Friday, April 21, 2017

State Budget 2017 580

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

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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