Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/547 Fri, 22 Feb 2019 07:00:26 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) Cuomo's 2019 Agenda of Election, Campaign Finance and Government Ethics Reforms http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8210-cuomo-s-voting-campaign-finance-and-ethics-reform-proposals http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8210-cuomo-s-voting-campaign-finance-and-ethics-reform-proposals gov cuomo albany

(Photo via the Governor's office)


Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a broad agenda of progressive legislation in his State of the State speech on Tuesday, accompanied by more detailed policy and budget books, including several measures aimed at improving New York’s democracy and increasing public trust in state government.

Emboldened by full Democratic control of the State Senate and Assembly, after years of a split Legislature where Republicans controlled the upper chamber, Cuomo reiterated many of the proposals that he has repeatedly advanced in vain in previous years and also introduced new ideas to combat public corruption, reduce the effects of money in politics, and provide more transparency about the workings of the Legislature and Executive branches.

Cuomo took stock of the state government’s failure to police its own -- as he spoke about passing ethics reforms, the powerpoint slide behind him filled with newspaper headlines about corruption in state government, starting with his own administration. “If you read the headlines over the past few years, they have been continuous and they have been disappointing, and they have been disgraceful, and they have been widespread,” he admitted. “It looks terrible and it is terrible.”

Government reform advocates have broadly praised the governor’s platform as they continue to examine the details included in the budget. On voting reforms, there seems to be general agreement, while the campaign finance and ethics proposals may prompt further debate.   

Election Reforms
Cuomo backed several voting reforms, many of which were passed by the State Legislature on Monday and sent to the governor’s desk for his signature. They included early voting -- he has proposed 12 days of early voting while the Legislature passed a 10 day bill -- consolidation of state and federal primaries into one date in June, pre-registering 16- and 17-year-olds to vote, and portability of voter registrations. There was also the campaign finance reform measure of significantly limiting contributions through the so-called LLC loophole and requiring more transparency from LLC owners.

The Legislature also began the process of amending the state constitution to establish same-day voter registration and no-excuse absentee ballots by mail, both of which will have to be approved by the next Legislature seated in 2021 and then through a ballot referendum.   

Cuomo supports all of the above, and his proposals go further, some of which are matched by bills Democratic legislators have introduced. The governor wants to make Election Day a state holiday, implement automatic and online voter registration, and also expand voting hours for primary elections upstate where polling sites currently only open at noon.

Campaign Finance Reform
Cuomo is supporting a sweeping campaign finance reform agenda that includes a public matching system for the state.

The Legislature’s LLC bill brought contribution limits in line with those for corporations, at $5,000. Cuomo, on the other hand, has proposed closing that loophole entirely (something some legislators have said they want to do in a next phase) and banning all corporate contributions to candidate campaigns, while also lowering contribution limits across the board. He also proposed prohibiting any contributions from individuals or entities that have recently applied or are seeking government contracts.

Separately, the governor pushed a measure to require reporting of intermediaries or “bundlers” who collect donations from several contributors and funnel them to candidates.

He wants to establish public financing of elections, providing 6-to-1 matches for small contributions up to $175, similar to the system currently in place in New York City. The public funds limits would be $8 million for candidates for governor; $4 million for lieutenant governor, attorney general and comptroller candidates; $375,000 for Senate candidates; and $175,000 for Assembly candidates.

On Wednesday, the governor’s office put out details of his proposal to lower contribution limits -- statewide candidates would be able to receive a total of $25,000 ($10,000 for the primary and $15,000 for the general election) down from the current effective total limit of roughly $65,100. Limits would be lower for state legislators -- Senate candidates would be allowed to raise a total of $10,000 from individual contributors, down from $18,000; Assembly candidates would be limited to $6,000 total, down from $8,800. While significant reductions, the numbers are still quite high relative to individual donation limits to presidential candidates or candidates for mayor of New York City, for example.

Cuomo is also seeking to take on the scourge of “dark money” flowing into elections through independent expenditures by anonymous sources. His budget briefing book calls for expanded disclosure by 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) nonprofit groups of the “extent and nature of their expenditures used to influence the debate on public issues, and the identity of large donors who facilitate that speech.”

“These loopholes make the entire campaign system fraught for a lack of integrity,” Cuomo said. “You want to talk about franchising individuals who now feel disenfranchised - a corporation, a large contributor with a $10 million check can buy an election and nobody knows who he or she is.”

Government and Lobbying Ethics
Though some of his proposals are likely to face resistance from the State Legislature, Cuomo wasn’t shy about challenging his legislative counterparts in his Tuesday speech as he railed against the recurring instances of corruption that have come to light in recent years, including from within his own administration.

“Now, we will never stop venial, greedy, ignorant, behavior by people. And we shouldn't be expected to do that,” Cuomo said, “but we should be expected to do everything we can to have a system in place that safeguards against fraud or theft, and there it is a continuing battle, but there I believe we can do more to ensure the public trust.”

He proposed requiring candidates in state elections to disclose their tax returns, a measure that is usually voluntarily taken by candidates for major offices like mayor, governor, and president. Cuomo’s budget proposal would require statewide candidates to release ten years of tax returns and five years of returns for candidates for Senate and Assembly.

He also emphasized the need to expand the state’s Freedom of Information Law to cover the state Legislature, a move that certain lawmakers have backed in the past but one that previous legislative leaders have ardently opposed.

The governor is also seeking to ban government employees from volunteering for their employer’s political campaigns, and wants to require local elected officials to annually disclose their finances to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), just as state elected officials and employees are required to do.   

Cuomo also floated a “Lobbying Code of Conduct” to severely limit real and perceived pay-to-play politics and to curb the revolving door practices that have become commonplace in Albany. He proposed greater penalties for violations of lobbying laws, lowering the threshold for disclosure of lobbying activities to $500, down from $5,000, a ban on loans from lobbyists to candidates, and preventing political consultants from lobbying the elected officials who they helped get into office. He is also advocating for expanding the blackout period in which government employees and elected officials, as well as their staff members, would be prohibited from becoming lobbyists from two years to five.

The governor promised on Tuesday that if the state Legislature did not approve the code of conduct for lobbyists, he would prohibit those lobbyists who do not voluntarily abide by it from lobbying the executive chamber. The provisions of his proposal, however, contain many gray areas as well as steep penalties -- a lobbyist who deliberately violates the rules could receive a civil fine of $25,000 or be banned from lobbying for six months to five years -- that will be part of negotiations if there is any movement on the proposals.  

In a surprising move, the governor also announced on Tuesday that he had reached an agreement with State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to implement certain reforms to the state’s contracting and procurement processes, including returning to the comptroller certain powers that had been stripped during Cuomo’s first year as governor. Cuomo said he would allow the comptroller to pre-audit any SUNY, CUNY and Office of General Services contracts worth more than $250,000, granted the audits are done within 30 days, and, in turn, the comptroller agreed to turn over contracts above that threshold to the state inspector general for audits.

“Contract procurement review must be performed and government must function on a timely basis,” Cuomo said. “I don't believe one is the enemy of the other. Yes, review contracts, but yes let's get it done quickly because government has to function and we have to get things done.” The agreement neutralized criticism that Cuomo faced for undermining the comptroller’s authority and also preempted the potential threat of the state Legislature passing these measures against the governor’s wishes.   

Cuomo also proposed strengthening the powers of the State Inspector General, giving the office the authority to oversee nonprofits affiliated with SUNY and CUNY, as well as “state-related procurement and the implementation and enforcement of financial control policies at SUNY and CUNY.”

“This proposal is a positive step forward,” said Jennifer Freeman, a DiNapoli spokesperson, in a statement. “Improvements to the procurement process will assure that independent checks and balances are in place to prevent abuse.”

Finally, the governor’s briefing book indicates that he will direct Empire State Development, a state agency responsible for economic development programs, to create a publicly accessible online database of projects getting state benefits. Good government advocates, DiNapoli, and some legislators have long been pushing for such a “database of deals” and praised its inclusion in the governor’s budget proposal.  

“We’re very pleased by the sheer scope of the many good government reform measures the governor issued and we’re carefully evaluating them,” said Alex Camarda, senior policy advisor at Reinvent Albany, a nonprofit advocacy group. “We’re most pleased with progress on clean contracting.”

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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Cuomo's 2019 Agenda of Election, Campaign Finance and Government Ethics Reforms Wed, 16 Jan 2019 05:00:00 +0000
35 Questions for New York Politics in 2019 http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8168-35-questions-for-new-york-politics-in-2019 http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8168-35-questions-for-new-york-politics-in-2019 Cuomo de Blasio Amazon

Cuomo & de Blasio celebrate Amazon to NY (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


1. Will Kirsten Gillibrand and/or Michael Bloomberg run for President?

2. Will Andrew Cuomo explore a presidential run?

3. How will Chuck Schumer perform as Senate minority leader amid a new power dynamic in Washington? What impact will Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have as she officially takes office and the year progresses? What other New York representatives will make significant impact in the new Washington, especially given new powerful committee roles? Will Gateway funding from the federal government come through? Are there other major decisions related to federal funding or policy that impact New York?

4. How will Cuomo’s third term start, with major accomplishments, acrimony with legislators - both? How much of his outlined "first 100 days" agenda will he get passed in that time period?

5. What will and won’t pass in Albany before and through a budget deal at the end of March? Will the budget be on time? How will the changes in the federal tax code affect New York? Where will the areas of more easy agreement be among the legislative majorities and Cuomo? What subjects will prove most contentious? What will be left over to the legislative session after the budget?

6. Will the Reproductive Health Act sail through? The Child Victims Act (with what details)? Will marijuana be legalized and if so, what will the regulations look like? Will congestion pricing pass? The Dream Act? Which pieces of gun control will pass? What will the New York Green New Deal look like exactly? Will cash bail be abolished? Will anything be done about plastic bags? Will rent regulations, such as and especially vacancy decontrol, be reformed/eliminated/extended? Will there be hearings and real debate over single-payer health care (the New York Health Act)? Will there be any movement on granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants? Will sweeping voting reforms actually be passed? Will there be strong new state government ethics and campaign finance laws? And so on...

7. Where will the annual fight over education aid land this year? What other key education battles will emerge? Will there be legislation related to teacher evaluations? Will anything happen regarding admissions to New York City’s specialized high schools? Will mayoral control of New York City schools be extended? What will happen with the charter school cap? Will mayoral control be extended to another municipality, like Rochester?

8. How will Andrea Stewart-Cousins perform as Senate Majority Leader and how will the new Senate Democratic majority run the chamber? Which new state senators will set themselves apart?

9. Will the Legislature hold tough oversight hearings? Will there be one on the MTA? Will there be hearings on sexual misconduct in government and the private sector? Will laws meant to prevent sexual misconduct passed in 2018 be strengthened in 2019?

10. How will Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie approach the new world order in Albany? How will Heastie’s relationship with Cuomo evolve? How hard left will the Assembly Democrats push?

11. Will state lawmakers take any significant action to change the outcomes of the decisions of the legislative and executive compensation commission?

12. How will Letitia James perform as Attorney General? Will her efforts to investigate President Donald Trump, his associates and enterprises, show results? Will she be the independent actor she has promised with regard to Governor Cuomo and other elected officials?

13. What next steps will Comptroller Tom DiNapoli take in his management of the state pension fund, especially with regard to fossil fuel companies and the question of divestment? How will DiNapoli approach his oversight role?

14. Who will be the next head of the MTA? Will the MTA be restructured? Can the next MTA chair, Andy Byford, Governor Cuomo and state legislators save the subways? Can they, along with Mayor de Blasio, resuscitate the buses? Will MTA labor and construction costs be reined in? How will the MTA’s capital needs be funded?

15. Can Cuomo and de Blasio work together productively on anything? Many things?

16. Will Mayor de Blasio regain some mojo? Will the mayor put forth new, exciting ideas?

17. Who will be the next Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development? Will there be (m)any high-profile departures of top administration officials?

18. How will de Blasio’s programs evolve and proceed in 2019 -- will he adjust his affordable housing plan further? Will he figure out funding for the BQX by securing the federal dollars he says are needed? Can he again rethink his approach to homelessness to more quickly reduce the number of people living in shelters? Which neighborhoods will the city rezone in 2019?
Will crime continue to drop? Will the city become safer for pedestrians and bicyclists? Will the mayor do anything serious about street congestion?

19. What’s next in the process for Amazon to create a Queens campus? Will there be sustained protests? How will community outreach go? Will there be changes to the deal announced, like some planned return/investment of subsidies? Is there anything opponents, especially in the state Legislature, can do to stop or significantly alter the deal? How will the Cuomo-de Blasio alliance on Amazon evolve? Will they stay united in defense of the project or will the like-mindedness fray given de Blasio’s comments about subsidies?

20. What will be the result of the NYPD trial of Officer Daniel Pantaleo? Will anything larger change in how the NYPD deals with accountability for its officers? Will the state repeal or drastically alter the 50-a section of civil rights law that relates to making officers’ personnel records publicly available?

21. Who will run NYCHA? Will the federal government insert itself in a new, formal way? Will Mayor de Blasio appoint someone new as Chair? Will de Blasio and NYCHA move ahead aggressively with the new NYCHA 2.0 plan that de Blasio and others unveiled at the end of 2018?

22. How will Margaret Garnett perform as Department of Investigation commissioner? Will anything come of the reported investigation into whether Mayor de Blasio or City Hall officials interfered with a city investigation into the education yeshivas provide?

23. Where will things go with oversight of those yeshivas and new state guidelines to ensure they are providing substantially equivalent secular education to public schools?

24. Will anyone do anything about rampant parking placard abuse?

25. Will anything be done to help distressed taxi drivers in the city, especially with regard to medallion debt? What’s next in terms of regulating Uber/Lyft and such companies?

26. How aggressively will the city, the Department of Education and Chancellor Richard Carranza push local school districts to pass rezonings and changes in admissions policies aimed at racial integration? What will happen with de Blasio’s Renewal Schools program? How will the rollout of de Blasio’s “3-K” program proceed?

27. Who will be the next New York City Public Advocate (the election is February 26!)? Who will run in the fall election for that same position?

28. How will Speaker Corey Johnson perform as acting Public Advocate from January 1 to February 27? How else will Johnson make his mark in 2019? Will he give a State of the City speech and announce bold proposals? What will his push for city control of the subways and buses look like? Will the City Council pass bills the Mayor doesn’t agree to? Will it force the Mayor to use his first veto since taking office?

29. What will be the key battles in the next city budget negotiations? Will de Blasio and the City Council take steps to increase savings and reduce spending?

30. What will the 2019 New York City Charter Revision Commission put on the November ballot? How will those proposals fare? Will there be major overhauls to how New York City does its budgeting and/or land use? Will there be instant-runoff voting?

31. Who will be the next Queens District Attorney? Will there be competitive races in the Bronx or on Staten Island for those two DA positions?

32. Will Chirlane McCray’s political plans become clearer? Will we get any sense of what Mayor de Blasio is eyeing post-mayoralty?

33. What will be the next steps in the early 2021 mayoral campaign -- will Corey Johnson join Scott Stringer, Ruben Diaz, Jr., and Eric Adams as candidates clearly intent on running? Who else might float their names or signal their exploration? Who will take the first steps toward running for City Comptroller in 2021? Who else will emerge as candidates for the various borough president positions? (We know Jimmy Van Bramer is running for Queens BP and Robert Cornegy Jr. is running for Brooklyn BP)

34. Will there be apparent jockeying to become the next City Council Speaker?

35. What steps will Republicans in New York take to remake the party and prepare for future elections? What role will 2018 gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro have moving forward? Can the party develop its bench, and better line candidates up for citywide, statewide, and other key positions? Can it set the groundwork to regain the state Senate in 2020? Will the state party and party leaders rethink their approach to President Trump?

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

This article has been updated.

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35 Questions for New York Politics in 2019 Tue, 01 Jan 2019 05:00:00 +0000
Agenda 2019: City & State Budgets on Mostly Solid Ground, with Major Questions Looming http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8147-agenda-2019-city-state-budgets-on-mostly-solid-ground-with-major-questions-looming http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8147-agenda-2019-city-state-budgets-on-mostly-solid-ground-with-major-questions-looming Cuomo budget presentation

Gov. Cuomo (photo: The Governor's Office)


This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project
Find the rest of the series here

New York’s economy has seen several rosy years in the decade since the Great Recession, with a run of steady growth, increasing job numbers, rising wages, and reliable tax revenue that has defied historical trends -- and led to growing city and state government budgets. But 2019 may be the peak of that economic swing as economic experts predict a long-expected slowdown to set in before 2020. New York City, the experts say, seems better equipped to weather any adverse effects of slowing growth and the state may struggle, presenting some hard choices for Democrats who will fully control state government come January and have a long list of priorities, some of which have financial costs attached.

Also complicating the fiscal pictures as the state and city levels are projected budget gaps that must be closed, looming negotiations over how to fund the next MTA capital budget plan and its tens of billions of dollars to fix the subways, and the still unclear effects of recent federal tax reforms, among other outstanding questions. The finances of New York City continue to show a rosier picture than those of the state, with the city economy essential to the state’s ability to spend more each year, though the state has grown its budget in much more limited fashion than the city under Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In January, Governor Andrew Cuomo will present his State of the State address and executive budget for the fiscal year that begins April 1. Afterward, de Blasio will respond to the governor’s budget plan -- which will set the stage for negotiations with the state Legislature, de Blasio, and others -- and release his own preliminary budget for the next city fiscal year, which will begin July 1. Once the state budget is finalized, the city will be able to take its details -- funding levels, new mandates, and more -- into account as it creates its own budget. The specifics of the annual struggle over what the state is asking or requiring of the city are to be seen, though Cuomo has already indicated he plans to seek more money for the MTA from de Blasio.

Budgets are statements of values as much as they are financial planning documents and Cuomo and de Blasio, both Democrats, face pressure each year to balance their policy priorities with fiscal restraint, as well as the demands of others, especially members of the respective legislative bodies each must negotiate with. The governor prides himself on having passed eight on-time or nearly on-time budgets with a 2 percent cap on increased spending, though he is known to manipulate the numbers to say he has stuck to that limit even though some years he has not. De Blasio boasts of record amounts of savings, though watchdogs regularly say that he is not socking away enough given the extended economic boom while he is spending too much, especially in recurring costs like through a significant expansion of the city workforce.

The agreed upon state budget was more than $168 billion for the current 2019 fiscal year, with savings that are far too minimal according to every expert. And the mayor’s administration, though praised by fiscal monitors for its responsible financial planning, has overseen ballooning expenditures, passing a nearly $90 billion budget for fiscal 2019 -- it was $72.7 in the final year of the Bloomberg administration.

But New York City revenue is largely based on property taxes, which would remain relatively stable even in the event of an economic slowdown. The state on the other hand is far more vulnerable since personal income tax and sales tax contribute a bulk to state revenue.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the current economic expansion, the second-longest in the country’s history, will continue through most of 2019, bolstered by the federal tax cuts passed in 2017 (even if many New Yorkers’ tax burdens increase due to the new cap on state and local deductibles). It should allow both the state and the city to keep spending, though experts warn that both should prepare for what will happen down the line. Both the Cuomo and de Blasio administrations, along with the state Legislature and City Council, respectively, should be putting more money towards rainy day funds, fiscal experts say; particularly the state, especially as necessary infrastructure investments loom large and add to already rising debt obligations.

New York State
The state budget remains far more precariously placed in the case of a downturn, even though one isn’t expected to hit soon. The governor has reiterated in recent months that he will continue to abide by a self-imposed 2 percent limit on increased annual expenditures, which presents little wiggle room to add major spending initiatives, though it remains to be seen if the governor will employ one of his many budget maneuvers to obscure actual spending increases. For instance, the State Fiscal Year 2019 budget, which began April 1, included a provision that funnels Payroll Mobility Tax revenue directly to the MTA instead of going through the state, effectively shifting $1.5 billion out of the budget.

“Part of the problem is they’ve technically abided by it but they’ve only done that by shifting things around and reclassifying things, not necessarily through stringent cost controls,” said David Friedfel, director of state studies at Citizens Budget Commission, a nonprofit watchdog. “The more they play those tricks, the harder they will be to find in the future if that’s how they choose to close the gap.”

The New York State Division of Budget’s mid-year financial update, released in November, predicted that the state will meet its revenue projections by the end of the fiscal year. Even at the state level, budget gaps remain manageable, at about $3.1 billion for fiscal year 2020, a number that is quickly cut if the 2 percent growth is factored in.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli released his own financial update in November, estimating that overall tax revenues would decrease by 1.8 percent by the end of the state’s 2019 fiscal year (end of March). Though personal income tax revenues are expected to fall by 2.5 percent, business and consumption taxes are set to increase by a total of 6.5 percent, the report estimated. Tax revenues are expected to increase by 5.9 in the 2020 fiscal year and then at a lower rate, 2.4 percent in the 2021 fiscal year.

Similar to city representatives, officials in DiNapoli’s office said in a background briefing that they expect a soft landing for the economy, despite the volatility in national and international markets. They have yet to determine the full impacts of the federal tax code overhaul, which capped State and Local Tax (SALT) deductions at $10,000 annually, raising concerns that high earners facing larger tax bills would in some cases fold to out-migration pressures, leaving the state and taking their tax dollars with them. Given New York’s position as a high-tax state, even many upper middle class homeowners in expensive New York City suburbs, and in the city itself, will be facing increased tax burdens, though it is not immediately clear that these factors will lead to a significant increase in the number of higher earners leaving the state. New York has consistently seen out-migration each year and has lost a net of 1 million residents since 2010, according to The Empire Center, a think tank. A report issued by the center in March suggested that the state should undertake several reforms to encourage the economic competitiveness which could help reverse that trend.

The state took measures to decouple state tax provisions from the federal tax code, including decoupling from the SALT limit to prevent higher state taxes, and changes to the child tax credit and the single filer deduction. The state also created two new programs -- the Employer Compensation Expense Program and the State Charitable Gifts Trust Fund -- in an effort to limit state taxpayers’ exposure to federal tax changes, but neither program appears to have caught on in any significant way. Officials in the state comptroller’s office said the impacts of the SALT deduction in particular wouldn’t be evident until during next fiscal year, particularly if it encourages people to move out of state.

Other risks in federal funding to the state seen in recent years -- Republican proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act and make drastic cuts to Medicaid -- have also mitigated, the officials said, since those proposals have failed to come to fruition. But federal funding does remain uncertain as Congress is in the middle of negotiating the current federal budget with President Donald Trump, who has threatened a government shutdown if Congress does not approve funding for a wall along the southern border that he had promised Mexico would pay for. The ballooning federal deficit incurred from the Trump-led tax cuts have also increased pressure on federal spending, which could trickle down to the aid that New York receives for transportation, health care, and education, among other things.

“The state is in decent financial position but not when you consider the fact that we are nine years or so into an economic expansion,” CBC’s Friedfel said. “The state has been gifted with $12 billion in financial settlements and some additional revenues yet the state’s reserves are not where they should be or could be. They haven’t been added to in about four years. And liabilities are still out there.”

As Friedfel noted, the state’s rainy day funds stand at only about $2 billion, a pittance when looked at in the context of a downturn. In the case of a recession, Friedfel estimated, the state could face up to $50 billion in combined losses over a four-year period. “California is doing a very good job on their reserves. They’re gonna have close to 10 percent of state operating spending in their reserves, which is really what New York should be aiming for,” he said. “Instead of $2 billion, we should be closer to $10 billion.”

As with the city, the state’s debt also continues to rise, particularly with the governor having launched an ambitious infrastructure program that includes modernizing existing facilities and building new ones across the state, including bridges, airports and bus systems. The state’s debt service payments for fiscal year 2019 stood at $5.5 billion and are projected to rise to $6.6 billion in 2020. New York currently ranks second-highest in the country, behind California, in outstanding debt.

Year after year, DiNapoli has waved a red flag over the state’s debt obligations and officials in his office are keeping a close eye on whether those will increase in the upcoming year. There will be particularly pressing needs -- the MTA, NYCHA -- where the state will have to work with the city to fund large capital improvements. The current 2015-2019 MTA capital plan remains underfunded and the Fast Forward Plan, proposed by New York City Transit President Andy Byford to modernize the city’s subway and bus systems, may cost nearly $40 billion, with no plan proposed to pay for it in its entirety. A congestion pricing program for New York City has been embraced by the governor and many in the state Legislature as a funding stream, but even if implemented quickly and without carve-outs it would fall far short of meeting the goal.

“That’s one of the biggest questions,” said Gelinas from the Manhattan Institute, “especially if the economy continues to do well. How much does Governor Cuomo go after the city for MTA funding and in multiple billions of dollars...and does that cut into the city’s other priorities?”

IBO’s Lowenstein also echoed that concern. “The state has a great deal of leverage over the city and its own fiscal concerns and it would be unreasonable to expect these issues get resolved without city participation.”

Last time Cuomo and de Blasio negotiated the MTA capital plan, the governor successfully convinced the mayor to significantly increase city funds for the authority. Cuomo has repeatedly stated publicly in recent months that he will be pushing the city to pay “its fair share” for the MTA. De Blasio has called for an added tax on high-earners to provide dedicated funding for the MTA, a proposal that Cuomo has publicly mocked as fantasy on several occasions.

The state Legislature next year will also include several newly-elected Democrats who expressed support for increased education funding, per the Campaign for Fiscal Equity decision, which could add billions to the state budget. The state Board of Regents recently proposed a $2.1 billion increase in education funding for next year, which would be a significant jump from the current fiscal year’s increase.

New York already spends nearly twice the national average on per-pupil funding, said CBC’s Friedfel, but doesn’t necessarily allocate funding to the districts that need it most. CBC has argued for changing the key formula, known as Foundation Aid, noting that many wealthy districts receive it despite already spending more than the national average and more than the already-high state average by leveraging local tax dollars.

Another open question is what the state will do with about $900 million in unspent or unallocated one-time funds from Extraordinary Monetary Settlements, recovered from the financial industry in the wake of the 2008-09 market crash. Since state fiscal year 2015, the state has received nearly $11.2 billion in those settlements.

Though the governor has repeatedly said he will divert those funds to capital investments, and he mostly has, he has also used them for budget balancing purposes, DiNapoli’s office noted.

“The governor should be putting much more money of any one-time revenue sources aside for the MTA, things like court settlements or just better-than-expected revenues,” Gelinas said, noting the dire need to fund the transit agency. “We haven’t put enough of that money aside for the MTA.” Cuomo has, on the other hand, dedicated financial settlement money to his signature infrastructure projects, like the new Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.

Unlikely to impact the next state budget, but certainly on the negotiating table in the new legislative year, is the push to revolutionize how New York provides health insurance and health care. Several legislators, long-time and newly elected, are pushing for the New York Health Act, which would establish a single-payer health care system in the state and could cost nearly $140 billion in additional state expenditure by 2022, according to a RAND Corporation study. Though the act could reduce total health care spending by 3 percent by 2031, the study found. Cuomo has said he supports a single-payer system, but has insisted that it should be implemented by the federal government rather than the state, and said that he does not see it make fiscal sense for New York.

New York already has one of the largest Medicaid programs in the country, comprising a huge chunk of the state budget (education and Medicaid are the two biggest spending programs). But enrollment has been relatively flat over the last three years. If that trend continues, Friedfel said, the state could find more savings in the budget.

Friedfel also noted at least one development on the horizon that could have a significant impact on state tax revenue. “The million pound gorilla in the room is what’s gonna happen with the state’s millionaire’s tax,” Friedfel said. The tax is due to expire on December 31, 2019, and though prominent elected officials have called for extending, and even expanding, the program, CBC’s position is that it should be allowed to sunset to help with the state’s economic competitiveness and to keep high-earners from leaving because of the SALT deduction cap.

While Cuomo has overseen its repeated extension and he has dismissed calls to expand it, during the recent election cycle he was mum about what he wants to do with the current millionaire’s tax.

New York City
The city released its latest budget modification in November, revising spending up by $1.4 billion, for a total of $90.56 billion for the 2019 fiscal year, which ends June 30. That marks a high point for city spending, and an $18 billion increase from before de Blasio came to power in 2014. The city’s Office of Management and Budget projects a manageable $3.17 billion budget gap -- the difference between expected revenues and projected expenditures -- for the 2020 fiscal year starting July 1. OMB expects that gap to rise to $3.36 billion for fiscal year 2022, the end of the current four-year financial plan period, by when expenditures are projected to reach a whopping $99.6 billion.

As City Comptroller Scott Stringer noted in his latest financial report released on Friday, OMB tends to issue more conservative estimates of revenues in upcoming years, allowing the administration more leeway to adjust spending. Stringer’s report estimates the budget gap to be lower, about $2.6 billion in FY2019 and $2.8 billion in FY2022.  

“We’ve come out of a run of a number of years of good economic conditions and good fiscal conditions here in the city...but we’re not seeing anything in the numbers that suggests it’s going to end anytime soon,” said Ronnie Lowenstein, director of the Independent Budget Office, a nonpartisan city-funded agency.

In a background briefing, an official at Comptroller Stringer’s office acknowledged that there’s significant uncertainty, with even the Federal Reserve appearing divided about where the economy is heading. There are mixed signals in the market -- unemployment is markedly low which should lead to higher inflation, but hasn’t.

But the comptroller’s office is cautiously optimistic and no economist currently projects a recession -- though one is never out of the question -- but rather a return to a slower rate of growth by the time 2020 rolls around.

“[We’re] expecting a great deal more softness in economic growth,” said IBO’s Lowenstein. “Not a recession but a much softer U.S. economy. And as far as the local economy’s concerned, we’ve already begun to see the weakening.” She pointed to the drop in job growth over the last few months and also noted that though the job market has diversified with more jobs created outside the financial industry than before the last recession, most of the new jobs have been in lower-paying industries.

But she said that slower growth won’t create out-of-control deficits. “We’re looking at gaps that are readily manageable, of the size that we’ve managed in the past,” she said.

The official from the comptroller’s office agreed that the city has the capacity to manage outyear budget gaps, particularly with a strong budget surplus each year that has allowed the city to maintain a healthy, if not optimal, level of reserves. The de Blasio administration put away added rainy day funds in the current fiscal year, responding to demands from the City Council. The result included a total of $1.25 billion in the general reserve, $4.35 billion in the Retiree Health Benefits Trust Fund, and $250 million in the capital stabilization reserve.

The city’s budget cushion has been increasing over the years and stood at about 11.2 percent at the start of the current fiscal year, though the comptroller has urged the administration to maintain levels between 12 and 18 percent, the lower range of which would have required more than $6.3 billion to hit the upper end.

agenda19v2 aThere are of course various risks that the city must manage. One big vulnerability, according to the official from the comptroller’s office, is the size of the city’s workforce, which has added more than 30,000 workers under de Blasio.

“If you look at the November budget update...the biggest issue is the increased expected spending on labor,” said Nicole Gelinas, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a think tank. She noted that the report increased the labor reserve for fiscal year 2020 by $704 million, for 2021 by nearly $1 billion and for 2022 by about $1.4 billion.

“It just shows that these labor agreements that the mayor is making with the unions are costing a little bit more money than expected,” she said. “So the basic story is if the economy keeps doing well, we can probably squeak by with balancing next year’s budget...but if the economy does fall into a recession, with the higher labor costs making these deficits a little bit bigger over the next few years, they would pose a bigger problem for the city.”

Gelinas said the city must take aggressive cost-cutting measures in labor agreements, particularly health care spending, to help avert layoffs and service cuts in the case of a recession. “Longterm, health care savings have to be much more aggressive,” she said. “The healthcare fringe benefit budget for the upcoming fiscal year will be almost $11.5 billion and it’s continuing to rise. It’s going to $12.5 billion by the end of the financial plan.”

“No mayor has ever gotten through two terms without a recession,” she added on the eve of de Blasio’s sixth year in office.

The city’s debt obligations have also been rising, owing to a massive capital program, which pays for building and maintaining the city’s infrastructure such as roads, parks, schools, and libraries.

“Debt service is one of the two big sources of growth in city spending,” said IBO’s Lowenstein, referring to the annual debt payments that are included in the city’s expense budget. “It’s debt service and healthcare, and they’re both big and they’re both growing very fast.” Debt service -- which is accounted for in the city’s annual operating budget -- is budgeted at a total of $6.8 billion for fiscal year 2019, according to the November update, and is expected to rise to $8.3 billion by fiscal year 2022.

Unlike most other municipalities, New York City’s capital program is funded entirely through borrowing, incurring massive debt that must necessarily be paid off every year, which could pose problems in the long run. “It’s less that we can’t continue to pay the debt service on the commitments that we’ve made but rather that they’re crowding out other things that the city might want to do,” Lowenstein said. “And our ability to expand those capital commitments is not unlimited. Especially in an era when interest rates are rising.”

Rising debt service also gives the mayor and City Council “less leeway to budget for other things ranging from teachers to cops to road repair,” she said.

Stringer has repeatedly raised the issue of rising debt, though it’s not yet out of control. The rule of thumb for his office is that debt service should not exceed 15 percent of tax revenues, a level it is well below currently. And the City Council has also attempted to make changes to the mismanaged capital funding process, creating a new subcommittee this year dedicated to examining the capital budget, finding ways to make it more efficient and reducing cost overruns. Upcoming City Council budget hearings may indicate whether that subcommittee and its focus are having any real impact.

But there are big items that may add significantly to the city’s capital investments and therefore create an additional debt burden. Those include funding for the beleaguered New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). In both cases, the city may have no choice but to commit billions more dollars, particularly pending the outcome of negotiations with federal officials over NYCHA and with state officials over the MTA, for which the city typically kicks in significant capital funds.

“The city may not have choices so the speed with which this occurs may be out of our hands,” Lowenstein said.

This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project
Find the rest of the series here

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Note - This article has been updated to ntoe that the Capital Stabilization Reserve is $250 million, not $250 billion. 

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Agenda 2019: City & State Budgets on Mostly Solid Ground, with Major Questions Looming Sun, 16 Dec 2018 05:00:00 +0000
Cuomo Reelected, Democrats Take the State Senate; 2018 General Election Results in New York http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8058-2018-general-election-results-in-new-york http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8058-2018-general-election-results-in-new-york and cuomo nov

Gov. Cuomo votes (photo: @andrewcuomo)


Democrats will take full control of New York state government in 2019 thanks to the reelection of Governor Andrew Cuomo and other candidates for statewide office, as well as wins in the state Senate that flipped control of the upper chamber. Democrats continue to hold a wide majority in the state Assembly. With help from New York, Democrats also flipped the U.S. House of Representatives.

The state Senate and gubernatorial victories open the door for Democrats to move a sweeping policy agenda that has been blocked by Republicans, some items for years, in areas such as voting, campaign finance, and criminal justice reform, women's reproductive rights, alterations to rent regulations, and more. While some results are still to be finalized, Democrats may have 39 seats in the 63-seat chamber come January.

Cuomo won a third term on Tuesday, easily defeating Republican challenger Marc Molinaro and three other candidates, while his running-mate Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul won a second term alongside the governor.

Letitia James, currently the New York City Public Advocate, was elected Attorney General and is the first woman of color elected to a statewide position in New York. She's also the first woman and first person of color elected to become New York Attorney General.

The other Democrats running for statewide positions were also victorious, with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli both winning reelection by wide margins, as expected.

New York City and State races also contributed to a Democratic takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives.

And, in New York City, the three ballot proposals from Mayor de Blasio’s charter revision commission were all approved by wide margins, ushering in campaign finance reform, a new civic engagement commission, and term limits for community board members.

In the overall race for control of the state Senate, Democrats claimed a majority, and seemed on their way to winning at least 36 and up to 39 seats while several remained neck-and-neck and could also tilt their way, according to unofficial state Board of Elections results. With Democrats in control, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins will become the first woman of color majority leader of the state Senate. "I am confident our majority will grow even larger after all results are counted, and we will finally give New Yorkers the progressive leadership they have been demanding," she tweeted Tuesday night.

Much of the action was on Long Island, but one of the few Republican-held seats in New York City was also hotly-contested and appears to be a Democratic pick-up for Andrew Gounardes, though Senator Marty Golden has not conceded.

In the open race for District 3, Democrat Monica Martinez defeated Republican Dean Murray. In District 5, Democrat James Gaughran won by more than 9 points against Republican Carl Marcellino. In District 39, Democrat James Skoufis beat Republican Tom Basile. Kevin Thomas, the Democrat in District 6, closely defeated Republican Kemp Hannon. In District 7, Democrat Anna Kaplan defeated Republican Elaine Phillips with an almost ten-point margin.

In two other open races, however, Democrats lost to their Republican opponents. In District 43, Aaron Gladd was defeated by Republican Daphne Jordan, and in District 50, John Mannion was defeated by Bob Antonacci.

The current Republican majority leader, Senator John Flanagan, said in a statement, "This election is over, but our mission is not. Senate Republicans will never stop advocating for the principles we believe in or the agenda that New Yorkers and their families deserve."

Along with competitive races for state Senate seats, many eyes were on potential swing districts for New York seats in the House of Representatives, part of the national picture whereby Democrats flipped the chamber to secure some control of government in Washington, D.C. and a significant leverage point regarding legislation, funding, and oversight of President Trump and his administration. That effort was aided by outcomes in New York, including an upset in New York City.

In the one city-based congressional seat held by a Republican, Rep. Dan Donovan lost to Democrat Max Rose, who will go to the House to represent New York’s 11th congressional district of Staten Island and part of southern Brooklyn. In the 19th congressional district covering parts of the Hudson Valley and Catskills, Democrat Antonio Delgado defeated incumbent Republican Rep. John Faso. And in Central New York's District 22, Democratic candidate Anthony Brindisi was ahead by a razor-thin margin over incumbent Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney, in a race that seems too close to call. In Congressional District 27, though Democrat Nate McMurray had conceded to Republican incumbent Rep. Chris Collins, McMurray's campaign later called for a recount when the margin between the two was only one point.

Back in the five boroughs, of the three ballot proposals passing, Mayor de Blasio said in an election night statement, “Tonight we took a big step toward becoming the fairest big city in America. The question in front of voters was simple: are we going to be a city that works for everyone? New Yorkers answered with a resounding ‘YES, YES, YES!’ They voted to set a historic new direction for campaigns in our city by getting big money out of politics. They voted to give voters more power over their tax dollars. They voted to bring new voices into our democracy. The end result of the charter revision process that began nine months ago at the State of City is a democracy that can work for all of us – not just the wealthy and well-connected.”

In terms of specific outcomes in important New York races, as of 2 a.m. on election night, initial results and tentative margins included:

-Governor Cuomo was reelected with about 58% to 36% for Molinaro, while Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins received 1.7%, Libertarian Larry Sharpe won 1.6%, and Stephanie Miner of the Serve America Movement got less than 1%. Both Sharpe and Miner earned their parties automatic ballot access for the next four years (Cuomo on the Women's Equality Party line and Molinaro on the Reform Party line did not get enough votes on those lines and parties will lose their automatic ballot lines.

-James won the attorney general office with 60% over Republican Keith Wofford, who received 34.3%, and other candidates splitting 2.3%.

-DiNapoli was reelected comptroller with 64.4%, while Republican nominee Jonathan Trichter got about 31%, and other candidates split 1.7%.

-Gillibrand won 64.5% of the vote, while Republican Chele Farley received 32.5%.

In competitive state Senate races, the results included:

-Democrat Andrew Gounardes appears to have won with 49.8% over Republican Senator Marty Golden's 48% in Senate District 22

-Democrat Monica Martinez won with 52.2% over Republican incumbent Dean Murray's 47.5% in Senate District 3, which includes parts of Suffolk County.

-Republican Phil Boyle won with 50.4% over Democrat Louis D’Amaro's 46.7% in Senate District 4, which also includes parts of Suffolk County.

-Democrat James Gaughran won with 53.23% over Republican incumbent Carl Marcellino's 44.7% in Senate District 5, which includes parts of Suffolk County.

-Democrat Kevin Thomas won with 49.2% over Republican incumbent Kemp Hannon's 48% in Senate District 6, which includes a portion of Nassau County.

-Democrat Anna Kaplan won with 53.7% over Republican incumbent Elaine Phillips' 44.5% in Senate District 7, which a portion of Nassau County.

-Democrat incumbent John Brooks successfully defended his seat, with 53% against Republican Jeff Pravato's 44% in Senate District 8, which includes Eastern Nassau and Western Suffolk counties.

-Democrat James Skoufis won with 52% over Republican Tom Basile's 45% in Senate District 39, which includes parts of Rockland, Orange, and Ulster counties.

-Democrat Pete Harckham won with 49.9% over Republican incumbent Terrence Murphy's 48% in Senate District 40, which includes Yorktown and Putnam, Westchester and Dutchess counties. 

-Republican incumbent Sue Serino won with 50% over Democrat Karen Smythe's 48% in Senate District 41, which includes parts of Dutchess County.

-Democrat Jen Metzger won with 50% over Republican Ann Rabbitt's 47.4% in Senate District 42, includes parts of Delaware, Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster counties. 

-Republican Daphne Jordan won with 52.1% over Democrat Aaron Gladd's 44.2% in Senate District 43, which includes parts of Saratoga, Rensselaer, Columbia, Washington counties. 

-Republican incumbent George Amedore Jr. won with 55% over Democrat Pat Strong's 42.2% in Senate District 46, which includes Montgomery and Greene counties and portions of Schenectady, Albany and Ulster counties. 

-Republican Robert Antonacci won with 50.4% over Democrat John Mannion's 48% in Senate District 50, which includes Syracuse and the surrounding area.

In competitive House of Representatives races, the results included: 

-Democrat Max Rose won with 52% against Republican incumbent Dan Donovan's 46% in Congressional District 11, which includes Staten Island and parts of South Brooklyn. 

-Democrat Antonio Delgado won with 49.2% against Republican incumbent John Faso's 46.4% in Congressional District 19, which includes the Hudson Valley and Catskills region.

-Democrat Anthony Brindisi led with 49.5% against Republican incumbent Claudia Tenney's 48.9% in Congressional District 22, which includes parts of Chenango, Cortland, Madison, and Oneida counties.

-Republican Incumbent John Katko won with 52.2% against Democrat Dana Balter's 46% in Congressional District 24, which includes pats of Cayuga, Onondaga, and Wayne counties.

- Republican incumbent Chris Collins, who is under indictment for insider trading, received 48.1% over Democrat Nate McMurray's 47.1% in Congressional District 27, which includes Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, and Livingston counties. McMurray's campaign has called for a recount.

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Samar Khurshid contributed to this article.

Note - This article has been updated.

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Cuomo Reelected, Democrats Take the State Senate; 2018 General Election Results in New York Tue, 06 Nov 2018 05:00:00 +0000
10 Things to Watch on Election Day in New York http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8046-10-things-to-watch-on-election-day-in-new-york http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8046-10-things-to-watch-on-election-day-in-new-york Cuomo voting New York

(photo: The Governor's Office)


New Yorkers will head to the polls on Tuesday, November 6, to vote for federal and state candidates in an election that could radically alter the direction of the state and the entire nation. Every seat in the state Legislature is on the ballot, as are the joint ticket of governor-lieutenant governor, the positions of state comptroller and attorney general, New York’s 27 seats in the House of Representatives, and one U.S. Senate position.

Democrats, hoping to ride a surge of engagement in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election, plan to keep all the statewide seats and control of the state Assembly, while flipping the state Senate and enough U.S. House seats to contribute to a national swing of control. Republicans, meanwhile, are trying to hold onto the limited power they have in New York, a blue state that has become significantly more blue over the last several months, according to new data from the state Board of Elections.

Ten things to watch on Election Day in New York:

1. Will turnout surge?
New York has in past years seen anaemic voter turnout, particularly in the 2016 presidential election when the state ranked 46 out of 50. But if the results of the September primary are any indicator, turnout is expected to surge on November 6.

Nearly three times more Democrats voted in the September 13 primary this year than in the 2014 primary. Cynthia Nixon, the actor and activist who challenged Governor Andrew Cuomo, the two-term incumbent, received 512,585 votes to Cuomo’s 978,138. In 2014, Cuomo won the primary after receiving only 361,380 votes, though his margin of victory was nearly identical.

Democrats are also making a concerted attempt to flip the state Senate from Republican control and capture more seats in the House of Representatives, amid what they hope is a “blue wave” pushing back against President Trump and the Republican-led Congress. By most accounts, the general election in New York is looking good for Democrats; the state is home to 6.2 million registered Democrats compared to 2.8 million registered Republicans, and about 2.6 million party-unaffiliated registered voters.

2. Can any Republican win statewide?
A Republican has not won a statewide election in New York since 2002, when Governor George Pataki was reelected to a third term. Since then, Democrats have managed to dominate the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and comptroller.

Cuomo is running on a joint ticket with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, a first-term incumbent, and is heavily favored to be reelected. In a mid-October Quinnipiac University poll, Cuomo led his Republican rival, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, 58-35 percent among likely voters, but a Siena College poll released Sunday showed a more narrow gap, with Cuomo leading 49-36, with other voters split among the three 'minor party' candidates on the ballot. Molinaro’s running mate is Julie Killian, a former Rye City Council member who unsuccessfully ran for state Senate earlier this year. The other three gubernatorial candidates are Howie Hawkins of the Green Party, Larry Sharpe of the Libertarian Party, and Stephanie Miner, the former Democratic Syracuse mayor running with the Serve America Movement.

Other than Molinaro, Republicans are running statewide candidates without experience in elected office and with virtually no name recognition across the state coming into the election, especially daunting when trying to unseat an incumbent in a state with such a Democratic registration advantage.

In the race for comptroller, in the same poll, incumbent Democrat Tom DiNapoli held a 32-point lead over Jonathan Trichter, the Republican nominee. The Sunday Siena poll had DiNpoli up 62-25 percent. [Watch: State Comptroller Candidates Debate]

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, also a Democrat seeking reelection, led her Republican challenger Chele Farley by 32 points in that poll. But in Quinnipiac’s polling weeks later, her lead had fallen to 25 points. The Sunday Siena poll showed Gillibrand up 58-35 percent.

The open race for attorney general, the lone statewide race without an incumbent, appears closest. New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, the Democratic nominee, had a 14-point lead in an early October Siena College poll over Republican nominee Keith Wofford, a white-collar attorney running for elected office for the first time, but able to raise enough money to air television ads. The Sunday Siena poll had James up 49-37 percent. Either James or Wofford would become the first African-American person to become New York Attorney General; if elected, James would be the first woman of color elected statewide in New York. (There are also ‘minor party’ candidates for comptroller and attorney general.)

3. Margins
Though Democrats are expected to sweep statewide races, their margins of victory will ultimately show the level of support they have among New Yorkers. Though those margins won’t necessarily mean much once the new government year begins in January, they can influence how elected officials are treated and how they behave.

Cuomo is seeking a third term and is likely to face some voter fatigue, though he may be getting a significant boost from Democrats upset by Trump, whom the governor has made a major focus of his campaign. Cuomo’s opponents have sought to highlight the several corruption scandals that have marred state government in the last eight years -- two of the governor’s close allies and several other associates and donors were convicted on federal corruption charges this year -- as well as the governor’s handling of the MTA as New York City’s subways have slid into crisis.

Though Cuomo won the primary with 65 percent of the vote to Nixon’s 35 percent, he will likely not fare as well in the general where millions of unaffiliated voters can also cast a ballot. In 2014, Cuomo received 53 percent in the general while Republican Rob Astorino got 39 percent; the Green Party’s Hawkins pulled about 5 percent that year. Molinaro is, of course, talking about pulling off the type of upset that would shock the state and the country, though even he admits he is a significant underdog.

DiNapoli got about 164,000 more votes than Cuomo did in 2014, receiving about 57 percent of the vote over his Republican rival Robert Antonacci, who got 35 percent. It’s unclear how much of a dent Trichter can make this year given his limited fundraising and name recognition.

In the attorney general race, Wofford has faced significant hurdles, but the recent Siena poll that showed him down 14 points to James also showed independents were split 40-38 in James’ favor, meaning that the race could potentially tighten.

4. Will minor parties keep/claim ballot lines?
New York’s fusion voting system allows candidates to run on multiple ballot lines from several parties, giving minor parties somewhat outsize influence in elections. But, for a party to automatically receive an automatic ballot line in elections around the state, they must receive at least 50,000 votes for their chosen gubernatorial candidate in the previous election. Besides the big two, the other parties on the ballot include the Working Families Party, the Conservative Party, the Independence Party, the Green Party, and the Women’s Equality Party. The Stop Common Core Party, created by Astorino in 2014 when he challenged Cuomo, received just over 50,000 votes and has since been rebranded as the Reform Party, though it has no affiliation with the Reform Party at the national level.

Cuomo is running on the Democrat, WFP, Independence, and WEP ballot lines. Molinaro has the Republican, Conservative, and Reform Party lines. Hawkins is the Green Party nominee.

Of the various parties, the Reform Party and WEP seem to be at most risk of losing their place on the ballot. Both parties were strategically created in 2014 -- the first by Astorino to create a platform to oppose Common Core education standards, and the second by Cuomo to bolster his standing with women and apparently to diminish the WFP. The WEP has been barely active and lacks the resources for a strong electoral presence. The Reform Party has played a role in electing candidates to local offices and is also involved in assisting at least two Democratic state Senate candidates this year. But neither of the parties has a strong base of registered voters across the state and would need to meet the 50,000 vote threshold for their endorsed gubernatorial candidates.

Between the Green Party and the WFP, it may come down to a matter of ballot placement, depending on which one fares better. The WFP has made a significant showing this year by backing several progressive upstarts in state Senate races and successfully deposing several incumbent Democrats, putting them squarely in the spotlight, while also initially backing Cynthia Nixon and Jumaane Williams for governor and lieutenant governor until they lost in the Democratic primaries. Hawkins has also shown a fare bit of success on the Green Party line, pulling in 184,419 votes in 2014 compared to 126,244 on the WFP line for Cuomo.

For the Libertarian Party and the Serve America Movement, Sharpe and Miner’s performances will determine if they also claim a spot on the ballot moving forward. The closest that Libertarians have come to the threshold is when Warren Redlich got 48,359 votes on the line in 2010.

5. Will the State Senate flip to Democrats or stay Republican?
The State Senate is the only bastion of Republican power in New York state government, which they have held for all but two of the last 50 years. But Democrats need to flip only one seat in the State Senate to regain control -- both party conferences have 31 members but Republicans hold the majority with the help of Senator Simcha Felder, a conservative Democrat from Brooklyn.

The State Democratic Committee and Governor Cuomo are spending millions to take back the Senate and a network of progressive activists who helped trounce Democratic incumbents in the primary are also aiding those efforts. If the Democrats are successful, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins would become the majority leader, the first African-American woman to occupy that position. It would also open the doors to a slew of progressive legislation -- reforms to voting, government ethics, campaign finance, criminal justice, and more -- which the Democratic base has long demanded.

Republicans and their supporters are doing everything they can to hold their majority, attempting to keep all of their conference’s seats, including where a handful of members are retiring, and even possibly flip one or two their way. Democrats see a path to not just a slim majority, but a wide one that would buffer the conference’s ability to move legislation that more moderate members may not be supportive of. There are roughly 10 seats in the 63-seat chamber that Democrats see as in play, with only one of their own they believe they need to defend.

Democratic wins could mean full party control of state government and the opportunity to dominate the agenda in 2019. All of the state Legislature will be back on the ballot in 2020, a presidential year.

6. Will New York help flip the House of Representatives?
New York’s 27 House of Representatives seats are all on the ballot and as Democrats hope to reclaim the chamber, there are several races where the party is fighting competitive battles and attempting to unseat Republican representatives. Democrats need to net 23 seats in total across the country to flip the House.

Democrats are hoping that Trump’s deep unpopularity in the state will drive voters to the polls even in historically safe Republican districts while winning out most swing seats. Democratic candidates have been outraising their opponents in several races but Republicans have been putting up a strong fight, and Trump has even stumped for a few candidates to bolster their chances.

Out of nine competitive races with Republican incumbents, according to the Cook Political Report, two are toss-ups, three ‘lean Republican’ and four are ‘likely Republican.’ The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is focused on seven of those races as part of its ‘Red to Blue’ effort -- including Districts 1, 11, 19, 21, 22, 24, 27. New York Democrats could also claim prominent leadership positions in the House if they obtain a majority.

7. Will Republicans lose some of their few seats in New York City?
There are only a few elected Republicans representing New York City at any level of government, and after November 6, there could be even fewer.

In South Brooklyn, State Senator Marty Golden, an eight-term incumbent Republican, has become one of the main targets of Democratic efforts to flip the Senate. Golden is a pro-Trump Republican with a controversial record who was reelected in 2016 with no opposition. This year, however, prominent Democratic elected officials and activists from across the city are dedicating time and resources to unseat him. His Democratic opponent, Andrew Gounardes, took Golden on in 2012, but the candidate and his party believe circumstances are different in 2018, and they have approached this race with far more intensity.

Meanwhile, Republican Congressional Rep. Dan Donovan is seeking reelection to Congress, where he represents Staten Island and a sliver of southern Brooklyn. He faces a spirited challenge from Democrat Max Rose, an Army veteran with a fairly moderate platform, reflective of the district he’s hoping to represent. Rose has raised a significant amount of campaign cash and has been pushing a message focused on borough-specific issues rather than following in the vein of his party at large. The DCCC has also invested in the race as part of the ‘Red to Blue’ effort. [Listen: Max & Murphy Podcast: Rep. Dan Donovan]

8. How will New York City’s ballot measures fare?
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s charter revision commission placed three yes/no questions on the ballot for New York City voters that would need a simple majority to be approved. The proposals would drastically reduce campaign contribution limits in city elections and expand the city’s campaign finance program; create a citywide civic engagement commission with the majority of members appointed by the mayor; and impose term limits on community boards -- among a variety of other aspects of each proposal.

In the last week, de Blasio has stumped for those proposals, urging a “yes” vote on each. Some community advocates and labor unions have also backed the proposals, but prominent elected officials have given mixed reviews, with many coming out against proposal three, especially. [Listen: Cesar Perales, chair of the mayor's charter revision commission, appears on the What's The [Data] Point? podcast]

9. Election administration and security
Following the broad influence effort carried out by Russians in the 2016 presidential election, states across the country have sought to beef up election and ballot security. The New York State Board of Elections has implemented a plan called “ARMOR” -- Assessing Risk, Remediation, Monitoring Operations and Response -- with $5 million in state funding and $19.5 in federal funds. The BOE created a Secure Elections Center to protect against potential cybersecurity threats and to ensure that elections run smoothly, and has been training local and county elections boards to respond to those incidents.

Observers will be watching for any attempts to break into election systems, as the Russians successfully did in seven states ahead of the 2016 election while targeting about 21 states (New York was not among those).

There are always questions in New York City around administration of elections by the city’s Board of Elections, including related to issues like whether proper notice has been given about changes in polling locations or whether voters have been improperly removed from the rolls. And, higher than usual voter turnout is expected on Tuesday, perhaps on par with a presidential election, putting boards of election all over the state to the test.

10. A vacancy to fill?
If Letitia James wins the attorney general’s race, she would take the oath of office on January 1, 2019, triggering a nonpartisan special election for the office of public advocate that would likely take place in late February. But the race will likely kick off in earnest almost immediately after Tuesday, if James wins, with dozens of potential candidates waiting in the wings to jump into the race and several having already announced their intentions, including City Council Member Jumaane Williams and Assembly Member Michael Blake.

The nature of the race -- a short timeline with no party affiliations and several candidates largely indistinguishable in their political ideologies -- could potentially help a Republican claim the seat. But the victor would have to run for reelection later in the year, in a “normal” election with primaries and a general, with regular party lines and Democrats a massive enrollment advantage.

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Note - This article has been updated. 

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10 Things to Watch on Election Day in New York Sun, 04 Nov 2018 04:00:00 +0000
WATCH: State Comptroller Candidate Debate http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7989-watch-state-comptroller-candidate-debate-dinapoli-trichter-2018 http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7989-watch-state-comptroller-candidate-debate-dinapoli-trichter-2018  img 6200 2

Candidates DiNapoli, Dunlea, Gallaudet, Trichter (l-r) (Photo: MNN)


Watch the first debate in the general election race for New York State Comptroller, among the four candidates who will be on the ballot: incumbent Democrat Tom DiNapoli, Republican nominee Jonathan Trichter, Green Party nominee Mark Dunlea, and Libertarian Party nominee Cruger Gallaudet. DiNapoli will also appear on the Reform, Independence, Women's Equality and Working Families Party ballot lines on the November 6 ballot, while Trichter also has the Conservative Party line.

The debate, embedded below, aired on Manhattan Neighborhood Network and was moderated by Gotham Gazette's Ben Max.

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WATCH: State Comptroller Candidate Debate Sun, 14 Oct 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Comptroller Candidates Debate Powers and Responsibilities of State's Top Fiscal Officer http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7987-comptroller-candidates-debate-powers-and-responsibilities-of-state-s-top-fiscal-officer http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7987-comptroller-candidates-debate-powers-and-responsibilities-of-state-s-top-fiscal-officer comptroller fall

Candidates DiNapoli, Dunlea, Gallaudet, Trichter (l-r) during their first debate


New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, a Democrat running for reelection as the state’s top fiscal officer, faced his three challengers on Tuesday in the first debate of the general election, hosted by Manhattan Neighborhood Network.

The four candidates offered their views on the powers and role of the state comptroller, charged with managing the state’s $207 billion public pension fund, overseeing state and local spending, auditing state contracts and the finances of hundreds of state agencies and authorities, and ensuring that New York’s debt obligations and funding needs are carefully calibrated to current and future revenue.

DiNapoli, who first took office in 2007 following the resignation of his predecessor, Alan Hevesi, amid scandal, was elected by voters in 2010 and 2014. He went unopposed in this year’s primary and is running with nominations from the Democratic Party, Working Families Party, Reform Party, Women’s Equality Party, and Independence Party -- his name will appear on all five lines on the November 6 ballot. His opponents include the Republican nominee Jonathan Trichter, who also has the Conservative Party ballot line; the Green Party’s Mark Dunlea; and Cruger Gallaudet, a Libertarian.

The debate, just over an hour long and moderated by Gotham Gazette Executive Editor Ben Max, will air on MNN and be posted to its YouTube channel on Sunday night.

It mostly saw DiNapoli defend his record against criticism from Trichter, a previously registered Democrat who switched his party registration to Republican and received the necessary Wilson-Pakula certificate to run on the party’s line this fall. The back-and-forth arguments between the two largely centered in wonky fiscal issues, some of which it would take an unaffiliated expert on state finances and constitutional powers to wade through (Gotham Gazette is working on a detailed fact check).

DiNapoli stressed that he has been a prudent steward of the pension fund and a strong, independent voice for sound fiscal practices, promoting reform and providing a steady hand both for an office previously mired in scandal and a state going through the Great Recession and its aftermath. Trichter alleged that DiNapoli has been a subpar investment manager and not a forceful enough voice for change in state budget and other fiscal practices where the comptroller has oversight.

Dunlea spent his time reliably offering up suggestions to divest the state pension from the fossil fuel industry and pushing for more accountability and transparency in the fiscal management of state authorities. Gallaudet had little to offer in terms of specific ideas, and instead repeatedly pleaded to viewers to reject the “duopoly” of the Democratic and Republican parties and to cast a ballot for the Libertarian statewide ticket. He said the comptroller race would be a good place for voters to use a “split-ticket,” presumably where they would select a Democrat (Governor Andrew Cuomo) or Republican (Marc Molinaro) in the governor’s race, in order to send a message, but also repeatedly said voters should examine Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Larry Sharpe.

DiNapoli States His Case and Defends His Record
“It’s really the office that promotes accountability and transparency in state government and local government as well,” said DiNapoli, explaining the role in his opening remarks. He also took a dig at Trichter for switching to the Republican Party, the party of President Donald Trump, and for claiming to be a financial professional though he has worked as a political operative in the past. Some of DiNapoli’s responses to Trichter, who attacked the incumbent in nearly every answer he gave, were as aggressive as most who’ve followed the typically mild-mannered comptroller’s career have heard from him.

“Unlike Jon, I have my values as a Democrat and have stuck with them all my life...If you have to sell yourself to get the nomination, I don’t think that’s the best standard to be running for office,” DiNapoli said early on.

DiNapoli touted his history of public service, as a local school board member for a decade and then 11 terms as a member of the State Assembly, where he served on the Ways and Means committee, he said. He defended being appointed to the position of comptroller by the Legislature in 2007, a move that was opposed by many newspaper editorial boards, Trichter had noted, arguing DiNapoli was unqualified for the job.

In his time as comptroller, DiNapoli said he has restored the integrity of the office, helped guide state finances through the Great Recession, and grown the pension fund to an all-time high. “That is an enviable record,” he said.

Trichter pitched himself as a candidate who would take a “fiscally pragmatic” approach to the comptroller’s office, banking on his credentials as a public finance expert with years of experience in the private sector as he critiqued DiNapoli’s management of state finances over the last decade-plus. He said DiNapoli had only created an average 6 percent growth over 11 years for the state pension fund, though his target was 7.5 percent, a gulf of $65 billion that he accused DiNapoli of extracting through taxation from municipalities. “The state comptroller has siphoned off local tax dollars ten times more than localities around the country have for their own public pension problems and underperformance,” he said.

Trichter said he would invest the pension fund in passive index funds such as the S&P 500 -- which mirror the rise and fall of the larger market -- and move away from investing in hedge funds and private equity, managers of which he said have received more than $6 billion in fees from DiNapoli’s office since 2007. “He’s paid $6 billion to hedge funds for underperformance,” Trichter alleged.

DiNapoli, in his defense, repeatedly accused Trichter of issuing misleading arguments and outright falsehoods, noting that the state pension fund grew by $100 billion under his tenure, that state pensions are funded up to 98 percent, with a diversified portfolio mitigating risk, and that the state weathered the storm of the recession. He also said New York’s outlook has been more conservative, with a new target of 7 percent growth for the pension system.

“To put all of our money in index funds would be totally irresponsible, to put all your eggs in one basket,” DiNapoli said, noting that hedge funds performed better when markets crashed during the recession, balancing out the poorer performance of public equity funds. “If we did learn anything from the global financial crisis, you have to be diversified.”

Dunlea, who co-founded the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), a good government group, and the Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank, said the pension fund would be $22 billion richer if the comptroller had divested it from fossil fuels ten years ago, even as he praised DiNapoli for divesting from the private prison industry and taking some steps in the direction of fossil fuel divestment.

“When the world is saying an industry has to end, that’s not a wise financial investment to continue somewhere between $6 to $11 billion,” Dunlea said of fossil fuel companies and the state pension fund.

DiNapoli insisted that simple divestment would not solve a problem as large and daunting as climate change and that the comptroller could more effectively push for environmental friendly corporate policies from within the room, as an activist shareholder in major fossil fuel companies.

He touted a $7 billion investment allocation in sustainability initiatives through the state pension fund and insisted that short of broad societal transition away from reliance on fossil fuels, the industry continues to provide a safe return on investment. “Climate’s a big issue and just selling stock in fossil fuel companies is not gonna solve it,” he said. When asked by the moderator if his argument was that fossil fuel companies continued to be a good investment, DiNapoli said “[W]e have to go through a societal change and for now, in the short run, we still are making money from the oil and gas stocks.”

“I don’t like the concept of being the sole trustee,” of the pension fund, said Gallaudet. He said he would urge the state Legislature to create a board to oversee the pension fund rather than have it in the hands of the comptroller alone. DiNapoli sought to demystify the comptroller’s role by noting he is not there making all the investment decisions by himself, far from it, he pointed to his bevvy of internal employees and “advisory committees.”

Audit Power
On the audit powers of the comptroller that allow the office to conduct oversight of state agencies and contracts and public authority spending, the candidates showed some disagreement.

“I think we need to be more aggressive about examining pay-to-play contracts,” said Dunlea, insisting that the comptroller needs to pay extra attention to individuals and entities that make large campaign contributions to elected officials and have business before the state. In particular, he pledged to closely examine local social services departments to ensure that needy people get the benefits they are entitled to receive.

Gallaudet simply said he would use the comptroller’s audit power to “reduce the scope of government,” though he did not elaborate how.

Trichter said the audit power is “one of the more powerful roles of the office,” as he critiqued DiNapoli for failing to use it appropriately. For instance, he alleged DiNapoli had repeatedly audited the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) but failed to unearth its many fiscal troubles even as the subway system has slid into disrepair and its capital funding needs ballooned to nearly $40 billion. “He’s the one Albany politician responsible for finding out what’s wrong with our infrastructure at the MTA before things start to break,” Trichter said, pointing to dozens of comptroller audits of the MTA that he said were outpaced by one New York Times reporter, though he also cited think tanks Citizens Budget Commission and The Manhattan Institute.

DiNapoli, however, insisted he has been a responsible and effective watchdog, including on the MTA. Dismissing Trichter’s criticisms as “crazy notions,” he said he had repeatedly raised the alarm about the MTA, including on its antiquated and failing signal system, and that his office has conducted robust audits of state agencies. “The strength of our audits is the credibility of the work that we do, and in many cases, we’ve effectuated change…We’ve saved taxpayers money through our audit work,” DiNapoli said.

State Budget Oversight
On state budget oversight responsibility, DiNapoli sought to portray the comptroller’s powers as limited, though he acknowledged he has a bully pulpit to advocate for more transparency and accountability. New York State’s budget process is notoriously opaque, and the annual spending document is invariably hashed out in the dead of night, with little public review, by the so-called “three men in a room” -- the governor, the Assembly speaker and Senate majority leader -- with a variety of gimmicks, hidden aspects, and unspecified, lump sum appropriations.

“Our role is one of lending a voice,” DiNapoli said. “And what we’ve tried to do with our budget reports, and what we’ll continue to do, is not only focus on the short term but on the long term.” He issued a note of caution about growing budget gaps in the years ahead, insufficient rainy day funds, and the heavy reliance on lump sums that hide the true purpose of spending. “Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the Legislature and the governor to make sure that these issues are addressed.”

Dunlea promised to more aggressively pursue budget oversight, pushing for reforms also backed by DiNapoli that give the comptroller more power over state contracting. He also said the comptroller should push harder on tax fairness and crack down on “out of control” debt incurred by public authorities.

“It is within the comptroller’s authority to refuse certifying the budget every year,” Trichter insisted, arguing that under the state constitution, the comptroller can leverage that certification power over the state budget to push for reforms. Though what Trichter is suggesting has never been tested, he believes it would hold up under the precedent set by the 1971 case of Posner v. Levitt in which the New York State Supreme Court’s appellate division ruled that the Comptroller “may have standing to test the validity of the budget, but he is not obliged to do so,” and could not be compelled.

DiNapoli has denied that interpretation. “[H]e’s making things up as he goes along,” he said of Trichter. “The comptroller has no authority to certify the budget. There is no statutory constitutional authority to do that. You can’t make up law.”

“If you’re gonna try to assert an authority that you don’t have, well all you’re gonna do is gum up the works and create more gridlock than you have already,” he added. “You’re gonna end up in court.”

Cross-Examination
The candidates were also given a chance to ask a question of one other candidate, which Trichter and Dunlea unsurprisingly used to question Dinapoli, who is seen as a prohibitive favorite to win reelection.  

Trichter accused DiNapoli of participating in secretive payments to silence the women who were victims of sexual harassment by former Assembly Member Vito Lopez and asked if he would apologize. Dunlea pushed him on how he would avoid conflicts of interest in the future, pointing to a recent news report that showed the former Chief Investment Officer of the state pension fund, Vicki Fuller, joining the board of a company in which the state pension fund was invested.

In both cases, DiNapoli denied the accusation. He insisted that the comptroller’s office put in more accountability measures following the Lopez scandal, and that he had no say in negotiating the payments made to Lopez’s victims, nor were the submissions for those payments made to his office for approval clearly identified as related to sexual harassment. He said that his office certifies thousands of payment requests from the Legislature and indicated the settlements hadn’t appeared abnormal. “Women were victimized. They were entitled to some justice and entitled to compensation,” DiNapoli said. “That was the agreement. We made sure that they were paid. There was no secret payment...and in the aftermath of what happened with the Lopez situation, we did institute changes, more transparency, more accountability...and of course we’ve all evolved governmentally on this issue.”

And DiNapoli pushed back against the alleged conflict of interest, noting that the pension fund is invested broadly in hundreds of companies, that investments were made on the merit and that the former CIO is barred under state law from doing any business with the pension fund for two years. He said that the bulk of the company’s debt that the pension fund purchased three years ago was quite unlikely to have influenced where Fuller landed after retiring from the comptroller’s office this summer.

DiNapoli used his own question to give Gallaudet more time to say anything he wanted, and Gallaudet asked Trichter to explain how he could justify voters backing him given DiNapoli’s strong chances of winning, which gave Trichter another minute to reiterate his case.

Managing State Debt and Federal Tax Reforms
DiNapoli has repeatedly flagged that there is too much governmental debt in New York, for the state government as well as local governments and authorities. On managing such debt, there seemed to be at least some area of agreement among the comptroller candidates on the ends if not the means. Dunlea said again that he would rein in public authorities and make their workings more transparent. Gallaudet conceded, “I have no silver bullet, no easy answers on how to tackle this issue.”

Trichter, however, insisted, “I do have a silver bullet or a magic solution to all of this.” He said the state should end so-called “backdoor borrowing” or incurring debt without getting approval from voters, which is otherwise required by the state constitution and often happens through the public authorities.

“The comptroller has signed off on $32 billion in backdoor debt since he’s been in office in 2007,” Trichter said. “If he refused to sign off on backdoor debt, he could unilaterally end the practice once and for all and institute his own debt policy. This is something he absolutely has the authority to do.” He also noted that DiNapoli himself has supported a constitutional amendment to end backdoor debt.

Yet again, DiNapoli said Trichter was being misleading. “You can’t create authority or powers that you don’t have...It is not our authority, nor should it be our role, to just stop the debt that happens in the state,” he said, while also insisting that his office had reduced negotiated debt where it could do so.

There was little clarity on what the comptroller candidates would recommend or do about the federal tax overhaul passed by the Republican-led Congress and signed by President Trump at the end of 2017 -- reforms that Governor Cuomo and some in both major parties have decried as harmful to New Yorkers. Trichter said the office could not do anything about it and DiNapoli seemed to feel the same even as he praised Cuomo and the state Legislature for attempting to create a workaround for state taxpayers suffering from the reduction in the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT), though those attempts may not pan out, he noted.

Lightning Round of Questions
In a brief lightning round, there was no unanimity among the candidates. All of them except Trichter supported extending the state’s soon-to-expire “millionaires tax” on income as well as a $15 minimum wage (Dunlea said it should be $20); Trichter was the only one opposed to the state passing a single-payer health care law, though DiNapoli said it should be federally funded.

Trichter had no answer on whether congestion pricing should be enacted to raise funds for mass transit while Dunlea and DiNapoli supported it (Gallaudet just said he wasn’t opposed). Dunlea and DiNapoli said they want the state’s fracking ban to continue, while Gallaudet and Trichter said fracking should be allowed.

All of the candidates favored holding state government hearings on sexual harassment in the public and private sectors, though Gallaudet said he wasn’t sure about the issue. He also had no opinion on scrapping the much-critiqued Joint Commission on Public Ethics, the state ethics entity often seen as too close to state power brokers, while the other three said they would like to see it replaced with a more independent body.

They all agreed on one lightning round question: closing the loophole in state campaign finance law that allows limited liability companies, which often have opaque ownership, to circumvent individual contribution limits, though Trichter added that it should apply to labor unions as well.

DiNapoli has committed to one other debate, being hosted by NY1 at the end of the month.

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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Comptroller Candidates Debate Powers and Responsibilities of State's Top Fiscal Officer Wed, 10 Oct 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Max & Murphy Podcast: Jonathan Trichter, Republican nominee for Comptroller http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7974-max-murphy-podcast-jonathan-trichter-republican-nominee-for-comptroller http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7974-max-murphy-podcast-jonathan-trichter-republican-nominee-for-comptroller mxm logo

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


October 03, 2018 - Jonathan Trichter, Republican nominee for Comptroller

john trichter 400

Jonathan Trichter, the Republican candidate for state comptroller, joined the show to discuss his candidacy, including his critiques of incumbent Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and his plans for doing things differently if elected.

Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter @TweetBenMax and @JarrettMurphy. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max & Murphy," and listen to Max & Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Max & Murphy Podcast: Jonathan Trichter, Republican nominee for Comptroller Wed, 03 Oct 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Max & Murphy Podcast: Comptroller Tom DiNapoli http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7975-max-murphy-podcast-comptroller-tom-dinapoli http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7975-max-murphy-podcast-comptroller-tom-dinapoli mxm logo

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


October 03, 2018 - Max & Murphy Podcast: Comptroller Tom DiNapoli

tom dinapoli 130Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, a Democrat who has held the office for roughly ten years, joined the show to discuss his case for reelection.

Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter @TweetBenMax and @JarrettMurphy. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max & Murphy," and listen to Max & Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Max & Murphy Podcast: Comptroller Tom DiNapoli Wed, 03 Oct 2018 04:00:00 +0000
The 2018 Elections in New York http://www.gothamgazette.com/election-coverage/2018-elections http://www.gothamgazette.com/election-coverage/2018-elections 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 but Attorney General, incumbent Democrats are seeking reelection. In three -- Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General -- there are competitive primaries that will be decided Thursday September 13.

New York is also home this year 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 occured June 26; while primaries for the state-level elections will occur September 13. Election Day -- with the general election for all 2018 races -- will occur November 6. (There were also special elections April 24 to fill 11 vacancies in the state Legislature, two in the Senate and nine in the Assembly.)

As New Yorkers prepare to go to the polls for the September 13 primaries, which are largely on the Democratic side, and the November 6 general election, our ongoing election coverage:

Gotham Gazette's ongoing coverage of the 2018 elections in New York, with the most recent first:

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Post-Primary Campaign Finance Filings Show Cuomo’s Already Spent $28 Million by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)

Cuomo and His Progressive Critics Face Moment of Truth by Sam Raskin (September 2018)

Gubernatorial Candidates Miner, Sharpe & Hawkins Lay Out Campaign Platforms, Cases Against Cuomo by Sam Raskin (September 2018)

Democrats Target Previously Ignored Brooklyn Shot at State Senate Majority by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)

After Primary Wins, Progressive Activists Eye Flipping State Senate Seats, and Wide Majority by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Marc Molinaro, Republican Nominee for GovernorMax & Murphy Podcast: Marc Molinaro, Republican Nominee for Governor by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (September 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Primary Post-Mortem with Rebecca Katz, Top Cynthia Nixon Strategist by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (September 2018)

Surging Democratic Voter Turnout in New York City May Mean Greater Importance in State Elections by Jim Brennan (September 2018)

Republican Slate Seeks to End Statewide Drought by Ben Brachfeld & Samar Khurshid

How Insurgent Forces Activated, Educated and Brought the IDC Down by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)

A Closer Look at Democratic Primary Turnout, Margins and Geography by Sam Raskin (September 2018)

The Real Story of Cuomo’s Dominant Primary Win by Howard Glaser (September 2018)

2018 New York State Primary Results: Cuomo, Hochul, James Prevail While Senate Upsets Abound by Ben Max (September 2018)

Cuomo and Hochul Win Primaries, Again Form Democratic General Election Ticket by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)

James Eyes Statewide History as Democratic Attorney General Nominee by Sam Raskin (September 2018)

Teachout-Maloney Battle May Help James Win Attorney General Nomination by Sam Raskin (September 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Primary Day Is Here by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (September 2018)

Ahead of Primary, Cuomo Gives Limited Insight into Third Term Agenda by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)

A Closer Look at the Democratic Attorney General Candidates’ Legal Careers by Sam Raskin (September 2018)

Last-Minute Guide to Voting on Primary Day, September 13 by Ben Brachfeld (September 2018)

Get Ready to Vote in the Hochul-Williams Lieutenant Governor Primary by Sam Raskin (September 2018)

How ‘Independent’ Must the New York Attorney General Be? by Gerald Benjamin (September 2018)

One of the State's Most Powerful Unions Tries to Take Down One of Its Most Powerful Politicians by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)

Vacancy in the Public Advocate's Office? Call the City Council Speaker by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Final Days of the Lieutenant Governor Primary by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (September 2018)

In Brooklyn, Blake Morris Tries to Upend the State Senate Power Balance All By Himself by Ben Brachfeld (September 2018)

Statewide Candidates File Final Pre-Primary Campaign Finance Disclosures by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)

Candidates in Contested State Senate Primaries File Final Pre-Primary Financials by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)

Potentially Crowded Public Advocate Special Election Could Feature Two Former Council Speakers by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)

WATCH: Lieutenant Governor Democratic Primary Debate Between Kathy Hochul and Jumaane Williams moderated by Ben Max (August 2018)

Alleging Lies, Molinaro Seeks to Have Cuomo Attack Ad Pulled by Chelsey Sanchez (August 2018)

Hochul Asserts Previously Unmentioned Role in Anti-Sexual Harassment Laws by Sam Raskin (August 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Intense Queens Senate Primary Centers on Delivering for Immigrant Communities, with Jessica Ramos & State Senator Jose Peralta by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (August 2018)

Hochul, Williams Outline Drastic Differences in Lieutenant Governor Debate by Sam Raskin (August 2018)

Arguing Throughout, Cuomo and Nixon Debate Experience and Vision by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)

Nixon Says 'Narrow Path' to Victory Paved with Newly-Registered Progressives Polls ‘Not Capturing’ by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)

Opponents Target Teachout as Democratic Attorney General Candidates Debate Role and Resumes by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)

How Ronald Reagan’s 1966 Run for Governor Prefaced Cynthia Nixon’s Today by Caitlin Bishop (August 2018)

Pressed on SAFE Act, Teachout Downplays Past Opposition by Sam Raskin (August 2018)

Being Labeled the ‘Sheriff of Wall Street’ Isn't Enough by attorney general candidate Letitia James (August 2018)

Running for Attorney General, James Takes Strong Atlantic Yards Record Too Far by Norman Oder (August 2018)

Manhattan Senate Debate Offers Another Round of IDC Argument, Few Ideas to Fix NYCHA or the MTA by Chelsey Sanchez (August 2018)

'Speaker Heastie PAC' Brings in Big Money from Special Interests, Starts Giving to Candidates by Samar Khurshid & Ben Brachfeld (August 2018)

Rep. Jeffries Backs Gov. Cuomo for Reelection by Chelsey Sanchez & Ben Max (August 2018)

Some New York Democrats are Backing Nixon for Governor and James for Attorney General by Samar Khurshid & Ben Max (August 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Preparing for Primary Day by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (August 2018)

Democratic Attorney General Candidates Seek to Set Themselves Apart During First Televised Debate by Ben Brachfeld (August 2018)

At Brooklyn Forum, Nixon Pitches Policy, Criticizes Cuomo and Distances from De Blasio by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)

What You Can Learn From Gubernatorial Candidates' Campaign Websites by Chelsey Sanchez (August 2018)

Democratic Candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor File Pre-Primary Fundraising Numbers by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)

Ahead of Primary, Democrats Running for Attorney General File Campaign Finance Disclosures by Ben Brachfeld (August 2018)

How Much Does Brooklyn Congressional Primary Result Show Path in Overlapping State Senate Race? by Daniel Yadin (August 2018)

Rematch of Tight Manhattan Senate Primary Takes Shape in Different Political Environment by Chelsey Sanchez (August 2018)

Independence from Cuomo, or Lack Thereof, Becomes Flashpoint in Attorney General Race by Chelsey Sanchez & Ben Max (August 2018)

Running for Attorney General, James Outlines Initial Policy Platform by Ben Brachfeld (August 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Queens State Senate Rematch Features Different Kinds of Democrat by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (August 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Attorney General Candidate Sean Patrick Maloney by Ben Max (August 2018)

Cuomo Brought Rogue Democrats Back, But Hasn't Offered or Accepted Endorsements by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)

Cuomo and Legislative Leaders Silent Amid Intensifying Calls for Sexual Harassment Hearings by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)

Key to Victory, Black Voters Appear Solidly Behind Cuomo Over by Mike Vilensky Nixon (August 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Manhattan State Senate Rematch Centered on Breakaway Democrats by Ben Max (August 2018)

In Wide Open Lieutenant Governor Primary, Hochul Targets Votes in Williams’ Backyard by Ben Brachfeld & Ben Max (August 2018)

'Undecided' Leads Competitive Democratic Attorney General Primary by Samar Khurshid & Ben Max (August 2018)

What New York Voters Care About Ahead of State Elections by Ben Brachfeld & Ben Max (July 2018)

Eyeing Ad Revenue and Antitrust Laws, Teachout Targets Tech Giants in Wake of Daily News Layoffs by Ben Brachfeld (July 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Attorney General Candidate Leecia Eve by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (July 2018)

In Midst of Attorney General Campaign, Teachout to Join New York Bar by Ben Max (July 2018)

In Democratic Senate Primary, Barkan Criticizes Gounardes for Embracing 'Anti-Immigrant' Reform Party Leader by Samar Khurshid (July 2018)

Leading Immigrant-Advocacy Group Backs Ramos in Bid to Unseat Peralta by Chelsey Sanchez (July 2018)

Inside the Democratic Attorney General Candidates’ July Campaign Finance Filings by Ben Brachfeld (July 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Letitia James & the Attorney General Primary by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (July 2018)

The July Financial Picture for Former Breakaway Democrats and Their Primary Challengers by Samar Khurshid (July 2018)

Statewide Candidates File July Fundraising Numbers by Samar Khurshid (July 2018)

Amid Primary Fights, Cuomo and Hochul Increase Frequency of Joint Governmental Events by Ben Brachfeld & Ben Max (July 2018)

Assembly Race Poses Another Test for Queens Machine by Samar Khurshid (July 2018)

The Cynthia Nixon-Working Families Party Back-up Plan by Ben Max (July 2018)

I’m with Cynthia Because She Stands for Schools, Not Jails by Antonio Reynoso (July 2018)

New York Democrats’ Season of Choosing by Samar Khurshid (July 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Attorney General Candidate Zephyr Teachout by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (July 2018)

EMILY’s List Backs Hochul for Reelection as Lieutenant Governor by Ben Max (July 2018)

Running for State Senate, Julia Salazar Attempts Progressive Primary Upset by Daniel Yadin (July 2018)

Democratic Candidates for Attorney General Plant Campaign Flags by Ben Brachfeld & Ben Max (June 2018)

A Closer Look at Voter Turnout in 2018 New York Congressional Primaries by Ben Brachfeld (June 2018)

New York General Election Congressional Matchups to Watch by Samar Khurshid & Daniel Yadin (June 2018)

Molinaro Starts Campaign on Attack, Policy Plans to Come by Shant Shahrigian (June 2018)

Ocasio-Cortez Upsets Crowley, Donovan Defeats Grimm & Other 2018 New York Congressional Primary Results by Ben Max & Ben Brachfeld (June 2018)

Hochul: Divided Democratic Party Only Benefits Republicans by Caitlin Bishop (June 2018)

Donovan, Grimm in Final Days of Contentious Congressional Primary by Jordan Kimmel & Chelsey Sanchez (June 2018)

Democratic Campaign Chief: Even a ‘Blue Trickle’ Will Flip State Senate by Shant Shahrigian (June 2018)

Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Democratic Unity and the ‘Value’ of Primaries by Chelsey Sanchez (June 2018)

Citing Broken Cuomo Promises, Nixon Unveils Campaign Finance Reform Plan by Samar Khurshid (June 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (June 2018)

On Taxes, the MTA and More, Molinaro Discusses Developing Campaign Platform by Shant Shahrigian (June 2018)

New York Congressional Primaries to Watch Ahead of June 26 Vote by Jordan Kimmel & Daniel Yadin (June 2018)

Teachout Launches Attorney General Campaign with Focus on Trump by Ben Brachfeld (June 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (June 2018)

Inside Cynthia Nixon’s Developing Campaign Infrastructure by Caitlin Bishop (May 2018)

Stephanie Miner Diagnoses What’s Wrong with New York Politics by Caitlin Bishop (May 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: State Party Conventions & Nominations by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (May 2018)

Rallying Volunteers, Nixon Responds to Democratic Convention Result by Caitlin Bishop (May 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: State Party Conventions & Nominations by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (May 2018)

Three Themes to Watch at State Democratic Convention by Samar Khurshid (May 2018)

Cuomo-Launched Women’s Equality Party Will Soon Make Statewide Nominations by Ben Max (May 2018)

Party Nominations for Statewide Elections Come Into Focus by Ben Max (May 2018)

James Victory in Attorney General Race Would Trigger Citywide Special Election by Samar Khurshid (May 2018)

Letitia James Launches Campaign for Attorney General by Samar Khurshid (May 2018)

Exploring Attorney General Run, Zephyr Teachout Pursues Working Families Nomination, Democratic Ballot Line by Ben Max (May 2018)

The Contradictions of Cross-Endorsements in the Governor’s Race by Howie Hawks (May 2018)

Marc Molinaro and The Trump Question by Ben Max (May 2018)

Defining 'Real Democrat,' Cynthia Nixon Offers Early Policy Platform by Ben Max & Matthew Sweeney (May 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Political Purity Tests in New York by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (April 2018)

As Cuomo Chooses Democratic Unity, Party Activist Base Chooses Nixon by David Colon (April 2018)

Special Election Results for 11 State Legislative Seats by Ben Max (April 2018)

Progressives Draft Convention Resolution to Allow Unaffiliated Voters in Democratic Primary by Samar Khurshid (April 2018)

Progressives Draft Convention Resolution to Allow Unaffiliated Voters in Democratic Primary by Ashley Hupfl (April 2018)

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)

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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