Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Outlines Remaining Budget Priorities
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo outlined the priorities he said must be included in the final enacted budget due on April 1. Those measures include making the property tax cap permanent, reforming and funding the MTA, ensuring fairness in the criminal justice system, and enacting ethics reforms. The Governor has been clear he will not sign a budget that does not include those measures.
AUDIO of today's event is available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Governor Cuomo: For those of you who aren't familiar, let me introduce the people we are joined with today. First to my left a man who needs no introduction. He's been in this room many, many times. Former Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy, who's now the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO. To his left, Kevin Law the President and CEO of the Long Island Association. To my right, Budget Director Extraordinaire Robert Mujica. To his right, Heather Briccetti, President and CEO of the Business Council of New York State.
We have some comments about the overall budget. I'll make some opening comments. And then I'll turn it over to Mr. Duffy and then Kevin Law and then Heather Briccetti, and then we'll take your questions.
We are in the full throes of the budget season as you know. We're now down to a couple of weeks, and these are very fast and short and intense weeks and there's a lot to do in a couple of weeks. And it is probably the most technical issues that we have dealt with in a budget. We did many of the easier issues earlier on. They were issues that we had discussed for years, we had positions for years. I had proposed most of those bills for seven years. We debated them. They went to the Republican Senate where they weren't passed, but we were all fully familiar with those pieces of legislation. Plus or minus. We are now talking about the budget and talking about issues that are technical and also new.
From my point of view, the transcendent issue for the state, let alone the budget right now, is the state of the economy. This is a much different economy than we've ever dealt with before. This is an unstable economy. It is a changing economy, and it is an economy that is unfavorable to New York. The declining revenues are a very serious and irrefutable indicator - $2.3 billion reduction in revenues this year. $1.3 billion, $1.5 billion next year. Total $3.8 billion reduction in revenues. Those are facts. And even in the political world, there are still facts and there are still numbers, as opposed to just opinions. Well he said this, she said this, yeah, but then there are facts and there are numbers, and the numbers paint a frightening picture.
We have declining revenues. Why? Overall instability on the economy, and I believe we're feeling the result of the SALT tax revisions. We've been talking about it for over a year. They were anticipatory because they hadn't been going into effect, so I was more foreshadowing what would happen when they became real for New Yorkers. And they are now real. As Governor of the State of New York today, my top priority is repealing SALT. Period. It is the single best and most important thing I can do, is to repeal SALT. That and to protect the lives and property of New Yorkers in the meantime. But I will be almost singularly focused on trying to get SALT repealed. We have an opportunity to do that, we have a Democratic Congress. The states that were affected were primarily Democratic. It is in their best interest to repeal SALT. It was politically targeted. I've already met with Speaker Pelosi about it, I've met with our House Delegation about it. I spoke with President Trump about it. I've been speaking with other Governors about it. I'm going to travel across the country to build support to repeal SALT. You can say well you only have one house, you only have the Congress. That's true. but it still takes two to tango, and the Senate is going to need the House to pass a bill, and I want to make sure that the House says repealing SALT is a top priority if the senate wants to pass any bills.
Also, the tax reform bill has to be opened up because they have to make corrections in the tax reform bill. So that very bill they want to open and modify. And the position in the Congress should be, if you want to open and modify it, you have to repeal the SALT provision, which was political, it was partisan. It permanently restructures the economy. You have 15 states; those 15 states have a different tax code going forward into the future. And those fifteen states have a tax penalty that the other states don't have. And what makes it so egregious is, it is wholly unfair. Not just politically, it's just unfair on the numbers. You have fifty states in the United States. Forty states are donor - I'm sorry - forty states take more money from the federal government than they give. Only ten states are donor states. Ten states give. Forty states take. Think about that. And this is a Republican administration that wants redistribution. Don't take from the rich and give to the poor, but you can take from ten states and give to forty states. And what's the number one donor state? The State of New York. So want to increase the taking from the number one donor state in the United States of America and take more. You want to take an injustice and you want to aggravate the injustice. Take the single state that gives more than anyone else and let's take more and redistribute it to the other states.
So, step one is fight for national change. Step two is alleviate the danger. And damage. How do you alleviate the damage? You have to make the tax cap permanent. Period. You have to offer New Yorkers some stability in this environment. Property taxes are 2.5 times the state income tax. When people complain about high taxes in New York State it's not the state income tax, FDR used to get very defensive, it's the property tax. Two and a half times, on average, what you pay for the income tax. A permanent tax cap would save most New Yorkers $30,000 over the next ten years. Fifty-two counties have average taxes of above the SALT $10,000 cap. Fifty-two counties will see a tax increase.
And just to give you an idea, pardon the tedium then I'll turn it over to Michael. This is complicated. Quick sidebar story, I'm twenty-something years old, my father's governor, President Reagan proposed the SALT provision - same SALT provision - which was proposed by the Senate also. [Inaudible] about SALT and he has the [inaudible] and the economists and he asks me to attend the meeting and I'm listening [inaudible] we lose the deductibility of state and local taxes, which would mean that the state and local taxes would be subject to federal taxation. He said to me, 'What do you think?' after the meeting. I'm twenty-something years old. I said, 'Well, I understand economically how this would be a disaster but I don't know how you explain this to people, because it is mind numbing when you try to talk about it.' You lose the deductibility, the state tax, it's very, very hard to communicate.
Now, President Reagan, wound up not doing it. Why? California, where he was former governor, would have been hurt. New York would have been hurt. Other states would have been hurt. And he concluded, how do you grow an overall, national economy when you're devastating New York and California. He understood the political retribution. He understood the redistribution, right? Cause this was sort of just a great pork barrel for the Republicans in the Senate. Take the money from New York and give it to my district. I get the politics of it. Also when President Reagan was president, you had some Republican senators from "blue states" you had Senator D'Amato at the time, right? So you had some Republicans senators. You now don't have any Republican senators from blue states. But, my continuing effort to try to communicate this to New Yorkers, fifty-two counties have an average SALT above the $10,000 cap, right? SALT has a $10,000 cap. So it effects fifty-two counties. Think of this: You make $150,000 a year - rough numbers. You pay about a 10% state and local income tax, a little low for New York City, but let's say 10%. One hundred and fifty thousand dollars, you pay $15,000 in state and local income tax. You're over the cap to the tune of $5,000, right? SALT cap is $10,000 and anything above $10,000 is taxed. You pay $15,000 state and local income tax. Five thousand dollars is not taxed by the federal government, roughly 30%, so you pay about an additional $1,600. I pay $20,000 in property taxes. That's over the cap because my income taxes are already over the cap. I now get taxed on my $20,000 property tax 30%. My property taxes go from 20 to $26,000. We spent the past seven years lowering taxes for every New Yorker. Two percent tax cap, can't go up more than two percent, one year it's going to go from 20 to 26. And then it's going to be a 26 every year thereafter. Plus, whatever the local increase is. So it's $6,000 more on the federal side, from 20 to 26, and whatever the local rate is. At one point there is a tipping point. And at one point people say, I can't afford this cost of living. And I can move to another state that has the advantages I can still come to New York just shy of six months a year, and enjoy New York but not pay the cost. I'm afraid we're at that tipping point, I'm afraid that's why we see the decline in revenues. So there's nothing more serious than this.
Governor Cuomo: Also remember, you know when we say property taxes it sounds like it's a small issue. Property taxes are synonymous with state taxes. It's two and a half times the income tax. When they say New York State is a high tax state, they're talking about the property tax, not the income tax. Second, we have done this for six years. When we first did it, "oh the sky is going to fall, the sky is going to fall. There's no way. We can't do this. We can't do this. We can't do this." We did it. We did it. Six years—the sky is not falling. You can exercise fiscal discipline and restraint and survive. You really can. And we've proven that for six years. Third, the cap was never a cap. Local governments could surpass it. It's not a legal cap. You just need a supermajority vote. "Well they didn't want to override it." Why? They didn't want the political pressure of overriding it. "Oh, so you could've overridden it, but you decided not to override it because of the political accountability." Great, great! Because there should be political accountability. The permanent tax cap will now offer stability at a time of great unrest because of this SALT. The Senate passed it, the Assembly didn't pass it. You can't have it both ways. Democratic Senate, Democratic Assembly—there is no such thing as a one house bill. We did that for many years. "Oh I passed it, they didn't pass it." When you have both houses Democratic, it doesn't work that way. Every other bill they passed they passed together. So the Senate's passage doesn't matter without the Assembly passage. And that is a precedent condition precedent to passing the budget. I'm not passing a budget without the permanent tax cap. A few other issues, but certainly not without the permanent tax cap.
Question: Governor, would you be willing to accept any changes to the tax cap?
Governor Cuomo: No.
Governor Cuomo: No.
Question: Simple majority -
Governor Cuomo: No.
Governor Cuomo: No. What you're saying is will you be willing to change the cap? That's the other way of saying it. Okay, we'll extend it but let's change it. No.
Question: ...to get it permanent through the Assembly. Why not negotiate?
Governor Cuomo: Because they would only do it if they could raise the cap. They're not going to do it for - hold on let me rephrase. If they want to lower the cap, I would be open to discussions. If they want to raise the cap, no. And your changes, Nick, what they're talking about are exceptions to the cap, which in essence raise the cap.
Question: Do you think that this is kind of like a similar political issue that you raise, like Amazon, where some lawmakers from the suburbs or upstate could suffer political consequences if the cap isn't made permanent?
Governor Cuomo: Yes.
Governor Cuomo: No. Look, the tax cap is a no-brainer if you are thinking about just your constituents, right? Long Island, highest absolute taxes in the United States of America. Nassau and Westchester go back and forth at number one, number two, Suffolk is right there. Upstate New York, Bob Duffy, Heather Briccetti primarily, highest property taxes in the United States of American by percentage of home value. If you're thinking about your constituents, why wouldn't you pass a permanent tax cap? It works. It's been there for six years. And you now have this compounding situation with SALT. What is the opposition? Oh, groups that want more money, special interests that want more money. Well, I understand that, but I'm saying think about your constituents and not the people who roam the hallways here. By the way, if I wanted to start trouble, which I don't because I'm not in that kind of mood, I'm more in a yes or no mood, as you can tell. Look at some of the salaries and benefits of the school superintendents retiring. Someone had a piece this weekend - $200,000, $250,000 pensions. I mean, that's, you know, absurd in my opinion. But the basic point is, it's working, it's working. Six years of experience, it's working. Well people want more money. I know. People always want more money. But, taxpayers don't want to pay more money. And it's that simple.
Question: Governor, do you believe the Senate Democrats genuinely support a permanent property tax cap or do you [inaudible]?
Governor Cuomo: Genuine belief. There's an interesting concept in this building. Do we have the ability to look into one soul and know if it was genuine and soulful, or if it was a one-house bill that they knew the Assembly wasn't going to pass, so it looked like a political motivation? It was the only one-house bill passed, by the way, which is peculiar. But I can't speak to genuine motivation. Mr. Gormley can speak to genuine motivation, as he often does. But I cannot speak to that.
Governor Cuomo: We haven't had those conversations, but I have sort of pre-empted that conversation because I'm not doing a budget without the permanent tax cap, period. Look, the whole economic picture is changing and fuzzy. And I call Mr. Mujica, the Budget Director, three times a day to say what are the revenues doing? I would not be surprised by any fluctuations. I have never done a budget, we talk about on-time budgets, more important to me, I've never done a budget that is wrong. What does wrong mean? Wrong means you miscalculated either the expenses or the income, and probably the income. This year we could make a mistake on the income. We'll then say, "Well, we relied on projections." You'll then say, "Well, everybody was saying that the projections were unstable because the economy is shifting." If you are wrong on the budget, then you have to come back and do something for the mid-year correction, which is terrible. Because then you have to call up every school district and say, "By the way, I know I gave you $10 million, it's not $10 million, it's $9 million." They say, "Yeah, but I already planned on the $10 million." That is horrendous. We've seen that done. So, being right is more important than anything else this year.
Question: [Inaudible] maybe not doing the budget April 1st and waiting until all the tax returns are in in mid-April?
Governor Cuomo: There are governors who talk about that. Well look, my father talked about moving the fiscal year to the end of June because he said you should know the numbers first. Why are you doing a budget in April? It doesn't correspond with any other fiscal years, and you're doing it before you know the revenues which really come in after April 15. And, my father always argued to move the fiscal year. Division of Budget, not to point fingers, Division of Budget was opposed to it, and the houses were opposed to it because it would have been a difficult adjustment administratively to change their internal mechanisms. It would have made no difference to the recipients, really. But they didn't want to have to go through the transition, period. But yes, your short answer is yes. That's why the economists who advise me say "don't do a budget. Just do a continuing resolution until you know what the revenues are."
No, I'm going to make a new faith effort to get it done on time, but your question was correct. If you would just think about good economic policy, "why are you doing a budget before knowing what your income is?" And you're right. And that was my father saying "move the fiscal year." There's a lot of economic experts saying move the fiscal year to June 30 then you know what your numbers are.
I would like to say that was the rationale for all those years when they didn't get the budget done on time. I don't believe that was the rationale. I believe they couldn't agree. But there is prudence to that.
Question: [Inaudible] practice to wait until there's more numbers and more revenue and the budget would pass April 1. Is there a way not to hold the legislature [inaudible] their papers [inaudible] because it was a prudent decision rather than a missed opportunity?
Governor Cuomo: That's a great question. I've asked my esteemed Budget Director yet. The line you would have to walk is it's a complete budget on April 1 for purposes of the State Comptroller forcing the legislature did a complete budget but it is not a final budget. There is a contingency that is left until after we know what the revenues really are. I don't believe we've landed on a line between complete and final if you know what I mean. The word in the Comptroller's certification is "complete." Your point would say "well how do you leave a reserve you know what the revenues are and the budget is quote unquote 'final'?" I don't know that we found that line.
Question: The final budget could pass April 1 without legislators and yourself [inaudible]
Governor Cuomo: That would be the question. We haven't found a way to do that, is that right?
Robert Mujica: Yeah, that's right. We have not found a way to do that.
Governor Cuomo: Because the budget has to be complete by April 1. But how do you have a complete budget that doesn't account for all the revenues? We haven't found a way to do that. Now, I have no problem with the budget April 1 as long as it's an honest budget and the numbers really add up. And there's no made up numbers in that budget, you know? Math is still math. We estimated the revenues at $172.4 billion. 172.4 the Comptroller came back we think the estimate is 190 low. $190 million low. He also said your reserves are low. That's what comptroller's do. You're $190 million low but your reserves are low. OK. So, $190 million which the Comptroller said our estimate was low. We added to the reserves, so we're still at $172.4 billion. I am comfortable with that number. If we come in truly within 172.4, I am comfortable. If there are gains within that, I am not comfortable.
And, sometimes, Mr. Gormley, you say "well the numbers are coming in, the economy is strong, maybe the revenue will exceed the projections" well I don't believe that this year. I believe that if anything we only go down. So, it has to be safe, and it has to be real. The one House budgets, I like to tease my legislative colleagues, that I don't know how their math always adds up, the Assembly budget includes a millionaire's tax, some type of millionaire's tax. The Senate won't include a millionaire's tax. If they include a millionaire's tax they have more money, higher numbers, they'll have more education, more this, more everything. I don't know what additional revenues is finding. I don't know that they have a new tax in their budget. If they don't have a new tax, the numbers have to add up to 172.4 because that's now the added number. I don't know the political viability of any tax increase that the Assembly is going to consider, right? If they put in a millionaire's tax but you don't see it in the Senate bill, then you assume it's a nonstarter. So, their budget has to really add up to 172.4. Whether or not they do, I don't know. I know my budget is going to add up to 172.4 or I'm not going to do the budget.
Question: What are the chances of having a pied-a-terre tax? How much could that raise?
Governor Cuomo: Let me get into that. Let me excuse my colleagues. Anything else for my colleagues? Do you want to ask Mr. Duffy how much he misses me and state service? No? They have no emotional component. I can't believe you didn't want to ask if he missed his time, nothing. Pied-a-terre tax, to get a budget done, an honest budget, permanent tax cap, MTA reform, okay, criminal justice reform, honest on the number and ethics, campaign finance reform; I believe those elements have to be in the budget to have a complete budget.
MTA reform has several components. We call it congestion pricing; it's not really congestion pricing, it's MTA reform: reform of the board, reform of the second board. I did a presentation outlining an MTA reform plan, they said I announced the second board, additional bureaucracy. No. Untrue. There is a second board, it was just invisible. I want to make it visible and accountable. After the MTA board votes on the capital plan, which is the basic document that they vote on, it then goes to the Assembly speaker, the Senate leader, the Mayor and the Governor for unilateral approval of veto. Unilateral. I want to call that a board. So, it's not a pocket veto where you get a private letter from the Mayor, or the Senate leader saying, "I'm not doing this unless this." I want to make that public, okay? I want a real forensic audit. I want a reorganization of the MTA. I want a real review of that capital plan.
We all should've learned the lesson on the L train. I want some outside construction experts to come in and look at their designs to make sure they're really being creative and thinking outside of the envelop. And we need additional revenue for the capital plan. What's the additional revenue? What you call congestion pricing, additional tolls. The additional tolls, and I want Zack to hear this because I want him to get the numbers right just once on his show, $15 billion in additional tolls. We added the internet sales tax. This is what capital it can finance, okay? The tolls can finance $15 billion in capital. The internet sales tax can finance $5 billion in capital. We're at 20. We then talked about the marijuana revenue as an additional revenue stream. I am no longer confident that marijuana will be done by the budget. I believe it's essential that marijuana is done, but I'm not confident that it will be done by the budget. Legislative leaders, as you remember, signaled early on skepticism about getting it done by the budget.
You can't do a budget without a funding stream toward the MTA, so if you don't have a marijuana you need something else. What else can you do besides marijuana? Pied-a-terre tax. The full scope of the pied-a-terre tax would get you $9 billion in capital, okay? So you have 15 congestion pricing, 5 internet sales tax—that's 20—9 from a pied-a-terre tax; total is 29. What's the problem with the 29 number? The MTA has said they need 40. The MTA has said a lot of things, they need 40, they need 60, they need 80, which is why I want a forensic audit because I'm skeptical about their number., But their bottom, the low end of the MTA current estimate is $40 billion.
So even with congestion pricing and pied-a-terre and internet, you're only at $29 billion. So, you either have to get more efficiencies in that MTA capital plan at 40 or down the road you'd have to find additional revenues. But, there are no—talk about honesty in the budget—even at $29 billion, using the full pied-a-terre tax for the MTA, you're still not at the lowest level of the MTA. Am I making that clear?
Question: You are. Assuming you're going to do that and still not get all the way there, is it then a very big ask of the public to pay this [inaudible]. You're saying, it's still not going to get where we need to be with the MTA to fund all the changes [inaudible].
Well because, Zack, two things—first, that's in the out-years. We're talking three, four—how many years down before we would get there?
Robert Mujica: On which?
Governor Cuomo: On the shortfall between our plan and—
Robert Mujica: It's a five year plan, but the reality is that it's going to spend out over ten years. So that money is not all going out in year one, year two, year three. Realistically, that money is going to go out over a ten year period.
Governor Cuomo: So we'd have up to ten years to figure out the differential If, capital I, capital F, there is a differential. Because I don't assume the $40 billion is right from the MTA.
Governor Cuomo: I'm sorry?
Governor Cuomo: Yes, yes. And look, they have had a number of estimates. I've done quite a bit of work with the MTA. Everything changes all the time. I just went through the L train tunnel with the MTA, which a more stark difference—they were going to close a tunnel for 15 months, create mayhem—now it turns out we don't even have to have a permanent closure. I've gone through numbers with them that were highly inflated. And it's a ten year period of time. And over the next ten years you're going to have a lot of changes on a lot of levels.
Question: Governor, why do you say that you're no longer confident marijuana will be done in the budget.
Governor Cuomo: Because I'm no longer confident that marijuana will be done in the budget.
Question: Is there something that is sparking that lack of confidence?
Governor Cuomo: It's the rate of progress. My advantage is I've been to this show before. I've seen this movie. Some of my colleagues have not seen the movie. You are two weeks from doing a budget. You have a long lead time to actually get the bills printed and done. The rate of progress does not suggest it's goi9ng to happen. You're watching a football game, they're down by 30 points at halftime, the end of the third quarter they're still down by 30 points. You start to get the feeling that they're not going to make up the 30 points at this rate of progress, right? Half the tie is gone and they haven't made up any points. The progress on marijuana—I've had discussions with them on it. There is a wide divide on marijuana. I believe ultimately we can get there and we must get there. I don't believe we get there in two weeks and also, that's what the legislative leaders have said, right? And if they say, I don't think we can get there by the budget, that basically means they're not get going to get there by the budget, right?
Question: So when you say there's a wide divide—is that on the ins and outs of the program that would be approved or is that more a philosophical divide on whether or not they support allowing legal marijuana?
Governor Cuomo: What happens is, the philosophical dissolves to the practical. In other words, in concept, would it be fine? Yes. Now the PTAs start to call and say, well how do we make sur children aren't going to get it and it's not going to be sold near a school and you have to make sure you can't have a straw purchaser. Can't be like the old days where Jesse McKinley was underage and he sent in an 18-year-old to buy beer and then he walked down the block and he gave it to him. How do we stop that with marijuana? So now it becomes practical and that's where we are, right? District Attorneys raise points, Sheriffs raised points, and they're good points but now you have to work through them.
Question: Your administration has said it wouldn't agree to a budget that doesn't include criminal justice reform. Members of the legislature have said they want [inaudible]. Session doesn't end until mid-June—why does it have to be in the budget?
Governor Cuomo: Because I don't believe they will do it after the budget.
Governor Cuomo: Because the budget is a point—well first of all because they also have a wide divide on criminal justice issues. I believe wider than on marijuana. We've tried to do this for seven years. The Republican Senate would never do it. But we now have Democrats who have assured they're going to do it. The concerns don't go away just because you elected Democrat's. The District Attorneys still call up and say I have a problem. The Sheriffs still call up and say I have a problem. The police departments still call up and say I have a problem. And it's not that democrats are immune to concerns of law enforcement. So I believe there are significant divides. The budget is a point of reconciliation and it is the strongest point of reconciliation in the year. It forces people to make tough decisions. And it forces legislators to make tough decisions. The old expression, "a legislator who decides nothing does nothing wrong." People don't like to make controversial decisions. Legislators, governors. The budget is that point of reconciliation. The budget is also a large document with a lot of other issues where Nick's point before, if it's in the budget you can say, "you know, I didn't really support that, but I did support education aide and to get the education aide I had to support the budget."
But I have fought for this for seven years and I am not going to go through another year where we don't do criminal justice reform. It is racially disparate. We're talking about young people in Rikers Island, which is the worst jail in the state of New York, I've been yelling about it for seven years. Absolutely nothing has happened, nothing. They came up with a ten-year plan to replace Rikers Island. Where else have you seen a ten-year plan? And then the ten-year plan got reduced and maybe we can do it in seven years. And they've made basically zero progress on it. Why? Because it's Rikers Island. They're poor, they're powerless, otherwise they wouldn't be in Rikers Island. Self-selecting. Like public housing authorities. I'm not going to go through this year and not have criminal justice reform. That is not going to happen. And if we don't have it in the budget it means we would not get it by the end of the year. I have said I will meet personally with the legislators and try to mediate the criminal justice issues. I have done this in the past. Where we have a controversial issue I will literally take a sub-group of senators from the Senate, assembly people from the Assembly, I will put them in the room, I will lock the door, I will say, "we're not leaving until we have a resolution."
Question: Should the Long Island sects, in particular, that they won't pay a political cost for bail reform.
Governor Cuomo: There is nothing that I can do in that regard. They are hearing, not just from Long Island sects, you also have New York City members who are hearing problems. Now, the politics in New York City are different, but this is Long Island, it's mid-Hudson, it's upstate. This is a difficult issue. No one can say, "you're going to be immune from criticism from your local district attorneys and your local police and sheriffs."
Governor Cuomo: Oh yes, I'll go further than that, I said I'll take the blame. When it's in the budget, it allows everybody to say, "it wasn't me, it was the Governor." Let's be honest, right? That's what the budget allows you to do. They all go and they say, "yeah, I didn't support that, but the Governor insisted on it." And by the way, it will be true. It will be true. Blame me. The Governor said he would not do a budget without criminal justice reform. If we didn't have a budget my school district wouldn't get money. I couldn't let that happen. I had to do criminal justice reform because the Governor insisted on putting it in the budget. Blame me.
Governor Cuomo: Guilty.
Question: Governor, the DA's say if you want criminal discovery reform they'll need more money to hire more staff because you want a shorter time for evidence up front. Are you having those talks?
Governor Cuomo: We're having those talks. I was a former ADA. I am not convinced that the issue is more staff. If I was convinced that would be something we would discuss. And these issues interconnect. What they're saying is, if we release more people and we accelerate discovery, you could theoretically have people released and you then reveal the identity of the witnesses while they're released and this is bad combination. So there are concerns that have to be talked through. Speedy trial also plays into it. If you had a really speedy trial system how long a person was held would be less onerous, right? Our problem now is Rikers, you can sit there for two or three years and never have a day in court. Never have a day in court, what happened to speedy trial? Well, you have to be before a judge in fourteen days. That's a different situation. But that's criminal justice reform and it's difficult. Public finance is also necessary, but complicated. We just went through the public advocates race in New York City. How many exact people were in the public advocates race, fourteen?
Governor Cuomo: Seventeen candidates for public advocate. Why? Part of public finance is it makes it easier for people to run, which is a good thing and part of the purpose of public finance. Seventeen candidates, when you have public finance. You know, so start to factor it out, you have about 213 state legislators. How many candidates will you have? Let's say the person runs on multiple lines. I run on the Democratic line, and I have a primary. I run on the Independence line and I have a primary. I run on the reform party line, and I have a primary. I run on the working families party line and I have a primary. How many races are we potentially talking about? How much does it cost? Who's doing the compliance on all these issues? The Board of Elections? Which has nowhere near this capacity now. What is the effect of the multiple lines and multiple races? Do you fund all those multiple lines in the primary and then all those multiple lines in the general? So it's necessary, it's right, but it's complicated.
Governor Cuomo: Fusion voting has not come up. it came up at the Democratic State Committee where the progressive caucus proposed it, and it passed overwhelmingly. But we have not had a conversation on fusion voting. Many of the Editorial Boards, I believe yours—no you don't have an editorial board. Many of the editorial boards have come out—well not that publishes, anyway—many of the editorial boards have come out against it, but we have not discussed it. Btu the multiple lines complicates the public financing.
Question: Looks like the Assembly doesn't want to do it in the budget at all [inaudible] Is that something you think has to get kicked out of the budget?
Governor Cuomo: Well you can't kick it out because that is finances. See, theoretically the only things you could kick out are non-financial matters. You have to pay for public financing and by the way how do you pay for it? Because the public clearly doesn't want to pay for it. You know the House, the Congress came up with some surcharge on corporations that are guilty of malfeasance. I had proposed one year using unclaimed funds to pay for it. But you have to pay for it. And the public doesn't want a public source so that's something we have to figure out also in the budget.
Question: [Inaudible] does that all point to public financing is not going to happen in the budget?
Governor Cuomo: It has to happen in the budget.
Question: You think there will be public financing in the budget?
Governor Cuomo: I think there has to be public financing in this budget. It's another issue I've been talking about for seven years. Now could you say we'll identify the financing, we'll write a law that commits to it but we'll figure out the compliance, the details, the lines afterwards? You could probably do something like that if you couldn't get it all done. But I believe you have to commit to it in the budget.
Question: Governor, there's a proposal to allow minors to ask for vaccinations in light of the measles outbreak in Brooklyn and Rockland County. Would you support that sort of proposal?
Governor Cuomo: We're looking at that now, Jess. I don't have an opinion. You know, my frustration is this. We've been talking about these things for years. Now beginning of the session, we did the low hanging fruit, right? Dream Act, Child Victims Act, they were all clearly digested. There's no doubt that these are the more difficult issues. MTA reform, don't call it congestion pricing because I'm not just going to take a revenue stream, and by the way if they don't do congestion pricing, which by the way is just tolls, let's just call it tolls, right? If they don't do tolls, then they have to do fares, because you need an answer one way or the other. I'm not going to allow them to leave here without answering the question. You're against tolls? Ok, then the option is to increase fares. Well, we're against that also. No, you can't be against both. And by the way, if you're against both, then you're for the current system and you're for the current dysfunction. You have to make a decision. Those are your three options. I don't' think anything should be done, continue the status quo. Fine. I think we have to fix the status quo, we should use increase the fares. Fine. I think we should increase the tolls. They have to do one of the three or by default they're going to do one of the three. But, and I'm not going to say to the people of the state, I want you to pay higher tolls unless I have an MTA reform plan because I don't believe they are spending the money wisely or efficiently. I don't. I run my government, my agencies have been basically flat every year for seven years, as you know. And we run a tight ship. And the MTA I know enough to know it is not a well-run efficient operation and it can do better. So MTA is hard, public financing is very complicated. The Public Advocate race was an eye opener because it also creates a whole industry unto itself, times that by 213. And compliance you need a real vehicle. Now I'm reasonable, well you can't get that all done by the budget. You can get done, were going to do it, and well then figure out the details afterwards because it is going to take time to figure it out and it is going to take more time to implement. But that has to happen, the permanent tax cap, how can you not stabilize people in this environment? It can't happen. You need ethics reform and you need bail. I'm not doing it without any of these items because from my point of view I understand there are some new senators. I have been talking about these things and proposing them for seven years sitting in the same seat looking at you, who by the way also sits in the same seat, and we have talked about it for seven years. Republican senate, republican senate, republican senate, alright! We don't have a republican senate. What's the excuse for not doing criminal justice reform? I'm not going by another year with those kids in Rikers islands. I'm not. I don't want that on my consciousness.
Governor Cuomo: Only on public finance, under query that you raise. Look I think we are in trouble on the whole enterprise. Look at how much we have to do. Permanent tax cap. MTA reform plan, which is going to be controversial because you have Metro North. Long Island Rail Roads, the subways, who gets what, what's the representation. Bail discovery and speedy trial is very controversial and complicated. Marijuana we're still trying, that is complicated and the numbers are going to be ugly because you have a lot of new members who made a lot of campaign promises, and you know what a legislature likes to do, they want to do more. More for education, more for housing, more for this, more for that. We don't have more and I'm not doing more. The signal was when we couldn't agree to the revenues. Why didn't they want, they were 9 million highs on the revenues, why didn't they want to come down to a reasonable revenue forecast? Because they want to spend more money that's why wanted the 900. But it's not there, and what's worse than anything is being wrong. And this is the first year where I have had major economists, you guys went to the forecasting conference, they sat right in front of you. 40 percent chance there's a recession. Now that economic reality is at odds with the political desire of the legislature I get that. It's also at odds with my political desire. I like to say more but I am ultimately responsible for the accountability of the enterprise and the numbers are going to be the problem. The numbers are 1,7,4. Math matters and the numbers really have to add up to that number. Not by taking from reserves, not by slowing spend outs, not by playing games, it has to be an honest balanced budget.
Governor Cuomo: We have a number of proposals on the table now. I wouldn't say at this point we have a bottom line; we haven't gotten to that point. But public financing is going to be the big pole in that tent.
Robert Mujica: There's money currently in the budget, we have some money for the census. We have a complete count commission that is currently meeting. That commission will come up with recommendations for how to spend that money, but there is presently money in the budget for it. And our risk on the federal side as far as is probably in the neighborhood of $20-30 million per year. Really on the high end as far as the risk, but more realistic is the amount of representation that we would lose on a complete count.
Question: [inaudible] $40-10 million dollars is that tucked away somewhere in the budget, more specifically allocated?
Robert Mujica: There's not, there's no $40-100 million dollars in the budget, but we do have significant monies that are available once the complete count commission comes up with what the need is. Then we'll use that to do outreach, door-to-door, and a campaign to make sure that people are filling out the forms.
Question: How do you know you have enough money?
Robert Mujica: We presently have advertising money and economic development funds that are specifically designed for this purpose, because we don't want to use federal funds.
Question: Those funds are available?
Robert Mujica: What the exact amount is? We're going to wait for the complete count commission to come up with a recommendation.
Question: Are you asking how do you know what you have because you haven't fully negotiated the budget?
Robert Mujica: That's true across the board.
Governor Cuomo: What Rob is saying is that this a priority and we have it allocated but in theory you could change everything. Just remember the numbers: 2.3 shortfall this year, 1.5 shortfall next year, 3.8 total shortfall. The pied-a-terre tax which is the only agreed to new money fully goes to the MTA and you still have a shortfall. So, more money for this, more money for that, more money for this. Where does it come from if you don't have any agreed to revenue raisers? Which we don't. The Assembly will propose a millionaires tax. The Senate will not. They'll both propose a pied-a-terre tax, which I support. But that money is gone because it substitutes for the marijuana money. They will project marijuana money but we don't have marijuana. If we did have marijuana passed, we wouldn't have needed to substitute the pied-a-terre. So it's a very tight box this year, right? How would they raise my budget? You need more revenue - that's the only way to raise the numbers. The only revenue raiser is pied-a-terre tax. That's the only new revenue. That goes to the MTA to make up the marijuana and we're still short on the MTA. So where does the new money come from?
Question: Governor, would you consider a state sales tax up on gasoline to assist with funds for the MTA? [inaudible]
Governor Cuomo: I don't know much on that. At this point I think it's a distraction to congestion pricing. It's ideologically correct, you could argue. It is politically a very difficult and we have ten days.
Question: [Inaudible] Is this without borrowing?
Governor Cuomo: Yes, this is without the borrowing.
Question: [Inaudible] an additional capital plan [inaudible]?
Robert Mujica: All of the MTA Capital Plan, most of the MTA Capital Plan is going to be borrowing. The revenues from all of the things that the Governor talked about are going to be used for the debt service on the borrowing. So it is ninety percent or more is going to be debt.
Governor Cuomo: I'm sorry. When I say the tolls sustain $15 billion the tolls are only a billion. They sustain $15 billion in borrowing. Internet is $15 billion in borrowing. Pied-a-terre is $9 billion in borrowing.
Question: [Inaudible] Are you anticipating approving the judiciary's budget request for $55 million more this year?
Robert Mujica: Judiciary's been at, they're at about the 2 percent so as all of the budgets are. So they've asked, we give 2 percent. That's where we are in the overall budget is at 2 percent. [Inaudible] As long as the legislature approves. We have to submit it as exactly submitted to us to the Legislature. So if the Legislature doesn't reduce it, that's where it is.
Governor Cuomo: Anything else?
Question: The City of Albany is asking for a permanent 12.5 million for state funding. The current economic landscape [inaudible].
Governor Cuomo: Permanent? What word would you use?
Robert Mujica: We've put in $12 million and reduced it a little bit each year, right? So this year, as part of the overall conversation we've been putting it back so that they don't have to increase property taxes. But as far as making it permanent going forward, we haven't proposed it. Let's see what the Legislature proposes. But we've been doing year-to-year depending on the state's finances.
Governor Cuomo: I am very loathe to make permanent, additional commitments until we know what money we have. Think about me moving the fiscal year to June 30. It's the DOB bureaucrats that resisted because they didn't want to do the extra work. But we have a new DOB mentality with can-do people with the budget director who never say no. Good to see you all.