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By far the most terrifying film you will ever see.


Legislators Gear Up For Tough Budget Fight As Fiscal Outlook Worsens While some legislators advocate broad cuts, others push for structural reforms BY ANDREW J. HAWKINS n 2009, the Legislature passed a tax hike on wealthier New Yorkers, reformed both the state’s pension and public authorities systems and approved a series of one-shots and temporary revenue generators designed to compensate for the state’s billion-dollar budget shortfall—all while sparing serious cuts to the health and education programs. But this year, with the economy still struggling to recover and federal stimulus money scheduled to expire, legislators and budget experts are predicting that the axe will finally fall on many state programs. And, according to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, everything is on the table. “The reality is that more spending cuts will be necessary,” Silver declared in a post-State of the State speech statement. “No program or policy will be exempted from consideration.” In the past, though, legislators have shown their willingness to slough off serious cuts in favor of short-term revenue generators, like asset sales and authority sweeps, in the hopes that the economy will rebound and revenues will return. Last year, the Democratic-controlled Senate balked at slashing health and education spending, which together comprise two-thirds of the state’s budget and are closely guarded by politically potent interest groups. In the face of a $6.8 billion budget deficit this fiscal year, and a $44 billion gap over the next five years, some in the Legislature are saying they are wising up to the state’s bleak fiscal outlook and the enormous task ahead of them as they attempt to bring the state’s finances in balance. “People are starting to understand that, yes, it’s a recession, and a damn serious one,” said State Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat and vice chair of the Finance Committee. “A damn, damn serious one.” If the government continues to spend more than it earns in revenue, Krueger said, credit agencies could lower the state’s credit rating. This could adversely affect loan procurement and interest payments for future bondholders. But already there is dissent within the ranks over spending reductions. After the passage of last year’s deficit reduction plan, Senate Finance Chair Carl Kruger boasted that the Legislature was able to avoid making significant cuts to health and education spending, despite Gov. David Paterson’s demands for reductions. This year, Kruger pledged to continue




his efforts to block major spending reductions. “We don’t solve it by cutting, we don’t solve it by taxing, we don’t solve it by fees,” Kruger said. “We solve it by reform.” The Brooklyn Democrat, who leads the dissident Amigo faction in the Senate,

“We don’t solve it by cutting, we don’t solve it by taxing, we don’t solve it by fees,” said Senate Finance chair Carl Kruger. “We solve it by reform.” said his priorities in the upcoming session include consolidating local school districts, reducing the number of outside consulting contracts and reforming the state’s bloated Medicaid system. He also plans on taking a close look at state employee payrolls, as well as how gov-

ernment agencies purchase goods and services and how the state manages its information technology services. And, as always, there will be the senator’s ongoing quest to collect taxes from cigarette sales on Indian reservations. “The list goes on and on,” Kruger said. Budget experts are warning, though, that even with an election looming in November, nothing short of serious spending cuts will suffice. “The time on the clock has run down and they don’t have another year to not deal with it,” said Elizabeth Lynam, deputy research director at the Citizen’s Budget Commission. “The critical component is going to be how much they’re willing to put on the table in terms of recurring savings.” Lynam proposed an extensive review of core government services, as well as paring back Medicaid benefits for abovepoverty-income residents and overhauling eligibility requirements. Planned increases in education aid, such as payments from the Campaign for Fiscal Eq-

uity settlement, may need to be delayed as well, she said. “In school aid, we really do need to reconsider the increases that were planned,” Lynam said. “There may be need for a plan that keeps the districts to their current spending level for the next few years, until the state is recovered.” Other analysts believe that something far more radical is needed. The Empire Center for New York State Policy, a conservative think tank, recently released a 30-point plan which would purportedly save the state $30 billion over three years. The plan, which has been championed by editorial boards and newspaper columnists, would freeze wage increases for state workers and teachers for three years. Lise Bang-Jensen, a senior policy analyst at the Empire Center, said such a move would obviously be intensely resisted by the state’s public-sector unions, but that there were few other options left. “The unions need to think this through carefully,” Bang-Jensen said. “The alternative is massive lay-offs.” Some lawmakers are calling for cuts in pork barrel spending, which they claim are more difficult to justify during a tough fiscal climate. “These are discretionary-type items that in hard times we should think twice about,” said Assembly Member Will Barclay, a North Country Republican. “I don’t understand the resistance to that.” Paterson appears to be taking a different route, calling for a cap on state spending in his State of the State speech, a move championed by Republicans but opposed by Democrats, unions and even his own lieutenant governor, Richard Ravitch. He also announced that he had charged Ravitch with developing a four-year financial recovery plan for the state, an outline of which should emerge as the governor submits his 2010-11 executive budget in mid-January. But legislators say they are ready to start working on significant structural changes to the budget right now. At a recent hearing in Lower Manhattan of the Senate Committee on Budget and Tax Reform, Krueger, presiding over a mostly empty room, heard several hours of testimony from a revolving cast of budget experts about what should be done to repair the state’s budget. One expert, Ron Deutsch, the executive director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, bluntly assessed what he recommended for the Legislature’s budget process, summing up his thoughts in just two words: “Have one.”


Building Battle Over Empire Zone To Excelsior Shift, Prevailing Wage Fights expected over short-term passage, long-term consequences of Paterson plans BY SAL GENTILE awmakers and business owners are readying for the battle over Gov. David Paterson’s economic development agenda, which calls for scrapping the Empire Zone program in favor of a new plan aimed at promoting growth in high-tech jobs. New York has sunk more than a half-billion dollars into the decades-old Empire Zone tax incentive program in the last year only to see the private sector shed more than 200,000 jobs. That dismal success rate has prompted Paterson’s renewed call for replacing the program with a proposed “Excelsior Jobs” plan, which would steer millions toward companies that promise to create jobs in industries such as nanotechnology and finance. But business advocates and even the administrators of regional Empire Zones are concerned about the Legislature’s ability to implement a smooth transition without shedding thousands of businesses that currently thrive on state tax credits. And they say Paterson’s plan should be expanded to include many of the old-line businesses that benefited from the troubled Empire Zone program. “We have Main Street businesses that are really suffering,” said Brenna Robinson, the coordinator of a local Empire Zone in Kingston, one of the last regions to enroll new businesses in the program. “Our uptown and downtown business districts are suffering too, and they’re not in any of those significant clusters that the governor announced.” The business lobby also intends to fight for an amendment that would create a tax credit program for capital investment, which they say was left out of Paterson’s proposal. The plan he announced in his State of the State address would award payouts to companies that promise to create at least 50 new jobs, but not to companies that invest in capital improvements in order to retain the jobs they already have. “We were told flat-out by the administration: This is a job creation program, not a job retention program,” said Ken Polasky, a lobbyist for the Business Council of New York. “That’s the disconnect. It’s a lot easier to retain the companies you have than attract the new ones.” There appears to be considerable sympathy for that argument among key lawmakers, especially those from distressed regions upstate, where the program will be focused. Amendments adding payouts for small businesses that create less than 50 jobs—as well as for capital investment—are likely. “A 50-job minimum threshold discriminates against medium and small firms, which may be doubling their employment, going from 20 to 40, but only creating 20 new jobs,” said Assembly Member Robin Schimminger of Tonawanda, who chairs the Economic Development Committee. “Say what you want about the Empire Zone program, but it was certainly small business-friendly.” Critics of the Empire Zone system, which was estab-

“The Legislature and the public have to be as thorough as they can be to make sure that it doesn’t have these kinds of loopholes that can be exploited,” said Frank Mauro, the executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute. “Because once you create a loophole, somebody who benefits from it sees it as their divine right.” Lawmakers and officials at the Empire State Development Corporation suggest that even if the Legislature manages to iron out the loopholes and reach an agreement with the administration on the Excelsior plan, a number of variables could make the transition messy. For one, hundreds of businesses that receive




“We were told flat-out by the administration: This is a job-creation program, not a jobretention program,” said Ken Polasky, a lobbyist for the Business Council of New York. “That’s the disconnect. It’s a lot easier to retain the companies you have than attract the new ones.”

lished in 2000 as a modified version of a previous tax incentive program, warn against muddying the debate by proposing new amendments to the Excelsior Jobs plan. Hundreds of firms have been shed from the program in recent months, for example, because they were found to have learned how to game the system, claiming they were retaining jobs in order to collect generous tax credits.

tax credits under the current system are scheduled to continue collecting those payments for as many as 10 more years. If the Empire Zone program folds, local businesses and administrators say they are unsure how those credits will be administered—meaning ESDC, which has already experienced considerable turmoil, may find itself implementing two complex economic development programs at once. The changes come at a time when many lawmakers and advocates are grumbling that Paterson’s broader economic development agenda is in disarray. Organized labor has been fighting to enact far-reaching reforms to the state’s patchwork of Industrial Development Agencies, which award state subsidies to developers. Unions want protections that guarantee prevailing wages at construction sites built with taxpayer money, but the business lobby has aggressively fought that legislation. After initially leaking word of his support for prevailing wage laws last year, Paterson has remained largely silent on the issue, and did not mention the topic in his State of the State address. Many lawmakers have taken that as a sign that the bill will be watered down significantly in the coming months, if it even passes at all. “I don’t anticipate that the bill that I’ve introduced, and that has passed the Assembly three times in the past, will be the bill that becomes law,” said Assembly Member Sam Hoyt of Buffalo, who has sponsored the prevailing wage bill. He added of the administration: “They need to show us exactly where they stand.”


‘Race To The Top’ Tops Education Agenda, With Funding Concerns A Close Second Senate, governor eager to lift charter cap, while Assembly still skeptical



ast year, the education discussion was all mayoral control, all the time. This year, education analysts are predicting the debate over charter schools and the federal Race to the Top program will cast a similar shadow over the 2010 legislative session. Education reform advocates, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Chancellor Joel Klein, are betting that this month the Legislature will take up several reforms proposed by Gov. David Paterson and his new state education commissioner David Steiner, such as



lifting the cap on the number of allowed charter schools and tying teacher tenure to test performance, in order to qualify for up to $700 million in Race to the Top funds. Immediately following his State of the State speech, Paterson introduced a program bill that included many of the changes needed to spruce up the state’s Race to the Top application. But several key legislators have expressed skepticism, saying they would prefer to find savings for education within the system rather than chase after federal dollars. “I think it’s garbage,” said Bronx As-

sembly Member Michael Benedetto, chair of the Special Education Subcommittee and a 30-year veteran of New York City schools, of the governor’s proposal to phase out the law that limits the use of test performance data in teacher tenure decisions. “I get really annoyed when I hear they need to rate children’s teachers based on standardized tests.” Benedetto said that the push to win Race to the Top money reminded him of the congestion pricing debate of 2007, when advocates of Bloomberg’s failed traffic reduction plan stressed a ticking clock for federal dollars in order to push their plan through the Legislature. “I don’t believe that we have to run after this money just because this money’s out there,” Benedetto said. Catherine Nolan, the Assembly’s education committee chair, said she was disturbed by what she perceives to be a lack of parental input in many of the discussions over education policy. “Since all these policymakers— the mayor and Joel Klein and many other people—don’t have any children in public schools, I try to always see from the perspective of a parent,” Nolan said. “I think sometimes it gets lost in the power plays of politics.” Nolan did say she thought that school administrators were focusing too much on flash-in-the-pan issues like Race to the Top, and not enough on other pressing matters, such as overcrowded schools. Most members in the Assembly will likely take their cues from Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has vowed to review the reforms. But given Silver’s closeness with the state’s powerful teachers unions, which have professed some skepticism of charters, advocates predict that Silver will ultimately stymie those efforts. Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson has made comments in support of lifting the cap on charter schools, but has yet to say how he plans to handle Paterson’s program bill that would enact many of the reforms. Senate Education Committee chair Suzi Oppenheimer said her goal is to convince the Assembly to pass legislation to lift the cap. “I think we have to sit down, both houses, and have a serious discussion about what will be necessary to qualify for Race to the Top money,” Oppenheimer

said. “I’m extremely interested in qualifying for that money.” Further down the road, Oppenheimer said she would also be interested in reevaluating the funding formula for charter schools, which currently receive some combination of public and private funds, depending on the school. “My long-term objective is to change the way we fund charter schools,” she said. “We have to offer some relief to property taxpayers.” The state’s “Phase 1” application for Race to the Top funds is due on Jan. 19, with winning states to be announced in April 2010. Legislators not only risk losing the money to other states, advocates say, but also exacerbating the state’s dismal financial situation by not moving forward on these reforms. If the Legislature stalls on the proposed changes, “New York State will have missed its best chance to do something profound in education that we have had in decades,” said James Merriman, CEO of the NYC Center for Charter School Excellence. But with little money left in the state’s coffers for any major new projects, education advocates and unions said they are preparing for a session that will likely be defined by minimalism. “We know we’re not going to be dealing with a lot of money,” said Alan Lubin, the retiring executive vice president at the New York State United Teachers union. “So that pushes our agenda back, as far as improving education.” Both chambers’ Education Committee chairs said they hoped 2010 would not be a repeat of 2009, when the extended debate over mayoral control and the Senate coup left little time to address substantive policy issues. Oppenheimer, a Democrat from Westchester County, said an important issue for upstate New York is reforming the state’s Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) network, as well as eliminating some of the red tape at the state Education Department—something she believes could save the state millions of dollars. “State Ed department requires so many reports, many of which are almost completely duplicative,” Oppenheimer said. “It’s foolish to spend all that effort.” Nolan said she was interested in holding hearings on the “embarrassing” discrepancies between the way New York students score on state and federal assessment tests. While state test scores show significant improvements among fourth- and eighth-grade students, federal scores have been statistically flat for almost three years. Both legislators, though, said they intended to spend this session figuring out how to mitigate the impact of expected cuts to school aid. “We spend billions on education,” Nolan said. “How do we manage less?”



FAIRNESS REJECT the governor’s program bill Don’t believe the hype and replace one flawed law with another. New York state is well qualified for Race to the Top funding and would be even better positioned by enacting meaningful charter law reform that benefits all your constituents and the children we serve. The governor’s program bill would lift the charter cap without making any of the reforms needed to ensure fairness for taxpayers and for students in both charter and regular public schools. Before the cap is lifted, the law must be fixed to provide:

� FAIRNESS FOR STUDENTS Level the playing field to ensure charter operators serve the same population as regular public schools, including students with disabilities and students who are English language learners so that we can end the achievement gap for all our children.

� FAIRNESS FOR SCHOOLS Ensure that schools are fairly funded, not disadvantaged or penalized by an influx of new operators. All children deserve a quality public education in a safe and healthy learning environment, whether they attend a charter school or a regular public school.

� FAIRNESS FOR TAXPAYERS Require charter operators to fully disclose how and where they spend taxpayer money, where other support comes from and who is enriched from their operation. Not all charter schools are created equal. “Charter corporate” is fighting tooth and nail to avoid the audits and disclosure requirements that govern regular public schools.That needs to end. More than 10 years have passed without meaningful reform. It’s time to do it right.

Support CHARTERING FAIRNESS Representing more than 600,000 professionals in education and health care New York State United Teachers Affiliated with AFT • NEA • AFL-CIO

Richard C. Iannuzzi, President

For more information on “CHARTERING FAIRNESS” and on supporting New York state in the “RACE TO THE TOP” go to WWW.NYSUT.ORG.

New York Preparing To Swallow DC Health Reform Pill Bracing for impact, while pet projects like legal pot remain in play BY SELENA ROSS AND ANDREW J. HAWKINS ike just about everyone involved with health policy around the country, those in Albany are looking to Washington for answers to what this year will hold. Lawmakers, advocates and industry insiders all say that until the federal government figures out what to do with health care, any reforms in New York are put on hold. If it passes, that bill will likely include changes to Medicaid eligibility, requirements for electronic record-keeping, and new insurance laws, all of which could dramatically alter the way New Yorkers receive health care. Some are saying that New York stands to lose a significant amount in federal aid if the reform bill passes. Both Gov. David Paterson and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have written to Sens. Charles Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand to say that the Senate version of the bill shortchanges the city and state on Medicaid funds by offering far more federal funds to states that have less generous Medicaid coverage. But State Sen. Kemp Hannon, a Nassau County Republican and former chair of the Health Committee, said that New Yorkers need more letter writers to help mitigate the impact of the federal health care reforms. “We do have an obligation to try to get [the federal government] to write the provisions so New York is not constrained and is given the same type of reward as any other state,” Hannon said. “We can make sure our citizens get health care along the way the rest of the nation is going to get it.” Meanwhile, health care advocates are keeping a close eye on Paterson’s impending budget proposal, with the expectation that it will contain severe cuts in health spending. Daniel Sisto, president of the Healthcare Association of New York State, said that this session, health care lobbyists will be focusing on individual members of the Legislature with appeals to prevent any more cost-shifting that could adversely affect hospitals and patients. “This is going to come down to individual legislative districts,” Sisto said. “The leaders can say whatever the leaders want to say. If they continue to dismantle the health system while pretending that they’re expanding access and reducing costs when they’re really just cost-shifting to the private paying patient, the public eventually will comprehend what’s go-


ing on, and they’ll pay a price.” The overwhelming task already facing the state in recent years was to restructure and streamline its medical services—a cost-saving strategy that has become more important as cuts got deeper. Before the idea became a top issue in Washington, New York was experimenting with new delivery systems, especially ways to increase the availability of primary care. The state launched a model primary care project in the Adirondacks that legislators say they hope to spread statewide. Regardless of what eventually pans out in Washington, state lawmakers say New York will also move ahead with plans to encourage “accountable care” organizations that measure health outcomes by quality instead of the volume of services provided. But as cutbacks and other changes grow closer, health care advocates say they have come up with some simple, immediate cost-saving goals that would help ease the impact on patients. Several lobbyists are preparing to push a plan to give Medicaid recipients two years of eligibility when they are accepted for benefits instead of one. Right now, according to Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president of health initiatives at the Community Service Society,

Health care lobbyists will be focusing on individual members of the Legislature with appeals to prevent any more cost-shifting that could adversely affect hospital and patients.



Medicaid loses 40 percent of its recipients each year because of the difficulty of applying for eligibility. Benjamin said they would be pushing for increased access to insurance for small businesses and prior government approval of premium hikes. Advocates and lobbyists also say they will push the state to create a formal body to coordinate the implementation of federal reforms. Dick Gottfried, who chairs the Assembly’s Health Committee, said the state was considering putting together a committee of stakeholders, but was keeping its options open until the final bill is approved. “At this point we have no idea what


the timetable will be for implementation or what state obligations and opportunities will be,” he said. “We have a long history in New York of taking an enormous amount of constant input from providers and advocates and the insurance carriers and everyone imaginable when we’re dealing with health policy issues.”

which would allow certain pre-screened patients to buy or grow marijuana to manage chronic pain. “I think it now has enough support in the State Senate to pass and I’m pretty certain Governor Paterson would sign it,” Gottfried said. The Family Health Care Decisions Act

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has been in limbo since it was first drafted in 1994, but both Gottfried and Senate Health Committee Chair Tom Duane say it is a priority for 2010. The bill would give end-of-life and other decision-making power to the families of patients who are medically deemed incapable of making decisions. New York and Missouri are the only two states that deny the authority to immediate family or spouses without a proxy signed by the patient.


Regardless of what Washington decides, several longstanding pet projects remain on the agenda, including a push to legalize medical marijuana and an 18year-old bill that would give decisionmaking power to families of incapacitated patients. The medical marijuana bill has passed in the Assembly, and Gottfried, its sponsor, says he will push to move it further this session. A handful of Republican senators are said to support the measure,



b u f fa lo

n e w yo r k c i t y

pa n a m a c i t y, pa n a m a JANUARY 2010


A New Energy Chair Powers New Look At Passing Long-Expired Article X Paterson revises and redirects from Spitzer approach to ‘fuel-neutral’ push BY CHRIS BRAGG hen Democrats took control of the State Senate a year ago, Sen. Kevin Parker briefly assumed the chairmanship of the Senate Energy Committee—only to have the title stripped after he allegedly assaulted a New York Post photographer. Sen. Darrel Aubertine then took over the chairmanship. But only a month in, his committee’s work was derailed by the Senate coup. Now, Republican Sen. George Maziarz, who held the energy chairmanship for the last months while the Republicans were in the majority, will take another crack at the job. “I would like to stick around for a little longer than either of those two,” said Maziarz, who recently regained the top spot in a concession from the Senate Democratic leadership. Maziarz said that the first order of By far the most terrifying film business for him and his Assembly you will ever see. counterpart, Kevin Cahill, is reviving the Article X power plant siting law that expired in 2003. Since then, the once-streamlined process to build power plants in New York has been mired in inefficiencies: instead of going through a single process at the state level, power providers now must deal with local governments that have widely differing protocols. Gov. David Paterson addressed the issue during his State of the State address, and in a follow-up interview, Paterson’s deputy secretary for energy, Tom Congdon, fleshed out the proposal, assuring that it would differ significantly from an unsuccessful proposal put forth in 2007 by then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer’s plan would have renewed the siting law only for renewable-energy producers, to the exclusion of nuclear and coal power plants. The Spitzer administration believed this would incentivize the building of powan approach that would not discriminate against tradier generators using new technologies. But Congdon argued that Spitzer’s approach instead tional power producers. Nonetheless, Donahue said he offered the worst of both worlds: coal and nuclear plants was not optimistic Patercould still be built, but with greater bureaucratic hur- son would be able to push dles. At the same time, money was withheld from com- a new Article X law through munities to do their own environmental impact studies this year with the economy on coal and nuclear under the Spitzer plan, a move that down and no immediate need for more power in the angered environmental activists. “Nobody ended up liking that approach,” Congdon state. “There’s no need to worsaid. Instead, Congdon said, Paterson’s proposal would be ry about the lights going “fuel-neutral,” or apply equally to all types of proposed off this summer,” Donahue said, “and stalling on a difpower plants. Gavin Donohue, president of the Independent Power ficult vote, especially in an Producers of New York, said the power industry favored election year, is a real hall-


mark of this town.” Other details also remain to be worked out between the power industry and the environmental lobby, such as to what extent communities should have veto power over the building of power plants. Also on the agenda this year: a revamping of the Power for Jobs program, which offers reducedprice power to manufacturers that create jobs. The program for years has been passed in piecemeal, one-year extensions at the end of legislative sessions, creating an uncertain business environment for employers enrolled in the program. Last year, however, the law was intentionally created to expire this May, a month and a half before the end of the session, in order to create an incentive to pass a longerterm bill. Cahill said that as the state looks to create a longer-term law, it should also seek to reform the program. He believes many of the companies currently enrolled are not actually creating much of an economic benefit in exchange for government-subsidized power and must be weeded out. Meanwhile, environmental advocates are concerned that proceeds from the state’s capand-trade program, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, once again will be transferred into the state’s general fund to fill a budget gap instead of promoting the building of a green energy economy, as was promised. In the most recent Deficit Reduction Package, $90 million was swept from the RGGI program. An additional $300 million is expected to be generated over the next three years, and this pot of money could prove attractive for legislators looking to avoid cuts elsewhere. “We’re afraid the DRP foreshadows this budget,” said Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “China and the whole rest of the world are leading the way in renewable energy, and New York has to remain competitive with them and the rest of the country. This undermines the intent of the whole thing.”


“There’s no need to worry about the lights going off this summer,” said Gavin Donahue of the Independent Power Producers of New York, “and stalling on a difficult vote, especially in an election year, is a real hallmark of this town.”




other side to come up with a solution. And at least one lawmaker has floated a somewhat radical solution to the MTA’s perennial fiscal problems. State Sen. Martin Dilan, the chair of the Transportation Committee, said that he is seriously considering a proposal to dismantle the MTA and break it up into smaller agencies that service specific regions, such as New York City Transit and the Long Island Rail Road. Such a proposal, he said, would allow each department to address its own fiscal needs individually, rather than rely on an annual bailout from the state. “Each region should be able to take care of its own transportation needs, and whatever state subsidy exists would be apportioned accordingly,” Dilan said. “I think that would stop the political finger-pointing.” Dilan said he hoped to introduce the proposal this session and hold public hearings on it, adding: “If it takes the whole year to do that, I’m willing to do it.” Critics claim the measure would only add to the agency’s fiscal woes, by duplicating services that have been consolidated under the unified MTA. New funding streams would also have to be designed to finance each of the individual agencies, and dislodging the outerring counties from their regional nexus—New York City—would also cut them off from the billions in tax dollars the city provides to fund MTA operations each year. “I think he would find that that has serious negative consequences,” said Mitchell Pally, an MTA board member from Suffolk, of Dilan’s proposal. But the bill could help Democrats head off a looming and potentially divisive debate within the conference over the payroll tax, which has earned the enmity of business groups and local lawmakers in each of the seven suburban counties served by the MTA. State Sen. Brian Foley of Suffolk has introduced a bill to significantly reduce the burden of the payroll tax on those counties, attracting the support of both Republicans and Democrats. Some Senate Democrats, particularly those from the city, have expressed skepticism that the measure will become law. But Foley’s aides, as well as the bill’s Democratic and Republican co-sponsors,

say the Senate leadership has made an ironclad commitment to revisit the payroll tax. Dilan did not discount the possibility that the bill will reach the Senate floor for a vote. Foley’s effort will likely only worsen what has already become a tense backand-forth over the agency’s five-year capital plan. The plan as initially designed would have been financed in part with revenue from the payroll tax. State officials rejected the MTA’s original proposal, which had a funding gap of $10 billion, late last year, calling it too costly. As a result, the agency is likely to submit a slimmed-down plan that cuts out new capital projects and focuses mainly on safety and maintenance improvements. MTA officials and board members want the Legislature to change the law in order to approve just a portion of the larger capital plan and come up with the rest of funding later. But key lawmakers have already expressed their reluctance to vote on yet another unpopular financing package for the MTA. “My concern is: Is this really a wish list from the MTA rather than the reality?” said State Sen. Craig Johnson of Nassau, who sits on the Capital Plan Review Board—which rejected the MTA’s initial

State Sen. Martin Dilan, the chair of the Transportation Committee, said that he is seriously considering a proposal to dismantle the MTA and break it up into smaller agencies that service specific regions.

Dilan Lays Tracks On Dismantling MTA In Response To Ongoing Fiscal Crisis Debate over capital funding threatens to overwhelm transit agenda BY SAL GENTILE he Senate Transportation Committee has compiled a long list of priorities for the current legislative session: Raise money for high-speed rail, safeguard a fund for bridge and highway projects, enforce a newly enacted ban on “distracted driving.” But the Legislature may not get to any of that if one perennial crisis remains unresolved: the MTA. “That’s sort of the huge gorilla in the room,” said Bill Henderson, executive di-



rector of the agency’s Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee. The MTA board approved a bare-bones budget in December in order to fill a nearly $400 million deficit. That gap is a result of funding cuts at the state level and a shortfall in revenue from the much-maligned payroll tax, which was passed earlier this year as a way to save the agency from fiscal ruin. So far, the Hail Mary has not worked. Now, state lawmakers and transportation officials have engaged in another round of finger-pointing, waiting for the

proposal. “It seems to me that they are taking the viewpoint that it’s okay to approve a spending plan even if you don’t know where the money is coming from.” Meanwhile, the MTA debate threatens to overwhelm the rest of the Legislature’s transportation agenda. Dilan said that before moving on any other item he would like to approve a capital plan for the state Department of Transportation, which provides funding for road and bridge projects across the state and is usually paired with an equitable capital plan for the MTA. Gov. David Paterson has already come out against the DOT plan. Without a deal, the Senate’s transportation agenda could be stalled for months, reaching a standstill just as contentious state budget negotiations heat up in March. “I don’t think that we can move forward on anything else at this time for the MTA, until we resolve roads and bridges,” Dilan said. “Nothing else is going to happen until that is done.” JANUARY 2010


Unions Hope Election Politicking Creates Movement On Policy Agenda With endorsements in play, IDA reform, unemployment insurance top priorities list difficult in part because several other measures perceived as anti-business were higher on the agenda. This included the millionaire’s tax and the MTA bailout, which increased the payroll tax, said State Sen. Diane Savino, chair of the Civil Services Committee. “There was a feeling that they couldn’t get hit three times in one year,” Savino said. As for public-sector unions, Savino warned that massive budget cuts to agencies could create layoffs. Although public employee unions and Paterson reached an agreement not to lay off workers last June, Savino said that a number of agencies have not seen as many employees accept buyout packages as expected. In light of this, Savino suggested one possibility would be for public-sector unions to renegotiate their contracts early—they do not expire until 2011—and put off a portion of their automatic 4-percent salary increases this year, back-loading a new contract with fully restored increases when the economy picks up. Savino noted this approach has worked for New York City, and that it would help avert some cuts to state agencies.

One possibility would be for public-sector unions to renegotiate their contracts early—they do not expire until 2011—and put off a portion of their automatic 4-percent salary increases this year.



ith much of their wide-ranging agenda thwarted last year, union leaders are hoping an election year will prod Senate Democrats in the coming months. If not, union leaders say, their support for Democrats in the 2010 elections is not a given. “Democrats need to pass things if they want to be back in the majority,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. For both the RWDSU and 32 BJ, two powerful private-sector unions, the top legislative priority remains Industrial Development Agency reform. Appelbaum says that in exchange for the over $400 million a year in tax incentives and subsidies the state gives to developers



and corporations each year, these entities should be required to pay a “living wage” to their employees. Labor’s efforts gained some traction at the end of last year, when Gov. David Paterson’s administration entered into negotiations with union leaders. But more recently, talks have stalled, with the business community pushing back over union insistence that there be strong wage standards in the legislation. Another top labor priority, meanwhile, is an increase in unemployment benefits, which are currently among the lowest in the country relative to the cost of living. An increase in these benefits is being pushed in particular by the AFL-CIO, whose leadership argues that an increase in unemployment benefits would offer muchneeded economic stimulus. Last year, gaining support for the legislation proved

But Darcy Wells, spokeswoman for the Public Employees Federation, said such an approach was a non-starter. “A contract is a contract, and for us to set a precedent like that is something we couldn’t allow,” Wells said. “When does that end? If that’s done once, it can be done again, and there will always be another crisis.” Instead, Wells said the PEF would again push for a reduction in outside contracts in state government. She cited a study recently performed by the union showing $480 million in savings this year if certain outside contractors—particularly bridge inspectors and IT workers—were replaced with state workers. Meanwhile, the other large public-employees union, the Civil Service Employees Association, is pushing back hard against recent policy changes at the Office of Children and Family Services. Last year, the OCFS was the target of a scathing Department of Justice report finding that juvenile inmates were often mistreated at upstate detention centers. The office’s commissioner, Gladys Carrión, is now seeking to close many of the upstate facilities and instead to transfer juvenile inmates to community-based detention centers in New York City. But Stephen Madarasz, spokesman for the Civil Service Employees Association, argued that OCFS staff had received scant training and resources to deal with their new mission and that Carrión’s policies had created safety concerns for the union’s members. “She talks a good game and fails to deliver in every single way,” Madarasz said. “The way they are going about this is reckless and irresponsible.”


$1.6 Billion Dollar Solution How to keep valued services without raising taxes

STATE’S FISCAL BIND: Governor Paterson’s budget calls for cuts in services while adding nuisance

fees and new taxes. As our middle class exodus continues, he ignores the billions of dollars of legal and mandated taxes due from the sales of cigarettes to New Yorkers from our Native Americans. Why?

SHOCKING TAX DEPARTMENT DATA: According to tax records, during 2005, New York

Tribal retailers purchased 47 million cartons of cigarettes from several New York distributors: The result of these suppliers becoming more emboldened by the policy of forbearance. As taxes have risen, untaxed purchasing increases!

BLOOMBERG URGES ACTION: New York City Mayor has urged Governor Paterson to start

collecting taxes on Indian sales of cigarettes to non-Indian in order to generate the additional revenues for New York City.


state has refused to collect taxes on cigarettes sold to non-residents of Indian reservations - despite a 1994 US Supreme Court ruling that states have the right to collect these taxes. Failure to collect the tax not only hurts public health, it hurts the rest of the state’s small businesses, who must sell cigarettes at far higher prices. Worse, there’s reason to believe that tobacco smugglers are funneling prots from Indian reservation sales to terrorist organizations overseas…” State Excise Tax: City Excise Tax: Average Sales Tax:

Calendar 2009 Actual Collections:

(46 million cartons x $27.50) = $1,265,000,000 (11 million cartons x $15.00) = $165,000,000 (46 million cartons x $6.00) = $276,000,000 ----------------------$1,706,000,000

Calendar 2009 Collections should have been:*

State Excise Tax: City Excise Tax: Average Sales Tax:

(86 million cartons x $27.50) = $2,365,000,000 (28 million cartons x $15.00) = $420,000,000 (86 million cartons x $6.00) = $516,000,000 ----------------------$3,301,000,000

A $1.6 Billion dollar give-a-way alleviated by simply requiring the tax stamping of all cigarettes that are sold in New York, as prescribed by our existing tax law! *National demographics of cigarette consumption and New York tax rates, New York consumers are estimated to smoke 96 million cartons. By collecting the taxes on Native American sales to non tribal members as prescribed by law and increasing our enforcement of tax collection, we will tax 86 million of the 96 million cartons this year.

Breaking News!

Overpaid and Overstaffed Top Prison Administration Costs New York $75,000,000 Annually! Is the New York State Department of Corrections being run appropriately? Look closely at the excessive salaries and benefits of New York’s prison administrators on this chart.

What you don’t know: •Duplication of services •Excessive salaries and benefits •Subsidized Housing (Executive Team)

•Free cars •Free gasoline •Free property taxes •Many more benefits that they won’t make public

While the rest of New York State is being forced to deal with budgetary issues and savings, the New York Prison administration in Albany continues to maintain luxurious salaries, benefits and lifestyles with your tax dollars for their administrators in Albany.

The New York State Department of Corrections continues to under staff the security in prisons and yet he also continues to overstaff the administration building in Albany with 907 over paid employees and more around the state in each of the correctional facilities.

Note: Salary information w directly from DOCS on Apri via FOIL request 09-0696

was received il 29, 2009

The NYS Dept. of Corrections is fond of reporting a declining inmate population since 1999. The Dept. of Corrections eliminated 2,500 Correction Officers since 1999. YET, the New York State Department of Corrections continues to increase their high level of very well compensated administrators to oversee less staff and less inmates? Does that make sense to you? Call your Senator (518-455-2800) and Assemblyperson (518-455-4100) today and ask them why this “cash cow” exists at a time when many New Yorker’s are experiencing soaring property taxes, bankruptcies and foreclosures. Historically, making cuts at the bottom to maintain the top has never worked.

Can New York really afford $75,000,000 in just one building? Call 518-457-8126 and ask one of them personally. For additional information, please visit Donn Rowe President New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association

102 Hackett Boulevard Albany, NY 12209 (518) 427-1551

Rock Reforms May Result In Prison Closures—But Results Of Closures Unclear Conflicts over shifting money, preserving upstate jobs and gerrymandering districts BY CHRIS BRAGG n tough economic times, New York faces a prison policy conundrum. On one hand, closing more prisons could save tens of millions of dollars a year and help relieve the state’s yawning budget gap. But prisons in many upstate areas serve as a steady supplier of jobs and their closures could devastate already struggling economies. Senate Codes Committee chair Eric Schneiderman said these contradictory outcomes would color the debate over the likely closure of prisons this year. “We have to frankly deal with the economic implications in communities that were willing to accept prisoners when others weren’t,” Sch-


neiderman said. “At the same time, in a few years, we’ll see the benefits of a reduced prison population, especially on the state’s balance sheet.” Over the past decade, New York’s prison population has dropped by 17 percent, and the state now has an excess of about 6,000 beds in its prison system, according to the State Department of Correctional Services. Given the shrinking prison population, which is only expected to accelerate with the repeal of many of the state’s Rockefeller drug laws, excess prison space could again be on the chopping block during budget negotiations. Criminal justice reform advocates say they sympathize with the fact that closing prisons costs jobs. Nonetheless, they say incarceration should not be an economic engine for struggling

Keeping New York Strong—It’s Our Business The American Council of Engineering Companies of New York (ACEC New York) supports Governor Paterson’s efforts to reduce the budget deficit in New York State: t NYS can lower engineering costs on infrastructure projects 14 percent by using private sector engineers to design public works projects—saving the state taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.* t Private sector engineers are paid only for the time they work on a project, not for life. Once the project is complete, payment stops.

t Competition keeps private sector engineers efficient, cost effective and at the top of their game. t Private sector engineers assume risks in design contracts otherwise borne by the state. * Results are based on a side-by-side comparison of salary, work hours, fringe benefits and overhead of New York State engineering employees vs. private engineering firm employees, “NYSDOT Engineering Design Costs: In-House Versus Outsourced Design,” Polytechnic Institute of NYU, October 30, 2008.

Consulting Engineers—Quality, Innovative, Cost-effective Design for New York State

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Serving over 17,000 NYS employees in our member firms




upstate economies. “Our prison policy should not be economic development policy,� said Robert Gangi, executive director of the Correctional Association of New York. Instead, Gangi said funds from prison closures should be used for drug rehab programs, which are likely to attract an increased number of patients, given that under the Rockefeller reforms, more people are likely to go to rehab instead of prison. Meanwhile, $19.3 million was cut recently from the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services’ budget in the Legislature’s deficit reduction package.

“We have to frankly deal with the economic implications in communities that were willing to accept prisoners when others weren’t,� said Senate Codes Committee chair Eric Schneiderman. “At the same time, in a few years, we’ll see the benefits of a reduced prison population, especially on the state’s balance sheet.�

But at the same time, Assembly Member Addie Russell said that in her North Country district, the local economy would be devastated if local prisons were closed. She wants Gov. David Paterson to look first at cutting the growing number of administrative positions in the Department of Correctional Services, rather than focusing on closing prisons. “I believe they’re very top-heavy administratively,� Russell said. The New York State Correctional Officers, which represents the state’s prison guards, and The Police Benevolent Association have also fought back against prison closures. They argue that further consolidations could create unsafe working conditions for guards, and say that the Rockefeller drug law reforms have so far not translated into a large decrease in the state’s prison rolls. “There was this myth that Rockefellerrelated crimes were inflating the inmate population more than they really were,� said Chris Leo, the union’s legislative director. There are also political considerations to closing prisons. With both a census and a redistricting coming up, prison populations are expected to again play a major role in providing the necessary population in putting together several gerrymandered upstate State Senate districts. If the


prison population in some of these districts were reduced, more liberal, downstate population would have to be added. Meanwhile, also in the works for this session is an “Actual Innocence� bill introduced by Schneiderman, which would eliminate procedural hurdles for the potentially wrongfully convicted. The bill would allow inmates to seek a new hearing if new evidence in their case comes to light, even if it does not involve DNA evidence.

And Assembly Member Jeff Aubry, chair of the Assembly Corrections committee, said he would continue to push a bill that would allow for expunging of a wider range of criminal records. In the Rockefeller reforms passed last year, those convicted of drug-related offenses gained the ability to have their records sealed if they successfully finish drug treatment. But currently, New Yorkers do not have the ability to ever have their record

cleared for almost all types of non-drugrelated offense. Anita Marton, vice president of the Legal Action Center, said that reforms enacted last year should now be extended to those convicted of non-drug-related crimes. “As the law is written now, these records forever are opened,� Marton said. “What we’re asking is that they be sealed after a certain period of time.�

On October 24 1910, a small group of New York State employees came together at the state Capitol to form the Association of State Civil Service Employees. Their purpose was simple: Advance the concept of merit and ďŹ tness in the state civil service system to improve the working lives of New York State employees. In 1910 New York’s civil service system was rife with corruption and favoritism. There was good reason for well-intentioned state employees to band together for change. The association’s ďŹ rst President, William Thomas was a hearing stenographer for the State’s Attorney General. He had ďŹ rst taken a civil service exam on January 1, 1882 and began work for the state Attorney General in 1901. Thomas set the standard for dedicated service and focus as president of the association until 1918 when he was appointed a member of the New York State Pension Commission. In that role, Thomas was instrumental in the establishment of the state Retirement system in 1920, giving the association a signiďŹ cant early achievement that endures to this day. Thomas retired from state service in 1922 but continued to serve as a commissioner of the pension system, regularly working out of the Association’s cramped ofďŹ ce on the ďŹ rst oor of the state Capitol in Albany. Thomas passed away on June 14, 1932.





Setting The Record Straight On The Climate Change Pollution Act BY STATE SEN. ANTOINE THOMPSON rom thundering Niagara Falls to bustling Manhattan, the climate of New York is changing. Records show that spring is arriving earlier, summers are growing hotter and winters are becoming warmer. These changes are consistent with global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions. According to researchers, if greenhouse gas emissions in New York continue to grow unabated, the State can expect dramatic changes in its climate and substantial negative impacts on its economy. Climate change in New York poses risks to human health and to terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Important economic resources such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and water resources are vulnerable to climate change because they are weather-dependent. The New York State Senate’s Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation acknowledges that in order to slow global warming, effective adaptation strategies are needed to help reduce emissions. For decades, New York has been a national leader with regard to meeting


the nation’s most pressing environmental challenges. New York’s commitment to environmental conservation is illustrated through its role in establishing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)—the first multi-state, market-

based plan to reduce emissions from power plants. Continuing down the path of environmental conservation and energy interdependence, I proposed Senate Bill 4315, “The Climate Change Pollution Act,” to lower greenhouse gas emissions within New York State. In addition to protecting “environmental justice” communities, this bill will give a tremendous boost to New York’s green economy, as many jobs will be created in the transition to our clean-energy future. Under Senate Bill 4315, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations aimed at decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. However, Senate Bill 4315 strictly prohibits the DEC from adopting regulations or promulgating rules that place disproportionate burdens on environmentally vulnerable communities. Specifically, the DEC will establish limits on greenhouse gas emissions, require annual greenhouse gas emission reports from emission sources and issue an annual report on the progress of New York’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Researchers predict that if the rate of greenhouse gas emissions is lowered, the projected changes to New York’s climate

and economy will be far less dramatic. Undeniably, the environmental choices we make today—in New York, the Northeast and worldwide—will shape the future of our nation’s economy, environment and quality of life, and determine the climate that future generations inherit. Senate Bill 4315 ensures that New York stays on the path to achieving a sustainable environmental future while strengthening the State’s legacy as an environmental leader. By reducing emissions today, New York has an opportunity to help protect future generations from the severe impacts of global warming. As a global leader in technology, finance and innovation, and a major source of heat-trapping emissions, New York is well positioned to drive national and international environmental progress in slowing down global warming. Although New York’s efforts alone will not be sufficient to completely avoid global warming, our state is proud to do its part in preserving humanity’s most important renewable resource, planet Earth. Antoine Thompson, a Democrat representing parts of Erie and Niagara Counties, is chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee.

Electronic Waste, Heating Oil Reforms Needed To Protect Environment BY ASSEMBLY MEMBER ROBERT SWEENEY ach citizen in New York has an interdependent relationship with the environment. We thrive and grow from the environment’s natural treasures, and simultaneously impact the earth’s health with our actions. Two major initiatives to protect the environment have passed the New York State Assembly and have considerable support in the State Senate. The bills will help to clean up and protect our environment. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that there were approximately 1.2 billion pounds of electronic equipment sold in the United States in 2004. As new devices are purchased, the replaced equipment frequently ends up in landfills where its chemical components, including mercury, lead and cadmium, can contribute to pollution. This legislation (A.9049) would establish an electronic equipment recycling program to allow consumers


to return unwanted electronic devices to manufacturers for reuse or recycling. Manufacturers of electronic equipment, including computers, televisions, printers, keyboards, portable digital music players, video cassette recorders, digital video players, electronic game consoles and any cables, cords or wiring are covered under the act. The disposal of devices would be free for consumers. Manufacturers would be required to collect a minimum amount of waste based on the state reuse or recycling goal, initially determined on a per capita basis, beginning in July 2010. In July 2013, each manufacturer would be assigned a share of the statewide reuse or recycling goal based on the collection rate of the preceding three years. Each manufacturer’s share would be determined by their market share of sales. This legislation passed the Assembly by a vote of 130 to 10. The Senate has not yet taken action on this legislation. New York State consumers and busi-

nesses represent nearly 20 percent of the national heating oil market. When No. 2 home heating oil is burned, sulfur dioxide, a known greenhouse gas, is released into the atmosphere. Estimates have shown that reducing the sulfur content of home heating oil is an important and critical step in curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Exhaust particles formed by using home heating oil can exacerbate allergies, trigger asthma attacks, decrease lung function, cause heart attacks and shorten life expectancy. This legislation (A.8642 Sweeney) would prohibit the use of No. 2 heating oil with a sulfur content in excess of 15 parts per million in residential, commercial or industrial heating after July 1, 2011. The use of the ultra-low sulfur fuels will save consumers and business money by reducing the need for maintenance and service of their heating equipment. The use of this cleaner fuel will also permit the installation of newer higher-efficiency

The publication for and about New York State Government 18


equipment that can further reduce costs. It is estimated that the lower maintenance and service costs would save New Yorkers $40 million dollars annually. The bill is supported by consumer and environmental groups and was passed in the Assembly by a vote of 146 to 1. The Senate has not yet taken action on this legislation. Robert Sweeney, a Democrat who represents parts of Suffolk County, chairs the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee.


New York Needs Ultra Low Sulfur Heating Oil Senate Action Needed! • ULS Heating Oil is Much Cleaner And Can Replace New York’s Nearly 2 Billion Gallons of #2 Heating Oil • ULS Heating Oil Is Better For the Environment and Public Health - It Contains 99% Less Sulfur, Dramatically Reducing SOx Emissions and Fine Particulate Matter • ULS Heating Oil is Affordable – Often the Same Price as Regular Heating Oil. It’s More Efficient and Requires Less Equipment Maintenance • ULS Heating Oil is Readily Available – It is Already Used in the Trucking Industry and East Coast Inventories are 35% Ahead of Last Year

This Reform is Overdue.

Pass S1145: The ULS Heating Oil Bill Today! American Lung Association in New York Empire State Petroleum Association Environmental Advocates Environmental Defense Action Fund Hudson Valley Oil Heat Council Natural Resources Defense Council New York League of Conservation Voters

New York Oil Heating Association Oil Fuel Institute of Central New York Oil Heat Institute of Eastern New York Oil Heat Institute of Long Island Teamsters Joint Council 16 Teamsters Local 553 UPROSE WE ACT for Environmental Justice

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Assistant Commissioner for Intergovernmental Affairs The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), the nation’s leading local public health department, seeks a dynamic leader to be its Assistant Commissioner for Intergovernmental Affairs. This position is an integral part of the DOHMH leadership team and plays a central role in improving the lives of New Yorkers by developing and advocating for the agency’s city, state and federal legislative agenda and coordinating policy development on related legislative issues. As Assistant Commissioner, you will be responsible for the following: • Manage all interactions with city, state and federal legislative officials • Prepare for and coordinate the Department’s appearance at public hearings, including drafting testimony • Oversee relationships with community boards and civic organizations • Provide guidance on policy development and strategy to the Commissioner and Department’s six health and mental hygiene divisions • Track and analyze legislation and proposed policies and coordinate the Department’s response with legal, program and budget personnel • Develop and implement legislative strategies • Serve as the primary liaison to the Mayor’s Office regarding the Department’s position on public health and mental hygiene legislation • Respond to elected officials’ requests for information regarding DOHMH services • Develop briefing materials for elected officials and their staff about health and metal hygiene issues and Department priorities • Manage a diverse staff of legislative and community specialists The chosen candidate will have demonstrated success influencing decision makers on legislative and policy issues, preferably in New York City and New York State; developing relationships with key government and community leaders; and building coalitions to achieve desired results. The chosen candidate will preferably have public health and mental hygiene policy experience. We seek candidates with at least seven years of experience in intergovernmental affairs, including supervisory experience; excellent oral and written communication, analytic, customer service, and group facilitation skills; an academic background in public health, public policy, political science, or related field; Masters Degree preferred; computer proficiency; self-motivation and skilled at simultaneously managing multiple priorities and projects. NEW YORK CITY RESIDENCY IS REQUIRED WITHIN 90 DAYS OF APPOINTMENT Submit your cover letter and resume online at; in the JVN search bar, enter 133559.

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Attorney General Candidates Await Verdict On Paterson-Cuomo Match-Up Rice, Schneiderman lead Democrats, while Hogan and Donovan lead GOP hopefuls BY SAL GENTILE or the dozen or so candidates plotting campaigns for attorney general, the first thing they must figure out is what the current attorney general will do. Most expect that Andrew Cuomo will challenge Gov. David Paterson, leaving an open race for attorney general in his wake. But how that face-off plays out—whether Cuomo is crowned as the Democratic nominee, or faces a drawn-out primary—could have far-reaching implications for the Democrats and Republicans hoping to win a seat that has become known as “the Awaiting Governor.” If Cuomo faces a contested race for the nomination, Democrats predict that he is more likely to stay out of the race to replace him. However, even if the governor’s race drags on, people close to Cuomo say he could name a favorite in order to shape a ticket that will appeal as broadly as possible to the electorate. Cuomo is said to favor Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice. While he has not publicly expressed support for Rice’s candidacy, Cuomo has appeared with her at several recent fundraisers. Rice has kept a low profile, even on Long Island, during her tenure. But her law enforcement credentials have been strong, observers say, and she has built a record of being tough on financial schemers and drunk drivers. Her only obstacle may be the tense relationship she has developed with trial lawyers in Nassau County, a major constituency and patron of the Democratic Party. But Democrats say Rice may be the only woman in the race who could tap into the reservoirs of political cash downstate, where most of the money for a statewide race will likely be found. Earlier this month, she announced that she had $24 million on hand, more than any of her likely opponents. (The other woman considering running is Paterson’s deputy secretary for public safety, Denise O’Donnell, who is from Buffalo.) “During most of her first term in office she sort of had a rocky relationship with the judges and the defense bar,” said one Democrat close to both Cuomo and Rice, adding, “she still comes into the race as the only woman who can raise enough money.” Rice is likely to encounter fierce competition from two other Democrats who have been gearing up for a potential run: State Sen. Eric Schneiderman of Manhattan and Eric Dinallo, the state’s former banking superintendent and a deputy to then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Both have quietly reached out to Cuomo in an effort to gauge how active he will be in shaping the Democratic slate, according to people with knowledge of the conversations. Despite what some see as Cuomo’s apparent desire to settle on Rice early in the campaign, people close to Schneiderman—who, as chair of the Codes Committee in the Senate, has a close working relationship with Cuomo—say they feel confident that Schneiderman can be competitive in a race against Rice. Schneiderman and Dinallo have quietly begun carving out their own constituencies in advance of a possible run. Dinallo has steadily transformed himself into an ally of Wall Street, courting one-time enemies of Spitzer such


as Kenneth Langone, the founder of Home Depot, who backed Spitzer antagonist Dick Grasso. That strategy, Democrats say, may help Dinallo distance himself from Spitzer’s now-toxic legacy, but it would also put him at odds with Cuomo, who has routinely attacked Wall Street for its excesses. Schneiderman, meanwhile, has built himself as a hero from the progressive Upper West Side. He has burnished his credentials as a wrangler of the state’s tangled criminal code, sponsoring a widely praised bill to protect patients from insurance abuses. And he has collected valuable chits from many of his colleagues for taking on difficult tasks, such as the investigation of convicted Sen. Hiram Monserrate. Two other potential candidates, State Sen. Jeff Klein and Assembly Member Mike Gianaris, have both indicated in recent weeks that they will take a pass on the race. Gianaris is now running for what will be the open seat of State Sen. George Onorato. Assembly Member Richard Brodsky, who dropped out of the 2006 race in order to donate a kidney to his daughter, is also making moves toward a run, making an early announcement of a $1.3 million campaign finance filing—complete with a statement from a campaign spokesperson declaring that “there’s no secret that Richard will be prepared for any political eventuality, and we will speak of those matters as events unfold.” Brodsky said Cuomo personally assured him that he would stay out of the open race to succeed him. “He has called me and told me he will not do that,” Brodsky said of Cuomo. “He said he’s got to make his own decisions first.” Schneiderman’s main advantage against Rice, Democrats say, would be his ability to tap into the political ATM that is Manhattan more deeply than a little-known district attorney from Long Island. He has also cultivated close relationships with the state’s influential labor unions and, crucially, engendered considerable goodwill among black and Latino leaders for his efforts to exonerate wrongly convicted criminals and reform the state’s drug laws. “He is someone that has a clear grasp of the issues that impact Latinos,” said Assembly Member Adriano Espaillat of Manhattan, a close ally of Schneiderman. “He is someone that enjoys a lot of support in the Latino community.” That support could prove especially attractive if former U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia, a Bush appointee, decides to run. Garcia, a favorite of former Sen. Al D’Amato, emerged last year as an early front-runner for the GOP nomination, but his candidacy fizzled after he expressed little interest. Some Republicans have attempted to revive his candidacy in recent weeks, fearing the party’s inability to field a strong ticket. In Garcia’s absence, Republican leaders have been eyeing three up-and-coming district attorneys: Kathleen Hogan of Warren, William Fitzpatrick of Onondaga, and Dan Donovan of Staten Island. Hogan and Donovan have already met in recent weeks with state Republican chairman Ed Cox, according to GOP officials. Hogan has proven an especially attractive candidate,

People close to Cuomo suggest that he could decide very quickly on a potential ticket even if he has not yet won the nomination, in order to appeal as broadly as possible to the Democratic primary electorate.



Republicans say, because she would provide the GOP ticket with some geographical and gender diversity. So far, the only woman who has expressed interest in running as a Republican for statewide office is Larchmont Mayor Liz Feld, who is mulling challenges to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. But Hogan is little-known beyond Warren County,


Lieutenant Governor Hopefuls Wait On Marching Orders, A General Speculation that Ravitch will run with Paterson as others keep powder dry BY ANDREW J. HAWKINS y just about this point in 2006, Eliot Spitzer had shocked most of the political establishment with his surprise announcement that David Paterson would be his lieutenant-governor running mate. That decision crowded out the three people who already had full campaigns underway for the spot. So far this year, the only candidate to announce a bid for the state’s number-two spot is Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence. And he seems to be savoring having the spotlight all to himself. “I guess I’m the only one on the list at the moment, huh?” said St. Lawrence, laughing. But that will likely soon change, as the 2010 election season slowly grinds into gear and more candidates begin to emerge. With Paterson proving how much can come out of the job both through his own ascension and selection of Richard Ravitch, choosing a lieutenant governor—traditionally reserved for candidates who could provide balance, or to reward party loyalty—has taken on new importance and increased the likelihood that there will be a competitive race this year. But aside from St. Lawrence, no one has taken the plunge. Ravitch was appointed last summer in the wake of the failed Senate coup, a late-stage gambit by Paterson to clear up any questions surrounding a possible succession. Ravitch has said he has no plans to run this year, even though many see him as the best possible running mate for Paterson, who is heading into his own very difficult primary season. “What Ravitch brings, very importantly, is a sense of proportion and a sense of good government,” said veteran Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf. “He’d be a tremendous addition.” But Ravitch’s aides were quick to tamp down speculation. “The LG will not be a candidate for LG next year,” spokesperson Marissa Shorenstein wrote in an e-mail. Politicos have speculated that minus Ravitch, Paterson would be best served by picking a lieutenant governor from the business world, preferably someone who can write a large check to his campaign committee and lend some financial expertise to the administration. In New York, lieutenant governors run independently of the governor in the primary, but the top of the ticket often makes his preference known before the vote. Several candidates are said to be waiting in the wings for Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to announce whether he intends to challenge Paterson in the Democratic primary. Sources close to several possible candidates have said they are hesitant to speak publicly about any meetings or outreach until Cuomo’s candidacy is official. Once that happens, many are predicting a flood of aspiring candidates to emerge. “The problem is that people are going to wait and watch because things are so fluid,” Sheinkopf said. “It’s

an incessantly changing environment.” Plus, throwing their hats into the ring before the topof-the-ticket questions are settled could create potential liabilities for the number-two hopefuls—doing so could lead to a torrent of questions from the press about whom they would prefer as their boss. Depending on their answers and the outcome of the speculation, they could anger the ultimate nominee. However, several names have been floated as Cuomo running mates, primarily that of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, a former state senator and close political ally of the attorney general. Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy has also emerged as a possible running mate. And St. Lawrence, a four-term supervisor with experience in solid waste management, has been cozying up to Cuomo, hosting a breakfast fundraiser in mid-December that netted Cuomo’s campaign $100,000. Some have said that Cuomo would be best served by adding a black candidate to the ticket as a way to smooth any lingering tension from his controversial run for governor in 2002 against H. Carl McCall, the state’s first black gubernatorial candidate. Other commentators have noted that an absence of prominent Latino politicians from statewide races could provide an opening for someone from that community to enter the race for lieutenant governor, either for Paterson or Cuomo. Gerson Borrero, a columnist and consultant for El Diario, said someone like Lorraine CortésVásquez, the New York secretary of state, could make serious inroads in an open race if she so desired. “She is well-known throughout the state, not to the public, but every nook and cranny of the structure of government,” Borrero said. On the Republican side, several names are being considered, including Larchmont Mayor (and current Senate challenger) Liz Feld; Andrew Eristoff, the former state finance commissioner; North Country Assembly Member William Barclay (who is also considering a run for Congress); and former MTA vice chairman and wealthy Republican financier Andrew Saul. But others have thrown cold water over the “ticket balance” argument, saying that those concerns are generally overblown by the political class. “I really think voters are not stupid,” said Al DelBello, who served as lieutenant governor under former Gov. Mario Cuomo. “What they’re looking for is competency.” Because in New York lieutenant governor candidates run separately, some unusual pairings can occur. Neither DelBello nor Cuomo expected to be running alongside each other in the 1982 general election, which led to some animosity. DelBello said one lesson to be learned from his experience is how much the office of lieutenant governor is defined by the governor, for better or for worse. “I had very, very extensive government experience, having been a mayor and county executive,” he said. “Obviously Mario Cuomo was not of a mind to take advantage of that. So he marginalized me.”

chairman Mike Long. And he has made the rounds at Republican functions and, as a former head of the state District Attorneys Association, earned some media attention beyond his home borough. “As much as people want an upstater on the ticket,” said longtime Republican operative Rob Ryan, the ques-

tion going into the convention will be: “Who has the most exposure in the New York Metropolitan Area?” He added: “Whoever has the determination to be driving around the State of New York in January or February probably has the lead.”


and she would likely have difficulty raising money from downstate donors in a competitive primary. As a result, Donovan has emerged as the early frontrunner. He has already begun laying the groundwork for an attorney general campaign by courting GOP eminences such as Rudy Giuliani and state Conservative




Target: Frank Padavan


After cruising to easy re-elections for most of his 35-year career, 11 Frank Padavan squeaked out a 483-vote victory over Council Member Jim Gennaro in 2008, leading Democrats to immediately target him for 2010. Some Republicans attribute the close race two years ago to Obama’s coattails, but the largely middle-class district has a growing minority population and a massive registration advantage favoring the Democrats. Gennaro was recently sworn in for a third term as councilman and appears to be passing on a rematch. Democratic hopes instead have turned to failed mayoral candidate and former City Council Member Tony Avella, who is expected to throw his hat in the ring. Avella has been the bête noir of Democratic Party regulars for most of the last decade, but he beat Democratic nominee Bill Thompson in Padavan’s district in the September primary. Plus, Avella’s old Council district overlaps much more with the Senate district than Padavan’s did. All of which might explain the support of the Queens County Democratic organization. Padavan is one of just three Republicans left representing New York City, and he has been criticized by Democrats for introducing a bill to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving care in state hospitals and for voting against the recent gay marriage bill. Padavan remains popular in the district and will be running in a cycle that is predicted to favor Republicans. However, the biggest unknown of this race is going to be voter mobilization. If Democrats can take advantage of their registration majority with a candidate that energizes the party, Padavan is looking at another nail-biter. His campaign operation is already being put together.

he calendar turning to a new year means that campaign season has officially begun. In a body as closely divided as the New York State Senate, every seat matters, and every legislator can be a target. In the battle for the state Senate, two opposing forces are headed for a collision: on the one hand, long-term demographic and registration trends seem to favor Democrats; on the other, Republicans appear to be in ascendance as voters turn against the party in power in Washington. Ten races that are supposed to be close are profiled below. Whichever party can grab most of them will go a long way to determining whether or not it is donkeys or elephants who are smiling come November 2.




Target: Craig Johnson For the first time in memory, Craig Johnson’s district has more registered Democrats than Republicans. And in North Hempstead, which makes up the bulk of his district, Democrats held on to the town supervisor’s post and control of the town board, deDistrict spite a Republican tidal wave that swept through 7 the rest of Nassau. But none of that has stopped Republican leader Dean Skelos from trying desperately to unseat Johnson, who in 2007 broke the Republicans’ iron grip on the Long Island Senate delegation. Democrats, and even some Republicans, describe Skelos as “obsessed” with the district, which borders on his own, and say he will stop at nothing to defeat Johnson. Skelos has attempted for months to lure the mayor of Mineola, Jack Martins, into running, with Republicans in Nassau feeling Martins could make the race more competitive than Johnson’s 2008 opponent, Barbara Donno. The ideal candidate, some Republicans admit privately, would be Nassau County Clerk Maureen O’Connell, who ran for the seat in the 2007 special election to replace Mike Balboni but was edged out by Johnson. O’Connell has been elected countywide and could attract women voters—crucial in the suburbs—but Republicans say she is unlikely to give up her current job for another crack at the seat.


Target: Kemp Hannon

District 6

Almost immediately after the votes were tallied in 2008, Democrats promised to make Kemp Hannon one of their top targets next time around. In what Nassau Democratic chair (and now state chair) Jay Jacobs called “a sleeper race,” Hannon just barely edged out local attorney Kristen McElroy—by less than three percentage points. Republicans widely attribute that result to the Obama wave that swept through New York, and say they did not realize the race was as close as it was until less than a month before the election. An internal poll, taken on a lark in early October, showed McElroy within striking distance, and Republicans subsequently poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the race to shore up Hannon. Now, Democrats are eyeing former County Legislator David Mejias as a challenger to Hannon. Mejias lost his bid for re-election last year, but Democrats say that should only give Mejias more time to focus on the Senate race and raise the money necessary to take on a 20-year incumbent. Mejias is young and of Cuban descent, and could appeal to the district’s growing Latino population. He ran a failed bid for Congress against Rep. Pete King in 2006, but garnered a surprising 44 percent of the vote. Democrats in Nassau have eyed him as a rising star ever since, but a local feud with Jacobs kept Mejias from challenging Hannon in 2008. Now, Republicans say he may have missed his best shot at taking out Hannon, who remains popular in his district.

District 1

Target: Ken LaValle Usually, lawmakers as entrenched as Sen. Ken LaValle get at least token opposition. In 2008, LaValle faced no one. That, LaValle’s supporters say, is a mark of how deep his support runs on Long Island’s East End, where the 70-year-old incumbent has not faced a serious challenger in at least two decades. Democrats hope to change that this year with Regina Calcaterra, a 43-year-old corporate fraud lawyer who has been eyeing the race against LaValle for several years. She was recruited into the 2010 campaign by Bronx Sen. Jeff Klein. Calcaterra claims a stirring biography: She was raised largely in homeless shelters and foster homes, financing her own college education at the age of 17 and going on to represent union workers who lost their pensions in a suit against big Wall Street firms. She hopes that background, along with public anger toward Albany, will help her overcome LaValle’s considerable advantages in November. Until now, Democrats have chosen simply to wait out LaValle, attempting to lure him into retirement and elevate Assembly Member Marc Alessi, one of the first Democrats to win in traditionally Republican Suffolk County. But Alessi, despite raising money, has shown little interest, and LaValle has turned down several opportunities to leave the Senate for the education field.

Target: Brian Foley Republicans have had Brian Foley in the crosshairs since his first day on the job. Foley defeated State Sen. Caesar Trunzo by close to 15 percentage points. But Republicans maintain an enrollment advantage in Foley’s Suffolk district and frustration among white, suburban voters has only increased as the economy tumbles. Lee Zeldin, a 29-year-old attorney and Iraq war veteran, has emerged as the early favorite for the Republican nomination. Zeldin, who garnered 42 percent of the vote in a failed challenge to Rep. Tim Bishop in 2008, has won some early momentum from the Suffolk Conservative Party and the so-called Tea Party activists, who promise to give Foley the same epithet-shouting treatment they have given Bishop. Republicans have targeted Foley for his votes on the 2008-2009 state budget and the much-maligned bailout for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The payroll tax, a key feature of that District bailout, is widely unpopular in Suffolk, which is one of the counties least-served by the MTA. Even 3 fellow Democrat Steve Levy, the Suffolk County executive, has hammered Foley for the tax. Still, there is evidence to suggest that Foley may not be as vulnerable as Republicans believe. In Brookhaven, which makes up the bulk of the district, Democratic Town Supervisor Mark Lesko withstood the Republican uprising last year to coast to re-election. And hamlets such as Central Islip have grown increasingly diverse, with Latino immigrants from New York City moving into the area in large numbers.




Target: Darrel Aubertine Despite a large Republican enrollment advantage, Darrel Aubertine appears to not have serious opposition in 2010. Assembly Member Dede Scozzafava was previously mentioned as a potential challenger, but after her controversial run for Congress last year, that prospect seems highly unlikely. Aubertine is seen as an up-and-coming legislator in the Democratic caucus and has maintained a centrist voting record. ReflectDistrict ing his conservative-leaning district, he voted against legalizing gay 48 marriage, but was criticized for supporting last year’s budget, which included a new license plate registration fee. He has also voted for legislation allowing state residents to sell clean energy they produce back to utilities, and supports tax credits for solar power. Right before the 2008 general election, polls showed Aubertine’s race against attorney David Renzi tightening. But state Democrats infused his campaign with hundreds of thousands of dollars towards Election Day, and Aubertine won easily. For now, no major challenger has emerged. But despite recent Democratic trends and wins in the State Senate and overlapping House districts, the area has strong Republican traditions. If a well-funded Republican emerges and November is as GOP-tilted as some have predicted, Aubertine could still face a stiff fight.

Target: Vincent Liebel

District 58



The 40th Senate District, covering the suburbs north of New York City, should remain safely in Republican hands in 2010. But who will hold the seat remains an open question. In November, firebrand Assemblyman Greg Ball abruptly dropped out of the race to take on Congressman John Hal, clearing the way for wealthy ophthalmologist Nan Hayworth, and declared his intentions to take on incumbent state Sen. Vincent Leibell in a Republican primary. The two have bad blood dating back to Ball’s first campaign for Assembly in 2006, when he knocked out another longtime incumbent and Leibell ally, and they remained on opposite sides of political skirmishes throughout Ball’s tenure in the lower chamber. They were believed to have reconciled before Ball began his run for Congress. Ball’s sudden announcement led many to speculate that Leibell would run for Putnam County executive, and, although he has met privately with local G.O.P officials, he has yet to make his intentions known. Ball expects to have over $200,000 in the bank by the time the next fundraising numbers are released, but he still has not won over much of the state Republican establishment, and even if Leibell drops out, there is some speculation that another Republican may emerge. No major Democrats have announced plans for their seat, although Westchester legislator Michael Kaplowitz has been said to be exploring a run.


Target: David Valesky

District 49

Republicans have targeted David Valesky ever since he narrowly defeated State Sen. Nancy Larraine Hoffmann in 2004. In 2006, he beat Assembly Member Jeffrey Brown by 18 points and won in a 29-point landslide over Jim DiStefano in 2008. But State Republicans see opportunity. Jessica Crawford and Andrew Russo are the current Republican challengers to Valesky. Crawford is a businesswoman running on a platform of lower taxes. Russo, director of music at Le Moyne College, faults Valesky for putting New York City interests above Upstate issues. East Syracuse Mayor Dan Liedka is also considering throwing his hat in the ring. The Republicans feel that Valesky’s Achilles heel in the race is his record on jobcreation. There is continuing economic stagnation in the region, which the Republican candidates attribute to the Democratic agenda in the legislature. They maintain that Valesky is more interested in ascending the Senate leadership than attracting new businesses to the region. The fact that Republicans have already attracted two candidates to run against Valesky could be a bad sign for Democrats. But Democrats maintain that Valesky is a good fit for his working class district. They point to his record of siding against the powerful hospital union interests that are allied with his more liberal colleagues as evidence of his independence.

Target: Bill Stachowski Rarely is a longtime incumbent targeted by both his own political party and an opposing party. But such is the case for Bill Stachowski. Erie County Legislator Timothy Kennedy is opposing Stachowski in this fall’s Democratic primary—with the backing of Rep. Brian Higgins. Kennedy has made a change in leadership and disenchantment towards Albany the key themes of his candidacy. Erie County Legislator Daniel Kozub and Buffalo attorney Sean Coonery, both Democrats, are also running against Stachowski. Republicans are eyeing the race closely but do not have an announced candidate yet. Some party leaders are encouraging a run by Assembly Member Jack Quinn III, son of former Rep. Jack Quinn, Jr. He would start the race with some influential name recognition, but would need to attract considerable support from disaffected moderate and conservative DemoDistrict crats to prevail. Stachowski has been a fixture in Buffalo politics for three decades and 40 has a staunchly conservative voting record. After years of nominal opposition from Republicans, he narrowly defeated former Buffalo police detective Dennis Delano by 6 points, despite the fact that Democrats hold a voter registration edge of nearly 65,000 in the largely blue-collar district. He was wooed to join the Republican caucus last year and continues to enjoy the support of the Conservative Party. He has also been criticized for receiving nearly $4 million in member-item appropriations last year. Supporters, though, say it speaks well of his seniority and influence.

Target: Andrea Stewart-Cousins In 2008, then-freshman Andrea Stewart-Cousins got a pass from Senate Republicans, who failed to recruit a viable challenger. After defeating incumbent Republican Sen. Nick Spano in 2006 by just 18 votes, Stewart-Cousins coasted to re-election over Yonkers City Council Member John Murtaugh by double digits. Now, buoyed by big gains in Westchester and the election of a GOP county executive there, Republicans have made Stewart-Cousins one of their major targets. GOP leaders have been trying to lure Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone into the race, and have promised to pour millions into the campaign if he runs. Democrats have a steep enrollment advantage in Stewart-Cousins’ district, but Amicone has proven cross-party appeal in his four years as mayor. He has made gun control and environmental issues centerpieces of his agenda, fought the Democratic City Council on budget issues and even proposed tax increases to avoid cuts to the police force. District As the sitting mayor of the state’s fourth-largest city, Amicone would also be capable of raising a sizeable war chest on his own, which is crucial, 35 given that Republicans have been at a fundraising disadvantage since losing control of the State Senate. And he has experience battling Democrats in Albany: during the Senate stalemate last year, Yonkers was threatened with insolvency after the Legislature failed to approve local tax extensions.




We’re all looking for

ways to cut costs,

so should the state.

At a time when the state is facing severe fiscal constraints, spending on consultants last year rose to $2.9 billion, a $100 million increase. That’s the equivalent of 23,329 full-time consultants working for the state. It adds up to over 2,500 more consultants than the previous fiscal year. The savings can be found by having state employees do the work better and for less.

Our cost savings recommendations include:

�ENACT a cost-benefit requirement for contracting-out and a consultant reduction law, phased in over three years.

�REQUIRE a set savings target for each state agency. �INSTITUTE a freeze on new and renewed state agency consultant contracts of more than $100,000 until a cost-benefit analysis is completed.

The state continues to pay thousands of consultants an average of 62% more than public employees doing similar work, including the cost of their benefits.

�ENACT a law that the state Department of

The state can save as much as $480 million by replacing about half the state’s expensive private consultants with state employees.

Call 1-877-255-9417 today. Tell state lawmakers to support these cost-saving measures and start putting our tax dollars to better use.

Transportation must rely on state employees to do at least 90 percent of the bridge work.

New York State Public Employees Federation, AFL- CIO Representing 59,000 professional, scientific, and technical employees Kenneth Brynien, President

Arlea Igoe, Secretary-Treasurer

The January 14,2010 Issue of The Capitol  

The January 14,2010 Issue of The Capitol. The Capitol is a monthly publication, targeting the politicians, lobbyists, unions, staffers and i...