Good Morning from New York… 

Last week, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo introduced his $178 billion State Fiscal Year 2020-21 Executive Budget—read the Budget Bills here. The budget theoretically remedies several of the issues driving the current $6 billion deficit and keeps “non-capital” spending below the 2% cap, the Executive Chamber’s plans  left a number of questions that need to be answered in the coming weeks.

Here are the highlights—and the battles–that will be dominating budget negotiations:

Joint Legislative Budget hearings begin today—in Hearing Room B of the Legislative Office Building—and will run through February 13th—you can view the full schedule and request to testify at any of those hearings here.  As always, do not hesitate to let us know what you are watching and how we can help!

Just three weeks into its existence, calls to repeal or amend to the cashless bail system are becoming louder and louder, in Albany and across the State.  Although it was the Democratic Conference in both Houses that pushed these bills through last year, more and more Democratic lawmakers are starting to step out and propose changes to the newly enacted law.

Last week, the Governor gave probably the firmest answer on his opinion of the law so far, saying he believes the program is a “work in progress,” and that he is “100% open” to changes. Cuomo didn’t specify which changes, but he did say he does not support allowing judges to determine if a defendant is too dangerous.  Two bipartisan bills have received the most attention.  Republican Senator Sue Serino joined with Democratic Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (pictured, right) to introduce both bills: one bill would allow judges to issue bench warrants if a defendant failed to show for a court appearance. The other bill would ensure domestic violence charges are considered as a bailable offense.  While Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrew Stewart-Cousins hear more and more from opponents throughout their Conferences, expect the conversation to dominate much of the non-fiscal and Medicaid space through the coming weeks.

In Washington, D.C., the impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump is entering its second week. After bitter clashes over the trial’s ground rules last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was able to pass rules that blocked Democratic attempts to subpoena witnesses and documents 53-47—the Senate will be revisiting the issue later this week. Democratic Impeachment Managers spent the remaining days last week presenting their case against the President. Trump’s defense began Saturday and continues today. After the 24 hours in testimony from both sides are complete, Senators will then have 16 hours to ask written questions, after which point, the Senate will readdress whether or not to allow testimony from key witnesses.


— Jack O’Donnell

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 Warren Wins Prized Des Moines Register Endorsement

Elizabeth Warren has won the coveted endorsement of Iowa’s top newspaper — a significant boost for the Massachusetts senator’s campaign in the highly competitive, first-in-the-nation presidential contest. The Des Moines Register’s editorial board interviewed nine Democratic candidates who have spent significant time in Iowa before announcing its decision Saturday [Read more.]

Seward Won’t Seek Re-Election to State Senate

Republican Sen. James Seward on Monday announced he would not seek re-election to a central New York seat he’s held since 1987. Seward is the latest GOP state lawmaker to announce plans to not run again this year or retire. [Read more.] 

When Andy Byford was recruited to run the New York City subway, the system was in crisis. Trains broke down routinely. A series of accidents raised safety concerns. Constant delays made riders late for work, meetings and medical appointments. Mr. Byford has been praised for helping reverse the steep decline, driving down major delays and raising the subway’s on-time rate from historic lows. But on Thursday Mr. Byford announced his resignation. [Read more.]

Why do American Houses Have so Many Bathrooms?

American exceptionalism takes on many forms, both flattering (our immigrant-founded start-ups) and unfortunate (our health-care prices). But perhaps no part of life in the United States is more unambiguously exceptional than this: We have so many damn bathrooms. [Read more.]

A federal appeals court on Tuesday partly overturned the 2018 corruption conviction of Sheldon Silver, once the powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly, but allowed much of the conviction to stand — most likely ending his hopes of remaining out of prison. [Read more.]

Trump Wants a Democrat to Vote for Acquittal in Impeachment Trial — The White House Eyes Joe Manchin

President Trump and White House officials are looking for at least one Senate Democrat to vote against removing the president from office at the end of his impeachment trial, and they see Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) as the most likely candidate. [Read more.]

How to Mark Brexit Day? Boris Johnson is Searching For the Right Tone

At the strike of 11 p.m. local time on Jan. 31 — a.k.a. midnight in Brussels — Britain will leave the European Union, more or less. Brexit champion Boris Johnson will have won. But, as Britain’s new prime minister, Johnson is struggling to get his victory celebration just right. [Read more.]

Ruben Diaz Jr., the Bronx borough president, said that he will no longer seek public office, and hoped to spend more time with his family. [Read more.]

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