Aaron Short, reporter for City & State, gives the broad strokes in his story about the budget deal reached by Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders late last night. He writes that both parties “achieved significant victories.”
Following statement by Senate Majority Coalition Co-Leader Dean Skelos:
I am pleased that we have reached agreement on a responsible budget that includes the longtime Senate Republican priorities to create new jobs and cut taxes for hardworking, middle-class families. As part of this budget, we will provide a $350 Family Tax Relief check to families with children, offer incentives to help small businesses create new jobs, and eliminate the energy tax surcharge over the next three years, all initiatives highlighted by the Senate Republican conference throughout the budget process.
In the coming days, we will complete passage of the earliest state budget in 30 years, our third consecutive early budget. I thank the Governor for his leadership, and commend our Senate Finance Committee Chair Senator John DeFrancisco, my Coalition Co-Leader Senator Jeff Klein, the Assembly leadership and all of my colleagues for their hard work.
The following is a press release sent out by the Senate:
Senate Republican Leader Dean G. Skelos and Senate Independent Conference Leader Jeff Klein today released a revenue forecast by the Senate Finance Committee that estimates additional General Fund revenues, above the Executive’s projection, of $126 million in 2013-14, and $116 million more than the Executive’s estimate for state fiscal year 2012-13.
The revenue projection, based on an economic forecast by the Senate’s nationally recognized fiscal consultants, IHS Global Insight, shows that the total two-year General Fund revenue surplus is $242 million.
“While a forecast of additional revenue is good news, it should not be used for additional spending,” Senator Skelos said. “It should be used to support the state’s reserve funds or to provide taxpayer relief to make New York more affordable for families and more competitive for businesses to create jobs.”
“I’m pleased that today we can comfortably project a revenue surplus for our state,” Senator Klein said. “This surplus will help New York stay on firm financial footing in the years ahead and will provide us with an excellent opportunity to deliver dollars back to taxpayers.”
State Senate leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein remarked on where to build casinos in New York during a Crain’s breakfast forum yesterday. Skelos and Klein urges Governor Cuomo to consider the state’s first casinos outside the upstate region. Here’s the story from Laura Nahmias, reporter for The Wall Street Journal:
New York state’s legislative leaders are aiming to play a role in deciding where to build casinos, setting up a potential hurdle for Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s upstate casino plan if the state legalizes gambling this year.
In comments made Wednesday at a Crain’s breakfast forum, Senate leaders Jeff Klein and Dean Skelos said the Legislature should have a voice in the process of siting casinos, a position Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver advocated last month.
“I think the Legislature should be involved in the location,” Mr. Skelos said.
That stance puts the entire legislative leadership at odds with Mr. Cuomo, who has proposed building as many as three casinos in upstate New York as part of a plan to boost the state’s economy, but has said he would leave it up to casino operators to help find the right markets.
The Legislature passed a constitutional amendment last year legalizing up to seven casinos, and to become law that amendment must be passed again this year or in 2014 and then voted on by the public. But Mr. Cuomo said in early January that the sites would be selected through a competition, which probably wouldn’t be completed before the public voted.
In comments Wednesday, Messrs. Skelos and Klein each urged the governor to consider locations for the state’s first casinos outside the upstate region. Mr. Klein said that even though the governor’s current plan calls for three upstate casinos, they should be “spread out…to let communities all across New York state benefit.”
But Mr. Cuomo was firm in his commitment to the plan.
“I would like to see casinos located in upstate New York, because upstate New York has tremendous economic development needs,” the governor said Wednesday at a press conference.
Pressed to say whether he would consider allowing one downstate, he replied only: “I’m considering casinos upstate.”
Less than three months after Senate Co-Leaders Jeffrey D. Klein and Dean G. Skelos launched the New York State Senate Bipartisan Task Force on Hurricane Sandy recovery, the Task Force has released its preliminary report and recommendations on Sandy relief and storm planning. The preliminary report and recommendations come after Task Force members toured storm damaged communities across the New York City Metro Area, including Freeport, Island Park, Oceanside, The Rockaways, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Hudson Valley.
Following each tour, the Task Force held roundtable discussions with over one hundred community, private sector, and government stakeholders, including major insurance carriers and senior members of the Cuomo administration. Today’s preliminary report outlines the Task Force’s key findings from these roundtables and sets forth 10 preliminary recommendations. The Task Force will release a final report in the coming weeks.
The Task Force’s key findings and preliminary recommendations
By Michael Powell
ALBANY — As Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo talked state of the state on Tuesday, the alternating presidents pro tem of the New York State Senate sat on the dais listening — two men who could not hide their I-swallowed-the-canary smiles.
State Senators Jeffrey D. Klein and Dean G. Skelos, the putative liberal Democrat and the putative conservative Republican, kept confiding and giggling at each other’s jokes.
They have made one of Albany’s stranger marriages, the five-member Independent Democratic Conference joining the Republican majority in a political alliance, with the remainder of the Democrats cast into the wilderness.
The governor vowed to defend women and abortion choice, and Mr. Klein clapped. The Republican senator tried to sit on his hands. The governor talked of guns; the Republican looked stern. The Democrat applauded.
In this morning’s Times Union, Jimmy Vielkind reports on the new Senate rules which spell out just how “decisions would be made in a ‘joint’ and ‘equal’ manner.” The coalition was announced December 4, but later today we should have a clearer picture of how the Senate will operate during the legislative session. Here’s Vielkind’s report:
ALBANY — The state Senate has drafted new rules recognizing the Independent Democratic Conference along with Republicans and Democrats, senators briefed on the document said late Tuesday.
The tweaked rules, accompanied by a separate operating agreement, were finalized by aides to Republican Leader Dean Skelos, of Long Island, and Bronx Sen. Jeff Klein, leader of the five-member Independent Democratic Conference.
Skelos and Klein announced an alliance on Dec. 4, but until Tuesday senators in both conferences had offered only a few key adjectives about their plans to run the chamber in a coalition this year: decisions would be made in a “joint” and “equal” manner.
“There’s no great changes (to the rules),” said Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna. “There’s a memorandum of understanding and there’s a working relationship of trust.”
The rules are set to be formally adopted Wednesday when senators gavel into their first formal session of the year. Democrats were provided with a copy later Tuesday evening — an act of beneficence by the normal standards of Capitol partisanship — but they were not released publicly by press time.
It’s unclear if the memorandum will be released, but Farley and Sen. Kenneth LaValle, R-Long Island, suggested it would spell out exactly how Klein and Skelos will run the operations of the chamber — even rotating the statutory title of “temporary president” every two weeks.