In another whirlwind session in Albany, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed through a new tax plan that will generate $1.5 billion in much needed additional revenue for the state. I supported the plan because that revenue will make it easier to balance the budget without devastating cuts to education, health care and social services, and because it creates a more progressive tax structure than we would have if we did nothing. But there is also plenty to be critical of, both in terms of the minimal progressive reform to our tax structure and the record-breaking 26 minutes the Legislature and public had to review the contents of the package.
I had the pleasure of conducting an interview with New York State Senator Liz Krueger. Senator Krueger has been in the New York Senate since being elected in a Special Election in 2002. She is currently the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee and is a member of five other committees.
“Ban Fracking Now” was the rallying cry for about a dozen downstate lawmakers before a Nov. 30 hearing on the drilling procedure, held at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, though a few acknowledged the long odds in pressuring Governor Andrew Cuomo to keep the industry out of the state.
ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo first notified the public that he wanted to revise New York’s income tax Sunday afternoon, with e-mail sent to the state’s newspapers, offering them an essay in which he mentioned “comprehensive reform of our tax code.”
Just two days later, the governor announced that he and legislative leaders had agreed on an overhaul of the income tax; that day, he summoned lawmakers back to Albany, and the next day, Wednesday, he invited them to a party before they had seen the measure or voted on it.
If Andrew Cuomo makes adjustments to the state tax code that shift more of the burden from poor people to rich people without necessarily generating any more overall revenue for the cash-strapped government, is it truly progressive?
State Senator Liz Krueger, a liberal Democrat from Manhattan who wrote her master's thesis on tax policy while at the University of Chicago, thinks not.
"The state needs the money," Krueger told me Friday. "I think it's imperative we not cut services for the neediest New Yorkers when demands are skyrocketing."
Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Governor Andrew Cuomo is considering restructuring New York's tax code as he prepares a budget that must close a deficit as large as $3.5 billion after a temporary surcharge on those earning at least $200,000 expires Dec. 31.
Cuomo has said he opposes the state's so-called millionaire's tax. With the levy set to expire at year's end, he's now discussing a broader rethinking.
"What I'm looking at is what do you do with the tax code and how you use the tax code to stimulate jobs," the 53-year- old first-term Democrat said on WGDJ in Albany today.
NEW YORK - A final hearing on proposals to lift a ban on natural gas drilling in New York state drew a crowd of protesters on Wednesday opposing further energy development in the state.
New York City hosted the last of four hearings to discuss the Department of Environmental Conservation's new rules that could open the state's borders next year to a controversial drilling technique known as fracking.
DOWNTOWN — The Department of Education has cautiously reopened the door to a plan that could alleviate overcrowding at a Kips Bay school.
P.S. 116, on East 33rd Street between Second and Third avenues, is currently at 120 percent capacity, according to advocates. To ease the strain, parents and elected officials want the city to start kindergarten classes for nearby P.S. 281, which isn't scheduled to open until 2013, this fall so that some P.S. 116 students can go to school there.
KIPS BAY — Parents and teachers are angry at the Department of Education for rejecting a plan to help ease overcrowding at a Kips Bay school and vowed to continue the fight despite the setback.
P.S. 116, on East 33rd Street between Second and Third avenues, is currently at 120 percent capacity, advocates said. To keep that number from rising, parents and teachers proposed starting kindergarten classes for P.S. 281, a new school currently under construction, before its building at East 35th Street and First Avenue is ready.
The federal food stamp program alone pumps more than $5.3 billion a year into the state, the letter says.
"While the Farm Bill is not up for reauthorization until 2012, we are concerned this critical program may be fast forwarded within the Super Committee deficit process," the lawmakers wrote.
"The Farm Bill needs major reform to better help end hunger through strengthening the SNAP Food Stamps, promoting a health diet, and supporting family farms and a local food economy."
The group says it is "particularly disturbed" by recommendations from the American Farm Bureau Federation that nutrition programs should bear 30% of any deficit cuts made in the Agriculture Committee's jurisdiction
Fifty-four Assembly members and senators have signed on to a letter circulated by the Bipartisan Pro Choice Legislative Caucus urging the Obama administration to interpret the health care reform law such that state-level health care exchanges include all family planning essential community providers in their networks.
The letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Donald Berwick, administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, notes wait times increased most significantly – up to 70 days in the Boston area – for women’s health care providers when Massachusetts implemented its version of health care reform. The lawmakers don’t want to see that replicated here in New York.
Oct. 5 (Bloomberg) -- New York City moved a step closer to completing an 18-year-old plan for a waterfront esplanade around Manhattan after the United Nations Development Corp. agreed to pay $73 million for land to build offices, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
The transaction would provide cash to fill a one-mile gap between East 38th and 60th Streets, allowing runners, bicyclists and walkers to use a waterside pathway from the Hudson River in Washington Heights south to the Battery, and then north along the East River past Wall Street to 125th Street. Currently cyclists and pedestrians have to leave the path and use First Avenue and other streets on that midtown stretch.
For years now, New York City has been eager to fill a 22-block gap along the East River in the greenway that encircles most of Manhattan along the water’s edge. And for years, the United Nations has been considering ways to increase its office space in the city.
There is now a potential solution to both problems. The plan, strongly promoted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, would involve an agreement to provide land for a new United Nations tower and generate money for the city to build an esplanade from 38th to 60th streets.
KIPS BAY — The final public forum to debate the proposed East River Greenway project drew a hefty crowd of more than 300 people on Tuesday night with residents still divided over the best fate for the project.
Most of those present testified in favor of the deal, which could bring to life a project that has been decades in the making: filling in the gaping hole in the East River esplanade from East 38th to 60th streets.
Nearly three months after Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers forged an agreement on legislation to set up a health-insurance exchange in the state, the GOP-controlled Senate has yet to indicate whether it plans to return to Albany to vote on the bill. States are required to set up health-care exchanges to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act.
The measure passed the Assembly at during the last week of session in June, but it was removed from the Senate agenda because some Republicans said they oppose “Obamacare” and thus would vote no on the bill. Senate leaders said it could be taken up later in the year. The Senate has not returned since June, and it’s unclear whether the bill will be voted on.
KATONAH - With the Cuomo administration moving quickly to allow hydrofracking in parts of New York, maybe the industry doesn't think they need to court state senators.
No industry representatives chose to show up at a public hearing Tuesday chaired by a Republican Conservative, flanked by two progressive Democrats.
"Before we allow a multi-billion dollar industry that's on the gateway of New York's border to come in here and profit off of our land and air resources these questions better get answered," said Senator Greg Ball (R - Patterson).
MANHATTAN — Upper East Siders will be raising their voices once again against the proposed garbage transfer station on the East River at 91st Street.
East Side elected officials, including Rep. Carolyn Maloney, state Sen. Liz Krueger, Assemblyman Micah Kellner and City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin will lead Saturday's 10:30 a.m. rally on the corner of 92nd Street and York Avenue.
They're hoping to remind residents to register their opposition to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before its public comment period for the permit for the Department of Sanitation's application for the trash facility ends on Aug. 24.
Governor Cuomo signed into law new ethics oversight legislation, but some say the measure is flawed, and that there is still work to be done to fight corruption in government.
Cuomo signed the ethics law without fanfare or a public ceremony. In a statement, he touted the new stricter requirements for disclosure of lawmakers' outside income, a 14 member ethics panel empowered to probe charges of corruption, and the elimination of pensions for elected officials in the future who are convicted of a felony. Cuomo called it a "major step forward in restoring the people's trust in government and changing the way Albany does business".