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February 7th, 2016

 

Guests: State Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Gannett Albany Bureau Chief Joe Spector

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Note: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement this week in his State of the City address that he would spearhead the creation of a city-run retirement savings program for private workers was a great triumph for EffectiveNY and its founder Bill Samuels, which have spent years making this policy goal one of their major aims.

In this week’s show, Samuels complimented de Blasio for his action, but he also praised Governor Cuomo for his as of yet unnoticed step toward addressing the retirement security crisis on the state level by announcing in the policy book that accompanied his State of the State address the creation of a new commission to be chaired by former State Comptroller Carl McCall, which is charged with devising a government-run statewide retirement savings program for private workers.

Samuels on de Blasio’s and Cuomo’s efforts to address the retirement savings crisis private workers face:

BS: “Well, I have to tell you that one of the biggest problems we have across the state is that a huge percentage, a majority of people, do not have retirement security. It’s a crisis. So first, I want to compliment Mayor de Blasio for putting forward a specific program for the 60% of New York City workers that have no retirement security. … But unnoticed in Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State, [the Governor] took a very important step that I want to compliment him on. He appointed a commission headed up by the respected former comptroller, Carl McCall, to study how this problem can be addressed [statewide] throughout Westchester, Nassau [all the way] to Erie County. I’m really very excited by what the governor has done and I hope as we move into the 2017 legislative session, I think we’ll see a Cuomo plan that will help solve this problem. … I want to really compliment both the governor, who has [received] no credit for this yet—it hasn’t even been written about—and the mayor. I’m very excited and, of course, it’s something that I promoted and worked on in detail for four years, working with a whole host of people, so it was an important step for us this week.”

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Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins

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Stewart-Cousins on whether Gov. Cuomo broke his promise in 2014 to elect a Democratic State Senate:

ASC: “I’m at this moment where we are looking, frankly, at the present, which is where I choose to focus, and in the future. I think the governor has understood, and continues to understand, that we are always better off when we work together as a party, that when voters elect Democrats to lead, we should have the opportunity to do that. And I think that even this past number of years, the governor realizes that so many of the reforms, so many of the initiatives that he’s put forward and some of the things he’s most proud of, whether it’s stronger gun laws or marriage equality, he did with our majority Democrats. So I believe that he is clear that in order to move the state forward in the way that we all want to see it move, the Democratic majority is better and I think that just based on the things that he’s saying and some of the things that he is doing, he is looking forward to that. So my job is to continue to work with my conference, continue to work with all of my colleagues and certainly the governor to make sure that this election cycle is a great election cycle and that Democrats will be in the majority and Democrats will lead.”

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Stewart-Cousins on what kind of help the Governor will give Democratic State Senate candidates in 2016:

ASC: “I think that, as we know, we need resources in order to run good campaigns and to win and, again, I think that we are all on the same page in terms of wanting to have our great candidates prevail. So I am happy to receive whatever help the governor would like to extend during this period and beyond and, again, I think we’re at the very beginning of this election season and it’s a big, big year and there’s national elections as well. So, I think there’s a lot of energy in terms of making sure the right things happen on every level. And I believe, again, that the governor will be helpful in the effort. I can’t know what he’s going to do, but the fact that he was out early with our candidate [Todd Kaminsky] here in April, [that] he set a date for [the special] election. We’re moving in the right direction. We’re moving in the right direction.”

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Stewart-Cousins on what she is doing this session to be let into negotiations with the “Three Men in a Room”:

ASC: “The negotiations about the budget have not, it doesn’t appear, to have begun in earnest. So, we are prepared to make the argument that we should be included. My conference represents eight million New Yorkers. We shouldn’t be left out and also I can tell you that I argued not only for me, but for the Republican minority leader as well. And the argument began—I know many listeners in Westchester have heard this—but the argument began because number one, the ‘Three Men in a Room’ is extremely limited and small in terms of the budget, which is over a hundred and fifty billion—with a ‘b’—dollars. The perspective of more voices I believe are important, but what really started the conversation is that when the three men in that room which was, as you said, the governor, the speaker and the majority leader were usually the three people, that was somehow different last year and another person was invited into the room who did not have any of those three titles. So I took that to mean that there was going to be an expansion of the participants and if we were going to expand to include different conference leaders that my conference should be included and even the Republican’s minority conference. And this way it would expand the voices for all the elected leaders in New York State and in my case, since I am the first woman, it would, for the first time, allow a woman in the room and, as you know—I know both of you know—women in New York State are more than fifty percent [of the population]. We have the majority slightly, but we’re in the majority. So, the idea that a woman has actually never been in this very excluded and rarified air I think is surprising in a so-called progressive state like New York. But certainly I think the time has come to start including other voices and certainly that of a woman.”

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Stewart-Cousins on where she stands on legalization of recreational marijuana and whether the Democratic conference will push for legalization if it becomes the majority:

ASC: “I think it was a big lift in terms of just getting to the point where we are, and that hasn’t really been implemented as yet, and that’s with the medical marijuana. And, of course … on many levels there was still a great deal of resistance to that. So I do believe that everybody is taking one step at a time in terms of this medical marijuana, making sure that’s—I was going to say rolled out—no pun intended—appropriately. I think it’s clear that conversation around marijuana has changed significantly and I do believe it will continue to be a topic that people will address.”

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Stewart-Cousins on whether she has taken a position on the 2017 Constitutional Convention vote:

ASC: “No, we’re going to talk about that. I know there’s a lot of different views on that.”

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Stewart-Cousins on whether she would support term limits for members of the state Legislature:

ASC: “How do I say this? I hate to be that person, but I’ve never been a fan of term limits. I mean, here I am getting ready to finish eight years. I’m almost at that place where I could be the majority leader and I’d be done before we even got started. So, I think that having been in a position to run against long-term incumbents—both of the elected positions I’ve had I’ve run against long-term incumbents. The first time I think it was between twelve and fourteen years the individual was there. The second time person had been there about twenty-six, twenty-eight years. I have been a firm believer that the voters, if you give them a choice, they will choose. That has been my personal experience.”

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Gannett Albany Bureau Chief Joe Spector

(The Journal News, USA Today, Democrat and Chronicle)

 

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Spector on who will win New York’s Presidential primary on April 17:

JS: “It’s going to be interesting. Just the other day Bernie Sanders supporters were up in Albany trying to drum up support for him saying that he can make it a competitive race in Hillary Clinton’s home state, so we’ll see. … A Republican hasn’t won New York in a presidential race since 1984, Ronald Reagan. And so, you know, will New York be in play this year is a question not only for the primary, of course, but also for the general election.”

MP: “And in the Republican primary, I’ve heard that the Republicans are hopeful that Marco Rubio can take it. Who else do think might have a chance here in New York?”

JS: “Well, obviously Donald Trump is another New Yorker, so it’s interesting when you have two New Yorkers at, potentially, the top of the ticket. And there are some upstate Republicans who are heading out to New Hampshire—conservative Republicans—to try to build support for Trump’s candidacy. Obviously, those are the names and it plays a role in November here in New York, because if it’s a competitive race in New York, that’s going to havse a lot of impact on the downstate races and … there are major congressional races, State Senate races that will be critical for the state and for this state’s congressional delegation.”

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Spector on which party will end up in control of the State Senate after the 2016 general election:

JS: “I think if you ask Republicans, they feel pretty confident that they’ll be able to retain it despite the [Democrat’s] advantage of enrollment around the state. Conversely, if you look at the time that Democrats won the state Senate, 2008, that was because it was a big presidential year. Will the turnout in New York be as strong as it was for President Obama in 2008 and then again for his re-election four years later? I think that’s one of the things Republicans are questioning, whether it will be on the same level. Secondly, you know, a lot of times these districts come down to the individuals. There’s going to be, again, a lot of money spent on these districts and, with such tight margins, it’s hard to say how it’s going to go. But then you have the whole other factor of what will the members of the five-member Independent Democratic Conference do? And where will their loyalties lie when the dust settles?

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