- In the midst of New York’s Covid-19 crisis, Governor Cuomo pushed through an austerity budget that was roundly criticized by progressives across the state. In addition to substantial cuts to the state’s Medicaid program, the budget empowers the Governor to make additional unilateral cuts (in one of his press conferences, Cuomo declared the legislative session “effectively over” due to the coronavirus). The budget also significantly rolled back last year’s bail reform, which had only been in effect since January, raised barriers to ballot access for third parties like the Working Families Party, and did not include marijuana legalization. Significantly, despite Cuomo using falling state revenues to impose cuts, the budget includes no new taxes on the wealthy. More details on the budget here.
- Five State Senators and 18 Assembly Members voted against the budget, including Sen. Salazar. Lead organizers at Empire State Indivisible said the budget was “a failure,” highlighting the capitulation of Democratic leadership in Albany. Jonathan Westin of New York Communities for Change called it “the worst budget in recent memory.” Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou (D-Lower East Side) called the cuts “unthinkable” and highlighted the xenophobia her constituents have faced since the virus first surfaced in January.
- State lawmakers gave permission to the MTA to use revenue from a prospective congestion pricing plan implemented in the busiest parts of Manhattan. However, the federal government has still not clarified what type of environmental report must happen before the plan moves forward.
- Ross Barkan goes into Governor Cuomo’s history of cutting Medicaid and allowing hospitals to close.
- Criminal justice reform advocates are upset that New York State Senator Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), who sponsored last year’s bail reform law, is not defending it from attacks since it went into effect in January.
- Amazon workers at a Staten Island “fulfillment center” organized a strike to protest unsafe conditions that continued even after an employee tested positive for Covid-19. Chris Smalls, who helped organize it, was fired after drawing attention to unsafe working conditions, but the organizing efforts are ongoing.
- Two-thirds of New York’s home health aides, who are considered essential and have continued to show up to work during the coronavirus outbreak, have not had access to personal protective equipment while working with vulnerable patients.
- Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered all New York City playgrounds to close.
- A tent hospital set up in Central Park to treat overflow patients from Mount Sinai is being run by Samaritan’s Purse, a group with an anti-LGBT and Islamophobic agenda whose website asks. Mayor De Blasio cancelled a planned visit to the hospital after City Council Speaker Corey Johnson raised questions about the group’s views.
- The highest court in the State of New York, the Court of Appeals, has struck down parts of last year’s rent reforms. In a 4-3 ruling, the Court held that the law could not be applied retroactively in cases where renters were overcharged, and that damages paid out to renters would be capped at four years. (All seven judges on the Court of Appeals were appointed by Gov. Cuomo.)
- The New York State Department of Labor is facing a massive influx of new unemployment claims, up 2,674% from last year, resulting in long waits and dropped calls.
- The special election for Queens Borough President will now be held on June 23rd.
- Working Families Party endorsed Rockaway Youth Task Force member Khaleel Anderson in the open Assembly District 31 (Rockaways) primary.
Contribute to The Thorn
We welcome submissions of in-depth articles, comics and illustrations from anyone in DSA. Whether you want to write for us or just know of stories we should be covering, please get in touch.
Subscribe to The Thorn
The Thorn is a weekly update on what's happening in local New York politics from a socialist perspective. Please sign up with us to receive an email every Monday morning.