Good morning from Albany…
 
Cue the one month countdown until the budget deadline: April 1.
 
The bail reform debate continues as State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) joined Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in saying that changes to last year’s controversial bail reform legislation should be included in the budget. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) has made clear that he is not on board with this plan, repeatedly saying he wants “more data” before considering changes to the law.
 
Reacting to concerns about the quickening spread of Covid-19, Cuomo announced a $40 million emergency appropriation request for the Department of Health to fight the virus. The Governor will also propose legislation granting DOH Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker authority to ensure local health departments—as well as public and private hospitals statewide—perform training and possible quarantines to combat the spread of the virus. On Saturday, New York State got the go-ahead from Washington to begin performing coronavirus testing “immediately”. The work will be performed in Albany at the Wadsworth Lab. 
 
Adding to New York’s already heated Medicaid discussions leading into budget, the Trump administration denied New York’s request to extend its $8 billion Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) waiver, a federally funded preventative health care program intended to reduce avoidable hospital use among Medicaid patients. Cuomo framed the rejection as the continuation of a political vendetta against New York State by President Trump, however the Health and Human Services Department (HHS)  has signaled for years—as far back as the Obama administration—that it would move away from DSRIP-like programs (and Cuomo officials have long acknowledged that there was no guarantee the program would be renewed.) Furthermore, HHS also discontinued a similar program in Texas. 
 
The fight over Trusted Traveler programs appears to be heading towards a resolution as Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf (pictured here) called the recent proposed compromise from Cuomo “promising”. Under the Governor’s proposal, the State would give driver’s license information to federal agents but redact or remove the drivers’ Social Security numbers.

Former Vice-President Joseph R. Biden Jr. scored a decisive victory in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, reinvigorating his campaign while further blurring the Democratic nominating process. Investor Tom Steyer, after an apparent third-place finish in South Carolina, withdrew from the race on Saturday and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, following a crushing loss in the South Carolina primary, said Sunday night that he was dropping out of the Democratic race

Tuesday is Super Tuesday when more than one-third of delegates will be selected from fourteen states, including delegate-rich California and Texas. Jack O’Donnell will be with host Greg Kelly on Greg Kelly Reports on Wednesday to break down the results. 

— Jack O’Donnell

Pete Buttigieg Drops Out of Democratic Presidential Race

Pete Buttigieg, the former small-city Indiana mayor and first openly gay major presidential candidate, said Sunday night he was dropping out of the Democratic race. The decision comes just 48 hours before the biggest voting day of the primary, Super Tuesday, when 15 states and territories will allot a third of the delegates over all. The results were widely expected to show him far behind Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Bernie Sanders. [Read more.]


Post Opinions Simulator: Who Can Win the Democratic Primary?

Use the Post Opinions Simulator to pick a state, explore how much polls and fundraising can change between now and Election Day and see what might happen in upcoming Democratic primaries and caucuses. Want to know how close the simulator got to reality in previous contests? [Read more.]

Top Bronx Assemblyman Marcos Crespo Will Not Seek Reelection

Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, the head of the Bronx Democratic party, is not running for reelection. The powerful Bronx lawmaker and sponsor of the Elevator Safety Act, announced Friday in a letter to constituents that instead of seeking a return to Albany next year he will “pursue opportunities outside of government.” [Read more.]

New York Might Cancel Republican Presidential Primary

New York officials will decide in the next few days whether to cancel this year’s Republican presidential primary, which would guarantee President Donald Trump wins every delegate from his former home state. Four Republicans have submitted paperwork to appear on the ballot — Trump, Bill Weld, Rocky De La Fuente and Joe Walsh. [Read more.]

Democratic Leaders Willing to Risk Party Damage to Stop Bernie Sanders

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, hear constant warnings from allies about congressional losses in November if the party nominates Bernie Sanders for president. Democratic House members share their Sanders fears on text-messaging chains. Bill Clinton, in calls with old friends, vents about the party getting wiped out in the general election. [Read more.]

Michael Hertz — You’ve Surely Seen His Subway Map — Dies at 87

Michael Hertz, whose design firm produced one of the most consulted maps in human history, the curvy-lined chart that New York City subway riders peer at over one another’s shoulders to figure out which stop they want, died on Feb. 18 in East Meadow, N.Y. He was 87. [Read more.]

Former Federal Railroad Official to Temporarily Succeed Byford as Subway’s Chief

On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which Cuomo effectively controls, announced Feinberg would succeed Andy Byford, on an interim basis, as president of New York City Transit, the subway and bus system that carries more than 2 billion people a year. Cuomo formerly asked Feinberg to serve as the MTA’s chairman and CEO, a position she declined, citing family and work constraints — news POLITICO first reported last March. [Read more.]