John DeFrancisco

Cuomo’s new challenger and de Blasio's growing budget

Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco is running against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled an $88.7 billion budget, and special elections for vacant state legislative seats are expected on April 24.

The trial against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former aide Joseph Percoco continued in full force as more witnesses described how he gave developers “Totally Amazing” access to Albany. Potential fallout from the lead paint inspection scandal at the New York City Housing Authority also continued, as a fourth top official resigned since the investigation began. And although President Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan could impact New York, he was sparse with details during his State of the Union address. Keep reading for more of this week’s top news.

DeFrancisco dives in 

State Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco threw his hat into the ring for the governor’s race to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo, announcing his candidacy on Tuesday. He joined a Republican primary field that includes Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra. DeFrancisco told City & State he thinks he has a good shot at the nomination, and that when it comes time for the general election, Cuomo won’t be able to bully him. He would be the first upstate governor in years, and though he has plans to fix New York City transit, that could be good news for other parts of New York that feel shortchanged by Cuomo’s focus on the downstate transportation.

De Blasio’s budget

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio released his $88.7 billion proposed budget on Thursday. Despite potential cuts in federal aid under the Trump administration, de Blasio increased spending by $4 billion from what he proposed last year. That’s left City Council Finance Committee Chairman Daniel Dromm a little wary, a feeling shared by budget watchdogs. A notable absence from that spending is new funding for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as de Blasio continues his refusal to pay for half of Cuomo’s Subway Action Plan.

Albany addresses sexual harassment 

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, which recently hit the state capital in the form of an allegation against state Sen. Jeff Klein, the state Senate has updated its decade-old workplace harassment policy. The new policy expands the definition of harassment, adds more protected classes of people and reprimands supervisors who fail to report harassment. But the policy also warns that false accusations can lead to punishment or termination, something state Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins criticized.

Cold comfort for NYCHA residents 

De Blasio announced a $200 million investment toward fixing or replacing old boilers at 20 New York City Housing Authority developments. But those repairs won’t start until July, when most NYCHA residents probably won’t need heat, and the repairs won’t be completed for years. About 3,000 NYCHA residents went without heat during a blizzard this winter and the boilers in many more buildings are just too old to keep up with the cold.

Special elections in April

Cuomo reportedly is planning to set a date – April 24 – for a special election for 11 vacant state legislative seats that have not had a representative since last year’s election. The date comes after the April 1 budget deadline, ensuring the current majorities stay in power. One key race that will be decided is the one to fill Westchester County Executive George Latimer’s old state Senate seat in a potential swing district that is pivotal for Democrats.