Friday, April 21, 2017

State Budget 2017 580

Albany Budget, Ethics, Pay Raise, Three Men in the Room, Pork, Campaign $$$ #580 

Free College As Long As You Stay In NY

Cuomo’s free tuition program comes with a major catch (NYP) Cuomo’s much-heralded new program for free tuition at state colleges comes with a huge catch — you have to sign years of your life away to get it.  Under a provision that was added to the tuition bill at the last moment, students who get a free ride at CUNY and SUNY schools must live and work in New York state for up to four years after graduation, or be forced to pay the money back.  The amendment — which was not part of Cuomo’s original offer of free college for middle- class students — was added at the insistence of Republicans in the state Senate.  The GOP members worried that taxpayer-educated students would take their valuable knowledge and flee to other parts of the US, particularly from remote upstate communities.
De Blasio: Mayoral control of schools in state budget 'being toyed with' (NYP) * Listof budget negatives include capital pork barrel, film credit extender@nygovcuomo mixed message on restraint. * Union workers dues will be fully tax-deductible thanks to Cuomo (NYP)

Cuomo Adopts a Middle-Class Mantra (NYT)Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York has been supplementing his liberal political portfolio with ideas that have broader appeal such as his so-called free-tuition plan.
How Cuomo’s ‘free tuition’ could deepen the student-debt crisis (NYP) It turns out Gov. Cuomo’s headline-grabbing “free tuition” turns retroactively into a loan for grads who take jobs out of state — and that’s not the only ugly surprise. The provision got tossed in at the last minute at the behest of Senate Republicans — whose upstate members worry about the “brain drain” of smart kids moving away.* A new scholarship that will let many New York students attend state colleges tuition-free has a caveat in the fine print: Recipients must live and work in the state for several years after graduation or pay back the money, The Wall Street Journal reports.  * The Post criticizes Cuomo’s free college tuition plan as enacted for turning tuition grants into loans if a graduate takes a job out of state, writing that details matter if you want to actually help people, but it seems Cuomo only cares about the headlines.* The program to provide free tuition at SUNY and CUNY campuses will primarily benefit traditional students, those who go to college straight from high school and earn their degrees on time, but increasingly many students attend part-time or take extra years, the Times reports.* Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo to praise his free tuition Excelsior Scholarship program, saying, “We need to be building bridges. And the best bridge to the future is a good education, my friends,” the Daily News writes. * While Cuomo was taking a victory lap for the passage of his free tuition plan for public colleges in New York, Assemblyman James Skoufis introduced a bill that would repeal the plan’s postgraduate in-state work requirement, State of Politics reports.

Raise the Age 
At a Harlem rally to tout the new state budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said legislative leaders wanted to give up on the contentious Raise the Age proposal in order to ease the approval of a new spending plan, the Daily News reports. * After weeks of hard-fought negotiations, approval for the Raise the Age bill was not universal, with the final bill language leaving some who had sought the law disappointed in its many subsections and stipulations, The New York Times reports. *‘Raise the Age,’ Now Law in New York, Is Still a Subject of Debate (NYT)

Big Ugly 2017 Budget Passed 
Hidden in the Albany Budget is a Renewal of 421-a Which Will in Effect Nuke What is Left of Affordable Housing Mom & Pop Stores in NYC 

It took nearly two years, but Cuomo reached an agreement in the budget to put back together the affordable housing program, known as 421-a, that gives developers a tax break in return for building lower-price rental units, the Times reports.

State Senate passes $153.1B budget (NYP)  “Forcing major issues through the budget process has got to stop,” said Deputy Majority Leader Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse). “It should be debated separately.”  That would require a constitutional amendment, but DeFrancisco said it should be done.  “Then we can truly say that we’re working on a budget not on the policy of the state of New York as the prime focus and a budget that’s almost an add-on,” he said.  The bill not to prosecute 16- and 17-year-old criminal defendants as adults wound up splitting the GOP and “progressive” politicians who couldn’t agree on where to draw the line.They compromised by giving judges and district attorneys the power to make the decision on a case-by-case basis.  Extending mayoral control of New York City schools was not included in the budget on Sunday night, meaning that, barring further action, Mayor de Blasio’s authority could now end in June, as previously planned.  The budget also extends a higher tax rate on millionaires for two years, a measure Republicans fought, saying it will chase high earners out of the state.  Families earning up to $120,000 will now get free tuition at all SUNY and CUNY colleges.* In this year’s state budget negotiations, legislative factions on the right and left dug in their heels and handed Gov. Andrew Cuomo a budget that passed Sunday night, nine days after the deadline, The Wall Street Journal writes.  * Assembly Democrats plan to target the state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference and the pressure is going to increase on the eight-member breakaway conference to create a new majority partnership with the mainline Democrats, the Daily News’ Ken Lovett reports. * Crown Heights Residents Turn Thumbs Down On RogersAvenue Homeless Shelter (Kings County Politics) * New city housing policy faces test amidst affordability debate  PoliticoNewYork Reports * Thousands of Working New Yorkers Are Living in HomelessShelters (WSJ) Soaring rents and stagnant wages increasingly have squeezed the city’s working poor

A Budget That Fits Into A 2020 Presidential Run Remember Any Chance Depends On Percoco and the Buffalo Billion Corruption Case Not NY Media or TV Ads 
Cuomo’s liberal budget moves hint at presidential bid (NYP) Cuomo used the state budget process to go shopping for the liberal credentials he’ll need to run for president, Albany insiders said. Appealing to key left-wing constituencies that could help him in a Democratic presidential primary, the governor poured $163 million into a college-scholarship program; gave a $35 million tax break to workers who pay union dues; created a $10 million immigrant legal defense fund; and renewed the millionaire tax. The moves add up to a “press release for his presidential ambitions,” scoffed Assemblyman Al Graf, a Long Island Republican.  “He’s trying to get his progressive bona fides up. He’s saying, ‘Look at how progressive I am,’ ’’ he said. Cuomo trumpeted his immigrant legal defense fund as a response to President Trump’s “dramatic plans” to restrict immigration and deport undocumented people.* Gov. Andrew Cuomo used the budget to burnish his liberal credentials to run for president, insiders told the New York Post, including a college-scholarship program, tax breaks to workers who pay union dues, an immigrant legal defense fund and a millionaires tax extension.* Cuomo: Congress has ‘declared war on New York’(NYP)

Budget Deal After Delays is Reached and Its Ugly 
'Big Ugly' state budget bill creates winners, losers (Buffalo News) There are items affecting farmers, gasoline distributors, teens who commit crimes, people who want to ride in an Uber or Lyft car,  property taxpayers, local governments, movie companies, racehorse owners, housing developers, “certain members” of the New York City police pension fund and cemeteries – or rather people who end up in a cemetery.  Linking so many items into one bill also makes it difficult for lawmakers to oppose the measure because it includes so many popular items, including $26 billion for public schools.* State's $153.1B budget won't include Cuomo's proposal torequire online stores with big N.Y. shopper base to collect sales tax (NYDN)  * The state Assembly finished action on the 2017-2018 state budget on Saturday evening, and the state Senate is scheduled to hold a session at 5 p.m. Sunday to consider the remaining bills,Politico New York reports.  * The revenue bill that includes the most contentious legislative language in the 2017 state budget negotiation was printed on Saturday morning, and the Times Union posted the 343-page bill with an index to some of its most interesting portions. * The state budget includes free tuition at public colleges and universities for New York students in families earning less than $125,000, as well as a boost for the state’s Tuition Assistance Program, while mayoral control dropped out, Chalkbeat New York reports. * In a win for online shoppers, the $153.1 billion state budget deal announced Friday night does not include Gov. Andrew Cuomo's push to require online marketplaces such as Etsy and Amazon to collect sales taxes, a decision hailed by tech groups, the Daily News writes.  * The Buffalo News praises much of the policy in the state budget, but writes that Albany should be demanding more – improved scores, higher graduation rates – in exchange for continued increases in state education spending.* The new budget manipulates future aid formulas in a way that one advocate says will cost New York City charter schools some $1.7 billion over the next several years and the state Legislature refuses to raise the charter school cap, Bob McManus writes in the Post.

Budget Deal Comes Together in Albany, After Delay and Frustration (NYT) The $153 billion includes tuition-free education at state colleges, along with changes to workers’ compensation and the juvenile justice system.  State legislators finally reach agreement on $153B budget (NYP) includes free public-college education and allows ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft to expand throughout the state.  But the agreement doesn’t say a word about whether Mayor de Blasio will retain mayoral control of schools. The bills were not yet printed when the leaders made the announcement, but Cuomo gave an overview that he says gives a $50 million boost to charter schools.  There’s no change in per-pupil funding for this fiscal year. Next year, however, there’s a 4 percent increase in per-pupil funding from roughly $14,000 to $14,500.  Families with income of up to $125,000 a year — which Cuomo said is 80 percent, or 940,000 families in the state — will qualify for free college tuition under Excelsior Scholarships and it also will contain benefits for private colleges. The millionaire’s tax will be extended two years and 421-a tax breaks for developers in exchange for affordable housing will expire in five years.  In a nod to juvenile-justice reformers, 16- and 17-year-olds no longer will be treated as adults in the state’s courts.  Instead, the teens will be diverted to family court or youth court, depending on the severity of their crimes.* After a week of impasse and the worst budget crisis of his administration, Gov. Andrew Cuomo late Friday announced a $153 billion state budget deal, including free tuition, raising the age of criminal responsibility and workers’ comp changes, The New York Times reports.

IDC Push Senate GOP Towards Lower Age Budget Hangup 
As budget talks stalled, pols pointed fingers(CrainsNY)  Policy reform prioritized over spending plan The primary hang-up was a push by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Democrats to move 16- and 17-year-olds accused of nonviolent crimes out of the adult criminal-justice system. When the various factions got stuck on details, state Sen. Fred Akshar, Republican from Binghamton, blamed New York City Democrats for being "willing to compromise public safety by not holding violent 16- and 17-year-olds accountable for rape and murder."  That characterization infuriated Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. "Unfortunately, some senators have chosen to engage in a fear campaign that falsely accuses Assembly Democrats of coddling murderers and rapists," Heastie fumed in a statement. He had refused to put off "Raise the Age"—a proposal that has been around for years—until after the budget, as Albany normally does with disagreements that threaten on-time passage. With Donald Trump in the White House, Democrats are especially driven to deliver victories to their base.  No one is feeling more pressure to show progressive bona fides than state Sen. Jeffrey Klein's breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, which has been accused by the left of empowering "Trump Republicans" by allying with GOP senators who control the upper chamber. The breakaway caucus threw its full weight behind Raise the Age; legal-services funding and the Dream Act for immigrants; and extending the "millionaires tax."

State Budget doesn’t say a word about whether Mayor de Blasio will retain mayoral control of schools
Their post-release supervision will be decided on a case-by-case basis by a panel of parole and social-services experts.  The Assembly remained in ­Albany to vote on the last budget bills and the budget won’t be passed until the Senate returns to vote on it. Sources say that could happen as early as Sunday.* Cuomo, lawmakers reveal $153.1B state budget deal (NYDN)  * The deal, which includes higher-than-inflation school aid hikes and hundreds of millions of dollars in pork barrel spending, has yet to be approved, with the Assembly hoping to vote early Saturday and the state Senate possibly returning Sunday, The Buffalo News reports.  * The state budget agreements reached so far include no new controls or oversight on how the Cuomo administration spends money on economic development projects, despite allegations of bid-rigging in earlier development projects, The Buffalo News reports.  * Cuomo also said he won a “federal funding response plan” that will give him extraordinary power to cut the budget unilaterally in the face of expected federal aid cuts, though the Senate and Assembly will have 90 days to agree on cuts first, Newsday reports* Assembly Democrats are watching what they say behind closed doors after discovering a mole in their ranks when the governor spilled the secret by sending a text to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie during a private conference meeting, the New York Post reports.

Come on NY Post These Are Not People Who Can Be Trusted There Liars Gov Does Not Have A Spy in the Assembly He Has Dozens 
Cuomo has spy watching Democrats in the state Assembly (NYP)  Gov. Cuomo has a Democratic spy in the state Assembly monitoring what Speaker Carl Heastie says about him and is reporting back — in real time.  Heastie got a jolt in the middle of a closed door Democratic Assembly conference Wednesday when he got a text message from Cuomo saying, “Why are you bad mouthing me?”  The governor’s office had just gotten a text message from a mole about Heastie’s comments during a closed-door of his members on budget negotiations.  Assemblyman Peter Abbate confirmed the incident and called the secret surveillance “despicable.”  “I was there. While he was speaking to us Carl looked down at his phone and then said,`The governor just texted me and said I said bad things about him,’” Abbate recalled. “People laughed.”  But Abbatte said it wrong for a Democratic Assembly member to undermine the leader.  “It’s a disservice to the whole Democratic conference. The person doesn’t belong in the Legislature. A person like that is a creep,” Abbate fumed.  It’s not unusual that some of what is said during private Democratic caucus meeting eventually filters out to the governor and, sometimes, the media.  There are 107 Democrats in the Assembly. Democrat Cuomo is friendly with many of them.  What is rare is that — thanks to smart phones — the word gets back to Cuomo immediately.  “I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Abbate, an Assembly member since 1987.  Heastie’s office brushed off spy gate.  “We’re working on the budget. Couldn’t care less about this,” said Heastie spokesman Michael Wyland.  Cuomo’s office had no immediate comment.* With the state Senate gone and the Assembly miserable, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proffered a possible deal to try to break the deadlock over the state’s late budget, but the outlook for an end to the budget season was far from certain, The New York Times writes.  * Messy as this year’s state budget talks have been, nothing is uglier than Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s disgraceful effort to starve charter schools, blowing up tentative deals with insistence that per-pupil charter funding remain frozen at 2009 levels, the Post writes.

Cuomo Spends As Trump and GOP Congress Cut the State's Dollars
Cuomo's sure not budgeting like he's worried about Trump (NYP) Amid the smoke and confusion surrounding this week’s on-again, off-again budget dance in Albany, Gov. Cuomo made a point well worth repeating.  Noting big federal-policy changes afoot in Washington, Cuomo said Wednesday evening that his top priority was “to make sure we do not overcommit ourselves financially.”  That’s an eminently responsible position. Too bad the governor hasn’t followed his own advice.   Instead, he’s pushed big-bucks commitments to “free” college tuition, a range of porky “economic development” programs and — of all things — another cycle of generous state subsidies for wealthy Hollywood film and TV producers.   Over the next few years, Cuomo’s favored programs will further sap New York’s fiscal resources even as the state confronts the potentially severe budgetary impact of efforts by the Trump administration and a Republican Congress to repeal ObamaCare, rein in Medicaid and reform the tax code.

Groundhog Albany: No Ethics, Voting, Campaign Finance Reform
It appears that Cuomo’s government ethics, campaign finance and voting reform platform he unveiled as part of his State of the State addresses is the only entire category of proposals completely off the table as budget negotiations continue, Gotham Gazette reports.

Budget Gives Cuomo More Power Over PA and Budget 
When Cuomo says 'reform,' he's planning a power grab (NYP) Cuomo scored two significant extensions of his arbitrary power — one of them despite heated warnings that he was overreaching and threats of a court challenge. Cuomo won the Legislature’s backing for a new inspector general with prosecutorial oversight on all downstate transportation projects.  Though pitched as a reform measure, it’s anything but. In reality, it gives Cuomo a special prosecutor — appointed by and answerable only to him — with jurisdiction over the Port Authority (as well as the MTA, which the gov already controls). No, what Cuomo wants isn’t yet another investigator — he wants a cudgel with which to browbeat and threaten Port Authority officials who refuse to comply with his demands.  And now the Legislature’s handed him one.  A new law allows Cuomo’s budget director to submit a revised spending plan if Washington cuts the state’s federal aid. If the Assembly and state Senate don’t unite to pass a counter-proposal within 90 days, Cuomo’s plan wins.  And given how divided the Legislature was during the just-concluded budget fight, that’s essentially giving Cuomo unilateral power to cut spending.  One thing you can be sure of with Cuomo: Whenever he talks reform, it usually winds up as a gubernatorial power grab. MTA Transitadvocates slam Gov. Cuomo for $65 million cut to MTA funding (NYDN) * With President Donald Trump proposing dramatic cuts to transportation funding, the officials charged with building a multibillion-dollar, nationally important rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River have begun to explore private funding mechanisms, Politico New York writes. * Cuomo secured a $65 million cut for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in the state budget, which shifted money from the agency’s operations budget to its repair needs, the Daily News writes.  CHARTER SCHOOLS  The new budget manipulates future aid formulas in a way that one advocate says will cost New York City charter schools some $1.7 billion over the next several years and the state Legislature refuses to raise the charter school cap, Bob McManus writes in the Post.

NYT After the Budget Passes Notices There is No Ethics Reforms 
Despite the recent convictions of the leaders of both the Assembly and the state Senate and indictments against some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s own associates, lawmakers failed to take up a raft of ethics proposals included in the governor’s executive budget, The New York Times reports.

"This year, it was all rhetoric and no action." On Ethics, Cuomo Budget Entered Like a Lion and Emerged Like a Lamb

The Member Items Pork is Flying in This New 2017 State Budget
Oink yet again (NY Torch)  New York’s tentative state budget deal would pour another $385 million into the biggest, murkiest pork-barrel slush fund Albany has ever seen.  The latest version of the fiscal 2018 Capital Projects bill (A.3004D) would further fatten the State and Municipal Facilities Program (SMFP), bringing its total available funding to $1.64 billion, based on $1.925 billion in total appropriations over the last five fiscal years.  That’s a whole lot of bacon, even by New York standards—at a time when Governor Andrew Cuomo says his top priority is “to make sure we don’t overcommit ourselves financially.”  But wait—there’s more. The (apparently) final version of the Capital Projects bill —just passed by the Assembly—also does not include Cuomo’s proposed Executive Budget language boosting the transparency of legislatively sponsored capital expenditures from pork pots other than SMFP.

Cuomo Longs For Corrupt Silver's On Time Passing Of Pork Filled Budget That Does Not Change NY's Anti-Business Climate 
Cuomo's 'Shelly nostalgia' betrays perverse priorities (NYP ED)  Cuomo’s nostalgia for the speakership of Sheldon Silver is painfully telling about the state of New York state.  On the surface, Cuomo was merely admiring Silver’s iron control of the Assembly when he remarked on John Catsimatidis’ show, “They did what he said, period.”  Which no doubt made it easier to reach an on-time budget deal in years past. But Silver’s power also enabled the corruption for which he now faces long years in federal prison — and the same goes for ex-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.  Hmm: Of all that Cuomo sought in this year’s budget deal, the only areas where he got nothing were ethics and transparency reform. (In fact, the Legislature managed more of that in the Silver era.)  Yes, the gov on Monday insisted his talk of Silver was meant as “fact, not praise,” since the Assembly majority is now “more participatory,” but “not as functional.”  Yet Cuomo’s main gripe is the greater difficulty of swinging the same old deals — when the state desperately needs change.
New York remains 49th or 50th on all the state rankings of taxes, business climate and so on — with no serious relief in sight.  For the most part, this year’s budget was $153 billion of “more of the same” — more taxes extended, more cash for pork-barrel slush funds and more of Cuomo’s economic-development spending that consistently fails to truly develop the economy, even in the beleaguered Upstate areas where so much of it is targeted.  And last year the exodus of New Yorkers from upstate exceeded — by over 23,000 people — the population growth in the economically healthier areas around the city.  Even the metro area (including parts of Jersey and Connecticut) has seen more than 1 million people move away since 2010, for a rate of 4.4 percent — the highest outmigration of all the top US population centers.  Yes, foreign arrivals and births have kept the greater NYC area growing — but the rate of growth is slowing.  And the main thing the governor is wistful about is the leadership of Shelly Silver.

State Budget A Legal Contradiction: More Justice No Ethics or Campaign Reforms 
Call it a legal contradiction in the new state budget, the Times Union writes, Cuomo and the Legislature did much to improve justice, but not a thing about the corruption that has plagued state government.*  The Buffalo News: “It took far too long, given the undisputed, crying need, but tucked away in the New York State budget are some powerful criminal justice reforms aimed at preventing the compound tragedies of wrongful conviction. That makes this an especially significant budget.”

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