Friday, April 4, 2014

Political Friday Headlines

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, a Staten Island Republican, is being mentioned as a possible running mate for GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino.

State Board of Elections commissioner Doug Kellner said the board was not consulted about administering a public financing system, and was not given additional resources to carry out the process.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says he was completely left out of discussions about the financing system, which only impacts his office, but also believes there’s “still time to fix it.”

Rumors began flying in the state’s information technology community about chief information officer Brian Digman after a job posting went online for his job.

New York is forging ahead with its casino plans even though gambling revenue is down across the country and other states are facing a saturation point with local gaming facilities.

Dozens of environmental activists showed up to crash a Hudson Valley fundraiser for Cuomo and protest against hydrofracking. He avoided them – and reporters – by using a side entrance.

“My sense is if you’re saying we’re going back to having private funding for this, that’s basically what we’ve already got, so the governor isn’t doing anything,” said Robert Scott, the executive director of Cornell University’s Prison Education Program.

In his second major address since taking office, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio next week will assess his administration’s accomplishments and discuss his agenda moving forward.

A federal court upheld New York City’s ban on religious services in public-school buildings in a 2-1 ruling on Thursday, but de Blasio signaled that he may change the Department of Education’s policy.

De Blasio as he approaches the 100-day mark: “I think the sheer math of the job — the number of items that come, and the speed with which they come up — is something that would surprise anyone…The good news is, you get used to it pretty damn quick.”

De Blasio described Albany to pre-K students as a “strange and mysterious land.”

Top Cuomo aide Larry Schwartz said New York City officials waited until the final hours of state budget negotiations to ask for additional speed enforcement cameras.  LINK

How The Press Missed The Obamacare Comeback Story

Just three weeks ago the Associated Press reported the Obama administration needed "something close to a miracle" in order to "meet its goal" of enrolling six million people into private health care plans via the Affordable Care Act before the looming April 1 deadline arrived.

The article's premise was telling in that it focused on what the political fallout would be if Obamacare sign-ups fell short. Noticeably absent was any analysis of what an Obamacare deadline success would look like or what the political implications would be. The scenario of success simply wasn't considered plausible or worth addressing.

Of course, we now know that as many as seven million people enrolled for private coverage through the exchanges established by Obama's health care law.  Thanks to an amazing consumer surge in the month of March, the seven million mark, routinely thought of last year as completely unattainable, and often dismissed this year as not possible, was  met.

And because of a provision of the Obamacare law, approximately three million young people have been added to their parents' private insurance plans. Meaning, more than 10 million people have used Obamacare to secure health coverage. The new law, noted the Los Angeles Times, "has spurred the largest expansion in health coverage in America in half a century." The paper reported, "At least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gotten health insurance since Obamacare started."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Supreme Court Has Struck Down Overall Campaign Contribution Limits

The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the aggregate campaign contribution limits, thereby opening the door to even more money in the political system.

The 5-4 ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission was penned by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by justices Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia. The decision relies heavily on the assertion in the 2010 Citizens United ruling that influence and access are not a corruption concern.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a separate opinion that agreed to strike the aggregate limits, but also called for an end to the entire campaign finance reform system. Full Post

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sunday, March 30, 2014

NJ bridge scandal probe

G.O.P. Bid to Limit Voting in Swing States

Pivotal swing states under Republican control are embracing significant new electoral restrictions on registering and voting that go beyond the voter identification requirements that have caused fierce partisan brawls.

The bills, laws and administrative rules — some of them tried before — shake up fundamental components of state election systems, including the days and times polls are open and the locations where people vote.
Republicans in Ohio and Wisconsin this winter pushed through measures limiting the time polls are open, in particular cutting into weekend voting favored by low-income voters and blacks, who sometimes caravan from churches to polls on the Sunday before election.
Democrats in North Carolina are scrambling to fight back against the nation’s most restrictive voting laws, passed by Republicans there last year. The measures, taken together, sharply reduce the number of early voting days and establish rules that make it more difficult for people to register to vote, cast provisional ballots or, in a few cases, vote absentee.
Full Post

State Budget Deal Reached

With the broad components of his ethics package in the 2014-15 state budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a conference call on Saturday he would end the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption if the measures are approved.

“If this package is adopted, then I would end the Moreland Commission,” Cuomo said.
The $137.9 billion budget would create new penalties for bribery and defrauding the government, as well as the office of an independent enforcement counsel within the state Board of Elections.
Cuomo created the commission last July after he and lawmakers failed to reach any agreement on ethics legislation following a spate of unrelated corruption scandals that saw three state lawmakers arrested.

The commission had subpoenaed lawmakers and their outside business interests for more information on their activities.

The Legislature responded by challenging the commission’s authority to do so in state court, noting that such a move violated the separation of powers.

The legal arguments surrounding the Moreland Commission, however, would be rendered moot should the ethics agreement pass.

The commission in December issued a preliminary report recommending a host of ethics reforms, with several members dissenting on whether the public financing of political campaigns should be included.

Sen. Jeff Klein, meanwhile, says he will continue to push for a broader public financing than a pilot program for the state comptroller’s race.

“More needs to be done. We still need to get real campaign finance reform,” Klein said in an interview. “I think we’re working on a system. I’m very optimistic we can come to an agreement.”
Asked about Klein’s position on the public financing component, Cuomo indicated the pilot program was the best outcome, considering Republican opposition.

“The political sentiment in the Senate does not support a more robust public finance system,” he said.

Full Post

Saturday, March 29, 2014

County Budget

 For several years, the Democrat legislators have been saying that if County Administrator Phil Church continues to play the shell game with the budget, that the day will come when the other shoe drops. Well, it would seem the shoe is starting to fall. 

 Church, according to county sources, inflates the revenue side of the budget and deflates the expense side. This false budgeting keeps the tax rate down until legislators run out of other accounts to raid. This is one of the reasons we hear Mark See is leaving. Apparently, no one heeded his warning. Probably because most of the legislators are clueless when it comes to the budget.

 Yesterday, Sheriff Moe Todd had to request $500,000 for his jail overcrowding problem- the same problem that seems to crop up every year.  Church lowballed the expense side and only budgeted $100,000.  When the jail meets capacity, Todd has to transport and house inmates at other county facilities and it comes at a steep cost.

Read more at:

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Issa and Cummings clash

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Nassau Dem Chair To Gov Candidates: Reject Indy Party Line

Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs is calling on the Democratic and Republican nominees for governor to refuse to run on the state Independence Party line in hopes that it will lose the ballot position that provides its leaders with what Jacobs called “oversized and undue clout.”
“The fact that the Independence Party genuinely stands for nothing, supports virtually no political activity and appears to exist only for the financial benefit of its leadership, while distasteful, does not necessarily lead us to take action against it. It is the corrupt activities by its leadership that, I believe, have crossed that line,” Jacobs wrote in a letter to state Democratic Party co-chairs Keith Wright and Stephanie Miner. “Dealing with this corrupt party requires no change in the law – only political courage. I urge the State Committee to work toward an agreement whereby the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor mutually and jointly agree that they will not accept the Independence Party’s nomination.”
If both the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor reject the the Independence Party line, it could end up all but starving the organization out of existence. If a party’s gubernatorial candidate does not receive at least 50,000 votes on its ballot line every four yers, it loses its official status – not to mention its relevance.
Jacobs, a former state Democratic chairman himself, said that while the state’s other minor parties with ballot lines – Working Families, Conservative and Green – represent “clear political viewpoints,” the Independence Party exists largely to improve the financial status of its leaders.
Unemployment RatesJan.
St. Lawrence9.58.111.4
New York State7.36.69.1

County Highway Department Audit

It's no secret that there's a lot of tension within the county highway department. Last summer, new union officers were elected. That triggered some child play and tattling.
 When the new regime took over, they were kind of curious as to how the union's money (dues paid by employees) was spent.
 So, they called for an audit. Not all of the records were available, but what they did have, left some questions.

Monday, March 10, 2014


featuring NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli
March 14 6:30 pm Bridie Manor
Tickets $25. For reservations
or call 564-5630 .

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Republican State Sen. Andrew Lanza Considers Endorsing Democrat Gov. Cuomo

On the day Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino announced he was running for governor on Wednesday, state Sen. Andrew Lanza, a Staten Island Republican, said he might cross party lines to endorse Gov. Cuomo.

"I have a very good relationship of working together with this governor," Lanza told the Staten Island Advance Wednesday. "We have worked very closely on a number of things. He has worked with me in delivering for my constituents. That is certainly something I will factor in and take into account."

Full Post

Gov. Cuomo unveils $6 million in projects giving more access to outdoors enthusiasts

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today unveiled 50 proposed new outdoor access projects to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and other outdoor enthusiasts to 380,000 acres of untapped State-owned lands across the state.

The new access points will allow for more than $6 million in projects for access to hunting and fishing, boat launches, and new hiking opportunities. Six projects are scheduled to take place in Central New York.

Full Post

Ticket Sales Legal ?

Breaking news...
 This just in:
Shortly after noon today, City of Fulton Republican Chairman Mark Aldasch, Sr. was allegedly selling tickets to an upcoming Republican function inside the City of Fulton Municipal Building. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Christie camp held Sandy relief money hostage, mayor alleges

Two senior members of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration warned a New Jersey mayor earlier this year that her town would be starved of hurricane relief money unless she approved a lucrative redevelopment plan favored by the governor, according to the mayor and emails and personal notes she shared with msnbc.

The mayor, Dawn Zimmer, hasn’t approved the project, but she did request $127 million in hurricane relief for her city of Hoboken – 80% of which was underwater after Sandy hit in October 2012. What she got was $142,000 to defray the cost of a single back-up generator plus an additional $200,000 in recovery grants. 


Mayor: Christie camp held Sandy money

In an exclusive interview, Zimmer broke her silence and named Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Richard Constable, Christie’s community affairs commissioner, as the two officials who delivered messages on behalf of a governor she had long supported.

It’s not fair for the governor to hold Sandy funds hostage for the city of Hoboken” because he wants support for one private developer, she said Saturday on UP w/ Steve Kornacki.

Constable and Christie – through spokespersons – deny Zimmer’s claims.

“Mayor Zimmer has been effusive in her public praise of the Governor’s Office and the assistance we’ve provided in terms of economic development and Sandy aid,” Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak wrote in a statement.  “What or who is driving her only now to say such outlandishly false things is anyone’s guess.”

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Jimmy Fallon And Bruce Springsteen Vs. "Gov. Chris Christie's Fort Lee, NJ Traffic Jam"

Left Seeks Valesky Challenger

Fed up with what they see as the IDC’s inability to deliver on its promise that a power-sharing deal with the GOP would result in passage of key progressive agenda items, Central New York liberals are quietly seeking a primary challenger to Syracuse Democrat Sen. David Valesky.

Multiple sources confirmed that Valesky – the lone upstate member of the IDC (Sen. David Carlucci hails from Rockland County) – is in the liberal crosshairs, though efforts to find someone willing to run against him in September (or June, if the Legislature manages to agree on moving the state primary date to coincide with congressional contests) have so far not borne fruit.

At least two names have been floated as potential primary opponents to Valesky: Former Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll, currently serving as president and chief executive officer of the state Environmental Facilities Corp.; and Assemblyman Sam Roberts.

Driscoll issued the following statement through a spokesman: “I have not been been approached on this matter, and I’m solely committed to the important work we do at the Environmental Facilities Corporation.”

Roberts did not return a message left at his legislative office seeking comment.

A Democratic source said Roberts is actively seeking someone to take on Valesky, though he is not likely to run himself, since he would have to give up a safe seat to do so. “He has been talking to a lot of people lately,” the source said of Roberts. “He’s really pissed, but not pissed enough to run on his own.”  Continue Reading

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Christie asked Cuomo to back off investigating Fort Lee. In mid-December.

In what seems like ages ago in the Chris Christie Gina Close-a-your-bridgeda scandal saga, the WSJ reported something that looked exceptionally fishy at the time; that Christie had talked with Andrew Cuomo and asked him to get Patrick Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, to back off investigating the Fort Lee bridge closure.

Mr. Christie, a Republican, complained in a private phone call to Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, that Patrick Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was pressing too hard to get to the bottom of why the number of toll lanes onto the bridge from Fort Lee, N.J. was cut from three to one in early September, according to this person. The lane closures occurred without notice to local authorities, officials have said, and snarled traffic for a week in the small borough on the Hudson River bluffs.
According to the WSJ story, that phone call was the week of December 12.

Yeah. Kind of makes Christies little press "performance piece" this morning look like the firehose of lies that it actually was.

Among the mounting stream of evidence that shows Christie knew damn well what was going on, this one would seem to be the final nail in the coffin.

And it's very easily proven ... if Governor Cuomo has the backbone to be a proper partisan and put his boot on Christie's neck.

He doesn't have to do it personally. Heck, the WSJ would be HAPPY to report the facts if they just got the nod ... they're the ones with the connections to "a person familiar with the matter," which by the sound of it has to be someone in Cuomo's office anyway.

Ball is in your court, Andy. End Christie's political career.

Friday, January 3, 2014

What on Earth is Going on with the Legislative Calendar?

Well, this much we do know…it’s not out yet.

Every year, usually in December, the Legislative Calendar is released for the upcoming session. This gives everyone who needs to…well, you know…plan, a chance to look over the session days and make necessary personal and work arrangements for the next six months. But the month of December has now come and gone and there is still no calendar from the Senate and the Assembly. Here is a sampling of some of the responses I got from the various legislative spokespeople when I asked about a possible delay:

“No delay,” “There are no issues,” “Sometimes the calendar will be issued earlier, sometimes later,” “Don’t know, but it’s not unusual,” “there is no delay,” and my personal favorite…the calendar will be released “in due course.”

Right, and I suppose these are not the droids I am looking for either. When asked for concrete examples of when the calendar has been this late or later, none were provided. In fairness, the holidays were a little weird this year, with New Year’s Day falling on a Wednesday. So, one could make the argument that this week is still sort of a holiday. Although Inauguration Day, and the various statements of support for the new NYC Mayor that were released by legislative leaders kind of poke a hole in that theory.

Some insiders have speculated that the Senate Coalition can’t seem to come to terms. Another pesky issue is the attempt by Democrats to move up the State Primary to June in order to align with the Federal Primary on June 24th. Republicans have voiced opposition to this, because June is often a very busy month in Albany, and legislators would likely have to be in district campaigning instead of up in Albany legislating. There was a proposal to wrap up legislative business by the end of May in order to afford lawmakers the opportunity to campaign in preparation for a June Primary, but Republicans would have to agree to the new date first. Could that be causing a delay? It’s possible. But for now…officially, at least…there is no delay. So stop asking. POST

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Majority Coalition Didn’t Deliver On Ethics

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins blamed the coalition of Republicans and four independent Democrats for the failure to pass an ethics package in 2013 as well as a compromised version of the minimum wage.

Stewart-Cousins, a Yonkers Democrat, told Brian Lehrer on WNYC on Thursday that the power retained by GOP lawmakers in the Senate — who have a numerical minority in the chamber — prevented the passage of an ethics measure following a spate of corruption arrests.

“They have this power sharing agreement that disallows what the other doesn’t want in getting to the floor,” Stewart-Cousins said. “Despite that the fact the majority of people wanted to see things happen, because of this relationship we couldn’t see something like ethics reform. I mean, everyone had an ethics package. You would think certainly obviously New Yorkers are looking to see some accountability and responsiveness from the New York state Legislature.”

Still, as Gannett recently pointed out, there isn’t uniform support in the mainstream Senate Democratic conference for public financing (the proposal is on the IDC platform, the Democratic conference’s platform and in the Assembly Democrats’ ethics package). POST

Koch Brothers Launch $2.5 Million Ad Blitz Against Democrats, Obamacare

Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group backed by the Koch brothers, unveiled a TV ad blitz Thursday attacking vulnerable Senate Democrats over the implementation of Obamacare.

The group launched a $2.5 million ad buy targeting Sens. Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mary Landrieu (La.) and Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), all Democrats facing tough reelection battles in 2014. The three ads follow a similar theme, zeroing in on some of the struggles the health care law has faced in the early stages of its rollout -- namely President Barack Obama's pledge that individuals could keep their current plans under Obamacare, which later turned out to be untrue.

"It's the lie of the year," the narrator says in the ad targeting Shaheen. Each spot also notes that the senators in question reiterated Obama's "If you like your plan, you can keep it" promise. The woman appearing in the Hagan-directed ad is Sheila Salter, a small business owner in North Carolina who recently said she was so stressed out by Obamacare that it was causing her to drink. The ads will run for three weeks in major media markets across North Carolina, Louisiana and New Hampshire.

Americans for Prosperity released a similar set of ads against two House Democrats last week. The broader campaign is consistent with the overarching Republican strategy to once again focus on Obamacare in the 2014 midterm elections. Conservatives have already seized upon some of the law's initial failures, even though more than 2 million Americans successfully enrolled in the health care exchanges for benefits that went into effect Wednesday.

While Hagan and Landrieu are considered more vulnerable running for reelection in conservative states, Republicans are hopeful that a potential challenge to Shaheen from former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) would make the New Hampshire Senate race more competitive. Brown said recently he has "nothing to announce" with respect to his political career but confirmed his move to New Hampshire last month, citing personal reasons. POST

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The RNC Wrote A 100-Page Autopsy, But Apparently Nobody Read It

Earlier this year, the Republican National Committee put together a team of experts to pore over what lessons there were to learn from the GOP's electoral defeats in 2012. Together, they compiled what is officially termed the "Growth And Opportunity Project," but what has become colloquially known -- due to its thanatological study of the corpse of Mitt Romney's campaign -- as the "RNC autopsy." Call it what you like, the RNC insisted that it was "the most comprehensive post-election review" ever undertaken, and at 100 pages, we're not inclined to quibble.

Over the course of those 100 pages, the report’s authors offered up a number of urgent “bottom line” thoughts on the state of the party after 2012. One of the most firmly stated admonitions cautioned against insular thinking: “The Republican Party has to stop talking to itself.”

Indeed, that’s solid advice for anyone who’s been long trapped in the bubble of “This Town.” But the question, one year on from the publication of this report, is whether or not the Republican Party has started listening to its own advice.

Those who produced the after-action report definitely took a soup-to-nuts approach, devoting their energies to matters both philosophical and practical. The RNC got deep into the weeds on how to operate better in the modern campaign finance environment, took on the tremendous deficits the party endured in terms of campaign technology, and made a critical dissection of the party's entire primary process. There was also tremendous emphasis on reaching out to demographic groups that have lately found it all too easy to spurn the GOP's advances.


Gov. Cuomo: For Years 'The North Country Felt Like a Stepchild to Albany'

Snowmobiling enthusiasts from across New York State and local representatives joined Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Monday for his announcement of an international ad campaign to promote two of the north country’s most popular winter activities.

The governor announced a $4.5 million state-funded campaign, largely aimed to attract international tourists visiting New York City and downstate residents to upstate’s ski areas and 10,000 miles of snowmobile trails, will kick off Jan. 1 in print, radio and television media outlets across the globe.

Mr. Cuomo, who made his announcement at the Ridge View Inn, 6912 Bardo Road, claimed the state legislature had not emphasized northern New York’s recreational outdoor opportunities for years.

“The north country felt like a stepchild to Albany,” he said. “They just didn’t get the attention, they didn’t get the respect that they deserved frankly from the state government.”

That was, Mr. Cuomo said, until last year when the state invested millions back into its “I Love NY” campaign.

“Last year the legislature had the intelligence, I believe, to really invest in tourism, spend more money on the “I Love NY” campaign, run that campaign and expose our assets,” he said.  “We spent about $60 million on a promotional campaign and we have increased tourism this year 7 percent.”

One of the advertisements displayed beside Mr. Cuomo Monday featured a skier with the Manhattan skyline in the background. The governor said the advertisements, and similar ones, will greet commuters on Metropolitan Transit Authority-operated systems including its buses and subway system.  LINK to STORY

Governor Cuomo Launches Ad Campaign to Promote Snowmobiling in New York

Albany, NY (December 30, 2013)

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today travelled to the Tug Hill region in the North Country to launch “I [Snowmobile] NY,” the first part of a print, television, radio and digital, nationwide, $4.5 million winter tourism campaign aimed at promoting snowmobiling, skiing, and other recreational activities in Upstate New York. To view a sample of the print ads, click here.

“This season, we welcome visitors from around the world to experience winter in Upstate New York,” Governor Cuomo said. “The North Country region is unmatched in its natural beauty and now offers new recreational trails for snowmobiling and a wide variety of other activities for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages to explore. As one of the biggest and growing employers in the state, the tourism industry continues to play a significant role in boosting our economy. With our new ad campaign, we want more New Yorkers and tourists to come visit regions like Tug Hill to see what winter adventures await in the Empire State.”

The print and digital “I [Snowmobile] NY” ads will begin running after January 1, 2014, in national newspapers and trade magazines.

Earlier this month, the State released a report showing that the number of visitors to New York increased by 8.8 million, a 4.2% increase in 2013. In addition, the industry is projected to generate $7.7 billion in state and local taxes with direct spending expected to reach $61.3 billion, up 7% from 2012 and double the national average. The industry is also projected to add 24,800 jobs by the end of the year, a 3.1% increase from 2012, also double the national average. In total, leisure and hospitality is projected to finish the year with 818,700 jobs, making tourism the third fastest growing job sector in New York.

There are 10,300 miles of snowmobile trails throughout New York—that’s more than Vermont, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, and more than Massachusetts and Michigan combined. Since 2011, the state has spent more than $11 million for trail maintenance and development, an investment that has helped generate $868 million in economic revenue. Approximately 90,000 New York households snowmobile.

The “I [Snowmobile] NY” ad campaign continues Governor Cuomo’s unprecedented commitment to promoting tourism and supporting economic development in the North Country in order to generate revenue and create jobs. Over the last three years, the Governor has focused on rebuilding the North Country tourism economy through actions such as:

• Presiding over the state’s largest land purchase—69,000 acres of the former Finch Pruyn and other Nature Conservancy lands throughout the Adirondacks
•Announcing his intention to approve the land classification for 42,000 acres recently added to the Adirondack Park that would enable creation of new snowmobile connector trails on formerly inaccessible land.
•Providing $12 million in state funding for vital repairs along the eight-mile Whiteface Mountain Veterans’ Memorial Highway, in Wilmington, New York.
•Establishing a partnership between the State, Clarkson University, and the Trudeau Institute to form a world-class biotech enterprise

In addition, this summer, Governor Cuomo held various high-profile events to highlight locations in Upstate New York as world-class tourism destinations. On July 21 and 22, the Governor hosted the first ever Adirondack Challenge, a two day festival with a whitewater challenge featuring the Governor, New York officials, and members of the media. On August 8, the Governor also attended the BassMasters Tournament in the Thousand Islands, which drew more than 34,100 people to the four day event. There, he announced that the 2014 BassMaster Elite Series will return to New York in 2014, including the “Governor’s Challenge,” a fishing competition featuring the Governor, elected officials from New York State and some of the biggest names in professional fishing to highlight the state’s many fishing and vacation opportunities.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Federal Judge Approves June Primary Date

As expected, U.S. District Court Judge Gary Sharpe on Thursday designated the fourth Tuesday in June as the date to hold Congressional primaries in New York.

The designation was done to comply with the federal MOVE Act, a measure that requires military and overseas voters have timely access to absentee ballots.

But the designation of the June primary by Sharpe only applies to elections on the federal level.

State lawmakers in 2012 were not able to come to an agreement on a primary date, and Sharpe designated the fourth Tuesday in June as the day to hold primaries for House races and the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Democrats had pushed for a June date as well, while Republicans in the Senate backed an August primary that they say would have given them more time to collect petition signatures.

When taking into account the Republican presidential primary in April, the resulting impasse creating a third primary date for state and local races, which defaulted to Sept. 13 (state lawmakers could agree on moving the primary date from the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks to the Thursday of that week).

Once again, Assembly Democrats are pushing a bill that would create a June primary for state races as well; it remains unclear if the measure will be approved by the Senate.

(h/t to Jimmy Vilekind at Capital for flagging this).

Cuomo: A $2B Surplus Possible

A $2 billion surplus is possible should the state stick to a 2 percent spending cap in the upcoming budget due to be approved by April 1, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a radio interview on Thursday.

Cuomo, who plans to push for a tax cut next year, has said in the past that there is an “essence of a surplus” in the upcoming budget.

But in an interview with WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom, Cuomo pegged that surplus for the first time at the estimated $2 billion figure.

A tax commission co-led by former Gov. George Pataki and ex-Comptroller Carl McCall recommended about $2 billion in cuts over the next several years, including a two-year property tax freeze.

“There will be about a two billion dollar surplus. If you don’t stick to the 2 percent, the surplus won’t exist,” Cuomo said.

The last three state budgets have stuck to a voluntary 2 percent cap on spending increases. The state Division of Budget projects a $1.74 billion deficit if planned spending increases take effect.

Cuomo also brushed off questions as to whether the extra money should be used to provide more funding for areas like education, which is sure to be pushed for by lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session.

The governor insisted education spending — one of the costliest items the state pays for next to health care — will be increasing anyway.

“In that 2 percent you would probably have about a 4 percent increase in education funding,” Cuomo said. “Four percent in this environment is a lot of money. Nothing is going up 4 percent.”

He also pushed back against the criticism from the right and the left on the tax commission report, saying the issue is polarizing for interest groups who either want deeper cuts for businesses or increases in taxes on the wealthy.

“When you say taxes it is binary. You have people who always want to raise taxes, people who always want to lower taxes,” Cuomo said. “It’s Yankees or Boston Red Sox. You get strong opinions and they won’t change.”

He added, “We want to be smart and wise and prudent and we would be investing. We have also learned in this state that more money does not necessarily mean more help for everyone.”


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Gov. Cuomo Headed To Washington In Search Of Campaign Dollars

Gov. Cuomo’s support for public financing of election campaigns isn’t deterring him from raking in big bucks for his re-election effort.

Just days after his birthday fundraiser with singer Billy Joel , the governor will head to Washington D.C.  Monday for another big-money fundraiser, according to a story in the Buffalo News. The breakfast fundraiser will take place the G Street offices of The Podesta Group and is expected to include  some of the city’s most powerful insiders and lobbyists.

The fundraisers come after the release of the Moreland Commission’s preliminary report which blasted the state’s political fundraising system and called for public financing.

"It's amazing the Governor even found the time to review the Moreland Commission's report calling for campaign finance reform with his demanding fundraising schedule," quipped an Albany insider. "The Governor has had a pretty full week -- trash the Legislature on Tuesday, throw a big bucks birthday bash with the Piano Man and now he's jetting off to DC to raise money with lobbyists. He's setting quite an example."

Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group said Cuomo’s fundraising has become a “hallmark” of his re-election campaign.

“Gov. Cuomo is all about raising as money as possible to fill up his war chest to scare off potential challengers,” Horner said. “He is raising money hand over fist and he is getting a lot of his cash from those with business before the government.”

Horner, however, stopped short of criticizing the governor fundraising efforts.

“We have never asked reformers to unilaterally disarm,” Horner said. "The question we ask the governor is will he put his considerable muscle behind and effort to change the rules and we will know that soon enough."