January 17th, 2016

(03-05-09) Liz Krueger8x10HS-002

Guests: State Senator Liz Krueger and Capitol Tonight Host Liz Benjamin

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State Senator Liz Krueger

Read Highlights: Krueger slams Cuomo’s proposed budget as terrible for New York City:

Morgan Pehme: According to some estimates, the Governor’s proposed budget will dump $800 million in new costs on the City of New York. Maria Doulis, an analyst for the nonpartisan Citizens Budget Commission, said, “For New York City, I think this is one of the worst budgets that it’s seen in a long time.” Do you agree with this assessment, and, if so, will the members of the Legislature from New York City—roughly half of the Legislature as a whole—stand united against the Governor and push back against these increases?

LK: “I do agree with the analysis. I was, frankly, quite appalled when I looked through the paper to see what was really being proposed because it was very different than the presentation that was made to all of us. The concept—and I believe it was described as such by the governor’s people—was when you have all these new things you are going to do you have to balance by cutting other things that you have been doing. So he was basically suggesting that the reality of budget improvements in some areas had to be some sort of zero-sum game specifically for New York City. That is unacceptable and the two primary areas where he is proposing transferring enormous costs to the City of New York are the most absurd and insulting proposals. One, transferring increased Medicaid costs to the City of New York, where he himself took on redesign of Medicaid for cost efficiencies and a commitment to stop passing those costs on to the localities unlike any other state in the country at this point. So, to reverse himself in this good economic year, but just for New York City cannot be allowed to stand. And then a radical cut to commitments to the City University of New York. His speech was filled with excellent rhetoric about responsibility for addressing income inequality, responsibility for helping lift the boats of everyone. Who are CUNY students? They are poor students of color, new immigrant students, the future for our city and our state. How can we imagine withdrawing our commitment just for them when we are not doing the same for the SUNY system of upstate New York universities? It’s one public education system. It’s just divided up into two universities. There is no justification.”

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Krueger on the prospects of passing her bill to legalize recreational marijuana:

LK: “So far I do not have legislative support of significant numbers in either house and I don’t have the support of the governor. But I can tell you that four years ago everyone said that we were never going to get medical marijuana passed in this state, even three years ago or two years ago. So a bunch of people were against it until they were for it. I believe a similar pattern can happen for tax and regulation of marijuana. We have seen it growing as an acceptable model of law throughout the country, mostly in states where they have referendum votes, so it’s interestingly the people more in support of this kind of proposal than their legislators. Here in New York … we don’t have a referendum system so we’d have to get it through the legislature and the governor. When I put the bill in originally, I said this bill will help us move the medical marijuana bill and I believe it did because that’s when the medical marijuana bill passed. And I said this bill needs to go out there and we need to have broad discussions. We need to educate people. We need to answer their hard questions, resolve their fears. I don’t know how many years it will take, but we will get to the point where the people of New York state will demand of their Legislature that we pass a tax and regulate decriminalization system of marijuana. We are watching other states that have done this. We are watching the current federal government make it easier and easier to have their own policies. Ultimately … the right answer is a national policy. I suppose that is heavily dependent on what the future brings for our White House and our Congress, which is why I think our states are moving forward faster. So I am not giving up on this proposal. It makes common sense. It’s the right policy for the state. But I have no illusions that I can walk into Albany one week this year and suddenly I’ve got everyone supporting it.”

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Krueger on whether it is actually possible given the convictions of Shelly Silver and Dean Skelos in 2015 that there will be no landmark good government reforms adopted by Albany in 2016:

LK: “I have been asked that question by a number of media people in the last few weeks and I keep saying the same thing: Public, you have to yell louder. Media, you have to keep hitting us. We do respond to public pressure and media attention, although many of this think we’re more teflon than we are. I really, really do hope that with both leaders of both houses found guilty of corruption [and] on their way to jail, the deputy leader of the Senate Republicans also found guilty, under house arrest, a federal prosecutor who is not done—I  am very clear that Preet Bharara is not done—I don’t know a time where it is more ripe for us to not nibble around the edges, to stop pretending that these one-third bills we do each year with all kinds of loopholes in them for ourselves are going to be bought as real by the public. But only if your listeners, other people’s radio, TV and newspaper readers and listeners demand it of us.”

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Krueger says Senate Majority Leader Flanagan’s remarks that ethics reform has already been addressed in Albany “was the most tone-deaf speech I’ve heard in Albany in a long time”:


LK: “When we opened session last week, Senator John Flanagan, the new Republican majority leader, made his opening speech. He basically said, ‘We’ve done this already. There are no problems. Life is good. We’re moving on.’ I thought that was the most tone-deaf speech I’ve heard in Albany in a long time.”

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Krueger on whether she anticipates that Gov. Cuomo will heavily campaign for Democrats to win the State Senate in 2016:

LK: “I think we would both have to ask Governor Cuomo if that is his intention or not because I will not presume anything. And, of course, every race is a different story. I have no doubt that we will hear from many people that are running around the state that they don’t really want him actively coming out for them given some of the polling data in different parts of the state.”

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Krueger, a nationally renowned expert on homelessness, on whether the differences between Cuomo’s and de Blasio’s approach to dealing with the problem is substantive from a policy perspective or largely political in nature:

LK: “I think the tension is political in nature and their idea about what we need to do are not particularly different. The governor came out with a commitment for more money for supportive housing. The mayor has been highlighting and making previous commitments for the expansion of supportive housing. They both have plans to build more affordable housing and the recognition that if you don’t have adequate affordable housing you will continue to see a growing population of new homeless. They both are talking about improvements in the services provided to people in the shelter system. So the irony, I think, for the public, is that I don’t think they disagree policy-wise at all. They do seem to—I don’t know if it’s enjoy—they do seem to be busy slapping each other around, but I’m not that interested. I’m interested in making sure that the best policy answers to address homelessness statewide get brought to fruition. I’m interested in actual dialogue about lots of pieces of state policy that actually create more homelessness.”

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Krueger responds to Bill’s proposal that the parties in NYS institute a quota system that would require them to endorse 50% women candidates in an effort to boost female representation in government:

LK: “The research shows that when women run they do extremely well and they do win. So I think our challenge is getting women to be willing to take the leap into these races because they make fabulous candidates and they win, I think statistically, at higher rates than their male counterparts. The dilemma is women don’t seem to come out of the womb saying I’m going to be President and I’ll start at the State Senate. I know a whole lot of men who appear to have come out of the womb preparing for an election for President. … I’m not sure that I would agree with you that saying you must have 50% of the candidates be women would make enough sense unless you actually had as many women lining up wanting to run as we have men, and we don’t yet.”

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Capital Tonight Host Liz Benjamin

On whether Gov. Cuomo, who spoke in favor of a Constitutional Convention in his State of the State, is really serious about pushing for one:

LB: “There’s a million dollars in there for a planning commission for the convention and that’s good. We are behind the eight ball, as you know, in terms of our calendar vis-a-vis other conventions that have happened in the past. As for whether the governor is serious or not, I’m really not sure. He has been saying for years that he’s a huge supporter of ‘Con Con’, but then again, his father—it was really kind of a pet project of his father’s. If he wants to honor his father’s legacy … In terms of the issue about who can serve, that requires legislative action, I believe. And there’s some proposals floating around out there and … a number of good government organizations that are already talking about this. The Bar Association has a committee that’s looking at this and making recommendations. So, people are talking about it. As to whether or not it actually happens and how organized it will be, or the government itself will be, that remains to be seen”

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Benjamin on whether Cuomo has opened up a new, more serious front in his battle with de Blasio by dumping $800 million in new costs on NYC:

LB: “I will say this: I mean, I don’t know what is in the governor’s head and what’s motivating him. And I’ve certainly heard some of the logic behind, or what the administration believes is the logic behind these cuts. For example, they note that the city has 30, I believe, appointees on the CUNY board and so they should be ponying up more, though I don’t believe any other university system across the country requires that sort of thing. So that’s one area, for example. Then there’s a reconfiguration of the STAR rebate that has been allocated to the city, though the STAR rebate doesn’t technically apply to the city. It’s mostly for property owners upstate, to give them a break. The bottom line is if in fact the governor is making policy based on his political pissing match, if you’ll forgive my French, with a fellow Democrat, if that’s what’s driving his agenda, well, that’s a pretty sad way to run a government, much less anything else. And I would hope, and I have to believe, that’s not what’s motivating him here, that he really is making the agenda based on what he believes is best for the state and best for the city. I really do not know. I have not had an opportunity to ask him.”

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Benjamin on Gov. Cuomo not being out of the woods yet with Preet Bharara, despire the U.S. Attorney’s announcement this week that the Governor’s Office would not be charged for meddling with the Moreland Commission:

LB: “First of all, the U.S. Attorney did not say that he was ending his investigation into the Buffalo Billion, which is the governor’s signature upstate economic development project and there’s some questions regarding the procurement process there as to who gets contracts and whether they’re given to people because they’ve given quite a bit of campaign cash. So there’s that that’s still out there. There’s the unfinished investigations that the Moreland Commission was doing when the Governor struck an ethics reform deal with then-legislative leaders Silver and Skelos that shut the thing down. I believe the U.S. Attorney continues to look at those. I also asked [Governor Cuomo’s Counsel] Alphonso David much the same question, you know, it must have been a relief for the administration and how much impact did it have, et cetera, et cetera and his response was ‘Not much because we believed all along that there was nothing to see here and it turns out we were right.’ So that’s what they think or, at least to the Governor’s counsel that’s what they think. I’m sure it took a little bit of weight off his shoulders to the degree that he had any.”

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