Will Dems Help Pataki’s Veto Stick?
Will Dems Help Pataki’s Veto Stick?
By John Toscano
Will it be the overwhelmingly Democratic state Assembly that provides the votes to uphold Governor George Pataki’s expected budget veto and sink the Silver–Bruno engineered tax package that gave Mayor Michael Bloomberg the funds he needs to balance the city’s budget?
Upholding veto appears to be a good possibility, given the numbers that are needed to sustain a veto in the lower house.
And will it be a couple of Queens Democratic Assemblymembers who provide key votes by swinging over to the Republican governor’s side in one of the fiercest political struggles seen in this state in years.
The rumors out of the state capital are that Pataki is eyeing Democratic Assemblymembers Anthony Seminerio of Richmond Hill/Ozone Park, and William Scarborough, fromSt. Albans, as possible allies in his war against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.
Since Silver and Bruno pushed through their $2.7 billion aid package for New YorkCity over the past week, the governor has reportedly been burning up the telephone wires to line up the votes he will need to back his long-threatened veto when the legislative leaders move to override it.
Bruno is sitting much more comfortably in this situation than Silver.The Senate is made up of 38 Republicans and 24 Democrats. Bruno needs a two-thirds vote (42 votes) of the 62-member Senate to override.There are 24 Democrats who can safely be expected to vote for it, so Bruno will need just 18 of the 38 Republicans, and this is also easily achievable, considering that only three Republicans voted pro-Pataki against the revenue bill and just two Dems.
The story is vastly different in the Assembly, where there are 103 Democrats and 47 Republicans and an override requires 100 votes or two-thirds of 150 members.
The vote on the revenue bill was 103 Democrats and 45 Republicans, with two abstentions.The governor’s job boils down to luring at least four Democrats fromSilver’s otherwise tight hold.
Seminerio has always had in independent streak and has had run-ins with Silver over the years. He’s been backed by the Conservative Party in most of his recent re-election bids, has always been close to former U.S.Senator AlD’Amato, who engineered Pataki’s rise to power, and last year Seminerio endorsed Pataki for re-election.
InAlbany on Monday, Seminerio acknowledged, "The governor’s a dear friend,"but took himself out of any alliance with him at this time, saying, "I already made a commitment to the speaker [Sheldon Silver]." The question is, will it hold up?
Reports out of Albany describe Scarborough also as an independent lawmaker and say he’s been targeted by the governor to come over to his side.
Failure to override the governor’s veto will also wreak havoc with both the city and state budgets.
CONSERVATIVE OFFICIAL ‘SHOCKED’: Speaking out again against the Bruno-led revolt against the governor, state Conservative Party Chairman MichaelLong expanded his indignation to include "every member of the New York state legislature [who] voted for this wildly irresponsible and disastrous budget."
Taking direct aim at Bruno and state Senator MartinGolden, (R–C, Brooklyn), Long declared:"We will never forget that faced with the choice of better government or larger government, they chose higher taxes and more government spending—choosing to devastate our economy, drive jobs and economic opportunity away fromNew York and reverse years of progress."
Padavan had stated in an April 30 release that he had voted with the Senate majority to reinstate Pataki’s cuts of $1.1 billion in education funding.He said, "However, my colleagues and I couldn’t in good conscience punish millions of school children around New York state, and we couldn’t jeopardize the future of allNew Yorkers with massive cuts."
Padavan said approximately$400 million of the restoration aid was for New YorkCity, including $146.5 million for the pre-kindergarten program, of which, Padavan said, he was an original sponsor.
LAFAYETTE CHIDES PATAKI ADMINISTRATION: "Legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, who are perceived not to be in lock step with the executive [Pataki] as it pertains to the budget, have been declared ‘persona non grata’ by state agencies,"Assemblymember Ivan Lafayette (D–Jackson Heights) reported last week.
Lafayette explained that some time in early March, "in an attempt to deliver some sort of message to the legislature, agencies were seemingly ordered not to discuss issues, not to pursue their own legislative and fiscal needs and to break off all usual communications."
He charged, "Important issues vital to the well-being of the people of this state are not being discussed and resolutions that would increase funding to both state and local governments are being ignored."
As an example of a revenue-producing bill which is not being advanced is his own Insurance Information and Enforcement system, amendments to an existing system which brings in as much as $28 million a year.
COUNCIL DOES ITS PART: The Democrat-controlled City Council fulfilled its role in the budget drama, passing on Monday by a 46-to-3 vote all the necessary home rules messages formally requesting the state legislature to pass the budget bills. City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, taking no chances that any unforeseen circumstances might arise to upset his plans for passing the package of revenue bills, held a rare Sunday caucus of Democrats at City Hall to make sure his ranks were holding firm. On Monday, they showed they were.
It couldn’t have been an easy decision for councilmembers facing re-election later this year to vote for the sales tax hike after voting for the real estate tax increase last November. But let’s face it, there was no way out for them. We can only refer critics who would urge more service cuts to last week’s layoff of city workers and remind them that the sales tax increase was designed to avert further layoffs. Also, the mayor’s doomsday budget, which would have cut 10,000 more jobs and closed at least eight firehouses was another reason for approving the new tax increases.
NO ‘CUT AND RUN’ VALLONE: At one point in a city council committee hearing last week, a Transit Workers Union official told stunned lawmakers that TAofficials directed them to "cut and run" if there’s a terrorist attack in the subways—that is, "get out of your [subway car] cab and leave the public behind."
The Public Safety Committee Chairman, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria), understandably, was incredulous.
"To instruct anyone to cut and run is an outrage," he declared. "We need our people properly trained to stand and protect, not cut and run."
Although the TAdenied the union official’s testimony, he named names and it seemed the TA’s defense was tissue-thin.
AVELLA WON’T BACK DOWN: City Council leaders are bottling up Councilmember Tony Avella’s Fair and OpenTax Act, which would require a long period of public hearings before the mayor and council can raise property taxes. Avella, who voted against the 18.5 percent real estate tax hike last November, introduced his bill to protest that not a single public hearing was held before that huge tax increase was enacted.
The council’s opposition to his legislation isn’t stopping Avella (D–Bayside) from trying to get it enacted.He and a coalition of supporters have started an effort to get the bill on the ballot inNovember as a referendum being planned by Bloomberg’s Charter Revision Commission.
Also backing Avella is a new coalition of 78 civic and business groups formed under the banner of Taxpayers for An Affordable New York.
WEINER WRITES GOP: Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D–Queens/Brooklyn) says he has written to the Republican NationalCommittee (RNC) to express his concerns that plans are underway to coincide the timing of the laying of the World Trade Center redevelopment site cornerstone with the Republican convention in New YorkCity in early September.
Weiner said, "The commemoration of the September 11 anniversary is best accompanied by a spirit of respect and unity, which are often the first casualties of a party convention."In no way, he added, should matters which involve the September 11 attack and the rebirth of the World Trade Center bear the unseemly mark of partisan politics."
MEETINGS: The MaspethRepublican Club meets next Wednesday evening, May 14, at the KowalinskyPost, 61-57 MaspethAve., at 7:30 p.m.
The following evening,Thursday,May 15, the Queens County Conservative Party meets at 8 p.m. at the American Legion Continental Post 1424, 107-15 Metropolitan Ave., Forest Hills.For information, call Chairman TomLong at 718-474-3826.