Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/786 Tue, 12 Dec 2017 23:51:26 +0000 en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) State Budget Agreement: By the Numbers http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6257:state-budget-agreement-by-the-numbers http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6257:state-budget-agreement-by-the-numbers cuomo budget deal 17

Gov. Cuomo outlines the budget agreement (photo via The Governor's Office)


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.

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."

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).

"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."

The state budget agreement by the numbers:

8:30 p.m: scheduled time of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's announcement of a budget deal; 3.5 hours before the start of the new fiscal year.

$147 billion: estimated size of the state budget.

0: legislative leaders present at Cuomo's budget announcement.

0: 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.

4: men who controlled budget negotiations (Cuomo, Flanagan, Heastie, and Klein).

3: budget bills introduced to both houses to be voted on before a deal was actually announced.

3 p.m: time the Assembly started debating the first budget bill, without a deal announced.

4 p.m: time the Senate began debating its first budget bill, without a deal announced.

6: budget bills left to vote on after a budget deal was announced.

12/31/2018: date New York City will see its minimum wage hit $15 per hour for businesses with more than ten employees.

12/31/2019: date New York City will see its minimum wage hit $15 per hour for businesses with ten or fewer employees.

12/31/2021: date Long Island and Westchester County will see the minimum wage hit $15 per hour.

$12.50: 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.

6: 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.)

2: years in a row the state budget has been voted through after the March 31 midnight deadline and thus technically "late."

6.5%: increase in school aid, which totals $24.8 billion.

$240: increase in per pupil aid for charter schools.

12 weeks: length of new New York paid family leave benefit, for paid time off to care for a new child or ailing relative.

2018: year paid family leave will begin in New York

50% 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.

6: months workers will have to have worked at a job before being eligible for New York's paid family leave.

$26.6 billion: amount the budget includes for capital facilities operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

$1.5 billion: marked for phase II of the Second Avenue Subway.

63: 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.

Not in the Budget
$485 million previously proposed cost shift to New York City for CUNY funding.

$250 million Medicaid cost shift to New York City.

A plan to replace the 421-a property tax credit used by New York City to entice developers to include affordable housing in their developments.

$240 million initially sought by the Cuomo administration to give CUNY staff retroactive raises.

0 criminal justice proposals from the executive budget included in the final budget.

0 ethics reforms.

[Related: Everyone Agrees Albany Needs Ethics Reform, Except the People Who Matter Most]

[Related: For State Budget, Leaders Choose 'On Time' Over Open]

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

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State Budget Agreement: By the Numbers Fri, 01 Apr 2016 02:17:24 +0000
De Blasio Concerned with Lack of Clarity as State Budget Deadline Nears http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6248:de-blasio-concerned-with-lack-of-clarity-as-state-budget-deadline-nears http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6248:de-blasio-concerned-with-lack-of-clarity-as-state-budget-deadline-nears de blasio on phone we don't know with who

De Blasio (photo: Rob Bennett/Mayoral Photography Office)


 

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.

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.

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."

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.

"I spoke to the governor this morning, and I still don't have real answers," de Blasio said Monday. "There's no budget language."

Cuomo's Executive Budget, unveiled in January, 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.

"[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."

"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.

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.

Cuomo, who vowed to clean up Albany and has not been able to, unveiled an aggressive ethics reform plan 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.

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.

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.

"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."

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."

A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo declined to comment in response to de Blasio.

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.

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, the Senate announced it would be calling de Blasio to testify at two May hearings on his education leadership.

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 one of the key sources of tension between de Blasio and Cuomo.

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.

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."

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.

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 said 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.

"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."

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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De Blasio Concerned with Lack of Clarity as State Budget Deadline Nears Tue, 29 Mar 2016 04:21:50 +0000
New York City Interests Given Varied Priority in Three Albany Budget Plans http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6226:new-york-city-interests-given-varied-priority-in-three-albany-budget-plans http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6226:new-york-city-interests-given-varied-priority-in-three-albany-budget-plans de blasio heastie albany

De Blasio & Heastie (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Mayoral Control of Schools
Cuomo: 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.)

Assembly: 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.

Senate: While addressing the chamber before the vote on its one-house budget 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.

"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."

CUNY and Medicaid Cost Shifts
Cuomo: 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.

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.

Assembly: 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.

Senate: 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.

"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."

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.

"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."

Tax-Exempt Affordable Housing Bonds
Cuomo: 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.

Assembly: Rejects the plan.

Senate: Rejects the plan.

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."

Construction Takeover
Cuomo: 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.

Assembly: Rejects the plan.

Senate: Rejects the plan.

MTA Funding
Cuomo: 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.

Assembly: Rejecting Cuomo's condition that the MTA exhausts its current funding first, the Assembly plan appropriates the remaining $7.3 billion Cuomo's plan puts off.

Senate: 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.

Tenant Protection Unit
Cuomo: 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. 

Assembly: Provides a $5.8 million appropriation for the unit.

Senate: Denies funding for the unit.

Next Steps
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.

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.

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

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New York City Interests Given Varied Priority in Three Albany Budget Plans Tue, 15 Mar 2016 22:33:16 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, January 18 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6096:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-january-18 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6096:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-january-18 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo released his Executive Budget for fiscal year 2017, which, for the state, begins April 1. It was not without controversy for the city, with Cuomo including significant cuts to state aid for city Medicaid and CUNY costs. Mayor Bill de Blasio and others from the city pushed back quickly and firmly, and the governor seemed to indicate that he was ready to work with the mayor and others to find efficiencies in the two programs in order to save money, rather than simply moving costs to the city.

This week, it's de Blasio's turn. The mayor is due to release his Preliminary Budget for FY17 on Thursday. It will be especially interesting to see how the mayor accounts for the Medicaid and CUNY aspects of Cuomo's budget. Also, many are watching to see if the mayor calls for clearer savings from his agencies - a majority of City Council members sent the mayor a letter recently, asking him to ask his commissioners to identify five percent savings. The city budget has grown significantly over the past two years, in part due to labor contracts the mayor has signed - he inherited a labor situation with none of the city's labor unions under non-expired contract.

The state legislature is in session on Wednesday and Thursday in Albany, beginning budget hearings on the governor's budget. And, on Wednesday, the legislature will consider the governor's nominee to fill the vacancy for the state's chief judge. Details below.

In the city, we're watching reaction to the announcement of a deal on Central Park carriage horses, announced Sunday evening; what the next steps are related to the for-hire vehicle study the city released Friday, as well as the related legislative package the City Council announced, and more. We also saw on Friday the expiration of the 421-a real estate development tax break meant to spur affodable housing. What's next there is also to be seen.

As always, there's a great deal happening all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.

***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?
E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max: bmax@gothamgazette.com***

The run of the week in detail:

Monday
Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There are commemorative events all over the city and many elected officials are either holding events or participating in them.

Mayor de Blasio is speaking at three Martin Luther King Jr. Day events Monday, per his public schedule:

  • At 11 a.m. Monday at BAM in Brooklyn, "Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray will deliver remarks at the 30th Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." (after which the mayor will speak with members of the media)
  • At 2:45 p.m., "the Mayor will deliver remarks at the National Action Network's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Policy Forum in Manhattan."
  • "In the evening, the Mayor will deliver remarks at the St. Mary's Episcopal Church's Community Celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day."

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will also speak at the BAM event, at 10:30 a.m. She will then speak at Convent Avenue Baptist Church's Martin Luther King Day service at 11:30, and at the National Action Network event at 1:15 p.m.

Public Advocate Letitia James has nine Martin Luther King Jr. Day events on her schedule, including the BAM and NAN events mentioned above. Comptroller Scott Stringer has several MLK Day events on his schedule, too.

Gov. Cuomo will be honored at NAN, according to the governor's public schedule, on Monday at 3 p.m., "Governor Cuomo Delivers Remarks and Receives the "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Crusader for Social Justice Award" at the National Action Network's Annual NY King Day Public Policy Forum." After the event, "the Governor will join the National Action Network in a "Fight for Fair Pay" march."

Tuesday
At the City Council on Tuesday:

  • At 10 a.m., the Committee on Finance will meet on three bills related to business improvement districts, one bill that would "require the Department of Finance to include a notice regarding legal and preferential rents on certain documents related to the NYC Rent Freeze Program" and a resolution to approve designation changes in its expense budget.
  • At 1:30 p.m., the Council will have a Stated Meeting. It will be prefaced, as usual, by the Speaker's pre-stated press conference at 12:30.

Prior to the stated meeting, at 10 a.m., "elected officials, labor and community leaders will gather on the steps of New York City Hall to rally in anticipation of a vote on the Grocery Worker Retention Act (GWRA). The GWRA (Int 632-2015) provides for a ninety day transition period to eligible employees following a change in ownership of a grocery store." This will be led by "Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Council Progressive Caucus members, RWDSU, RWDSU 338, UFCW 1500, other elected officials, labor and community leaders, and more." [Read: City Council Considers Regulating Grocery Personnel Decisions]

At 10 a.m. in the John Adams Houses projects in the Bronx, New York City Housing Authority CEO and Chair Shola Olatoye is expected to announce "the completion of major CCTV installation and ongoing security upgrades at 32 NYCHA developments citywide."

At 11 a.m. at the Razi School in Queens, "Mayor de Blasio will host a press conference to make an announcement related to Vision Zero."

At 11:30 a.m. outside City Hall, "Wheelchair advocates and taxi drivers will join together...in a first-of-its-kind rally aimed at forcing the City Council to act and leveling the playing field for all sectors of the taxi and for-hire industries...Uber now has over 30,000 vehicles in the city, but not a single one is wheelchair accessible. Uber's growth has also driven down medallion values, poached drivers from the taxi industry, and reduced taxi-generated MTA revenue by displacing existing taxi pickups."

On Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. a large number of community groups will organize representatives outside U.S. Attorney Preet Bharar's office, where "Youth speakout to demand Preet Bharara & DOJ prioritize justice in killing of Ramarley Graham and protection of Black & Brown young people's lives." The action is being led by Communities United for Police Reform.

At 6:30 p.m., the Museum of the City of New York is hosting a panel called "Housing a Growing City," featuring City Council Member Ritchie Torres, Department of City Planning Executive Director Purnima Kapur, Citizens Housing and Planning Council Executive Director Sarah Watson and Seema Agnani and National CAPACD's director of policy and civic engagement. The panel will be moderated by Ingrid Gould Ellen, NYU professor and the director of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy.

Wednesday
At the City Council on Wednesday:

  • At 10 a.m., the Committees on Fire and Criminal Justice Services and Parks and Recreation will meet for an oversight hearing to examine Hart Island's future and to introduce a bill that would give the Department of Parks and Recreation jurisdiction over the island, which is currently controlled by the corrections department.
  • At 1 p.m., the Committee on Youth Services will have an oversight hearing to discuss "Connecting Young People to Volunteer Opportunities".

The New York state legislature is in session on Wednesday, and will also have three hearings in Albany, including the first joint budget hearing on Governor Cuomo's recently unveiled Executive Budget for fiscal year 2017:

  • At 9:30 a.m., a joint legislative public hearing on the governor's 2016-2017 budget proposal on transportation.
  • At 11 a.m., a joint hearing by the Assembly Standing Committees on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions and Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry will be held about "Providing Affordable and High Quality Cable, Broadband, and Telephone Service".
  • At 1 p.m., the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing about the appointment of Gov. Cuomo's nominee for Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore.

The City Planning Commission will discuss several items during a public meeting at 22 Reade Street at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the Panel for Educational Policy will meet at the Taft Educational Campus in the Bronx. The panel is set to vote on the DOE Community Schools Policy, "proposals for significant changes in school utilization" and Chancellor's Regulations amendments and proposed contracts.

Thursday
The New York state legislature is in session on Thursday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver his preliminary fiscal year 2017 budget on Thursday. Later on Thursday, de Blasio will head to Washington, D.C. for the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter gathering. He's set to speak at a Friday plenary and then head back to New York City.

Queens Borough president Melinda Katz will will deliver the State of the Borough address at Queens College's Colden Auditorium at 10 a.m.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, there will be a press conference held by state legislators, health professionals, advocates and educators about the Mental Health First Aid bill sponsored by State Senator Jesse Hamilton, at the Legislative Office building in Albany.

At the City Council on Thursday: At 1 p.m., the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency will meet to introduce a bill to absolve criminal and civil penalties for owners of buildings with code violations that were created in response to natural disaster, and a bill with the same function for building owners waiting for repairs from a city disaster recovery program that also requires that the city refund them of fines paid for these penalties.

At 6:30 p.m., Representative Hakeem Jeffries will give his State of the District address at Long Island University's Paramount Theatre.

Friday and the weekend
Mayor de Blasio will speak Friday at the U.S. Conference of Mayors gathering in Washington, D.C.

Success Academy Charter Schools CEO Eva Moskowitz will speak at a CityLaw breakfast at 8:15 a.m on Friday at New York Law School.

On Friday at 9 a.m., the Urban Justice Center will host a policy briefing. The Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision and the Coalition for Community Advancement in Cypress Hills/East New York will discuss the community plans, which are alternatives to the de Blasio’s administration’s plans.

At the City Council on Friday: at 10 a.m., the Committees on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations and Juvenile Justice will discuss “Cultural Non-Profits in the New York City Juvenile Justice System” in a joint oversight hearing.

At the New York State Legislature Friday: at 1 p.m., the Assembly Standing Committee on Real Property Taxation will have a public hearing about the real property tax system of New York City.

At 4 p.m. on Saturday, Assemblymember Michael Blake will deliver his State of the District address at Dreamyard in the Bronx on Saturday.

The second public workshop on Inwood’s neighborhood rezoning will be held by Community Board 12, the Department of City Planning, and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez at J.H.S. 52 on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

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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: bmax@gothamgazette.com (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

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by Ryan Brady and Ben Max
@GothamGazette

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The Week Ahead in New York Politics, January 18 Mon, 18 Jan 2016 00:38:21 +0000
A New York New Year's Resolution: End the AIDS Epidemic http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6071:a-new-york-new-years-resolution-end-the-aids-epidemic http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6071:a-new-york-new-years-resolution-end-the-aids-epidemic Cuomo AIDS Day

Gov. Cuomo (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)


The year 2016 could go down in history as the pivotal year in New York's fight against HIV/AIDS. Nearly 35 years after The New York Times reported the first cases of what would later be recognized as AIDS, New York State is poised to become the first jurisdiction in the world to end its HIV epidemic, even without a cure, by stopping new infections and ending AIDS deaths.

Thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo's leadership, New York State has developed a viable plan that, if fully funded and implemented, will end our AIDS epidemic by the year 2020, and can become a blueprint for all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Now, for the plan to succeed, every New York community must match Governor Cuomo's commitment with renewed energy, support, and action.

Governor Cuomo launched New York's Ending the Epidemic initiative in 2014 by announcing a three-point plan to expand HIV testing, treatment, and prevention to decrease new HIV infections from 3,000 a year in 2013 to less than 750 by 2020. He pointed out that we have the tools: Current antiretroviral medications can keep HIV-positive persons healthy and stop ongoing transmission of the virus, and, when taken as prevention, they can protect those at highest risk of HIV infection.

We now must work to remove barriers to treatment and prevention so all New Yorkers can benefit equally from these advances. These obstacles are also linked to social disparities, including lack of access to health insurance and linkage to care for mental health and substance use, secure housing, and employment opportunities, making it challenging for those living with HIV to receive and sustain treatment.

In April 2015, Gov. Cuomo endorsed the Ending the Epidemic Blueprint, consisting of 30 recommendations to achieve the governor's goals as well as seven "getting to zero" recommendations to reach zero new HIV infections, stigma, and AIDS deaths by 2020. I was proud to be a member of the task force of experts from around New York State that created the blueprint.

Just last month, the Governor made history again by pledging to include $200 million in additional state funding in his executive budget to fully implement blueprint recommendations.

Gov. Cuomo's budget commitment could go a long way to support our efforts to end HIV/AIDS here in New York City, allowing for expanded housing, transportation, and other critical services for our most vulnerable New Yorkers with HIV, as well as treatment and prevention strategies targeted to reach and retain those most in need. Amida Care serves people with HIV every day, and with stable housing and affordable care, our community members can live long and full lives.

We also know that better access to new prevention tools—including PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a daily pill that involves the use of anti-retroviral medication to prevent HIV transmission— has been shown to be over 90 percent effective.

At Amida Care, the largest Medicaid special-needs health plan (SNP) in New York State, we have demonstrated the power of providing holistic, accessible HIV and AIDS treatment and care to underserved and often overlooked communities. Amida Care is one of five Medicaid managed care plans selected to participate in Gov. Cuomo's new $2.5 million pilot program to bring 6,000 HIV positive patients into care and provide support to achieve viral suppression.

Through our specialized model of care, we have already achieved a viral suppression rate approaching 75 percent among our HIV-positive members. Successes like these save lives and produce much-needed long-term health care savings. But we must continue to push further to end the AIDS epidemic.

It is crucial to ensure that Governor Cuomo's new $200 million allocation to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York is fully supported in the final budget passed by the State Assembly and Senate. This wise public investment will improve HIV health outcomes and prevent thousands of new infections, saving both lives and billions of dollars in avoided health care costs.

With the governor's budget commitment, we will have the tools, a blueprint, and the resources needed to end our AIDS epidemic. The rest is up to us.

There is much work to be done in 2016. But together, by following the governor's leadership and continuing to take action, we can achieve an AIDS-free New York by 2020.

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Doug Wirth is the president and CEO of Amida Care, a not-for-profit health plan that specializes in providing comprehensive health coverage and coordinated care to New Yorkers with chronic conditions, including HIV and behavioral health disorders.

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A New York New Year's Resolution: End the AIDS Epidemic Thu, 07 Jan 2016 21:07:32 +0000
Amid Federal Brinksmanship, New York City Officials Redouble Support for Planned Parenthood http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5917:amid-federal-brinksmanship-new-york-city-officials-redouble-support-for-planned-parenthood http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5917:amid-federal-brinksmanship-new-york-city-officials-redouble-support-for-planned-parenthood Chirlane PP

NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray at a Planned Parenthood rally (photo: @Chirlane) 


In the face of federal debate and brinksmanship over funding for Planned Parenthood, many in New York City have doubled down on support for the women's health care organization.

In the past month, the city has seen the opening of a Planned Parenthood health center in Queens (expanding the organization's presence into all five boroughs), two large rallies during which numerous elected officials championed the importance of Planned Parenthood’s health care services, and one leading Assembly Democrat calling for the state to boost its financial support for the clinics if conservatives in Congress were to cut off the organization's federal funding.

“The attacks against Planned Parenthood, we all know, are attacks against women and, in particular, low-income women and women of color who rely on Planned Parenthood for vital services - medical services that are comprehensive,” City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said at a large rally in Manhattan Tuesday. The speaker and others rallied in support of Planned Parenthood, repeatedly attacking conservative Republicans for their efforts to defund the organization.

The city government’s strong support for Planned Parenthood, seen at Tuesday’s rally, which featured several elected officials, and in budget dollars that go toward supporting the organization, help cement New York City’s national reputation as a liberal capital.

On Wednesday, Congress avoided a government shutdown by passing a temporary spending bill that will keep federal agencies operating through December 11. The threat of a potential shutdown over funding of Planned Parenthood loomed for weeks, spurred by the release of secretly filmed videos this summer which showed Planned Parenthood officials casually discussing the preservation of fetal tissue for medical research.

The Center for Medical Progress, the anti-abortion group that filmed the videos, claims that they show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the illegal sale of aborted fetal tissue. The videos have prompted an ongoing investigation by Congress into Planned Parenthood’s practice of donating fetal tissue for medical research. A forensic analysis of the videos commissioned by Planned Parenthood found evidence of manipulation, "intentionally deceptive edits, missing footage, and inaccurately transcribed conversations," according to Politico, which obtained a copy of the report.

Four states - Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Utah - have ordered state agencies to cut off federal funding to local Planned Parenthood chapters, leading those branches to file lawsuits. According to the Associated Press, in court documents, the Utah branch said the governor's decision to cut off funding is based solely on unproven allegations that took place in other states, by other arms of the national group.

New York City government sends approximately $850,000 a year to the city’s central Planned Parenthood branch in the forms of various grants, namely for health care services and sex education, according to an official from PPNYC. The city also allocates capital awards to Planned Parenthood each year, which have ranged from $75,000 to $400,000.

Speaking about the services that Planned Parenthood provides for New York City residents, PPNYC CEO Joan Malin told Gotham Gazette, “Roughly 85 percent of our services are preventative care - birth control, cancer screenings, HIV testing, STI testing, annual exams - we do the full range of reproductive health care services for women and men.”

Malin explained that Planned Parenthood New York’s funding comes from a combination of “private donors, public funding from the city, state, and federal government,” and an endowment, “but for our patient services, we rely overwhelmingly on Medicaid and Title X family-planning grants, which allows us to provide services for anyone who needs our care regardless of their ability to pay. Out of a $44 million budget, $9 million is federal funding. If that were to go away we would be sorely challenged to continue to provide our services."

Mark-Viverito, joined on stage at Tuesday’s “Pink Out NYC” rally by fellow Council Members Helen Rosenthal and Brad Lander, said, "We are proud as Council members to ensure that we direct your taxpayer dollars and invest your taxpayer dollars in Planned Parenthood, to make sure that they are able to provide vital services throughout the City of New York. We expect the federal government to continue to do the same thing."

The rally on Tuesday in lower Manhattan was one of nearly 300 events held in 90 cities across the country in support of Planned Parenthood’s work, organized as negotiations continued in Washington, D.C.

"Congress should be ashamed!" New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray shouted to the crowd of some 500 pink-clad supporters, just hours before it was announced that government funding would be extended until mid-December. "Congress should be ashamed to punish women who have no other health care options. I know firsthand that Planned Parenthood provides excellent services!"

McCray continued, “Planned Parenthood provides services to "2.7 million women, men, and young people....Did you realize that? We need Planned Parenthood and we will not allow the funding to be taken away!"

McCray, Mark-Viverito, Rosenthal, and Lander were joined at the rally by Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and state Senators Daniel Squadron and Liz Krueger.

"Our bodies will not be used as an organizing strategy for the right," Public Advocate James shouted, eliciting cheers from the crowd. "This is nothing more than a distraction from the issues that we care about — a need to educate girls, a need to end income inequality, and a need to end poverty in this country."

James pointed out that the bulk of services Planned Parenthood provides have nothing to do with abortion, despite the national conversation being focused on the abortion issue. "Let me tell you the facts,” James said, “80 percent of Planned Parenthood clients receive services to prevent unintended pregnancies. Planned Parenthood provides nearly 400,000 pap smears, and 500,000 breast exams every year. These tests detect life-threatening cancers. Planned Parenthood provides nearly 4.5 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections and diseases, and Planned Parenthood educates and provides outreach to 1.5 million young people."

On Thursday, Council Member Laurie Cumbo, who chairs the Council’s Committee on Women’s Issues, emailed Gotham Gazette to call Planned Parenthood of New York City a long-time “staunch advocate, educator, and provider of reproductive health care to 50,000 patients annually.” PPNYC “has received funding from the New York City Council to expand services to support family planning, curb teen pregnancy and STDs through education.”

When asked what might happen next for Planned Parenthood, even with a temporary compromise in Washington, PPNYC CEO Malin replied, "This issue is going to remain in the public discussion, unfortunately. As all of our speakers said, there are so many issues that we need to be talking about - greater access to health care, immigrant reform, Black Lives Matter - there's so many issues we need to be talking about. Focusing on reproductive health care is important, but the way [opponents are] talking about it is a distraction. I would say that that distraction is going to continue throughout this election, and Republicans are going to look for ways to keep this issue at the forefront."

Not all Republicans are looking to keep the issue of defunding Planned Parenthood in the spotlight, however. Republican strategist and president of Somm Consulting, Evan Siegfried, told Gotham Gazette, “Until we know what the facts are, the calls to defund are premature.”

Congressional investigation is ongoing, and as analysis of the incendiary videos showed the footage had been drastically altered, Planned Parenthood Federation of America CEO Cecile Richards testified before Congress just this Tuesday. Richards defended the $450 million in federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood, explaining that 87 percent of it comes from Medicaid and Title X family planning monies. “We, like other Medicaid providers, we are reimbursed directly for services provided,” she said.

“No federal funds pay for abortion services, except in the very limited circumstances allowed by law. These are when the woman has been raped, has been the victim of incest, or when her life is endangered,” Richards explained (abortions account for just three percent of Planned Parenthood’s services nationally, according to the organization’s most recent report).

Hard-line conservatives like Texas Senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz are committed to defunding Planned Parenthood to the point that they would rather plot to shut down the government than allow the organization to continue its work through federal funding.

Cruz recently decried the state of his divided party, saying that the more socially liberal Republicans, specifically the “New York billionaire” donors who insist candidates are pro-choice, hate the base and hold the party back from really fighting on key social issues. It’s part of the intra-Republican conflict that led to House Speaker John Boehner’s recent resignation announcement.

Speaking anonymously with Gotham Gazette, New York Republicans have indeed expressed frustration with the far right wing of their party, with one saying it is “on a crazy quest that will kill [Republicans] with the swing voters in 2016.”

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by Meg O'Connor, Gotham Gazette
@MegOConnor13
@GothamGazette

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Amid Federal Brinksmanship, New York City Officials Redouble Support for Planned Parenthood Thu, 01 Oct 2015 22:24:31 +0000