Gov. Andrew Cuomo kicked off this week with some favorable poll numbers, a good sign going into his re-election year. But New York City Housing Authority Chairwoman Shola Olatoye’s fortunes haven’t improved, as Assemblyman Charles Barron called on her to resign during a closed-door meeting. The Long Island Rail Road also found itself on the defensive, but this time it wasn’t about delays. A rider turned on the faucet in a train bathroom and was greeted by black sludge, bad for both the LIRR and commuter alike. Read about what else happened in this week’s headlines.
Cuomo starts the budget dance
Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled his $168.2 billion budget proposal, which would close the state’s $4.4 billion deficit. Cuomo said closing that gap is the easy part, but protecting New York from the federal tax law is the real challenge. Cuomo laid out some possible changes to the state tax code to address the federal legislation, including swapping income taxes for payroll taxes or creating a state-run charitable foundation to accept payments that would be deductible. His office put out more details later in the week, although there’s still plenty of uncertainty as to what’s next or whether the alternatives would work. Cuomo also proposed a smaller-than-expected increase in school aid, leaving advocates unhappy, while marijuana legalization will be on hold while a task force studies the matter. State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan gave a clear answer to whether Republicans would go along with the proposals, which include $1 billion in “revenue raisers”: “No.”
In the zone
The details on congestion pricing from Cuomo’s Fix New York City panel are out. If the plan is approved, drivers would have to pay $11.52 to enter Manhattan below 60th Street, although that excludes FDR Drive north of the Brooklyn Bridge. In addition to the tolls, cabs and ride-hailing vehicles would add $2 to $5 surcharges for rides within the fare zone. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he saw some good elements in the plan, a sharp contrast to his past criticisms of congestion pricing. Maybe his change of heart will inform the next two big questions: What sticks and can it pass?
A race for No. 2
New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams has thrown his hat into the ring to challenge Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul as Cuomo’s second in command. He has already been attacked by Melissa DeRosa, a top Cuomo aide, who questioned his commitment to supporting same-sex marriage and abortion rights. Some Democrats are also pushing Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren to make a run, although she offered no comment. Despite rumblings that Hochul would try to retake the seat she lost to Rep. Chris Collins, she insisted she plans to run again as lieutenant governor this year.
Home but not free
A judge has allowed immigration activist Ravi Ragbir to be transferred back to New York City while he awaits his deportation case. He was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents last week, sparking protests that led to arrests, and sent him to detention center in Miami. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the actions of immigration agents “provocative” but unsurprising as an extension of the Trump administration.
NEXT STORY: NYN Media Buzz: Jan. 19, 2018