The Messenger Post recently published a letter to the editor from Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate, in which he called the recent legislative session in Albany a “disappointment.” The letter points out that progress came to a halt at the end of session with the Legislature failing to reform the Scaffold Law or repeal the Wage Theft Prevention Act, two issues The Business Council fought hard on this session.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said last week that the upstate economy will be a top priority. As he toured the state to talk about his Start-Up NY initiative and other economic growth opportunities, such as casinos, Governor Cuomo attributed the languishing upstate economy to a Legislature that has focused past initiatives downstate. “There has been no upstate focus. Why has there been no upstate focus? Because the downstate dominates the Legislature, because that’s where the people are. It’s mathematics.”
Although many business groups feel Start-Up NY, and casinos, will help upstate’s economy, they also feel more could be done. George Miner, president of the Southern Tier Economic Growth, Inc., said, “Tax-free zones are a piece of the puzzle and can help. Fracking would go a lot further than that. No doubt about it.”
Ken Pokalsky, vice president of government affairs at The Business Council, is featured in today’s Business Review article on how the repeal of the annual pay notification requirement, part of the Wage Theft Prevention Act, was blocked at the end of this year’s legislative session. The measure had been moving forward, passing the Senate with bipartisan support in late June and with an Assembly companion bill introduced with a bipartisan mix of 62 cosponsors.
Read the full article on the Business Review website.
The Associated Press counted the number of state level officials caught up in corruption cases in the past seven years. Can you guess the number? Without further suspense, it’s 32. The AP story follows the arrests of four arrests in just the past four weeks.
Judge Orders Release of Identities of Nine People Recorded
And then there were nine. A federal judge will unseal a document this afternoon that contains the names of nine people who were recorded by former state Senator Shirley Huntley. Six of those people are elected officials. We will post the names as soon as learn of them.
Federal Prosecutors & AG Should Take Lead in Cleaning Up Corruption
I can’t say the results of Siena Research Institute’s latest poll are very surprising. Here are the findings from SRI’s release:
“They pat each other down. They crack wise about ‘CSI: Albany.’ They vent, in bars and back rooms and on basketball courts.” That’s the start of New York Time’s reporter Jesse McKinley’s story on the return of state lawmakers to work in Albany. He also described the reception Senator Malcolm Smith received from his colleagues.
Voters Also Give Governor Low Marks on Corruption
An interesting group of numbers in the latest Quinnipiac University poll: New York voters gave Governor Cuomo a 57-29 percent overall job approval rating. There is a gender gap – men approve 49-39 percent; women – 63-20 percent. But most interestingly, the governor has a 48-39 percent approval rating among Republicans. That’s a shift from 38-49 percent approval rating from the March 19 survey. On his handling of corruption? “The governor, not legislative leaders, should have primary responsibility for cleaning up legislative corruption, voters say 47 – 34 percent, but only 37 percent say Cuomo’s clean-up efforts are “excellent” or “good,” while 52 percent say “not so good” or “poor.”
Voters also rated the State Legislature’s performance and weighed in on the joint leadership of the State Senate.
The Legislature returned to Albany yesterday to begin their post-budget session. Nick Reisman of YNN’s Capitol Tonight gives an overview of the political scene in his latest blog post covering the post-budget legislative landscape including the potential for major reforms and the future of the IDC-GOP coalition in light of the corruption case against Sen. Malcolm Smith.