- The New York Post revealed that a top aide to Governor Andrew Cumo told Democratic legislators the Cuomo administration withheld nursing home COVID-19 fatality numbers because they were worried the Trump administration would use the numbers “against” them. Several New York officials are now calling for Cuomo’s resignation.
- A State-run nursing home in St. Albans gave its residents experimental COVID-19 treatments without clearly informing residents’ families.
- With the support of the United Federation of Teachers, some New York City public middle schools are slated to reopen with reduced capacity by March.
- 1199SEIU is launching a campaign to reform the nursing home industry. The campaign calls for minimum staffing requirements and removing nursing home immunity, which protects nursing homes from liability in COVID-19 related lawsuits.
- A coalition of progressive groups hosted a reform-focused forum for eight candidates vying to succeed Cy Vance as Manhattan District Attorney. Vance has not announced whether he is seeking re-election, but has not been raising money or making campaign appearances.
- Governor Cuomo announced that some sports and entertainment venues will be allowed to reopen to spectators with several restrictions, including a capacity limit of 10%.
- Despite the huge arrears facing many renters hurt by the pandemic, few New Yorkers have filled out the “hardship declaration” forms necessary to extend the eviction moratorium, an indication that the paperwork is a significant hurdle to people accessing relief.
- Crown Heights residents are rallying to save a local Associated Supermarket that was given 90 days to vacate to make way for a luxury high-rise development.
- The New York Times published an article speculating about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s influence in the mayoral race.
- Democrat Anthony Brindisi conceded to Republican Representative Claudia Tenney in the race for New York’s 22nd congressional district.
- New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has filed a lawsuit on behalf of more than 100 candidates and their supporters against Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Cuomo to suspend the signature requirement during petitioning. The lawsuit alleges that collecting petition signatures during the pandemic is not safe, as it requires in-person contact with hundreds of voters.
- An early poll finds that mayoral candidate Andrew Yang has a double-digit lead in the Democratic primary for mayor.
- After spending $221,000 on the special election in Queens to fill former Council Member Rory Lancman’s seat, a real estate-backed independent expenditure committee called Common Sense NYC is planning to spend millions on this year’s City Council races. Stephen Ross, the developer behind Hudson Yards, has already given over $1 million.
- Former Daily News reporter Catherine Gioino filed paperwork to run in Council District 22 (Astoria), where Costa Constantinides is term-limited.
In-Depth: Navigating Albany’s Undemocratic Budget Process as Comrades (to Tax the Rich): Part II
To win a New York with a just taxation code that invests in the working class, we must first ensure that both the State Assembly and the State Senate include our package of Tax the Rich bills (named the Invest in Our New York Act) in their one-house budget resolutions, which they will pass in the next few weeks. Other expense priorities must be included as well because ultimately we want to raise revenue to support specific programs and services (such as funds to cancel rent, to support excluded workers, to actualize a Green New Deal, etc.). Socialists can influence these resolutions by showing up to the joint legislative budget hearings and making the case for why we need these bills in the budget. We can also continue to hit the phones, talking to constituents and convincing them to pressure their legislators with calls of their own.
NYC-DSA will need to collaborate with our legislative allies to identify the issues that other Assembly Members and Senators are fighting for in budget-related Democratic Majority conferences and assess their alignment with our priorities; this will allow us to ramp up field or public action work to increase pressure on relevant legislators. By fighting to include our priorities in the one-house budget resolutions, we force the Speaker and the Majority Leader to bring up these priorities when meeting with the governor. These meetings are known as “three people in a room.”
These three-person meetings are traditionally held in March and constitute the least transparent part of the budget process. After the Speaker and Majority Leader report back to their respective conferences from those meetings, legislators will get the chance to express what they want their conference leader to prioritize in these negotiations. It will be crucial to stay attuned to what is being discussed behind the closed doors of majority conferences. Our socialist legislators and legislative allies will be key in reporting back and helping us understand what decisions are ultimately made and why.
Even if the executive budget falls short of what we want, legislators can use Section 6 of Article 7 of the State Constitution to raise taxes on the rich and invest in our public safety net. This clause allows the legislature to include appropriation bills in the executive budget so long as they are “separate bills each for a single object or purpose,” The legislature would have to pass the Executive Budget before voting on these separate appropriation bills, and they would be subject to the governor’s veto.
The legislature would be able to flex its newfound supermajority powers by overriding any veto from Cuomo, but the Democratic supermajorities are somewhat narrow. Speaker Carl Heastie (District 83, the Bronx) and his majority conference would need 100 of 105 Democratic Assembly Members willing to override an executive veto. Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (District 35, Westchester) would need 42 of the 43 Democratic state senators to override Governor Cuomo’s veto. As such, this path is tenuous, considering the conservative forces that still encompass the Democratic conferences in each respective chamber.
With six socialists in the legislature, we hope to avoid austerity. However, we cannot rely on hope alone. In order for us to tax the rich and achieve tangible gains for working-class New Yorkers, we’re going to have to deploy our knowledge of the budget process and pressure all legislators. It could very well come down to a long shot pathway to override the executive’s veto on “separate” appropriation bills. This will take an extraordinary amount of organizing. We must be prepared.