Good Morning from the State Capital 

Good Morning from Albany where it is now “March 36th” (or April 5th for the rest of the world) and many are asking “where is the State Fiscal Year 2021-22 budget?” Like much in Planet Albany, there were differing interpretations of the situation and how close a deal was heading into the weekend: on Thursday, insiders reported a deal was “very close” but on Friday,  Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “I am at home. I do anticipate going back Monday.”  “Things are almost done, but there are a couple of things that need to be resolved,” she said of the 2021-2022 budget. Though she declined to discuss specifics. Last night, there were reports of a tentative deal on the outstanding issues around revenue, education/higher education, and several of the gaming pieces, but in Albany any “tentative deal” could completely blow up. Take anything you hear with a grain of salt and expect more on a final deal today.

So, where are we really? 

  • What is done and in print: The Legislature and the Governor have agreed to trimmed down Article VII bills on Transportation, Economic Development, and Environmental Conservation (read it here), Health and Mental Hygiene (read it here), and Public Protection and Good Government (read it here), that they have not yet voted on, as well as the fairly non-controversial appropriations for the Legislature & Judiciary and the State’s Debt Service (Debt Service passed both Houses on Wednesday). Of note, all of the Article VII bills printed so far are significantly smaller than the proposals included in the Executive Budget (some issues may have fallen to the “Big Ugly” Revenue or Education, Labor, and Family Assistance Article VII Bills, so you will want to keep an eye out for that today).

What are we waiting on?

  • Again, keep in mind that reports are circulating that there is a tentative deal between the Governor and the Legislature on revenue, gaming, and the education components that were outstanding, but until there is a FINAL deal, these items remain open and can change at any time.

In short, the devil is most certainly in the details. But while the Senate, Assembly, and the Governor debate the details, 39,000 state workers are in jeopardy of having paychecks delayed if an agreement is not reached today. Stay tuned…

In the Nation’s Capital…

In Washington D.C., President Joe Biden unveiled his massive $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill—the American Jobs Plan—last week, calling it a “once-in-a-generation investment” in the United States (Read what is in it here). White House officials said the proposal’s combination of spending and tax credits would translate into 20,000 miles of rebuilt roads, repairs to the 10 most economically important bridges in the countrythe elimination of lead pipes from the nation’s water supplies and a long list of other projects intended to create millions of jobs in the short run and strengthen American competitiveness in the long run. The plan will also hasten the United States’ shift toward renewable energy and promote racial equity in the economy (including $20 billion to “reconnect” communities of color to economic opportunity). The costs would be offset by increased corporate tax revenues raised over 15 years, particularly from multinationals that earn and book profits overseas (which the President said was a nod to encouraging companies to on-shore and produce more in the United States.) 

While the Biden Administration has continuously preached its goal of garnering bipartisan support for the bill, GOP opposition to the package is strong (leading many to expect a budget reconciliation redux this spring). Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed the bill as a “Trojan Horse” for tax increases and said “my advice to the Biden Administration is if you want to do an infrastructure bill, let’s do an infrastructure bill, let’s not turn it into a massive effort to raise taxes.”

Even though there were more scandals in the press this week for Governor Cuomo—including that the Governor flouted state Public Officers’ Laws by involving top staffer Melissa DeRosa in the writing and publishing of his recent book on the COVID-19 pandemic, and another story detailing his breakup with longtime girlfriend Sandra Lee due to suspicions of infidelity—relative to the past month, it was a quieter week for the Governor. In Washington, there was a firestorm of allegations against Florida Rep. and conservative firebrand Matt Gaetz. The FBI has questioned several women on whether or not they were paid to sleep with the Florida GOP Representative. And the saga continued to grow more and more bizarre last week with increasingly salacious details coming out each day. We assume that continues to develop this week…

Other than that, Happy Dyngus Day!

-Jack O’Donnell

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NYS Legislature: New Member Spotlight

Assembly Member Sarah Clark (D-Assembly District 136)
Assembly Member Sarah Clark defeated County Legislator Justin Wilcox in the June 2020 Primary (and handily won the November 2020 General Election) to fill Monroe County’s Assembly District 136 seat—which includes parts of the City of Rochester and its suburbs, namely the Towns of Irondequoit and Brighton—that was left vacant when Jamie Romeo became Monroe County Clerk (prior to Romeo’s tenure, the seat had been held for years by current United States House Rep. and former Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle.)
 
Prior to running for office herself, Assembly Member Clark worked for the United States Senate – initially for Senator Hillary Clinton and, for the past eight years, as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Deputy State Director.
 
In the Senate, she worked tirelessly on issues impacting her community daily like affordable health care, the high cost of prescription drugs, equitable public education, college affordability, a living wage for all and protecting seniors from fraud. Assembly Member Clark has also been a longtime advocate on the local and national levels to reform the criminal justice system and identify sustainable solutions to climate change.
 
For the past seven years, Assembly Member Clark has served as a member of the Community Impact Cabinet and the Women United Steering Committee for the United Way of Greater Rochester. She is also a longtime volunteer at the Summit Federal Credit Union, currently serving as Chair of the Nominating Committee.
 
Assembly Member Clark lives in the Maplewood neighborhood of Rochester with her husband, John, and three children, Jack, Sean and Grace. As a working mom and mentor to other moms interested in public office, Assembly Member Clark is eager to utilize her connections and experience to elevate the needs of children and families in the Assembly.
 
This session, she will serve as Chair of the Subcommittee on the Tuition Assistance Program, and a member of the Committees on Aging; Children & Families; Higher Education; and Local Governments.