for the 2020 presidential nomination.

If she announces her exploratory committee, as expected, the New York Democrat would become the second U.S. senator — and second female senator — to announce plans to begin the legal process of running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.

A new Siena College poll showed overwhelming support among New York voters on issues like legalizing pot, enacting congestion pricing to raise money for the cash-strapped MTA, strengthening the state’s abortion laws, and passing the Child Victims Act to make it easier for child sex abuse survivors to seek justice as adults.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio rejected the idea floated by Cuomo and others in Albany that the city needs to cough up more taxpayer green to fix the subways, saying: “If anyone thinks that money can be found in the city budget, they may be smoking marijuana. The fact is, it just isn’t there.”

In a nod to de Blasio, New York City’s speed camera program would be extended and expanded under a proposal Cuomo is set to unveil as part of his 2019-20 state budget plan.

Here’s more on the plastic bag ban the governor says he’ll be including in his budget, though he hasn’t yet revealed many details.

Cuomo’s demand to reorganize the MTA to give him a clear majority of appointees was first broached more than 35 years ago by his father, Mario. It went nowhere, in part because Ed Koch, then mayor of New York City, didn’t like it.

The new Democrat-controlled state Legislature took its first actions, passing a package of legislation they say will make voting easier and close a major loophole that has allowed corporations to skirt campaign finance limits.

Making it far easier to register and vote has been hailed by some government watchdogs as a key way to improve New York’s longtime reputation as among the nation’s worst when it comes to voter turnout. But some critics have said the measures will make it too easy to both register and vote – situations that could make voter fraud also simpler.

“We should not fear making it easier for those who are eligible to vote, to vote,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “We should not fear restricting the flow of money into our electoral system.”

The Legislature did not act on two voting-related proposals floated by the governor: Making Election Day a holiday, and opening polling places upstate before noon for primaries.

A measure approved to consolidate New York’s state and federal primaries could affect next year’s legislative calendar.

Cities and towns in New York would still be able to ban marijuana sales under Cuomo’s plan to legalize the drug statewide, and people under the age of 21 would be prohibited from buying it.

Regardless of changes to state law, college students 21 or older may need to consult a different set of guidelines regarding pot, as institutions of higher education in New York may continue to ban marijuana use on campus and punish students who smoke on school grounds.

Advocates seeking passage of the Child Victims Act are calling on state legislators and the governor to swiftly pass the legislation, which for years was blocked by Senate Republicans who lost control of the chamber in November’s elections. Cuomo says he’ll put it in the budget; they want it quicker than that.

Cuomo’s executive budget will include a ban on “stretched” or remanufactured limousines in New York, as well as sweeping measures to expand regulation of the limousine industry in response to October’s fatal crash in Schoharie County that killed 20 people.

Here’s some more things to watch for as Cuomo takes the wraps off his budget proposal today.

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