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. https://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/andrew-cuomo 2019-06-20T13:44:10+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Max & Murphy Podcast: Landmark Climate Legislation in Albany 2019-06-19T04:00:00+00:00 2019-06-19T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8619-max-murphy-podcast-landmark-climate-legislation-in-albany Ben Max <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/8905567630_efbdf4ba59_z.jpg" alt="water environment climate protection" width="600" height="355" /></p> <p>Ord Falls Rapids upper Hudson River (photo: NYS DEC)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>June 19, 2019 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Landmark Climate Legislation in Albany<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/podcast19/priya-mulgaonkar.jpg" alt="priya mulgaonkar" width="150" height="150" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" />After the passage of the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in Albany, Priya Mulgaonkar from the NYC-Environmental Justice Alliance and NY Renews coalition joined the show to discuss the legislation, what it does and does not do, where activists, legislators, and Governor Cuomo found compromise, and what comes next in the fight against climate change and toward a renewable economy.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max &amp; Murphy," and listen to Max &amp; Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/639245010&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/8905567630_efbdf4ba59_z.jpg" alt="water environment climate protection" width="600" height="355" /></p> <p>Ord Falls Rapids upper Hudson River (photo: NYS DEC)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>June 19, 2019 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Landmark Climate Legislation in Albany<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/podcast19/priya-mulgaonkar.jpg" alt="priya mulgaonkar" width="150" height="150" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" />After the passage of the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in Albany, Priya Mulgaonkar from the NYC-Environmental Justice Alliance and NY Renews coalition joined the show to discuss the legislation, what it does and does not do, where activists, legislators, and Governor Cuomo found compromise, and what comes next in the fight against climate change and toward a renewable economy.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max &amp; Murphy," and listen to Max &amp; Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/639245010&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
Legislators Search for Common Ground on Expansion of Equal Rights Amendment 2019-06-18T04:00:00+00:00 2019-06-18T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8615-legislators-search-for-common-ground-on-expansion-of-equal-rights-amendment Ben Max <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/42269048994_68206752b3_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo New York equal rights pride" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>The state Senate embraced the notion that the civil rights protections enshrined in the New York state constitution should be more inclusive when it decisively passed an expansive version of an equal rights amendment Monday.</p> <p>The Senate’s amendment goes a step farther than other equal rights amendments by expanding the equal protection clause of the <a href="https://www.dos.ny.gov/info/constitution/article_1_bill_of_rights.html">state bill of rights</a> to outlaw discrimination not only based on sex, but also on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, national origin, ethnicity, age, and ability. Currently, the state constitution only prohibits discrimination based on a person’s “race, color, creed or religion.”</p> <p>“Today, we further the fight for justice for women by moving this crucial amendment forward. At the same time, we are standing up for the rights of the LGBTQ community, the elderly, and the disabled,” said Democratic Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins in a statement.</p> <p>The amendment, which had unanimous support in the Senate (it passed 62-0 in the 63-seat chamber), differs significantly from the version that <a href="https://nyassembly.gov/Press/files/20190226.php">passed in the Assembly</a> in February, namely on the number of protected classes added and language clarifying the meaning of “civil rights.”</p> <p>The Assembly’s version, which also passed with a groundswell of support, simply adds the word “sex” to the equal protection clause, extending constitutional protections to women but no further. These differences will have to be reconciled for the amendment to advance.</p> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo made passing an equal rights amendment that would ban discrimination based on sex a top priority this year, including it in his “<a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-unveils-agenda-first-100-days-2019-justice-agenda">2019 Justice Agenda</a>” released in December, and listing it at the end of May among <a href="https://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2019/05/cuomo-outlines-10-issues-for-end-of-session/">ten priorities</a> identified for the final stretch of the legislative session, which is scheduled to end this week.</p> <p>Unlike other state law changes, which simply need to pass both chambers of the Legislature and be signed by the Governor, amendments to the state constitution must be passed by two consecutive Legislatures and then be approved directly by voters via ballot referendum. The current Legislature was sworn-in in January to a two-year term, meaning the second passage of the amendment would have to take place in either 2021 or 2022 in order for it to be put before voters in a referendum. The earliest the amendment could go into effect is late 2021, if it is passed this year or next, then again in 2021 by both houses of the Legislature and voters.</p> <p>A number of the protections in the Senate’s equal rights amendment are already contained in the state’s Human Rights Law, including for gender expression thanks to the <a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/senate-passes-genda-bans-conversion-therapy">passage of GENDA</a> earlier this year, but putting them in the state constitution makes them stronger.</p> <p>“Generally when things are listed in the equal protection clause there’s a standard of review that’s attached to constitutional principles that do not attach to statute,” said Alphonso David, the governor’s counsel, at a press conference on June 3.</p> <p>The Senate’s version, by defining the phrase “civil rights,” would also make the constitutional provision self-executing, meaning protections for individual civil rights won’t have to be affirmed in subsequent legislation, as is currently the case.</p> <p>The Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was first introduced in 1923, but has never been ratified. Since then, 11 states have adopted equal rights amendments that protect women’s civil rights, according to a press release from state Senator Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat and the amendment’s main sponsor in the upper chamber. “New York is not one of those 11 states. No state has explicitly granted equal rights to LGBTQ people or the disabled,” the press release reads.</p> <p>At the June 3 press conference, the governor said he would support an expanded version of the amendment in the future but didn’t believe the Assembly would pass one in the final days of the legislative session.</p> <p>“I am totally open to, in the future, adding other classes -- which is what the Senate wants to do. But let’s achieve what we can achieve today and where we have agreement today,” Cuomo said at the press conference, referring to the addition of “sex” to the amendment.</p> <p>He blames the uncertainty of the amendment on the “failed Albany game” of feigning support for a concept but falling short of passing legislation. With different versions of the amendment on the table, much of the political heavy-lifting of securing majority support in both chambers lays ahead even as nearly everyone agrees equal rights protections should be broadened.</p> <p>“There’s 11 days left,” Cuomo said on June 3. “Pass that bill. Next year, come back and I fully support expanding the class even greater.” This is “the old Albany formula for failure. Assembly wants to do this, Senate wants to do this, nothing happens.”</p> <p>“I don’t believe we can get agreement on it this year in 11 days,” Cuomo said of an expanded amendment.</p> <p>Discussions are ongoing to bring the equal rights amendment closer to passage.</p> <p>“We are continuing to urge colleagues in both the Assembly and the Senate to search for common ground. &nbsp;We will see when the dust clears how much more work has to be done,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, in an email to Gotham Gazette. Seawright, a Manhattan Democrat, is the main sponsor of the narrower version of the amendment that passed her chamber in February, and also of a broader companion to the Senate’s amendment.</p> <p>With the clock ticking on the session, the governor has said <a href="https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/news/2019/06/17/cuomo-prevailing-wage-marijuana-legalization.html">his focus now</a> is on the passage of other marquee reforms, namely expanding the prevailing wage and legalizing recreational marijuana, but a host of issues are finding resolution among the Senate, Assembly, and governor’s office, and an end-of-session “big ugly” omnibus bill could be in the works, with untold number of aspects.</p> <p>“Fortunately we have until the end of next year's legislative session to get first passage in both houses in order to stay on schedule with the amendment process,” said Justin Flagg, communications director for Krueger.</p> <p>

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by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette      

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</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/42269048994_68206752b3_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo New York equal rights pride" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>The state Senate embraced the notion that the civil rights protections enshrined in the New York state constitution should be more inclusive when it decisively passed an expansive version of an equal rights amendment Monday.</p> <p>The Senate’s amendment goes a step farther than other equal rights amendments by expanding the equal protection clause of the <a href="https://www.dos.ny.gov/info/constitution/article_1_bill_of_rights.html">state bill of rights</a> to outlaw discrimination not only based on sex, but also on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, national origin, ethnicity, age, and ability. Currently, the state constitution only prohibits discrimination based on a person’s “race, color, creed or religion.”</p> <p>“Today, we further the fight for justice for women by moving this crucial amendment forward. At the same time, we are standing up for the rights of the LGBTQ community, the elderly, and the disabled,” said Democratic Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins in a statement.</p> <p>The amendment, which had unanimous support in the Senate (it passed 62-0 in the 63-seat chamber), differs significantly from the version that <a href="https://nyassembly.gov/Press/files/20190226.php">passed in the Assembly</a> in February, namely on the number of protected classes added and language clarifying the meaning of “civil rights.”</p> <p>The Assembly’s version, which also passed with a groundswell of support, simply adds the word “sex” to the equal protection clause, extending constitutional protections to women but no further. These differences will have to be reconciled for the amendment to advance.</p> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo made passing an equal rights amendment that would ban discrimination based on sex a top priority this year, including it in his “<a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-unveils-agenda-first-100-days-2019-justice-agenda">2019 Justice Agenda</a>” released in December, and listing it at the end of May among <a href="https://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2019/05/cuomo-outlines-10-issues-for-end-of-session/">ten priorities</a> identified for the final stretch of the legislative session, which is scheduled to end this week.</p> <p>Unlike other state law changes, which simply need to pass both chambers of the Legislature and be signed by the Governor, amendments to the state constitution must be passed by two consecutive Legislatures and then be approved directly by voters via ballot referendum. The current Legislature was sworn-in in January to a two-year term, meaning the second passage of the amendment would have to take place in either 2021 or 2022 in order for it to be put before voters in a referendum. The earliest the amendment could go into effect is late 2021, if it is passed this year or next, then again in 2021 by both houses of the Legislature and voters.</p> <p>A number of the protections in the Senate’s equal rights amendment are already contained in the state’s Human Rights Law, including for gender expression thanks to the <a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/senate-passes-genda-bans-conversion-therapy">passage of GENDA</a> earlier this year, but putting them in the state constitution makes them stronger.</p> <p>“Generally when things are listed in the equal protection clause there’s a standard of review that’s attached to constitutional principles that do not attach to statute,” said Alphonso David, the governor’s counsel, at a press conference on June 3.</p> <p>The Senate’s version, by defining the phrase “civil rights,” would also make the constitutional provision self-executing, meaning protections for individual civil rights won’t have to be affirmed in subsequent legislation, as is currently the case.</p> <p>The Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was first introduced in 1923, but has never been ratified. Since then, 11 states have adopted equal rights amendments that protect women’s civil rights, according to a press release from state Senator Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat and the amendment’s main sponsor in the upper chamber. “New York is not one of those 11 states. No state has explicitly granted equal rights to LGBTQ people or the disabled,” the press release reads.</p> <p>At the June 3 press conference, the governor said he would support an expanded version of the amendment in the future but didn’t believe the Assembly would pass one in the final days of the legislative session.</p> <p>“I am totally open to, in the future, adding other classes -- which is what the Senate wants to do. But let’s achieve what we can achieve today and where we have agreement today,” Cuomo said at the press conference, referring to the addition of “sex” to the amendment.</p> <p>He blames the uncertainty of the amendment on the “failed Albany game” of feigning support for a concept but falling short of passing legislation. With different versions of the amendment on the table, much of the political heavy-lifting of securing majority support in both chambers lays ahead even as nearly everyone agrees equal rights protections should be broadened.</p> <p>“There’s 11 days left,” Cuomo said on June 3. “Pass that bill. Next year, come back and I fully support expanding the class even greater.” This is “the old Albany formula for failure. Assembly wants to do this, Senate wants to do this, nothing happens.”</p> <p>“I don’t believe we can get agreement on it this year in 11 days,” Cuomo said of an expanded amendment.</p> <p>Discussions are ongoing to bring the equal rights amendment closer to passage.</p> <p>“We are continuing to urge colleagues in both the Assembly and the Senate to search for common ground. &nbsp;We will see when the dust clears how much more work has to be done,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, in an email to Gotham Gazette. Seawright, a Manhattan Democrat, is the main sponsor of the narrower version of the amendment that passed her chamber in February, and also of a broader companion to the Senate’s amendment.</p> <p>With the clock ticking on the session, the governor has said <a href="https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/news/2019/06/17/cuomo-prevailing-wage-marijuana-legalization.html">his focus now</a> is on the passage of other marquee reforms, namely expanding the prevailing wage and legalizing recreational marijuana, but a host of issues are finding resolution among the Senate, Assembly, and governor’s office, and an end-of-session “big ugly” omnibus bill could be in the works, with untold number of aspects.</p> <p>“Fortunately we have until the end of next year's legislative session to get first passage in both houses in order to stay on schedule with the amendment process,” said Justin Flagg, communications director for Krueger.</p> <p>

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by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette      

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Cuomo, Legislative Majorities Reach Deal on 'History-Making' Climate Bill 2019-06-17T04:00:00+00:00 2019-06-17T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8610-cuomo-legislature-reach-deal-on-climate-bill Ben Max <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/46945877944_d55d934dc3_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo climate" width="600" height="377" /></p> <p>(photo:&nbsp;Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>The state Senate, Assembly, and Governor Cuomo have reached an agreement on a version of the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA), setting the stage for passage of a bill to significantly reduce New York’s greenhouse gas emissions and transition the state toward a green economy. The bill has previously passed three times in the Democratic-led Assembly, but stalled in the Senate, which was controlled by Republicans for virtually all of the past several decades until this year.</p> <p>As support for the CCPA mounted in recent weeks, <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8588-pushed-on-climate-legislation-cuomo-tries-to-set-himself-apart" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo had questioned the bill</a>, criticized its supporters as "playing politics" with important policy matters, and explained that key differences on the bill related to timelines and goals around moving to renewable energy, as well as how and where new state environmental funding would be allocated.</p> <p>Compromise was reached over the weekend as the three parties negotiated a host of issues, and came to a number of agreements, just ahead of the scheduled end of the Albany legislative session on Wednesday.</p> <p>The agreed-upon bill sets ambitious standards to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, including transitioning to 70 percent renewable energy by 2030 and 85 percent emissions reductions by 2050. Between 35 and 40 percent of the money allocated by the bill’s transition requirements will be invested in communities most vulnerable to climate change. The bill will also create provisions for wage and labor standards for state-supported “green jobs” or those that improve sustainability.</p> <p>“I believe we have an agreement. I believe it's going to pass,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said on WAMC radio’s The Roundtable on Monday morning. After repeatedly calling the bill both too ambitious and not ambitious enough, and dismissing advocates and elected officials pushing for it as promising too much too quickly because they wanted to score political points, Cuomo indicated at the end of last week that he was hopeful to reach a deal on a climate bill. The governor has also repeatedly cited his own version of a “New York Green New Deal,” with targets for reductions in emissions and transitions to renewables.</p> <p>“We all knew we had to make some compromise to get a three way agreement, but we’ve done a lot of good stuff in this bill. We’re going to see New York lead the world,” Assemblymember Barbara Lifton said at a Monday press conference hosted by legislators and the broad NY Renews coalition that has been organizing behind the bill. Lifton was an early supporter of the CCPA when it was first passed in 2016.</p> <p>In recent weeks NY Renews had helped secure majority sponsorship of the CCPA in both houses and rolled out high-profile endorsements of the bill from much of the New York congressional delegation, including both Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.</p> <p>A key area of compromise was reached around the mandated investments in hard-hit and vulnerable communities, areas of the state in need of “environmental justice.”</p> <p>“Climate change especially heightens the vulnerability of disadvantaged communities, which bear environmental and socioeconomic burdens as well as legacies of racial and ethnic discrimination,” the proposed bill reads. “Actions undertaken by New York state to mitigate greenhouse gas should prioritize the safety and health of disadvantaged communities.”</p> <p>Cuomo had maintained that his lack of support for the CCPA stemmed from “a question of the distribution of funding.”</p> <p>“Taxpayers' money is taxpayers' money and if it's taxpayers' money for an environmental purpose, I want to make sure it's going to an environmental purpose,” Cuomo said on WAMC Monday. “This transformation to the new green economy is very expensive and we don't have the luxury of using funding for political purposes.”</p> <p>Monday’s press conference hosted by NY Renews was celebratory, even if some advocates were slightly disappointed by the compromise and the governor’s claims that legislators backing the CCPA were “playing politics.”</p> <p>“This is not just a moment for New York but has implications for the world,” climate equity campaign strategist Adrien Salazar said.</p> <p>Because of its investment in disadvantaged communities, the CCPA is a widely intersectional bill, Senator Jessica Ramos of Queens said at the press conference.</p> <p>“The CCPA is a huge, history-making piece of legislation, but it can only be the start,” Ramos said.</p> <p>“While DC sleeps through a crisis, NY steps up,” Long Island Senator Todd Kaminsky tweeted Monday. Kaminsky serves as the chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee and lead sponsor of the bill.</p> <p>The bill is expected to be voted on in both legislative houses on Wednesday, the final scheduled day of the session.</p> <p>[READ: <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8588-pushed-on-climate-legislation-cuomo-tries-to-set-himself-apart" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Pushed on Climate Legislation, Cuomo Tries to Set Himself Apart</a>]</p> <p>

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by Noah Berman, Gotham Gazette

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</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/46945877944_d55d934dc3_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo climate" width="600" height="377" /></p> <p>(photo:&nbsp;Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>The state Senate, Assembly, and Governor Cuomo have reached an agreement on a version of the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA), setting the stage for passage of a bill to significantly reduce New York’s greenhouse gas emissions and transition the state toward a green economy. The bill has previously passed three times in the Democratic-led Assembly, but stalled in the Senate, which was controlled by Republicans for virtually all of the past several decades until this year.</p> <p>As support for the CCPA mounted in recent weeks, <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8588-pushed-on-climate-legislation-cuomo-tries-to-set-himself-apart" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo had questioned the bill</a>, criticized its supporters as "playing politics" with important policy matters, and explained that key differences on the bill related to timelines and goals around moving to renewable energy, as well as how and where new state environmental funding would be allocated.</p> <p>Compromise was reached over the weekend as the three parties negotiated a host of issues, and came to a number of agreements, just ahead of the scheduled end of the Albany legislative session on Wednesday.</p> <p>The agreed-upon bill sets ambitious standards to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, including transitioning to 70 percent renewable energy by 2030 and 85 percent emissions reductions by 2050. Between 35 and 40 percent of the money allocated by the bill’s transition requirements will be invested in communities most vulnerable to climate change. The bill will also create provisions for wage and labor standards for state-supported “green jobs” or those that improve sustainability.</p> <p>“I believe we have an agreement. I believe it's going to pass,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said on WAMC radio’s The Roundtable on Monday morning. After repeatedly calling the bill both too ambitious and not ambitious enough, and dismissing advocates and elected officials pushing for it as promising too much too quickly because they wanted to score political points, Cuomo indicated at the end of last week that he was hopeful to reach a deal on a climate bill. The governor has also repeatedly cited his own version of a “New York Green New Deal,” with targets for reductions in emissions and transitions to renewables.</p> <p>“We all knew we had to make some compromise to get a three way agreement, but we’ve done a lot of good stuff in this bill. We’re going to see New York lead the world,” Assemblymember Barbara Lifton said at a Monday press conference hosted by legislators and the broad NY Renews coalition that has been organizing behind the bill. Lifton was an early supporter of the CCPA when it was first passed in 2016.</p> <p>In recent weeks NY Renews had helped secure majority sponsorship of the CCPA in both houses and rolled out high-profile endorsements of the bill from much of the New York congressional delegation, including both Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.</p> <p>A key area of compromise was reached around the mandated investments in hard-hit and vulnerable communities, areas of the state in need of “environmental justice.”</p> <p>“Climate change especially heightens the vulnerability of disadvantaged communities, which bear environmental and socioeconomic burdens as well as legacies of racial and ethnic discrimination,” the proposed bill reads. “Actions undertaken by New York state to mitigate greenhouse gas should prioritize the safety and health of disadvantaged communities.”</p> <p>Cuomo had maintained that his lack of support for the CCPA stemmed from “a question of the distribution of funding.”</p> <p>“Taxpayers' money is taxpayers' money and if it's taxpayers' money for an environmental purpose, I want to make sure it's going to an environmental purpose,” Cuomo said on WAMC Monday. “This transformation to the new green economy is very expensive and we don't have the luxury of using funding for political purposes.”</p> <p>Monday’s press conference hosted by NY Renews was celebratory, even if some advocates were slightly disappointed by the compromise and the governor’s claims that legislators backing the CCPA were “playing politics.”</p> <p>“This is not just a moment for New York but has implications for the world,” climate equity campaign strategist Adrien Salazar said.</p> <p>Because of its investment in disadvantaged communities, the CCPA is a widely intersectional bill, Senator Jessica Ramos of Queens said at the press conference.</p> <p>“The CCPA is a huge, history-making piece of legislation, but it can only be the start,” Ramos said.</p> <p>“While DC sleeps through a crisis, NY steps up,” Long Island Senator Todd Kaminsky tweeted Monday. Kaminsky serves as the chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee and lead sponsor of the bill.</p> <p>The bill is expected to be voted on in both legislative houses on Wednesday, the final scheduled day of the session.</p> <p>[READ: <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8588-pushed-on-climate-legislation-cuomo-tries-to-set-himself-apart" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Pushed on Climate Legislation, Cuomo Tries to Set Himself Apart</a>]</p> <p>

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by Noah Berman, Gotham Gazette

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</p>
Stuck on Marijuana Legalization, Could Lawmakers Offer a Referendum as Cuomo Suggested? 2019-06-16T04:00:00+00:00 2019-06-16T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8606-stuck-on-marijuana-legalization-could-lawmakers-offer-a-referendum-as-cuomo-suggested Ben Max <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/48009653691_b683b49601_z.jpg" alt="state capitol new york" width="600" height="406" /></p> <p>the state capitol (photo: Mike Groll/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>In an <a href="https://www.wnyc.org/story/governor-cuomo-052819/">interview at the end of May</a>, Governor Andrew Cuomo made a provocative assertion: he said opponents to recreational marijuana legalization in the state Senate have argued no state in the country has legalized the controversial measure without first putting the question to voters in a ballot referendum. No such referendum has taken place in New York, but Cuomo -- who has pushed for marijuana legalization this year -- indicated on WNYC radio that it was a possibility as legislative efforts to legalize and regulate recreational, adult-use cannabis in the state have stalled.</p> <p>In a state government with virtually no tradition of holding referenda on policy initiatives, what this means for the embattled marijuana push in the final days of the legislative session is uncertain. Reports indicate that negotiations on legalization among the Democratic majorities in the Senate and Assembly and Cuomo’s office have continued throughout the weekend, with the parties eyeing the scheduled end of the session on Wednesday.</p> <p>“The opposition Senate position is, there is no state that has passed it without a referendum. It’s never been done just by the Legislature,” Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, told Brian Lehrer on WNYC on May 28. “They think it’s an overreach by the Legislature,” he added.</p> <p>While it appears true that this narrative has floated around Senate circles fearing the consequences, both political and pragmatic, the assertion itself that no state has legalized recreational marijuana without a referendum, is not (<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/vermont-state-senate-passes-marijuana-legalization-bill-rebukes-sessions-2018-1">Vermont</a> legalized marijuana possession through its legislature in 2018, and Illinois did the same for marijuana sales <a href="https://chicago.curbed.com/2019/5/31/18647238/illinois-marijuana-legalization-pot-cannabis-recreational-vote">just days</a> after Cuomo’s comments). Nevertheless, the governor appeared to lend credence to the notion that it could be done this way in New York, despite the state’s historically closed attitude toward referenda.</p> <p>The goal of making recreational marijuana legal in New York became a realistic prospect when Democrats took control of the state Legislature earlier this year, joining a slew of priorities backed by progressives that had been backlogged under the previously Republican-controlled state Senate. It was spurred on by parallel efforts in New Jersey, which have since <a href="https://www.nj.com/marijuana/2019/05/top-dems-back-away-from-bill-to-legalize-weed-in-nj-now-theyll-move-to-expand-medical-marijuana-clear-past-convictions.html">collapsed</a>. Garden State lawmakers now plan to put the issue directly before voters in a referendum in 2020.</p> <p>As the end of the legislative session in Albany approaches, the momentum on some reforms has faltered as more centrist, and vulnerable, Democrats from Long Island and north of New York City hedge against political backlash.</p> <p>“New Jersey was going to legalize it, New Jersey stopped. I think that started to shift the political environment. The senators say on the record that they don’t have the votes to pass it politically,” Cuomo told Lehrer. This is true, but senators, led by Manhattan’s Liz Krueger, the lead sponsor of her chamber’s marijuana legalization bill, have said that it’s in part due to Cuomo’s lack of engagement on the issue. As he did on rent regulations, Cuomo has mostly sat back and said senators are being cowed by political considerations, and he’d sign whatever the legislative majorities could agree on.</p> <p>The effort may only require support from two additional senators to reach a majority in the 63-seat chamber, the Democrat and Chronicle <a href="https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/albany/2019/06/05/recreational-marijuana-new-york-few-votes-short-in-senate/1340332001/">reported</a> at the beginning of June. While a legislative path may be there, especially with new compromises packed amid a “big ugly” end-of-session omnibus package, Cuomo did indicate another potential path.</p> <p>In the WNYC interview, after Cuomo pointed out the national referendum trend, he was asked whether a referendum approach could work in New York. The governor responded, “Yes, the short answer is you could do a referendum for a sense of the people where you sketch out the provision and have a referendum, and if it passes then the Legislature could say, ‘We will pass it.’”</p> <p>The long answer is not as clear. While certain types of measures require ballot referenda, like state constitutional amendments and bond issues, New York does not have the mechanism known as “initiative and referendum” <a href="https://rockinst.org/blog/new-york-referendum-state-local-government/">at the state level</a>, which many other so-called “direct democracy” states do (New Jersey doesn’t have it either). Initiative and referendum is a process that allows either the legislature or the public through petitions to put proposals directly onto the ballot to be advanced or blocked by voters.</p> <p>In some states, referenda are also used to solicit public opinion to provide non-binding guidance (and political cover) to legislators. This may be more along the lines of what the governor was describing in his comments on WNYC.</p> <p>New York does not have the infrastructure or political tradition of conducting either type of referendum, according to Gerald Benjamin, an expert on New York State government and director of the Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz.</p> <p>“It’s just a matter of fact that we don’t have the institutional design that supports decision-making by referendum in state government on policy,” Benjamin told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>The governor’s office has not returned a request for comment to provide more information about Cuomo’s assertion or thinking on the matter.</p> <p>At the state level, referenda are used in a narrow set of matters that invoke the self-determination of the people, when the form and structure of the government is at stake and lawmakers’ interests pose a conflict to changing them. New York has a lengthy and politically exhausting legislative process for constitutional amendments that culminates in a referendum after passage in consecutive legislative sessions.</p> <p>The question of whether to hold a constitutional convention to amend the state’s foundational document is also mandated by law to be placed on the ballot every 20 years. And any bond issue requiring borrowing on the “full faith and credit” of the state is supposed to be approved by voters in a referendum (though much borrowing, like by <a href="https://www.osc.state.ny.us/pubauth/reports/pub-auth-num-2017.pdf">public authorities</a>, is not), according to Benjamin.</p> <p>Calling for a referendum can also be a political tool for lawmakers to diffuse responsibility on contentious issues, like recreational marijuana.</p> <p>“We have at least some body of law that says the representative bodies and the elected representatives of the state government should make these decisions, not try to essentially diminish their accountability by turning to the public on matters that are controversial,” Benjamin said.</p> <p>Other practical considerations also complicate the equation. There is a difference between the concept of putting a question of importance directly to voters and the pragmatic demands of getting a meaningful response.</p> <p>In the world of referendum politics there are state rules about qualifying a ballot proposal, and a number of considerations can change the meaning of the question to voters. On a complex topic where the merits are also the subject of current debate, the language of a marijuana question is significant.</p> <p>Stakeholders are still weighing the particulars of what legalizing adult-use cannabis would mean, and the outcome of that discussion could impact how a potential referendum is framed. Debates are far from settled on questions like whether criminal records for marijuana offenses should be sealed or completely expunged, the legally permissible quantities, and what the state should do with the revenue generated from licenses and taxes.</p> <p>Outside the issue-specific questions are more technical ones that would have to be answered: will the referendum be written in plain language that is easily understood; how much of the issue will make it onto the ballot; and how will it be explained to voters?</p> <p>“It’s an easy thing to say, ‘Well, let’s ask the public,’” said Benjamin, and another thing to do it. “We’re not set up to do it, we don’t have the rules and regulations and process. Would we just commission a Siena poll?”</p> <p>Still, some lawmakers are pushing for that approach to legalizing recreational marijuana, and the governor’s comments may give them traction. Especially for state Senate Democrats, who were elected to the majority last November by flipping swing districts and unseating party members who shared power with Republicans, the <a href="https://www.newsday.com/news/region-state/jay-jacobs-drivers-licenses-immigrants-1.32063237">political ramifications</a> of supporting marijuana legalization in conservative-leaning or recently Republican-led districts could be treacherous.</p> <p>“I do believe that it is true that certain members may have said we should do this through referendum because it’s a way of saying we should let the public vote on this,” a spokesperson for Senator Krueger told Gotham Gazette in an interview.</p> <p>Some senators seem to be in favor of the most progressive elements of the marijuana debate but fall short of supporting it through the legislative process. State Senator Monica Martinez, a first-term Long Island Democrat representing a swing district, has said she would not support Krueger’s bill but a spokesperson told Gotham Gazette she is in favor of decriminalizing marijuana and of expunging the records of people with prior offenses. (Expungement is considered a stronger stance than sealing because it means records are destroyed completely rather than sealed but still accessible by police.)</p> <p>“Senator Martinez does support the legalization of Marijuana through a statewide referendum,” wrote a spokesperson for the senator in an email.</p> <p>According to a <a href="https://scri.siena.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/SNY0419-Crosstabs5214.pdf">Siena College poll</a> conducted in April, 52 percent of registered voters statewide supported legalization while 42 percent were opposed at the time. The math was flipped in the suburbs, where several of the Democratic state senators who don’t support the legislation live: 44 percent support the proposal and 49 percent oppose it. A more recent Siena poll conducted in the <a href="https://www.crainsnewyork.com/politics/poll-support-legal-marijuana-not-drivers-licenses-undocumented-immigrants">first week of June</a> found those numbers had balanced out, with support both statewide and in the suburbs at 55 percent. (Earlier this year the Democratic county executives of both Suffolk and Nassau on Long Island said their counties would opt out of allowing marijuana sales if the governor’s bill, which includes opt-outs for localities, was passed.)</p> <p>The marijuana bill in the state Assembly, sponsored by Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes, a Buffalo Democrat, appears to have <a href="https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nys/central-ny/politics/2019/06/14/marijuana-legalization-moves-forward">stronger support</a> in the majority conference, where the partisan balance isn’t as delicate.</p> <p>New Yorkers have not always been warm to the referendum mechanism in the past. At the turn of the 20th century, the Progressive Movement in the state was concerned with changing the institutions of government, in part, to mitigate the power of political parties. While New Yorkers adopted a number of proposals like electing party officials and statewide party nominees (at times, through constitutional convention referenda), they spurned the idea of initiative and referendum, according to Benjamin.</p> <p>“Historically, referendum is regarded as essentially the ducking of responsibility by the representative government elected to make decisions,” he told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>Still, the idea of going directly to the people appears to be attractive as the new cohort of state senators that swept into office this year grapple with the potential loss of a signature progressive campaign promise.</p> <p>“I think that’s the problem here, is the political reality that you don’t have the votes in the Senate,” Cuomo told Lehrer.</p> <p>Later he added, “Everything else is smoke.”</p> <p>

***
by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette      

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/48009653691_b683b49601_z.jpg" alt="state capitol new york" width="600" height="406" /></p> <p>the state capitol (photo: Mike Groll/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>In an <a href="https://www.wnyc.org/story/governor-cuomo-052819/">interview at the end of May</a>, Governor Andrew Cuomo made a provocative assertion: he said opponents to recreational marijuana legalization in the state Senate have argued no state in the country has legalized the controversial measure without first putting the question to voters in a ballot referendum. No such referendum has taken place in New York, but Cuomo -- who has pushed for marijuana legalization this year -- indicated on WNYC radio that it was a possibility as legislative efforts to legalize and regulate recreational, adult-use cannabis in the state have stalled.</p> <p>In a state government with virtually no tradition of holding referenda on policy initiatives, what this means for the embattled marijuana push in the final days of the legislative session is uncertain. Reports indicate that negotiations on legalization among the Democratic majorities in the Senate and Assembly and Cuomo’s office have continued throughout the weekend, with the parties eyeing the scheduled end of the session on Wednesday.</p> <p>“The opposition Senate position is, there is no state that has passed it without a referendum. It’s never been done just by the Legislature,” Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, told Brian Lehrer on WNYC on May 28. “They think it’s an overreach by the Legislature,” he added.</p> <p>While it appears true that this narrative has floated around Senate circles fearing the consequences, both political and pragmatic, the assertion itself that no state has legalized recreational marijuana without a referendum, is not (<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/vermont-state-senate-passes-marijuana-legalization-bill-rebukes-sessions-2018-1">Vermont</a> legalized marijuana possession through its legislature in 2018, and Illinois did the same for marijuana sales <a href="https://chicago.curbed.com/2019/5/31/18647238/illinois-marijuana-legalization-pot-cannabis-recreational-vote">just days</a> after Cuomo’s comments). Nevertheless, the governor appeared to lend credence to the notion that it could be done this way in New York, despite the state’s historically closed attitude toward referenda.</p> <p>The goal of making recreational marijuana legal in New York became a realistic prospect when Democrats took control of the state Legislature earlier this year, joining a slew of priorities backed by progressives that had been backlogged under the previously Republican-controlled state Senate. It was spurred on by parallel efforts in New Jersey, which have since <a href="https://www.nj.com/marijuana/2019/05/top-dems-back-away-from-bill-to-legalize-weed-in-nj-now-theyll-move-to-expand-medical-marijuana-clear-past-convictions.html">collapsed</a>. Garden State lawmakers now plan to put the issue directly before voters in a referendum in 2020.</p> <p>As the end of the legislative session in Albany approaches, the momentum on some reforms has faltered as more centrist, and vulnerable, Democrats from Long Island and north of New York City hedge against political backlash.</p> <p>“New Jersey was going to legalize it, New Jersey stopped. I think that started to shift the political environment. The senators say on the record that they don’t have the votes to pass it politically,” Cuomo told Lehrer. This is true, but senators, led by Manhattan’s Liz Krueger, the lead sponsor of her chamber’s marijuana legalization bill, have said that it’s in part due to Cuomo’s lack of engagement on the issue. As he did on rent regulations, Cuomo has mostly sat back and said senators are being cowed by political considerations, and he’d sign whatever the legislative majorities could agree on.</p> <p>The effort may only require support from two additional senators to reach a majority in the 63-seat chamber, the Democrat and Chronicle <a href="https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/albany/2019/06/05/recreational-marijuana-new-york-few-votes-short-in-senate/1340332001/">reported</a> at the beginning of June. While a legislative path may be there, especially with new compromises packed amid a “big ugly” end-of-session omnibus package, Cuomo did indicate another potential path.</p> <p>In the WNYC interview, after Cuomo pointed out the national referendum trend, he was asked whether a referendum approach could work in New York. The governor responded, “Yes, the short answer is you could do a referendum for a sense of the people where you sketch out the provision and have a referendum, and if it passes then the Legislature could say, ‘We will pass it.’”</p> <p>The long answer is not as clear. While certain types of measures require ballot referenda, like state constitutional amendments and bond issues, New York does not have the mechanism known as “initiative and referendum” <a href="https://rockinst.org/blog/new-york-referendum-state-local-government/">at the state level</a>, which many other so-called “direct democracy” states do (New Jersey doesn’t have it either). Initiative and referendum is a process that allows either the legislature or the public through petitions to put proposals directly onto the ballot to be advanced or blocked by voters.</p> <p>In some states, referenda are also used to solicit public opinion to provide non-binding guidance (and political cover) to legislators. This may be more along the lines of what the governor was describing in his comments on WNYC.</p> <p>New York does not have the infrastructure or political tradition of conducting either type of referendum, according to Gerald Benjamin, an expert on New York State government and director of the Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz.</p> <p>“It’s just a matter of fact that we don’t have the institutional design that supports decision-making by referendum in state government on policy,” Benjamin told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>The governor’s office has not returned a request for comment to provide more information about Cuomo’s assertion or thinking on the matter.</p> <p>At the state level, referenda are used in a narrow set of matters that invoke the self-determination of the people, when the form and structure of the government is at stake and lawmakers’ interests pose a conflict to changing them. New York has a lengthy and politically exhausting legislative process for constitutional amendments that culminates in a referendum after passage in consecutive legislative sessions.</p> <p>The question of whether to hold a constitutional convention to amend the state’s foundational document is also mandated by law to be placed on the ballot every 20 years. And any bond issue requiring borrowing on the “full faith and credit” of the state is supposed to be approved by voters in a referendum (though much borrowing, like by <a href="https://www.osc.state.ny.us/pubauth/reports/pub-auth-num-2017.pdf">public authorities</a>, is not), according to Benjamin.</p> <p>Calling for a referendum can also be a political tool for lawmakers to diffuse responsibility on contentious issues, like recreational marijuana.</p> <p>“We have at least some body of law that says the representative bodies and the elected representatives of the state government should make these decisions, not try to essentially diminish their accountability by turning to the public on matters that are controversial,” Benjamin said.</p> <p>Other practical considerations also complicate the equation. There is a difference between the concept of putting a question of importance directly to voters and the pragmatic demands of getting a meaningful response.</p> <p>In the world of referendum politics there are state rules about qualifying a ballot proposal, and a number of considerations can change the meaning of the question to voters. On a complex topic where the merits are also the subject of current debate, the language of a marijuana question is significant.</p> <p>Stakeholders are still weighing the particulars of what legalizing adult-use cannabis would mean, and the outcome of that discussion could impact how a potential referendum is framed. Debates are far from settled on questions like whether criminal records for marijuana offenses should be sealed or completely expunged, the legally permissible quantities, and what the state should do with the revenue generated from licenses and taxes.</p> <p>Outside the issue-specific questions are more technical ones that would have to be answered: will the referendum be written in plain language that is easily understood; how much of the issue will make it onto the ballot; and how will it be explained to voters?</p> <p>“It’s an easy thing to say, ‘Well, let’s ask the public,’” said Benjamin, and another thing to do it. “We’re not set up to do it, we don’t have the rules and regulations and process. Would we just commission a Siena poll?”</p> <p>Still, some lawmakers are pushing for that approach to legalizing recreational marijuana, and the governor’s comments may give them traction. Especially for state Senate Democrats, who were elected to the majority last November by flipping swing districts and unseating party members who shared power with Republicans, the <a href="https://www.newsday.com/news/region-state/jay-jacobs-drivers-licenses-immigrants-1.32063237">political ramifications</a> of supporting marijuana legalization in conservative-leaning or recently Republican-led districts could be treacherous.</p> <p>“I do believe that it is true that certain members may have said we should do this through referendum because it’s a way of saying we should let the public vote on this,” a spokesperson for Senator Krueger told Gotham Gazette in an interview.</p> <p>Some senators seem to be in favor of the most progressive elements of the marijuana debate but fall short of supporting it through the legislative process. State Senator Monica Martinez, a first-term Long Island Democrat representing a swing district, has said she would not support Krueger’s bill but a spokesperson told Gotham Gazette she is in favor of decriminalizing marijuana and of expunging the records of people with prior offenses. (Expungement is considered a stronger stance than sealing because it means records are destroyed completely rather than sealed but still accessible by police.)</p> <p>“Senator Martinez does support the legalization of Marijuana through a statewide referendum,” wrote a spokesperson for the senator in an email.</p> <p>According to a <a href="https://scri.siena.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/SNY0419-Crosstabs5214.pdf">Siena College poll</a> conducted in April, 52 percent of registered voters statewide supported legalization while 42 percent were opposed at the time. The math was flipped in the suburbs, where several of the Democratic state senators who don’t support the legislation live: 44 percent support the proposal and 49 percent oppose it. A more recent Siena poll conducted in the <a href="https://www.crainsnewyork.com/politics/poll-support-legal-marijuana-not-drivers-licenses-undocumented-immigrants">first week of June</a> found those numbers had balanced out, with support both statewide and in the suburbs at 55 percent. (Earlier this year the Democratic county executives of both Suffolk and Nassau on Long Island said their counties would opt out of allowing marijuana sales if the governor’s bill, which includes opt-outs for localities, was passed.)</p> <p>The marijuana bill in the state Assembly, sponsored by Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes, a Buffalo Democrat, appears to have <a href="https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nys/central-ny/politics/2019/06/14/marijuana-legalization-moves-forward">stronger support</a> in the majority conference, where the partisan balance isn’t as delicate.</p> <p>New Yorkers have not always been warm to the referendum mechanism in the past. At the turn of the 20th century, the Progressive Movement in the state was concerned with changing the institutions of government, in part, to mitigate the power of political parties. While New Yorkers adopted a number of proposals like electing party officials and statewide party nominees (at times, through constitutional convention referenda), they spurned the idea of initiative and referendum, according to Benjamin.</p> <p>“Historically, referendum is regarded as essentially the ducking of responsibility by the representative government elected to make decisions,” he told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>Still, the idea of going directly to the people appears to be attractive as the new cohort of state senators that swept into office this year grapple with the potential loss of a signature progressive campaign promise.</p> <p>“I think that’s the problem here, is the political reality that you don’t have the votes in the Senate,” Cuomo told Lehrer.</p> <p>Later he added, “Everything else is smoke.”</p> <p>

***
by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette      

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Seize the Albany Opportunity to Do More for NYCHA 2019-06-16T04:00:00+00:00 2019-06-16T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8604-don-t-leave-albany-without-new-investment-in-nycha Ben Max <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/gov-cuomo-comm.jpg" alt="gov cuomo comm" width="600" /></p> <p>Danny Barber, left, is the author; with Gov. Cuomo &amp; others (photo: the Governor's office)</p> <hr /> <p>I stood with Governor Cuomo last year when he showed how bad conditions in public housing have gotten after decades of federal neglect. With the governor’s leadership, NYCHA was allocated $250 million in last year’s state budget. While that money was held up due to the appointment of a federal monitor, the need for additional funds remains again this year.</p> <p>Major capital repairs are needed to keep residents safe and healthy in all five boroughs. Leaks, mold, pests, broken elevators, and lead are a constant worry for us 400,0000 public housing residents as we try to get to work or school or care for our families at home.</p> <p>The Assembly called for $300 million and the Senate asked for $250 million in the annual state budget process earlier this year. So far, NYCHA has gotten zero. This surprises me given the governor’s commitment and the tumultuous year NYCHA has had, leaving residents with great uncertainty about the future status of our homes.</p> <p>State lawmakers have a chance to redeem themselves and commit to fighting to preserve NYCHA by appropriating capital funds before the end of this year’s legislative session, which is scheduled to finish this week and is expected to include decisions on capital allocations.</p> <p>Albany also has an opportunity to create a more just and equitable tax policy while funding public housing, and it won’t cost a dime in state budget money.</p> <p>This year, New York City will give away about $600 million to homeowners through the Cooperative and Condominium Property Tax Abatement, which reduces real property taxes for owner-occupiers by 17.5% to 28.1%, depending on assessed value. With the abatement scheduled to sunset this week, Albany lawmakers have an opportunity to provide a long-term funding solution for public housing.</p> <p>Reform legislation has been introduced in the Assembly by Robert Rodriguez with a companion bill in the Senate sponsored by the housing committee chair Senator Brian Kavanagh. This bill preserves the tax abatement for 90% of homeowners, while eliminating tax breaks for the top 10% of luxury coops and condos.</p> <p>By ending this tax break for the top 10% of luxury owners now, $170 million in tax revenue will be collected each year. The reform legislation earmarks this revenue for capital repairs in public housing, which can help bring NYCHA into compliance with federal regulations protecting tenants from health hazards such as mold, lead, and vermin.</p> <p>More than 320,000 cooperative and condominium homeowners received an average tax break of $1,890 in fiscal year 2019 but benefits to luxury homeowners far exceed this average. President Trump, for example, was eligible for $48,000 in tax relief when he resided in Trump Tower. This reform bill will end tax breaks for luxury owners who don’t need them. New York City’s Housing and Vacancy Survey indicates that 10% of all coop and condo owners citywide earn more than $350,000 per year. That number contrasts sharply with $24,000, the average income for residents in public housing.</p> <p>Albany lawmakers will have to decide if they want to renew the current abatement and perpetuate housing inequality or if they want to reform it by ending tax breaks to luxury properties and fund repairs that will benefit many thousands of public housing residents. The choice seems simple.</p> <p>***<br />Danny Barber is Chair of the Citywide Council of Presidents of NYCHA residents, representing 400,000 public housing residents. He is also President of Jackson Houses Resident Inc., Chairman of the South Bronx District Council of Presidents Inc., and a member of Community Board 1.</p> <p>

***
Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/gov-cuomo-comm.jpg" alt="gov cuomo comm" width="600" /></p> <p>Danny Barber, left, is the author; with Gov. Cuomo &amp; others (photo: the Governor's office)</p> <hr /> <p>I stood with Governor Cuomo last year when he showed how bad conditions in public housing have gotten after decades of federal neglect. With the governor’s leadership, NYCHA was allocated $250 million in last year’s state budget. While that money was held up due to the appointment of a federal monitor, the need for additional funds remains again this year.</p> <p>Major capital repairs are needed to keep residents safe and healthy in all five boroughs. Leaks, mold, pests, broken elevators, and lead are a constant worry for us 400,0000 public housing residents as we try to get to work or school or care for our families at home.</p> <p>The Assembly called for $300 million and the Senate asked for $250 million in the annual state budget process earlier this year. So far, NYCHA has gotten zero. This surprises me given the governor’s commitment and the tumultuous year NYCHA has had, leaving residents with great uncertainty about the future status of our homes.</p> <p>State lawmakers have a chance to redeem themselves and commit to fighting to preserve NYCHA by appropriating capital funds before the end of this year’s legislative session, which is scheduled to finish this week and is expected to include decisions on capital allocations.</p> <p>Albany also has an opportunity to create a more just and equitable tax policy while funding public housing, and it won’t cost a dime in state budget money.</p> <p>This year, New York City will give away about $600 million to homeowners through the Cooperative and Condominium Property Tax Abatement, which reduces real property taxes for owner-occupiers by 17.5% to 28.1%, depending on assessed value. With the abatement scheduled to sunset this week, Albany lawmakers have an opportunity to provide a long-term funding solution for public housing.</p> <p>Reform legislation has been introduced in the Assembly by Robert Rodriguez with a companion bill in the Senate sponsored by the housing committee chair Senator Brian Kavanagh. This bill preserves the tax abatement for 90% of homeowners, while eliminating tax breaks for the top 10% of luxury coops and condos.</p> <p>By ending this tax break for the top 10% of luxury owners now, $170 million in tax revenue will be collected each year. The reform legislation earmarks this revenue for capital repairs in public housing, which can help bring NYCHA into compliance with federal regulations protecting tenants from health hazards such as mold, lead, and vermin.</p> <p>More than 320,000 cooperative and condominium homeowners received an average tax break of $1,890 in fiscal year 2019 but benefits to luxury homeowners far exceed this average. President Trump, for example, was eligible for $48,000 in tax relief when he resided in Trump Tower. This reform bill will end tax breaks for luxury owners who don’t need them. New York City’s Housing and Vacancy Survey indicates that 10% of all coop and condo owners citywide earn more than $350,000 per year. That number contrasts sharply with $24,000, the average income for residents in public housing.</p> <p>Albany lawmakers will have to decide if they want to renew the current abatement and perpetuate housing inequality or if they want to reform it by ending tax breaks to luxury properties and fund repairs that will benefit many thousands of public housing residents. The choice seems simple.</p> <p>***<br />Danny Barber is Chair of the Citywide Council of Presidents of NYCHA residents, representing 400,000 public housing residents. He is also President of Jackson Houses Resident Inc., Chairman of the South Bronx District Council of Presidents Inc., and a member of Community Board 1.</p> <p>

***
Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
The MTA is Fiscally Exhausted 2019-06-13T04:00:00+00:00 2019-06-13T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8600-the-mta-is-fiscally-exhausted Ben Max <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/31192351214_bc8e6e58f9_z.jpg" alt="MTA Cuomo finances" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: MTA/Patrick Cashin)</p> <hr /> <p>We call it the distraction circus. Donald Trump’s advisor, Steve Bannon, called it “flooding the zone with sh*t” to befuddle the news media and critics. Whatever you call it, the endless kerfuffle Governor Cuomo is stirring around the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is obscuring what we think are the MTA’s potentially catastrophic money problems.</p> <p>Yes, even after new revenue from congestion pricing is factored in, the MTA is still in big financial trouble.</p> <p>Five very big things jump out in terms of the MTA’s fiscal health. First, Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders are sending strong signals they are going to renege on the remaining $7.3 billion they promised the MTA in direct state aid in the 2016 state budget for the 2015-2019 MTA capital plan. Second, the governor says state monies will generate only about $30 billion of the $40 billion to $60 billion his own workgroup estimated the MTA needs for its 2020-2024 capital plan.</p> <p>Third, the governor is strongly suggesting the MTA will have to borrow roughly $10 billion to $30 billion on top of its already soaring debt load. Fourth, even with massive cost cutting, the MTA’s debt payments are rising to alarming levels, with 19% of operating income possibly going to debt by 2022, raising the harbinger of a “death spiral.”</p> <p>Fifth, these are not the MTA issues the Board, Legislature, or transit reporters are talking about nearly enough.</p> <p>Importantly, the MTA is facing these dire fiscal pressures while New York City’s economy is in the midst of a decade-long boom and state and city tax revenues are at record levels. What happens when there is the inevitable downturn?</p> <p><strong>The MTA is Fiscally Exhausted, so Where is the $7.3B?</strong><br />With much fanfare, the Governor and State Legislature included in the 2016 state budget a “historic” commitment of $8.3 billion in direct state aid to the MTA’s 2015-2019 capital plan. More than three years later, the state still owes the MTA $7.3 billion.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/8448-the-devilish-details-of-albany-s-mta-budget-package" target="_blank">devil is truly in the details</a> for state budget promises. The much touted 2016 state bailout of the MTA allowed $1 billion to be given to the MTA without condition, but an additional $7.3 billion will only be available after the MTA borrows until it can borrow no more -- in other words, when the MTA is fiscally “exhausted.” (<a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2015/a9006/amendment/c" target="_blank" rel="noopener">See Part NN of the 2016 budget</a>.)</p> <p>As of May 2019, the MTA has gotten only $1 billion of the state bailout money promised in 2016, and $11 billion from all sources for the $33 billion it planned to spend on the 2015-2019 capital plan.<img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/mta1.png" alt="mta1" width="500" height="351" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" /></p> <p><strong>The Subway Action Plan: A Distraction from the $7.3B owed by the State?</strong><br />As of December 2017, the MTA had received only $65 million of the state capital dollars promised in the April 2016 state budget for its 2015-2019 capital plan. In July 2017, the governor announced the Subway Action Plan, which included $328 million for capital projects (which is less than 5% of the $7.3 billion of the promised state capital funds). Yet, the Subway Action Plan has become a proxy for effort by the state. The governor’s office has repeatedly <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-we-are-making-state-funds-available-immediately-subway-action-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener">emphasized</a> the millions the state was contributing to the Subway Action Plan while glossing over the $7.3 billion it owes the MTA.</p> <p>[READ: <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8505-there-s-plenty-of-money-in-the-mta-capital-plan-it-s-just-not-being-spent" target="_blank" rel="noopener">There's Plenty of Money in the MTA Capital Plan, It's Just Not Being Spent</a>]</p> <p><strong>MTA Tens of Billions Short of Funding Needed for Capital Plan Starting in 2020</strong><br />To recap, the state still owes the MTA $7.3 billion for the current, 2015-2019 capital plan. Now, the governor says the MTA won’t get new state funding for the next capital plan.</p> <p>Last week, Governor Cuomo doubled down on his rhetoric that the MTA must “reform” or it won’t get more funding from the state for the MTA’s 2020-2024 capital plan. Speaking on <a href="https://www.wnyc.org/story/governor-cuomo-end-session-wish-list" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Brian Lehrer Show</a>, the governor said that the MTA will get only $30 billion from the state for the MTA 2020-2024 capital plan, including congestion pricing and state dedicated taxes, saying it needs to do better with the billions it has. This is much less than the $40 billion to $60 billion Cuomo’s own <a href="https://pfnyc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/2018-12-Metropolitan-Transportation-Sustainability-Advisory-Workgroup-Report.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">MTA Sustainability Workgroup concluded in December 2018</a> would be needed for the 2020-2024 plan.</p> <p>The biggest problem with this statement is that the MTA is already fiscally exhausted, and “reform” -- including possible consolidations from a forthcoming reorganization plan (<a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/8539-reorganizing-the-mta-with-a-transparent-public-process" target="_blank">more on that here</a>) -- will not possibly make up the additional $10 to $30 billion that the MTA is missing to meet its needs for the next capital plan.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Skyrocketing Debt Payments: 19 Cents of Every Fare Dollar</strong><br />While the MTA has been borrowing itself into a state of “fiscal exhaustion” to meet the terms of the 2016 state budget for its promised $7.3B, debt service payments have soared to record levels.</p> <p>In 2017, debt payments cost 17% of the MTA’s operating budget. By 2o22, debt payments will consume 19% of the operating budget, as projected in its <a href="http://web.mta.info/mta/news/books/docs/MTA-2019-Adopted-Budget-February-Financial-Plan_2019-2022.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">February 2019 financial plan</a>. (All charts in this piece are sourced from data in this plan.)</p> <p>In total, debt payments will be $3.22 billion in 2022 -- an increase of 27% since 2017.</p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/mta3.png" alt="mta3" width="500" height="309" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" /></p> <p>And with a threat from the governor of no more state funding, the MTA seems to be on the path toward even more borrowing if it is to even attempt to meet its capital needs for 2020-2024.</p> <p><strong>Blunt Cuts Won’t Save the MTA</strong><br />With debt service on the rise and ridership declining, the MTA is facing a large operating deficit. The operating budget pays for everyday subway, bus, and rail service, and money borrowed to pay for capital expenses. Every dollar paying back borrowed money is a dollar that cannot be spent on subway or bus service.</p> <p>As debt costs soar, so does the ongoing gap between the MTA’s income and expenses. The MTA’s deficit for 2020 has now reached $467 million, with even larger gaps in the years to come. (To be sure, the MTA is also struggling with costs including health care for current and retired workers -- a problem for many big employers in the U.S.)</p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/mta2.png" alt="mta2" width="500" height="340" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" /></p> <p>If the MTA can’t reduce its debt payments, how can it make up future operating losses? The biggest likelihood is through workforce reductions, which could increase the risk of entering a “death spiral” of less service, fewer riders, and less farebox revenue. Labor makes up 60% of operating costs and the MTA’s labor contracts are up for renewal this year. The MTA has 75,000 employees and is by far the largest unit of state government.&nbsp;</p> <p>There are rumors of big layoffs circulating within the MTA. The obvious concern for riders is how layoffs affect customer service. A smart reorganization of the MTA could make sensible consolidations, but there is tremendous pressure to close the MTA’s operating deficit and chop out dead wood. The risk is the reorganization could decimate the MTA’s workforce at a time when working for the MTA is not likely at the top of job seekers’ lists, all while the governor continues to harshly criticize the MTA professional staff for lack of innovation and execution.</p> <p><strong>Exhausted and in Danger</strong><br />In the 2016 budget, the governor and Legislature committed $8.3 billion to the MTA. They have given it $1 billion. Will the MTA get the remaining $7.3 billion? Will the governor and Legislative Leaders finally level with the public? Where the heck is the MTA supposed to find the roughly $50 billion it needs for the 2020-2024 rebuilding plan? How much money does the MTA really need? What is the debt redline? Some states keep debt payments at 5% to 7% of their operating budgets, while the MTA is edging towards an astronomical 19%. The danger signs for the MTA are mounting, and we need an honest discussion of how to fix this problem before it’s too late.</p> <p>[READ: <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8505-there-s-plenty-of-money-in-the-mta-capital-plan-it-s-just-not-being-spent" target="_blank" rel="noopener">There's Plenty of Money in the MTA Capital Plan, It's Just Not Being Spent</a>]</p> <p>***<br />Rachael Fauss is Senior Research Analyst and John Kaehny is Executive Director at Reinvent Albany. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/reinventalbany" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@ReinventAlbany</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/31192351214_bc8e6e58f9_z.jpg" alt="MTA Cuomo finances" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: MTA/Patrick Cashin)</p> <hr /> <p>We call it the distraction circus. Donald Trump’s advisor, Steve Bannon, called it “flooding the zone with sh*t” to befuddle the news media and critics. Whatever you call it, the endless kerfuffle Governor Cuomo is stirring around the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is obscuring what we think are the MTA’s potentially catastrophic money problems.</p> <p>Yes, even after new revenue from congestion pricing is factored in, the MTA is still in big financial trouble.</p> <p>Five very big things jump out in terms of the MTA’s fiscal health. First, Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders are sending strong signals they are going to renege on the remaining $7.3 billion they promised the MTA in direct state aid in the 2016 state budget for the 2015-2019 MTA capital plan. Second, the governor says state monies will generate only about $30 billion of the $40 billion to $60 billion his own workgroup estimated the MTA needs for its 2020-2024 capital plan.</p> <p>Third, the governor is strongly suggesting the MTA will have to borrow roughly $10 billion to $30 billion on top of its already soaring debt load. Fourth, even with massive cost cutting, the MTA’s debt payments are rising to alarming levels, with 19% of operating income possibly going to debt by 2022, raising the harbinger of a “death spiral.”</p> <p>Fifth, these are not the MTA issues the Board, Legislature, or transit reporters are talking about nearly enough.</p> <p>Importantly, the MTA is facing these dire fiscal pressures while New York City’s economy is in the midst of a decade-long boom and state and city tax revenues are at record levels. What happens when there is the inevitable downturn?</p> <p><strong>The MTA is Fiscally Exhausted, so Where is the $7.3B?</strong><br />With much fanfare, the Governor and State Legislature included in the 2016 state budget a “historic” commitment of $8.3 billion in direct state aid to the MTA’s 2015-2019 capital plan. More than three years later, the state still owes the MTA $7.3 billion.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/8448-the-devilish-details-of-albany-s-mta-budget-package" target="_blank">devil is truly in the details</a> for state budget promises. The much touted 2016 state bailout of the MTA allowed $1 billion to be given to the MTA without condition, but an additional $7.3 billion will only be available after the MTA borrows until it can borrow no more -- in other words, when the MTA is fiscally “exhausted.” (<a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2015/a9006/amendment/c" target="_blank" rel="noopener">See Part NN of the 2016 budget</a>.)</p> <p>As of May 2019, the MTA has gotten only $1 billion of the state bailout money promised in 2016, and $11 billion from all sources for the $33 billion it planned to spend on the 2015-2019 capital plan.<img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/mta1.png" alt="mta1" width="500" height="351" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" /></p> <p><strong>The Subway Action Plan: A Distraction from the $7.3B owed by the State?</strong><br />As of December 2017, the MTA had received only $65 million of the state capital dollars promised in the April 2016 state budget for its 2015-2019 capital plan. In July 2017, the governor announced the Subway Action Plan, which included $328 million for capital projects (which is less than 5% of the $7.3 billion of the promised state capital funds). Yet, the Subway Action Plan has become a proxy for effort by the state. The governor’s office has repeatedly <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-we-are-making-state-funds-available-immediately-subway-action-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener">emphasized</a> the millions the state was contributing to the Subway Action Plan while glossing over the $7.3 billion it owes the MTA.</p> <p>[READ: <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8505-there-s-plenty-of-money-in-the-mta-capital-plan-it-s-just-not-being-spent" target="_blank" rel="noopener">There's Plenty of Money in the MTA Capital Plan, It's Just Not Being Spent</a>]</p> <p><strong>MTA Tens of Billions Short of Funding Needed for Capital Plan Starting in 2020</strong><br />To recap, the state still owes the MTA $7.3 billion for the current, 2015-2019 capital plan. Now, the governor says the MTA won’t get new state funding for the next capital plan.</p> <p>Last week, Governor Cuomo doubled down on his rhetoric that the MTA must “reform” or it won’t get more funding from the state for the MTA’s 2020-2024 capital plan. Speaking on <a href="https://www.wnyc.org/story/governor-cuomo-end-session-wish-list" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Brian Lehrer Show</a>, the governor said that the MTA will get only $30 billion from the state for the MTA 2020-2024 capital plan, including congestion pricing and state dedicated taxes, saying it needs to do better with the billions it has. This is much less than the $40 billion to $60 billion Cuomo’s own <a href="https://pfnyc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/2018-12-Metropolitan-Transportation-Sustainability-Advisory-Workgroup-Report.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">MTA Sustainability Workgroup concluded in December 2018</a> would be needed for the 2020-2024 plan.</p> <p>The biggest problem with this statement is that the MTA is already fiscally exhausted, and “reform” -- including possible consolidations from a forthcoming reorganization plan (<a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/8539-reorganizing-the-mta-with-a-transparent-public-process" target="_blank">more on that here</a>) -- will not possibly make up the additional $10 to $30 billion that the MTA is missing to meet its needs for the next capital plan.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Skyrocketing Debt Payments: 19 Cents of Every Fare Dollar</strong><br />While the MTA has been borrowing itself into a state of “fiscal exhaustion” to meet the terms of the 2016 state budget for its promised $7.3B, debt service payments have soared to record levels.</p> <p>In 2017, debt payments cost 17% of the MTA’s operating budget. By 2o22, debt payments will consume 19% of the operating budget, as projected in its <a href="http://web.mta.info/mta/news/books/docs/MTA-2019-Adopted-Budget-February-Financial-Plan_2019-2022.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">February 2019 financial plan</a>. (All charts in this piece are sourced from data in this plan.)</p> <p>In total, debt payments will be $3.22 billion in 2022 -- an increase of 27% since 2017.</p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/mta3.png" alt="mta3" width="500" height="309" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" /></p> <p>And with a threat from the governor of no more state funding, the MTA seems to be on the path toward even more borrowing if it is to even attempt to meet its capital needs for 2020-2024.</p> <p><strong>Blunt Cuts Won’t Save the MTA</strong><br />With debt service on the rise and ridership declining, the MTA is facing a large operating deficit. The operating budget pays for everyday subway, bus, and rail service, and money borrowed to pay for capital expenses. Every dollar paying back borrowed money is a dollar that cannot be spent on subway or bus service.</p> <p>As debt costs soar, so does the ongoing gap between the MTA’s income and expenses. The MTA’s deficit for 2020 has now reached $467 million, with even larger gaps in the years to come. (To be sure, the MTA is also struggling with costs including health care for current and retired workers -- a problem for many big employers in the U.S.)</p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/mta2.png" alt="mta2" width="500" height="340" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" /></p> <p>If the MTA can’t reduce its debt payments, how can it make up future operating losses? The biggest likelihood is through workforce reductions, which could increase the risk of entering a “death spiral” of less service, fewer riders, and less farebox revenue. Labor makes up 60% of operating costs and the MTA’s labor contracts are up for renewal this year. The MTA has 75,000 employees and is by far the largest unit of state government.&nbsp;</p> <p>There are rumors of big layoffs circulating within the MTA. The obvious concern for riders is how layoffs affect customer service. A smart reorganization of the MTA could make sensible consolidations, but there is tremendous pressure to close the MTA’s operating deficit and chop out dead wood. The risk is the reorganization could decimate the MTA’s workforce at a time when working for the MTA is not likely at the top of job seekers’ lists, all while the governor continues to harshly criticize the MTA professional staff for lack of innovation and execution.</p> <p><strong>Exhausted and in Danger</strong><br />In the 2016 budget, the governor and Legislature committed $8.3 billion to the MTA. They have given it $1 billion. Will the MTA get the remaining $7.3 billion? Will the governor and Legislative Leaders finally level with the public? Where the heck is the MTA supposed to find the roughly $50 billion it needs for the 2020-2024 rebuilding plan? How much money does the MTA really need? What is the debt redline? Some states keep debt payments at 5% to 7% of their operating budgets, while the MTA is edging towards an astronomical 19%. The danger signs for the MTA are mounting, and we need an honest discussion of how to fix this problem before it’s too late.</p> <p>[READ: <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8505-there-s-plenty-of-money-in-the-mta-capital-plan-it-s-just-not-being-spent" target="_blank" rel="noopener">There's Plenty of Money in the MTA Capital Plan, It's Just Not Being Spent</a>]</p> <p>***<br />Rachael Fauss is Senior Research Analyst and John Kaehny is Executive Director at Reinvent Albany. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/reinventalbany" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@ReinventAlbany</a>.</p> <p>

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Max & Murphy Podcast: Dissecting Dynamics in Albany 2019-06-12T04:00:00+00:00 2019-06-12T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8596-max-murphy-podcast-dissecting-dynamics-in-albany Ben Max <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/podcast19/red-room-meeting-gov-ac.jpg" alt="red room meeting gov ac" width="600" height="413" /></p> <p>(photo: Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>June 12, 2019 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast:Dissecting Dynamics in Albany, with Casey Seiler<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/podcast19/casey-seiler-albany-times-union.jpg" alt="casey seiler albany times union" width="155" height="155" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" />Casey Seiler, managing editor of the Albany Times Union, joined the show to discuss the end of the legislative session in Albany, including the historic deal reach on rent regulations, dynamics between Governor Cuomo and the Legislature, and whether deals will be reached on big-ticket items like driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants and adult-use marijuana legalization.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max &amp; Murphy," and listen to Max &amp; Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/635767203&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/podcast19/red-room-meeting-gov-ac.jpg" alt="red room meeting gov ac" width="600" height="413" /></p> <p>(photo: Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>June 12, 2019 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast:Dissecting Dynamics in Albany, with Casey Seiler<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/podcast19/casey-seiler-albany-times-union.jpg" alt="casey seiler albany times union" width="155" height="155" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" />Casey Seiler, managing editor of the Albany Times Union, joined the show to discuss the end of the legislative session in Albany, including the historic deal reach on rent regulations, dynamics between Governor Cuomo and the Legislature, and whether deals will be reached on big-ticket items like driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants and adult-use marijuana legalization.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max &amp; Murphy," and listen to Max &amp; Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/635767203&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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For Racial Justice, Cuomo and Legislative Leaders Must Pass Marijuana Legalization 2019-06-10T04:00:00+00:00 2019-06-10T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8585-for-racial-justice-cuomo-and-legislative-leaders-must-pass-marijuana-legalization Ben Max <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/gov-amc-rockland.jpg" alt="gov amc rockland" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>(photo: Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>We are days away from the end of the legislative session and among the many important issues Governor Cuomo and New York legislators have left to accomplish is addressing the racially-biased and unjust enforcement of marijuana prohibition in our state.</p> <p>The Marijuana Regulation &amp; Taxation Act (MRTA), currently being considered by New York lawmakers, is one of the clearest pathways toward reducing racism in New York. In the last 20 years our beloved state has earned the dubious distinction of becoming the marijuana arrest capital of the country, with more than 800,000 arrests made just for possession of small amounts.</p> <p>Nearly 80% of those arrested have been people of color, even though drug use occurs at similar rates across racial and ethnic groups.</p> <p>These arrests are not a trivial matter. They involve being handcuffed, placed in a police car, taken to a police station, fingerprinted, photographed, possibly being held in jail for up to 24 hours while awaiting arraignment before a judge, appearing in court several times over the course of months, and potentially concluding with the imposition of a permanent criminal record that can easily be found online by employers, landlords, schools, credit agencies, and banks.</p> <p>New Yorkers who are arrested often face consequences that can make it difficult to get and keep a job, maintain a professional license, obtain educational loans, secure housing, or even keep custody of a child. This is all for something that is now legal in 10 states and the District of Columbia, and that white people do for the most part without consequences nationwide.</p> <p>If you are among the many who believe legalization isn’t necessary, believing New York’s decriminalization law protects people of color from law enforcement harassment, let me share the reality of what happens in our communities.</p> <p>While it is currently illegal to sell marijuana, you are not technically supposed to get arrested for possession of small amounts. But New York’s decriminalization law, which we’ve had for 40 years, is failing. More than 60 people on average are still arrested every day for marijuana possession in the state. These arrests have been largely justified by a loophole allowing police officers to distinguish between public and private personal possession. Because possession in “public view” remains a crime—and the fact that there is pervasive and racially-biased over-policing of communities of color—mass arrests continue.</p> <p>The MRTA will not only put an end to these racist police practices, but will create a responsible and well-regulated industry that will better restrict minors’ access to marijuana. It will also generate millions in tax revenue to bolster the state economy and support the communities that have been most harmed by marijuana prohibition.</p> <p>The bill additionally works to address some of the unjust consequences of marijuana prohibition by creating a process for both the reclassification of past convictions related to marijuana and for the resentencing of currently incarcerated individuals who are serving time due to a marijuana-related offense. This provision of the legislation will remove significant barriers that New Yorkers face in the wake of a marijuana conviction and allow them to fully participate in society without the devastating toll of collateral consequences.</p> <p>New Yorkers can feel assured knowing that the sky did not fall in states like Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska that have legalized the adult use of marijuana. Use by minors has not gone up, and there has been no increase in driving under the influence. We have the major benefit of learning from hurdles these pioneering states had to overcome, and incorporating lessons learned.</p> <p>The drug war has left a lasting impact on generations of New Yorkers, particularly harmful for people of color. State resources that could benefit our communities are instead being used to perpetuate wasteful and damaging prohibitionist policies that have not been successful in curbing use, increasing public health, or benefitting communities.</p> <p>The MRTA will not only earn the state billions in revenue, but will reinvest some of this money back into the communities that have been most harmed with adult education services, job training, the expansion of afterschool programs, re-entry services, and other community-centered projects. Money will also be directed toward public schools as well as drug treatment programs and public education campaigns geared toward reducing opioid overdoses and saving lives. It is a win all around.</p> <p>It is time to stop the ineffective, racially-biased, and unjust enforcement of marijuana prohibition and to create a new, well-regulated, and inclusive marijuana industry that is rooted in racial and economic justice. If Governor Cuomo and New York legislators are really interested in curbing racism in our state, they will pass the Marijuana Regulation &amp; Taxation Act this legislative session.</p> <p>***<br />L. Joy Williams is the President of the Brooklyn NAACP. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ljoywilliams" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@LJoyWilliams</a>.</p> <p>

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</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/gov-amc-rockland.jpg" alt="gov amc rockland" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>(photo: Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>We are days away from the end of the legislative session and among the many important issues Governor Cuomo and New York legislators have left to accomplish is addressing the racially-biased and unjust enforcement of marijuana prohibition in our state.</p> <p>The Marijuana Regulation &amp; Taxation Act (MRTA), currently being considered by New York lawmakers, is one of the clearest pathways toward reducing racism in New York. In the last 20 years our beloved state has earned the dubious distinction of becoming the marijuana arrest capital of the country, with more than 800,000 arrests made just for possession of small amounts.</p> <p>Nearly 80% of those arrested have been people of color, even though drug use occurs at similar rates across racial and ethnic groups.</p> <p>These arrests are not a trivial matter. They involve being handcuffed, placed in a police car, taken to a police station, fingerprinted, photographed, possibly being held in jail for up to 24 hours while awaiting arraignment before a judge, appearing in court several times over the course of months, and potentially concluding with the imposition of a permanent criminal record that can easily be found online by employers, landlords, schools, credit agencies, and banks.</p> <p>New Yorkers who are arrested often face consequences that can make it difficult to get and keep a job, maintain a professional license, obtain educational loans, secure housing, or even keep custody of a child. This is all for something that is now legal in 10 states and the District of Columbia, and that white people do for the most part without consequences nationwide.</p> <p>If you are among the many who believe legalization isn’t necessary, believing New York’s decriminalization law protects people of color from law enforcement harassment, let me share the reality of what happens in our communities.</p> <p>While it is currently illegal to sell marijuana, you are not technically supposed to get arrested for possession of small amounts. But New York’s decriminalization law, which we’ve had for 40 years, is failing. More than 60 people on average are still arrested every day for marijuana possession in the state. These arrests have been largely justified by a loophole allowing police officers to distinguish between public and private personal possession. Because possession in “public view” remains a crime—and the fact that there is pervasive and racially-biased over-policing of communities of color—mass arrests continue.</p> <p>The MRTA will not only put an end to these racist police practices, but will create a responsible and well-regulated industry that will better restrict minors’ access to marijuana. It will also generate millions in tax revenue to bolster the state economy and support the communities that have been most harmed by marijuana prohibition.</p> <p>The bill additionally works to address some of the unjust consequences of marijuana prohibition by creating a process for both the reclassification of past convictions related to marijuana and for the resentencing of currently incarcerated individuals who are serving time due to a marijuana-related offense. This provision of the legislation will remove significant barriers that New Yorkers face in the wake of a marijuana conviction and allow them to fully participate in society without the devastating toll of collateral consequences.</p> <p>New Yorkers can feel assured knowing that the sky did not fall in states like Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska that have legalized the adult use of marijuana. Use by minors has not gone up, and there has been no increase in driving under the influence. We have the major benefit of learning from hurdles these pioneering states had to overcome, and incorporating lessons learned.</p> <p>The drug war has left a lasting impact on generations of New Yorkers, particularly harmful for people of color. State resources that could benefit our communities are instead being used to perpetuate wasteful and damaging prohibitionist policies that have not been successful in curbing use, increasing public health, or benefitting communities.</p> <p>The MRTA will not only earn the state billions in revenue, but will reinvest some of this money back into the communities that have been most harmed with adult education services, job training, the expansion of afterschool programs, re-entry services, and other community-centered projects. Money will also be directed toward public schools as well as drug treatment programs and public education campaigns geared toward reducing opioid overdoses and saving lives. It is a win all around.</p> <p>It is time to stop the ineffective, racially-biased, and unjust enforcement of marijuana prohibition and to create a new, well-regulated, and inclusive marijuana industry that is rooted in racial and economic justice. If Governor Cuomo and New York legislators are really interested in curbing racism in our state, they will pass the Marijuana Regulation &amp; Taxation Act this legislative session.</p> <p>***<br />L. Joy Williams is the President of the Brooklyn NAACP. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ljoywilliams" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@LJoyWilliams</a>.</p> <p>

***
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Pushed on Climate Legislation, Cuomo Tries to Set Himself Apart 2019-06-10T04:00:00+00:00 2019-06-10T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8588-pushed-on-climate-legislation-cuomo-tries-to-set-himself-apart Ben Max <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/gov-cuomo-us-climate-brown.jpg" alt="gov cuomo us climate brown" width="600" /></p> <p>Cuomo, middle, with Jerry Brown, left, &amp; John Kerry (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Gov. Andrew Cuomo doubled down on his plan to fight climate change and his opposition to the &nbsp;Climate and Community Protection Act on Friday amid <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8575-support-grows-for-aggressive-climate-legislation-cuomo-calls-unrealistic" target="_blank" rel="noopener">increased pressure to pass the legislation</a>.</p> <p>The bill &shy;– which intends to move the state’s economy to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, invest clean energy funds in disadvantaged communities, and provide higher wages for green jobs – has significant support in both houses of the Legislature, but Cuomo has said that it is both too ambitious and doesn’t accomplish enough.</p> <p>The CCPA “actually doesn’t do, in my opinion, any of the main goals or initiatives,” Cuomo said in an interview with WAMC radio on Friday.</p> <p>For the second time last week, he strongly downplayed the CCPA as smart policy. A coalition of advocacy groups, unions, and elected officials at various levels of government has been intensifying its push for the bill as the June 19 legislative session end date inches closer. On Tuesday in Albany, an estimated 250 legislators and activists will rally for passage of the CCPA, according to a media advisory from the NY Renews coalition.</p> <p>Casting aside the CCPA, Cuomo last week touted his own environment and green economy plan as nation-leading, and specifically argued it is stronger than California’s.</p> <p>“I believe we’ll pass the bill, or we could pass the bill,” Cuomo said on WAMC. “But our climate change agenda is the most aggressive in the country and it has nothing to do with the bill that’s pending.”</p> <p>The CCPA has majority sponsorship in both Democrat-controlled house of the Legislature, but it’s unclear where it stands for the two majorities as end-of-session negotiations intensify on a range of issues and bills. Earlier last week, Cuomo told WNYC radio that the CCPA and push behind it – which recently added endorsements from most members of Congress who represent New York City as well as both U.S. Senators from New York – is “political,” explaining his belief that its supporters are over-promising the kind of speed at which New York’s entire economy can go green.</p> <p>“I believe this is the most pressing issue of our time but I don’t want to play politics with it,” Cuomo said on The Brian Lehrer Show on June 4. “I know the politics is we can do everything by tomorrow. I’ve never done that,” Cuomo said.</p> <p>In January, the governor unveiled his solution, which he’s called the New York Green New Deal, though many activists have taken issue with his branding. CCPA supporters <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/8497-governor-cuomo-has-just-weeks-to-embrace-a-real-green-new-deal-for-new-york" target="_blank">call that legislation</a>, and its stronger socioeconomic justice elements, the true New York Green New Deal, while supporters of the even more aggressive Off Fossil Fuels Act <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/8528-pass-the-off-fossil-fuels-act-new-york-s-strongest-climate-change-bill" target="_blank">say that’s actually the real deal</a>.</p> <p>Daniela Lapidous, a coalition organizer for NY Renews, the coalition aggressively pushing the CCPA, said that when it comes to transitions to renewable energy, the CCPA is more aggressive than California’s climate change policies, but not Cuomo’s solution.</p> <p>Cuomo’s plan aims for New York to have 70 percent of electricity produced by renewable energy by 2030 and 100 percent clean electricity by 2040. Comparatively, California’s climate change policy aims for 50 percent of electricity consumed from renewable energy by 2030 and 100 percent clean electricity by 2045.</p> <p>The CCPA would have an economy-wide shift to renewable energy and would put New York at 100 percent renewable by 2050.</p> <p>California has long been considered a leader on climate change policy in the U.S. In 2015, Governor Jerry Brown announced his plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, at the time the most aggressive benchmark enacted by any state government, according to <a href="https://www.ca.gov/archive/gov39/2015/04/29/news18938/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a California news release</a>.</p> <p>Since then, California has continued to implement policies working to transform the state’s environment, climate change, and green economy goals. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled a sustainability plan on April 29 that aims to create 300,000 green jobs, increase the percentage of zero-emission vehicles in Los Angeles to 80 percent, and source 70 percent of water locally – all by 2035.</p> <p>Lapidous said a key difference between the CCPA and Cuomo’s proposal is that the governor’s isn’t on the table for this session.</p> <p>“When Governor Cuomo talks about his proposal, that’s not on the table for the Legislature this year,” Lapidous said. “They’re working on the Climate and Community Protection Act and we want to work with the governor’s office to make the strongest Climate and Community Protection Act possible. But it’s not about two proposals that are competing in the New York Legislature right now. It’s about whether Governor Cuomo is going to help pass the CCPA or block [it].”</p> <p>Cuomo also falsely said Friday that when he proposed his solution, it was before a Green New Deal was being discussed nationally.</p> <p>"I proposed a Green New Deal before there was a Green New Deal being discussed nationwide," the governor stated. In fact, the federal Green New Deal was formally proposed as a congressional resolution in early February by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), but it didn’t originate there or then.</p> <p>It was born out of the global financial crisis in 2006, when some Europeans began calling for climate action as a means to democratize the world economic system, according to the Green Party.</p> <p>Thomas Friedman further popularized the Green New Deal in a 2007 column for the New York Times, where he wrote that this type of legislation would “turn the tide on climate change and end our oil addiction.”</p> <p>The roots of the Green New Deal in New York <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/8195-the-green-new-deal-new-york-needs-from-its-original-source" target="_blank">are from the 2010 governor’s race</a>, under the platform of the Green Party candidate, Howie Hawkins.</p> <p>Additionally, Matthew Miles Goodrich, the New York State Director of the Sunrise Movement, a climate change organization that has worked on developing the federal Green New Deal legislation, said Cuomo’s plan isn’t really a Green New Deal.</p> <p>“The plan that Cuomo has put forward in no way shape or form resembles a Green New Deal and just calling it a Green New Deal does not make it so,” Goodrich said. “In any case, the only climate plan on the table right now is the Climate and Community Protection Act, which does have some of the key components of a Green New Deal.”</p> <p>These key components address climate change, but also social and economic inequality. Since Cuomo’s plan doesn’t focus justice for and investment in communities that have been on the front lines of environmental pollution, it’s not a Green New Deal, Goodrich added.</p> <p>Cuomo admitted as much on WAMC Friday, saying, “The issue and contention is how we distribute environmental funds and if we distribute the funds based on political criteria or solely on the basis of environmental impact.” But Cuomo has also said the CCPA timelines for an overhaul of the entire economy are unrealistic, pointing out vast sectors, like transportation, and challenges facing such a shift.</p> <p>The governor is working with the Legislature to come up with a compromise that includes elements of his plan and of the CCPA, a spokesperson said. State agencies are already working to make Cuomo’s climate plans reality, the spokesperson added.</p> <p>Cuomo is also working towards economy-wide carbon neutrality as soon as is practical, the spokesperson said. The governor also said on WAMC that he plans to announce a multi-billion dollar wind turbine program, which he said would be the largest in America. He didn’t specify when that program would be announced or start.</p> <p><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8575-support-grows-for-aggressive-climate-legislation-cuomo-calls-unrealistic" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Lawmakers and supporters are unsure whether the CCPA will pass by the end of session</a>, but some say the idea of the legislation dying is deeply troubling. Neither Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie nor Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, both Democrats, has committed to passing the legislation this session, even though the Assembly has passed the CCPA several years in a row (with it having no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate that lost power this year).</p> <p>Senator Todd Kaminsky, the lead sponsor of the CCPA in his chamber, recently led a press conference calling for its passage. Three of his colleagues, Senators Robert Jackson, Jessica Ramos, and Julia Salazar, will be among those rallying on Tuesday in the capital, per NY Renews.</p> <p>“We're really counting on the Legislature to deliver what they promised to do for New Yorkers, which is protect our safety and health, especially in those communities of color and low-income communities,” Lapidous said. “We're really counting on the Legislature there. But if Governor Cuomo were to get in the way, I think it would be really devastating for New York.”</p> <p>

***
by Caitlyn Rosen, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/gov-cuomo-us-climate-brown.jpg" alt="gov cuomo us climate brown" width="600" /></p> <p>Cuomo, middle, with Jerry Brown, left, &amp; John Kerry (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Gov. Andrew Cuomo doubled down on his plan to fight climate change and his opposition to the &nbsp;Climate and Community Protection Act on Friday amid <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8575-support-grows-for-aggressive-climate-legislation-cuomo-calls-unrealistic" target="_blank" rel="noopener">increased pressure to pass the legislation</a>.</p> <p>The bill &shy;– which intends to move the state’s economy to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, invest clean energy funds in disadvantaged communities, and provide higher wages for green jobs – has significant support in both houses of the Legislature, but Cuomo has said that it is both too ambitious and doesn’t accomplish enough.</p> <p>The CCPA “actually doesn’t do, in my opinion, any of the main goals or initiatives,” Cuomo said in an interview with WAMC radio on Friday.</p> <p>For the second time last week, he strongly downplayed the CCPA as smart policy. A coalition of advocacy groups, unions, and elected officials at various levels of government has been intensifying its push for the bill as the June 19 legislative session end date inches closer. On Tuesday in Albany, an estimated 250 legislators and activists will rally for passage of the CCPA, according to a media advisory from the NY Renews coalition.</p> <p>Casting aside the CCPA, Cuomo last week touted his own environment and green economy plan as nation-leading, and specifically argued it is stronger than California’s.</p> <p>“I believe we’ll pass the bill, or we could pass the bill,” Cuomo said on WAMC. “But our climate change agenda is the most aggressive in the country and it has nothing to do with the bill that’s pending.”</p> <p>The CCPA has majority sponsorship in both Democrat-controlled house of the Legislature, but it’s unclear where it stands for the two majorities as end-of-session negotiations intensify on a range of issues and bills. Earlier last week, Cuomo told WNYC radio that the CCPA and push behind it – which recently added endorsements from most members of Congress who represent New York City as well as both U.S. Senators from New York – is “political,” explaining his belief that its supporters are over-promising the kind of speed at which New York’s entire economy can go green.</p> <p>“I believe this is the most pressing issue of our time but I don’t want to play politics with it,” Cuomo said on The Brian Lehrer Show on June 4. “I know the politics is we can do everything by tomorrow. I’ve never done that,” Cuomo said.</p> <p>In January, the governor unveiled his solution, which he’s called the New York Green New Deal, though many activists have taken issue with his branding. CCPA supporters <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/8497-governor-cuomo-has-just-weeks-to-embrace-a-real-green-new-deal-for-new-york" target="_blank">call that legislation</a>, and its stronger socioeconomic justice elements, the true New York Green New Deal, while supporters of the even more aggressive Off Fossil Fuels Act <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/8528-pass-the-off-fossil-fuels-act-new-york-s-strongest-climate-change-bill" target="_blank">say that’s actually the real deal</a>.</p> <p>Daniela Lapidous, a coalition organizer for NY Renews, the coalition aggressively pushing the CCPA, said that when it comes to transitions to renewable energy, the CCPA is more aggressive than California’s climate change policies, but not Cuomo’s solution.</p> <p>Cuomo’s plan aims for New York to have 70 percent of electricity produced by renewable energy by 2030 and 100 percent clean electricity by 2040. Comparatively, California’s climate change policy aims for 50 percent of electricity consumed from renewable energy by 2030 and 100 percent clean electricity by 2045.</p> <p>The CCPA would have an economy-wide shift to renewable energy and would put New York at 100 percent renewable by 2050.</p> <p>California has long been considered a leader on climate change policy in the U.S. In 2015, Governor Jerry Brown announced his plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, at the time the most aggressive benchmark enacted by any state government, according to <a href="https://www.ca.gov/archive/gov39/2015/04/29/news18938/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a California news release</a>.</p> <p>Since then, California has continued to implement policies working to transform the state’s environment, climate change, and green economy goals. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled a sustainability plan on April 29 that aims to create 300,000 green jobs, increase the percentage of zero-emission vehicles in Los Angeles to 80 percent, and source 70 percent of water locally – all by 2035.</p> <p>Lapidous said a key difference between the CCPA and Cuomo’s proposal is that the governor’s isn’t on the table for this session.</p> <p>“When Governor Cuomo talks about his proposal, that’s not on the table for the Legislature this year,” Lapidous said. “They’re working on the Climate and Community Protection Act and we want to work with the governor’s office to make the strongest Climate and Community Protection Act possible. But it’s not about two proposals that are competing in the New York Legislature right now. It’s about whether Governor Cuomo is going to help pass the CCPA or block [it].”</p> <p>Cuomo also falsely said Friday that when he proposed his solution, it was before a Green New Deal was being discussed nationally.</p> <p>"I proposed a Green New Deal before there was a Green New Deal being discussed nationwide," the governor stated. In fact, the federal Green New Deal was formally proposed as a congressional resolution in early February by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), but it didn’t originate there or then.</p> <p>It was born out of the global financial crisis in 2006, when some Europeans began calling for climate action as a means to democratize the world economic system, according to the Green Party.</p> <p>Thomas Friedman further popularized the Green New Deal in a 2007 column for the New York Times, where he wrote that this type of legislation would “turn the tide on climate change and end our oil addiction.”</p> <p>The roots of the Green New Deal in New York <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/8195-the-green-new-deal-new-york-needs-from-its-original-source" target="_blank">are from the 2010 governor’s race</a>, under the platform of the Green Party candidate, Howie Hawkins.</p> <p>Additionally, Matthew Miles Goodrich, the New York State Director of the Sunrise Movement, a climate change organization that has worked on developing the federal Green New Deal legislation, said Cuomo’s plan isn’t really a Green New Deal.</p> <p>“The plan that Cuomo has put forward in no way shape or form resembles a Green New Deal and just calling it a Green New Deal does not make it so,” Goodrich said. “In any case, the only climate plan on the table right now is the Climate and Community Protection Act, which does have some of the key components of a Green New Deal.”</p> <p>These key components address climate change, but also social and economic inequality. Since Cuomo’s plan doesn’t focus justice for and investment in communities that have been on the front lines of environmental pollution, it’s not a Green New Deal, Goodrich added.</p> <p>Cuomo admitted as much on WAMC Friday, saying, “The issue and contention is how we distribute environmental funds and if we distribute the funds based on political criteria or solely on the basis of environmental impact.” But Cuomo has also said the CCPA timelines for an overhaul of the entire economy are unrealistic, pointing out vast sectors, like transportation, and challenges facing such a shift.</p> <p>The governor is working with the Legislature to come up with a compromise that includes elements of his plan and of the CCPA, a spokesperson said. State agencies are already working to make Cuomo’s climate plans reality, the spokesperson added.</p> <p>Cuomo is also working towards economy-wide carbon neutrality as soon as is practical, the spokesperson said. The governor also said on WAMC that he plans to announce a multi-billion dollar wind turbine program, which he said would be the largest in America. He didn’t specify when that program would be announced or start.</p> <p><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8575-support-grows-for-aggressive-climate-legislation-cuomo-calls-unrealistic" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Lawmakers and supporters are unsure whether the CCPA will pass by the end of session</a>, but some say the idea of the legislation dying is deeply troubling. Neither Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie nor Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, both Democrats, has committed to passing the legislation this session, even though the Assembly has passed the CCPA several years in a row (with it having no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate that lost power this year).</p> <p>Senator Todd Kaminsky, the lead sponsor of the CCPA in his chamber, recently led a press conference calling for its passage. Three of his colleagues, Senators Robert Jackson, Jessica Ramos, and Julia Salazar, will be among those rallying on Tuesday in the capital, per NY Renews.</p> <p>“We're really counting on the Legislature to deliver what they promised to do for New Yorkers, which is protect our safety and health, especially in those communities of color and low-income communities,” Lapidous said. “We're really counting on the Legislature there. But if Governor Cuomo were to get in the way, I think it would be really devastating for New York.”</p> <p>

***
by Caitlyn Rosen, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Support Grows for Aggressive Climate Legislation Cuomo Calls Unrealistic 2019-06-05T04:00:00+00:00 2019-06-05T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8575-support-grows-for-aggressive-climate-legislation-cuomo-calls-unrealistic Ben Max <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/26940273015_823de9231e_z.jpg" alt="nature climate change" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>As the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) gains increasing support from state and federal legislators, the state Assembly and Senate will soon decide whether or not to vote on the bill, which now has a majority of sponsors in both houses of the Legislature but not the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo.</p> <p>The CCPA, described by many as New York’s attempt at a Green New Deal, has three major components. The bill would end reliance on fossil fuels by moving the state’s economy to 100% renewable energy by 2050, invest 40% of clean energy funds in disadvantaged communities, and provide higher wages for environmentally-friendly jobs.</p> <p>In recent days, the coalition supporting passage of the CCPA, called NYRenews, has announced endorsements from officials including Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and most other members of the New York congressional delegation (Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Grace Meng, and Max Rose are the only members of the New York City delegation not to endorse the CCPA).</p> <p>According to Steve Englebright, the lead Assembly sponsor of the CCPA, the bill is “based on the timeline scientists recommend to avoid catastrophe.”</p> <p>In spite of growing support for the bill, it’s unclear if the two legislative majorities will make it a top priority for end-of-session negotiations -- the session is scheduled to end June 19 -- and Governor Cuomo has not included it in his recently-released top 10 priorities for the state over the next few weeks.</p> <p>“I believe this is the most pressing issue of our time but I don’t want to play politics with it,” Cuomo said on WNYC radio’s The Brian Lehrer Show on Tuesday. “I know the politics is we can do everything by tomorrow. I’ve never done that,” Cuomo said. The governor repeatedly indicated to Lehrer that he wants to move aggressively to fight climate change but that the CCPA is not a realistic piece of legislation given its requirements to overhaul much of the economy.</p> <p>Cuomo made headlines, and waves, last month when he said he “does not foresee anything specific for the end of the session” regarding climate change legislation.</p> <p>The CCPA has passed in the Assembly every year since 2016, but a Republican-controlled Senate did not put the legislation up for a vote. With Democrats now controlling a wide majority in the Senate, hopes have been high that the bill would reach Cuomo’s desk. Legislators appear content to work with the governor to negotiate an agreement on new environmental regulations rather than force his hand. Often in Albany, the more contentious issues that find compromise are combined into a budget or end-of-session omnibus package.</p> <p>Cuomo has warned of the possible economic impact of the CCPA. “When you talk about this transition for the economy, think about what you are talking about. No carbon emissions, new airplanes, no trains that run on diesel, all electric cars, closing all the power plants. This is a massive transformation,” Cuomo said on WNYC.</p> <p>Still, the bill’s sponsors, activists, and others are pushing back against his pessimism. According to Englebright, the bill is not attempting to “do everything by tomorrow. 2050 is a time horizon well beyond tomorrow,” he said on Wednesday’s Brian Lehrer Show.</p> <p>Leaders in both the Senate and the Assembly have indicated support for the CCPA, though they have not assertively pushed it of late. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie indicated the CCPA as one of his priorities in an agenda for the Assembly released at the start of the new session in January, but he has not been forceful about it of late. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins was non-committal on Friday’s Capitol Pressroom radio show, when asked about the status of the CCPA, saying she is “personally committed to doing the best climate change package.”</p> <p>“We have a working group going on right now to see what we can do before the end of session as it relates to the CCPA. I believe we’re going to have something before we leave,” Stewart-Cousins told Capitol Pressroom host Susan Arbetter.</p> <p>State Senator Todd Kaminsky, lead sponsor for the CCPA in the Senate, also said the CCPA is a priority, but the Senate is still ironing out some details. Kaminsky said he would like to see the bill include more provisions for energy efficiency and interim goals.</p> <p>“Heastie has given us the compass direction on this,” Englebright said Wednesday on WNYC, appearing with Kaminsky. “I anticipate that we will pass it again this year. Speaker Heastie is committed because he understands the importance of this for all the people of the state.”</p> <p>Activists, led by the extensive NY Renews coalition of labor unions and advocacy groups, are pressing hard.</p> <p>“There's no time to waste on protecting New Yorkers from climate change, creating green jobs, and making sure we do it with racial and economic justice at the center,” said Bill Lipton, director of the New York Working Families Party, in a Wednesday press release from NY Renews touting that the CCPA had achieved a majority of sponsors in both houses.</p> <p>Kaminsky and Englebright are optimistic about the CCPA”s chances, seeing similarities in the CCPA and Cuomo’s proposed climate regulations as a part of the budget passed in March.</p> <p>“It has the same framework as the CCPA, so I don’t think we’re all that far apart in terms of where we are as a state decarbonizing our economy,” Kaminsky said.</p> <p>A difference between the CCPA and Cuomo’s budget proposal lies within the 40% investment of clean energy funds into disadvantaged communities, Englebright said. These communities have often suffered disproportionately from lapses in environmental care, so it is especially important they receive investments in renewable energy, good jobs and training, Kaminsky said.</p> <p>The deadlines for moving away from fossil fuels are also different, and while Cuomo’s benchmarks are focused on the state’s electricity, the CCPA is focused on the entire state economy. (Some legislators and activists <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/8528-pass-the-off-fossil-fuels-act-new-york-s-strongest-climate-change-bill" target="_blank" rel="noopener">want the more aggressive Off Fossil Fuels Act passed</a>, but there appears little formal discussion of the legislation as the legislative session winds down.)</p> <p>The CCPA also has the potential to increase economic investment in the state, Englebright said. If implemented it could “unleash the genius of American capitalism and New York innovation,” he said.</p> <p>Despite Cuomo downplaying the CCPA, with its rising popularity, some, including Kaminsky and Englebright, expressed confidence the bill will be voted on this session.</p> <p>“We have the votes – what are we waiting for,” Lipton said.</p> <p>

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by Noah Berman, Gotham Gazette

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</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/26940273015_823de9231e_z.jpg" alt="nature climate change" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>As the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) gains increasing support from state and federal legislators, the state Assembly and Senate will soon decide whether or not to vote on the bill, which now has a majority of sponsors in both houses of the Legislature but not the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo.</p> <p>The CCPA, described by many as New York’s attempt at a Green New Deal, has three major components. The bill would end reliance on fossil fuels by moving the state’s economy to 100% renewable energy by 2050, invest 40% of clean energy funds in disadvantaged communities, and provide higher wages for environmentally-friendly jobs.</p> <p>In recent days, the coalition supporting passage of the CCPA, called NYRenews, has announced endorsements from officials including Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and most other members of the New York congressional delegation (Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Grace Meng, and Max Rose are the only members of the New York City delegation not to endorse the CCPA).</p> <p>According to Steve Englebright, the lead Assembly sponsor of the CCPA, the bill is “based on the timeline scientists recommend to avoid catastrophe.”</p> <p>In spite of growing support for the bill, it’s unclear if the two legislative majorities will make it a top priority for end-of-session negotiations -- the session is scheduled to end June 19 -- and Governor Cuomo has not included it in his recently-released top 10 priorities for the state over the next few weeks.</p> <p>“I believe this is the most pressing issue of our time but I don’t want to play politics with it,” Cuomo said on WNYC radio’s The Brian Lehrer Show on Tuesday. “I know the politics is we can do everything by tomorrow. I’ve never done that,” Cuomo said. The governor repeatedly indicated to Lehrer that he wants to move aggressively to fight climate change but that the CCPA is not a realistic piece of legislation given its requirements to overhaul much of the economy.</p> <p>Cuomo made headlines, and waves, last month when he said he “does not foresee anything specific for the end of the session” regarding climate change legislation.</p> <p>The CCPA has passed in the Assembly every year since 2016, but a Republican-controlled Senate did not put the legislation up for a vote. With Democrats now controlling a wide majority in the Senate, hopes have been high that the bill would reach Cuomo’s desk. Legislators appear content to work with the governor to negotiate an agreement on new environmental regulations rather than force his hand. Often in Albany, the more contentious issues that find compromise are combined into a budget or end-of-session omnibus package.</p> <p>Cuomo has warned of the possible economic impact of the CCPA. “When you talk about this transition for the economy, think about what you are talking about. No carbon emissions, new airplanes, no trains that run on diesel, all electric cars, closing all the power plants. This is a massive transformation,” Cuomo said on WNYC.</p> <p>Still, the bill’s sponsors, activists, and others are pushing back against his pessimism. According to Englebright, the bill is not attempting to “do everything by tomorrow. 2050 is a time horizon well beyond tomorrow,” he said on Wednesday’s Brian Lehrer Show.</p> <p>Leaders in both the Senate and the Assembly have indicated support for the CCPA, though they have not assertively pushed it of late. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie indicated the CCPA as one of his priorities in an agenda for the Assembly released at the start of the new session in January, but he has not been forceful about it of late. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins was non-committal on Friday’s Capitol Pressroom radio show, when asked about the status of the CCPA, saying she is “personally committed to doing the best climate change package.”</p> <p>“We have a working group going on right now to see what we can do before the end of session as it relates to the CCPA. I believe we’re going to have something before we leave,” Stewart-Cousins told Capitol Pressroom host Susan Arbetter.</p> <p>State Senator Todd Kaminsky, lead sponsor for the CCPA in the Senate, also said the CCPA is a priority, but the Senate is still ironing out some details. Kaminsky said he would like to see the bill include more provisions for energy efficiency and interim goals.</p> <p>“Heastie has given us the compass direction on this,” Englebright said Wednesday on WNYC, appearing with Kaminsky. “I anticipate that we will pass it again this year. Speaker Heastie is committed because he understands the importance of this for all the people of the state.”</p> <p>Activists, led by the extensive NY Renews coalition of labor unions and advocacy groups, are pressing hard.</p> <p>“There's no time to waste on protecting New Yorkers from climate change, creating green jobs, and making sure we do it with racial and economic justice at the center,” said Bill Lipton, director of the New York Working Families Party, in a Wednesday press release from NY Renews touting that the CCPA had achieved a majority of sponsors in both houses.</p> <p>Kaminsky and Englebright are optimistic about the CCPA”s chances, seeing similarities in the CCPA and Cuomo’s proposed climate regulations as a part of the budget passed in March.</p> <p>“It has the same framework as the CCPA, so I don’t think we’re all that far apart in terms of where we are as a state decarbonizing our economy,” Kaminsky said.</p> <p>A difference between the CCPA and Cuomo’s budget proposal lies within the 40% investment of clean energy funds into disadvantaged communities, Englebright said. These communities have often suffered disproportionately from lapses in environmental care, so it is especially important they receive investments in renewable energy, good jobs and training, Kaminsky said.</p> <p>The deadlines for moving away from fossil fuels are also different, and while Cuomo’s benchmarks are focused on the state’s electricity, the CCPA is focused on the entire state economy. (Some legislators and activists <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/8528-pass-the-off-fossil-fuels-act-new-york-s-strongest-climate-change-bill" target="_blank" rel="noopener">want the more aggressive Off Fossil Fuels Act passed</a>, but there appears little formal discussion of the legislation as the legislative session winds down.)</p> <p>The CCPA also has the potential to increase economic investment in the state, Englebright said. If implemented it could “unleash the genius of American capitalism and New York innovation,” he said.</p> <p>Despite Cuomo downplaying the CCPA, with its rising popularity, some, including Kaminsky and Englebright, expressed confidence the bill will be voted on this session.</p> <p>“We have the votes – what are we waiting for,” Lipton said.</p> <p>

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by Noah Berman, Gotham Gazette

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</p>