Honeymoon Ends for Albany's Democratic Leaders

Date : 02/11/2019 @ 1:32AM
Source : Dow Jones News
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Honeymoon Ends for Albany's Democratic Leaders

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6 Months : From Nov 2018 to May 2019

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By Jimmy Vielkind 

After 39 days, the Pax Democratica at the Capitol is over.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a Friday speech on Long Island that his party-mates in the state Senate were going to raise their taxes and scuttle a deal to lure Amazon.com Inc. to Queens -- along with 25,000 jobs and $27 billion in projected new revenue.

"Bring sanity to the Senate," the governor declared.

The speech was a frontal assault on the Senate Democrats, delivered to a room of business leaders who were the backbone of support for Republicans who once dominated the island's nine-seat delegation.

In October, Mr. Cuomo traveled to Long Island to rally for Democratic candidates he hoped would surf a blue wave and take over the Senate. They did, bringing a cadre of suburban legislators who Mr. Cuomo hoped would back up his own moderate fiscal policies and balance more liberal legislators from New York City.

Things were easy during the first five weeks as lawmakers took up social policies like strengthening abortion rights and making it easier to vote. But as the focus shifts to the state budget -- and as state revenue estimates are revised down -- the governor is pushing back on calls to increase taxes and spending on social programs.

The focus of the governor's ire seems to be Sen. Mike Gianaris, a Democrat from Queens and a leading opponent of the Amazon deal. Mr. Gianaris introduced a bill last week to raise income taxes in New York City to fund subway upgrades.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has said she doesn't support raising taxes, and her spokesman called Mr. Cuomo's tax accusation "fake news."

"It is unfortunate that the governor is trying to divide the Democratic Party at this crucial and historic time," said Mike Murphy, a spokesman for Ms. Stewart-Cousins.

TALKING SEXUAL HARASSMENT: After 264 days of calls by women who were sexually harassed while working in the Legislature, lawmakers will hold their first hearing Wednesday on the state's laws and procedures regarding harassment complaints.

The women, who founded the Sexual Harassment Working Group last year, are happy to take a turn in the spotlight.

"We've told our stories, and now we want to put that in the context of framing policy," said Erica Vladimer, a co-founder of the working group. "It sends a message to the public from their elected officials that they want to hear from them. That they don't want victims to continue to carry the shame in darkness."

Ms. Vladimer said she would stand with allies, including Cynthia Nixon, the actor who challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a Democratic primary, at a news conference on Tuesday in lower Manhattan. Ms. Vladimer accused former Sen. Jeff Klein of forcibly kissing her in 2015, an allegation he denies. Her complaint is pending before the state's Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

Ms. Vladimer said she, along with working group co-founders Rita Pasarell, Leah Hebert and Elizabeth Crothers, will testify on Wednesday. They are hoping Mr. Cuomo will listen, and faulted him -- as did Ms. Nixon -- for not seeking more input last year as he pushed laws to restrict the use of nondisclosure agreements in sexual-harassment settlements and to require employers to adopt sexual-harassment policies that meet a minimum standard set by the state.

A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo said he was open to ideas on how to strengthen state laws.

THE QUESTION: After the Amazon offer, what was the largest amount of incentives dedicated to a single economic development project in New York state?

LAST WEEK'S ANSWER: David Malpass, President Trump's nominee to lead the World Bank, in 2010 vied with ex-Rep. Joe DioGuardi and former Nassau County legislator Bruce Blakeman for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Mr. DioGuardi won the GOP primary, but was defeated by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

-- Know the answer? Have another question, or a tip? Write to jimmy.vielkind@wsj.com

Write to Jimmy Vielkind at Jimmy.Vielkind@wsj.com


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 10, 2019 20:17 ET (01:17 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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