Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/assembly-speaker 2017-10-19T14:52:33+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Assembly to Begin Implementation of Technology-Based Reforms 2016-07-07T15:59:46+00:00 2016-07-07T15:59:46+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6428:assembly-to-begin-implementation-of-technology-based-reforms Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2015/17084452209_83b7800f6b_z.jpg" alt="17084452209 83b7800f6b z" height="390" width="600" /></p> <p>photo via The Governor's Office</p> <hr /> <p>Earlier this year, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie <a target="_blank" href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/state/6229-assembly-announces-internal-reform-plan-to-mixed-reviews">announced</a> he would implement a series of recommendations -- proposed by the Assembly Workgroup on Legislative Process, Operations and Public Participation -- designed to increase transparency, efficiency and participation in the chamber. Some of those changes were voted on as rules reforms, others were made as pledges. But many of them that deal with technology, like a revamp of the Assembly&rsquo;s website, posting more information about bills and committee hearings online and broadcasting hearings, were not implemented during the legislative session.</p> <p>Assembly Democrats say staffers will begin implementing those technological improvements between now and the next session that begins in January. &ldquo;It was difficult for the staff to work on these things while in session but now that legislative work is wrapped up they will begin to put many of these things in place,&rdquo; Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh a Manhattan Democrat and co-chair of the 12-member workgroup that came up with the recommendations, told Gotham Gazette. &ldquo;Now that we are in the off session we will be looking to get as many of these things in place as soon as possible.&rdquo;</p> <p>He stressed, however, that there is no &ldquo;item-by-item deadline&rdquo; to implement the reforms. Heastie&rsquo;s office did not return requests for comment.</p> <p>Assembly Republicans have criticized Kavanagh and his taskforce for <a target="_blank" href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5854-assembly-transparency-group-operates-in-secret">taking nearly a year</a> to recommend a series of &ldquo;common sense&rdquo; changes that don&rsquo;t actually reform the power structure of the Assembly. They say the Assembly Democrats <a target="_blank" href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/127-state/6043-assembly-reform-group-will-miss-own-deadline">didn&rsquo;t seek input</a> on rules changes and have not kept them updated on implementation.</p> <p>&ldquo;They worked a whole year supposedly and came up with things that aren't particularly brave, that don&rsquo;t change the power dynamic and (don&rsquo;t) give members the ability to move their own legislation,&rdquo; said Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, a Republican from Canandaigua, to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>Some of the technology-focused changes the Assembly pledged to implement include making the functionality of the legislature&rsquo;s bill-tracking system available to the public; creating a web portal that includes all information related to bills, including committee actions and evaluations by outside groups; the creation of a C-Span like legislative television channel; making the content of the legislative library searchable online and modernizing the Assembly&rsquo;s phone system to include digital voicemail boxes.</p> <p>"The recommendations put forth by the work group are thoughtful and comprehensive," Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle said in a statement in March when the reforms were released. "These measures build on the steps that we have taken recently to introduce technology into our operations. While these new changes will take some time to put into operation, this investment will increase efficiencies as well as provide greater transparency and accountability."</p> <p>The workgroup came together in the wake of the indictment of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on multiple federal corruption charges last year. Heastie, in his bid to replace Silver, promised to appoint a group that would look at changing how the Assembly operates.</p> <p>Many good government groups had the expectation that the workgroup's proposals would help empower individual members while decreasing the speaker&rsquo;s ability to control all legislation, something they saw as playing into the charges against Silver, who had long resisted calls for basic technological changes to increase transparency. The Senate Republican Majority made these changes long ago.</p> <p>Those advocacy groups welcomed the workgroup&rsquo;s eventual recommendations but saw them as failing to deal with the issues that lead to Silver&rsquo;s indictment. &ldquo;Watching this process is like watching paint dry,&rdquo; said Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group. &ldquo;They&rsquo;ve done some good things but they haven't tackled anything to do with reforming the flaws in the system. It fits in with the overall Albany reaction to recent scandals, which has been to do nothing. Little has happened in the Assembly or in the Senate since Silver&rsquo;s indictment that would really change anything. The name of the game has been public relations.&rdquo;</p> <p>John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany, said he has faith that the Assembly will make good on promised changes in a timely fashion. &ldquo;Speaker Heastie has every reason to get this right to show he is a good manager and sincere leader,&rdquo; Kaehny said. &ldquo;He is under intense scrutiny by the press and watchdog groups and will lose a great deal of credibility if he can't manage to get these fairly modest improvements done on-time."</p> <p>As much as Assemblymember Kavanagh would like things implemented quickly, he also wants to make sure any changes are worthwhile. &ldquo;We need to do it right,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;and make sure we create a high functioning system.&rdquo;</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2015/17084452209_83b7800f6b_z.jpg" alt="17084452209 83b7800f6b z" height="390" width="600" /></p> <p>photo via The Governor's Office</p> <hr /> <p>Earlier this year, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie <a target="_blank" href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/state/6229-assembly-announces-internal-reform-plan-to-mixed-reviews">announced</a> he would implement a series of recommendations -- proposed by the Assembly Workgroup on Legislative Process, Operations and Public Participation -- designed to increase transparency, efficiency and participation in the chamber. Some of those changes were voted on as rules reforms, others were made as pledges. But many of them that deal with technology, like a revamp of the Assembly&rsquo;s website, posting more information about bills and committee hearings online and broadcasting hearings, were not implemented during the legislative session.</p> <p>Assembly Democrats say staffers will begin implementing those technological improvements between now and the next session that begins in January. &ldquo;It was difficult for the staff to work on these things while in session but now that legislative work is wrapped up they will begin to put many of these things in place,&rdquo; Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh a Manhattan Democrat and co-chair of the 12-member workgroup that came up with the recommendations, told Gotham Gazette. &ldquo;Now that we are in the off session we will be looking to get as many of these things in place as soon as possible.&rdquo;</p> <p>He stressed, however, that there is no &ldquo;item-by-item deadline&rdquo; to implement the reforms. Heastie&rsquo;s office did not return requests for comment.</p> <p>Assembly Republicans have criticized Kavanagh and his taskforce for <a target="_blank" href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5854-assembly-transparency-group-operates-in-secret">taking nearly a year</a> to recommend a series of &ldquo;common sense&rdquo; changes that don&rsquo;t actually reform the power structure of the Assembly. They say the Assembly Democrats <a target="_blank" href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/127-state/6043-assembly-reform-group-will-miss-own-deadline">didn&rsquo;t seek input</a> on rules changes and have not kept them updated on implementation.</p> <p>&ldquo;They worked a whole year supposedly and came up with things that aren't particularly brave, that don&rsquo;t change the power dynamic and (don&rsquo;t) give members the ability to move their own legislation,&rdquo; said Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, a Republican from Canandaigua, to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>Some of the technology-focused changes the Assembly pledged to implement include making the functionality of the legislature&rsquo;s bill-tracking system available to the public; creating a web portal that includes all information related to bills, including committee actions and evaluations by outside groups; the creation of a C-Span like legislative television channel; making the content of the legislative library searchable online and modernizing the Assembly&rsquo;s phone system to include digital voicemail boxes.</p> <p>"The recommendations put forth by the work group are thoughtful and comprehensive," Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle said in a statement in March when the reforms were released. "These measures build on the steps that we have taken recently to introduce technology into our operations. While these new changes will take some time to put into operation, this investment will increase efficiencies as well as provide greater transparency and accountability."</p> <p>The workgroup came together in the wake of the indictment of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on multiple federal corruption charges last year. Heastie, in his bid to replace Silver, promised to appoint a group that would look at changing how the Assembly operates.</p> <p>Many good government groups had the expectation that the workgroup's proposals would help empower individual members while decreasing the speaker&rsquo;s ability to control all legislation, something they saw as playing into the charges against Silver, who had long resisted calls for basic technological changes to increase transparency. The Senate Republican Majority made these changes long ago.</p> <p>Those advocacy groups welcomed the workgroup&rsquo;s eventual recommendations but saw them as failing to deal with the issues that lead to Silver&rsquo;s indictment. &ldquo;Watching this process is like watching paint dry,&rdquo; said Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group. &ldquo;They&rsquo;ve done some good things but they haven't tackled anything to do with reforming the flaws in the system. It fits in with the overall Albany reaction to recent scandals, which has been to do nothing. Little has happened in the Assembly or in the Senate since Silver&rsquo;s indictment that would really change anything. The name of the game has been public relations.&rdquo;</p> <p>John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany, said he has faith that the Assembly will make good on promised changes in a timely fashion. &ldquo;Speaker Heastie has every reason to get this right to show he is a good manager and sincere leader,&rdquo; Kaehny said. &ldquo;He is under intense scrutiny by the press and watchdog groups and will lose a great deal of credibility if he can't manage to get these fairly modest improvements done on-time."</p> <p>As much as Assemblymember Kavanagh would like things implemented quickly, he also wants to make sure any changes are worthwhile. &ldquo;We need to do it right,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;and make sure we create a high functioning system.&rdquo;</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Budget Leaves Cuomo's Affordable Housing Plan A Mystery 2016-04-05T18:32:33+00:00 2016-04-05T18:32:33+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6265:budget-leaves-cuomos-affordable-housing-plan-a-mystery Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/26096516561_6243fce802_z.jpg" alt="cuomo entering stage left" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Gov. Cuomo arrives to outline the budget agreement (photo <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/26096516561/in/album-72157666086275370/" target="_blank">via The Governor's Office</a>)</span></p> <hr /> <p>Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a sweeping $20 billion plan to build and preserve affordable housing and fight homelessness during his State of the State speech earlier this year. The plan, to be implemented over five years, is expected to create 100,000 new units of affordable housing and 6,000 supportive housing beds for the homeless. The policy book accompanying Cuomo's speech and executive budget outlines several general housing categories and promised more detail "in the coming weeks."</p> <p>Last week, Cuomo and legislators agreed on a new $147 billion state budget for fiscal year 2017 that includes nearly $2 billion for affordable housing, but it offers no details on where the housing will be built, who will build it, or when the state will start looking for projects to fund.</p> <p>In the place of specifics is a notice that the plan is to be worked out in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Cuomo and legislative leaders. In other words, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and Cuomo will be allowed to decide behind closed doors, through a negotiated legal document, how to spend the initial $2 billion intended for affordable housing projects. It is unlikely to face scrutiny from the public or rank-and-file legislators.</p> <p>"The debate over supportive and affordable housing was pushed off because all the oxygen in the room was sucked up by the minimum wage debate," said Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, a Queens Democrat who has sparred with the Cuomo administration in the past over the governor's funding of supportive housing, of budget negotiations.</p> <p>Senator Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat, said she believes that Cuomo and legislative leaders will have to spell out what they plan to do with the $2 billion of budget money lined out for housing programs in a resolution later this year and put it to a vote in both houses. "I believe each house will have to vote on a resolution lining out specifically how it's going to be spent," Krueger told Gotham Gazette. "I don't know what they believe, however," she said referring to legislative leaders and the Cuomo administration. "We are a little loosey-goosey with the law around here, it's just the Capitol."</p> <p>Hevesi said he believes that the same budget negotiating teams that negotiated human services and housing issues from both legislative houses and the Cuomo administration will reconvene to hash out the details later this session. He does not expect a public vote. He said he expects the Assembly, which is dominated by New York City Democrats including Heastie, to work as an advocate for the city and its specific housing needs during negotiations.</p> <p>During a Tuesday press conference at the Capitol, Assembly housing committee Chair Keith Wright said that housing is still "an open question in the budget" that will be worked out by "MOU."</p> <p>"This has never been done before," said Krueger. "You are not supposed to have lump sum appropriations decided without the vote of the Legislature. We are talking about a hypothetical plan to spend $20 billion on housing, there should be a robust discussion on how it's being spent, where it's being spent, and the plusses and minuses of any particular approach."</p> <p>David Friedfel of the Citizens Budget Commission said that while it isn't "uncommon" for MOUs to be used in the budget, it is new to see one used in a program related to housing. "It's not uncommon but it's not something we support," Friedfel told Gotham Gazette. "We've seen these MOUs used to create the pots of money that got Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos into trouble."</p> <p>In fact, MOUs are used throughout this year's budget, especially in language funding the governor's major infrastructure projects.</p> <p>This year's budget also includes more of what good government groups have come to call "slush funds" created for use by the Governor and Legislature.</p> <p>Cuomo administration officials did not respond to requests for comment about the housing MOU or about when to expect more details about the governor's affordable housing and homelessness plans.</p> <p>In January, Cuomo outlined some overarching goals for his housing plan. His <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/2016_State_of_the_State_Book.pdf" target="_blank">policy book</a> released for his State of the State and budget address says the intention of his $10 billion housing plan is: "To add critical supply to the state's stock of affordable housing."</p> <p>It says the plan "will create and preserve 100,000 units across the state. This historic investment offers a transformational blueprint to address the diversity of housing need across the state, strengthen protections for tenants, and create new opportunities for low-to moderate income households. The Plan —which boosts state spending on housing programs by nearly $5 billion—will build and preserve affordable units and individual homes; make homeownership affordable for first-time buyers; increase investments in the revitalization of our communities; promote housing choice opportunities for all New Yorkers; revamp services in ways that better serve clients including New Yorkers seeking affordable housing..."</p> <p>The policy book is short on other specifics, but promised, "The comprehensive House NY 2020 Plan will be released in the coming weeks." Almost three months later and with the new budget passed, there still aren't many specifics.</p> <p>The Capital Budget shows a $1,973,475,000 allocation for a "Housing Program" under the Division of Housing and Community Renewal. Nearly $600,000,000 of that goes to the creation of an "Infrastructure Investment Account." The language for the program states:</p> <p>"In support of a comprehensive, statewide multi-year housing program in accordance with a plan approved in a memorandum of understanding executed by the director of budget, the speaker of the assembly and the temporary president of the senate."</p> <p>Any of the cash appropriated to the account can be "suballocated to any state department, agency, or public authority for the purposes stated herein, only in accordance with a plan approved in a memorandum of understanding executed by the director of the budget, the speaker of the assembly, and the temporary president of the senate, who shall file such approval with the department of audit and control and copies thereof with the chair of the senate finance committee and the chair of the assembly ways and means committee."</p> <p>The budget language further stipulates that the cash for the fund be doled out over a five-year period.</p> <p>The budget also contains a $57.5 million line for the creation of supportive housing, which is long-term housing with social services, and $5 million for emergency and transitional housing for people with AIDS.</p> <p>"It's concerning that we have a verbal commitment of $20 billion but here we have a $2 billion commitment meant to be spent over five years," said Sen. Krueger, who said it could be worrisome for those interested in building affordable housing. She noted that the nature of construction dictates that all the money wouldn't need to be spent up front, but having it lined out in budget documents would be helpful to those interested in utilizing state cash to subsidize affordable housing.</p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio appears to be one of the many New Yorkers interested in having more details on the state's affordable housing agenda. De Blasio has an ongoing ten-year, 200,000 unit affordable housing plan, as well as several programs aimed at combatting homelessness. "We look forward to seeing further action on increased State support for homelessness and housing as the session continues, and ensuring those priorities receive the scrutiny they merit," de Blasio said in a statement reacting to the passage of the state budget.</p> <p>The mayor had a similar reaction after Cuomo's State of the State address in January. "You know, it's an initial idea," de Blasio told reporters at the time of the $20 billion, five-year plan announced that day. "We have to see the specifics about timelines and how it's going to play out, but look, it can only be for the good of New York City if the state is making an additional commitment to New York City on affordable housing on top of the 200,000 units we're already committed to."</p> <p>A representative of the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) had the same message this week. "We are looking forward to hearing more about the State's plans for additional resources for the construction and preservation of affordable housing in New York City," a spokesperson said in a statement emailed to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>Cuomo's plan follows de Blasio's, outlined in 2014, to create 80,000 units of affordable housing and preserve another 120,000 units (preservation of units includes extending rent regulations through benefit-agreements with landlords). De Blasio also pledged to create 15,000 supportive housing units over the next 15 years, announcing in December a new supportive plan after negotiations with the state on a new joint program did not yield results (there have been three such programs in the past, stretching back several mayors and governors). Going back to last year, the governor has been a regular critic of de Blasio's management of the city's homelessness crisis. When announcing his supportive housing plan, de Blasio challenged the state to act. It appeared Cuomo was doing so as he delivered his State of the State.</p> <p>Now, advocates are concerned there may not be all that much new money in the budget. Cuomo administration sources have indicated the $20 billion figure includes "on and off budget resources" including tax credits and funding for housing-related departments such as the Department of Homes and Community Renewal.</p> <p>Friedfel of CBC said that the use of MOUs makes it harder to follow how money is being spent, but that it also has advantages for those spending it. "It does make it more difficult to track than a more generic appropriation," said Friedfel. "It also gives them more freedom about how to spend it."</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/26096516561_6243fce802_z.jpg" alt="cuomo entering stage left" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Gov. Cuomo arrives to outline the budget agreement (photo <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/26096516561/in/album-72157666086275370/" target="_blank">via The Governor's Office</a>)</span></p> <hr /> <p>Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a sweeping $20 billion plan to build and preserve affordable housing and fight homelessness during his State of the State speech earlier this year. The plan, to be implemented over five years, is expected to create 100,000 new units of affordable housing and 6,000 supportive housing beds for the homeless. The policy book accompanying Cuomo's speech and executive budget outlines several general housing categories and promised more detail "in the coming weeks."</p> <p>Last week, Cuomo and legislators agreed on a new $147 billion state budget for fiscal year 2017 that includes nearly $2 billion for affordable housing, but it offers no details on where the housing will be built, who will build it, or when the state will start looking for projects to fund.</p> <p>In the place of specifics is a notice that the plan is to be worked out in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Cuomo and legislative leaders. In other words, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and Cuomo will be allowed to decide behind closed doors, through a negotiated legal document, how to spend the initial $2 billion intended for affordable housing projects. It is unlikely to face scrutiny from the public or rank-and-file legislators.</p> <p>"The debate over supportive and affordable housing was pushed off because all the oxygen in the room was sucked up by the minimum wage debate," said Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, a Queens Democrat who has sparred with the Cuomo administration in the past over the governor's funding of supportive housing, of budget negotiations.</p> <p>Senator Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat, said she believes that Cuomo and legislative leaders will have to spell out what they plan to do with the $2 billion of budget money lined out for housing programs in a resolution later this year and put it to a vote in both houses. "I believe each house will have to vote on a resolution lining out specifically how it's going to be spent," Krueger told Gotham Gazette. "I don't know what they believe, however," she said referring to legislative leaders and the Cuomo administration. "We are a little loosey-goosey with the law around here, it's just the Capitol."</p> <p>Hevesi said he believes that the same budget negotiating teams that negotiated human services and housing issues from both legislative houses and the Cuomo administration will reconvene to hash out the details later this session. He does not expect a public vote. He said he expects the Assembly, which is dominated by New York City Democrats including Heastie, to work as an advocate for the city and its specific housing needs during negotiations.</p> <p>During a Tuesday press conference at the Capitol, Assembly housing committee Chair Keith Wright said that housing is still "an open question in the budget" that will be worked out by "MOU."</p> <p>"This has never been done before," said Krueger. "You are not supposed to have lump sum appropriations decided without the vote of the Legislature. We are talking about a hypothetical plan to spend $20 billion on housing, there should be a robust discussion on how it's being spent, where it's being spent, and the plusses and minuses of any particular approach."</p> <p>David Friedfel of the Citizens Budget Commission said that while it isn't "uncommon" for MOUs to be used in the budget, it is new to see one used in a program related to housing. "It's not uncommon but it's not something we support," Friedfel told Gotham Gazette. "We've seen these MOUs used to create the pots of money that got Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos into trouble."</p> <p>In fact, MOUs are used throughout this year's budget, especially in language funding the governor's major infrastructure projects.</p> <p>This year's budget also includes more of what good government groups have come to call "slush funds" created for use by the Governor and Legislature.</p> <p>Cuomo administration officials did not respond to requests for comment about the housing MOU or about when to expect more details about the governor's affordable housing and homelessness plans.</p> <p>In January, Cuomo outlined some overarching goals for his housing plan. His <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/2016_State_of_the_State_Book.pdf" target="_blank">policy book</a> released for his State of the State and budget address says the intention of his $10 billion housing plan is: "To add critical supply to the state's stock of affordable housing."</p> <p>It says the plan "will create and preserve 100,000 units across the state. This historic investment offers a transformational blueprint to address the diversity of housing need across the state, strengthen protections for tenants, and create new opportunities for low-to moderate income households. The Plan —which boosts state spending on housing programs by nearly $5 billion—will build and preserve affordable units and individual homes; make homeownership affordable for first-time buyers; increase investments in the revitalization of our communities; promote housing choice opportunities for all New Yorkers; revamp services in ways that better serve clients including New Yorkers seeking affordable housing..."</p> <p>The policy book is short on other specifics, but promised, "The comprehensive House NY 2020 Plan will be released in the coming weeks." Almost three months later and with the new budget passed, there still aren't many specifics.</p> <p>The Capital Budget shows a $1,973,475,000 allocation for a "Housing Program" under the Division of Housing and Community Renewal. Nearly $600,000,000 of that goes to the creation of an "Infrastructure Investment Account." The language for the program states:</p> <p>"In support of a comprehensive, statewide multi-year housing program in accordance with a plan approved in a memorandum of understanding executed by the director of budget, the speaker of the assembly and the temporary president of the senate."</p> <p>Any of the cash appropriated to the account can be "suballocated to any state department, agency, or public authority for the purposes stated herein, only in accordance with a plan approved in a memorandum of understanding executed by the director of the budget, the speaker of the assembly, and the temporary president of the senate, who shall file such approval with the department of audit and control and copies thereof with the chair of the senate finance committee and the chair of the assembly ways and means committee."</p> <p>The budget language further stipulates that the cash for the fund be doled out over a five-year period.</p> <p>The budget also contains a $57.5 million line for the creation of supportive housing, which is long-term housing with social services, and $5 million for emergency and transitional housing for people with AIDS.</p> <p>"It's concerning that we have a verbal commitment of $20 billion but here we have a $2 billion commitment meant to be spent over five years," said Sen. Krueger, who said it could be worrisome for those interested in building affordable housing. She noted that the nature of construction dictates that all the money wouldn't need to be spent up front, but having it lined out in budget documents would be helpful to those interested in utilizing state cash to subsidize affordable housing.</p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio appears to be one of the many New Yorkers interested in having more details on the state's affordable housing agenda. De Blasio has an ongoing ten-year, 200,000 unit affordable housing plan, as well as several programs aimed at combatting homelessness. "We look forward to seeing further action on increased State support for homelessness and housing as the session continues, and ensuring those priorities receive the scrutiny they merit," de Blasio said in a statement reacting to the passage of the state budget.</p> <p>The mayor had a similar reaction after Cuomo's State of the State address in January. "You know, it's an initial idea," de Blasio told reporters at the time of the $20 billion, five-year plan announced that day. "We have to see the specifics about timelines and how it's going to play out, but look, it can only be for the good of New York City if the state is making an additional commitment to New York City on affordable housing on top of the 200,000 units we're already committed to."</p> <p>A representative of the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) had the same message this week. "We are looking forward to hearing more about the State's plans for additional resources for the construction and preservation of affordable housing in New York City," a spokesperson said in a statement emailed to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>Cuomo's plan follows de Blasio's, outlined in 2014, to create 80,000 units of affordable housing and preserve another 120,000 units (preservation of units includes extending rent regulations through benefit-agreements with landlords). De Blasio also pledged to create 15,000 supportive housing units over the next 15 years, announcing in December a new supportive plan after negotiations with the state on a new joint program did not yield results (there have been three such programs in the past, stretching back several mayors and governors). Going back to last year, the governor has been a regular critic of de Blasio's management of the city's homelessness crisis. When announcing his supportive housing plan, de Blasio challenged the state to act. It appeared Cuomo was doing so as he delivered his State of the State.</p> <p>Now, advocates are concerned there may not be all that much new money in the budget. Cuomo administration sources have indicated the $20 billion figure includes "on and off budget resources" including tax credits and funding for housing-related departments such as the Department of Homes and Community Renewal.</p> <p>Friedfel of CBC said that the use of MOUs makes it harder to follow how money is being spent, but that it also has advantages for those spending it. "It does make it more difficult to track than a more generic appropriation," said Friedfel. "It also gives them more freedom about how to spend it."</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Everyone Agrees Albany Needs Ethics Reform, Except the People Who Matter Most 2016-03-31T23:07:07+00:00 2016-03-31T23:07:07+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6255:everyone-agrees-albany-needs-ethics-reform-except-the-people-who-matter-most Super User <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/18535307844_847c491fe0_z.jpg" alt="three men at a table" height="399" width="600" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan (l-r) (photo via The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>"Top of my agenda is going to be ethics reform," said Governor Andrew Cuomo, speaking <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2016/01/3/cuomo-to-tackle-economic-issues-in-state-of-state-address.html" target="_blank">on NY1</a> on Jan. 3. "We have done a lot in Albany, but we haven't done enough. And I'm going to push the legislature very hard to adopt more aggressive ethics legislation, more disclosure, more enforcement, etcetera."</p> <p dir="ltr">While the governor did unveil an aggressive ethics agenda during his State of the State speech a week later, Cuomo’s words ring hollow now, as a state budget containing no government ethics reform passes and any hope for such reform happening this year is pushed to the legislative session, where it is unlikely to occur.</p> <p dir="ltr">Cuomo has done nothing public on ethics reform despite the promises he made during his Jan. 13 State of the State address. “We have to remember the people we serve, and it’s our responsibility to give them the government that they deserve,” Cuomo said at the time. “And remember the stronger the citizen trust, the stronger the government’s ability.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Just about a month after two of New York’s most powerful legislators were convicted of several federal corruption charges in separate trials, Cuomo laid out a plan to close the LLC loophole, which allows limited liability companies to circumvent New York’s campaign donation limits and give large sums of money to candidates through various LLCs, limit the amount of outside income legislators may earn, and adopt a publicly funded campaign finance system, among other reforms.</p> <p dir="ltr">Yet, as negotiations for the state budget come to a close, the “three men in a room” deciding the state’s roughly $150 billion budget have not moved ethics reforms that could help give the people they serve “the government that they deserve.” In a Siena College <a href="https://www.siena.edu/news-events/article/albany-corruption-is-serious-problem-89-of-nyers-say" target="_blank">poll</a> released Feb. 1, 89 percent of New Yorkers said corruption in state government is a serious problem, with 60 percent calling for outside income to be banned.</p> <p dir="ltr">Although Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat and one of the “three men in a room” along with Gov. Cuomo and Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, has pledged to “increase transparency and accountability” and “restore the public’s trust in government,” the lack of any ethics reform in the state budget calls Heastie’s follow through on that commitment into question.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The Assembly has pledged to enact comprehensive ethics reforms, and we take that commitment very seriously,” said Heastie in a press release detailing the ethics reform component of the Assembly’s budget plan, which was released Friday evening March 11. Like Cuomo, Heastie outlined an ethics reform agenda, but did little else to publicly promote it.</p> <p dir="ltr">On that Friday morning three weeks ago, Heastie <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com:8080/index.php/government/6219-heastie-outlines-assembly-ethics-plan" target="_blank">outlined</a> the Assembly Democrats’ ethics package at an event held by Crain’s New York Business. The plan also includes a proposal to close the LLC loophole, as well as proposals to limit the amount of outside income legislators may earn (though not as strictly as Cuomo’s plan), and to make it so that legislators who also work as attorneys can only earn money for the casework they perform, rather than for simply serving as "of counsel," lending their name to a law firm - a practice at root of the scandal that brought down Heastie's predecessor, Sheldon Silver.</p> <p dir="ltr">Both Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos were brought down last year by corruption convictions related to their use of their public offices for private gain.</p> <p dir="ltr">The new head of the Republican-controlled Senate, meanwhile, has repeatedly questioned the need for further ethics reform, and he and many other Senate Republicans are opposed to making the Legislature full-time or placing any limits on lawmakers’ outside income.</p> <p dir="ltr">Sen. Flanagan has <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6069-good-government-groups-want-legislators-to-pledge-to-fight-for-reform" target="_blank">previously</a> pointed out that the Senate passed a pension forfeiture bill, aimed at ensuring that legislators convicted of public corruption cannot collect a government pension, in a deal with the Assembly, only to have the Assembly back out at the last minute. Pension forfeiture is notably absent from the Assembly's reform plan.</p> <p dir="ltr">As the New York Times Editorial Board <a href="http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/03/30/opinion/dont-let-albany-ethics-reform-slip-away.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&amp;smid=nytcore-iphone-share&amp;_r=2&amp;referer=https://t.co/1rTiCx7yjn" target="_blank">writes</a>, “In Albany, this is how the stage gets set for each legislative house to praise itself and to blame the other for the failure, yet again, of meaningful reform, and for Mr. Cuomo to blame them both.</p> <p dir="ltr">New Yorkers, legislators, and government reform groups alike say that ethics reform is essential, “especially considering the context of the past year,” as Cuomo himself said during his State of the State. Yet at a time when Cuomo has the most leverage, he has failed to achieve reform. Heastie has decided not to aggressively pursue the Assembly's plan, and Flanagan has appeared totally disinterested in the issue. The minorities in each house - one Democratic, one Republican - have actually been more vocal than the majorities.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We are blowing our Watergate moment,” Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins told <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-york-state-budget-set-to-omit-tighter-rules-on-ethics-1459127730" target="_blank">the Wall Street Journal</a>. “This year’s budget process has been nothing but a series of covert meetings and phone calls shielded from the press and public.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Senate Republicans’ resistance to outside income limits and closing the LLC loophole have left room for Cuomo and Heastie to play a blame game. In part because neither did anything beyond one speech to promote ethics reform leading up to the budget, there is room to question their seriousness. But, Senate Republicans have, it seems, let the two Democrats and Assembly Democrats in general off the hook.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It is incumbent upon legislators to work to significantly reduce corruption, and we can do so by passing these common sense measures,” Assemblymember David Buchwald <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6069-good-government-groups-want-legislators-to-pledge-to-fight-for-reform" target="_blank">said</a> upon signing a <a href="http://ethicspledgeny.squarespace.com/" target="_blank">pledge</a> to fight for good government reform, including closing the LLC loophole. “I think the vast majority of New Yorkers would want to see their representatives sign this pledge.</p> <p dir="ltr">"In recent times, the New York Legislature has been marked by regular bribery, rampant kickbacks and a rancid culture," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who prosecuted both Silver and Skelos, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#stream/0" target="_blank">said</a> during a talk in Albany in February.</p> <p dir="ltr">A coalition of government reform groups, including Citizens Union, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, the New York Public Interest Research Group, and Reinvent Albany, released a statement denouncing the governor and legislative leaders for failing to pass any ethics reform in the three-and-a-half months since former legislative leaders Skelos and Silver were convicted of corruption, despite strong public demand for action to be taken.</p> <p dir="ltr">“With a recent poll showing that nearly 90% of New Yorkers believe that unethical behavior is a serious problem in state government a month before former legislative leaders Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos are sentenced for public corruption,” the statement reads, “the governor and legislative leaders have an obligation to New Yorkers to reach a significant agreement on ethics reform.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“The collapse of ethics reform during the budget is failure by the governor to mobilize overwhelming public support for change," said Blair Horner, executive director of NYPIRG. “New York State’s political leaders have chosen to ‘kick the can’ instead of tackling the needed reforms to respond to Albany’s ‘Watergate moment.’”</p> <p dir="ltr">When Cuomo was <a href="http://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/246460/cuomo-were-going-to-see-if-ethics-reforms-stay-in-budget/" target="_blank">asked</a> in February whether ethics reform were likely to remain in the budget, the governor replied, “As we get closer and actually have budget conversations, it’s going to be at the top of the list.” Not long after, Cuomo conceded that ethics reform would not be included in the budget.</p> <p dir="ltr">

***
by Meg O'Connor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p dir="ltr">Note: Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union.</p>
<p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/18535307844_847c491fe0_z.jpg" alt="three men at a table" height="399" width="600" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan (l-r) (photo via The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>"Top of my agenda is going to be ethics reform," said Governor Andrew Cuomo, speaking <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2016/01/3/cuomo-to-tackle-economic-issues-in-state-of-state-address.html" target="_blank">on NY1</a> on Jan. 3. "We have done a lot in Albany, but we haven't done enough. And I'm going to push the legislature very hard to adopt more aggressive ethics legislation, more disclosure, more enforcement, etcetera."</p> <p dir="ltr">While the governor did unveil an aggressive ethics agenda during his State of the State speech a week later, Cuomo’s words ring hollow now, as a state budget containing no government ethics reform passes and any hope for such reform happening this year is pushed to the legislative session, where it is unlikely to occur.</p> <p dir="ltr">Cuomo has done nothing public on ethics reform despite the promises he made during his Jan. 13 State of the State address. “We have to remember the people we serve, and it’s our responsibility to give them the government that they deserve,” Cuomo said at the time. “And remember the stronger the citizen trust, the stronger the government’s ability.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Just about a month after two of New York’s most powerful legislators were convicted of several federal corruption charges in separate trials, Cuomo laid out a plan to close the LLC loophole, which allows limited liability companies to circumvent New York’s campaign donation limits and give large sums of money to candidates through various LLCs, limit the amount of outside income legislators may earn, and adopt a publicly funded campaign finance system, among other reforms.</p> <p dir="ltr">Yet, as negotiations for the state budget come to a close, the “three men in a room” deciding the state’s roughly $150 billion budget have not moved ethics reforms that could help give the people they serve “the government that they deserve.” In a Siena College <a href="https://www.siena.edu/news-events/article/albany-corruption-is-serious-problem-89-of-nyers-say" target="_blank">poll</a> released Feb. 1, 89 percent of New Yorkers said corruption in state government is a serious problem, with 60 percent calling for outside income to be banned.</p> <p dir="ltr">Although Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat and one of the “three men in a room” along with Gov. Cuomo and Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, has pledged to “increase transparency and accountability” and “restore the public’s trust in government,” the lack of any ethics reform in the state budget calls Heastie’s follow through on that commitment into question.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The Assembly has pledged to enact comprehensive ethics reforms, and we take that commitment very seriously,” said Heastie in a press release detailing the ethics reform component of the Assembly’s budget plan, which was released Friday evening March 11. Like Cuomo, Heastie outlined an ethics reform agenda, but did little else to publicly promote it.</p> <p dir="ltr">On that Friday morning three weeks ago, Heastie <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com:8080/index.php/government/6219-heastie-outlines-assembly-ethics-plan" target="_blank">outlined</a> the Assembly Democrats’ ethics package at an event held by Crain’s New York Business. The plan also includes a proposal to close the LLC loophole, as well as proposals to limit the amount of outside income legislators may earn (though not as strictly as Cuomo’s plan), and to make it so that legislators who also work as attorneys can only earn money for the casework they perform, rather than for simply serving as "of counsel," lending their name to a law firm - a practice at root of the scandal that brought down Heastie's predecessor, Sheldon Silver.</p> <p dir="ltr">Both Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos were brought down last year by corruption convictions related to their use of their public offices for private gain.</p> <p dir="ltr">The new head of the Republican-controlled Senate, meanwhile, has repeatedly questioned the need for further ethics reform, and he and many other Senate Republicans are opposed to making the Legislature full-time or placing any limits on lawmakers’ outside income.</p> <p dir="ltr">Sen. Flanagan has <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6069-good-government-groups-want-legislators-to-pledge-to-fight-for-reform" target="_blank">previously</a> pointed out that the Senate passed a pension forfeiture bill, aimed at ensuring that legislators convicted of public corruption cannot collect a government pension, in a deal with the Assembly, only to have the Assembly back out at the last minute. Pension forfeiture is notably absent from the Assembly's reform plan.</p> <p dir="ltr">As the New York Times Editorial Board <a href="http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/03/30/opinion/dont-let-albany-ethics-reform-slip-away.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&amp;smid=nytcore-iphone-share&amp;_r=2&amp;referer=https://t.co/1rTiCx7yjn" target="_blank">writes</a>, “In Albany, this is how the stage gets set for each legislative house to praise itself and to blame the other for the failure, yet again, of meaningful reform, and for Mr. Cuomo to blame them both.</p> <p dir="ltr">New Yorkers, legislators, and government reform groups alike say that ethics reform is essential, “especially considering the context of the past year,” as Cuomo himself said during his State of the State. Yet at a time when Cuomo has the most leverage, he has failed to achieve reform. Heastie has decided not to aggressively pursue the Assembly's plan, and Flanagan has appeared totally disinterested in the issue. The minorities in each house - one Democratic, one Republican - have actually been more vocal than the majorities.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We are blowing our Watergate moment,” Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins told <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-york-state-budget-set-to-omit-tighter-rules-on-ethics-1459127730" target="_blank">the Wall Street Journal</a>. “This year’s budget process has been nothing but a series of covert meetings and phone calls shielded from the press and public.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Senate Republicans’ resistance to outside income limits and closing the LLC loophole have left room for Cuomo and Heastie to play a blame game. In part because neither did anything beyond one speech to promote ethics reform leading up to the budget, there is room to question their seriousness. But, Senate Republicans have, it seems, let the two Democrats and Assembly Democrats in general off the hook.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It is incumbent upon legislators to work to significantly reduce corruption, and we can do so by passing these common sense measures,” Assemblymember David Buchwald <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6069-good-government-groups-want-legislators-to-pledge-to-fight-for-reform" target="_blank">said</a> upon signing a <a href="http://ethicspledgeny.squarespace.com/" target="_blank">pledge</a> to fight for good government reform, including closing the LLC loophole. “I think the vast majority of New Yorkers would want to see their representatives sign this pledge.</p> <p dir="ltr">"In recent times, the New York Legislature has been marked by regular bribery, rampant kickbacks and a rancid culture," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who prosecuted both Silver and Skelos, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#stream/0" target="_blank">said</a> during a talk in Albany in February.</p> <p dir="ltr">A coalition of government reform groups, including Citizens Union, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, the New York Public Interest Research Group, and Reinvent Albany, released a statement denouncing the governor and legislative leaders for failing to pass any ethics reform in the three-and-a-half months since former legislative leaders Skelos and Silver were convicted of corruption, despite strong public demand for action to be taken.</p> <p dir="ltr">“With a recent poll showing that nearly 90% of New Yorkers believe that unethical behavior is a serious problem in state government a month before former legislative leaders Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos are sentenced for public corruption,” the statement reads, “the governor and legislative leaders have an obligation to New Yorkers to reach a significant agreement on ethics reform.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“The collapse of ethics reform during the budget is failure by the governor to mobilize overwhelming public support for change," said Blair Horner, executive director of NYPIRG. “New York State’s political leaders have chosen to ‘kick the can’ instead of tackling the needed reforms to respond to Albany’s ‘Watergate moment.’”</p> <p dir="ltr">When Cuomo was <a href="http://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/246460/cuomo-were-going-to-see-if-ethics-reforms-stay-in-budget/" target="_blank">asked</a> in February whether ethics reform were likely to remain in the budget, the governor replied, “As we get closer and actually have budget conversations, it’s going to be at the top of the list.” Not long after, Cuomo conceded that ethics reform would not be included in the budget.</p> <p dir="ltr">

***
by Meg O'Connor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p dir="ltr">Note: Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union.</p>
State Budget Agreement: By the Numbers 2016-04-01T02:17:24+00:00 2016-04-01T02:17:24+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6257:state-budget-agreement-by-the-numbers Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/25890012020_319f85047b_z.jpg" alt="cuomo budget deal 17" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Gov. Cuomo outlines the budget agreement (photo via The Governor's Office)</span></p> <hr /> <p>AGov. Andrew Cuomo welcomed reporters into the Capitol's Red Room for the first time in nearly a year to announce a budget deal at 8:30 p.m. Thursday night. The announcement came as both houses of the Legislature took a break from voting on budget bills that had already been introduced, yet neither legislative majority leader joined Cuomo for the press conference.</p> <p>Legislators from the minorities of the two houses lamented having little time to review the bills and the fact that most of them were short any real policy decisions and featured sections marked "intentionally omitted."</p> <p>After weeks of haggling, bursts of information, and rumors, Cuomo announced some hard numbers contained in the budget, just a few hours before the start of the new fiscal year. The governor happily announced that New York would see a phase-in of a $15 minimum wage and a paid family leave program. He appeared less thrilled when admitting his proposed Medicaid cost-shift to New York City was not part of the budget (this after his CUNY cost-shift had been taken off the table a few days ago).</p> <p>"I am very excited about this budget," Cuomo said. "We call it a budget – really it is an overall operating plan for the state of New York and I believe that this is the best plan that the state has produced, if its passed, in decades, literally."</p> <p><strong><em>The state budget agreement by the numbers:</em></strong></p> <p><strong>8:30 p.m:</strong> scheduled time of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's announcement of a budget deal; 3.5 hours before the start of the new fiscal year.</p> <p><strong>$147 billion:</strong>&nbsp;estimated size of the state budget.</p> <p><strong>0:</strong> legislative leaders present at Cuomo's budget announcement.</p> <p><strong>0:</strong> times Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan mentioned a minimum wage increase or paid family leave in a seven-paragraph statement put out by is office to celebrate the budget agreement.</p> <p><strong>4:</strong> men who controlled budget negotiations (Cuomo, Flanagan, Heastie, and Klein).</p> <p><strong>3:</strong> budget bills introduced to both houses to be voted on before a deal was actually announced.</p> <p><strong>3 p.m:</strong> time the Assembly started debating the first budget bill, without a deal announced.</p> <p><strong>4 p.m:</strong> time the Senate began debating its first budget bill, without a deal announced.</p> <p><strong>6:</strong> budget bills left to vote on after a budget deal was announced.</p> <p><strong>12/31/2018:</strong> date New York City will see its minimum wage hit $15 per hour for businesses with more than ten employees.</p> <p><strong>12/31/2019:</strong> date New York City will see its minimum wage hit $15 per hour for businesses with ten or fewer employees.</p> <p><strong>12/31/2021:</strong> date Long Island and Westchester County will see the minimum wage hit $15 per hour.</p> <p><strong>$12.50:</strong> hourly minimum wage localities north of Westchester will reach on 12/31/2020, at which time the state budget director and department of labor will set a path to $15 per hour.</p> <p><strong>6:</strong> years Cuomo claims to have kept budget growth under 2 percent. (Some budget watchdogs claim Cuomo uses tricks and gimmicks to appear to meet the cap.)</p> <p><strong>2:</strong> years in a row the state budget has been voted through after the March 31 midnight deadline and thus technically "late."</p> <p><strong>6.5%:</strong> increase in school aid, which totals $24.8 billion.</p> <p><strong>$240:</strong> increase in per pupil aid for charter schools.</p> <p><strong>12 weeks</strong>: length of new New York paid family leave benefit, for paid time off to care for a new child or ailing relative.</p> <p><strong>2018:</strong> year paid family leave will begin in New York</p> <p><strong>50%</strong> of an employee's average weekly wage, capped to 50 percent of the statewide average weekly wage, is where paid family leave pay will start. When fully implemented in 2021 it will be 67 percent of an employee's average weekly wage, capped to 67 percent of the statewide average weekly wage.</p> <p><strong>6:</strong> months workers will have to have worked at a job before being eligible for New York's paid family leave.</p> <p><strong>$26.6 billion:</strong> amount the budget includes for capital facilities operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).</p> <p><strong>$1.5 billion:</strong> marked for phase II of the Second Avenue Subway.</p> <p><strong>63:</strong> copies of a report detailing changes made to the executive budget that Senate Republicans had to have printed off for Senators after Sen. Liz Krueger pointed out the report was required by law.</p> <p><strong>Not in the Budget</strong><br /><strong>$485 million</strong> previously proposed cost shift to New York City for CUNY funding.</p> <p><strong>$250 million</strong>&nbsp;Medicaid cost shift to New York City.</p> <p>A plan to replace the <strong>421-a</strong> property tax credit used by New York City to entice developers to include affordable housing in their developments.</p> <p><strong>$240 million</strong> initially sought by the Cuomo administration to give CUNY staff retroactive raises.</p> <p><strong>0</strong> criminal justice proposals from the executive budget included in the final budget.</p> <p><strong>0</strong> ethics reforms.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6255-everyone-agrees-albany-needs-ethics-reform-except-the-people-who-matter-most" target="_blank">Everyone Agrees Albany Needs Ethics Reform, Except the People Who Matter Most</a>]</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6254-for-state-budget-leaders-choose-on-time-over-open" target="_blank">For State Budget, Leaders Choose 'On Time' Over Open</a>]</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/25890012020_319f85047b_z.jpg" alt="cuomo budget deal 17" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Gov. Cuomo outlines the budget agreement (photo via The Governor's Office)</span></p> <hr /> <p>AGov. Andrew Cuomo welcomed reporters into the Capitol's Red Room for the first time in nearly a year to announce a budget deal at 8:30 p.m. Thursday night. The announcement came as both houses of the Legislature took a break from voting on budget bills that had already been introduced, yet neither legislative majority leader joined Cuomo for the press conference.</p> <p>Legislators from the minorities of the two houses lamented having little time to review the bills and the fact that most of them were short any real policy decisions and featured sections marked "intentionally omitted."</p> <p>After weeks of haggling, bursts of information, and rumors, Cuomo announced some hard numbers contained in the budget, just a few hours before the start of the new fiscal year. The governor happily announced that New York would see a phase-in of a $15 minimum wage and a paid family leave program. He appeared less thrilled when admitting his proposed Medicaid cost-shift to New York City was not part of the budget (this after his CUNY cost-shift had been taken off the table a few days ago).</p> <p>"I am very excited about this budget," Cuomo said. "We call it a budget – really it is an overall operating plan for the state of New York and I believe that this is the best plan that the state has produced, if its passed, in decades, literally."</p> <p><strong><em>The state budget agreement by the numbers:</em></strong></p> <p><strong>8:30 p.m:</strong> scheduled time of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's announcement of a budget deal; 3.5 hours before the start of the new fiscal year.</p> <p><strong>$147 billion:</strong>&nbsp;estimated size of the state budget.</p> <p><strong>0:</strong> legislative leaders present at Cuomo's budget announcement.</p> <p><strong>0:</strong> times Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan mentioned a minimum wage increase or paid family leave in a seven-paragraph statement put out by is office to celebrate the budget agreement.</p> <p><strong>4:</strong> men who controlled budget negotiations (Cuomo, Flanagan, Heastie, and Klein).</p> <p><strong>3:</strong> budget bills introduced to both houses to be voted on before a deal was actually announced.</p> <p><strong>3 p.m:</strong> time the Assembly started debating the first budget bill, without a deal announced.</p> <p><strong>4 p.m:</strong> time the Senate began debating its first budget bill, without a deal announced.</p> <p><strong>6:</strong> budget bills left to vote on after a budget deal was announced.</p> <p><strong>12/31/2018:</strong> date New York City will see its minimum wage hit $15 per hour for businesses with more than ten employees.</p> <p><strong>12/31/2019:</strong> date New York City will see its minimum wage hit $15 per hour for businesses with ten or fewer employees.</p> <p><strong>12/31/2021:</strong> date Long Island and Westchester County will see the minimum wage hit $15 per hour.</p> <p><strong>$12.50:</strong> hourly minimum wage localities north of Westchester will reach on 12/31/2020, at which time the state budget director and department of labor will set a path to $15 per hour.</p> <p><strong>6:</strong> years Cuomo claims to have kept budget growth under 2 percent. (Some budget watchdogs claim Cuomo uses tricks and gimmicks to appear to meet the cap.)</p> <p><strong>2:</strong> years in a row the state budget has been voted through after the March 31 midnight deadline and thus technically "late."</p> <p><strong>6.5%:</strong> increase in school aid, which totals $24.8 billion.</p> <p><strong>$240:</strong> increase in per pupil aid for charter schools.</p> <p><strong>12 weeks</strong>: length of new New York paid family leave benefit, for paid time off to care for a new child or ailing relative.</p> <p><strong>2018:</strong> year paid family leave will begin in New York</p> <p><strong>50%</strong> of an employee's average weekly wage, capped to 50 percent of the statewide average weekly wage, is where paid family leave pay will start. When fully implemented in 2021 it will be 67 percent of an employee's average weekly wage, capped to 67 percent of the statewide average weekly wage.</p> <p><strong>6:</strong> months workers will have to have worked at a job before being eligible for New York's paid family leave.</p> <p><strong>$26.6 billion:</strong> amount the budget includes for capital facilities operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).</p> <p><strong>$1.5 billion:</strong> marked for phase II of the Second Avenue Subway.</p> <p><strong>63:</strong> copies of a report detailing changes made to the executive budget that Senate Republicans had to have printed off for Senators after Sen. Liz Krueger pointed out the report was required by law.</p> <p><strong>Not in the Budget</strong><br /><strong>$485 million</strong> previously proposed cost shift to New York City for CUNY funding.</p> <p><strong>$250 million</strong>&nbsp;Medicaid cost shift to New York City.</p> <p>A plan to replace the <strong>421-a</strong> property tax credit used by New York City to entice developers to include affordable housing in their developments.</p> <p><strong>$240 million</strong> initially sought by the Cuomo administration to give CUNY staff retroactive raises.</p> <p><strong>0</strong> criminal justice proposals from the executive budget included in the final budget.</p> <p><strong>0</strong> ethics reforms.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6255-everyone-agrees-albany-needs-ethics-reform-except-the-people-who-matter-most" target="_blank">Everyone Agrees Albany Needs Ethics Reform, Except the People Who Matter Most</a>]</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6254-for-state-budget-leaders-choose-on-time-over-open" target="_blank">For State Budget, Leaders Choose 'On Time' Over Open</a>]</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
For State Budget, Leaders Choose 'On Time' Over Open 2016-03-30T22:42:54+00:00 2016-03-30T22:42:54+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6254:for-state-budget-leaders-choose-on-time-over-open Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/19131688556_25feda1808_z_2.jpg" alt="cuomo flanagan heastie june 2015" height="399" width="600" /></p> <p>Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan (l-r), June 2015 (photo via The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>As negotiations over the state's $150 billion budget sputtered on Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ramped up pressure on legislators to accept a deal. Speaking with reporters, Cuomo implied legislators could jeopardize a potential pay raise if they can't deliver an on-time budget.</p> <p>"So they're gonna need to be able to make that case not just to the pay commission but to the people of the State of New York in November when they go to seek re-election," Cuomo said. "So performance matters - if they don't pass a budget on time obviously that is a failure of performance."</p> <p>Cuomo has made better state government function, including on-time budgets, a signature of his time as governor. Legislators and good government groups dismiss the governor's insistence that an on-time budget is paramount, especially when negotiations come so close to the April 1 start of the new fiscal year.</p> <p>In Albany it has practically become tradition for rank-and-file lawmakers to be asked to vote on a budget with only a few hours time to review its contents. The state constitution requires bills to age three days before they are voted on in order to facilitate public review, but Cuomo, like many governors before him, has taken to issuing "messages of necessity" to bypass the otherwise-mandated waiting period. Final budget votes - with debate that is often only for show or to get comment on the record - have stretched late into the night with rank-and-file members discussing measures they discover in the budget almost in real time.</p> <p>With no budget deal reached as of Wednesday evening, it is all but certain that this year will see the governor again issue messages of necessity and a very short window between budget bills printed and voted on.</p> <p>Meanwhile, a seven-member commission has begun meeting to determine pay raises for legislators and other state officials. Three of the members of the commission were appointed by the governor, two by the chief judge of the Court of Appeals, and one each by the legislative majority leaders. Legislators haven't had a pay raise since 1999, currently earning a base salary of $79,500.</p> <p>Contrary to Cuomo's statement Wednesday, the language creating the pay commission does not explicitly mention "performance" as something to be factored into deliberations. The commission is scheduled to make its recommendations in November, right around Election Day when every state Senate and Assembly seat is on the ballot. The recommendations would then automatically take effect in 2017, unless the Legislature votes to oppose them.</p> <p>A number of legislators told Gotham Gazette pay raises wouldn't factor into the time it takes them to consider the budget.</p> <p>"Our conference is going to go over and deliberate what's in there, we are going to know what we're voting on," said Senate Deputy Minority Leader Michael Gianaris, a Democrat from Queens. "That review is going to be done at the pace that it takes. We are not going to go out there ignorant to what's in the budget. If those negotiating the budget wanted to ensure timeliness they should have concluded negotiations earlier."</p> <p>Gianaris' sentiments were echoed by a number of Assembly Republicans and Senate Democrats. The groups represent their chamber's minority, though, and not driving negotiations, which are largely taking place among Gov. Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan.</p> <p>"Cuomo should look in the mirror if budget is late," tweeted Republican Assembly Member Steve McLaughlin. "Absurd argument to pin it on the legislators who haven't seen it."</p> <p>John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany, pointed out that budgets have passed with fairly controversial measures tucked in at the last minute by lobbyists and their government allies thanks to the lack of thorough review.</p> <p>"Does anyone really want their state legislator voting on a $150 billion, 10,000 page budget they haven't had time to look at?" Kaehny asked rhetorically. "Does anyone other than the governor really think it is more important to pass a budget on time and unscrutinized, than a few days late and fully examined? Do people want their state representative voting for a budget that could be stuffed full of things like tax breaks for yachts and private jets - like last year?"</p> <p>Dick Dadey, executive director for Citizens Union, said that a budget that is "a few days late but ages for the requisite three days for public review is far preferable to an on-time budget when the public has no time to review the $150 billion that taxpayers are funding."</p> <p>In stark contrast to his predecessors Cuomo has successfully delivered on-time budgets each year he has held office. It was typical for budgets to go weeks and even months over deadline before Cuomo became governor. Cuomo has actually used messages of necessity considerably less than his predecessors, but he has used them to pass the budget three times since taking office in 2011.</p> <p>"As a practical financial matter it won't amount to much if they are a few days late," said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group. "It will shake what little confidence the public has left in state government. The last reasonable claim the governor can make that he brought order to chaos in Albany is in on-time state budgets," said Horner.</p> <p>This year's final budget negotiations appear to be difficult for both legislative majorities for different reasons. The Assembly majority is fighting a Cuomo proposal to force New York City to take on $250 million in Medicaid funding. The Senate majority is grappling with Cuomo's push to raise the minimum wage to $15 across the state. Some see the wage increase as a winner with voters and admit Cuomo was very successful in pushing the issue, but others are adamant an increase will hurt the economy and hurt them at the polls in November.</p> <p>Sen. Joseph Addabbo of Queens, who is in favor of the concept of both the minimum wage increase and the paid family leave proposal that appears to be close to finalized, said it is critically important to him to see exactly how those measures are actually implemented. "It's not about beating the clock. I'm not voting on a $150 billion budget without getting every detail," Addabbo, a Democrat, told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>Many good government advocates see this year's budget negotiation as one of the least transparent in modern history. Coming on the heels of the convictions of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Cuomo and legislators have held clandestine meetings at the Governor's Mansion and routinely dodged the press. They have been more open about the process in the last few days, but after dealing with two press scrums on Thursday Flanagan dodged the press by exiting a back door of Cuomo's office.</p> <p>Legislative leaders have rejected discussion of ethics reform and adding transparency to stashes of cash the governor and the Legislature insert into the budget without any particular use given.</p> <p>Both Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins have decried being left out of negotiations and assailed this budget season as the least transparent in memory.&nbsp;Representatives for Cuomo, Heastie, and Flanagan did not return requests for comment on the use of messages of necessity and concerns over budget transparency.</p> <p>Gianaris said that while he agrees that rank-and-file legislators need time to examine the budget, "The real issue is that had this process been open and transparent along the way we wouldn't be sitting here at the eleventh hour with nothing. If all conferences had been included we could have wrapped this up a long time ago."&nbsp;</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/19131688556_25feda1808_z_2.jpg" alt="cuomo flanagan heastie june 2015" height="399" width="600" /></p> <p>Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan (l-r), June 2015 (photo via The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>As negotiations over the state's $150 billion budget sputtered on Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ramped up pressure on legislators to accept a deal. Speaking with reporters, Cuomo implied legislators could jeopardize a potential pay raise if they can't deliver an on-time budget.</p> <p>"So they're gonna need to be able to make that case not just to the pay commission but to the people of the State of New York in November when they go to seek re-election," Cuomo said. "So performance matters - if they don't pass a budget on time obviously that is a failure of performance."</p> <p>Cuomo has made better state government function, including on-time budgets, a signature of his time as governor. Legislators and good government groups dismiss the governor's insistence that an on-time budget is paramount, especially when negotiations come so close to the April 1 start of the new fiscal year.</p> <p>In Albany it has practically become tradition for rank-and-file lawmakers to be asked to vote on a budget with only a few hours time to review its contents. The state constitution requires bills to age three days before they are voted on in order to facilitate public review, but Cuomo, like many governors before him, has taken to issuing "messages of necessity" to bypass the otherwise-mandated waiting period. Final budget votes - with debate that is often only for show or to get comment on the record - have stretched late into the night with rank-and-file members discussing measures they discover in the budget almost in real time.</p> <p>With no budget deal reached as of Wednesday evening, it is all but certain that this year will see the governor again issue messages of necessity and a very short window between budget bills printed and voted on.</p> <p>Meanwhile, a seven-member commission has begun meeting to determine pay raises for legislators and other state officials. Three of the members of the commission were appointed by the governor, two by the chief judge of the Court of Appeals, and one each by the legislative majority leaders. Legislators haven't had a pay raise since 1999, currently earning a base salary of $79,500.</p> <p>Contrary to Cuomo's statement Wednesday, the language creating the pay commission does not explicitly mention "performance" as something to be factored into deliberations. The commission is scheduled to make its recommendations in November, right around Election Day when every state Senate and Assembly seat is on the ballot. The recommendations would then automatically take effect in 2017, unless the Legislature votes to oppose them.</p> <p>A number of legislators told Gotham Gazette pay raises wouldn't factor into the time it takes them to consider the budget.</p> <p>"Our conference is going to go over and deliberate what's in there, we are going to know what we're voting on," said Senate Deputy Minority Leader Michael Gianaris, a Democrat from Queens. "That review is going to be done at the pace that it takes. We are not going to go out there ignorant to what's in the budget. If those negotiating the budget wanted to ensure timeliness they should have concluded negotiations earlier."</p> <p>Gianaris' sentiments were echoed by a number of Assembly Republicans and Senate Democrats. The groups represent their chamber's minority, though, and not driving negotiations, which are largely taking place among Gov. Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan.</p> <p>"Cuomo should look in the mirror if budget is late," tweeted Republican Assembly Member Steve McLaughlin. "Absurd argument to pin it on the legislators who haven't seen it."</p> <p>John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany, pointed out that budgets have passed with fairly controversial measures tucked in at the last minute by lobbyists and their government allies thanks to the lack of thorough review.</p> <p>"Does anyone really want their state legislator voting on a $150 billion, 10,000 page budget they haven't had time to look at?" Kaehny asked rhetorically. "Does anyone other than the governor really think it is more important to pass a budget on time and unscrutinized, than a few days late and fully examined? Do people want their state representative voting for a budget that could be stuffed full of things like tax breaks for yachts and private jets - like last year?"</p> <p>Dick Dadey, executive director for Citizens Union, said that a budget that is "a few days late but ages for the requisite three days for public review is far preferable to an on-time budget when the public has no time to review the $150 billion that taxpayers are funding."</p> <p>In stark contrast to his predecessors Cuomo has successfully delivered on-time budgets each year he has held office. It was typical for budgets to go weeks and even months over deadline before Cuomo became governor. Cuomo has actually used messages of necessity considerably less than his predecessors, but he has used them to pass the budget three times since taking office in 2011.</p> <p>"As a practical financial matter it won't amount to much if they are a few days late," said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group. "It will shake what little confidence the public has left in state government. The last reasonable claim the governor can make that he brought order to chaos in Albany is in on-time state budgets," said Horner.</p> <p>This year's final budget negotiations appear to be difficult for both legislative majorities for different reasons. The Assembly majority is fighting a Cuomo proposal to force New York City to take on $250 million in Medicaid funding. The Senate majority is grappling with Cuomo's push to raise the minimum wage to $15 across the state. Some see the wage increase as a winner with voters and admit Cuomo was very successful in pushing the issue, but others are adamant an increase will hurt the economy and hurt them at the polls in November.</p> <p>Sen. Joseph Addabbo of Queens, who is in favor of the concept of both the minimum wage increase and the paid family leave proposal that appears to be close to finalized, said it is critically important to him to see exactly how those measures are actually implemented. "It's not about beating the clock. I'm not voting on a $150 billion budget without getting every detail," Addabbo, a Democrat, told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>Many good government advocates see this year's budget negotiation as one of the least transparent in modern history. Coming on the heels of the convictions of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Cuomo and legislators have held clandestine meetings at the Governor's Mansion and routinely dodged the press. They have been more open about the process in the last few days, but after dealing with two press scrums on Thursday Flanagan dodged the press by exiting a back door of Cuomo's office.</p> <p>Legislative leaders have rejected discussion of ethics reform and adding transparency to stashes of cash the governor and the Legislature insert into the budget without any particular use given.</p> <p>Both Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins have decried being left out of negotiations and assailed this budget season as the least transparent in memory.&nbsp;Representatives for Cuomo, Heastie, and Flanagan did not return requests for comment on the use of messages of necessity and concerns over budget transparency.</p> <p>Gianaris said that while he agrees that rank-and-file legislators need time to examine the budget, "The real issue is that had this process been open and transparent along the way we wouldn't be sitting here at the eleventh hour with nothing. If all conferences had been included we could have wrapped this up a long time ago."&nbsp;</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union.</p>
Criminal Justice Reform Again Given Little Attention in Budget Negotiations 2016-03-29T05:00:00+00:00 2016-03-29T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6249:criminal-justice-reform-again-given-little-attention-in-budget-negotiations Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/18532201992_d568c22e11_z.jpg" alt="cuomo prison visit dannemora" height="399" width="600" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo in Dannemora&nbsp;(photo via The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>As Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders rush to deliver an on-time budget, criminal justice reform advocates aren't holding out hope that any of their major legislative priorities will be included in the final document. Advocates are resigned that many of their priorities, which are backed by Cuomo and included in his executive budget, will be pushed to the post-budget legislative session.</p> <p>A budget is due by midnight Thursday, with the new fiscal year beginning on Friday, April 1, but a deal must be in place sooner so that bills can be drafted and voted on. The legislative session then extends into June. Cuomo and legislative leaders said Tuesday that they were getting close to settling the major funding and policy differences that would be included in the budget, with no mention of criminal justice issues.</p> <p>For some advocates it is no surprise given the complexities of their issues, like the push to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility in New York and legislation to amend state law to create a special prosecutor to preside over investigations of police killings of civilians.</p> <p>To others, it isn't surprising for an entirely different reason: they are used to seeing Cuomo pitch major criminal justice reforms during his State of the State address only to abandon them during budget negotiations due to push back from Senate Republicans.</p> <p>"For years we've seen this pattern where the governor comes out with big bold ideas in January but he doesn't follow through," said Alyssa Aguilera, co-executive director of VOCAL-NY, a community organizing and reform group. "We know the governor is very powerful and can move things when he wants to. He should be acting on these issues that really impact the low-income communities of color who are really his base."</p> <p>The Cuomo administration did not return request for comment.</p> <p>Legislators who support criminal justice reforms say they've been focused on the budget and won't likely return to other legislative issues until next week.</p> <p>Aguilera noted that Cuomo has previously pitched decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana only to abandon the issue. Last year Cuomo dropped "Raise the Age" and legislation to create a special prosecutor to investigate police killings of civilians during budget negotiations. He has also previously abandoned a push to provide inmates with a college education.</p> <p>However, last year while facing pressure to act from family members of the deceased, advocates, and legislators, Cuomo <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5908-cuomo-takes-additional-executive-action-on-criminal-justice" target="_blank">issued an executive order</a> giving Attorney General Eric Schneiderman the ability to investigate police killings of civilians under certain circumstances. The order allows the Attorney General to investigate any case involving a police killing of a civilian and to take over a case from a local District Attorney.</p> <p>The bill Cuomo is backing this year would allow an independent monitor to look into cases if a grand jury decided to not move forward against an officer or if a District Attorney did not put the case before a grand jury in a "reasonable" time. The monitor could then make a recommendation to the Governor. The Attorney General would no longer have a role.</p> <p>Advocates see the proposal, which is not garnering momentum, as a substantial weakening of Cuomo's executive order. Aguilera said she is concerned the current environment might not be ideal for getting the special prosecutor bill her group supports. "Our biggest fear really is seeing a rolling back of our victory. We fought for the executive order which was a very good, solid executive order. We are realistic that the current leadership in the state Senate means it might not be the right time for a stronger bill. We need to protect the current executive order. We don't want to see a watering down of what we already have," she said.</p> <p>Supporters of the plan to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York are more optimistic about their chances. New York is currently <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5916-will-new-york-be-last-to-raise-the-age" target="_blank">one of just two states</a>, with North Carolina, to try 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.</p> <p>"I think it's going to be a priority for the governor once other priorities are taken care of," said Paige Pierce, CEO of Families Together New York State. "We aren't surprised or unhappy it is being dealt with outside of the budget. We want the attention paid to it that it deserves."</p> <p>The issue of how to treat <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5916-will-new-york-be-last-to-raise-the-age" target="_blank">16- and 17-year-olds in the state's criminal justice system</a> is complicated. Senate Republicans don't want to be soft on crime, or give the appearance of being so, while Assembly Democrats want to provide a host of alternatives to criminal court.</p> <p>Lawmakers and advocates say that last year they came close to compromise legislation. "We got so close last session, we just ran out of time," said Stephanie Gendell, associate executive director for policy and government relations at Citizen's Committee for Children of New York.</p> <p>Gendell said that legislators from both sides of the aisle were motivated to deliver on legislation when they heard <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5945-one-raise-the-age-story-at-center-of-push-for-legislative-action" target="_blank">details of how 16- and 17-year-olds were treated</a>. "Certain pieces of Raise the Age just aren't controversial to anyone. That's why we got so close," said Gendell. "Legislators were surprised to hear that a 16-year-old arrested can be held all night without parental notification, without anyone knowing. The more people learn the more they are motivated to act."</p> <p>Cuomo did push last year to leave funding in the budget to enact Raise the Age reforms were a deal reached, and that money was there, but no deal occurred. The governor included similar language in <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/EO147.pdf" target="_blank">this year's executive budget</a>. Advocates are anxious to see if the language makes the final budget bills, setting the stage for an agreement in the months ahead. Cuomo also has bail reform on his agenda for the legislative session ahead.</p> <p>The governor, Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan continue to negotiate the budget framework.</p> <p>With no legislative deal reached last year Cuomo<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5797-cuomos-executive-action-on-raise-the-age-prompts-questions" target="_blank"> took executive action</a>, placing all 16- and 17-year-old inmates in an alternative facility. He followed up by pushing the issue again in this year's State of the State address. The Assembly put forward its own version of the bill in its one-house budget. Senate Republicans have indicated some interest in compromising on reform legislation.</p> <p>"Part of why this doesn't get passed in the budget is that it is a very comprehensive piece of legislation," said Gendell. "Out bill is very long and there is a lot to it. When we get to legislative session we can talk more about the details. Senator Flanagan said he didn't want to deal with Raise the Age in the budget, he didn't say he didn't want it to happen at all."</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5797-cuomos-executive-action-on-raise-the-age-prompts-questions" target="_blank">Cuomo's Executive Action on Raise the Age Prompts Questions</a>]</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/18532201992_d568c22e11_z.jpg" alt="cuomo prison visit dannemora" height="399" width="600" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo in Dannemora&nbsp;(photo via The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>As Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders rush to deliver an on-time budget, criminal justice reform advocates aren't holding out hope that any of their major legislative priorities will be included in the final document. Advocates are resigned that many of their priorities, which are backed by Cuomo and included in his executive budget, will be pushed to the post-budget legislative session.</p> <p>A budget is due by midnight Thursday, with the new fiscal year beginning on Friday, April 1, but a deal must be in place sooner so that bills can be drafted and voted on. The legislative session then extends into June. Cuomo and legislative leaders said Tuesday that they were getting close to settling the major funding and policy differences that would be included in the budget, with no mention of criminal justice issues.</p> <p>For some advocates it is no surprise given the complexities of their issues, like the push to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility in New York and legislation to amend state law to create a special prosecutor to preside over investigations of police killings of civilians.</p> <p>To others, it isn't surprising for an entirely different reason: they are used to seeing Cuomo pitch major criminal justice reforms during his State of the State address only to abandon them during budget negotiations due to push back from Senate Republicans.</p> <p>"For years we've seen this pattern where the governor comes out with big bold ideas in January but he doesn't follow through," said Alyssa Aguilera, co-executive director of VOCAL-NY, a community organizing and reform group. "We know the governor is very powerful and can move things when he wants to. He should be acting on these issues that really impact the low-income communities of color who are really his base."</p> <p>The Cuomo administration did not return request for comment.</p> <p>Legislators who support criminal justice reforms say they've been focused on the budget and won't likely return to other legislative issues until next week.</p> <p>Aguilera noted that Cuomo has previously pitched decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana only to abandon the issue. Last year Cuomo dropped "Raise the Age" and legislation to create a special prosecutor to investigate police killings of civilians during budget negotiations. He has also previously abandoned a push to provide inmates with a college education.</p> <p>However, last year while facing pressure to act from family members of the deceased, advocates, and legislators, Cuomo <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5908-cuomo-takes-additional-executive-action-on-criminal-justice" target="_blank">issued an executive order</a> giving Attorney General Eric Schneiderman the ability to investigate police killings of civilians under certain circumstances. The order allows the Attorney General to investigate any case involving a police killing of a civilian and to take over a case from a local District Attorney.</p> <p>The bill Cuomo is backing this year would allow an independent monitor to look into cases if a grand jury decided to not move forward against an officer or if a District Attorney did not put the case before a grand jury in a "reasonable" time. The monitor could then make a recommendation to the Governor. The Attorney General would no longer have a role.</p> <p>Advocates see the proposal, which is not garnering momentum, as a substantial weakening of Cuomo's executive order. Aguilera said she is concerned the current environment might not be ideal for getting the special prosecutor bill her group supports. "Our biggest fear really is seeing a rolling back of our victory. We fought for the executive order which was a very good, solid executive order. We are realistic that the current leadership in the state Senate means it might not be the right time for a stronger bill. We need to protect the current executive order. We don't want to see a watering down of what we already have," she said.</p> <p>Supporters of the plan to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York are more optimistic about their chances. New York is currently <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5916-will-new-york-be-last-to-raise-the-age" target="_blank">one of just two states</a>, with North Carolina, to try 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.</p> <p>"I think it's going to be a priority for the governor once other priorities are taken care of," said Paige Pierce, CEO of Families Together New York State. "We aren't surprised or unhappy it is being dealt with outside of the budget. We want the attention paid to it that it deserves."</p> <p>The issue of how to treat <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5916-will-new-york-be-last-to-raise-the-age" target="_blank">16- and 17-year-olds in the state's criminal justice system</a> is complicated. Senate Republicans don't want to be soft on crime, or give the appearance of being so, while Assembly Democrats want to provide a host of alternatives to criminal court.</p> <p>Lawmakers and advocates say that last year they came close to compromise legislation. "We got so close last session, we just ran out of time," said Stephanie Gendell, associate executive director for policy and government relations at Citizen's Committee for Children of New York.</p> <p>Gendell said that legislators from both sides of the aisle were motivated to deliver on legislation when they heard <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5945-one-raise-the-age-story-at-center-of-push-for-legislative-action" target="_blank">details of how 16- and 17-year-olds were treated</a>. "Certain pieces of Raise the Age just aren't controversial to anyone. That's why we got so close," said Gendell. "Legislators were surprised to hear that a 16-year-old arrested can be held all night without parental notification, without anyone knowing. The more people learn the more they are motivated to act."</p> <p>Cuomo did push last year to leave funding in the budget to enact Raise the Age reforms were a deal reached, and that money was there, but no deal occurred. The governor included similar language in <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/EO147.pdf" target="_blank">this year's executive budget</a>. Advocates are anxious to see if the language makes the final budget bills, setting the stage for an agreement in the months ahead. Cuomo also has bail reform on his agenda for the legislative session ahead.</p> <p>The governor, Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan continue to negotiate the budget framework.</p> <p>With no legislative deal reached last year Cuomo<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5797-cuomos-executive-action-on-raise-the-age-prompts-questions" target="_blank"> took executive action</a>, placing all 16- and 17-year-old inmates in an alternative facility. He followed up by pushing the issue again in this year's State of the State address. The Assembly put forward its own version of the bill in its one-house budget. Senate Republicans have indicated some interest in compromising on reform legislation.</p> <p>"Part of why this doesn't get passed in the budget is that it is a very comprehensive piece of legislation," said Gendell. "Out bill is very long and there is a lot to it. When we get to legislative session we can talk more about the details. Senator Flanagan said he didn't want to deal with Raise the Age in the budget, he didn't say he didn't want it to happen at all."</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5797-cuomos-executive-action-on-raise-the-age-prompts-questions" target="_blank">Cuomo's Executive Action on Raise the Age Prompts Questions</a>]</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
De Blasio Concerned with Lack of Clarity as State Budget Deadline Nears 2016-03-29T04:21:50+00:00 2016-03-29T04:21:50+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6248:de-blasio-concerned-with-lack-of-clarity-as-state-budget-deadline-nears Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/15592874696_f8e1387917_z.jpg" alt="de blasio on phone we don't know with who" height="399" width="600" /></p> <p>De Blasio (<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/nycmayorsoffice/15592874696/in/dateposted/" target="_blank">photo</a>: Rob Bennett/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday afternoon that he has been in regular contact with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and that he spoke with Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier in the day, but that he did not gain much clarity as Albany budget negotiations enter their final days.</p> <p>A new state budget is due by midnight Thursday, with the state's fiscal year beginning Friday, April 1. There are several areas of budget concern for de Blasio and others who represent New York City, including Heastie. On Monday, de Blasio repeatedly cited Heastie and the Democratically-controlled Assembly as essential allies in the fight to protect city interests throughout negotiations.</p> <p>At an unrelated press conference at 1 Police Plaza, Gotham Gazette asked the mayor what he is watching for as state lawmakers negotiate the final details of a $140-plus billion budget. While expressing frustration about the lack of clarity, de Blasio said, "What I can tell you for sure, I've spoken to Speaker Heastie today and yesterday. He has, and the Assembly has, consistently supported the interests of New York City."</p> <p>It appears that de Blasio and others are again depending on Heastie to be the strongest defender of New York City during "three men in a room" negotiations with Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, a Republican.</p> <p>"I spoke to the governor this morning, and I still don't have real answers," de Blasio said Monday. "There's no budget language."</p> <p>Cuomo's Executive Budget, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6088-cuomo-outlines-144-billion-budget-" target="_blank">unveiled in January</a>, caused concern for de Blasio on several fronts, including hundreds of millions of dollars in proposed CUNY and Medicaid cost shifts to the city. The governor also upset de Blasio by proposing a new layer of state approval in the process by which the state allocates federal affordable housing bonds to the city, among other measures de Blasio and his allies have been fighting.</p> <p>"[T]here have been voices speaking out since February saying that the city should not suffer cutbacks when it comes to CUNY and when it comes to Medicaid," de Blasio said Monday. "We shouldn't have our affordable housing efforts undermined by needless bureaucracy. We should get more support in our efforts to end homelessness - these issues have been talked about now for months and months."</p> <p>"This is supposed to be one of the decision days," the mayor added, referring to the fact that state budget bills would need to be printed Monday in order to have the required three-day aging period so that they can be voted on and passed by Thursday night's deadline. No deal has been reached, no bills were printed, so the governor is likely to issue "messages of necessity" to waive the aging period. Cuomo has prided himself on leading a new era of on-time budgets and more functional and responsible government.</p> <p>The governor told reporters on Friday that he is reluctant to use messages of necessity, but that he does when needed. While the governor, whose tenure began in 2011, has indeed shepherded through on-time budgets (last year's was technically late by a few minutes), state government remains dogged by corruption scandals. Last year saw both legislative leaders convicted on federal corruption charges in separate cases.</p> <p>Cuomo, who vowed to clean up Albany and has not been able to, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6087-cuomo-unveils-ethics-plan-to-questions-of-follow-through" target="_blank">unveiled an aggressive ethics reform plan</a> in his January State of the State address, but has said little about it since and all parties have indicated that ethics will not be part of the budget.</p> <p>Asked about whether he is troubled that ethics reform won't be taken up in the state budget, de Blasio said Monday, "I want to see ethics reform in Albany." Citing "public financing of elections and obviously a lot more disclosure," de Blasio said state lawmakers must act, but he cut Cuomo, Heastie, and others slack in terms of when. "Whether it happens now or it happens in the legislative session is less important to me than the fact that it needs to happen," de Blasio said.</p> <p>On more urgent budgetary matters, after months of questions Cuomo's office said last week that it was tabling the CUNY cost shifts, but that it would be appointing a monitor to find efficiencies in the joint city-state system. It was a message met with some relief at City Hall, but de Blasio still said Monday that he wants to see budget language.</p> <p>"There's no confirmation or guarantees related to CUNY, related to Medicaid or any of these other issues," de Blasio said, sounding at least a little frustrated. "And the things I talked about back in February when I gave my budget testimony in Albany, I talked about the fact that the State was going to take away some of our sales tax revenue in a way that we thought was arbitrary and unfair, and now things have been resolved on that front. So I want to see action, and I want to see real language that we can take to the bank right now."</p> <p>De Blasio continued: "You know, the same reality as the day after the governor's State of the State is true. He said none of this would cost New York City a penny and I said I will hold him to it. I'll take a man's word but I'll hold him to it, and I'll still hold him to it because as of this moment, there are no guarantees and we need them. The people of New York City need those guarantees."</p> <p>A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo declined to comment in response to de Blasio.</p> <p>On other issues of concern to the mayor, it appears both mayoral control of city schools and a renewed property tax break to incentivize affordable housing development will have to wait for the legislative session after a budget is settled.</p> <p>The governor proposed a three-year extension of mayoral control, which expires in June, but Senate Republicans have rejected both that proposal and the Assembly Democrats' call for a longer extension. Last week, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6241-senate-schedules-de-blasio-for-two-hearings-on-mayoral-control-of-city-schools" target="_blank">the Senate announced</a> it would be calling de Blasio to testify at two May hearings on his education leadership.</p> <p>There's been almost no talk of a new 421-a program, or something like it, to spur affordable housing development through tax abatements. The expiration of the previous system is <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6098-de-blasio-calls-for-albany-to-make-right-on-program-at-center-of-rift-with-governor" target="_blank">one of the key sources of tension between de Blasio and Cuomo</a>.</p> <p>In Albany, de Blasio has had to rely on Heastie, the Bronx Democrat thrust into the Speaker's chair last year when Sheldon Silver was indicted on the federal corruption charges that led to his conviction.</p> <p>On Monday, de Blasio credited Heastie and other Assembly Democrats for sticking up for the city, as Silver was infamous for doing. The Assembly, de Blasio said, "fought hard to make sure that there would be no cuts to our budget in terms of CUNY and in terms of Medicaid; there would be nothing that would stand in the way of our efforts to create affordable housing. The Assembly and its one house bill went out of its way to say the State would have to do more to help us deal with homelessness. So the Assembly has been very consistent."</p> <p>Once de Blasio sees the details of the state budget, he'll have to adjust his city spending plan for fiscal year 2017 accordingly. De Blasio's preliminary $82 billion spending plan, which did not account for the CUNY and Medicaid cost shifts, is in the midst of a series of City Council hearings. The city's fiscal year begins July 1.</p> <p>Further north, Heastie said a few words Monday to reporters trying to find out how the closed-door budget negotiations were going. "Albany is the art of the compromise," Heastie <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2016/03/heastie-albany-is-the-art-of-the-compromise/?utm_source=twitterfeed&amp;utm_medium=twitter" target="_blank">said</a> in the capital on Monday, adding that the big-ticket items of minimum wage and paid family leave are being debated. Cuomo's two major policy priorities - both of which de Blasio supports - have taken center stage, though many other smaller issues could become part of a larger compromise by the time the budget is announced.</p> <p>"I think in some regards we are able to move forward," Heastie said, "but there's still some outstanding issues about how the City of New York comes out of this."</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/15592874696_f8e1387917_z.jpg" alt="de blasio on phone we don't know with who" height="399" width="600" /></p> <p>De Blasio (<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/nycmayorsoffice/15592874696/in/dateposted/" target="_blank">photo</a>: Rob Bennett/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday afternoon that he has been in regular contact with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and that he spoke with Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier in the day, but that he did not gain much clarity as Albany budget negotiations enter their final days.</p> <p>A new state budget is due by midnight Thursday, with the state's fiscal year beginning Friday, April 1. There are several areas of budget concern for de Blasio and others who represent New York City, including Heastie. On Monday, de Blasio repeatedly cited Heastie and the Democratically-controlled Assembly as essential allies in the fight to protect city interests throughout negotiations.</p> <p>At an unrelated press conference at 1 Police Plaza, Gotham Gazette asked the mayor what he is watching for as state lawmakers negotiate the final details of a $140-plus billion budget. While expressing frustration about the lack of clarity, de Blasio said, "What I can tell you for sure, I've spoken to Speaker Heastie today and yesterday. He has, and the Assembly has, consistently supported the interests of New York City."</p> <p>It appears that de Blasio and others are again depending on Heastie to be the strongest defender of New York City during "three men in a room" negotiations with Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, a Republican.</p> <p>"I spoke to the governor this morning, and I still don't have real answers," de Blasio said Monday. "There's no budget language."</p> <p>Cuomo's Executive Budget, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6088-cuomo-outlines-144-billion-budget-" target="_blank">unveiled in January</a>, caused concern for de Blasio on several fronts, including hundreds of millions of dollars in proposed CUNY and Medicaid cost shifts to the city. The governor also upset de Blasio by proposing a new layer of state approval in the process by which the state allocates federal affordable housing bonds to the city, among other measures de Blasio and his allies have been fighting.</p> <p>"[T]here have been voices speaking out since February saying that the city should not suffer cutbacks when it comes to CUNY and when it comes to Medicaid," de Blasio said Monday. "We shouldn't have our affordable housing efforts undermined by needless bureaucracy. We should get more support in our efforts to end homelessness - these issues have been talked about now for months and months."</p> <p>"This is supposed to be one of the decision days," the mayor added, referring to the fact that state budget bills would need to be printed Monday in order to have the required three-day aging period so that they can be voted on and passed by Thursday night's deadline. No deal has been reached, no bills were printed, so the governor is likely to issue "messages of necessity" to waive the aging period. Cuomo has prided himself on leading a new era of on-time budgets and more functional and responsible government.</p> <p>The governor told reporters on Friday that he is reluctant to use messages of necessity, but that he does when needed. While the governor, whose tenure began in 2011, has indeed shepherded through on-time budgets (last year's was technically late by a few minutes), state government remains dogged by corruption scandals. Last year saw both legislative leaders convicted on federal corruption charges in separate cases.</p> <p>Cuomo, who vowed to clean up Albany and has not been able to, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6087-cuomo-unveils-ethics-plan-to-questions-of-follow-through" target="_blank">unveiled an aggressive ethics reform plan</a> in his January State of the State address, but has said little about it since and all parties have indicated that ethics will not be part of the budget.</p> <p>Asked about whether he is troubled that ethics reform won't be taken up in the state budget, de Blasio said Monday, "I want to see ethics reform in Albany." Citing "public financing of elections and obviously a lot more disclosure," de Blasio said state lawmakers must act, but he cut Cuomo, Heastie, and others slack in terms of when. "Whether it happens now or it happens in the legislative session is less important to me than the fact that it needs to happen," de Blasio said.</p> <p>On more urgent budgetary matters, after months of questions Cuomo's office said last week that it was tabling the CUNY cost shifts, but that it would be appointing a monitor to find efficiencies in the joint city-state system. It was a message met with some relief at City Hall, but de Blasio still said Monday that he wants to see budget language.</p> <p>"There's no confirmation or guarantees related to CUNY, related to Medicaid or any of these other issues," de Blasio said, sounding at least a little frustrated. "And the things I talked about back in February when I gave my budget testimony in Albany, I talked about the fact that the State was going to take away some of our sales tax revenue in a way that we thought was arbitrary and unfair, and now things have been resolved on that front. So I want to see action, and I want to see real language that we can take to the bank right now."</p> <p>De Blasio continued: "You know, the same reality as the day after the governor's State of the State is true. He said none of this would cost New York City a penny and I said I will hold him to it. I'll take a man's word but I'll hold him to it, and I'll still hold him to it because as of this moment, there are no guarantees and we need them. The people of New York City need those guarantees."</p> <p>A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo declined to comment in response to de Blasio.</p> <p>On other issues of concern to the mayor, it appears both mayoral control of city schools and a renewed property tax break to incentivize affordable housing development will have to wait for the legislative session after a budget is settled.</p> <p>The governor proposed a three-year extension of mayoral control, which expires in June, but Senate Republicans have rejected both that proposal and the Assembly Democrats' call for a longer extension. Last week, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6241-senate-schedules-de-blasio-for-two-hearings-on-mayoral-control-of-city-schools" target="_blank">the Senate announced</a> it would be calling de Blasio to testify at two May hearings on his education leadership.</p> <p>There's been almost no talk of a new 421-a program, or something like it, to spur affordable housing development through tax abatements. The expiration of the previous system is <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6098-de-blasio-calls-for-albany-to-make-right-on-program-at-center-of-rift-with-governor" target="_blank">one of the key sources of tension between de Blasio and Cuomo</a>.</p> <p>In Albany, de Blasio has had to rely on Heastie, the Bronx Democrat thrust into the Speaker's chair last year when Sheldon Silver was indicted on the federal corruption charges that led to his conviction.</p> <p>On Monday, de Blasio credited Heastie and other Assembly Democrats for sticking up for the city, as Silver was infamous for doing. The Assembly, de Blasio said, "fought hard to make sure that there would be no cuts to our budget in terms of CUNY and in terms of Medicaid; there would be nothing that would stand in the way of our efforts to create affordable housing. The Assembly and its one house bill went out of its way to say the State would have to do more to help us deal with homelessness. So the Assembly has been very consistent."</p> <p>Once de Blasio sees the details of the state budget, he'll have to adjust his city spending plan for fiscal year 2017 accordingly. De Blasio's preliminary $82 billion spending plan, which did not account for the CUNY and Medicaid cost shifts, is in the midst of a series of City Council hearings. The city's fiscal year begins July 1.</p> <p>Further north, Heastie said a few words Monday to reporters trying to find out how the closed-door budget negotiations were going. "Albany is the art of the compromise," Heastie <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2016/03/heastie-albany-is-the-art-of-the-compromise/?utm_source=twitterfeed&amp;utm_medium=twitter" target="_blank">said</a> in the capital on Monday, adding that the big-ticket items of minimum wage and paid family leave are being debated. Cuomo's two major policy priorities - both of which de Blasio supports - have taken center stage, though many other smaller issues could become part of a larger compromise by the time the budget is announced.</p> <p>"I think in some regards we are able to move forward," Heastie said, "but there's still some outstanding issues about how the City of New York comes out of this."</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Confusion, Concern Remain as Cuomo Promises Full CUNY Funding 2016-03-24T23:30:22+00:00 2016-03-24T23:30:22+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6243:confusion-concern-remain-as-cuomo-promises-full-cuny-funding Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/cuny_protest.jpg" alt="cuny protest" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p>Shirley Jackson of the CUNY Student Senate at Thursday's protest (<a href="https://twitter.com/PSC_CUNY/status/713104364236353536" target="_blank">via @PSC_CUNY</a>)</p> <hr /> <p>Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget proposal to have New York City take over $485 million in funding for CUNY still has a number of legislators and advocates on edge despite the administration's repeated attempts to quell concerns. Advocates and faculty held a "die in" at Cuomo's New York City office on Thursday afternoon and a number of legislators say they remain ready to delay the state budget and vote against it should CUNY face any cuts, or cost shifts.</p> <p>"The governor has said the CUNY budget won't change and I am here today to hold him to his word," Barbara Bowen, president of PSC/CUNY, the system's main labor union, told Gotham Gazette before Thursday's protest. Bowen said the administration had reached out to her and was "insistent on their message."</p> <p>More than 40 protesters were eventually arrested at the rally, which was over general cost shifts, a push for increased funding, and the expired faculty union contract.</p> <p>Facing backlash for the cost-shifting proposal after he unveiled it in January, Cuomo said that the state budget wouldn't "cost CUNY a penny" and that his administration would team with City Hall to find "efficiencies." However, when the time for 30-day amendments to the governor's fiscal year 2017 budget proposal rolled around, the proposed cost shift remained. The de Blasio administration has indicated it has yet to have detailed discussions about savings with the Cuomo administration. CUNY is a joint city-state system.</p> <p>"It is appalling that the faculty union and for-hire political advocacy groups are knowingly misleading their members and the public to score cheap political points." Cuomo spokesperson Dani Lever told Gotham Gazette. "We have said repeatedly and unequivocally that CUNY will receive its full $1.6 billion in state aid this year. Further, the Governor has urged CUNY and its faculty union to resolve their current contract negotiations. The fact that these groups are ignoring reality is alarming, irresponsible, and a flagrant disregard for the students they claim to advocate for. Rather than using unfounded and untruthful scare tactics to lie to the public, they should support the Governor's fight to direct more funding to students instead of administrative costs."</p> <p>Lever did not respond to questions about whether the de Blasio administration was involved in finding efficiencies at CUNY. De Blasio's team also failed to respond to a request for comment. When asked recently, de Blasio has only said in general terms that he and his aides continue to talk with the governor and his team.</p> <p>As outcry mounted earlier this month, Cuomo and State Director of Operations Jim Malatras said they will hire a management expert to find cost savings in management at CUNY and SUNY. Cuomo stressed that the administration was looking to shave administrative costs at CUNY during a press conference in Manhattan on March 17.</p> <p>"These are back office savings," Cuomo said. "They have nothing to do with students in classrooms. As a matter of fact, if you reduce the money you're spending in the back office, you can do better and do more with students."</p> <p>Some legislators say they have approached the administration for clarity. They have asked questions about what Cuomo's intentions are, whether the management expert precludes negotiations with the city, whether the administration is still looking for the city to pay more of a share of CUNY costs, and whether a $240 million pot of cash Cuomo put aside in his budget to help cover retroactive pay raises for CUNY staff would remain if the operating cost transfer is restored. They say they were referred to previous statements and not given any particular clarity on the situation.</p> <p>When asked about the $240 million for retroactive raises administration officials said that it was "out of our hands" because CUNY is in mediation with its union. They further indicated that all interested parties are involved in looking for efficiencies at CUNY, but that the current plan is for a management expert to look for efficiencies to be included in next year's budget (fiscal year 2018).</p> <p>"This year's executive budget proposal ensures that CUNY will receive full funding," said Malatras in a statement sent out on March 16. "The $1.6 billion in aid it receives has not changed, and will not change under this budget. The funding stays constant. CUNY supports hundreds of thousands of students, many of whom are new to our state or our country, or are the first in their family to attend college. The Governor's commitment to supporting those students and the institution that serves them could not be stronger, and his budget proposal reflects that reality."</p> <p>The question is not necessarily whether CUNY will be fully funded, but whether the state budget will indeed shift hundreds of millions of dollars in CUNY costs onto the city. The implications of that shift are not immediately clear - the de Blasio administration insists it would be devastating.</p> <p>Some rank-and-file legislators who aren't privy to the backroom budget negotiations among Cuomo and majority leaders of the two houses harbor a deep mistrust of the administration's plans. They see the proposal as an attack on the city, motivated by the governor's feud with de Blasio, as well as a negotiating tactic that gives Cuomo more leverage over Assembly Democrats.</p> <p>"Actions speak louder than words. We have a document that we have to deal with that tells us CUNY is going to be cut by nearly half-a-billion dollars," Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a Bronx Democrat, said of the governor's budget proposal. "It may be off the table but we don't know. They didn't take it out of the budget with 30-day amendments, so as far as we're concerned it's in play."</p> <p>The Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats, did not include the cost shifts in its one-house budget. The Republican-controlled Senate's budget <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6226-new-york-city-interests-given-varied-priority-in-three-albany-budget-plans" target="_blank">supports Cuomo's cost shift</a>. De Blasio opted not to include the shifts in his preliminary city budget proposal, saying that he was taking the governor at his word that the "efficiencies" wouldn't cost the city any money. The state budget is due by April 1, the city budget by July.</p> <p>Malatras <a href="http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/03/25/nyregion/after-moving-to-cut-cuny-funding-cuomo-faces-loud-backlash.html" target="_blank">told The New York Times</a> in a recent interview that the governor's proposal was a negotiating tactic to get City Hall and CUNY to take reforms seriously. "The only way you compel change sometimes is where you put financial skin in the game," Malatras said.</p> <p>"You don't start a conversation by punching someone in the face." Sen. Rivera countered. "We are talking about a cut to an essential service that provides people with a future. CUNY serves 70 percent students of color and 40 percent immigrants. I'm not sure why anyone would put it in the budget. You don't start a conversation by saying 'Here you have to come up with $485 million to fund an essential service.'"</p> <p>Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, also a Bronx Democrat, has been adamant that the governor's proposal will not remain.</p> <p>"It looks like the Cuomo administration was wishing, hoping, praying that City Hall was going to pick up the tab," said Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat who has been outspoken against the cost shift. Krueger said she now believes the proposal is off the table but said, "I think people should be concerned."</p> <p>Advocates and legislators say that Cuomo's proposal has created outrage and debate about education funding that they doubt the governor anticipated. "This has sparked a public conversation about CUNY," said Bowen. "But that conversation won't be adequate if all it decides is whether it will be cut and funding is restored to where it was. Because the state funding level is not adequate."</p> <p>Bowen said that state funding for CUNY remains at "recession levels." She and her allies are now pushing for several budget demands. They say per-student state funding has fallen by three percent under Cuomo.</p> <p>"I hope to see a final enacted budget with no cost shift," Bowen said, "that also includes at least $240 million for retroactive raises, that freezes tuition, and has provision that will have state funding increase every year to be constant with inflation."</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/cuny_protest.jpg" alt="cuny protest" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p>Shirley Jackson of the CUNY Student Senate at Thursday's protest (<a href="https://twitter.com/PSC_CUNY/status/713104364236353536" target="_blank">via @PSC_CUNY</a>)</p> <hr /> <p>Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget proposal to have New York City take over $485 million in funding for CUNY still has a number of legislators and advocates on edge despite the administration's repeated attempts to quell concerns. Advocates and faculty held a "die in" at Cuomo's New York City office on Thursday afternoon and a number of legislators say they remain ready to delay the state budget and vote against it should CUNY face any cuts, or cost shifts.</p> <p>"The governor has said the CUNY budget won't change and I am here today to hold him to his word," Barbara Bowen, president of PSC/CUNY, the system's main labor union, told Gotham Gazette before Thursday's protest. Bowen said the administration had reached out to her and was "insistent on their message."</p> <p>More than 40 protesters were eventually arrested at the rally, which was over general cost shifts, a push for increased funding, and the expired faculty union contract.</p> <p>Facing backlash for the cost-shifting proposal after he unveiled it in January, Cuomo said that the state budget wouldn't "cost CUNY a penny" and that his administration would team with City Hall to find "efficiencies." However, when the time for 30-day amendments to the governor's fiscal year 2017 budget proposal rolled around, the proposed cost shift remained. The de Blasio administration has indicated it has yet to have detailed discussions about savings with the Cuomo administration. CUNY is a joint city-state system.</p> <p>"It is appalling that the faculty union and for-hire political advocacy groups are knowingly misleading their members and the public to score cheap political points." Cuomo spokesperson Dani Lever told Gotham Gazette. "We have said repeatedly and unequivocally that CUNY will receive its full $1.6 billion in state aid this year. Further, the Governor has urged CUNY and its faculty union to resolve their current contract negotiations. The fact that these groups are ignoring reality is alarming, irresponsible, and a flagrant disregard for the students they claim to advocate for. Rather than using unfounded and untruthful scare tactics to lie to the public, they should support the Governor's fight to direct more funding to students instead of administrative costs."</p> <p>Lever did not respond to questions about whether the de Blasio administration was involved in finding efficiencies at CUNY. De Blasio's team also failed to respond to a request for comment. When asked recently, de Blasio has only said in general terms that he and his aides continue to talk with the governor and his team.</p> <p>As outcry mounted earlier this month, Cuomo and State Director of Operations Jim Malatras said they will hire a management expert to find cost savings in management at CUNY and SUNY. Cuomo stressed that the administration was looking to shave administrative costs at CUNY during a press conference in Manhattan on March 17.</p> <p>"These are back office savings," Cuomo said. "They have nothing to do with students in classrooms. As a matter of fact, if you reduce the money you're spending in the back office, you can do better and do more with students."</p> <p>Some legislators say they have approached the administration for clarity. They have asked questions about what Cuomo's intentions are, whether the management expert precludes negotiations with the city, whether the administration is still looking for the city to pay more of a share of CUNY costs, and whether a $240 million pot of cash Cuomo put aside in his budget to help cover retroactive pay raises for CUNY staff would remain if the operating cost transfer is restored. They say they were referred to previous statements and not given any particular clarity on the situation.</p> <p>When asked about the $240 million for retroactive raises administration officials said that it was "out of our hands" because CUNY is in mediation with its union. They further indicated that all interested parties are involved in looking for efficiencies at CUNY, but that the current plan is for a management expert to look for efficiencies to be included in next year's budget (fiscal year 2018).</p> <p>"This year's executive budget proposal ensures that CUNY will receive full funding," said Malatras in a statement sent out on March 16. "The $1.6 billion in aid it receives has not changed, and will not change under this budget. The funding stays constant. CUNY supports hundreds of thousands of students, many of whom are new to our state or our country, or are the first in their family to attend college. The Governor's commitment to supporting those students and the institution that serves them could not be stronger, and his budget proposal reflects that reality."</p> <p>The question is not necessarily whether CUNY will be fully funded, but whether the state budget will indeed shift hundreds of millions of dollars in CUNY costs onto the city. The implications of that shift are not immediately clear - the de Blasio administration insists it would be devastating.</p> <p>Some rank-and-file legislators who aren't privy to the backroom budget negotiations among Cuomo and majority leaders of the two houses harbor a deep mistrust of the administration's plans. They see the proposal as an attack on the city, motivated by the governor's feud with de Blasio, as well as a negotiating tactic that gives Cuomo more leverage over Assembly Democrats.</p> <p>"Actions speak louder than words. We have a document that we have to deal with that tells us CUNY is going to be cut by nearly half-a-billion dollars," Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a Bronx Democrat, said of the governor's budget proposal. "It may be off the table but we don't know. They didn't take it out of the budget with 30-day amendments, so as far as we're concerned it's in play."</p> <p>The Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats, did not include the cost shifts in its one-house budget. The Republican-controlled Senate's budget <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6226-new-york-city-interests-given-varied-priority-in-three-albany-budget-plans" target="_blank">supports Cuomo's cost shift</a>. De Blasio opted not to include the shifts in his preliminary city budget proposal, saying that he was taking the governor at his word that the "efficiencies" wouldn't cost the city any money. The state budget is due by April 1, the city budget by July.</p> <p>Malatras <a href="http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/03/25/nyregion/after-moving-to-cut-cuny-funding-cuomo-faces-loud-backlash.html" target="_blank">told The New York Times</a> in a recent interview that the governor's proposal was a negotiating tactic to get City Hall and CUNY to take reforms seriously. "The only way you compel change sometimes is where you put financial skin in the game," Malatras said.</p> <p>"You don't start a conversation by punching someone in the face." Sen. Rivera countered. "We are talking about a cut to an essential service that provides people with a future. CUNY serves 70 percent students of color and 40 percent immigrants. I'm not sure why anyone would put it in the budget. You don't start a conversation by saying 'Here you have to come up with $485 million to fund an essential service.'"</p> <p>Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, also a Bronx Democrat, has been adamant that the governor's proposal will not remain.</p> <p>"It looks like the Cuomo administration was wishing, hoping, praying that City Hall was going to pick up the tab," said Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat who has been outspoken against the cost shift. Krueger said she now believes the proposal is off the table but said, "I think people should be concerned."</p> <p>Advocates and legislators say that Cuomo's proposal has created outrage and debate about education funding that they doubt the governor anticipated. "This has sparked a public conversation about CUNY," said Bowen. "But that conversation won't be adequate if all it decides is whether it will be cut and funding is restored to where it was. Because the state funding level is not adequate."</p> <p>Bowen said that state funding for CUNY remains at "recession levels." She and her allies are now pushing for several budget demands. They say per-student state funding has fallen by three percent under Cuomo.</p> <p>"I hope to see a final enacted budget with no cost shift," Bowen said, "that also includes at least $240 million for retroactive raises, that freezes tuition, and has provision that will have state funding increase every year to be constant with inflation."</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 21 2016-03-19T14:22:16+00:00 2016-03-19T14:22:16+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6231:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-march-21 Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p>This week will be another busy one when it comes to budgets: the City Council continues its preliminary budget hearings and state budget negotiations enter their final ten days - a state budget is due by April 1 and some say a deal could be announced before the end of this week. Don't count on it, though, state budgets usually come in just before (or, as was the case last year, just after) the March 31 midnight deadline. This practice under Governor Andrew Cuomo is actually a serious improvement given that the state used to regularly wind up with late budgets extending weeks past the start of the new fiscal year, which begins April 1.</p> <p>There are a variety of issues to be worked out, with <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6226-new-york-city-interests-given-varied-priority-in-three-albany-budget-plans" target="_blank">several of importance to New York City.</a> As always, there are a number of high-profile items, like an increase of the minimum wage or government ethics reform, that could be pushed beyond the budget and into the legislative session to follow. That session runs until mid-June. The budget, after all, only must include necessary state expenses. Expect at least a couple of closed-door meetings among Cuomo and the two legislative leaders, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, a Republican. On Monday,&nbsp;City Council "Speaker Mark-Viverito and Council Members will travel to Albany to advocate for the City Council's 2016 State Budget and Legislative Agenda," according to Mark-Viverito's public schedule.</p> <p>Also worth watching in Albany this week, the Assembly will consider internal reforms <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6229-assembly-announces-internal-reform-plan-to-mixed-reviews" target="_blank">announced by Heastie and his conference at the end of this past week</a>. The 40-plus reform proposals received <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6229-assembly-announces-internal-reform-plan-to-mixed-reviews" target="_blank">a mixed reaction</a> from elected officials and good government advocates, but still indicate a number of changes that many have been advocating for years. And, keep an eye out for a related conference in Albany on Friday, which will look at ethics reform through the lens of a state constitutional convention - details below.</p> <p>While it is another busy week of budget hearings at the City Council, the Council will also hold a full-body Stated Meeting on Tuesday, at which new bills will be introduced and the Council will vote on the two high-profile zoning changes - Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) - that have been the source of months of discussion, negotiation, and controversy, and that are key to Mayor de Blasio's affordable housing plans.</p> <p>As always, there's a great deal happening&nbsp;all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>Mayor de Blasio is doing a series of six media appearances to discuss his affordable housing agenda on Monday. He'll be on NPR, 880AM and 710AM radio, and on NY1, NY1 Noticias, and Univision TV.</p> <p>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Monday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. in Albany, following the full <a href="https://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/2016/2016-03/meeting-board-regents" target="_blank">meeting</a> of the NYS Board of Regents, the board’s newly-elected Chancellor and Vice Chancellor will hold a press conference with the State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.</p> <p dir="ltr">At noon Monday, a coalition of over 90 HIV/AIDS advocates will launch a statewide Week of Action on the steps of City Hall, calling upon Governor Cuomo to invest $70 million in a plan to end AIDS in the 2016 New York State budget.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Monday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 9:30 a.m., the Committee on Health will hold a hearing on a bill to prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco products at sports arenas and recreational areas that require tickets.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on Health will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At noon, the Committee on Consumer Affairs will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Youth Services will discuss a bill requiring the establishment of a training coordinator to teach certain agency staff throughout departments such as Parks and Recreation, Homeless Services, and Human Resources Administration/Social Services how to identify runaway, homeless or sexually exploited youth and how to connect them with appropriate services. The committee will also discuss several technical changes relating to an annual report produced by the Administration for Children’s Services and the Department of Youth and Community Development on the number of sexually exploited youth each agency has come into contact with over the course of the calendar year.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Public Safety will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1:30 p.m., the Committee on Higher Education will meet to discuss a resolution to increase State funding to CUNY, and to reach a fair labor agreement with the University’s faculty and staff in the 2016-17 NYS Executive Budget.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 3 p.m., the Committee on Civil Rights will examine a bill to broaden or incorporate a right to truthful information for a variety of activities covered by the New York City Human Rights Law, including lending, employment, and access to public accommodations and others.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 2 p.m. Monday,&nbsp;"First Lady McCray will deliver opening remarks at a panel at Fountain House, an organization dedicated to supporting those living with serious mental illness."</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Monday, the LGBT Task Force of Manhattan Community Boards 9, 10, 11, and 12 will host an <a href="https://twitter.com/galeabrewer/status/709089409115631617" target="_blank">LGBT Resource Fair</a> featuring New York City Agencies. The event is sponsored by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6:10 p.m. Monday evening,&nbsp;"Mayor Bill de Blasio will discuss affordable housing with an anticipated 10,000+ AARP members from New York City on an interactive call that allows participants to ask questions," according to AARP-NY.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 6:30 p.m., schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will&nbsp;attend a town hall meeting of District 16's Community Education Council at MS 267 in Brooklyn.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Tuesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Crain’s New York Business will host an <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=cnyb-events&amp;utm_campaign=cnyb-events-20160218" target="_blank">event</a> on how startup businesses take off in New York City, featuring: Gregg Bishop, Commissioner, NYC Department of Small Business Services; Howard Lerman, Co-Founder &amp; CEO, Yext; Rachel Shechtman,, Founder and CEO, STORY; Adam Shwartz, Director, Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech; and moderated by Matthew Flamm, Senior Reporter, Crain's New York Business.<br /><br />At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, the YWCA of New York City will host “its third breakfast <a href="https://www.ywcanyc.org/events/new-york-city-women-leaders-the-power-of-influence-and-purpose/" target="_blank">panel</a> for Women’s History Month “New York City Women Leaders: The Power of Influence and Purpose.” The panel will include Maya Wiley, counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio; City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley; and Carmelyn Malalis, commissioner of the city’s Human Rights Commission; among others.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Commission on Public Information and Communication will meet to <a href="http://pubadvocate.nyc.gov/news/events/copic-meeting-1" target="_blank">discuss</a> the implementation of the webcasting law and the establishment of a central portal for webcasts.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Tuesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 9 a.m., the Committee on State and Federal Legislation will meet to press for authorization that Christopher Park in Manhattan is discontinued as city parkland.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on Finance will meet to approve new designations for certain organizations to receive funding in the expense budget; to communicate the transfer of City funds between various agencies in FY ‘16 in the expense budget; and to communicate the appropriation of new revenues of $982 million in FY ‘16.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1:30 p.m., the City Council will hold a full-body Stated Meeting. The highlight of the hearing will be the Council’s votes on the MIH and ZQA zoning text amendments.</li> <li dir="ltr">Before the Stated, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will host a pre-Stated press conference at 12:30.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">Also prior to the Stated Meeting, at noon, City Council Members Costa Constantinides and Ydanis Rodriguez will host a press conference on the steps of City Hall to rally before introducing a bill to create a pilot program for electric vehicle charging stations on street parking. The program hopes to encourage the use of electric cars and reduce carbon emissions citywide.</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Wednesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Subcommittee on Libraries will meet jointly with the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations for a preliminary budget hearing on libraries.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 11 a.m., the Committee on Contracts will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Courts and Legal Services will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. Wednesday, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito <a href="https://twitter.com/NYCCD8/status/709758093421387777" target="_blank">will host</a> a Women’s History Month celebration at Mott Haven Library.</p> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong>At 8 a.m. Thursday, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce will <a href="http://www.manhattancc.org/MCC_Events/MCC_Chairmans_Breakfast_Series.aspx" target="_blank">host</a> a breakfast event focused on combating the rising tide of cybercrime and featuring Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong>At 1:30 p.m. Friday in Albany, a <a href="http://www.rockinst.org/forumsandevents/upcoming/default.aspx#Constitutional_Convention_Strengthen_Ethics" target="_blank">forum</a>, “Can a NYS Constitutional Convention Strengthen Government Ethics?” The event, hosted by The Rockefeller Institute, will feature discussion about whether issues of integrity in government can be fixed statutorily, or if would be better resolved through constitutional change. Speaking will be former NYS Comptroller H. Carl McCall; and Columbia Law School Professor Richard Briffault, who is also a former assistant counsel to Governor Hugh Carey; as well as a panel of experts.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Saturday, March 26, Participatory Budget voting <a href="http://council.nyc.gov/html/pb/home.shtml" target="_blank">begins</a> in New York City Council districts running the program. In Participatory Budgeting, Council Members ask New York City residents “to decide how to invest public funds in their neighborhoods.” Voting will take place throughout the nearly 30 participating districts through April 3.</p> <p>***<br />Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Kelly Fan and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p>This week will be another busy one when it comes to budgets: the City Council continues its preliminary budget hearings and state budget negotiations enter their final ten days - a state budget is due by April 1 and some say a deal could be announced before the end of this week. Don't count on it, though, state budgets usually come in just before (or, as was the case last year, just after) the March 31 midnight deadline. This practice under Governor Andrew Cuomo is actually a serious improvement given that the state used to regularly wind up with late budgets extending weeks past the start of the new fiscal year, which begins April 1.</p> <p>There are a variety of issues to be worked out, with <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6226-new-york-city-interests-given-varied-priority-in-three-albany-budget-plans" target="_blank">several of importance to New York City.</a> As always, there are a number of high-profile items, like an increase of the minimum wage or government ethics reform, that could be pushed beyond the budget and into the legislative session to follow. That session runs until mid-June. The budget, after all, only must include necessary state expenses. Expect at least a couple of closed-door meetings among Cuomo and the two legislative leaders, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, a Republican. On Monday,&nbsp;City Council "Speaker Mark-Viverito and Council Members will travel to Albany to advocate for the City Council's 2016 State Budget and Legislative Agenda," according to Mark-Viverito's public schedule.</p> <p>Also worth watching in Albany this week, the Assembly will consider internal reforms <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6229-assembly-announces-internal-reform-plan-to-mixed-reviews" target="_blank">announced by Heastie and his conference at the end of this past week</a>. The 40-plus reform proposals received <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6229-assembly-announces-internal-reform-plan-to-mixed-reviews" target="_blank">a mixed reaction</a> from elected officials and good government advocates, but still indicate a number of changes that many have been advocating for years. And, keep an eye out for a related conference in Albany on Friday, which will look at ethics reform through the lens of a state constitutional convention - details below.</p> <p>While it is another busy week of budget hearings at the City Council, the Council will also hold a full-body Stated Meeting on Tuesday, at which new bills will be introduced and the Council will vote on the two high-profile zoning changes - Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) - that have been the source of months of discussion, negotiation, and controversy, and that are key to Mayor de Blasio's affordable housing plans.</p> <p>As always, there's a great deal happening&nbsp;all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>Mayor de Blasio is doing a series of six media appearances to discuss his affordable housing agenda on Monday. He'll be on NPR, 880AM and 710AM radio, and on NY1, NY1 Noticias, and Univision TV.</p> <p>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Monday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. in Albany, following the full <a href="https://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/2016/2016-03/meeting-board-regents" target="_blank">meeting</a> of the NYS Board of Regents, the board’s newly-elected Chancellor and Vice Chancellor will hold a press conference with the State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.</p> <p dir="ltr">At noon Monday, a coalition of over 90 HIV/AIDS advocates will launch a statewide Week of Action on the steps of City Hall, calling upon Governor Cuomo to invest $70 million in a plan to end AIDS in the 2016 New York State budget.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Monday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 9:30 a.m., the Committee on Health will hold a hearing on a bill to prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco products at sports arenas and recreational areas that require tickets.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on Health will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At noon, the Committee on Consumer Affairs will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Youth Services will discuss a bill requiring the establishment of a training coordinator to teach certain agency staff throughout departments such as Parks and Recreation, Homeless Services, and Human Resources Administration/Social Services how to identify runaway, homeless or sexually exploited youth and how to connect them with appropriate services. The committee will also discuss several technical changes relating to an annual report produced by the Administration for Children’s Services and the Department of Youth and Community Development on the number of sexually exploited youth each agency has come into contact with over the course of the calendar year.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Public Safety will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1:30 p.m., the Committee on Higher Education will meet to discuss a resolution to increase State funding to CUNY, and to reach a fair labor agreement with the University’s faculty and staff in the 2016-17 NYS Executive Budget.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 3 p.m., the Committee on Civil Rights will examine a bill to broaden or incorporate a right to truthful information for a variety of activities covered by the New York City Human Rights Law, including lending, employment, and access to public accommodations and others.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 2 p.m. Monday,&nbsp;"First Lady McCray will deliver opening remarks at a panel at Fountain House, an organization dedicated to supporting those living with serious mental illness."</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Monday, the LGBT Task Force of Manhattan Community Boards 9, 10, 11, and 12 will host an <a href="https://twitter.com/galeabrewer/status/709089409115631617" target="_blank">LGBT Resource Fair</a> featuring New York City Agencies. The event is sponsored by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6:10 p.m. Monday evening,&nbsp;"Mayor Bill de Blasio will discuss affordable housing with an anticipated 10,000+ AARP members from New York City on an interactive call that allows participants to ask questions," according to AARP-NY.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 6:30 p.m., schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will&nbsp;attend a town hall meeting of District 16's Community Education Council at MS 267 in Brooklyn.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Tuesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Crain’s New York Business will host an <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=cnyb-events&amp;utm_campaign=cnyb-events-20160218" target="_blank">event</a> on how startup businesses take off in New York City, featuring: Gregg Bishop, Commissioner, NYC Department of Small Business Services; Howard Lerman, Co-Founder &amp; CEO, Yext; Rachel Shechtman,, Founder and CEO, STORY; Adam Shwartz, Director, Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech; and moderated by Matthew Flamm, Senior Reporter, Crain's New York Business.<br /><br />At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, the YWCA of New York City will host “its third breakfast <a href="https://www.ywcanyc.org/events/new-york-city-women-leaders-the-power-of-influence-and-purpose/" target="_blank">panel</a> for Women’s History Month “New York City Women Leaders: The Power of Influence and Purpose.” The panel will include Maya Wiley, counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio; City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley; and Carmelyn Malalis, commissioner of the city’s Human Rights Commission; among others.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Commission on Public Information and Communication will meet to <a href="http://pubadvocate.nyc.gov/news/events/copic-meeting-1" target="_blank">discuss</a> the implementation of the webcasting law and the establishment of a central portal for webcasts.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Tuesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 9 a.m., the Committee on State and Federal Legislation will meet to press for authorization that Christopher Park in Manhattan is discontinued as city parkland.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on Finance will meet to approve new designations for certain organizations to receive funding in the expense budget; to communicate the transfer of City funds between various agencies in FY ‘16 in the expense budget; and to communicate the appropriation of new revenues of $982 million in FY ‘16.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1:30 p.m., the City Council will hold a full-body Stated Meeting. The highlight of the hearing will be the Council’s votes on the MIH and ZQA zoning text amendments.</li> <li dir="ltr">Before the Stated, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will host a pre-Stated press conference at 12:30.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">Also prior to the Stated Meeting, at noon, City Council Members Costa Constantinides and Ydanis Rodriguez will host a press conference on the steps of City Hall to rally before introducing a bill to create a pilot program for electric vehicle charging stations on street parking. The program hopes to encourage the use of electric cars and reduce carbon emissions citywide.</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Wednesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Subcommittee on Libraries will meet jointly with the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations for a preliminary budget hearing on libraries.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 11 a.m., the Committee on Contracts will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Courts and Legal Services will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. Wednesday, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito <a href="https://twitter.com/NYCCD8/status/709758093421387777" target="_blank">will host</a> a Women’s History Month celebration at Mott Haven Library.</p> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong>At 8 a.m. Thursday, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce will <a href="http://www.manhattancc.org/MCC_Events/MCC_Chairmans_Breakfast_Series.aspx" target="_blank">host</a> a breakfast event focused on combating the rising tide of cybercrime and featuring Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong>At 1:30 p.m. Friday in Albany, a <a href="http://www.rockinst.org/forumsandevents/upcoming/default.aspx#Constitutional_Convention_Strengthen_Ethics" target="_blank">forum</a>, “Can a NYS Constitutional Convention Strengthen Government Ethics?” The event, hosted by The Rockefeller Institute, will feature discussion about whether issues of integrity in government can be fixed statutorily, or if would be better resolved through constitutional change. Speaking will be former NYS Comptroller H. Carl McCall; and Columbia Law School Professor Richard Briffault, who is also a former assistant counsel to Governor Hugh Carey; as well as a panel of experts.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Saturday, March 26, Participatory Budget voting <a href="http://council.nyc.gov/html/pb/home.shtml" target="_blank">begins</a> in New York City Council districts running the program. In Participatory Budgeting, Council Members ask New York City residents “to decide how to invest public funds in their neighborhoods.” Voting will take place throughout the nearly 30 participating districts through April 3.</p> <p>***<br />Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Kelly Fan and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> New York City Interests Given Varied Priority in Three Albany Budget Plans 2016-03-15T22:33:16+00:00 2016-03-15T22:33:16+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6226:new-york-city-interests-given-varied-priority-in-three-albany-budget-plans Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/24980864236_5c6038abfd_z.jpg" alt="de blasio heastie albany" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>De Blasio &amp; Heastie (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio didn't need to see the Assembly and Senate one-house budgets to know where he stands with each chamber - Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is a close ally of the mayor, his fellow New York City Democrat, while Senate Republicans hold a major grudge against de Blasio for leading a failed effort to boot them from the majority two years ago. Most Republican legislators, who control the Senate but not the Assembly, are also philosophically opposed to much of de Blasio's agenda.</p> <p>Still, the documents give de Blasio - himself in the midst of a city budget process that depends quite a bit on state decisions - more clarity as budget negotiations truly heat up in the capital. With the governor's executive budget out for two months, plus the newly passed one-house budgets, de Blasio now has an idea of how hard a fight he and his allies have to get what they want.</p> <p>The Legislature uses one-house budgets to set chamber priorities after analyzing the governor's spending plan, which is typically issued at the start of the year. The budgets are non-binding but used to send clear messages about majority conferences' top priorities before entering final negotiations with the governor.</p> <p>While there are a variety of city-specific issues at play, de Blasio has made it clear that he is supportive of Cuomo's push for both a minimum wage increase toward $15 per hour over the next several years and a paid family leave policy. These are two major agenda items for the governor, where Cuomo laregly has Democratic support but must negotiate deals with Republicans.</p> <p>With all three budgets out, Mayor de Blasio, city officials and residents are all taking note of where things stand on several other major issues.</p> <p><strong>Mayoral Control of Schools</strong><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Cuomo:</span> The governor's budget includes a three-year extension of mayoral control, which is fairly short compared to the seven-year extension Mayor Michael Bloomberg was able to win during his tenure. Last year Cuomo also proposed three years, but the three parties only agreed on a one-year extension in June, angering de Blasio and his allies. (The issue was bumped beyond the budget into legislative session last year, as it may again this year.)</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Assembly:</span> Mayor de Blasio's allies in the Assembly support a seven-year extension of mayoral control, which would make expiration June 30, 2023. Such a distant date would remove the issue from the political equation for years to come and prevent Cuomo and Senate Republicans from holding it over de Blasio's head, even through a potential second term for the mayor.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Senate:</span> While addressing the chamber before the vote on <a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/sites/default/files/articles/attachments/fy_2017_nys_senate_one_house_resolution_fact_sheet.pdf" target="_blank">its one-house budget</a> on Monday, Majority Leader John Flanagan said that he didn't feel mayoral control was a budget issue. He indicated he expects to have relevant hearings later in the year where de Blasio will be asked to testify. When asked about attending hearings by Gotham Gazette de Blasio said on Monday that he had expected them and welcomes the chance to discuss mayoral control. He was quick to remind that he had already met with Flanagan and discussed the subject.</p> <p>"I've already sat down with him, obviously, and talked to him about this," de Blasio said on Monday at an unrelated press conference in Harlem, referring to the mayor's trip to Albany earlier this year. "I certainly made my case to him, it was a very good and respectful meeting. I think he heard my points. I'm not saying he agreed with all of them, but he heard them. He knows a lot about education, obviously, from his own work on the education committee in the Senate. And I will welcome a dialogue. I told him I will happily appear at a hearing any time."</p> <p><strong>CUNY and Medicaid Cost Shifts</strong><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Cuomo:</span> The governor's budget could cost the city nearly a billion dollars in funding through plans that would see the city assume increasing costs for Medicaid and funding for CUNY. The governor insists that the city can afford to take on a greater share of the costs of both city-state programs.</p> <p>Facing criticism from de Blasio, his allies, and budget watchdogs who warned the shifts would devastate the city's finances, Cuomo insisted his budgeting would simply foster a joint cost-saving exercise that in the end wouldn't cost the city anything. However, no adjustments were made to the plan in the governor's 30-day budget amendments, leaving the cost shifts as an expensive bargaining chip. While aides to de Blasio and Cuomo have been in conversation, there has been no evidence of progress in finding such efficiencies.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Assembly:</span> Assembly Democrats rejected both cost shifts, winning the praise of the mayor and education groups who have turned up lobbying efforts in recent weeks. Advocates say the cost shifts would devastate CUNY and make it much harder to provide higher education, especially to those who can't afford private school tuition.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Senate:</span> Both proposals remain in the Senate plan. Debate over the CUNY shifts took a curious turn on Monday as Republican Sen. Cathy Young, the chair of the finance committee, offered a new rationale for the CUNY proposal: the cost shift as a punishment for recent anti-Semitic incidents at CUNY and what some lawmakers see as an inefficient response to them.</p> <p>"In light of recent anti-Semitic events at CUNY campuses," reads the Senate's budget summary, "the Senate denies additional funding for CUNY senior schools until it is satisfied that the administration has developed a plan to guarantee the safety of students of all faiths. The Senate fully understands the importance of the City University System, and supports the full restoration of State support when this difficult and atrocious situation is adequately addressed."</p> <p>Democrats were taken aback by the rationale. "Everyone agrees that anti-Semitism is bad. But the way you fight it is not by hurting the students," said Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky of Queens.</p> <p>"This administration has been outspoken in ensuring that NYC continues to be a model for other cities in combating anti-Semitism," de Blasio said in a statement to Gotham Gazette. "Our institutions of higher education must be spaces where people of all faiths can thrive and feel safe, and CUNY must ensure that's the case. The best tool to combat hate is education - and we must be investing in it, not cutting it."</p> <p><strong>Tax-Exempt Affordable Housing Bonds</strong><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Cuomo:</span> The governor's budget includes a proposal to give the state final say over housing projects financed by federal tax-exempt bonds the state distributes. The Public Authorities Control Board, made up of one appointee each from the Governor and legislative leaders, would have the ability to veto individual affordable housing projects. Cuomo touted the plan as lending transparency to the process, but contractors, housing advocates, Mayor de Blasio, and others expressed significant worry it would lead to instability, uncertainty, and delay to badly-needed affordable housing projects.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Assembly:</span> Rejects the plan.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Senate:</span> Rejects the plan.</p> <p>De Blasio appeared buoyed when asked about both chambers rejecting the plan. "I think in the democratic system that's a rather striking statement," the mayor told reporters on Monday afternoon. "We said from the beginning that we thought this would make it harder to create affordable housing, and would slow the process down. It's quite clear the Senate and the Assembly agree, and we appreciate their support and look forward to working with them, because we need to, in fact, speed up the supply of affordable housing, not slow it down."</p> <p><strong>Construction Takeover</strong><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Cuomo:</span> The governor's budget proposes the creation of "The New York State Design and Construction Corp." that would be given oversight of public construction projects worth over $50 million. The DCC would be a subsidiary of the state's Dormitory Authority and would be headed by three commissioners, all appointed by the governor. Budget watchdogs and legislators see the plan as a power grab designed to give the Governor say in major construction projects headed by independent agencies such as the MTA.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Assembly:</span> Rejects the plan.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Senate:</span> Rejects the plan.</p> <p><strong>MTA Funding</strong><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Cuomo:</span> The governor's plan technically provides $8.3 billion in funding for the MTA capital plan, per an earlier commitment Cuomo made in striking a deal with de Blasio over plugging a funding gap. However, the governor's budget only appropriates $1 billion for the MTA this year and puts off the rest of the funding until the MTA exhausts its current resources.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Assembly:</span> Rejecting Cuomo's condition that the MTA exhausts its current funding first, <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/Reports/WAM/20160314/2016_budget_summary.pdf" target="_blank">the Assembly plan</a> appropriates the remaining $7.3 billion Cuomo's plan puts off.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Senate:</span> Accepting most of Cuomo's funding plan, the Senate requires the state to provide $3.5 billion in additional funding to the Department of Transportation Capital Plan.</p> <p><strong>Tenant Protection Unit</strong><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Cuomo:</span> The governor's budget recommends $4.4 million in funding for the agency he credits with restoring 50,000 units to the affordable housing rolls.&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Assembly:</span> Provides a $5.8 million appropriation for the unit.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Senate:</span> Denies funding for the unit.</p> <p><strong>Next Steps</strong><br />On Tuesday, the two houses of the Legislature convened a joint hearing to kick off the formal conference committee process whereby representatives of each house meet to hash out the differences in their plans. Leadership announced committee hearings on public protection, mental hygiene, higher education, general government, environment and housing, transportation, economic development, human services/labor, and education all to take place throughout the day on Wednesday.</p> <p>Cuomo, Heastie, and Flanagan are also expected to pick up their closed-door negotiations with the deadline for a final budget being April 1. When the state budget is decided, de Blasio will then have to weigh its impact on his budget negotiations with the City Council, with a final city budget due at the end of June.</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/24980864236_5c6038abfd_z.jpg" alt="de blasio heastie albany" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>De Blasio &amp; Heastie (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio didn't need to see the Assembly and Senate one-house budgets to know where he stands with each chamber - Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is a close ally of the mayor, his fellow New York City Democrat, while Senate Republicans hold a major grudge against de Blasio for leading a failed effort to boot them from the majority two years ago. Most Republican legislators, who control the Senate but not the Assembly, are also philosophically opposed to much of de Blasio's agenda.</p> <p>Still, the documents give de Blasio - himself in the midst of a city budget process that depends quite a bit on state decisions - more clarity as budget negotiations truly heat up in the capital. With the governor's executive budget out for two months, plus the newly passed one-house budgets, de Blasio now has an idea of how hard a fight he and his allies have to get what they want.</p> <p>The Legislature uses one-house budgets to set chamber priorities after analyzing the governor's spending plan, which is typically issued at the start of the year. The budgets are non-binding but used to send clear messages about majority conferences' top priorities before entering final negotiations with the governor.</p> <p>While there are a variety of city-specific issues at play, de Blasio has made it clear that he is supportive of Cuomo's push for both a minimum wage increase toward $15 per hour over the next several years and a paid family leave policy. These are two major agenda items for the governor, where Cuomo laregly has Democratic support but must negotiate deals with Republicans.</p> <p>With all three budgets out, Mayor de Blasio, city officials and residents are all taking note of where things stand on several other major issues.</p> <p><strong>Mayoral Control of Schools</strong><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Cuomo:</span> The governor's budget includes a three-year extension of mayoral control, which is fairly short compared to the seven-year extension Mayor Michael Bloomberg was able to win during his tenure. Last year Cuomo also proposed three years, but the three parties only agreed on a one-year extension in June, angering de Blasio and his allies. (The issue was bumped beyond the budget into legislative session last year, as it may again this year.)</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Assembly:</span> Mayor de Blasio's allies in the Assembly support a seven-year extension of mayoral control, which would make expiration June 30, 2023. Such a distant date would remove the issue from the political equation for years to come and prevent Cuomo and Senate Republicans from holding it over de Blasio's head, even through a potential second term for the mayor.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Senate:</span> While addressing the chamber before the vote on <a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/sites/default/files/articles/attachments/fy_2017_nys_senate_one_house_resolution_fact_sheet.pdf" target="_blank">its one-house budget</a> on Monday, Majority Leader John Flanagan said that he didn't feel mayoral control was a budget issue. He indicated he expects to have relevant hearings later in the year where de Blasio will be asked to testify. When asked about attending hearings by Gotham Gazette de Blasio said on Monday that he had expected them and welcomes the chance to discuss mayoral control. He was quick to remind that he had already met with Flanagan and discussed the subject.</p> <p>"I've already sat down with him, obviously, and talked to him about this," de Blasio said on Monday at an unrelated press conference in Harlem, referring to the mayor's trip to Albany earlier this year. "I certainly made my case to him, it was a very good and respectful meeting. I think he heard my points. I'm not saying he agreed with all of them, but he heard them. He knows a lot about education, obviously, from his own work on the education committee in the Senate. And I will welcome a dialogue. I told him I will happily appear at a hearing any time."</p> <p><strong>CUNY and Medicaid Cost Shifts</strong><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Cuomo:</span> The governor's budget could cost the city nearly a billion dollars in funding through plans that would see the city assume increasing costs for Medicaid and funding for CUNY. The governor insists that the city can afford to take on a greater share of the costs of both city-state programs.</p> <p>Facing criticism from de Blasio, his allies, and budget watchdogs who warned the shifts would devastate the city's finances, Cuomo insisted his budgeting would simply foster a joint cost-saving exercise that in the end wouldn't cost the city anything. However, no adjustments were made to the plan in the governor's 30-day budget amendments, leaving the cost shifts as an expensive bargaining chip. While aides to de Blasio and Cuomo have been in conversation, there has been no evidence of progress in finding such efficiencies.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Assembly:</span> Assembly Democrats rejected both cost shifts, winning the praise of the mayor and education groups who have turned up lobbying efforts in recent weeks. Advocates say the cost shifts would devastate CUNY and make it much harder to provide higher education, especially to those who can't afford private school tuition.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Senate:</span> Both proposals remain in the Senate plan. Debate over the CUNY shifts took a curious turn on Monday as Republican Sen. Cathy Young, the chair of the finance committee, offered a new rationale for the CUNY proposal: the cost shift as a punishment for recent anti-Semitic incidents at CUNY and what some lawmakers see as an inefficient response to them.</p> <p>"In light of recent anti-Semitic events at CUNY campuses," reads the Senate's budget summary, "the Senate denies additional funding for CUNY senior schools until it is satisfied that the administration has developed a plan to guarantee the safety of students of all faiths. The Senate fully understands the importance of the City University System, and supports the full restoration of State support when this difficult and atrocious situation is adequately addressed."</p> <p>Democrats were taken aback by the rationale. "Everyone agrees that anti-Semitism is bad. But the way you fight it is not by hurting the students," said Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky of Queens.</p> <p>"This administration has been outspoken in ensuring that NYC continues to be a model for other cities in combating anti-Semitism," de Blasio said in a statement to Gotham Gazette. "Our institutions of higher education must be spaces where people of all faiths can thrive and feel safe, and CUNY must ensure that's the case. The best tool to combat hate is education - and we must be investing in it, not cutting it."</p> <p><strong>Tax-Exempt Affordable Housing Bonds</strong><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Cuomo:</span> The governor's budget includes a proposal to give the state final say over housing projects financed by federal tax-exempt bonds the state distributes. The Public Authorities Control Board, made up of one appointee each from the Governor and legislative leaders, would have the ability to veto individual affordable housing projects. Cuomo touted the plan as lending transparency to the process, but contractors, housing advocates, Mayor de Blasio, and others expressed significant worry it would lead to instability, uncertainty, and delay to badly-needed affordable housing projects.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Assembly:</span> Rejects the plan.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Senate:</span> Rejects the plan.</p> <p>De Blasio appeared buoyed when asked about both chambers rejecting the plan. "I think in the democratic system that's a rather striking statement," the mayor told reporters on Monday afternoon. "We said from the beginning that we thought this would make it harder to create affordable housing, and would slow the process down. It's quite clear the Senate and the Assembly agree, and we appreciate their support and look forward to working with them, because we need to, in fact, speed up the supply of affordable housing, not slow it down."</p> <p><strong>Construction Takeover</strong><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Cuomo:</span> The governor's budget proposes the creation of "The New York State Design and Construction Corp." that would be given oversight of public construction projects worth over $50 million. The DCC would be a subsidiary of the state's Dormitory Authority and would be headed by three commissioners, all appointed by the governor. Budget watchdogs and legislators see the plan as a power grab designed to give the Governor say in major construction projects headed by independent agencies such as the MTA.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Assembly:</span> Rejects the plan.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Senate:</span> Rejects the plan.</p> <p><strong>MTA Funding</strong><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Cuomo:</span> The governor's plan technically provides $8.3 billion in funding for the MTA capital plan, per an earlier commitment Cuomo made in striking a deal with de Blasio over plugging a funding gap. However, the governor's budget only appropriates $1 billion for the MTA this year and puts off the rest of the funding until the MTA exhausts its current resources.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Assembly:</span> Rejecting Cuomo's condition that the MTA exhausts its current funding first, <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/Reports/WAM/20160314/2016_budget_summary.pdf" target="_blank">the Assembly plan</a> appropriates the remaining $7.3 billion Cuomo's plan puts off.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Senate:</span> Accepting most of Cuomo's funding plan, the Senate requires the state to provide $3.5 billion in additional funding to the Department of Transportation Capital Plan.</p> <p><strong>Tenant Protection Unit</strong><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Cuomo:</span> The governor's budget recommends $4.4 million in funding for the agency he credits with restoring 50,000 units to the affordable housing rolls.&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Assembly:</span> Provides a $5.8 million appropriation for the unit.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Senate:</span> Denies funding for the unit.</p> <p><strong>Next Steps</strong><br />On Tuesday, the two houses of the Legislature convened a joint hearing to kick off the formal conference committee process whereby representatives of each house meet to hash out the differences in their plans. Leadership announced committee hearings on public protection, mental hygiene, higher education, general government, environment and housing, transportation, economic development, human services/labor, and education all to take place throughout the day on Wednesday.</p> <p>Cuomo, Heastie, and Flanagan are also expected to pick up their closed-door negotiations with the deadline for a final budget being April 1. When the state budget is decided, de Blasio will then have to weigh its impact on his budget negotiations with the City Council, with a final city budget due at the end of June.</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>