Special Pre K
call to arms
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, joined by a large contingent of the City Council, slammed State Senator Dean Skelos this afternoon for threatening to block a vote on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature proposal to increase taxes on the rich to fund universal prekindergarten.
Put a Spell on You
Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a rare display of anger, today railed against Albany lawmakers, slamming Senate co-leader Dean Skelos for refusing to bring to vote the mayor’s signature plan to tax the rich to fund universal pre-k and sounding a call to clergy leaders to mobilize on its behalf.
“The gauntlet’s been thrown in Albany. We will respond,” the mayor told religious leaders and elected officials gathered at the Bethany Baptist Church in Brooklyn, at a breakfast organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton to support the universal pre-K funding plan.
Law & Order
Governor Andrew Cuomo and one of the state’s top legislative leaders don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on corruption metaphors.
Dean Skelos, the head of the State Senate’s Republican caucus expressed concerns yesterday that Mr. Cuomo’s recently-launched Moreland Commission, which will go after corruption in Albany, would amount to a “witch hunt” against sitting lawmakers. But asked about Mr. Skelos’s phrasing today, Mr. Cuomo questioned its applicability.
Up in Smoke
After a series of New York officials were arrested and charged with corruption last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo says he has the solution–or at least the first step. Accordingly, at press conference earlier this afternoon, Mr. Cuomo unveiled a legislative package aimed at curbing the problem.
“Over the past few days, there have been several charges brought against public officials; they span city and state government,” he began. “And they paint a truly ugly picture of our political landscape. I’d like to say that this is an unprecedented situation, that public corruption is a new problem. But it isn’t and, in many ways, that’s what makes it worse.”
While a growing number of states have been legalizing medical and even recreational use of marijuana, the popular plant remains illegal in New York. However, an upcoming pair of new medical marijuana bills in the Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of the drug may signal the Empire State is on its way to looser marijuana regulations.
As liberals rejoiced over the parts of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address that promised tougher gun laws and campaign finance reform, the State Senate’s Republican Leader Dean Skelos released a video hinting at a legislative battle to come when he said he would not support the public financing of campaigns.
“I do not support taxpayer dollars to fund political campaigns,” Mr. Skelos said after explaining that Republicans did back increasing “transparency” and “accountability” in the campaign process. “If the public campaign finance system in New York City was applied statewide and to legislative campaigns, it would cost taxpayers more than 200 million dollars. That’s money that would be much better spent on property tax relief or investing more money in rural upstate school districts and underperforming school districts around the state.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo threw down the gauntlet on the new State Senate leadership coalition between the Republicans and the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference with a stern warning for them to support all of his agenda items that he has declared his “litmus test” for the group on Fred Dicker’s radio show this morning. Mr. Cuomo drew his line in the sand when the host asked about indications the new coalition might be hesitant to back all of the agenda items on the governor’s list. Mr. Cuomo, who has taken some heat from progressives for not doing more to oppose the coalition and back Democratic control of the Senate chamber, made it clear his tolerance for the group will cease if they don’t pass his test.
“If that’s true, then we’re going to have a problem Fred and we’re going to have a problem sooner rather than later,” said the governor.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has made enacting campaign finance reform part of his “litmus test” for judging the new coalition in the New York State Senate. Based on their recent statements, it seems he may only get half of the reforms he wanted from the new merger the Independent Democratic Conference and the State Senate Republicans.
It’s a particularly wild week in Albany, and in a surprise announcement, five members of of the “Independent Democratic Conference” have joined their Republican counterparts to form a “historic bipartisan partnership,” even as the Democrats protest the situation by pointing to their on-paper majority in the chamber. The IDC, whose numbers expanded today with Democratic Senator Malcolm Smith joining their ranks, had hinted at a bipartisan coalition of some kind, but only now have the details of this arrangement emerged.
Although much of the attention has been focused on New York City, millions of Long Islanders were also caught in Hurricane Sandy’s path, with tens of thousands of them still without electricity or a regular supply of gasoline. In a statement sent out this afternoon by Nassau and Suffolk counties’ entire delegation in the State Senate, the local officials cried out for additional federal assistance. In doing so, they repeatedly raised the specter of Hurricane Katrina, the disaster that infamously marred former President George W. Bush’s administration.
“We are facing a massive, Katrina-style disaster here on Long Island that will only get worse unless all of the resources of the federal government are at our disposal. Incredibly, that hasn’t happened yet,” Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos declared in the release, the title of which warned of “More Death and Destruction.”