WXXI AM News

Capitol Bureau

Karen DeWitt

Proponents of raising taxes on New York’s wealthiest say they have a new impetus to increase the state’s revenue — the continued bad news from Washington about deep federal cuts to health care and other areas.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has called an amendment to the federal repeal of the Affordable Care Act that would force the state to pick up county Medicaid costs “unconscionable.”

A provision to shift Medicaid health care costs in New York from counties to the state as part of the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act by Congress is meeting with a cool reception from state leaders.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls it a “targeted war on New York,” while the leader of the Republicans in the Legislature is voicing skepticism. 

The next two weeks at the state Capitol are going to be very busy as lawmakers face the deadline for a new budget. Several issues remain unresolved.

Religious leaders lobbied for inclusion of the millionaire’s tax in the state budget. Governor Cuomo has asked for an extension of a temporary income tax surcharge on New Yorkers making more than a million dollars. Republicans, who lead the Senate with the help of some breakaway Democrats, want to end the tax. Democrats who control the Assembly want to add even more, higher tax brackets for the state’s top income earners.

Tensions between opposing groups of Democrats in the Senate reached a flash point this week over whose faction would be allowed to present their budget priorities for a floor debate in an exchange that included some racially charged name-calling.

A growing group of eight breakaway Democrats, who rule the Senate in an informal coalition with 31 Republicans, have left regular Democrats smarting for some time now.

Karen DeWitt

The smallest faction in the divided state Senate, the Independent Democratic Conference, has been permitted by the ruling party Republicans to issue its own alternate spending plan. That has angered the rest of the Democrats.

Currently, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have the same amount of members – 31 each – but the Democrats are divided, with eight members in a breakaway group that forms an informal ruling coalition with the GOP.

Matt Ryan New York Now

The Senate and Assembly will release their one-house budgets early next week, as the March 31 deadline for a new spending plan draws near. They’ve already given some hints as to what the plans will include.

Senate Republicans are rejecting, for now, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s extension of a tax on millionaires. They say they also are against pretty much all of the other taxes and fees in the governor’s budget, including a proposed new tax on internet purchases, a surcharge on prepaid cellphones and higher fees at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s health department is analyzing the plan in the Republican Congress to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, and finds it carries a heavy price tag for New York. 

Karen DeWitt

Members of a leading senior citizens lobbying group are advocating for a retirement plan in New York that could benefit their children and grandchildren.

The proposal by AARP could help address a big change in employer practices that’s occurred since the group’s members – who are 50 and older – began their working lives. That is the sharp decline in companies that offer pensions, or even 401(k) retirement accounts, leaving younger workers with no opportunities at work to save for their retirement.

Karen DeWitt

A provision in the Affordable Care Act replacement plan by Republicans in Congress sets up a potential clash with New York state over abortion coverage. 

The plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act by the GOP-led Congress includes tax credits for people to buy insurance policies. The Republican House plan forbids anyone from using the tax credits to buy an insurance plan that covers abortions.

Karen DeWitt

The state budget is due in 3 1/2 weeks, but the biggest push at the Capitol is for a change that is not a spending item. It’s a measure to treat 16- and 17-year-olds as children, not adults, when they are charged with serious crimes.

Many leading legislators say, for them, the issue is personal.

Those who support raising the age when New Yorkers are treated as adults in the criminal justice system from 16 to 18 held a rally Tuesday at the Capitol. Many of the leading Democrats in the Legislature spoke, including Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

Pages