Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/wfp 2017-12-15T04:14:01+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com After Making History, James Seeks Change 2015-03-22T16:33:28+00:00 2015-03-22T16:33:28+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5631:after-making-history-james-seeks-change Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/tish_james_at_rally.jpg" alt="tish james at rally" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Public Advocate James at a recent rally (photo: @PA_Outreach)</span></p> <hr /> <p>During Women's History Month, the New York City YWCA holds weekly discussion and networking events, leading to a celebration honoring a "YW Woman of the Year." This year's theme is Leadership and Generosity: A Call to Action and the honoree, to be recognized at the celebration Tuesday night in Manhttan, is Public Advocate Letitia James. According to a YWCA spokesperson, James is being honored for "her hard work towards gender and racial equity" and because she "is a shining example with her tireless efforts to advance the agency of women and girls in New York City."</p> <p>No individual better epitomizes the progress made by women of color in New York City than Letitia "Tish" James. The first woman of color elected to city-wide office, James is a force. She is a powerful public speaker with a commanding physical presence, including a big, broad smile that she flashes judiciously. A labor-friendly attorney, James is also a proud Brooklynite and former City Council member whose 2013 election to the office of public advocate was met with widespread <a href="http://nownyc.org/press-releases/voters-elect-first-woman-of-color-to-city-wide-office/" target="_blank">celebration</a> due to its historic nature.</p> <p>Since becoming one of New York City's three publicly-elected city-wide officials in January of 2014, she has shifted the focus of the office toward her legal background and identified new causes to champion in fulfilling the role's mandate - for example, she filed suit to unseal documents in the Eric Garner grand jury case and she has taken on the issue of sexual assault on college campuses. Her advocacy has at times brought her into direct conflict with her allies, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, though some say James has not been critical enough of her friend and fellow Brooklynite, the mayor. James has tended toward taking on the administration in court over calling out the mayor individually, a different tack that that taken by past public advocates. Among <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/uptown/harlem-tenant-landlord-war-sides-head-t-article-1.2087381" target="_blank">other areas</a> of disagreement, the public advocate has sued the de Blasio administration over school co-locations and <a href="http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2015/01/09/city-says-school-leadership-meetings-not-public-prompting-lawsuits/#.VQXU2bDF9DU" target="_blank">in an effort</a> to open up school leadership meetings to the public.</p> <p>As February rolled into March and Women's History Month follows Black History Month, the city has been celebrating the legacies of black leaders and women leaders. Like no other public figure in New York City, James is a symbol of this history, as well as the present, and the triumphs and struggles of specific constituencies and demographics.</p> <p>But James hopes, and strives, she says, to be more than just a symbol. "Obviously its an honor and a privilege that New York elected me," she said in a recent phone interview with Gotham Gazette. "There's a historical sentiment to that victory. However, that means nothing. It won't be more than a historical footnote if I don't do anything as Public Advocate."</p> <p>Since her election, which she won after a tough Democratic primary culminating in a run-off, James has worked to redefine the office of Public Advocate - held prior to her, for one term, by de Blasio. She's also been able to expand the staff of the office due to additional funds allocated by the mayor in his first budget.</p> <p>Coming from limited resources herself, James' political path has been especially challenging, and she has called for campaign finance reform as a means to level a political playing field dominated by men with access to deep pockets. "For me, the challenge was raising funds, and that continues," she said. "That's unique to women. They are mostly involved in pink collar industries, not white collar ones that pay more. I would not be in this position but for campaign finance reform and the support of working class people." Even then, James says she was outspent three to one in the primary. "But it kept me in the game," she says of the City's system of public matching funds and spending caps.</p> <p>An active proponent of the "Why She Ran" <a href="http://nownyc.org/building-womens-leadership/why-she-ran/" target="_blank">campaign</a> launched last year by the Working Families Party (WFP) to provide a push to women considering running for public office, James seeks to contribute to a pipeline of those who decide to do so. The WFP has organized a host of events again this year and James will be joining forces with electeds, advocates, and activists to encourage more women to participate in the political arena. James was first elected to the City Council on the WFP ballot line and is a fixture at its rallies and other events - and it at hers, such as at a recent rally at City Hall calling for fair school funding from the State and decrying Governor Andrew Cuomo's education reform proposals, which are vehemently opposed by teachers unions.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/tish_james_sunday_rally.jpg" alt="james rally" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" height="400" width="300" /><span style="font-size: 10pt;">James at Sunday's rally (photo: @leoniehaimson)</span></p> <p>Even while she's receiving awards, as she will Tuesday evening, James' attention in the next weeks and months, she said, will be on broad, sweeping issues that affect all New Yorkers and particularly women. "We're going to keep our heads down and raise issues on the ground," she said. In forums across the city, James has promised to discuss issues of pay equity, child care, student debt, sexual assault on college campuses, criminal justice reform, jobs, education, and the "feminization of poverty in New York. There are more women living in poverty now than ever," she said.</p> <p>"I'll be going around college campuses and meeting young people so they can recognize that politics is the way to effect change in the system," James said. "As more women see elected officials who happen to be women, they'll be inspired by the advocacy of this office to join political office."</p> <p>James has just finished <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5630-theme-of-james-mayoral-control-forums-more-local-say" target="_blank">a five-borough series</a> of "Mayoral Control Forums," in which she's led community discussions about how New Yorkers want to see the power over the school system allocated. While that will ultimately be a decision made at the state level, James is doing what she often does, pushing a conversation forward - the community recommendations that her office aggregates will be presented to lawmakers.</p> <p>Her tenacity and focus on her constituents has won her respect in many quarters. "I think it's great every time that we break a glass ceiling and somebody makes history," said new State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie when asked, given his own history-making, to discuss James'. Heastie is the first African-American to hold the post of Assembly Speaker, which he attained in early February. "But as I've said," Heastie continued, echoing James, "just making history is not the most important thing, it's what you do once you get elevated to that position."</p> <p>Praising James for "doing a wonderful job," Heastie said he hopes that one day "people say the same thing about me."</p> <p>Other elected officials see James as a role model. Bronx City Council Member Vanessa Gibson, a woman of color herself, looks up to James' example. "[She made] history, but for us it's just an affirmation that women are changing the game and we are stepping up to leadership roles that were never planned nor designed for us," Gibson told Gotham Gazette. "When I look at Tish James and all that she stands for - fairness and equity, always fighting against inequities and fighting against the stigmas, the statistics that are used to define New Yorkers and Bronx residents - it's really an honor to work with her, to call her a friend, to call her my big sister."</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/tish_w_kids.jpg" alt="PA James" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" height="300" width="400" /><span style="font-size: 13.3333330154419px;">James with young constituents (photo: @PA_Outreach)</span></p> <p>James has emphasized that she is a representative for all New Yorkers, not just one or two demographic groups that she may fall into or certain neighborhoods. Council Member Julissa Ferreras believes that approach is requisite for the city's progress.</p> <p>Ferreras is the first woman and person of color to chair the Council's powerful Finance Committee. "Having Tish James in city-wide office shows that we are making our way towards a more inclusive city government," Ferreras emailed. "I have also been welcomed into communities that previously were not open to women and people of color. Still, there is room for improvement and the most practical way I see of improving is by paying careful attention to hiring practices. Government officials appoint hundreds of individuals in their offices — making sure those individuals accurately represent their constituents is a first step."</p> <p>It is here that James hopes she will leave her mark, in encouraging political participation not only of women and people of color, but all New Yorkers, as artificial ceilings eventually become remnants of the past. "I would hope that we get to the point in history that there are no longer any barriers to break, and qualifying an election as being 'the first' is no more," she said. "It's important that individuals, whether they are people of color or not, recognize their position to effect change. The power lies in their hands, to be the change that so many people are protesting for."</p> <p><strong>New York Representation, by the Numbers</strong><br />It is an unfortunate fact that women and people of color are underrepresented in elected office in New York, which is but a microcosm of the representational imbalance in American politics.</p> <p>At the state level, there are only 51 women legislators out of 213 members of the State Senate and State Assembly. New York's 23.9 percent representation of women falls marginally below the national average of 24.1 percent, <a href="http://www.ncsl.org/legislators-staff/legislators/womens-legislative-network/women-in-state-legislatures-for-2015.aspx" target="_blank">according to</a>&nbsp;the National Conference of State Legislatures. Although that is an increase in the state over 2014, when the number stood at 45, it is the same as five years ago.</p> <p>The New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus <a href="http://www.nysenate.gov/committee/new-york-state-black-puerto-rican-hispanic-and-asian-legislative-caucus" target="_blank">has</a> 53 members, of which 18 are women (meaning 8.4 percent of the Legislature is women of color).</p> <p>More locally, the New York City Council has 15 women members, making up 29.4 percent of the 51-member body. The Council's Black, Latino and Asian Caucus makes up more than half the body, 26 of 51 members; and of course Melissa Mark-Viverito is the first woman of color to be elected Speaker - she is Puerto Rican.</p> <p><strong>City-wide History-makers</strong><br />Tish James may be the first woman of color to hold the post of public advocate, but she is not the first person of color or the first woman to hold city-wide office. In all, there have only been four politicians of color to hold one of the three current city-wide elected offices in New York, and only four women - James holds each distinction.</p> <p>Betsy Gotbaum was Public Advocate between 2002 and 2009, serving two terms. Before her, Carol Bellamy held the post when it was still termed President of the City Council, from 1978 to 1985. Besides them, Elizabeth Holtzman was Comptroller between 1990 and 1993, the only woman to ever hold that position.</p> <p>David Dinkins is the only person of color to ever be elected Mayor - he is African-American. The only other politicians of color elected city-wide are Comptrollers William Thompson (2002-2009) and John Liu (2010-2013).</p> <p>Could Letitia James become the first woman and first woman of color to be Mayor? Stay tuned.</p> <p>***<br />by Samar Khurshid, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/samarkhurshid" target="_blank">@samarkhurshid</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/tish_james_at_rally.jpg" alt="tish james at rally" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Public Advocate James at a recent rally (photo: @PA_Outreach)</span></p> <hr /> <p>During Women's History Month, the New York City YWCA holds weekly discussion and networking events, leading to a celebration honoring a "YW Woman of the Year." This year's theme is Leadership and Generosity: A Call to Action and the honoree, to be recognized at the celebration Tuesday night in Manhttan, is Public Advocate Letitia James. According to a YWCA spokesperson, James is being honored for "her hard work towards gender and racial equity" and because she "is a shining example with her tireless efforts to advance the agency of women and girls in New York City."</p> <p>No individual better epitomizes the progress made by women of color in New York City than Letitia "Tish" James. The first woman of color elected to city-wide office, James is a force. She is a powerful public speaker with a commanding physical presence, including a big, broad smile that she flashes judiciously. A labor-friendly attorney, James is also a proud Brooklynite and former City Council member whose 2013 election to the office of public advocate was met with widespread <a href="http://nownyc.org/press-releases/voters-elect-first-woman-of-color-to-city-wide-office/" target="_blank">celebration</a> due to its historic nature.</p> <p>Since becoming one of New York City's three publicly-elected city-wide officials in January of 2014, she has shifted the focus of the office toward her legal background and identified new causes to champion in fulfilling the role's mandate - for example, she filed suit to unseal documents in the Eric Garner grand jury case and she has taken on the issue of sexual assault on college campuses. Her advocacy has at times brought her into direct conflict with her allies, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, though some say James has not been critical enough of her friend and fellow Brooklynite, the mayor. James has tended toward taking on the administration in court over calling out the mayor individually, a different tack that that taken by past public advocates. Among <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/uptown/harlem-tenant-landlord-war-sides-head-t-article-1.2087381" target="_blank">other areas</a> of disagreement, the public advocate has sued the de Blasio administration over school co-locations and <a href="http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2015/01/09/city-says-school-leadership-meetings-not-public-prompting-lawsuits/#.VQXU2bDF9DU" target="_blank">in an effort</a> to open up school leadership meetings to the public.</p> <p>As February rolled into March and Women's History Month follows Black History Month, the city has been celebrating the legacies of black leaders and women leaders. Like no other public figure in New York City, James is a symbol of this history, as well as the present, and the triumphs and struggles of specific constituencies and demographics.</p> <p>But James hopes, and strives, she says, to be more than just a symbol. "Obviously its an honor and a privilege that New York elected me," she said in a recent phone interview with Gotham Gazette. "There's a historical sentiment to that victory. However, that means nothing. It won't be more than a historical footnote if I don't do anything as Public Advocate."</p> <p>Since her election, which she won after a tough Democratic primary culminating in a run-off, James has worked to redefine the office of Public Advocate - held prior to her, for one term, by de Blasio. She's also been able to expand the staff of the office due to additional funds allocated by the mayor in his first budget.</p> <p>Coming from limited resources herself, James' political path has been especially challenging, and she has called for campaign finance reform as a means to level a political playing field dominated by men with access to deep pockets. "For me, the challenge was raising funds, and that continues," she said. "That's unique to women. They are mostly involved in pink collar industries, not white collar ones that pay more. I would not be in this position but for campaign finance reform and the support of working class people." Even then, James says she was outspent three to one in the primary. "But it kept me in the game," she says of the City's system of public matching funds and spending caps.</p> <p>An active proponent of the "Why She Ran" <a href="http://nownyc.org/building-womens-leadership/why-she-ran/" target="_blank">campaign</a> launched last year by the Working Families Party (WFP) to provide a push to women considering running for public office, James seeks to contribute to a pipeline of those who decide to do so. The WFP has organized a host of events again this year and James will be joining forces with electeds, advocates, and activists to encourage more women to participate in the political arena. James was first elected to the City Council on the WFP ballot line and is a fixture at its rallies and other events - and it at hers, such as at a recent rally at City Hall calling for fair school funding from the State and decrying Governor Andrew Cuomo's education reform proposals, which are vehemently opposed by teachers unions.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/tish_james_sunday_rally.jpg" alt="james rally" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" height="400" width="300" /><span style="font-size: 10pt;">James at Sunday's rally (photo: @leoniehaimson)</span></p> <p>Even while she's receiving awards, as she will Tuesday evening, James' attention in the next weeks and months, she said, will be on broad, sweeping issues that affect all New Yorkers and particularly women. "We're going to keep our heads down and raise issues on the ground," she said. In forums across the city, James has promised to discuss issues of pay equity, child care, student debt, sexual assault on college campuses, criminal justice reform, jobs, education, and the "feminization of poverty in New York. There are more women living in poverty now than ever," she said.</p> <p>"I'll be going around college campuses and meeting young people so they can recognize that politics is the way to effect change in the system," James said. "As more women see elected officials who happen to be women, they'll be inspired by the advocacy of this office to join political office."</p> <p>James has just finished <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5630-theme-of-james-mayoral-control-forums-more-local-say" target="_blank">a five-borough series</a> of "Mayoral Control Forums," in which she's led community discussions about how New Yorkers want to see the power over the school system allocated. While that will ultimately be a decision made at the state level, James is doing what she often does, pushing a conversation forward - the community recommendations that her office aggregates will be presented to lawmakers.</p> <p>Her tenacity and focus on her constituents has won her respect in many quarters. "I think it's great every time that we break a glass ceiling and somebody makes history," said new State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie when asked, given his own history-making, to discuss James'. Heastie is the first African-American to hold the post of Assembly Speaker, which he attained in early February. "But as I've said," Heastie continued, echoing James, "just making history is not the most important thing, it's what you do once you get elevated to that position."</p> <p>Praising James for "doing a wonderful job," Heastie said he hopes that one day "people say the same thing about me."</p> <p>Other elected officials see James as a role model. Bronx City Council Member Vanessa Gibson, a woman of color herself, looks up to James' example. "[She made] history, but for us it's just an affirmation that women are changing the game and we are stepping up to leadership roles that were never planned nor designed for us," Gibson told Gotham Gazette. "When I look at Tish James and all that she stands for - fairness and equity, always fighting against inequities and fighting against the stigmas, the statistics that are used to define New Yorkers and Bronx residents - it's really an honor to work with her, to call her a friend, to call her my big sister."</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/tish_w_kids.jpg" alt="PA James" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" height="300" width="400" /><span style="font-size: 13.3333330154419px;">James with young constituents (photo: @PA_Outreach)</span></p> <p>James has emphasized that she is a representative for all New Yorkers, not just one or two demographic groups that she may fall into or certain neighborhoods. Council Member Julissa Ferreras believes that approach is requisite for the city's progress.</p> <p>Ferreras is the first woman and person of color to chair the Council's powerful Finance Committee. "Having Tish James in city-wide office shows that we are making our way towards a more inclusive city government," Ferreras emailed. "I have also been welcomed into communities that previously were not open to women and people of color. Still, there is room for improvement and the most practical way I see of improving is by paying careful attention to hiring practices. Government officials appoint hundreds of individuals in their offices — making sure those individuals accurately represent their constituents is a first step."</p> <p>It is here that James hopes she will leave her mark, in encouraging political participation not only of women and people of color, but all New Yorkers, as artificial ceilings eventually become remnants of the past. "I would hope that we get to the point in history that there are no longer any barriers to break, and qualifying an election as being 'the first' is no more," she said. "It's important that individuals, whether they are people of color or not, recognize their position to effect change. The power lies in their hands, to be the change that so many people are protesting for."</p> <p><strong>New York Representation, by the Numbers</strong><br />It is an unfortunate fact that women and people of color are underrepresented in elected office in New York, which is but a microcosm of the representational imbalance in American politics.</p> <p>At the state level, there are only 51 women legislators out of 213 members of the State Senate and State Assembly. New York's 23.9 percent representation of women falls marginally below the national average of 24.1 percent, <a href="http://www.ncsl.org/legislators-staff/legislators/womens-legislative-network/women-in-state-legislatures-for-2015.aspx" target="_blank">according to</a>&nbsp;the National Conference of State Legislatures. Although that is an increase in the state over 2014, when the number stood at 45, it is the same as five years ago.</p> <p>The New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus <a href="http://www.nysenate.gov/committee/new-york-state-black-puerto-rican-hispanic-and-asian-legislative-caucus" target="_blank">has</a> 53 members, of which 18 are women (meaning 8.4 percent of the Legislature is women of color).</p> <p>More locally, the New York City Council has 15 women members, making up 29.4 percent of the 51-member body. The Council's Black, Latino and Asian Caucus makes up more than half the body, 26 of 51 members; and of course Melissa Mark-Viverito is the first woman of color to be elected Speaker - she is Puerto Rican.</p> <p><strong>City-wide History-makers</strong><br />Tish James may be the first woman of color to hold the post of public advocate, but she is not the first person of color or the first woman to hold city-wide office. In all, there have only been four politicians of color to hold one of the three current city-wide elected offices in New York, and only four women - James holds each distinction.</p> <p>Betsy Gotbaum was Public Advocate between 2002 and 2009, serving two terms. Before her, Carol Bellamy held the post when it was still termed President of the City Council, from 1978 to 1985. Besides them, Elizabeth Holtzman was Comptroller between 1990 and 1993, the only woman to ever hold that position.</p> <p>David Dinkins is the only person of color to ever be elected Mayor - he is African-American. The only other politicians of color elected city-wide are Comptrollers William Thompson (2002-2009) and John Liu (2010-2013).</p> <p>Could Letitia James become the first woman and first woman of color to be Mayor? Stay tuned.</p> <p>***<br />by Samar Khurshid, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/samarkhurshid" target="_blank">@samarkhurshid</a></p> On Minimum Wage, Cuomo Again Finds the Not-So-Happy Middle 2015-03-12T17:07:54+00:00 2015-03-12T17:07:54+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5627:on-minimum-wage-cuomo-again-finds-the-not-so-happy-middle Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/cuomo_fair_pay.png" alt="cuomo fair pay" height="318" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Gov. Cuomo pushing his minimum wage hike (photo: @NYGovCuomo)</span></p> <hr /> <p>The middle ground is a particularly familiar place for Governor Andrew Cuomo - and it is where he has put himself in the debate over increasing the state's minimum wage. Cuomo has come under fire this week from electeds and advocates on the left who support a significantly larger increase to the wage than the one Cuomo has proposed and from conservative officials and business groups that oppose any increase whatsoever.</p> <p>Cuomo and his proxies have toured the state this month promoting a proposal that would increase the state minimum wage to $10.50 an hour and New York City's to $11.50, even touting the support of a variety of <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/03/union-leaders-back-cuomos-minimum-wage-push/" target="_blank">labor unions</a> and some <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/wylde-scissura-business-raise-wage-article-1.2146043" target="_blank">city business reps</a>. Cuomo and the Legislature enacted a staggered wage increase in 2013 that is set to culminate with a $9 statewide minimum at the end of this year. But, Cuomo now sees that as insufficient.</p> <p>"I want to increase the minimum wage in this state, because the truth is the minimum wage is at $9, that's $18,000 a year, and you cannot live in this state and raise a family on $18,000 a year. You can't pay the rent, you can't pay for food, you can't pay for insurance, and you can't buy clothes on $18,000 a year," Cuomo said at a rally in Rochester focused on his upstate agenda.</p> <p>He continued: "The Assembly wants to raise it to $15 an hour. God bless them—shoot for the stars - that's what they did in the Assembly. The Senate is totally against raising the minimum wage. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle, I proposed raising $9 to $10.50 statewide. Often, the political truth is in the middle."</p> <p>There may be no better, simpler summation of Cuomo's governing philosophy than that.</p> <p>The State Senate's one-house budget proposal contains no minimum wage increase while the Assembly's would set New York City's minimum wage independently of the state's and tie it to inflation. Per the Assembly outline, the state's minimum wage would be $10.50 by 2017, $12.60 by 2019 and the city's and surrounding suburbs would reach $12.50, then $15 at those times.</p> <p>In a statement, new Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, "Raising the minimum wage is about the moral obligation we have to help families across the state who are struggling to get by. The current wage floor is not enough to allow full-time workers who put in a 40- hour work week to afford life's basic necessities, let alone achieve financial independence."</p> <p>Cuomo's proposal shirks promises he made to the Working Families Party last spring in exchange for its endorsement that he would back a plan to allow the city to increase its minimum wage in connection to the rate of inflation. Mayor Bill de Blaiso, who helped broker the deal between Cuomo and the WFP, is still a major supporter of giving the city control of its own minimum wage and linking it to inflation, as are many Democrats in the state Legislature. The mayor has even <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/06/nyregion/mayor-de-blasio-appeals-to-businesses-to-raise-workers-pay.html?_r=0" target="_blank">asked</a> city businesses to start voluntarily paying a $13 hourly minimum.</p> <p>Despite his public campaigning on the issue, Cuomo has given signals that he is wavering.</p> <p>"I hope to get it done this legislative session either in the budget, which is April, or at the end of the legislative session in June," Cuomo reportedly&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/03/cuomo-opens-door-to-minimum-wage-outside-of-the-budget/" target="_blank">said</a> during an appearance in Buffalo. Putting anything out of the budget and into policy negotiations thereafter gives it less weight, but could lead to expanded time for negotiation.</p> <p>Advocates like Michael Kink of <a href="http://strongforall.org" target="_blank">Strong Economy for All</a> say that if Cuomo is serious about the wage increase he will not abandon it in budget negotiations. "I think obviously he has the most leverage in the budget. It is the only time where all three sides have to agree on something so there will always be something in the budget each of the three leaders view as main," Kink said. "They can stomach something they oppose to get a big win. Obviously Cuomo's priority is the privatization of education and charter schools. I'm glad he is working on it (the minimum wage), but the fact that he is going in signaling he is willing let it go is disturbing."</p> <p>State Sen. Liz Krueger said it was "troubling" to hear Cuomo indicate he could deal with the minimum wage outside of the budget. "This is the place to get this done and this is the one economic proposal that will help everyone across the state."</p> <p>Kink doesn't feel Cuomo's wage proposal goes far enough. "We want a wage hike that will a make difference in workers' lives," said Kink. "Fastfood workers didn't start fighting for $9.50, they wanted something that would help people pay bills and lead their lives. That's why they started 'The Fight for 15.'"</p> <p>Meanwhile, a group of business interests, upstate chambers of commerce, and conservative advocacy groups joined together this week to oppose even Cuomo's smaller wage proposal.</p> <p>"Any attempt to increase the minimum wage before full implementation [of the plan in place] should be rejected," the groups <a href="http://auburnpub.com/blogs/eye_on_ny/new-york-business-groups-we-oppose-push-to-raise-state/article_5d5ca8f6-c811-11e4-b0f5-f3dfe18e6713.html" target="_blank">said in a statement</a>. "We strongly urge Albany to continue the progress made in improving New York's economic competitiveness while focusing on pro-growth initiatives as budget negotiations enter this final stretch."&nbsp;Members of the coalition include The Business Council, Unshackle Upstate, The Farm Bureau of NY, and The National Federation of Independent Business.</p> <p>The groups say that the full impact of the state's last minimum wage hike on businesses is not yet apparent as the $9 wage won't go into effect until the end of the year.</p> <p>Business groups took offense earlier this month because Cuomo unveiled his "Fight for Fair Pay" <a href="https://www.ny.gov/programs/fight-fair-pay" target="_blank">campaign</a> while they held their small business lobby day at the capitol.</p> <p>"Gov. Cuomo's campaign to increase the minimum wage could push struggling small businesses over the edge," Greg Biryla, Executive Director of Unshackle Upstate, said in a statement on March 3. "For employers who are trying to create new jobs and expand their business, another minimum wage increase and an added $69 million in new health care taxes would be a brutal combination. Albany needs to focus on improving the state's business climate – not make it more toxic."</p> <p>Senate Republicans have not included a minimum wage increase in their budget proposal but some members <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/03/golden-doesnt-slam-door-on-minimum-wage/" target="_blank">indicate</a> it is an issue they are willing to negotiate. However, they note that not only is the state's last wage wage increase not fully implemented, but that the Labor Department also <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/02/8562759/state-orders-minimum-wage-increase-tipped-workers" target="_blank">just increased</a> the minimum wage for tipped workers in February.</p> <p>Kink said that Cuomo's public support of a minimum wage increase is "valuable" but also just makes political sense. "This is a tremendously popular issue for voters in both parties," Kink said. "I'd love to see increased aggression from the governor on the minimum wage. I'd like to see him throw the kind of ferocity into the faces of minimum wage opponents that he shows to the groups opposed to his education agenda."</p> <p>Cuomo's public support of a wage increase isn't exactly typical of the governor. He has been criticized by advocates in the past for not stumping on specific policies.This time Cuomo has been on the road and his office is issuing press releases in support of the increase.</p> <p>"The sweetest and healthiest success is one that enables everyone to do well together – that is what community is all about," Cuomo said announcing his "Fight For Fair Pay."</p> <p>"As our economy recovers and our businesses add new jobs, we need to ensure our entire workforce has the opportunity to be part of the economic recovery and new momentum we are seeing in all corners of the State," the governor said. "New York has always been a leader in protecting our workers and building strong communities, and this year we must continue to move forward by fighting for fair pay and raising the minimum wage statewide."</p> <p>***<br />by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/DavidHowardKing" target="_blank">@DavidHowardKing</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/cuomo_fair_pay.png" alt="cuomo fair pay" height="318" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Gov. Cuomo pushing his minimum wage hike (photo: @NYGovCuomo)</span></p> <hr /> <p>The middle ground is a particularly familiar place for Governor Andrew Cuomo - and it is where he has put himself in the debate over increasing the state's minimum wage. Cuomo has come under fire this week from electeds and advocates on the left who support a significantly larger increase to the wage than the one Cuomo has proposed and from conservative officials and business groups that oppose any increase whatsoever.</p> <p>Cuomo and his proxies have toured the state this month promoting a proposal that would increase the state minimum wage to $10.50 an hour and New York City's to $11.50, even touting the support of a variety of <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/03/union-leaders-back-cuomos-minimum-wage-push/" target="_blank">labor unions</a> and some <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/wylde-scissura-business-raise-wage-article-1.2146043" target="_blank">city business reps</a>. Cuomo and the Legislature enacted a staggered wage increase in 2013 that is set to culminate with a $9 statewide minimum at the end of this year. But, Cuomo now sees that as insufficient.</p> <p>"I want to increase the minimum wage in this state, because the truth is the minimum wage is at $9, that's $18,000 a year, and you cannot live in this state and raise a family on $18,000 a year. You can't pay the rent, you can't pay for food, you can't pay for insurance, and you can't buy clothes on $18,000 a year," Cuomo said at a rally in Rochester focused on his upstate agenda.</p> <p>He continued: "The Assembly wants to raise it to $15 an hour. God bless them—shoot for the stars - that's what they did in the Assembly. The Senate is totally against raising the minimum wage. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle, I proposed raising $9 to $10.50 statewide. Often, the political truth is in the middle."</p> <p>There may be no better, simpler summation of Cuomo's governing philosophy than that.</p> <p>The State Senate's one-house budget proposal contains no minimum wage increase while the Assembly's would set New York City's minimum wage independently of the state's and tie it to inflation. Per the Assembly outline, the state's minimum wage would be $10.50 by 2017, $12.60 by 2019 and the city's and surrounding suburbs would reach $12.50, then $15 at those times.</p> <p>In a statement, new Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, "Raising the minimum wage is about the moral obligation we have to help families across the state who are struggling to get by. The current wage floor is not enough to allow full-time workers who put in a 40- hour work week to afford life's basic necessities, let alone achieve financial independence."</p> <p>Cuomo's proposal shirks promises he made to the Working Families Party last spring in exchange for its endorsement that he would back a plan to allow the city to increase its minimum wage in connection to the rate of inflation. Mayor Bill de Blaiso, who helped broker the deal between Cuomo and the WFP, is still a major supporter of giving the city control of its own minimum wage and linking it to inflation, as are many Democrats in the state Legislature. The mayor has even <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/06/nyregion/mayor-de-blasio-appeals-to-businesses-to-raise-workers-pay.html?_r=0" target="_blank">asked</a> city businesses to start voluntarily paying a $13 hourly minimum.</p> <p>Despite his public campaigning on the issue, Cuomo has given signals that he is wavering.</p> <p>"I hope to get it done this legislative session either in the budget, which is April, or at the end of the legislative session in June," Cuomo reportedly&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/03/cuomo-opens-door-to-minimum-wage-outside-of-the-budget/" target="_blank">said</a> during an appearance in Buffalo. Putting anything out of the budget and into policy negotiations thereafter gives it less weight, but could lead to expanded time for negotiation.</p> <p>Advocates like Michael Kink of <a href="http://strongforall.org" target="_blank">Strong Economy for All</a> say that if Cuomo is serious about the wage increase he will not abandon it in budget negotiations. "I think obviously he has the most leverage in the budget. It is the only time where all three sides have to agree on something so there will always be something in the budget each of the three leaders view as main," Kink said. "They can stomach something they oppose to get a big win. Obviously Cuomo's priority is the privatization of education and charter schools. I'm glad he is working on it (the minimum wage), but the fact that he is going in signaling he is willing let it go is disturbing."</p> <p>State Sen. Liz Krueger said it was "troubling" to hear Cuomo indicate he could deal with the minimum wage outside of the budget. "This is the place to get this done and this is the one economic proposal that will help everyone across the state."</p> <p>Kink doesn't feel Cuomo's wage proposal goes far enough. "We want a wage hike that will a make difference in workers' lives," said Kink. "Fastfood workers didn't start fighting for $9.50, they wanted something that would help people pay bills and lead their lives. That's why they started 'The Fight for 15.'"</p> <p>Meanwhile, a group of business interests, upstate chambers of commerce, and conservative advocacy groups joined together this week to oppose even Cuomo's smaller wage proposal.</p> <p>"Any attempt to increase the minimum wage before full implementation [of the plan in place] should be rejected," the groups <a href="http://auburnpub.com/blogs/eye_on_ny/new-york-business-groups-we-oppose-push-to-raise-state/article_5d5ca8f6-c811-11e4-b0f5-f3dfe18e6713.html" target="_blank">said in a statement</a>. "We strongly urge Albany to continue the progress made in improving New York's economic competitiveness while focusing on pro-growth initiatives as budget negotiations enter this final stretch."&nbsp;Members of the coalition include The Business Council, Unshackle Upstate, The Farm Bureau of NY, and The National Federation of Independent Business.</p> <p>The groups say that the full impact of the state's last minimum wage hike on businesses is not yet apparent as the $9 wage won't go into effect until the end of the year.</p> <p>Business groups took offense earlier this month because Cuomo unveiled his "Fight for Fair Pay" <a href="https://www.ny.gov/programs/fight-fair-pay" target="_blank">campaign</a> while they held their small business lobby day at the capitol.</p> <p>"Gov. Cuomo's campaign to increase the minimum wage could push struggling small businesses over the edge," Greg Biryla, Executive Director of Unshackle Upstate, said in a statement on March 3. "For employers who are trying to create new jobs and expand their business, another minimum wage increase and an added $69 million in new health care taxes would be a brutal combination. Albany needs to focus on improving the state's business climate – not make it more toxic."</p> <p>Senate Republicans have not included a minimum wage increase in their budget proposal but some members <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/03/golden-doesnt-slam-door-on-minimum-wage/" target="_blank">indicate</a> it is an issue they are willing to negotiate. However, they note that not only is the state's last wage wage increase not fully implemented, but that the Labor Department also <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/02/8562759/state-orders-minimum-wage-increase-tipped-workers" target="_blank">just increased</a> the minimum wage for tipped workers in February.</p> <p>Kink said that Cuomo's public support of a minimum wage increase is "valuable" but also just makes political sense. "This is a tremendously popular issue for voters in both parties," Kink said. "I'd love to see increased aggression from the governor on the minimum wage. I'd like to see him throw the kind of ferocity into the faces of minimum wage opponents that he shows to the groups opposed to his education agenda."</p> <p>Cuomo's public support of a wage increase isn't exactly typical of the governor. He has been criticized by advocates in the past for not stumping on specific policies.This time Cuomo has been on the road and his office is issuing press releases in support of the increase.</p> <p>"The sweetest and healthiest success is one that enables everyone to do well together – that is what community is all about," Cuomo said announcing his "Fight For Fair Pay."</p> <p>"As our economy recovers and our businesses add new jobs, we need to ensure our entire workforce has the opportunity to be part of the economic recovery and new momentum we are seeing in all corners of the State," the governor said. "New York has always been a leader in protecting our workers and building strong communities, and this year we must continue to move forward by fighting for fair pay and raising the minimum wage statewide."</p> <p>***<br />by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/DavidHowardKing" target="_blank">@DavidHowardKing</a></p> Assembly Budget Champions De Blasio Agenda 2015-03-11T04:11:43+00:00 2015-03-11T04:11:43+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5624:assembly-budget-champions-de-blasio-agenda Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/bdb_parade.jpg" alt="bdb parade" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Mayor de Blasio (photo: @BilldeBlasio)</span></p> <hr /> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio got a boost from Assembly Democrats on Tuesday in the form of their one-house budget proposal that includes a number of the mayor's major priorities. Facing a state budget negotiation with his agenda at the mercy of his rival-pal Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Senate Republicans who he unsuccessfully tried to unseat last year, de Blasio needed some help.</p> <p>Bargaining help arrived thanks in part to de Blasio's new Albany ally, recently minted Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat from the Bronx. The most direct symbol of Heastie's and his New York City-dominated chamber's allegiance to de Blasio comes in the form of <a href="http://nyassembly.gov/leg/?bn=E203&amp;term=2015&amp;Summary=Y&amp;Text=Y" target="_blank">a budget</a> that renews mayoral control of city schools for 7 years, delivers a major increase in education funding without Cuomo's proposed reforms, increases pre-K monies, and would deliver a $15 minimum wage for the city. It is unlikely any of these proposals make it into the state budget unscathed, but they function as a negotiating post for the Democratically-controlled Assembly.</p> <p>"I commend the Assembly for its one-house budget proposal, which includes a number of initiatives that will go a long way toward combating inequality and protecting New Yorkers around this city," said de Blasio in a statement. "I am grateful to Speaker Heastie and the Assembly for their leadership."</p> <p>Cuomo's budget - which de Blasio gave mixed reviews <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5600-in-albany-de-blasio-critiques-cuomos-budget-defines-citys-needs" target="_blank">during recent Albany testimony</a> - ties a $1.1 billion increase in education spending to a number of reforms opposed by teachers unions and their allies. The Assembly budget would increase education spending without those proposals, which include increasing the degree to which standardized tests factor into teacher evaluations and raising the charter school cap. Cuomo has insisted that he will only increase education spending by a few million dollars if the Legislature does not agree to his reform package, which is lauded by those in the so-called education reform movement.</p> <p>De Blasio has been outspoken recently about education funding and even teamed with Cuomo foil Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner to call on the governor and Legislature to increase education funding to what they call necessary levels. Advocates point to the 2003 Campaign For Fiscal Equity Lawsuit where an appellate court judge found the State allows public schools to go "chronically underfunded."</p> <p>Echoing advocates and unions, de Blasio claimed the State owes New York City schools $2.6 billion, while Miner said the state owes Syracuse schools $87.1 million.</p> <p>The Assembly also sided with de Blasio on the minimum wage. Cuomo and de Blasio both support a wage increase - and one that would be in some way larger for New York City, where the cost of living is greater, than the rest of the state - but they differ in their plans.</p> <p>Cuomo's plan would set the state minimum wage to $10.50 per hour, with an $11.50 hourly rate in New York City by the end of this year. De Blasio's calls for the State to allow the City to set its minimum wage based on inflation and a $15 hourly rate by the end of 2019. The Assembly plan essentially mirrors de Blasio's call but also allows New York City suburbs to set their minimum wages to inflation.</p> <p>"Raising the minimum wage is about the moral obligation we have to help families across the state who are struggling to get by," Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement. "The current wage floor is not enough to allow full-time workers who put in a 40-hour work week to afford life's basic necessities, let alone achieve financial independence."</p> <p>De Blasio praised the move in his statement: "The Assembly's minimum wage proposal is also a critical step toward providing the fair wages New Yorkers need and deserve as we continue to take on income inequality in New York City and beyond."</p> <p>De Blasio has shown an increased appetite to publicly challenge Cuomo this year. <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5600-in-albany-de-blasio-critiques-cuomos-budget-defines-citys-needs" target="_blank">His Feburary budget testimony</a>, although at times praiseful of Cuomo, also included criticism of the governor's funding plan around programs to help the homeless and the state's commitment to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).</p> <p>The Assembly budget addresses those issues and others by doing away with Cuomo's proposed decrease in funding the city receives for its Emergency Assistance to Families program. De Blasio testified before the Legislature in February that the plan "would effectively mean a $22.5 million cut to our homeless prevention programs. That money would provide shelter for 500 families for a year."</p> <p>The Assembly would also give de Blasio an extended break from having to petition Albany to extend mayoral control of schools. Cuomo has proposed a three-year extension while the Assembly prefers seven. De Blasio <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5600-in-albany-de-blasio-critiques-cuomos-budget-defines-citys-needs" target="_blank">called for permanent mayoral control</a> last month.</p> <p>"We feel like Mayor de Blasio shouldn't be treated any differently than Mayor Bloomberg," Heastie told reporters after unveiling the Assembly budget proposal. "Mayor Bloomberg was given more than three years, so to provide the kind of stability the mayor wants to turn around particularly failing schools we feel that more than three years is appropriate."</p> <p>Liberal advocacy groups like The Working Families Party and Citizen Action also applauded the Assembly budget. "Millions of New York's lowest paid working families can finally imagine a life above the poverty line," said WFP chair Bill Lipton in a statement. "We commend Speaker Carl Heastie, Labor Chair Titus and the Assembly majority for calling for a $15 minimum wage. New York should be a leader in the fight against inequality and for an economy that works for all of us." Lipton also praised the Assembly's education funding proposal.</p> <p>"We applaud Speaker Heastie and the State Assembly for taking bold action to reverse the state's devastating underfunding of public schools and to ensure working families can earn enough to meet basic needs," said Karen Scharff, executive director of Citizen Action of New York.</p> <p>The Senate's one-house budget is expected to exclude a number of priorities de Blasio has advocated, including The Dream Act and a minimum wage hike. Senators say their proposal will increase education aid by $1.9 billion.</p> <p>The Assembly budget ignores a slate of ethics reforms in the governor's budget (which de Blasio has not weighed in on). Cuomo has insisted the reforms are non-negotiable and he is willing to have a late budget to get them. Heastie said that those reforms are still being discussed. "We made reference to the issues on disclosure, we have campaign finance reform and many of the discussions that we've been having with the governor have been going well," Heastie told reporters."I think by the time we get to voting on the budget, we'll have a very detailed and satisfactory ethics reform."</p> <p>***<br />by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/DavidHowardKing" target="_blank">@DavidHowardKing</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/bdb_parade.jpg" alt="bdb parade" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Mayor de Blasio (photo: @BilldeBlasio)</span></p> <hr /> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio got a boost from Assembly Democrats on Tuesday in the form of their one-house budget proposal that includes a number of the mayor's major priorities. Facing a state budget negotiation with his agenda at the mercy of his rival-pal Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Senate Republicans who he unsuccessfully tried to unseat last year, de Blasio needed some help.</p> <p>Bargaining help arrived thanks in part to de Blasio's new Albany ally, recently minted Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat from the Bronx. The most direct symbol of Heastie's and his New York City-dominated chamber's allegiance to de Blasio comes in the form of <a href="http://nyassembly.gov/leg/?bn=E203&amp;term=2015&amp;Summary=Y&amp;Text=Y" target="_blank">a budget</a> that renews mayoral control of city schools for 7 years, delivers a major increase in education funding without Cuomo's proposed reforms, increases pre-K monies, and would deliver a $15 minimum wage for the city. It is unlikely any of these proposals make it into the state budget unscathed, but they function as a negotiating post for the Democratically-controlled Assembly.</p> <p>"I commend the Assembly for its one-house budget proposal, which includes a number of initiatives that will go a long way toward combating inequality and protecting New Yorkers around this city," said de Blasio in a statement. "I am grateful to Speaker Heastie and the Assembly for their leadership."</p> <p>Cuomo's budget - which de Blasio gave mixed reviews <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5600-in-albany-de-blasio-critiques-cuomos-budget-defines-citys-needs" target="_blank">during recent Albany testimony</a> - ties a $1.1 billion increase in education spending to a number of reforms opposed by teachers unions and their allies. The Assembly budget would increase education spending without those proposals, which include increasing the degree to which standardized tests factor into teacher evaluations and raising the charter school cap. Cuomo has insisted that he will only increase education spending by a few million dollars if the Legislature does not agree to his reform package, which is lauded by those in the so-called education reform movement.</p> <p>De Blasio has been outspoken recently about education funding and even teamed with Cuomo foil Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner to call on the governor and Legislature to increase education funding to what they call necessary levels. Advocates point to the 2003 Campaign For Fiscal Equity Lawsuit where an appellate court judge found the State allows public schools to go "chronically underfunded."</p> <p>Echoing advocates and unions, de Blasio claimed the State owes New York City schools $2.6 billion, while Miner said the state owes Syracuse schools $87.1 million.</p> <p>The Assembly also sided with de Blasio on the minimum wage. Cuomo and de Blasio both support a wage increase - and one that would be in some way larger for New York City, where the cost of living is greater, than the rest of the state - but they differ in their plans.</p> <p>Cuomo's plan would set the state minimum wage to $10.50 per hour, with an $11.50 hourly rate in New York City by the end of this year. De Blasio's calls for the State to allow the City to set its minimum wage based on inflation and a $15 hourly rate by the end of 2019. The Assembly plan essentially mirrors de Blasio's call but also allows New York City suburbs to set their minimum wages to inflation.</p> <p>"Raising the minimum wage is about the moral obligation we have to help families across the state who are struggling to get by," Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement. "The current wage floor is not enough to allow full-time workers who put in a 40-hour work week to afford life's basic necessities, let alone achieve financial independence."</p> <p>De Blasio praised the move in his statement: "The Assembly's minimum wage proposal is also a critical step toward providing the fair wages New Yorkers need and deserve as we continue to take on income inequality in New York City and beyond."</p> <p>De Blasio has shown an increased appetite to publicly challenge Cuomo this year. <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5600-in-albany-de-blasio-critiques-cuomos-budget-defines-citys-needs" target="_blank">His Feburary budget testimony</a>, although at times praiseful of Cuomo, also included criticism of the governor's funding plan around programs to help the homeless and the state's commitment to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).</p> <p>The Assembly budget addresses those issues and others by doing away with Cuomo's proposed decrease in funding the city receives for its Emergency Assistance to Families program. De Blasio testified before the Legislature in February that the plan "would effectively mean a $22.5 million cut to our homeless prevention programs. That money would provide shelter for 500 families for a year."</p> <p>The Assembly would also give de Blasio an extended break from having to petition Albany to extend mayoral control of schools. Cuomo has proposed a three-year extension while the Assembly prefers seven. De Blasio <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5600-in-albany-de-blasio-critiques-cuomos-budget-defines-citys-needs" target="_blank">called for permanent mayoral control</a> last month.</p> <p>"We feel like Mayor de Blasio shouldn't be treated any differently than Mayor Bloomberg," Heastie told reporters after unveiling the Assembly budget proposal. "Mayor Bloomberg was given more than three years, so to provide the kind of stability the mayor wants to turn around particularly failing schools we feel that more than three years is appropriate."</p> <p>Liberal advocacy groups like The Working Families Party and Citizen Action also applauded the Assembly budget. "Millions of New York's lowest paid working families can finally imagine a life above the poverty line," said WFP chair Bill Lipton in a statement. "We commend Speaker Carl Heastie, Labor Chair Titus and the Assembly majority for calling for a $15 minimum wage. New York should be a leader in the fight against inequality and for an economy that works for all of us." Lipton also praised the Assembly's education funding proposal.</p> <p>"We applaud Speaker Heastie and the State Assembly for taking bold action to reverse the state's devastating underfunding of public schools and to ensure working families can earn enough to meet basic needs," said Karen Scharff, executive director of Citizen Action of New York.</p> <p>The Senate's one-house budget is expected to exclude a number of priorities de Blasio has advocated, including The Dream Act and a minimum wage hike. Senators say their proposal will increase education aid by $1.9 billion.</p> <p>The Assembly budget ignores a slate of ethics reforms in the governor's budget (which de Blasio has not weighed in on). Cuomo has insisted the reforms are non-negotiable and he is willing to have a late budget to get them. Heastie said that those reforms are still being discussed. "We made reference to the issues on disclosure, we have campaign finance reform and many of the discussions that we've been having with the governor have been going well," Heastie told reporters."I think by the time we get to voting on the budget, we'll have a very detailed and satisfactory ethics reform."</p> <p>***<br />by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/DavidHowardKing" target="_blank">@DavidHowardKing</a></p>