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The O’Donnell & Associates team joins the entire City of Buffalo in praying for and honoring the sacrifice of fallen Buffalo Firefighter Jason Arno.
We are eternally grateful for Jason’s selflessness and heroism and for all of those who take the oath to protect and serve our community. 

Good morning from Albany, NY where it is all budget, all the time.

Here is what you need to know: 
  • Governor Hochul appointed Robert Megna as Budget Director. Megna brings institutional knowledge, having served as Budget Director from 2009 to 2015 as well as experience, especially experience saying “no.” His first tour as budget director began during the Global Financial Crisis but Megna helped lift the state to its strongest financial rating in forty years. Megna will be a short termer, serving through the end of the Legislative Session in June before returning to his position as President of the Rockefeller Institute of Government and Senior Advisor to the Chancellor. Megna is also tasked with leading the search for a permanent budget director.
  • Of note from the Health hearing were the dire concerns around safety net health care, threatened by the looming cuts to New York’s 340B Drug Pricing Program. 340B is a federal program allowing covered entities, including hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and Ryan White Clinics to purchase prescription drugs at a discount for Medicaid patients and use those savings to fund wraparound services for underserved communities. The uproar at the hearing included NYC not-for-profit organization Housing Works CEO Charles King being arrested at the Capitol building.   

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“Don’t make any travel plans in April,” Jack cautions.
He lays out the budget issues that may be headed for a showdown with the Legislature.

  • The Department of Budget, Assembly Ways & Means, and Senate Finance released the Consensus Economic and Revenue Forecast Report, as is required annually by statute, which found that “the economy remains vulnerable to headwinds from domestic fiscal/monetary policies and worldwide uncertainties.” The agreement is a key part of the budget process, with lawmakers needing to know how much revenue the state can expect to take in before they negotiate on how much they should spend in the budget. This year, the Legislature and Executive branch agreed on a two-year revenue forecast that is $800 million more than the Executive Budget. 
The Governor’s statutorily required 30-day Amendments to the Executive Budget Proposal, which were released Friday, were largely technical. You can read them here. Next up, expect One-House budget proposals around March 15th which does not leave much turnaround time to negotiate a final budget before the April 1st deadline.  

In New York City, Mayor Adams is taking some heat over his recent comments on guns, religion, and schools. At an interfaith breakfast, the Mayor said “When we took prayers out of schools, guns came into schools” and later, “Don’t tell me about no separation of church and stateState is the body, church is the heart. You take the heart out of the body, the body dies.” 

In Washington, D.C…
  • The House and Senate are in session this week with jam-packed hearing schedules on everything from the FAA Reauthorization to confronting “threats from the Chinese Community Party.” Read more here.  
  • President Biden has nominated Deputy Secretary of Labor Julie Su to become the next Secretary of Labor, with current Secretary Marty Walsh having left the administration to lead the NHL Player Association. In a statement, Biden said, “Over several decades, Julie has led the largest state labor department in the nation, cracked down on wage theft, fought to protect trafficked workers, increased the minimum wage, created good-paying, high-quality jobs, and established and enforced workplace safety standards.” Her hearing before the Senate is expected towards the end of March.  
  • In the election for Chicago Mayor, Lori Lightfoot failed to advance to the runoff, making her the city’s first one-term mayor in forty years. Lightfoot’s inability to combat Chicago’s rising crime rate dampened her electoral chances and the two candidates who did advance to the runoff, former public schools executive Paul Vallus and county board commissioner Brandon Johnson, both made public safety the hallmark of their campaigns. The runoff election will be held on April 4th.  

Politicians and high-ranking government officials are generally viewed as old, out-of-touch, and unrelatable, but 70-year-old Attorney General Merrick Garland has something we can all relate to…….he is a huge Taylor Swift fan

-Jack O’Donnell  


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New to the NYS Legislature  

Assembly Member Michael “Misha” Novakhov was elected to the New York State Assembly on November 8, 2022 when he knocked off longtime Democratic Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz one of several upsets by Republicans in the Assembly. The 45th Assembly District in Brooklyn includes portions of Sheepshead Bay, Midwood, Manhattan Beach, Gravesend, and Brighton Beach.
Assembly Member Novakhov is originally from the former USSR and was fortunate to have successfully immigrated to the United States with his family. Michael has worked for 20 years in the radio business, and in 2019, he co-founded Freedom FM, the most listened to Russian-language radio station in the country. His story is the true embodiment of the American Dream and because of this, he holds a unique perspective on many issues facing New Yorkers and Americans.
In his first legislative session, Assembly Member Novakhov’s priorities include combatting rising crime, especially against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) and Jewish communities, making health care and housing more affordable, and protecting the overall quality of life for his constituents and residents across New York State.
Overall, Assembly Member Novakhov says he is “proud to be an integral part of his community in his hometown of Brooklyn and excited to roll up his sleeves and get to work on their behalf.”




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Will GOP Opposition Move the Needle on the Governor’s New Energy Policy?

“The reality is, I’m in Albany today, I’m walking the halls, and there are flyers everywhere from advocates, saying don’t let the fossil fuel industry deceive you, don’t let them trick you. So there’s some really loud voices on both sides of this, and the reality is we’ve got a Democratic Governor, a supermajority in the Democratic State Senate, a supermajority of Democrats in the State Assembly, ” says our Jack O’Donnell. Listen to more gas ban reaction in this report from Brayton Wilson of WBEN.







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Donors Pledge $55 Million for Smithsonian’s New Museum of American Women

Melinda French Gates, Tory Burch and Alice Walton are among contributors helping the museum deliver on its promise to represent women on the National Mall. [Read more.]