Gotham Gazette Mon, 23 Apr 2018 23:08:12 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb (Webmaster) The Week Ahead in New York Politics, April 16 New York City Hall

New York City Hall

What to watch for this week in New York politics:

The week begins with the New York political world fixated on the race for Governor after the Working Families Party endorsed Cynthia Nixon on Saturday. The WFP also endorsed City Council Member Jumaane Williams for Lieutenant Governor. Both Nixon and Williams are also running in their respective Democratic primaries, hoping to unseat Governor Andrew Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.

The WFP endorsements came as the party itself was further fracturing, with Cuomo pulling labor unions from the party and the remaining progressive activists and advocacy groups sticking with the relatively small but influential group, and backing Nixon over Cuomo as she runs to the governor’s left on virtually every issue. Nixon and Williams will now have the WFP ballot line for the general election, but the backing of the party and its members and member organizations are certain to boost their candidacies in the Democratic primary. It is unclear what further steps Cuomo and his allies will take to weaken the WFP and its chosen candidates, but the intra-Democratic party war is escalating.

The fallout from and analysis of these latest developments will headline at least the start of the week, also adding pressure on Democratic elected officials to choose between Cuomo and Nixon, as many have been hesitant to do so far. Added attention will come as state legislators return to Albany for three session days this week after the annual post-budget break. There are under two months until the end of the legislative session, and exactly 30 scheduled session days for legislative business in the capital. The return to session will also see the latest developments in the return of the Senate Independent Democratic Conference to the mainline Democratic fold.

That session will also be influenced by the outcomes of the special elections set to take place on Tuesday, April 24 -- one week from this Tuesday. There are 11 Assembly and Senate vacancies being filled, but the key race to watch is the state Senate race in Westchester.

There’s clearly a great deal of intrigue in Albany and state government and politics more broadly. There will also of course be action in New York City, where there are several City Council hearings to be aware of this week, even as Speaker Corey Johnson and a delegation of Council members continues a trip to Israel -- they return this coming weekend.

As always, there are a variety of events to be aware of - see 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:***

The run of the week in detail:

At the City Council on Monday:
--The Committees on Health and Parks & Recreation will meet jointly at 10 a.m. to discuss a proposed law “requiring defibrillators at softball fields where youth leagues play.”
--The Committee on Justice System will meet at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “investigations and prosecutions of low wage theft.”

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Monday in Albany, returning from the post-budget recess.

At 8:30 a.m. Monday, "NYIT, the University Transportation Research Center, NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, Windels Marx, The City College of New York, and the New York City Council will host a symposium to discuss "Steps and Strides Towards A Sustainable Future", and the policies and evidence-based planning needed to use greener transportation. The event kicks off the week of Car Free Day which will take place on Saturday, April 21st."

At 10:30 a.m. Monday, city schools "Chancellor Richard A. Carranza will visit a STEAM lab and a dance class at P.S. 376 in Brooklyn." In the afternoon, he will meet with students and parents at town hall events: at 4 p.m. and at 5:30 p.m. at Brooklyn Technical High School.

At noon Monday, advocates and elected officials will gather on the steps of City Hall to “speak out against very bad and concerning practices of the Board of Elections,” particularly regarding voter suppression. The rally is being led by The Black Institute.

At 12:30 p.m. Monday at the state Capitol in Albany, ""Seven prominent watchdog groups call for action on corruption in state government." Participants include: Citizens Budget Commission, Citizens Union, Common Cause NY, Fiscal Policy Institute, League of Women Voters NY State, New York Public Interest Group, and Reinvent Albany.

At 6 p.m. Monday Public Advocate Letitia James will deliver remarks at the Brooklyn Women's Bar Association and Brooklyn Law School Panel Discussion on Women's Suffrage, at Brooklyn Law School. At 7:45 p.m., James will deliver remarks at the 77th Precinct Community Council Gala, Milk River Restaurant in Brooklyn.

At 6:30 p.m. Monday, City Council Member Carlos Menchaca and the Consulate General of Mexico will host a welcome ceremony for new Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza at Sunset Park High School in Brooklyn.

On Monday, Mayor de Blasio will make his weekly appearance on NY1’s Inside City Hall in the 7 and 11 p.m. hours.

On Monday “at 7:00 PM, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams will join the family and friends of 26-year-old Brandy Odom in marking a week since her body was discovered in Canarsie Park, having been the victim of a brutal murder. In remembrance of her life, and to keep attention on her still-unsolved slaughter, they will drape a memorial ribbon over several blocks of the park's fence, while urging the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to step up their efforts in apprehending her at-large killer.”

A"Governor Cuomo is in Suffolk County, Westchester County, and Albany" on Tuesday. At 10 a.m. he'll make an announcement at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park. At noon, he'll make an announcement at Teamsters Local 456 in Elmsford.

At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Mayor "de Blasio will visit Bushwick Houses. Immediately after, the Mayor will make an announcement concerning rat abatement. This event is open press. There will be Q-and-A."

At the City Council on Tuesday:
--The Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet at 9:30 a.m.
--The Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime Uses will meet at noon to discuss proposed laws relating to “approval of cemetery uses on land acquired in Queens before 1973” and to “authorizing the Landmarks Preservation Commission to administer a historic preservation grant program.”
--The Committee on Cultural Affairs will meet at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “#MeToo and culture & the arts.”
--The Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions, and Concessions will meet at 2 p.m.

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Tuesday in Albany.

At 8 a.m. Tuesday, "By order of Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYC Parks will remove the monument to Dr. James Marion Sims. This order was given following the recommendations of the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers. Plans are being developed to commission a new work at this site. A temporary sign will be placed at the site tomorrow following removal."

The State Supreme Court will hold a hearing Monday on NYCHA tenants’ demands for a preliminary injunction enforcing NYCHA to conduct new lead paint inspections. At 8:45 a.m., Danny Barber, the Chair of the Citywide Council of Presidents, Elie Hecht of At-Risk Community Services, and attorney Jim Walden will hold a press conference preceding the hearing. [Listen to Barber and Hecht explain their lawsuit and discuss issues with NYCHA on a recent episode of the Max & Murphy podcast]

"On Tuesday, April 17, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) will hold a public hearing on the proposed designation of the Coney Island (Riegelman) Boardwalk as a scenic landmark, and the proposed Central Harlem West 130-132nd Street Historic District."

At 9 a.m. Tuesday, the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy will host “New York State Single-Payer Healthcare? Economics, Politics, and Prospects” at the CUNY School of Public Health, discussing the prospects of single payer healthcare in New York State. Panelists will include City Council Health Committee Chair Mark Levine, economist Gerald Friedman, Marissa Martin of Young Invincibles, and registered nurses Marva Wade and Kim Behrens.

At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, the New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy will rally at Bronx Borough Hall to protest Mayor de Blasio's “proposed cuts to English and other adult literacy programs in the City Budget.”

At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Albany, "tenants and legislators will rally "to demand stronger rent laws." Participants will include Senator Jose Serrano, Senator Liz Kruger, Senator Gustavo Rivera, Senator Brian Benjamin, and Senator Brad Hoylman; The Real Rent Reform Campaign including Met Council on Housing, Woodside on the Move, Catholic Migration Services, Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Fifth Ave Committee, Northwest Bronx Community Clergy Coalition, Chhaya CDC. They want the senate to pass three bills: End the Preferential Rent Scam (S.6527); Repeal the Vacancy Bonus (S.1593); Repeal Vacancy Destabilization (S.3482).

At 11 a.m. Tuesday, outside New York State Supreme Court, "Public Advocate James will make an announcement related to the legalization of marijuana in New York. She will be joined by elected officials and advocates" including City Council Members Antonio Reynoso and Donovan Richards; Brooklyn Defenders; Drug Policy Alliance; Latino Justice; Law Enforcement Action Partnership; Legal Aid Society; National Action Network; New York Cannabis Bar Association.

On Tuesday at noon, "New York elected officials and three of CUNYs Latin@s Studies institutes, along with other partners, will release the "Latinos United in Action - New York Latin@s" Report and announce the second annual Summit on Latinos to be held on June 1st, 2018."

At the City Council on Wednesday:
--The Committees on Land Use, Finance, and Education will meet jointly at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing reviewing the recent Council report “Planning to Learn: The School Building Challenge,” to discuss several proposed laws relating to school sitings and land use for education, and to discuss two resolutions: the first one calling on the state to confer the city with broad design-build authority for all capital projects, and the second calling upon the School Construction Authority “to more clearly communicate to the general public how city residents can submit potential school sites and the guidelines used by the School Construction Authority in considering whether a suggested school site meets the evaluation standards used by the authority.”
--The Committee on Economic Development will meet at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “modifying helicopter routes to reduce noise over residential neighborhoods,” to discuss a proposed law relating to “an annual helicopter sightseeing plan,” and to discuss a resolution “calling on the Federal Aviation Administration to amend the North Shore helicopter route to extend further west to cover Northeast Queens.”
--The Committee on Technology will meet at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding LinkNYC.
--The Committees on Justice System and Juvenile Justice will meet jointly at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “NYC’s preparedness to Raise the Age.”

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Wednesday in Albany.

Between Wednesday and Sunday, the National Action Network and the Rev. Al Sharpton will be hosting its annual National Convention at the Sheraton Hotel in Times Square. Speakers will include numerous “influencers” from all walks of civic life. Speakers include U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren; U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other representatives; numerous advocacy leaders; local politicians such as First Lady Chirlane McCray, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, and City Comptroller Scott Stringer; and many others. See event website for specific days and times of appearances.

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Mayor de Blasio will hold a town hall meeting at the Bronx School of Law, Government & Justice in Concourse Village. He will be joined by Council Member Vanessa Gibson, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr, and Assemblymembers Michael Blake and Latoya Joyner.

At the City Council on Thursday:
--The Committee on Land Use will meet at 11 a.m.

At 9 a.m. Thursday, City & State will host the “Healthy New York Summit” at the National Geographic Encounter in Midtown. The event will bring “insights and perspectives from all sectors of New York’s health care decision-making together to identify challenges and discuss solutions to improve our system.” Speakers will include politicians, government officials, academics, advocates, and business leaders.

On Thursday at 10 a.m. at City Hall, "Noting the devastating death of Saheed Vassell last week in Brooklyn, the Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council, Community Access, and Communities for Crisis Intervention Teams in NYC (CCITNYC) coalition will call on the Administration revive the Mayoral Task Force on Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice, which will be empowered to help create a sustained city-wide approach to emotionally distressed persons and the ongoing mental health crisis New York City faces. The Caucus and its allies are also calling for the City to create a new system where social workers or well-trained 911 call operators divert 911 calls to social workers or therapists or trained peers instead of police response; greatly expand mobile crisis teams who can respond within 30 minutes of a call; build a large system of co-response teams who can respond to 911 calls; and build a system where trained peers or therapist can meet police at the scene of 911 calls."

At 10:30 a.m. Thursday, "The City’s Charter Revision Commission will hold its first public meeting on Thursday, April 19 – the first step in the Commission’s process of reviewing the City Charter. This is an organizational meeting and does not include public testimony."

Friday and the weekend
At 9 a.m. Friday, the New York City Board of Correction will meet at 125 Worth Street in Manhattan.

Mayor de Blasio may make his weekly appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show at 10 a.m. on Friday.

Saturday will be the annual "car free" day in New York City.

At 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Mayor de Blasio will appear at the 2018 Inner Circle Show at the New York Hilton Midtown. Inner Circle is a charity fundraiser comedy show hosted by the New York City press corps.

Sunday is Earth Day.

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: (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

by Ben Brachfeld and Ben Max

The Week Ahead in New York Politics, April 16 Sun, 15 Apr 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Cuomo and Legislature Reach Agreement on $168 Billion State Budget Cuomo Mujica David DeRosa

Gov. Cuomo and top aides announce a budget deal (photo: Mike Groll/The Governor's Office)

Governor Andrew Cuomo and his top aides held a press conference late Friday night to announce a deal with the Legislature on a new $168.3 billion state budget for fiscal year 2019, which begins April 1. The announcement came several hours before the final budget bills were voted through both the Senate and Assembly, despite reservations from some lawmakers and another flawed process wherein legislators did not know the full details of what they were voting on and the public had virtually no time for review of the legislative language.

As usual, the state budget devotes significant portions to education aid to localities and Medicaid spending. Education aid is increasing another $1 billion, according to Cuomo's office, for a total of "a record" $26.7 billion, while there are also new requirements for individual school destricts to report how funding is distributed to individual schools.

The budget includes, as the governor's office put it, a new state tax code including measures "protecting taxpayers against federal tax changes." The main pillars of this attempt to circumvent some of the negative effects of the new federal tax code and its $10,000 limit on state and local tax deductibility (SALT) are an optional payroll tax that employers will be able to adopt in lieu of some personal income taxes and state-led charitable entities where individuals will be able to send money for education and health care that they can then deduct from their federal taxes and receive a state tax credit for.

The budget includes new laws to take guns from individuals guilty of domestic abuse and prevent and punish sexual harassment in workplaces, though there are a number of critics of the latter, both in terms of process and outcome. The budget also includes measures related to the MTA, NYCHA, congestion pricing, and development around Penn Staion, wherein the state is excercising some new power in the area, superceding the city's local control.

In a press release, Governor Cuomo said of the budget:

"This budget is a bold blueprint for progressive action that builds on seven years of success and helps New York continue to lead amid a concerted and sustained assault from Washington on our values and principles. We put into place the strongest and most comprehensive anti-sexual harassment protections in the nation, ending once and for all the secrecy and coercive practices that have enabled this unacceptable behavior for far too long.

"New York will also become the first state to implement new measures to shield families from the devastating federal tax law's elimination of full state and local deductibility — an economic arrow aimed at the heart of this state's economy.

"It also protects New York's future with record funding for education, coupled with new reforms that finally ensure transparency and equity in how that funding is distributed.

"This budget also delivers for the most vulnerable among us, including the NYCHA tenants who have had to live with mold, lead and no heat and were placed at risk by a failed bureaucracy, and those who have had to endure the injustice that is Rikers Island."

The budget includes another $250 million allocation for NYCHA, along with new independent monitoring of the authority and other measures through a new executive order from Cuomo. It also includes design-build authority for New York City for three key areas of construction work: reconstructing the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, building new jails to replace Rikers Island facilities, and NYCHA repairs.

There will be new surcharges on taxi and app-based for-hire vehicle rides in the Manhattan central business district, proceeds from which are expected to be over $400 million and will go toward the MTA. Cuomo is calling this a first step toward a fuller congestion pricing plan. The budget includes a mandate forcing New York City to pay half the $836 million Subway Action Plan that Mayor Bill de Blasio had thus far refused to pay.

While it includes a number of policy changes along with key spending decisions, notably, the new budget does not include any voting or election reforms, other than measures to make digital ads more transparent and protect against cyberattacks -- there is no early voting or same-day registration, for example -- nor does the budget include government ethics or campaign finance reforms, with the exception of new sexual harassment-prevention legislation, part of a package that also applies to the private sector. These reform measures, among others like bail reform, were key planks of the governor's agenda that he was not able to move through the Legislature during the budget.

In an initial statement about the budget, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said, "The Governor and Legislature reached an on-time budget agreement amid an uncertain revenue picture and risks to federal aid. Still, there are areas of concern. As in past years, the budget negotiation process was mostly done behind closed doors, leaving the public in the dark about how taxpayer money will be spent. My office will provide a more detailed analysis of the enacted budget in the coming weeks."

Gotham Gazette will provide more coverage of the new state budget in the coming days, but below are portions of the budget announcements from Cuomo's office and those of legislative leaders.

More from Governor Cuomo's Office:

Keeping New York Economically Competitive
Protect New Yorkers from Federal Tax Changes: The recently enacted federal tax law has negative fiscal implications for many New Yorkers. By gutting the deductibility of state and local taxes, the law effectively raises middle class families' property and state income taxes by 20 to 25 percent. New York is fighting back against the federal plan and the loss of both income tax deductibility and property tax deductibility. To combat the assault, the FY 2019 Budget:

Expands Charitable Contributions to Benefit New Yorkers: The FY 2019 Budget creates two new state-operated Charitable Contribution Funds to accept donations for the purposes of improving health care and education in New York. Taxpayers who itemize deductions may claim these charitable contributions as deductions on their Federal and State tax returns. Any taxpayer making a donation may also claim a State tax credit equal to 85 percent of the donation amount for the tax year after the donation is made. In addition, the legislation authorizes school districts and other local governments to create charitable funds. Donations to these funds would provide a reduction in local property taxes (via a local credit) equal to a percentage of the donation.

Creates Alternative Employer Compensation Expense Program: While Federal tax reform eliminated full State and local tax deductibility for individuals, businesses were spared from these limitations. Under the FY 2019 Budget employers would be able to opt-in to a new ECEP structure. Employers that opt-in would be subject to a 5 percent tax on all annual payroll expenses in excess of $40,000 per employee, phased in over three years beginning on January 1, 2019. The progressive personal income tax system would remain in place, and a new tax credit corresponding in value to the ECEP would cut the personal income tax on wages and ensure that State filers subject to the ECEP would not experience a decline in take-home pay.

Decouples from Federal Tax Code: The FY 2019 Budget decouples the state tax code from the federal tax code, where necessary, to avoid more than $1.5 billion in State tax increases brought solely by increases in federal taxes.

Continue the Phase-In of the Middle Class Tax Cut: The Budget supports the phase-in of the middle class tax cuts. In 2018, average savings will total $250 and, when fully effective, six million New Yorkers will save an average of $700 annually. Once fully phased in, the new rates will be the lowest in more than 70 years - dropping from 6.45 to 5.5 percent for incomes ranging from $40,000 - $150,000 and 6.65 to 6 percent for incomes ranging from $150,000 - $300,000. The new lower tax rates will save middle class New Yorkers $4.2 billion, annually, by 2025.

Grow County-Wide Shared Services Initiative to Deliver Savings for Taxpayers: New York State will build on progress to reduce local property taxes for millions of New Yorkers and take the next step forward to provide local governments with new tools to put money back in the pockets of middle-class families. The FY 2019 Budget includes $225 million to fund the State's match of savings from shared services actions included in property tax savings plans. The Budget also continues the county-wide shared services panels for another three years and amends a statutory hurdle that prevented localities from sharing some specific services.

Create a Voluntary Retirement Savings Program: The Budget authorizes the New York State Secure Choice Savings Program - a voluntary-enrollment payroll deduction IRA for employees of private employers that do not already offer retirement savings plans. This program will give millions of New Yorkers who currently have no access to an employer-provided retirement plan the opportunity to save for retirement, all while alleviating the burdens on participating New York employers of creating and sponsoring a retirement plan on their own. Participation is voluntary for businesses and employees.

Continue the Local Property Tax Relief Credit: The Property Tax Credit, enacted in 2015, will provide an average reduction of $380 in local property taxes to 2.6 million homeowners this year alone. By 2019, the program will provide an additional $1.3 billion in property tax relief and an average credit of $530.

Investing in Education Equity
The FY 2019 Budget reflects the state's strong commitment to education equity through a $1 billion annual increase in Education Aid - 3.9 percent growth - to a record total of $26.7 billion for the 2018-19 school year and a 36 percent increase since 2012.

Require Transparency in Education Spending: New York State spends more money per pupil than any state in the nation, and the FY 2019 Budget includes new provisions to require funding transparency. Under the budget agreement, for the 2018-19 school year, 76 large school districts that receive significant state aid shall report school level funding allocation data to the public, SED and DOB.

Expand Community Schools: The FY 2019 Budget continues the state's push to transform New York's high-need schools into community schools. This year, the Budget increases funding for community schools by $50 million, to a total of $200 million. This increased funding is targeted to districts with struggling schools and/or districts experiencing significant growth in homeless pupils or English language learners. In addition, the Budget increases the minimum community schools funding amount from $10,000 to $75,000.

Promote the First 1,000 Days of Life: The Budget supports the development of a new initiative to expand access to services and improve health outcomes for young children covered by Medicaid and their families. Studies show that the basic structure of the brain is developed within the first 1,000 days of life.

Expand Access to Prekindergarten: The Budget includes an additional $15 million investment in prekindergarten to expand high-quality half-day and full-day prekindergarten instruction for 3,000 three- and four-year-old children.

Continue the Empire State After School Program: The FY 2019 Budget provides $10 million to fund a second round of Empire State After School awards. These funds will provide an additional 6,250 students with public after school care in high-need communities across the State. Funding will be targeted to districts with high rates of childhood homelessness.

Grow Early College High Schools: To build upon the success of the existing programs, the Budget commits an additional $9 million to create 15 new early college high school programs. This expansion will target communities with low graduation or college access rates, and will align new schools with in-demand industries.

Expanding Access to Higher Education
Invest $7.6 Billion for Higher Education: The Budget provides $7.6 billion in State support for higher education in New York - an increase of $1.5 billion or 25 percent since FY 2012. This investment includes $1.2 billion for strategic programs to make college more affordable and encourage the best and brightest students to build their future in New York.

Launch the Second Phase of the Excelsior Free Tuition Program: For the 2019 academic year, the Excelsior Scholarship income eligibility threshold will increase, allowing New Yorkers with household incomes up to $110,000 to be eligible. To continue this landmark program, the Budget includes $118 million to support an estimated 27,000 students in the Excelsior program. Along with other sources of tuition assistance, including the generous New York State Tuition Assistance Program, the Excelsior Scholarship will allow approximately 53 percent of full-time SUNY and CUNY in-state students, or more than 210,000 New York residents, to attend college tuition-free when fully phased in.

Boost Funding for SUNY and CUNY: The Budget provides SUNY and CUNY with more than $200 million in new resources to support the operations of the university systems while maintaining low predictable tuition ensuring access for all to a quality education.

Support Students Attending New York's Private Colleges: The Budget includes $22.9 million for the second phase of the Enhanced Tuition Award program, providing up to $6,000 in financial assistance including match funds and a tuition freeze to make college more affordable for residents attending private colleges in New York. To leverage more participation, the program was modified to provide more flexibility in the matching requirement for colleges. The Budget also provides $4 million to expand the New York State Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Scholarship Program to students attending private colleges in New York. In addition, the Budget includes $30 million for competitive grants to support strategic capital investments at independent colleges to improve academic programs, enhance student life and provide economic development benefits to the college community.

Expand the Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies into the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies: The Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, which was established in collaboration with New York City labor unions in 1984 to meet the higher education needs of working adults, now serves more than 1,200 adult and traditional-aged students across the CUNY system in undergraduate and graduate degree, and certificate programs focused on labor-related issues. The Institute provides higher education programs in three general categories including labor, urban studies, and worker education/workforce development. The Budget includes a $3.0 million investment to expand the institute into the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies, a recognition of the invaluable role the Institute plays in the CUNY community and as a center of labor discourse.

Prohibit State Agencies from Suspending the Professional Licenses of Individuals Behind or in Default on their Student Loans: The FY 2019 Budget includes legislation expressly prohibiting the suspension of professional licenses of individuals behind or in default on their student loans. Currently, there are 19 states that allow for the suspension of a professional license for people who are behind or in default on their student loans, with one state allowing for the suspension of an individual's driver's license. This practice severely limits the ability of people to support themselves and their families, and to ultimately pay back their student loans, creating a further financial death spiral. By expressly prohibiting the practice, the Budget ensures that current and future New Yorkers are protected.

Advancing the Women's Agenda
Combat Sexual Harassment: The Budget includes nation-leading, multi-pronged legislation to combat sexual harassment in the workplace:

Require all state contractors to submit an affirmation that they have a sexual harassment policy and that they have trained all of their employees.
Prohibit employers from using a mandatory arbitration provision in an employment contract in relation to sexual harassment.

Require officers and employees of the state or of any public entity to reimburse the state for any state or public payment made upon a judgement of intentional wrongdoing related to sexual harassment.
Ensure that nondisclosure agreements can only be used when the condition of confidentiality is the explicit preference of the victim

Establish a model sexual harassment policy, in consultation with the Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights, for employers to adopt or use to establish a similar policy that meets or exceeds the minimum standards of the model policy

Amend the law to protect contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants or others providing services in the workplace from sexual harassment in the workplace.

End Sextortion: The Budget includes legislation increasing the existing penalties for compelling another person to engage in sexual conduct by threatening their health, safety, business, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships.

Extend the Storage Timeline for Rape Kits: The FY 2019 Budget includes legislation to extend the length of time sexual offense evidence collection kits are preserved from 30 days to 20 years, delivering justice to survivors.

Reauthorize MWBE Program Legislation: The FY 2019 Budget extends the State's Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise Program, which is due to expire this year, for one year.

Ensure Equal Access to Diaper Changing Stations in Public Restrooms and Provide Access to Lactation Rooms: The FY 2019 Budget amends New York's Uniform Building Code to require all new or substantially renovated buildings with publicly accessible restrooms to provide safe and compliant changing tables. Changing tables will be available to both men and women, and there must be at least one changing table accessible to both genders per publicly-accessible floor. In addition, the Budget requires lactation rooms in certain state buildings and authorizes a study of adult changing facilities.

Prohibit Sexual Contact Between Police Officers and Individuals Under Their Custody: Incarcerated individuals are prohibited from providing consent to corrections officers or probations officers under current law. This helps curb sexual harassment and abuse from those in a position of power that oversee individuals under their custody. Police officers, in a glaring loophole to the law, are not included in this list. The FY 2019 Budget corrects this deficiency in the law by expressly including police officers and prohibiting sexual contact with those under their custody.

Improve Access to IVF and Fertility Preservation Services: Under current law, all commercial health insurance plans include coverage for most infertility medical services. In vitro fertilization is the one primary exception. The Superintendent of Financial Services will analyze in vitro fertilization coverage to help ensure that New Yorkers have access to infertility treatment and fertility preservation services regardless of sexual orientation or marital status.

Increase State Funding to Provide Families with Affordable Child Care: Child care subsidies help parents and caretakers pay for some or all of the cost of child care. Families are eligible for financial assistance if they meet the State's low income guidelines and need child care to work, look for work or attend employment training. The FY 2019 Budget increases State support for child care subsidies by $7 million above FY 2018 Budget funding levels and programs new federal funds to make an additional $10 million dollars available for child care subsidies, restoring recent cuts and sustaining a record level of funding.

Continue the Enhanced Child Care Tax Credit for Middle Class Families: The 2017 Enhanced Middle Class Child Care Tax Credit reduces child care costs for working families. This expansion more than doubled the benefit for 200,000 families. The FY 2019 Budget reflects the first year of the Enhanced Child Care Tax Credit for working families to continue to alleviate costs for families and support the needs of working parents.

Ensure Access to Menstrual Products in Public Schools: The FY 2019 Budget includes legislation requiring all public schools, except for charter schools, to provide free feminine hygiene products, in restrooms, for students in grades 6 through 12. Feminine hygiene products are as necessary as toilet paper and soap, but hardly ever as available or free. At $7 to $10 per package, a month's supply of something as simple as a box of pads or tampons can be one expense too many for struggling families. This Budget legislation makes New York State a leader in addressing this issue of inequality and stigma.

Add Experts in Women's Health and Health Disparities to the State Board of Medicine: Legislation in the FY 2019 Budget requires that one of the doctors on the State Board of Medicine be an expert on women's health and one of the doctors be an expert in health disparities.

Provide Health Insurance Coverage for Donor Breast Milk: The FY 2019 Budget includes legislation to ensure health insurance coverage for donor breast milk for infants, especially premature or preterm infants, who do not have maternal breast milk to meet all or some of their nutritional needs.

Close the Gender Gap by Giving the Youngest Learners Access to Computer Science Education: The FY 2019 Budget establishes a working group to review existing computer science education standards and create draft model computer science standards for kindergarten through grade 12.

Investing $250 Million in NYCHA to Empower Tenants
Over the course of the budget negotiations, the Governor and legislative leaders have discussed the conditions of NYCHA's housing stock and the services that are being provided to residents. The FY 2019 Budget includes an additional $250 million to improve the quality of living conditions for NYCHA residents and provides a process by which the proper deployment of capital funding can be verified. To expedite repairs to NYCHA facilities, the FY 2019 Budget includes design/build legislation. This record investment brings total state funding for NYCHA to $550 million.

Expediting Critical Projects Through Design/Build
The FY 2019 Budget includes design/build legislation for the construction of new jails to replace the Rikers Island Jail Complex, the reconstruction of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and NYCHA projects. As a result of design/build authorization, the City will avoid significant delays in construction and will realize savings in excess of $1 billion.

Investing in 21st Century Transportation Infrastructure
Support the MTA Subway Action Plan: The comprehensive $836 million MTA Subway Action Plan will address system failures, breakdowns, delays and deteriorating customer service, and position the system for future modernization. The Budget fully funds the Subway Action Plan to move forward on these critically needed repairs, with the City required to contribute half of the funding for the plan. The MTA will begin receiving the funding in April and will receive the full funding by the end of 2018.

Enact a $2.75 Surcharge on For-Hire Vehicles: To establish a long-term funding stream for the MTA and to reduce motor vehicle congestion, the FY 2019 Budget enacts a surcharge on for-hire vehicles below 96th Street. The surcharge is $2.75 for for-hire vehicles, $2.50 for yellow cabs, and $0.75 for pooled trips. This funding will go into an MTA "lock box," and will provide long-term funding to sustain for the Subway Action Plan, outer borough transit improvements, as well as a NYC general transportation account.

Provide at Least 50 New Bus Lane Enforcement Cameras: The FY 2019 Budget will help immediately reduce traffic congestion in Manhattan's Central Business District by directing the MTA to equip New York City Transit SBS buses operating below 96th Street with at least 50 new traffic monitoring cameras to enforce bus lane violations. Drivers and delivery trucks blocking dedicated bus lanes are significant contributors to bus delays and traffic congestion.

Transfer the Remaining Payroll Mobility Tax Revenue Directly to the MTA: The State currently collects and disburses the Payroll Mobility Tax (PMT) to the MTA. The Budget amends the law so the revenue is directly provided to the Authority. Eliminating this unnecessary appropriation by the State legislature will benefit the MTA because PMT revenue pledged to bondholders under the new credit will have no risk of non-appropriation and PMT receipts will be received by the MTA in a more timely manner.

Improving Public Safety at Penn Station: Penn Station's facilities are antiquated, inadequately meet current public safety and transportation needs and present an unreasonable public safety hazard. The State will coordinate with MTA and consult with community leaders, business groups and federal and city government to design a solution.

Begin Service on the Lower Hudson Transit Link: The FY 2019 Budget appropriates $8 million to allow the Lower Hudson Transit Link to begin bus service along the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge in 2018.

Maintain Record Commitment to Local Highways and Bridges and Public Transportation: Funding for the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) and the Marchiselli program is maintained at $477.8 million, and the Local PAVE NY and BRIDGE NY programs are each maintained at $100 million. The Budget also includes, in addition to previously planned amounts, $65 million for extreme winter recovery roadway repairs, as well as $20 million in capital funding and $5 million in operating funding for transit systems statewide other than the MTA.

Strengthening the Democracy Agenda
Increase Transparency of Online Political Advertisements: The FY 2019 Budget expands New York State's definition of political communication to include paid internet and digital advertisements, requires digital platforms to maintain a file of all political advertisements purchased by a person or group for publication on the platform and requires online platforms confirm that foreign individuals and entities are not purchasing political advertisements in order to influence the American electorate.

Bolster Election Infrastructure to Defend Against Cyberattacks: The FY 2019 Budget includes $5 million to implement a four-pronged strategy to further strengthen cyber protections for New York's election infrastructure: create an Election Support Center, develop an Election Cyber Security Toolkit, provide cyber risk vulnerability assessments for State and County Boards of Elections, and require County Boards of Elections to report data breaches to State authorities.

Establish a State Pay Commission
The FY 2019 Budget supports the establishment of a State Pay Commission, which will include the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and the State of New York, New York State Comptroller, New York City Comptroller, a former New York City Comptroller, and a former New York State Comptroller. The Commission will examine and decide what the appropriate salary should be for state legislatures and certain executive employees.

Ensuring No Student Goes Hungry
The Budget includes legislation and additional funding to launch a comprehensive No Student Goes Hungry program: sweeping initiatives to provide students of all ages, backgrounds and financial situations access to healthy, locally-sourced meals to address child hunger. By launching the program, the State will provide students in need with locally-grown, quality meals, which will support an improved learning experience for children of all ages.

The program will:
Ban meal shaming, a practice in some schools where children may be singled out, provided a lesser meal, or otherwise treated differently for not having money for a meal
Support breakfast after the bell to make breakfast accessible for students after the school day has begun
Expand the Farm to School Program
Incentivize the use of farm-fresh, locally grown foods in schools

Defending the Rights of Immigrants
The FY 2019 Budget continues the first-in-the-nation Liberty Defense Project. Last year, the State launched the Liberty Defense Project, a State-led, public-private legal defense fund to ensure that all immigrants, regardless of status, have access to high quality legal counsel. In partnership with leading nonprofit legal service providers, the project has significantly expanded the availability of immigration attorneys statewide. The FY 2019 Budget includes an investment to ensure the Liberty Defense Project continues to sustain and grow the network of legal service providers providing these critical service in defense of our immigrant communities. 

Cutting off the Recruitment Pipeline to Combat MS-13
MS-13 is an international criminal gang that emerged in the United States in the 1980s. They engage in a wide range of criminal activity and are uniquely violent, oftentimes engaging in brutal acts simply to increase the gang's notoriety. Despite violent crime being down dramatically in Long Island over the past several years, a recent uptick in violent crime has been traced back to the gang. The FY 2019 Budget supports a comprehensive $16 million strategy to provide at-risk youth in Long Island with greater access to social programs and alternatives to gang activity. The program will: 

Expand afterschool programs in areas with high gang activity.
Expand job and vocational training opportunities for young people.
Provide gang prevention education to students.
Expand comprehensive support services for at-risk young people, especially immigrant children - including comprehensive case management, with a focus on unaccompanied children entering the United States.
Deploy a Community Assistance Team to Long Island comprised of six State Troopers, three investigators, one senior investigator and one supervisor to identify and engage gang activity hot-spots or respond to departmental and community requests for increased service.

Nation-Leading Efforts to Combat Worker Exploitation
The New York State Department of Labor has been a national leader in wage theft case processing and fund recovery. Since 2011, the agency has recovered more than any other state - a quarter of a billion dollars - and returned that money to more than 215,000 workers victimized by wage theft. With a staff of 110 investigators, one of the nation's largest, DOL has led the way in protecting workers. The FY 2019 Budget invests an additional $1 million to allow additional investigators to be hired, ensuring that money is put back into the pockets of workers as quickly as possible. 

Protecting the Health & Safety of Our Communities
Establish a First-in-the-Nation Opioid Stewardship Fund: New York State, like much of the country, is battling a harrowing opioid epidemic. The Budget creates an opioid stewardship program with a $100 million fund to be used for the ongoing and growing costs of prevention, treatment, and recovery services for individuals with a substance abuse disorder. Language in the budget ensures the costs are borne by industry, not by consumers. 

Combat Heroin and Opioid Epidemic: Over $200 million in funding is being used to address the heroin and opioid crisis. The Budget includes an increase of over $30 million (5 percent) in operating and capital support for OASAS to continue to enhance prevention, treatment and recovery programs, residential service opportunities, and public awareness and education activities.

Establish Health Care Shortfall Fund: The Budget establishes a fund to ensure the continued availability and expansion of funding for quality health services to New York State residents and to mitigate risks associated with the loss of Federal funds. This fund will be initially populated with funds from any insurer conversion or similar transaction.

Launching a Comprehensive Plan to Attack Homelessness
Continue $20 Billion Affordable and Homeless Housing and Services Initiative: The Budget continues to support the creation or preservation of more than 100,000 units of affordable housing and 6,000 units of supportive housing. 

Increase Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness: To strengthen shelter services for homeless individuals living with mental illness in existing homeless shelters, the State is directing the Office of Mental Health and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to work together to ensure that Assertive Community Treatment teams are connected to existing shelters, so that individuals with mental illness can access needed treatment. In addition, the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services will make on-site peer-delivered substance abuse treatment services available in 14 existing shelters across the state.

Require Outreach and a Comprehensive Homeless Services Plan from Each Local Social Services District: The FY 2019 Budget requires all local social services districts develop and implement an approved outreach and services plan to address street homelessness.

Continuing Relief and Recovery Efforts along the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River Shoreline
The Budget includes an additional $40 million, bringing the total commitment to $95 million, to help the families along the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shoreline recover from the months-long flooding and build back stronger and smarter than ever before. Impacted counties include Jefferson, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, St. Lawrence, Wayne, Cayuga and Oswego. 

Safeguarding the Environment for Future Generations
Complete the Hudson River Park: The Budget includes $50 million in capital funding for the Hudson River Park, which will help fulfill the State's commitment to complete the park. The Budget includes language to ensure that New York City makes the phased and matched investments necessary to get the job done. In addition, the State will continue to facilitate public-private partnerships, while ensuring the Estuary Management Plan is complete and the marine sanctuary is protected. 

Attack Harmful Algal Blooms: Using resources from the Clean Water Infrastructure Act and the Environmental Protection Fund, the State will implement a $65 million initiative to combat harmful algal blooms in Upstate New York water bodies. The resources will be used to develop action plans to reduce sources of pollution that spark algal blooms, and provide grant funding to implement the action plans, including the installation of new monitoring and treatment technologies.

Continue the Clean Water Infrastructure Act: The FY 2019 Budget continues the State's historic multi-year $2.5 billion investment in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and source water protection actions that will protect the environment and enhance communities' health and wellness.

Renew Record Funding for the Environmental Protection Fund: The Budget continues EPF funding at $300 million, the highest level of funding in the program's history.

Overhaul Niagara Falls Wastewater Treatment Facility: The Budget invests $20 million to launch phase one of the comprehensive infrastructure and operational improvements at the Niagara Falls Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Expanding the New York Youth Jobs Program
The New York Youth Jobs program encourages businesses to hire unemployed, disadvantaged youth, ages 16 to 24, who live in New York State, with a focus on the following cities and towns: Albany, Buffalo, New York, Rochester, Schenectady, Syracuse, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Utica, White Plains, Yonkers, Brookhaven and Hempstead. Due to the success of the program, which has helped connect 31,000 youths to jobs, the Budget increases the credit amounts by 50 percent, from $500 to $750 per month for up to the first six months, and from $2,000 to $3,000 for each employee who is employed for additional time periods after six months with a maximum full time hire credit of $7,500. 

Driving Economic Growth & Development
Continue the Successful Regional Economic Development Councils: In 2011, the State established 10 Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) to develop long-term regional strategic economic development plans. The Budget includes core capital and tax-credit funding that will be combined with a wide range of existing agency programs for an eighth round of REDC awards totaling $750 million. 

Launch Next Round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative: The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is transforming downtown neighborhoods into vibrant communities where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live, work and raise families. The FY 2019 Budget provides $100 million for the Downtown Revitalization Program Round III.

Create Photonics Attraction Fund in Rochester: New York State will dedicate $30 million to a Photonics Attraction Fund, administered through the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, to attract integrated photonics companies to set up their manufacturing operations in the greater Rochester area. Thanks to the world-renowned AIM Photonics consortium, the Finger Lakes is already a leader in photonics research and development, and this additional State funding will help leverage this unique asset to bring the businesses and the jobs of tomorrow to New York State.

Advance Industrial Hemp Production: The State will continue the investment in Hemp research, production, and processing made in FY 2018 through a broad, multi-pronged program. The FY 2019 Budget provides $650,000 for a brand-new $3.2 million industrial hemp processing facility in the Southern Tier. New York State will import thousands of pounds of industrial hemp seed, ensuring that farmers have access to a high-quality product and easing the administrative burden on farmers. Further, New York State will invest an additional $2 million in a seed certification and breeding program, to begin producing unique New York seed. Finally, New York will host an Industrial Hemp Research Forum in February, bringing together researchers and academics with businesses and processors to develop ways to further boost industry research in New York.

Drive Investment in Life Sciences: The Budget includes $600 million to support construction of a world-class, state-of-the-art life sciences public health laboratory in the Capital District that will promote collaborative public/private research and development partnerships.

Extend and Strengthen the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit: The FY 2019 Budget agreement reauthorizes the State Commercial and Homeowner rehabilitation tax credit programs through 2025 and allows the State commercial credit to be used independently of the federal credit.

Invest in the Olympic Regional Development Authority: The Budget includes $62.5 million in new capital funding for ORDA, including $50 million for a strategic upgrade and modernization plan to support improvements to the Olympic facilities and ski resorts, $10 million for critical maintenance and energy efficiency upgrades, and $2.5 million appropriated from the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation budget as part of the New York Works initiative.

Enhance North Country Lodging: The State will provide the North Country region with tools and resources to bolster tourism in the North Country and catalyze private investment in lodging. Empire State Development will commission a study to identify lodging development opportunities in the Adirondacks and Thousand Island regions, and provide $13 million in capital funding through the REDCs and Upstate Revitalization Initiative to spur development activity.

Establish $175 Million Workforce Initiative: The FY 2019 Budget establishes a new approach for workforce investments that would support strategic regional efforts to meet businesses' short-term workforce needs, improve regional talent pipelines, expand apprenticeships, and address the long-term needs of expanding industries—with a particular focus on emerging fields with growing demand for jobs like clean energy and technology. Funds will also support efforts to improve the economic security of women, youth, and other populations that face significant barriers to career advancement.

From the State Senate Majority:

The New York State Senate will complete passage of the 2018-19 state budget that achieves key objectives to promote affordability, opportunity, and security for hardworking taxpayers. The final budget maintains fiscal discipline by keeping within the self-imposed two-percent spending cap and closes a $4.5 billion deficit, while also preventing billions of dollars in new taxes and fees to protect taxpayers and encourage economic growth.

Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan said, “This budget invests in the shared priorities of hardworking New Yorkers - affordability, opportunity, and security. It is a solid and fiscally responsible budget that protects taxpayers, creates jobs, and supports many other quality-of-life issues important to middle-class families across the state.”

The $168.3 billion budget rejects $1 billion in new taxes and fees proposed in the Executive Budget and helps reduce the state’s high cost of living; provide record levels of funding for education, the environment, and opioid abuse prevention; and address the serious public health and safety challenges facing the state’s communities. Highlights include:


Maintaining Fiscal Discipline
The budget protects taxpayers by adhering to a self-imposed two-percent spending cap for the eighth year in a row. Adhering to the cap was instrumental in helping eliminate a $4.5 billion deficit expected to face the state this year. Capping state spending has saved taxpayers nearly $52 billion on a cumulative basis since the 2010-2011 budget.

Rejecting Tax and Fee Increases
The Senate led the successful fight to reject $1 billion in onerous tax-and-fee increases proposed by the Governor and billions more proposed by the Assembly, including new taxes on internet purchases and new DOT fees. The final budget also protects the continued roll-out of the landmark $4.2 billion Middle Class Income Tax Cut that began taking effect in January and will reduce tax rates on middle class families and thousands of small businesses by 20 percent over the next several years.

Protecting and Expanding STAR Property Tax Relief
The Senate made it a priority to build upon the highly successful property tax cap that has already saved taxpayers $23 billion and worked to ensure the Governor’s proposed cap on STAR property tax relief benefits was rejected, saving $49 million. The budget also extends the property tax rebate check program and many homeowners will see their rebate checks double to an average of $380 this year and $532 next year.

Protecting Taxpayers from Negative Impacts of Federal Tax Changes
The budget follows the Senate’s lead in decoupling the state and federal tax codes to prevent New Yorkers from taking a $1.5 billion state tax hit as a result of recent federal tax changes. It holds harmless New Yorkers who may have to pay more in state income taxes because of the changes at the federal level and prevents the state from benefitting from the sudden revenue increase at the expense of taxpayers.

Making Retirement More Affordable and Accessible for Private Sector Employees
The budget creates a program that provides a simpler way for private employees to save up for retirement through voluntary payroll deductions. Many small business owners and job creators in New York currently face costly administrative and financial barriers to providing retirement savings plans to their employees. This program would give employers, on a completely voluntary basis, the opportunity to utilize existing state administrative resources to help workers that choose to participate in the program and contribute to Roth IRAs to help them save for their future.
Protecting New Yorkers from Overpaying for Prescription Drugs

A Senate initiative passed earlier this year to protect consumers from unfair prescription drug pricing is included in the budget. The reforms help consumers become better informed about the price of drugs and prohibits two costly practices – gag clauses and clawbacks – used by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Prohibiting these costly practices will help fight the rising cost of prescription drugs for all New Yorkers.


Keeping $700 Million in Brownfield, Historic, and Other Business Tax Credits In Place
The final budget prevents the deferment of tax credits including the state’s Historic Tax Credit and Brownfield Cleanup Tax Credit programs so that private investment in under-developed communities is not jeopardized. These credits and all but five of the state’s other business tax credits would have been deferred for multiple years under the Executive Budget proposal, but the Senate fought to save the $700 million in credits so that they can continue to promote business growth, create jobs, and revitalize communities.

Growing NY Strong
Together, the Senate and Assembly succeeded in restoring and adding more than $13 million beyond what the Executive proposed for agriculture programs, totaling $54.4 million. This year’s total funding is an increase of over $3 million from last year. Dozens of programs -
investments in cutting-edge agricultural research, support for the next generation of family
farmers, environmental stewardship, and protections for plant, animal, and public health – will
be funded, with significant increases including:

· $1.5 million, for a total of $1.9 million, for the Farm Viability Institute to help New York’s farmers become more profitable and to improve the long-term economic viability and sustainability of farms, the food system, and the communities which they serve;
· $1 million, for a total of $9.28 million, for Agri Business Child Development Program, to provide quality early childhood education and social services to farm workers and other eligible families;
· $1 million, for a total of $5.43 million, for Cornell Diagnostic Lab;
· $1.1 million for Taste New York, including $550,000 for the New York Wine and Culinary Center;
· $750,000 for Farm-to-School programs;
· $544,000, for a total of $750,000, for the Apple Growers Association;
· $500,000 for the Farm-to-Seniors Program;
· $300,000 for the North Country Farm-to-School Program;
· $225,000 for Maple Producers; and
· $138,000 for EBT at Farmers Markets.

In addition, the Senate again secured $5 million to support local county fairs and $5 million for animal shelter improvements.

Preparing Workers for Successful Careers
The budget provides key investments in job training and workforce development initiatives so New Yorkers can enhance their job skills – providing a pathway for new opportunities, financial security and career success. Specific highlights include:
· $5 million for the Next Generation Job Linkage Program that assists employers in identifying potential jobs, defining their necessary skills and providing employees with the appropriate training;
· $5 million for the SUNY/CUNY Apprentice Initiative, a targeted training initiative that helps employers refine the skills of new hires and enables more experienced employees the chance to upgrade their skills;
· $4 million for the Workforce Development Institute (WDI), a highly successful not-for-profit that works with businesses and the AFL-CIO to provide focused training for workers and for workforce transition support to help stop the outsourcing of jobs to other states. An additional $3 million is also provided for WDI’s Manufacturing Initiative;
· $3.6 million for Business and Community College Partnerships that support innovative, specifically-tailored workforce training programs coordinated between individual businesses and community colleges; and
· Increased support for Early College High Schools to help prepare students for college-level coursework that promotes future academic performance and enables students to get their high school diplomas while also earning free associate degrees for high-skilled jobs or taking other college credit-bearing courses.
Increasing Education Funding to Help Children Succeed
The final education budget includes record support for schools of more than $26 billion, including an increase of $1 billion over last year. This four-percent increase continues the Senate’s commitment to funding education at a rate higher than the growth of the rest of the budget. Other highlights include:
· Nearly doubling the Governor’s Foundation Aid proposal with $281 million in additional funding, for a total increase of $619 million in 2018-19;
· Fully funding expense base aids at $240 million;
· Increasing funding for charter schools;
· Increasing funding for STEM programs in non-public schools by $10 million for a total of $15 million;
· Continuing $15 million in security grants for non-public schools;
· Restoring a $7 million cut in the Executive Budget for non-public school immunization funding;
· Creating the “No Student Goes Hungry” program to provide students of all ages, backgrounds, and financial situations access to healthy, locally-sourced meals to address child hunger. It includes an expansion of the Farm-to-School Program to utilize locally-grown, quality meals, which will support local agriculture and an improved learning experience for children.

Preparing Students for Bright Futures Through Higher Education
The final budget provides $7.6 billion to support higher education in New York. Among the highlights are record-high levels of more than $1 billion in funding for tuition assistance and financial aid this year; a restoration of $35 million for Bundy Aid; and an overall funding increase in base aid funding for community colleges by $18 million - $12 million for SUNY and $6 million for CUNY - to help prevent tuition hikes. It also includes $200 million for educational opportunity programs and the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), among others, and restores $200 million in Executive Budget cuts to SUNY and CUNY’s capital programs. To help working parents succeed in school, $2 million was restored for child care centers at community colleges, and to support New York’s Bravest, firefighters would be allowed to take up to one CUNY course that pertains to their line of work for free, similar to what police officers are currently offered.

Promoting Economic Growth Through Infrastructure Investments
To ensure New York has the infrastructure in place to attract and expand businesses, the Senate has secured $122 million in new capital funds to support investments in transportation, environmental mitigation, aviation, and other economic development-related infrastructure projects throughout the state.

Providing Safe, Reliable Transportation
To help localities repair and rehabilitate local roads and bridges, the enacted budget provides an additional $65 million in one-time Consolidated Local Streets and Highway Program (CHIPS) funding for extreme winter recovery, for a total of $503 million.

The budget also supports the Metropolitan Transportation Authority with a $334 million - 7 percent – increase in funding over last year for a total of more than $4.8 billion in operating assistance. This includes $254 million to fully fund the state’s half of this year’s $418 million obligation towards the $836 million Subway Action Plan, with New York City responsible for contributing the remaining half.

There is an additional $20 million in non-MTA transit capital, for a total of $104.5 million for 2018-19, and a two percent increase in state operating assistance to all non-MTA systems, for a total of $530 million.


Providing Record Support for Heroin and Opioid Abuse Prevention and Treatment
The Senate secured a major increase in funding to combat the opioid epidemic for a new record investment of $247 million – $20 million above the 2018-19 Executive Budget proposal, and $37 million above 2017-18. Among the highlights are:
· $10.6 million to support services including more residential treatment beds, a new Recovery and Community Outreach Center, and an Adolescent Clubhouse program to provide peer support activities and events that help maintain a sober and substance-free lifestyle;
· $3.8 million for the development and implementation of substance use disorder treatment in local jails; and
· $1.5 million for the creation of an Independent Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Ombudsman to assist individuals in receiving appropriate health insurance coverage.

In addition to record funding, the budget includes a Senate-driven initiative to help prevent and address an increase in the number of babies born addicted to opioids. The budget creates a new program and provides $1 million to further educate and assist health care providers in caring for expectant mothers and new parents with substance use disorders and help ensure they receive appropriate care, with an additional $350,000 provided for infant recovery centers.

It also prohibits prior authorization for outpatient substance abuse treatment to ensure people are able to get the help they need immediately. And the budget makes permanent the state’s certified peer recovery program, where those in recovery utilize their expertise and experiences to promote the success of others battling substance abuse.

To help increase the tools available to law enforcement to get dangerous drugs off the streets, the budget adds two new derivatives of fentanyl and several new hallucinogenic drugs, synthetic cannabinoids, and cannabimimetic agents to the state’s controlled substances schedule.

Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
The Senate Majority has taken a leadership role to create safer workplaces free of sexual harassment and abuse, including passing comprehensive legislation earlier this month. As a result of the Senate’s strong advocacy on this issue, the final budget measure:
· Prohibits secret settlements unless the victim requests confidentiality;
· Prohibits mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment complaints;
· Protects non-employees in the workplace;
· Creates a uniform sexual harassment policy and training for businesses as well as state and local governments;
· Requires all state contractors to submit an affirmation that they have a sexual harassment policy and that they have trained all of their employees; and
· Protects taxpayer funds from being used for individual sexual harassment judgements.

Helping Survivors of Rape and Sexual Assault
New requirements included in the budget ensure untested rape kits are stored for 20 years, an increase from the current 30-day requirement. This will address serious concerns about the current lack of long-term storage for untested rape kits and will increase the ability of rape and sexual assault survivors to get justice. The state will develop a plan to identify a location that will house untested forensic rape kits for 20 years and develop a system for those kits to be tracked by survivors. In addition, rape survivors will not ever have to pay any costs, including insurance co-pays, for a rape examination or hospital visit.

An additional $147,000 was added by the Legislature to support Rape Crisis Centers, for a total of nearly $6.5 million. These measures build upon recent laws championed by the Senate over the last few years to provide funding and make sure New York State is testing all rape kits, no matter how old, and including DNA evidence in the national CODIS database so matches can be made and criminals brought to justice.

The budget includes $300,000 for a Senate initiative that establishes a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) telehealth pilot program to ensure providers are able to properly conduct sexual assault examinations at facilities that do not have a designated SAFE program. The provider would be linked by telehealth to a SAFE profession to help care for the victim and make sure evidence is protected.

Preventing “Sextortion”
The budget includes a measure to help prevent sex-related crimes and protect victims from extortion by creating new penalties for the act of sexual coercion – also known as “sextortion.” Anyone threatening a victim’s health, safety, business, career, financial condition, reputation, or personal relationship in exchange for sexual acts will face new felony-level charges.

Combatting Gang Violence
The final budget provides $500,000 to local law enforcement to support youth outreach programs that help prevent MS-13 or other gang violence in Nassau and Suffolk counties. An additional $5.8 million was secured by the Senate in the budget for other local law enforcement initiatives including equipment and technology enhancement, and anti-drug, anti-violence, crime control and prevention programs.


Building Healthier Communities
The budget includes $525 million – an increase of $100 million over the Executive Budget proposal - for the Health Care Facility Transformation Program to boost a new third round of awards and help ensure long-term sustainability for facilities as they adjust to the changing dynamics of health care in New York. In addition, the budget provides extensive supports for a variety of important public health initiatives including:
· $27 million for Nutritional Information for Women, Infants and Children;
· $27 million for Alzheimer’s and other dementia related programs;
· $21 million for cancer services;
· $16 million for maternal and child health programs;
· $13 million for chronic disease prevention (including diabetes, asthma, and hypertension);
· $11.2 million for the Doctors Across New York Program;
· $8.5 million in additional funding of the Spinal Cord Injury Research Board;
· $5 million for crucial women’s health initiatives;
· $2.5 million to support organ donation; and
· $283,000 for the Adelphi Breast Cancer Support Program.

Investing in Women’s Health
The Senate Majority successfully advocated for more than $4.5 million in new state funding to enhance women’s access to quality medical care. The budget restores a $475,000 cut the Executive proposed and includes the additional commitment for a total of $5 million that will be used to support initiatives like breast cancer prevention, education, and support, and prenatal and postpartum services, among others.

Preventing Lyme Disease
The Senate’s Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases was once again instrumental in securing a record amount of funding to support education and prevention efforts. The budget restores $400,000 in Executive Budget cuts and includes $600,000 in new funding, for a total of $1 million to support the Task Force’s recommendations.

Protecting the Environment and Critical Water Resources
The Senate continues its longstanding support for the Environmental Protection Fund at a record $300 million. It continues the implementation of last year’s historic $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Bond Act and supports important initiatives to protect drinking water quality and environmental health, including:
· $65 million to combat harmful algal blooms in Upstate New York waterbodies
· $1.5 million for the Center for Clean Water to help address 1,4-Dioxane – an increase of $500,000 to support additional lab testing equipment;
· $250,000 for the Adirondacks Lake Survey Corporation;
· $200,000 Long Island Commission for Aquifer Protection;
· $200,000 to the Town of Geneva for a Seneca Lake Watershed Manager;
· $150,000 for the Chautauqua Lake Association; and
· $125,000 for water quality monitoring in Manhasset Bay, Hempstead Harbor, Oyster Bay Harbor, and Cold Spring Harbor.

The Senate also included a measure in the budget to require the state Department of Health to establish a statewide plan for examining lead service lines to help reduce harmful lead exposure. The plan would include an analysis of lead service lines throughout the state and a plan for replacement.

Assisting Lake Ontario Communities
The Senate succeeded in providing $40 million in new budget funding to assist owners of residences still needing repairs to property impacted by last year’s historic flooding of Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River, and their connected waterways.

Bolstering Libraries
The budget continues the Senate’s longstanding support for libraries and the community resources they provide by securing $5 million in operations funding above the Executive Budget and $10 million in additional capital funding for a total capital increase of $20 million.

Supporting New York’s Seniors
The budget reaffirms the Senate’s strong commitment to a wide array of programs and initiatives that serve New York’s senior community so that they can continue leading healthy, secure, and fulfilling lives, including funding for the following:
· $50 million for the Expanded In-home Services for the Elderly Program;
· $31 million for Community Services for the Elderly Program;
· $27 million for the Wellness in Nutrition Program;
· $27 million for Alzheimer’s and other dementia related programs;
· $250,000 for Older Adults Technology Services;
· $132,000 for the Senior Action Council Hotline; and
· $86,000 for the New York Foundation for Seniors Home Sharing and Respite.

In addition to these funds, the Senate remains committed to stopping elder abuse by including $1.2 million to support elder abuse prevention initiatives, and this year’s budget provides funding for a three-hour extension of Adult Protective Services Call Center hours as an additional resource to report suspected cases of elder abuse. The budget also makes the Residential Emergency Services to Offer Home Repairs to the Elderly (RESTORE) program permanent, and continues $1.4 million for this initiative that assists low-income, elderly homeowners eliminate unsafe conditions in their home.

This year’s budget also fully funds New York’s vital Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program at $132.6 million to help cover seniors’ prescription drug needs. It also fully funds the state’s Enhanced STAR school tax relief program for seniors, totaling $865 million.

Helping Our State’s Veterans
The Senate Republican Conference’s support for the heroic men and women in our nation’s military is unwavering. The 2018-19 State Budget reflects this commitment by including:
· $645,000 in additional funding to expand the Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Services Peer-to-Peer Program to an additional seven counties. Total funding for this successful program, which is based on veterans helping veterans, is now $3.7 million and reaches 23 counties;
· $500,000 for the NYS Defenders Association Veterans Defense Program;
· $250,000 in additional funding for the Veterans Outreach Center in Monroe County, for a total of $500,000;
· $450,000 for the Veteran's Mental Health Training Initiative;
· $220,000 to fund the Veterans Defense Program to Long Island
· $200,000 for Legal Services of the Hudson Valley Veterans and Military Families Advocacy Project;
· $200,000 for Warrior Salute;
· $100,000 for the Veterans Justice Project;
· $100,000 for the SAGE Veterans Project;
· $50,000 for the Vietnam Veterans of America New York State Council;
· $200,000 for Helmets-to-Hardhats;
· $25,000 for the Veterans Miracle Center; and
· $125,000 for Veterans of Foreign Wars NYS Chapter Field Service Operations.

The budget also expands the eligibility criteria for veterans to participate in the state's Home for Heroes program, which helps remove barriers to accessible and affordable housing for veterans with disabilities.

From the State Assembly Majority:

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, "The Assembly Majority is committed to making investments that ensure New York State is a better place to live, work and raise a family. With a focus on Families First, we have crafted a spending plan that makes the necessary investments to strengthen our economy, support working people and preserve essential services that are important to so many citizens.

"This budget will help put New York’s students on a path to achievement from pre-k to adulthood. Led by the Assembly’s efforts, we invest a record $26.7 billion in our public schools and make critical investments in higher education.

"New York City’s transportation system is one of New York’s main economic drivers and vitally important to all who live in the region. The budget provides a sustainability plan to keep our transportation networks moving safely and efficiently, including much-needed investments for public transit in New York City.

"We also secured critical support for our public health systems and, despite federal uncertainties, protected funding for Medicaid and school-based health centers.

"Importantly, we were able to come to an agreement to address the scourge of sexual harassment. This plan is a strong first step and we look forward to future conversations that will help us build on these efforts.

"There is much more to be accomplished in the coming months as we continue to work to move our state forward. I thank the members of the Assembly Majority for their hard work and commitment in crafting a budget that helps citizens grow and thrive in New York."

Cuomo and Legislature Reach Agreement on $168 Billion State Budget Sat, 31 Mar 2018 04:00:00 +0000
3 Ways New York Must Advance Reproductive Rights This Year krueger doctors

Senator Krueger, the author, with doctors (photo: @jmumfordmd)

On March 13, the New York State Assembly passed three critical bills regarding reproductive health and rights: the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), the “Boss Bill,” and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act (CCCA). Unfortunately, the majority coalition in the State Senate continues to bottle these bills up in committee, as it has for years, preventing them from getting an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. This obstruction simply cannot continue.

New Yorkers deserve modern laws to protect their deeply personal decisions about reproductive healthcare, and the time to act is now.

Why the urgency, you may ask, when New York is seen as a leader in protecting women’s reproductive rights, and Roe v. Wade continues to be the law of the land?

The simple answer is that there is a war on women’s reproductive rights in our country at the state and federal level, and it has significantly intensified during the Trump Administration. Conservative judges are being appointed to state and federal courts; funding is being redirected from Planned Parenthood to clinics that do not perform abortions, and from evidence-based sex education and pregnancy prevention programs to ineffective abstinence-only programs; laws and regulations seek to chip away at Roe v. Wade and restrict abortion access by creating unnecessary hurdles and criminalizing pregnancy; lack of coverage, high co-pays, and harmful regulations reduce access to contraception.   

Even in New York, our reproductive health and rights are at risk because of our outdated and unconstitutional laws.

If a pregnant woman becomes critically ill after 20 weeks, or learns that the fetus is not viable, she must choose among terrible options: travel out of state to get an abortion (if her family can afford the hefty expense); carry to term and risk a dangerous labor to deliver a baby that is stillborn or able to survive only briefly, often in great pain; or possibly face criminal charges for getting the abortion in New York.

Current state law also fails to protect women and men from being fired or otherwise discriminated against by their employer for their reproductive healthcare decisions, whether making the decision to get an abortion, or simply choosing to use contraception. In addition, although access to contraceptive options is instrumental in reducing the number of unintended pregnancies, including teen pregnancies, and leads to families that are planned, safe, and healthy, many New Yorkers face barriers to contraceptive services due to lack of financial resources.

The RHA, the Boss Bill, and the CCCA address these pressing issues.

The existing New York State abortion law was enacted in 1970. It is not based on modern medical practices, and it does not guarantee the same constitutional protections as Roe v. Wade. Passing the Reproductive Health Act (S2796/A1748) would provide for abortion care after 20 weeks if a woman’s life or health is at risk, or if a fetus is not viable. Additionally, the RHA repeals outdated and unconstitutional criminal statutes banning abortion, and moves the regulation of abortion into the public health law, where it belongs, ensuring that New York State law treats abortion as health care and not a criminal act. Reproductive health care decisions should be made by a woman and her doctor – not by politicians or the government.

The Boss Bill (S3791/A566) closes a gap in current workplace anti-discrimination laws. Employees would not need to fear being the target of employer discrimination if they use contraception, get abortion care, or seek other reproductive health services.

The Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act (S3668/A1378) requires insurance policies to provide coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptive products. Policies are also required to cover emergency contraception, voluntary sterilization procedures, patient education and counseling on contraception, follow-up services, and the provision of a 12-month supply of a contraceptive at one time, without a deductible, co-payment, or any other cost-sharing requirement.

At this critical time when women’s health and reproductive rights are under attack, New York must demonstrate bold leadership and stand up for women’s equality and healthy families. I urge my fellow New Yorkers to hold your Senators accountable. New York families have waited long enough - we can and must pass these bills.

Liz Krueger is a state senator representing parts of Manhattan. On Twitter @LizKrueger.

Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email

3 Ways New York Must Advance Reproductive Rights This Year Wed, 21 Mar 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Bridge Programs Get Big Results, But Little Support governorcuomo edu

(Photo: Office of the Governor - Kevin P. Coughlin)

Governor Cuomo’s $175 million workforce development proposal, announced earlier this year, promises major new investments in the skills-building programs that New York needs. With industries like healthcare, tech, and construction facing shortages of skilled workers, the governor’s plan can help expand access to opportunity while boosting the economy.

But for millions of New Yorkers who lack math and literacy skills—including 2 million adults without a high school diploma and 2.3 million who speak English less than very well—gaining entry to effective workforce programs will first require boosting their basic skills. That is the idea behind bridge programs, which help adults with limited formal education acquire the skills they need to transition into training and higher education.

Given the enormous population of New Yorkers with these needs, expanding bridge programs should be part of any statewide workforce development proposal. Ideally, these programs can teach adult basic education in the context of an industry, while building momentum toward a marketable credential. However, fewer than a dozen programs in New York City and just a handful upstate put the full bridge model into practice.

It’s time to change this. New York State should make investing in bridge programs part of its workforce development plan.

Where the model has been implemented, the results are impressive. Bridge programs work for people with limited opportunities and no time to waste. Research has found that bridge programs are effective for students with significant barriers to employment, including those with a reading level as low as the 7th grade.

New York’s leading example is the Bridge to College and Careers program at LaGuardia Community College. Through coursework that focuses on healthcare, science, or business, the program provides meaningful context for the math and literacy skills students need to pass their high school equivalency exams.

LaGuardia’s bridge program has connected with especially vulnerable demographics: About half of its bridge students are 26 or older, almost half are immigrants, and over 50 percent read at a 7th or 8th grade level. Many of these students are balancing commitments that make going back to school particularly difficult, such as multiple part-time jobs and children at home.

A 2013 study by MDRC showed that students in LaGuardia’s bridge program were twice as likely as their peers to pass the high school equivalency exam and three times as likely to pursue a postsecondary degree. The program has proven so effective that other states are using it as a model, notably a new bridge program at Northeast Wisconsin College. But even as Wisconsin imports LaGuardia’s pioneering program, none of New York State’s 35 other community colleges have been funded to offer bridge programs of their own.

Aside from the program at LaGuardia Community College, most of New York City’s bridge programs are run by nonprofit job training and adult education providers. One notable example is Per Scholas, a respected Bronx-based training organization, which partnered with The Door to create a five-week TechBridge program where participants catch up on basic math and English skills before transitioning to Per Scholas’ IT Support job training course.

The landscape of bridge programs is even more limited upstate. One bright spot is CenterState CEO, a business development organization in Syracuse, which integrates math and literacy education into a green construction training program. Likewise, the New York Association for Continuing and Community Education offers adult basic education that bridges into a certified nurse’s assistant training program. Other initiatives organized by community colleges, nonprofits, and intermediaries only use elements of the bridge model—like combining adult literacy programs with pre-college preparation—and are hampered by limited resources and a lack of coordination with industry partners.

Multiplying the capacity of bridge programs will require state leadership. Governor Cuomo and the state Legislature should fund pilot projects at community colleges statewide modeled on LaGuardia’s successful initiative, provide resources to scale up proven programs run by nonprofit providers, and invest in the capacity of business development intermediaries to bring stakeholders together to create bridge programs.

The new state Office of Workforce Development can also organize partnerships among schools, nonprofits, and employers to shape bridge programs that work for the needs of specific regions. As bridge initiatives grow, New York should prioritize programs that implement the full model—offering adult education in an industry context, bridging into a program that offers a postsecondary or industry-recognized credential, and incorporating a credential into the bridge program itself.  

New York’s bridge programs serve nowhere near the number of adults who would benefit from them. It’s time for New York to catch up. Building support for the bridge model into the state’s bold new workforce investment plan can help ensure that a shot at economic mobility is accessible to all.

Naomi Sharp is a research associate at the Center for an Urban Future, a New York–based think tank focused on expanding economic opportunity. On Twitter @nycfuture.

Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email

Bridge Programs Get Big Results, But Little Support Tue, 20 Mar 2018 04:00:00 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 19 New York City Hall

New York City Hall

What to watch for this week in New York politics:

It’s crunch time for a new state budget, which is due by the April 1 start of the new fiscal year. While a new budget won’t necessarily be done by then -- many years the budget has been late by days, weeks, or months (though under Governor Andrew Cuomo they have been on time or close to it) -- negotiations are due to heat up this week and there are promises that the budget will be done by March 30, before the Passover and Easter holidays arrive. 

This week and next will each feature four session days for the Legislature in Albany, which means ample opportunity for legislative leaders and Governor Andrew Cuomo to hold “leaders meetings,” also known as the “four men in a room.”

We’re also watching this week for further develops in the race for Governor. Cuomo has whirred his machine into motion after rumors became more real about Cynthia Nixon challenging him from the left in the Democratic primary. A Nixon announcement could come any day.

On the Republican side, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro has emerged as the GOP frontrunner, though he is not officially launching his campaign until April 2, he has said. Still, he’s made it very clear that he is running and he’s been racking up key endorsements from party leaders around the tarte, including, this past week, the Manhattan County Republicans.

City Council hearings continue this week on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s preliminary budget proposal. We’re watching those hearings and for further signs of where the Council will land on key issues that appear to have some conflict with the mayor, like what the city will put toward the MTA.

And the week will culminate on Saturday with the March for Our Lives, marches across the globe against gun violence and for gun control, inspired by and initially organized by survivors of the February 14 school massacre in Parkland, Florida. The main march will be in Washington, D.C., and there will be several marches in New York City.

There are many events to be aware of this week - see 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:***

The run of the week in detail:

A"On Monday, Mayor de Blasio and First Lady McCray will host a press conference to make an announcement about opioids. This event is open press. There will be Q-and-A." The event will take place at 11:30 a.m. at Richmond University Medical Center on Staten Island. "In the evening, the Mayor will appear live on NY1’s Inside City Hall. Later, the Mayor will attend the Feast of St. Joseph's hosted by the Democratic Committee of Richmond County. This event is closed press."

At the City Council on Monday, the Committee on Governmental Operations will hold a preliminary budget hearing at 10 a.m., regarding the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, the Law Department, the Board of Elections, the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, and Community Boards.

Also at the City Council on Monday:
--The Committee on Public Safety will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss a proposed law relating to “requiring the police department to submit reports on the enforcement of marijuana possession.”
--The Committee on Housing and Buildings will meet at 1 p.m. to discuss a proposed law extending rent stabilization laws, and to discuss a resolution “determining that a public emergency requiring rent control in the City of New York continues to exist and will continue to exist on and after April 1, 2018.”

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Monday in Albany.

At 9 a.m. Monday, Public Advocate Letitia James will host a roundtable discussion on the implications of Janus v. AFSCME for labor and public employment, at DC37. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will be among those who speak.

At 10 a.m. Monday,  “Housing Rights Initiative in partnership with the City Council’s Oversight & Investigations Committee Chair Council Member Torres, will announce a new investigation into Kushner Companies for falsifying permits with the City’s Department of Buildings and the impact it had on reducing the number of rent-stabilized apartments across New York City. New data uncovered by the Housing Rights Initiative found that Kushner Companies, which is owned by President Trump’s son-in-law and Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, falsified at least 80 work permit applications across 34 buildings in its portfolio over a 4 year period. The new investigation will examine how the Kushner Companies may have averted accountability, harassed tenants, and reduced the stock of rent-stabilized apartments. Falsifying work permits with the City’s Department of Buildings is a crime and punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment.” The press conference, to be held outside Kushner Companies Headquarters, 666 Fifth Avenue, will feature Housing Rights Initiative Executive Director Aaron Carr; Council Members Ritchie Torres and Keith Powers; and others.

Monday “at 5:30 PM, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams will commemorate the rich contributions and history of Greek-Americans in the borough at his annual heritage celebration in the Courtroom at Brooklyn Borough Hall. The event is being held in partnership with the Greek-American Heritage Committee, an organization whose mission is to educate the public on Greek culture, literacy, and history across New York City. The festive occasion will feature Greek cuisine and libations as well as traditional dancing from the A. Fantis Parochial School in Downtown Brooklyn, D.G. Parochial School in Bay Ridge, and Hellenic Classical Charter School in South Slope. Joined by dignitaries such as Konstantinos Koutras, Consul General of Greece in New York, Borough President Adams will thank members of Brooklyn’s Greek-American community for their service to improving the lives of people across the borough.”

At 7 p.m. Monday, Manhattan Borough President Brewer and City Council Member Helen Rosenthal with host a community meeting on 200 Amsterdam Avenue, at Rutgers Church.

At the City Council on Tuesday, the following committees will hold preliminary budget hearings:
--Finance and Capital Budget jointly at 10 a.m., regarding the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Design and Construction.
--Health at 10 a.m., regarding the Medical Examiner and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
--Justice System at 2 p.m., regarding the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and the Human Resources Administration’s Office of Civil Justice.
--Mental Health at 2 p.m., regarding the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Also at the City Council on Tuesday:
--The Committee on Finance will meet at 9:30 a.m. to discuss the transfer of funds between city agencies “to implement changes to the City's expense budget.”
--The Committee on Education will meet at 1 p.m. to discuss a proposed law relating to “requiring the department of education to provide school-level data regarding students receiving special education services.”

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Tuesday in Albany.

On Tuesday, the Regional Plan Association will host “Next New York: How a Charter Revision could change the Future of our City” at 1 Whitehall St in Manhattan -- for RPA members or by invitation only. The event will feature discussion with Public Advocate Letitia James, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and City Council Member Antonio Reynoso.

At 8 a.m. Tuesday, the Center for an Urban Future will host “Scaling Up Small Businesses in Queens,” discussing the boom in small business in Queens and concurrent lack of expansion of those businesses. Featured speakers include SBS Commissioner Gregg Bishop and City Council Member Donovan Richards, along with Seth Bornstein, Executive Director of the Queens Economic Development Corporation; Yanki Tshering, Executive Director of the Business Center for New Americans; Gloria Abreu, founder of Family United Home Care; and Sean Peckett, co-founder of Soccer Friends USA. The event will take place at the Little Theater at LaGuardia College in Long Island City.

On Tuesday morning, Comptroller Scott Stringer will host an Irish Community Breakfast at the David N. Dinkins Municipal Building.

At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Board of Standards and Appeals will hold a public hearing at Spector Hall.

At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, the New York City Board of Elections will hold a commissioners’ meeting.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, Riders Alliance, Transportation Alternatives, and the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign will converge outside Governor Cuomo’s Midtown office to demand that congestion pricing be included in the Fiscal Year 2019 state budget.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer "will host a Women’s History Month celebration featuring prominent local writers and performers: Aparna Nancherla, comedian, actress, and writer (seen in Comedy Central's "Corporate"); Abigail Pesta, journalist and author (coauthor, with Sandra Uwiringiyimana, of How Dare the Sun Rise); Pamela Sneed, poet, performance artist, and actor (author of the story collection Sweet Dreams); and Sheila Weller, journalist and author (author of Girls Like Us, a biography of Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon). Each featured guest will read or perform from a recent work at the celebration, which will take place on the mezzanine of Manhattan's historic Municipal Building."

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, "Mayor de Blasio will deliver remarks at the Greek Independence Day Reception at Gracie Mansion. This event is open press. There will be no Q-and-A. Later, the Mayor will deliver remarks at the Shared Interest: Shared Planet gala. This event is closed press."

The City Council will hold a stated meeting at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Council Speaker Corey Johnson is expected to host a pre-stated press conference.

Also at the City Council on Wednesday:
--The Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime Uses will meet at 9:45 a.m.
--The Committee on Land Use will meet at 10 a.m.
--The Committee on Finance will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss the City Council operating budget, and a resolution “approving the new designation and changes in the designation of certain organizations to receive funding in the Expense Budget.”

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Wednesday in Albany.

The MTA will hold a board meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the Panel for Educational Policy will hold a policy meeting at the High School for Fashion Industries in Chelsea.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, New York Times reporter Sarah Maslin Nir will host a discussion with MTA Chair Joe Lhota and MTA Board Member Veronica Vanterpool, talking about “what can be done to ensure the future success of the New York subway system.” The event will take place at the Museum of the City of New York, part of the “Only in New York” series of talks at the museum hosted by Maslin Nir.

At the City Council on Thursday, the following committees will hold preliminary budget hearings:
--Oversight and Investigations at 10 a.m., regarding the Department of Investigation.
--Education at 10 a.m., regarding the School Construction Authority and the Department of Education.

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Thursday in Albany.

Friday and the weekend
At 9 a.m. Friday, the Murphy Institute at CUNY will host “Promising Practices: Labor and Community Fighting Sexual Harassment in the Era of #MeToo.” Labor leaders and advocates will discuss “bringing strategies, resources, and creativity together to create an equity framework for fighting harassment in the workplace and community.”

At 9 a.m. Friday, the Association for a Better New York will host “New York City and the 2020 Census” at the Sheraton Hotel in Midtown. Joseph Salvo, Chief Demographer for the Department of City Planning, will “discuss what's at stake, New York's history with census counts, and the federal process going forward.”

At the City Council on Friday, the Committee on Aging will hold a preliminary budget hearing at 10 a.m., regarding the Department for the Aging.

Mayor de Blasio is expected to make his weekly appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show on Friday morning at 10 a.m.

On Saturday, students and allies nationwide will participate in the “March for Our Lives,” to prevent gun violence in schools and elsewhere and to call on leaders to take action on the issue. In New York City, the main march will begin at 72nd St and Central Park West.

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: (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

by Ben Brachfeld and Ben Max

The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 19 Sun, 18 Mar 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Max & Murphy Podcast: A Journalist Runs for State Senate

Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette

March 13, 2018 - Max & Murphy Podcast: A Journalist Runs for State Senate, with Ross Barkan

ross barkan senate277px

Ross Barkan announced late last year that he was making the leap from journalism to running for elected office and entered the race in the 22nd State Senate District, a Brooklyn seat currently held by Republican Marty Golden that is on the ballot this fall. Golden is part of the GOP majority in the Senate that Democrats like Barkan blame for preventing a host of progressive legislation from moving through the Legislature.

Before he can directly take on Golden, Barkan must first prevail in the Democratic primary, where he faces Andrew Gounardes, an aide to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams who lost to Golden in 2012. (We had booked both Barkan and Gounardes for this episode, but Gounardes later said a work obligation came up, so Barkan appeared alone.)

In this episode, Barkan explains his rationale for running, how journalism has prepared him for elected office, his campaign platform, and more.

Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter @TweetBenMax and @JarrettMurphy and guest Ross Barkan (@RossBarkan). You can listen to the episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.

by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Max & Murphy Podcast: A Journalist Runs for State Senate Tue, 13 Mar 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Adding to the Menu at the Coming Museum of Political Corruption in Albany museum of political corruption

(image: Museum of Political Corruption)

The New York State legislature is often cited as the most corrupt in the nation and Bruce Roter, founder and president of the board of trustees of Albany’s upcoming Museum of Political Corruption, wants to tell the story of how we got there and help the state change course.

A music professor by trade, Roter made a name for himself in the Albany area in 2012, when he led a successful grassroots campaign to bring Trader Joe’s to the capital region.

Roter has since turned his energy to a somewhat more ambitious endeavor: tackling New York state government’s reputed “culture of corruption” by building an interactive, state-of-the-art, national attraction in downtown Albany.

bruce roter“We want to make sure we do this right. We want this museum to be a source of pride for our downtown,” said Roter (pictured), who has been plotting, planning, and building support for the not-for-profit museum for a few years.

While the tentative open date for the brick-and-mortar location is in 2019, the museum team has kept the project in the limelight by hosting panel discussions and attending various events around town. On May 5, Nelly Bly’s birthday, the group will present its second annual Nelly Bly Award for investigative reporting, and a virtual exhibit may become available on the website soon. Susanne Craig of The New York Times was given the first Nelly Bly award in November 2017 at an event in downtown Albany.

In an interview with Gotham Gazette, Roter discussed the museum’s progress and importance, this year’s series of state government-related corruption trials, and a very special menu item that will be featured in the museum’s “Cozy Crony Cafe.”

The Q-and-A below is lightly edited for clarity.

Gotham Gazette (GG): We seem to be in an important moment in New York corruption history. The fate of Governor Cuomo’s former top aide Joe Percoco is being decided, two former legislative leaders will be retried this spring, among others. Have you been keeping up with the headlines?

Bruce Roter (BR): “I do try to follow when I can. It’s all very concerning, of course. On the one hand, it’s concerning, and on the other hand, I just remember that this is just one more stage in corruption that our state has had, and that’s the long-term view that we are taking.

“There are those who think that this is probably the most corrupt time that New York has ever had. That’s not the truth at all. One can look at other eras, the 1800s, the 1900s, the Tammany Hall period, and other periods like that.

“So I think we need a historical perspective when it comes to corruption, and thwarting immediate frustration. It didn’t happen overnight and it’s not going to get solved overnight.”

GG: What’s the latest on the Museum of Corruption?

BR: “We’re moving forward. We are still seeking sources of funding. We do want to build a state-of-the-art museum in downtown Albany. We’re definitely taking the long-term view, not only of our project, but of corruption in general. We can’t simply look at any particular headline. We understand that to fix corruption, it’s going to take a long-term cultural change, and that’s what we hope our institution will do.”

GG: What birthed the idea to create a museum of corruption?

BR: “I think the idea originally started because there were so many headlines of corruption back in 2012 and 2013. What started off as just an idea soon blossomed into a full-blown project, once I began discussing this with others, who also thought it was an excellent and unique idea and a way that we here in Albany could contribute to ethical governance in our state. That’s when we got serious and became chartered and are moving this forward.”

GG: You are a music professor at the College of Saint Rose. Have you ever worked for government before, or is your interest in ethical governance a byproduct of growing up in Albany?

BR: “I actually grew up downstate and I’ve been here 20 years now. I’ve always had an interest in government and public affairs even in my own creative work as a composer. I’ve often been inspired by public causes. I’m the composer of a piece called the Camp David Overture for the Middle East Peace Accords.

“Several years ago, I was commissioned to write a piece for the Albany Symphony on speeches and writings of [President and New York State Governor] Theodore Roosevelt, and I became very inspired by him, especially Roosevelt’s call for the public to engage in the civil discourse of their community. So that’s what I’m seeking to do also.

“Also, I have to admit, I have also enjoyed being part of the public discussion when I organized a grassroots campaign to bring Trader Joe’s to the capital district.”

GG: Thank you for that…

BR: “Well, yeah, everyone thanks me for that. Your quite welcome, I’m enjoying it myself. It was just the gratitude that I received from the community for being involved with that that has spurred my continued interest in working for the community. I feel the best way I can do that is to try and find an educational way that we can address governmental corruption.”

GG: What’s the long game? Have you selected partners to run the museum while you are at your day job once you have a brick-and-mortar location?

BR: “The long game is -- obviously, we do have a board of trustees -- is to hire a full staff, including an executive director, who is knowledgeable about museum management, running our museum as a museum ought to be run. We want this to be a first-class cultural institution for our city and a tourist draw at that.”

GG: How will you keep up with the endless stream of headlines and corruption trials and incorporate them into the museum’s exhibits?

BR: “We will keep up. We want the museum to be current. There will be rotating or evolving exhibits that will address what is going on currently, even as we also take the broader, historic view of corruption that has gone on for centuries in New York, as well as understanding the causes of corruption, and what we can do about corruption.

“We do want to have in the museum what I’m calling Solutions Hall, where museum-goers will be invited to participate in discussing or uncovering solutions that can help us to achieve more ethical government.”

GG: Have any lawmakers have reached out in support of this idea or taken an interest in this project?

BR: “I can tell you that [Republican] Minority Assembly Leader Brian Kolb has been interested in our project -- along with some others. We are completely non-partisan and we want to make sure that we reach across the aisle and we want to bring all of our leaders onboard. Because this is not about a particular leader, this is about fixing our government and the public working with our leaders to create a better, more effective government.

“I can tell you that one of the initiatives in which we are currently engaged is a collection of quotes on ethical leadership. We’re seeking quotes from leaders in a number of different fields, including politics and sports and religion and education. We do want to collect these quotes and perhaps even put them into a volume some day. We already received a quote -- a handwritten quote at that -- from former President Jimmy Carter, we’ve received a quote from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and one from Congressman Paul Tonko -- here in the Capital District -- and from Assemblymember Pat Fahy, and also Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon.

“I want to make sure we have a wonderful, diverse representation of quotes on ethical leadership. Because even though we are a Museum of Political Corruption, we want to turn this around and make sure it leads to something positive.”

GG: Corruption is certainly not limited to government. Do you hope that the ideas that come out of this will produce solutions that transcend government and apply to other institutions?

BR: “Absolutely. I think it will. If we can address ethical leadership in one field, we can certainly address ethical leadership in every field. That’s of course why we want to get the leaders in the world of sports and arts and entertainment to engage with us in this search for bits of wisdom of how we can be more ethical in all facets of our society.”

GG: So is the objective to educate the public about corruption or to solicit feedback and crowdsource some solutions to the problem?

BR: “It’s both. Ultimately we want to educate and inform, but we also want to empower as well....For those people who are cynical and think nothing can ever be done and nothing can ever change, we hope that by the time they leave our exhibits, they too feel that they can make a difference in our society.

“We look at all of these headlines, and trials, and retrials, and with tremendous respect to everything that’s is going on with our legislature and our prosecutors, we also think the public needs to get involved too. Of course, the best way and the first way we get involved is at the ballot booth. That’s why we feel education is import part of any change.

“If there is indeed a culture of corruption in Albany, it’s going to take a cultural institution to fix it. And that’s what we are going to be: a cultural institution.”

GG: Having moved to Albany last year to cover the Capitol, one thing I was struck by is how dramatic state government is, from the castle-like building, to the theatrics that happen daily on the Senate floor. As someone with a music background, do you plan to incorporate art, music, and performance into the museum’s exhibits?

BR: “Of course! The whole discussion of public corruption can be held on so many levels. We’re going to have a Tammany Lecture hall in the museum where we can do panel discussions and public speaking, but can also do film theories or musical productions that address the subject as well. Art frequently has important things to say about what is going on in society. And so, I certainly want to encourage that.

“I could also see us engaging or commissioning visual artists to have an art collection. We are certainly going to have a collection of political historic cartoons. So very much, art definitely has something to say about politics, and we will incorporate that into our design.”

GG: Circling back to the current trials. Any new additions inspired by the trial of former Cuomo top aide Joe Percoco?

BR: “You can expect that on the menu for the Cozy Crony Cafe we will be serving ziti.”

by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Adding to the Menu at the Coming Museum of Political Corruption in Albany Sun, 11 Mar 2018 05:00:00 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 12 New York City Hall

New York City Hall

What to watch for this week in New York politics:

This week we're awaiting gubernatorial campaign announcements from Republican Marc Molinaro and Democrat Cynthia Nixon.

As those election year moves happen, or don't, government is happening in Albany, where the Legislature will be in session four days this week as we enter crunch time for a new state budget, which is due by the April 1 start to the new fiscal year. One-house budgets are expected this week from the Assembly and Senate. The Independent Democratic Conference of the Senate may also put forth its own budget plan. As Governor Andrew Cuomo himself said this past week, once the one-house budgets are out, negotiations can really get going.

As Cuomo works on a budget, which may include a major overhaul of the state's tax system to respond to the new federal tax code, and waits to see if Nixon will challenge him in the Democratic primary, we're also waiting to see if former top Cuomo aide and brother-like figure Joe Percoco is convicted on any of the corruption charges in his federal case, which is in jury deliberations.

On Monday, however, Cuomo will wade deeper into his recent focus on NYCHA, which has been one of several areas around which his feud with Mayor Bill de Blasio has escalated of late and as he considers declaring a state of emergency at the housing authority -- see below for details.

As the week starts, we're also waiting for de Blasio to return from out of town, he's on a five-day, three-stop trip that has him returning to the city on Tuesday. On Friday, de Blasio left the city for Baltimore, Maryland, to deliver remarks at the Congressional Progressive Caucus Center Strategy Summit. On Saturday, he went to Austin, Texas, where on Sunday he was scheduled to "participate in a SXSW panel discussion with Mayor Adler of Austin, Texas and Mayor Wheeler of Portland, Oregon on the growing role of mayors nationally." The Mayor also made an announcement that New York will be among other cities that won't do business with internet companies that don't honor net neutrality.

On Monday, de Blasio will "attend a U.S. Conference of Mayors’ strategy session on the 2020 census and immigration...After that, the Mayor will travel from Austin, Texas to Washington, D.C. Later, the Mayor will deliver remarks at the National League of Cities spring meeting" at 4:45 p.m. Monday at Wardman Park Marriott in D.C.

Meanwhile, City Council budget hearings continue this week on de Blasio's preliminary budget plan -- details on those and a whole lot more below, via our day-by-day rundown

***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:***

The run of the week in detail:

At 10:15 a.m. Monday, Governor Cuomo will hold a press briefing at NYCHA Jackson Houses in the Bronx. "Before the press briefing, Governor Cuomo will tour residences at the Jackson Houses."

At the City Council on Monday, the following committees will hold preliminary budget hearings:
--Public Safety at 10 a.m., regarding the NYPD and Civilian Complaint Review Board
--Veterans at 1 p.m., regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs
--Public Safety and Justice System jointly at 2 p.m., regarding District Attorneys and the Special Narcotics Prosecutor

Also at the City Council on Monday:
--The Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet at 9:30 a.m.
--The Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime Uses will meet at noon
--The Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions, and Concessions will meet at 2 p.m.

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Monday in Albany.

The New York State Board of Regents will meet on Monday and Tuesday in Albany.

At 9 a.m. Monday, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson will speak at Congressman Joe Crowley’s Annual National Women’s History Month Commemoration, at Bronx Botanical Garden.

At 10:30 a.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will deliver remarks at Access Denied Campaign Rally and Press Conference, 163rd Street Subway Station, 161st Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will be in Washington, D.C. Monday  for the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference. Brewer will chair a meeting of the Large Cities Council and participate in panel discussion on infrastructure.

At 6 p.m. Monday, First Lady Chirlane McCray will deliver an address to the New York City Bar Association about the ThriveNYC program. The address will be called “Breaking the Silence: A New Way Forward on Mental Health.”

At 6 p.m. Monday, there will be a march down 9th Street in Park Slope demanding greater safety for children and pedestrians on streets. The march comes in the wake of a hit and run in Park Slope that killed two children. The event is sponsored by Borough President Eric Adams and several community organizations, including Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Comptroller Scott Stringer will also participate, as well as Council Members Brad Lander, Carlos Menchaca, Antonio Reynoso and Mark Treyger.

At 7 p.m. Monday, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and EBC-Metro IAF Co-chair Rev. David K Brawley will hold the first in a series of forums on the Metro IAF “proposal to reconstruct NYCHA and build more senior housing.” The first forum will take place at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Brownsville. Comptroller Scott Stringer will deliver remarks.

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Tuesday in Albany.

At 9 a.m. Tuesday, the New York City Board of Correction will hold a public meeting at 125 Worth Street.

At 10 a.m. Tuesday, "New York’s top environmental advocates will convene on the steps of City Hall to forcefully call on policymakers to tackle the city’s transit and environmental crises and pass the Fix NYC plan as part of this year’s state budget." Participants will include Environmental Defense Fund, Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, Move NY, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York League of Conservation Voters, New Yorkers for Parks.

At 11 a.m., Governor Cuomo will speak at a Planned Parenthood rally in Albany. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will also deliver remarks. And at 4:15 p.m., Hochul will speak at the Orthodox Union Student rally.

On Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Hispanic Federation, "First Lady McCray and Deputy Mayor Palacio will make an announcement about New York City’s assistance to Puerto Rico’s hurricane recovery efforts."

At 12:45 p.m. Tuesday in Washington, D.C., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will participate in a "panel on local infrastructure with Mayor Marie Melendez-Altier (Ponce, PR), Council Member Rachel Hundley (Sonoma, CA), and Council Member Rebecca Viagran (San Antonio, TX), during lunch session of the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference."

"House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY) will hold a press conference with students from the Renaissance School in Jackson Heights, local elected officials, and community activists from MomsRising on Tuesday, March 13, at 1:30 p.m. to demand congressional action on gun safety." City Council Member Danny Dromm will be among those participating.

At 2:45 p.m. Tuesday in Albany, "As part of Advocacy Day for #HALTsolitary, in which 300+ New Yorkers from across the state will convene in Albany to meet with 70 legislators, survivors of solitary, their family members, and other advocates will hold a speak-out and press conference outside Governor Cuomo’s office. The Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC) will also deliver a card inviting the Governor to spend 24 consecutive hours in solitary confinement in one of his prisons, as Rick Raemisch, the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, did upon taking the job. (Mr. Raemisch’s experiences ultimately helped inspire significant reforms in that state that are similar to legislation pushed by CAIC.) This will be the second invitation; advocates delivered the first one just before X-mas but received no response. CAIC will also be calling on Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to enact the Humane Alternatives to Long Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act (A.3080B-Aubry/S.4784A-Parker)." The event is being organized by Vocal-New York, JustLeadershipUSA, and others.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson will appear on NY1's Inside City Hall Tuesday evening.

Wednesday will mark one month since the school massacre in Florida, during which 17 people were killed, that has led to a student-led movement for gun control. There are 17-minute-long school walkouts planned all over the country, including in New York City.

At the City Council on Wednesday, the following committees will hold preliminary budget hearings:
--Environmental Protection at 10 a.m., regarding the Department of Environmental Protection. The Subcommittee on the Capital Budget will join at 11:30 to discuss the DEP capital budget
--Housing and Buildings at 10 a.m., regarding the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Department of Buildings
--Sanitation and Solid Waste Management at 1 p.m., regarding the Department of Sanitation and the Business Integrity Commission
--Public Housing and Capital Budget jointly at 1 p.m., regarding NYCHA

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Wednesday in Albany.

At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the City Planning Commission will hold a public meeting at 120 Broadway.

On Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. in Albany, "Legislators, families, providers and advocates will be urging the Legislature and Governor to reject the Executive Budget proposal to cap and cut child welfare services reimbursement to NYC, which includes child protective services and preventive services. New York’s child welfare financing structure, in place since 2002, incentivizes good outcomes by capping foster care reimbursement while reimbursing counties 62% of the costs for the services that keep children and youth safe and out of foster care. New York City has leveraged this funding stream to lower child protective caseloads, decrease juvenile justice detention and placement, dramatically reduce the use of foster care, and become a national model for its continuum of high quality, effective preventive services. The budget proposal puts the safety of children at risk." The event is being organized by Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York.

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Civilian Complaint Review Board will hold a public board meeting at the Adam Clayton Powell Jr State Office Building in Harlem.

At the City Council on Thursday, the following committees will hold preliminary budget hearings:
--Land Use at 9:30 a.m., regarding the Landmarks Preservation Commission and Department of City Planning
--Criminal Justice at 10 a.m., regarding the Department of Probation, the Department of Correction, and the Board of Correction. The Subcommittee on the Capital Budget will join at 11:30 a.m. to examine DOC’s capital budget.
--Land Use and Technology jointly at 11:30 a.m., regarding DoITT
--Hospitals at 1 p.m., regarding the Health and Hospitals Corporation

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Thursday.

On Thursday at 6:30 p.m. "What's Happening in Albany: The NY DREAM Act: A Panel Discussion with Candidates, Experts, and Activists" will take place at Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York in Manhattan. Empire State Indivisible is hosting, with panelists Zellnor Myrie, candidate for State Senate District 20; Luis Yumbla, United We Dream; Karina Davila, Yonkers Sanctuary Movement; and Yatziri Tovar, Make the Road NY.

On Thursday at 7 p.m. "at the Local 46 the Metallic Lathers Union (1322 Third Avenue), neighborhood organization Eastsiders for Sensible Development will hold a meeting with Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts and Urban Planner George Janes to learn about the 370 ft tower in development on Third Ave between East 74th and 75th streets and what the Community can do about it."

Friday and the weekend
At the City Council on Friday, the following committees will hold preliminary budget hearings:
--Cultural Affairs at 10 a.m., regarding libraries and the Department of Cultural Affairs
--Youth Services at 1 p.m., regarding the Department of Youth and Community Development

At 9:30 a.m. Friday, City Council Member Carlina Rivera will deliver keynote remarks at the Bellevue Hospital Community Advisory Board Legislative Breakfast.

Mayor de Blasio is expected to make his weekly appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show at 10 a.m. Friday.

At 2 p.m. Sunday, Let NY Vote will rally at Foley Square to urge the state legislature to early voting in the final state budget.

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: (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

by Ben Brachfeld and Ben Max

The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 12 Sun, 11 Mar 2018 05:00:00 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 5 New York City Hall

New York City Hall

What to watch for this week in New York politics:

This week will see the beginning of preliminary budget hearings at the City Council, where Council members will hear from representatives of the de Blasio administration about the mayor's proposed budget for next fiscal year, which begins July 1, and ask questions about how money is being allocated, savings, and more.

Key details of the city budget that is agreed upon later this year by Mayor de Blasio and the Council will depend on the next state budget, which is due by the April 1 start of the state fiscal year. Budget negotiations may heat up this week in Albany, with just a few weeks to go, though they really move much closer to the deadline. The Legislature is in session three days this week.

Hanging over state business are both the federal corruption trial of Governor Andrew Cuomo's former top aide, Joe Percoco, which is now in jury deliberations after closing arguments last week and this year's state-level elections, including the race for governor. While Cuomo has said he is seeking a third term this year, who his Republican opponent will be remains to be seen. State Senator John DeFrancisco has been seen as the frontrunner, but it appears that Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro has reconsidered his declaration that he would not run and is jumping into the fray. An announcement from Molinaro is expected this week.

An announcement that is not expected this week is that of the next New York City schools chancellor. After Mayor de Blasio indicated a pick and placed a news story announcing Alberto Carvalho as the next chancellor, to replace the retiring Carmen Fariña, Carvalho backed out in dramatic fashion, deciding to stay in Miami, Florida instead. The mayor said he was surprised and frustrated, but that the national search had already resumed. Fariña will stay on through the end of March, de Blasio said.

De Blasio will dabble in national politics again this week, he's due to co-host a fundraiser for Randy Bryce, who is challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin.

Those are a few highlights, but as always, there are many events to be aware of this week - see 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:***

The run of the week in detail:

At the City Council on Monday preliminary budget hearings will begin with a general overview hearing at 10 a.m., focused on the mayor’s preliminary budget, featuring representatives of the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Finance, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and the Independent Budget Office, among others that may testify. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson will deliver opening remarks.

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Monday in Albany.

At 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall, Speaker Johnson will co-host a Greek Independence Celebration.

At 6:30 p.m. Monday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and BetaNYC will host Open Data Training for Community Boards, at the Borough President’s Office.

On Monday at 6:30 p.m., National Action Network, elected officials, parents, and others are hosting an "emergency town hall meeting on safety and security in public schools." Participants will include Minister Kirsten John Foy & National Action Network, PS 11 PTA, NYS Dep. Sec. Public Safety Richard White, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, City Council Member Laurie Cumbo, DOE/NYPD Security & Safety Team. The town hall will occur at "419 Waverly Avenue, Brooklyn New York Between Greene and Gates avenue."

Mayor de Blasio will make his weekly appearance on NY1's Inside City Hall with anchor Errol Louis on Monday evening in the 7 and 11 p.m. hours.

At 7 p.m., Brewer will present a proclamation at Young People’s Chorus of NYC 30th anniversary gala, Lincoln Center. And at about 7:30 p.m., Brewer will visit the Society of Foreign Consuls in New York’s International Women’s Day event at Bohemian National Hall.

At the City Council on Tuesday, there will be a preliminary budget hearing on Higher Education at 2:30 p.m., regarding CUNY.

Also at the City Council on Tuesday:
--The Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss several proposed laws relating to litter and rodents.
--The Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet at 2:30 p.m.
--The Committee on Land Use will meet at 3 p.m.

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Tuesday in Albany.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the New York City Bar Association will host “The State of Criminal Discovery in New York State,” discussing “the current law applicable to criminal discovery in New York State courts; responses to the Criminal Law Committee's statewide survey of the judiciary, defense bar and district attorneys regarding current practices; criminal discovery law in other states; and proposed reforms.” Panelists will include Kristin Braun of the Legal Aid Society, Matthew McCann of the Law Office of Alan S. Futerfas, and former New York Supreme Court Justice James Yates. The panel will be moderated by Monica Hickey-Martin of the MTA Office of the Inspector General.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the Association for a Better New York will host “Covering the City Hall Beat: A Conversation with NYC Journalists” at the Tribeca Grill. Fordham political science professor Dr. Christina Greer will moderate a panel consisting of Mara Gay of the Wall Street Journal, J. David Goodman of the New York Times, Yoav Gonen of the New York Post, and Jillian Jorgensen of the New York Daily News.

Mayor de Blasio will host a fundraiser on Wednesday for Randy “Iron Stache” Bryce, who is challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan for his house seat in Wisconsin.

The full City Council will hold a “stated meeting” at City Hall at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Also at the City Council on Wednesday: The Committee on Rules, Elections, and Privileges will meet at 10:30 a.m. to receive three nominations from the Mayor for appointments to city agencies: Fernando Bohorquez and Anthony Crowell for the Conflicts of Interest Board, and Salvatore Scibetta for the Board of Standards and Appeals.

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Wednesday in Albany.

At the City Council on Thursday, the following committees will hold preliminary budget hearings:
--Transportation at 9:30 a.m., regarding the MTA
--Fire and Emergency Management at noon, regarding Fire/Emergency Medical Service and the Office of Emergency Management
--For-Hire Vehicles at 1:30 p.m., regarding the Taxi and Limousine Commission
--Transportation and the Capital Budget at 3 p.m., regarding the DOT expense and capital budgets

Thursday is International Women’s Day. It will be marked by commemorations by public officials as well as marches and strikes by advocacy groups.

At 8 a.m. Thursday, City & State will host “Is Closing Rikers a Dream or a Reality” at the New York Academy of Sciences. The event will feature a one-on-one interview between City & State editor Jon Lentz and Elias Husamudeen, President of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, followed by a panel discussing the impacts of closing Rikers and potential solutions to the problem of safety in the city’s jails, featuring Husamudeen, Queens ADA James Quinn, and City Council Members Joe Borelli and Keith Powers.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, the New York City Campaign Finance Board will hold a board meeting at 100 Church Street.

At 3 p.m. Thursday, Council Speaker Corey Johnson will join NY1 anchor Errol Louis and the CUNY Journalism School’s Center for Community and Ethnic Media for a discussion regarding “his vision for the City Council, the legislative agenda, increased oversight of city agencies and departments and maintaining the City Council's independence.” Also discussed will be issues relevant to community and ethnic media, and the Council’s relationship with the media. The event will take place at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in Midtown. Louis will be joined by Debralee Santos of the Manhattan Times and Stephon Johnson of the New York Amsterdam News.

Friday and the weekend
Mayor de Blasio is expected to make his weekly appearance on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show on Friday at 10 a.m.

At the City Council on Friday, the following committees will hold preliminary budget hearings:
--Economic Development at 10 a.m., regarding EDC
--Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing at 11 a.m., regarding the Department of Consumer Affairs and the new Mayor’s Office of Nightlife.
--Small Business at 1 p.m., regarding the Department of Small Business Services.

At 8:15 a.m. Friday, the Center for New York City Law at New York Law School will host Patrick Foye, President of the MTA, at its 150th “CityLaw Breakfast.” The discussion will center around “Innovation & Reform: Building Toward a New MTA.”

At 9 a.m. Friday, the Center for New York City Affairs will host “Getting Proactive in the Preserving & Strengthening of Human Services in NY,” discussing “the economic and social impact of human services CBOs, and the need to preserve and strengthen their critical role in building foundational supports that contribute to the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities.” Fordham political science professor Christina Greer will moderate a panel consisting of Herminia Palacio, the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services; Fran Barrett, Interagency Coordinator for Nonprofits in the Governor’s Office; Dylan Roberts, of Oliver Wyman; Emary Aronson, Chief Program Officer of the Robin Hood Foundation; and Ariel Zwang, CEO of Safe Horizon.

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: (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

by Ben Brachfeld and Ben Max

The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 5 Sun, 04 Mar 2018 05:00:00 +0000
The 2018 Elections in New York Andrew Cuomo voting

Gov. Cuomo votes (photo via The Governor's Office)

In 2018, New York will be home to elections for statewide seats including Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller, as well as one of its two United States Senate seats. In all five positions, incumbent Democrats are seeking reelection.

New York is also home to elections for all of its 27 seats in The House of Representatives -- races that will help determine which political party controls the chamber -- and in the state Legislature, with its 63 state Senate seats and 150 Assembly seats. The state Senate races will determine which party controls the chamber, which Republicans currently lead by a slight margin due to the defection of rogue Democrats. The Assembly is certain to remain solidly in Democratic hands.

Congressional primaries will occur June 26; while primaries for the state-level elections will occur in September (likely Thursday the 13th, but lawmakers are currently finalizing the move from Tuesday, September 11, due to Rosh Hashanah). Election Day -- with the general election for all 2018 races -- will occur November 6.

First, though, there are 11 special elections happening April 24 to fill 11 vacancies in the state Legislature, two in the Senate and nine in the Assembly.

It will be a busy, contentious election year in New York, with many races to keep tabs on, and outcomes that have major impact on the city, the state, and the nation.

Our ongoing coverage of the 2018 elections in New York, and some of the coverage from our media partners:

Major Cuomo Supporters Don’t Want a Democratic State Senate by Ben Brachfeld (April 2018)

Republican Governors Association ‘Keeping Close Eye’ on New York by Samar Khurshid (April 2018)

Cuomo's Progressive Promises, Reminiscent of Four Years Ago, Received Differently by Sam Raskin (April 2018)

Molinaro Outlines Initial Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform Agenda by Ben Max (April 2018)

Nixon Candidacy Spotlights Education Advocacy Group by Samar Khurshid (April 2018)

After Government Investment, Cuomo Taps Brewing Industry for Campaign Contributions by Shant Shahrigian (April 2018)

Cuomo, State Democrats Issue Misleading Pleas About Flipping Senate by Samar Khurshid (April 2018)

Nixon-Cuomo Primary Spotlights Role of State Democratic Party by Samar Khurshid (April 2018)

In Run for Governor, Marc Molinaro Will Make a Character Argument by Ben Max (March 2018)

Cynthia Nixon Recently Re-registered to Vote in Manhattan by Ben Max (March 2018)

‘Sex and the City’ Likely to Stay on Air Through Nixon-Cuomo Primary by Ben Brachfeld (March 2018)

Cuomo Campaign Removes Misleading Boast of Old Endorsements by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)

Cynthia Nixon Announces Democratic Primary Challenge to Governor Cuomo by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)

Molinaro Emerges on Top After Manhattan GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Forum by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)

Progressive Groups Endorse Democrat in Key Westchester Senate Race by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)

Molinaro Emerges on Top After Manhattan GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Forum by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: A Journalist Runs for State Senate A Journalist Runs for State Senate by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy (March 2018)

Poll Targeting Brooklyn District Gauges Anti-IDC Sentiment by Rachel Silberstein (March 2018)

Fierce Cuomo Critics, De Blasio-Allied Advisors Have Been ‘Ready for Cynthia’ by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)

Senate Candidates Outline Primary Campaigns Against ‘Trump Democrats by Matthew Sweeney & Ben Max (March 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: IDC Challengers Robert Jackson & Jessica Ramos by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy (February 2018)

As Hochul Pushes Cuomo Agenda, Williams Takes on Both in Primary Challenge by Rachel Silberstein (February 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Lieutenant Governor Candidate Jumaane Williams by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy (February 2018)

11 Special Elections Set for April 24 by Rachel Silberstein (February 2018)

Staten Island Activist Eyes Primary Challenge to IDC Senator Savino by Rachel Silberstein (February 2018)

Running Without Establishment Support, IDC Challengers Show Initial Fundraising Strides by Rachel Silberstein (January 2018)

2018 Will Be a Busy, Contentious Election Year in New York by Matthew Sweeney (January 2018)

City Council Member Jumaane Williams to Explore Run for Lieutenant Governor by Ben Max (January 2018)

Possible GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Weigh Chances to Unseat Cuomo by Rachel Silberstein (November 2017)

by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

The 2018 Elections in New York Tue, 27 Feb 2018 05:00:00 +0000