Good Morning from the Nation’s Capital  

Last Wednesday, President Joe Biden delivered his first joint address to Congress, detailing the American Families Plan—a $1.8 trillion collection of spending increases and tax cuts to pay for a major expansion of education, child care and support for women in the workforce to be paid for by additional taxes on high earners. The AFP follows on the heels of the $2.3 trillion infrastructure package President Biden proposed last month, bringing the cost of these proposals to a total of just over $4 trillion. 
 
 
  • Two years of free community college;
  • Universal preschool for all three- and four- year-olds;
  • A comprehensive paid family and medical leave program; 
  • $9 billion in funding to support American teachers;
  • An investment of $45 billion to critical nutrition assistance programs to reduce childhood hunger;
  • An extension of the Child Tax Credit and other tax cuts; 
  • A tax hike on the wealthiest of Americans to largely fund the proposal, with a pledge to not increase taxes for any household making under $400,000.
Republicans immediately attacked the plan. Beyond the usual fiscal critiques, they are accusing Biden of attempting to “reshape American life.” On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the Biden Administration “wants to jack up taxes in order to nudge families toward the kinds of jobs Democrats want them to have, in the kinds of industries Democrats want to existwith the kinds of cars Democrats want them to drive, using the kinds of child-care arrangements that Democrats want them to pursue.”
 
It is worth noting that no legislation has been proposed to implement Biden’s proposals. Congressional Democrats will finesse and amend the proposals as they work through the legislative process in the coming months. And once there is legislation, Democrats believe they can again use budget reconciliation to circumvent Republican opposition. Stay tuned… 

 

In the State Capital…

New York’s Congressional Delegation will lose one seat next year based on the Census numbers released this week. New York was just 89 residents away from keeping all 27 seats, leaving many onlookers to wonder “what went wrong?” Governor Andrew Cuomo has asked State Attorney General Letitia James to review the state’s potential legal options. “You have undocumented people who are nervous to come forward,” Cuomo said. “I do believe the federal government had a chilling effect.” Many states have challenged the census results in the past, but none have been successful. Progressives throughout the State—including State Senate Elections Committee Chair Zellnor Myrie—blame the Governor for sitting on funds appropriated in 2019 for 2020 Census outreach. “What’s troubling to me is the State of New York clearly did not go that extra mile. They did not put the resources in. They held back money they should have devoted [to the census],” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio last week.

 

It is unclear what the new map will look like and which district will be eliminated. The map-drawing process will begin in September—led by the Independent Redistricting Commission (created by a Constitutional Amendment in 2012)—when the U.S. Census Bureau makes public the local area population counts. The Commission must draw these new district lines in time for the Congressional Midterm Primary Elections in June 2022. Maps will then be submitted to the state Legislature at the beginning of January 2022. However, the state Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, can ultimately overrule whatever decision is made by the Commission and draw its own district maps if they choose. Potential partisan targets for Democrats could be New York’s 22nd Congressional District, currently held by Rep. Claudia Tenney; the 23rd Congressional District which will be vacated by Rep. Tom Reed, who announced he would not run again in 2022 amidst sexual harassment allegations; and New York’s 27th Congressional District held by Rep. Chris Jacobs.

Governor Cuomo addressed allegations of sexual harassment directly last week, a departure from his usual non-responses. On Thursday, he lashed out at his public accusers saying it was “unfair” that he Is not allowed to tell his side of the story. “What has happened is, the complainants have continued to go to the press and make their complaint in the press,” Cuomo said during an appearance in Buffalo. “And I have not been able to respond. That’s not fair and it’s not right.” Cuomo also said he has not yet spoken with investigators appointed by Attorney General Tish James, but that he is “eager to tell [his] side of the story.” 

Cuomo’s vaccine czar and one of his most trusted advisers—Larry Schwartz—stepped down last week, just about five months after he was recruited by the Governor to spearhead New York’s vaccine rollout. His resignation came as the State Legislature restored state provisions to the public officers law that would have affected him had he remained in the position. Schwartz, who took on the role as an unpaid volunteer, could have been treated as a public officer following the legislative changes, which would have required him to file financial disclosure forms and be subject to a two-year lobbying ban after his service to the state, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Last week was lighter in terms of Committee agendas and floor activity but that should change: the Legislature is scheduled to vote today on an extension of the COVID-19 eviction moratorium—which expired on Saturday. The bill will be retroactive to include the weekend. The ban has been in place first through executive order and later by a state law, and is estimated to have helped 40,000 tenants stay in their homes, said Assembly Sponsor Jeff Dinowitz, a Democrat from the Bronx.  “That suggests tens of thousands of people have been impacted,” he said. “We can’t let them be homeless. It’s really that simple.” 

-Jack O’Donnell

    For a complete guide on what to expect before the Legislature adjourns in June, check out O’Donnell and Associates End of Session “Policy Season” Preview. 

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nys legislature: new member spotlight

Senator John Mannion (D-50th State Senate District)
Senator John Mannion defeated Republican Angi Renna in November 2020 to become the first Democrat to represent the 50th Senate District (which includes part of Syracuse’s north side, as well as the towns of Camillus, Clay, DeWitt, Elbridge, Geddes, Ira, Lysander, Manlius, Marcellus, Onondaga, Otisco, Skaneateles, Spafford, and Van Buren in Onondaga County; and parts of the city of Auburn as well as the towns of Brutus, Cato, Ira and Sennett in Cayuga County) in over 50 years.
 
Prior to being elected to the Senate, Senator Mannion spent nearly three decades a teacher in public schools throughout Central New York. He spent his final twenty-one years as an Advanced Placement Biology teacher at the West Genesee School District. He has been a strong advocate for teachers and students, serving in the capacity of President for the West Genesee Teachers’ Association. 
 
Senator John Mannion is a lifelong Central New Yorker. The grandchild of Irish immigrants, he grew up on Syracuse’s famous Tipperary Hill. He now resides in Geddes with his wife, Jennifer, and his three children – Jack, Quinn, and Brady.
 
This Session, he will serve as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Disabilities; as well as a member of the Committees on Children & Families; Civil Service and Pensions; Education; Environmental Conservation; Housing, Construction, and Community Development; and Internet and Technology.