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Capitol Bureau

Two warring factions of Democrats in the state Senate are rejoining forces as pressure has mounted from the party’s left-leaning base for a reunification.

But the Democrats are still one vote short of the 32 seats they need to regain the majority.

The nearly decade-long split between the mainstream Democrats and the Independent Democratic Conference is over. At a hastily arranged news conference in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New York City offices, Cuomo said it’s essential that the Democrats get back together to fight a “common enemy” – President Donald Trump.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, seeking a third term in office, is facing challenges both from the left of his party and from a new Republican candidate. But the two candidates, Cynthia Nixon and Marc Molinaro, share a common theme — they say they are nicer than Cuomo.

Actor and progressive Democratic candidate Cynthia Nixon said Cuomo is more than simply a hard-charging type of politician.

“We’ve all seen it,” Nixon said in an appearance in Albany on March 26. “Andrew the bully. He bullies other elected officials. He bullies anyone who criticizes him.”

Another candidate has announced he will challenge Andrew Cuomo for governor. This time, it’s Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, who offered a political indictment of Cuomo’s practices and temperament in office.

The 42-year-old Molinaro made his announcement in Tivoli, the small Hudson Valley village where he grew up and where he became mayor at the age of 19. He also served in the state Assembly before holding his current job running a county that is part New York City suburb and part country.

Governor Cuomo's office

The newly approved New York State budget includes a work around for the partial loss of state and local tax deductions in the federal tax overhaul.

The legislature largely accepted Cuomo’s plan to provide an optional pay roll tax to substitute for the state income tax for businesses who adopt the program. The employer would still be able to take a deduction for the pay roll tax, and workers would have less taxable income to pay to the federal government.    

The new state budget includes anti-sexual harassment measures that will apply to both government and private-sector workplaces.

The new rules will end state taxpayer-financed settlements for state officials who are found to be abusers. It also will prohibit mandatory arbitration for cases of alleged sexual harassment. And it will end secret settlements, unless it’s at the request of the victim.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Cathy Young, who sponsored the Senate’s version of the measure, says it’s a “victory” for New Yorkers.

Matt Ryan New York Now

State budget talks became heated in the final hours of negotiations Friday, as ultimatums were offered and there were threats of a government shutdown.

With just hours to go before the Passover holiday, the budget remained stuck over one or two key issues.

One, said Assembly Democrats, was a demand from the lone Democratic senator who sits with the Republican Senate majority. Sen. Simcha Felder wanted religious yeshiva schools to be exempt from some curriculum rules imposed by the state education department.

State lawmakers hoped to begin to pass budget bills Thursday night, even though some major issues related to the spending plan are still not resolved. They need to finish by mid-day Friday so legislators and staff can get home for the Passover and Easter holidays.

Senators emerged from a party conference Thursday afternoon after discussing what’s in and what’s out of the budget.

Budget talks are stalled shortly before a self-imposed deadline of March 30 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature. Meanwhile, groups left out of the deal expressed their dismay.

Calling themselves the “coalition of the shafted,” the groups – including advocates for access to birth control, bail reform and better voter access – stood on the “Million Dollar Staircase” to criticize the direction of the budget talks.

Sean S Ewart

A long time Capitol reporter was arrested for talking on the phone in the State Senate lobby. New York Daily News reporter Ken Lovett was released without charges after Governor Andrew Cuomo intervened. 

The State Senate has a placard forbidding cell phone use in the Senate lobby, but the rule is universally ignored. The sign does not mention criminal penalties for non compliance. The Senate was not in session Lovett was talking on his phone, and arrested, when a Senate guard called for the assistance of a state trooper. 

Matt Ryan, New York Now

Talks on the state budget were stalled just days before the March 30 deadline, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers continued negotiations. Groups pressing for additional issues that are in the governor’s budget plan still have not given up hope.

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