Tag Archives: Andrew Cuomo

Amidst Reports of Russian Election Hacking, Cuomo Unveils Steps to Strengthen NYS CyberSecurity

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo takes new steps to further secure New York State’s elections infrastructure and protect against foreign interference © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In the wake of Donald Trump’s apparent indifference to the continued threat of Russia and other actors against elections, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a comprehensive initiative with the State Board of Elections to further secure New York State’s elections infrastructure and protect against foreign interference. The initiative will help County Boards of Elections strengthen their election cyber security in the face of foreign threats after the Department of Justice released an indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking during the 2016 elections, which also alleged that Russian intelligence officers hacked into the website of a yet-unidentified state board of elections.

In the FY 2019 budget, Governor Cuomo secured $5 million to expand and further support statewide election cyber security infrastructure. The State will solicit contracts in the next few days for three independent services for County Boards of Elections, including: 1) cyber security risk assessments; 2) enhanced intrusion detection devices; and 3) managed security services. The State’s Secure Election Center, managed by the State Board of Elections, will also provide statewide, uniform cybersecurity training to all state and county election officials and staff prior to the Midterm Elections.

“While President Trump stands by those who seek to undermine our democracy, New York is taking aggressive action to protect our elections from foreign interference,” Governor Cuomo said. “There is nothing more sacred than democracy, and New Yorkers should know that when they cast their ballot that their vote is safe. The groundbreaking cyber security initiative we launch today will harden and protect our election infrastructure from the very real threat of foreign meddling. While the President has abdicated his responsibility to defend this country and left our electoral system open to sabotage by foreign adversaries, New York is fighting back and leading the way.”

“The integrity of our Elections system is our number one priority,” Co-Executive Director of the State Board of Elections Robert A. Brehmsaid. “The State Board has and will continue to diligently work and collaborate with our federal, state and county partners to strengthen and protect our elections infrastructure from any interference.”

“We have been working diligently since the 2016 election to improve security at the State Board, including our statewide voter registration database and networks with our counties,” Co-Executive Director of the State Board of Elections Todd D. Valentine said. “These additional services will ensure publicly facing applications and infrastructure for the county boards of elections will be more secure and better position the entire state elections system to respond to cyber incidents.  These new revelations only serve to confirm that the measures we have taken so far to protect our elections are necessary and we have to remain vigilant as we move into the mid-term elections.”

This initiative builds on Governor Cuomo’s commitment to ensuring the integrity of elections in New York State. The State will execute contractsbeginning the first week of August through the Office of General Services on behalf of the State Board of Elections.

Comprehensive Risk Assessment for all County Boards of Election

The State Board of Elections will contract for professional services to conduct a comprehensive, uniform and verified risk assessment at every County Board of Elections. The State Board of Elections has conducted a County Board of Elections risk survey to gain an understanding of the security posture of each county board. This risk assessment will build off the county risk survey.  This contract will provide a uniform and verified third party risk assessment which is critical in ascertaining a security baseline for our statewide elections infrastructure.

Enhanced Intrusion Detection Systems and Managed Security Services for County Boards of Election 

Additionally, the State Board of Elections will contract for a vendor to provide enhanced intrusion detection systems and managed security services for all the County Boards of Elections. An intrusion detection system is a system that monitors network traffic for suspicious activity and issues alerts when such activity is discovered. Managed Security Services correlate logs/traffic and creates actionable reports on malicious cyber activity. Quote solicitations will seek to identify qualified companies on backdrop contracts that can fulfill the request for these services.

Cyber Security Training Program

The Secure Elections Center, housed in NYSBOE, will provide uniform online technical training courses and security awareness programs to all state and county election officials and staff. These web-based trainings will be provided prior to the 2018 Midterm Elections. As part of these trainings, officials and staff will learn cyber-hygiene, best email practices and how to identify phishing campaigns, among other topics.

This initiative will build upon Governor Cuomo’s efforts to safeguard New York State elections including:

  • The State Board of Elections recently concluded a first-of-its-kind series of six regional tabletop exercises to identify risks and safeguard the election process against a cyber-attack.  The State Board is coordinating with the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide three on-line tabletop exercises in August 2018 for county election and IT professionals.
  • Following the Governor’s 2018 State of the State proposals in January, New York was recognized as having one of the most secure elections systems in the nation in the Center for American Progress’ recent report.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said, “With the Trump administration putting our country at risk and continuing to ignore the reality of Russian election interference, it’s up to New York to lead the way once again to protect the integrity of our elections. Sadly, we can’t count on the current federal government to protect us from threats of foreign election meddling. Our new cyber security initiative will give New Yorkers peace of mind as they go to the ballot box and will protect our democracy from those who seek to cause harm.”

William Pelgrin, Co-Chair of Governor Cuomo’s Cyber Security Advisory Board, Founder of the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), CEO of CyberWA, Inc., and Board Director and Global Strategic Advisor for Global Cyber Alliance, said, “This announcement again demonstrates Governor Cuomo’s and New York’s strong commitment toward an enhanced cyber security posture. This initiative will greatly assist County Board of Elections by facilitating the process to identify and deploy key essential layers of cyber security. Cyber security risk assessments and intrusion detection devices are critical layers of preparedness to understand one’s computing infrastructure and what is required to address any associated risks as well as continuously monitoring that environment for malicious activities.”

Richard Clarke, Governor Cuomo’s Cyber Security Advisory Board Member, Chairman and CEO, Good Harbor Consulting, LLC and Former White House Counter-Terrorism and Cyber Security Advisor, said, “Given the Intelligence Community’s assessment that Russian efforts to interfere in our democracy continue, Governor Cuomo’s steps to protect the election infrastructure are commendable and should be immediately copied by other states.”

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Roger Parrino said, “Security of our election process is paramount. These initiatives support our state and local partners to strengthen our election cyber infrastructure from those who seek to manipulate our election process.”

New York State Office of General Service Commissioner RoAnnDestito said, “Governor Cuomo has been clear that secure elections are fundamental to democracy and these steps by the Board of Elections will help further protect this process in New York State.”

After Trump tried to undo the damage of his statements in Helsinki by claiming that he “misspoke” when he left out “not” regarding whether Russia was to blame for hacking the 2016 election, Cuomo took him to task.

“Mr. President: Do you think the American people are stupid? You’re the leader of the free world – you don’t misspeak when it comes to our foreign enemies. You shamefully defended those who tried to sabotage our democracy, and now Congress must decide if your remarks or actions were in fact treasonous.

“While it’s clear we cannot rely on this federal government to protect the sanctity of our elections, New York will do everything in its power to.  In light of this potential foreign interference, today we announced a groundbreaking cyber security initiative to strengthen our election infrastructure.  I urge Congress to step up and do the same.”

In Helsinki, Trump had said, “I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be. But I really do want to see the server.” The next day, in a room full of Republican Congressmembers, Trump claimed that he should have said, “would not be”.

 

New York State Democrats Proudly Tout Progressive Accomplishments, Agenda in Choosing Cuomo, Hochul for 2018

Hillary Clinton elucidates what Democrats stand for and why Andrew Cuomo, a progressive who gets things done, should be reelected for third term as New York State Governor © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & PhotoFeatures

“Pride and Purpose” is the slogan for Hofstra University. It could also be the slogan for the “new” Democratic party, exuded by New York State Democrats at their convention, held at the university’s stadium in Nassau County last week. There were not taking a backseat to Cynthia Nixon and the Working Families Party progressive values. Instead, Hillary Clinton, Tom Perez, Joe Biden, and Andrew Cuomo, himself schooled them on the art of pragmatic progressivism:  getting progressive policies enacted.

Not the ideals, the hyperbole, the theory, not that hot air balloon that raised Bernie Sanders and still fills the Bernie Bro’s and those who attach to him, like Cynthia Nixon who has no clue at all how to achieve or change any of the wrongs. Hillary Clinton, in one of her debates with Bernie Sanders, noted that “politics is the art of the possible.”

The theme for the first day was “Moving Forward,” – a slap at Republicans cynical actions to move the clock back to a time when women, minorities, the disabled and vulnerable were subjugated without consequence. The theme for the second day, when Andrew Cuomo gave his acceptance speech, was “Fighting Back.”

Taking the podium in the same venue as the first 2016 presidential debate where she showed the presidential pretender, Donald Trump,  to be the fool he is, Clinton answered the question constantly posed to Democrats (but not Republicans): What do Democrats stand for? Well, it may not fit on a hat, but Clinton provided the answer:

“Look around this room: people who stand for an economy that works for everybody, universal health care, and even better, people who have plans to get us there. You’ll see defenders of civil rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, rights of people with disabilities. I don’t believe these are minor issues –they matter to millions and millions of New Yorkers, Americans.

“So much of the progress we see in the United States is because we Democrats pushed open doors to opportunity for people who have been shut out. And we, my friends, are not going back.”

At a time when income inequality is the greatest since 1915, she said,  “I think it’s a bold idea that everyone in this country should have a decent standard of living and a good job to pay for it…That everyone deserves the best possible start in life..Quality health care throughout and a safe, secure retirement. Even bolder is to have plans to make those realities, the way Democrats do.

“Let’s remind ourselves: Democrats are the party that rescued country from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression; passed, then saved, the Affordable Care Act; helped keep Planned Parenthood’s doors open. We’re the party that will save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security from persistent Republican attacks. We are the party that will keep fighting every day to achieve universal health care and universal job opportunities. So don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Hillary Clinton at 2018 New York State Democratic Convention: ““If you want an economy that works for you and your family, you have to vote for Democrats.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“If you want an economy that works for you and your family, you have to vote for Democrats…..quality health care….protect and expand the rights of all Americans, not just the top 1%, you have to vote for Democrats.

“If you believe in woman’s right to make her own health care decisions …in well funded public schools, colleges, and the resources so that teachers can succeed.. If you believe in actual commonsense gun safety laws to help save lives…understand that we are facing a real crisis with Climate Change…and believe we can stand up for our values and keep our country safe, you have to vote for Democrats.

“If you believe in comprehensive immigration reform and protecting Dreamers …… getting money out of politics and getting all voters to the polls..if you believe that standing up for evidence and reason and respecting the rule of Law is critical for our democracy, you have to vote for Democrats.”

“Now more than ever we need leaders who will stand up for progressive values and up against to those who will turn neighbor against neighbor and sow seeds of  division. Most of all, we need leaders who believe in producing results and getting things done – leaders like Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul.”

“Now more than ever we need leaders who will stand up for progressive values and up against to those who will turn neighbor against neighbor and sow seeds of  division. Most of all, we need leaders who believe in producing results and getting things done – leaders like Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Indeed, Cuomo has chalked up quite a record in his 7 years that align perfectly with the progressive agenda:

Erased $10 billion deficit, added 1 million private-sector jobs to a record number of 8.2 million; raised the minimum wage to $15, passed the strongest paid family leave policy in America; stood up to protect a woman’s right to choose, and defended access to the state’s version of Obamacare; implemented marriage equality and stood up against racism and sexual abuse.

Implemented commonsense gun safety laws, promoted criminal justice reform and created a mechanism to investigate deaths by police. Put affordable college education in reach of every New Yorker, making the state the first in nation to provide tuition-free college for low and mid-income students.

He’s unleashed the most massive overhaul of infrastructure since Franklin D. Roosevelt was governor, to the tune of $100 billion that has seen new bridges, mass transportation improvements all across the state (built with union labor), invested in innovation and business incubators. Much of this is also to realize the target of 50% of the state’s energy needs coming from renewable by 2030, and he has backed it up by shutting down coal-fired plants, investing in offshore windpower.

He has stood up for Dreamers and for immigrants, creating a legal fund so that those who Trump and Sessions would race to deport have the benefit of due process enshrined in the Constitution and a stable of American values.

And Hochul, probably the hardest working Lt. Governor in the nation, has done an outstanding job to promote gender equity.

Former Vice President Joe Biden at the 2018 New York State Democratic Convention: “This is not your father’s Republican Party,” former Vice President Joe Biden told the audience. “They are not who we are. They are not who America is. What they are doing is sending a vision of America around the world that is distorted. That is damaging. That is hurting us… this phony populism, this fake nationalism…. It’s time to say ‘no more.'” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“This is not your father’s Republican Party,” former Vice President Joe Biden told the audience. “They are not who we are. They are not who America is. What they are doing is sending a vision of America around the world that is distorted. That is damaging. That is hurting us… this phony populism, this fake nationalism…. It’s time to say ‘no more.'”

We have seen how the Republicans govern: pulling back on rights for  workers, women, voting rights, overturning environmental, consumer and financial protections (how is that helping working people?). Doing nothing to expand access to affordable health care, rather, doing their best to destroy Obamacare and watch as health care premiums rise.. Doing nothing to make college affordable, address student debt; nothing to address the opioid crisis or address spiraling rise in drug prices that put life-saving drugs out of reach. And that $1.5 trillion infrastructure fantasy? As Biden said, Trump gave it away to the 1% in the GOP tax scheme.

“This election isn’t just about winning, though win we must,” declared Jay Jacobs, chair of Nassau Democrats. “It’s about the soul of America – what nation we are, who we will about moving forward.

Here’s the tidy slogan that Democrats should embrace and it even fits on a hat: Justice. Fairness. Opportunity.

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© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

New York State Strategy: Turn Long Island into Leader for Nascent Offshore Windpower Industry

Long Islanders advocate for offshore windpower outside of Long Island Power Authority offices. NYSERDA is investing millions of dollars to ease the way for private entities to develop a windpower industry on Long Island © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Governor Andrew Cuomo sees the opportunity to create a new industry centered largely on Long Island to take advantage of the offshore windpower in an area of the Atlantic Ocean, considered “the Saudi Arabia of windpower.” In this, the state is acting much like other nations which jumpstart new industries by funding critical studies, research centers, workforce development. This is all to ease the way, lessen the risk and increase likelihood of success for the private companies which are expected to vie for leases from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

Cuomo has set a standard of the state generating 50% of its energy needs through renewable by 2030, and offshore wind, in addition to solar, hilltop windpower, hydroelectric and other sources (“all of the above”) are considered essential to meeting that goal, which Cuomo has proudly declared the most ambitious in the nation.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation just released proposed regulations to require all power plants in New York to meet new emissions limits for carbon dioxide (CO2), a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. The regulations, a first in the nation approach to regulating carbon emissions, will achieve the Governor’s goal to end the use of coal in New York State power plants by 2020.

Environmental groups including Sierra Club have long advocated offshore wind, especially as Long Island faces a crucial transition juncture of expanding or upgrading fossil-fuel based power plants to meet its energy needs, versus investing and transitioning to renewable energy.

The state is targeting acquiring 2,400 megawatts of energy from offshore wind – the equivalent of what is generated by the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant – enough to power 1.2 million households. The associated industries that would develop to manufacture the wind turbines and platforms, construct ports and stage the equipment, install the turbines, operate and maintain the systems are expected to employ some 5,000 people in relatively high-paying jobs, and generate $6 billion for the region. What is more, over time, windpower will bring down the cost of electricity on Long Island, where high costs of energy are considered impediments to economic growth.

At the same time, the state has invested in new research programs at State Universities, including Stony Brook to address key issues such as storage batteries (for when the wind does not blow), and transmission.

The master plan, being unveiled in public hearings, has been developed over a period of years by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

The strategy is to be the furthest along in order to be first in line to contract for the electricity, which could be sold to New Jersey and other regions, to reduce cost and risk to private entities which will bid for the rights to construct and operate the wind turbines. The state is not actually seeking to  be the winning bidder for the leases, but to be the customer for the power for those that do. And the state is also aware that other customers – New Jersey, as one example (though the former governor Chris Christie showed little interest, the new governor Phil Murphy is) – will also be bidding. But there is great confidence because of proximity and the sheer market size, that New York City and Long Island residents will be the beneficiary.  And there is so much energy potential from this area, there is “enough for all.” Indeed, NYSERDA is eyeing 3,200 MW of production from the sites it has targeted, of which it would contract for 2,400.

NYSERDA has conducted studies in 20 areas –literally every environmental, biologic, economic and engineering aspect – in order to  define every aspect of locating the best places to position turbines and cables, where to stage construction, where to manufacture the turbines and components, even where to invest in workforce development. All along the way, the agency has engaged stakeholders – from municipalities and environmentalists to labor unions to consumer advocates, to commercial fishing interests.

The state has allocated $15 million to spend on workforce development and infrastructure advancement (for example, building port facilities), and is allocating up to $5 million for multi-year research studies that will assist project developers with the data will be made available by NYSERDA in real time to public. For example, data on wind speeds particularly impact economics of projects and will improve the certainty of bids to state. 

“We are seeking to invest $20 million or more, kicking off in 2018, for research and development – component design, systems design, operational controls, monitoring systems, manufacturing processes,” said Doreen Harris, Director, Large Scale Renewables, NYSERDA.

To attract private investment in port infrastructure and manufacturing, the state is hoping to spotlight promising infrastructure investments (60 sites have been identified), helping jumpstart project development and “secure its status as the undisputed home for the emerging offshore wind industry in the US.”

Think of it: Long Island used to be the center for America’s aerospace industry. Now it can be a leader in a global offshore windpower industry. What is more, off shore windpower can also bring down Long Island’s historically high utility rates which are considered an impediment to business development and economic growth.

“We’ve established technical working groups to determine best use of funds – to insure new Yorkers well prepared to serve offshore wind industry and connected to the global Industry.” Indeed, offshore wind is brand new for the US, but has been in force in Europe for 25 years.

The United States projects will have the benefit of leap-frogging over earlier technology, with more efficient, productive, and less environmentally risky structures.

The state is estimating that the near-term incremental program cost would be less than 30 cents a month for a typical homeowner – the cost of windpower is front-loaded in the initial construction, as opposed to fossil-fuel generated energy which continues to get more expensive over time because it is a finite resource that is increasingly more difficult and costly to obtain and needs to be transported from further distances to users. Electricity generated from wind is already competitive with fossil-fuel generated power, but over time, as usage thresholds and technology improvements are reached, the costs will go down. And this does not even factor in the environmental  and public health benefits of transitioning from carbon-based fuel.

The only kicker is that while New York State is being pro-active, it is BOEM that ultimately controls the leases and is undertaking similar studies, so people are concerned this can be unnecessarily time-consuming and duplicative. And while BOEM under the Obama Administration was full-speed ahead and keen to develop offshore windpower, concern was raised after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke declared the entire continental shelf open for drilling, and this prime windpower area used instead for drilling rigs or equally horrible Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminals such as the Port Ambrose that had been beaten back by Governor Cuomo.

But BOEM’s Energy Program Specialist Luke Feinberg, who attended NYSERDA’s May 8 public hearing in Melville expressed enthusiasm for offshore wind in this area (not to mention the area does not seem to have much potential for oil). BOEM presented a timetable that projects out two to five years before actual construction can begin; BOEM intends to hold its next lease auction no later than 2019.

BOEM is taking comments on the proposed “New York Bight” Call Area by May 29. Submit comments and view documents at boem.gov/New-York/

The New York Public Service Commission is now considering a number of options for the state to advance solicitations once the leases are awarded; send comments or view materials at http://documents.dps.ny.gov.

To get more information on the New York State Offshore Wind Master Plan visit nyserda.ny.gov/offshorewind.

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© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Cuomo Designates Nassau County DA Singas Special Prosecutor in Eric Schneiderman Case

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas speaks to county Democratic legislators on ways to improve the County’s procurement process © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Governor Andrew Cuomo has designated Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas as Special Prosecutor to investigate, and if warranted, prosecute, “any and all matters” concerning the public allegations against Eric Schneiderman, who has resigned as the state’s Attorney General after being accused by four women of sexual assault.

In a letter to Acting Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood, who was formerly the state’s Solicitor General, and Singas, Governor Cuomo referenced the New Yorker article dated May 7, 2018 titled “Four Women Accuse New York’s Attorney General of Physical Abuse.”.

Singas is the former head of the Special Victims’ Bureau at the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and the founding member of the Domestic Violence Bureau at the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, so she has specific and extensive expertise in this area, the Governor noted.

“In addition to investigating the specific allegations outlined against Schneiderman in the article, the Special Prosecutor shall investigate facts in the article suggesting that the Attorney General staff and office resources may have been used to facilitate alleged abusive liaisons referenced in the article.

“The Special Prosecutor shall have the powers and duties specified in subdivision 2 of section 63 of the Executive Law for purposes of this review, and shall possess and exercise all the prosecutorial powers necessary to investigate, and if warranted, prosecute the alleged incidents.”

The Special Prosecutor is also charged with working with District Attorney Tim Sini of Suffolk County regarding the incident that reportedly occurred in the Hamptons located in Suffolk County, as well as with any other District Attorneys who have relevant fact patterns.

“The Special Prosecutor’s jurisdiction will displace and supersede the jurisdiction of the New York County District Attorney’s Office (“DANY”), as there appears, at a minimum, an appearance of a conflict of interest with the Attorney General’s Office, which is currently investigating the relationship and actions between DANY and the New York Police Department and their handling of alleged illegal acts including sexual harassment and assault, by producer Harvey Weinstein.

“There can be no suggestion of any possibility of the reality or appearance of any conflict or anything less than a full, complete and unbiased investigation. The victims deserve nothing less.”

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© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

NYS Launches Third Round of NaturalizeNY Expected to Help 900 Eligible Immigrants to Become US Citizens By Covering Application Fee

A visit to Ellis Island is a reminder that the United States is a nation of immigrants. “We are in unprecedented times, where the federal government is openly hostile to immigrants, putting blockades and walls in place to prevent them from achieving the American dream,” Governor Cuomo said in announcing a third round of a program that helps low-income immigrants with the application fee to become a naturalized citizen. “We are a nation of immigrants, and New York will always fight to remove barriers to inclusion, including those that put low-income families at another disadvantage.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo launched the third round of NaturalizeNY – the first-of-its-kind public-private partnership to encourage eligible immigrants in New York State in becoming U.S. citizens. Citizenship benefits immigrants through stronger protections from deportation, the right to vote and run for elected office, and the ability to assist more family members with immigrating to the United States.

“We are in unprecedented times, where the federal government is openly hostile to immigrants, putting blockades and walls in place to prevent them from achieving the American dream,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are a nation of immigrants, and New York will always fight to remove barriers to inclusion, including those that put low-income families at another disadvantage.”

Indeed,  Donald Trump, who has refused to fix the DACA program, leaving 800,000 who were brought here as children in a state of perpetual anxiety, and has canceled the Temporary Immigration Status of tens of thousands of Honduras, Nicaraguans, El Salvadorans and others, said this week we might “have to think about closing up the country” if he doesn’t get his border wall. Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled Congress has shown no inclination to address comprehensive immigration reform, or even provide a path to legalization for DACA recipients.

NaturalizeNY is administered and supported by Governor Cuomo’s Office for New Americans in partnership with Robin Hood, New York Community Trust, Stanford University’s Immigration Policy Lab, as well as faculty from SUNY Albany and George Mason University.

The initiative assists low-income immigrants in gaining U.S. citizenship. Eligible immigrants may register and enter a lottery for a voucher to cover the $725 naturalization application fee. Applicants may apply online at www.NaturalizeNY.org, via the New Americans Hotline at 800-566-7636 or by visiting an ONA Opportunity Center. The registration period runs from May 1 – June 15, 2018.

Since 2016, 916 immigrant New Yorkers were offered vouchers through the program to cover naturalization fees. More than 3,000 immigrants entered the program seekinghelp to pursue citizenship. Up to 900 vouchers are expected to be awarded this year.

“My grandparents struggled with poverty in Ireland, and came to the United States looking for a better life,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “For many this is the quintessential American experience that binds us — regardless of whether the immigrants came a century ago or last week. It is that legacy of inclusion that has earned us the respect of people from around the world. Regardless of what occurs in Washington, the immigrant experience in our state is far more positive because of programs like this. We remain committed to helping them become citizens as they raise families, become entrepreneurs, start small businesses, and pursue new lives in communities throughout our state.”

NaturalizeNY registrants must be naturalization-eligible lawful permanent residents (green card holders) residing in New York State and have incomes below 300 percent of the federal poverty guideline. They must not be eligible for a federal fee waiver.Registrants who win a voucher will be notified at the end of June and referred to an Office for New Americans Opportunity Center to complete the naturalization application and receive their voucher.

Office for New Americans Opportunity Centers provide comprehensive support through the naturalization process – featuring free eligibility screenings, application assistance, and naturalization exam preparation.

The federal government only grants U.S. citizenship to immigrants with lawful status after the individual fulfills the requirements established by Congress. The process of becoming a citizen, referred to as naturalization, generally includes an extensive application to the federal government, submission of fingerprints to be used for a criminal background check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, passing a language and civics exam, and an interview with a federal immigration officer. After this process, an immigrant is not yet a U.S. citizen until after the individual takes the Oath of Allegiance at a citizenship ceremony.

“From the Office for New Americans, the Liberty Defense Project, and NaturalizeNY, Governor Cuomo has put in place robust resources for our immigrant communities,” New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said. “New York will continue to serve as a model for the rest of the nation on how we treat our neighbors. The NaturalizeNY lottery delivers the promise of hope to New Yorkers seeking to enjoy the full benefits of citizenship.”

NaturalizeNY also provides free comprehensive support through the naturalization process, including eligibility screenings, application assistance, naturalization exam preparation, and federal fee waiver application assistance. In addition to expanding opportunity for New Yorkers, NaturalizeNY will also provide a boost to the state’s economy.

NaturalizeNY lifts the financial barrier to citizenship faced by New Yorkers, creating opportunity for immigrants and New York’s diverse communities. According to the U.S. Census, 915,000 New Yorkers hold a green card and are eligible for citizenship, including approximately 654,720 in New York City. Recent research from Stanford University’s Immigration Policy Lab found that the cost of the application was a major barrier to these immigrants seeking citizenship. The threshold to have the federal fee waived means New Yorkers could be blocked from becoming citizens because of the financial barrier. For example, an individual earning $35,000 a year makes too much to qualify for a federal fee waiver, and the cost of applying for citizenship works out to the equivalent of about a week’s pay. While the federal fee waiver is available to individuals whose household income is at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, NaturalizeNY is open to those who are at 150 – 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

Immigrants who become citizens see an almost 9 percent increase in earnings, according to a 2015 Urban Institute study. This leads to higher tax revenue and lower reliance on public benefits.

To support up to 1,800 citizenship applicants, New York State, Robin Hood and the New York Community Trust are investing more than $1.2 million to cover the $725 application fee through fee assistance vouchers. The funding will be paid directly to the federal government by the campaign partners and cover the full cost of the naturalization process. Vouchers will be awarded following the lottery in June, and administered by personnel from the Office for New Americans and Stanford University.

NaturalizeNY is part of Governor Cuomo’s efforts to help immigrants and minority populations fully participate in New York’s civic and economic life. The Office for New Americans, the nation’s first statutorily created immigrant services office, recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. Since its inception, the Office for New Americans has helped more than 200,000 New Americans navigate the naturalization process, start and grow their own businesses, learn English, and become part of New York’s diverse cultural fabric. Of these:

  • 19,543 were Naturalization and DACA applications and referrals;
  • 34,938 participated in ESOL classes throughout the state;
  • 4,986 partook in entrepreneurship classes across New York;
  • 500 graduated with at least 20 hours of English language coursework via Cell-Ed, a phone-based English learning system for individuals who have difficulty reaching an actual classroom; and
  • 1,540 are actively engaged in Cell-Ed throughout the state.

The Office for New Americans work is enhanced by the New Americans hotline – 800-566-7636 – where individuals can obtain free, multi-lingual services and file fraud complaints. Since its inception, more than 150 complaints against fraudulent legal service providers made to the hotline have resulted in referrals to appropriate District Attorneys’ offices.

In addition to providing free, direct assistance to individuals, the Office for New Americans has conducted more than 6,000 seminars and meetings to educate New Yorkers on how to apply for a passport, how to apply for college, what to do if/when immigration officers come to their homes, what avenues are available for victims of domestic violence, and more.

The Office for New Americans also established a network of navigators throughout the state with a focus on providing accurate and reliable information to immigrant and refugee communities. These Office for New Americans navigators lead roundtable discussions with affiliated groups and advocates, workforce development programs, community conversations to forge relationships between communities, and trainings for additional navigators to further the Office for New Americans mission.

The Office for New Americans also recently launched another first-in-the-nation program to support parents and families caring for unaccompanied and/or undocumented children through a partnership with the Children’s Village and its Office for New Americans Centers at Central American Refugee Center in Long Island and Neighbors Link in Westchester County.

The successful Office for New Americans Opportunity Center model was recognized in 2017 at the United Nations’ Fourth Mayoral Forum on Human Mobility, Migration and Development in Berlin, Germany, marking the first time a state-led integration effort was recognized at a U.N. event.

The Office for New Americans has recently increased outreach in the wake of the Trump administration’s arbitrary decision to end Temporary Protected Status for individuals from El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua. Of the 114,127 Salvadorans currently living in New York State, 16,200 are Temporary Protected Status beneficiaries and will be impacted by the federal government’s decision to end recognition.

Liberty Defense Project

Created by Governor Cuomo in 2017 in response to hostile federal policies, the Liberty Defense Project is the nation’s first state-led project to assist immigrants -regardless of status – in obtaining access to legal services and process. The Liberty Defense Project provides essential legal services on deportation defense, direct representation, consultations, application assistance, and more. The public-private partnership is administered by the Office for New Americans and run in partnership with law firms, legal associations, advocacy organizations, colleges, universities, and bar associations across the state.

Since July 2017, the Liberty Defense Project provided more than 10,000 free and confidential services to individuals needing legal assistance through its network of 47 community-based groups.

Immigrants and Refugees in New York State

According to the American Immigration Council:

  • One in five New Yorkers is an immigrant – 4.5 million, or 22.9 percent of the state’s population in 2015. One in six is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent.
  • Immigrants make up more than 25 percent of New York’s labor force and contribute billions of dollars in federal and state taxes.
  • New York’s immigrant-led households added to the state’s economy by spending more than $103 billion in after-tax income in 2014 alone.
  • There are 347,573 immigrant business owners, accounting for 33.8 percent of all self-employed New York residents in 2015 and generating $7.2 billion in business income.
  • Nearly 44,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients live in New York,according to USCIS. 

    Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages, Chair of the State Assembly’s Taskforce on New Americans said, “As the federal government becomes increasingly more aggressive towards our New American communities, we are reminded that citizenship is a pin of safety, and we must continue to ensure accessibility to naturalization services. I commend Governor Cuomo for this valuable initiative.”

    Shawn Morehead, program director overseeing The New York Community Trust’s work on immigration, said, “We want the newest New Yorkers to work, vote, and feel safe in our City. The Trust has a long history of helping the City’s immigrants participate fully in the city’s economy and democracy, and we’re thrilled to continue this tradition by underwriting the cost of applying for citizenship for hundreds of our neighbors.”

    José Calderón, President of the Hispanic Federation, the nation’s leading Latino nonprofit membership organization, said, “As our immigrant brothers and sisters face a relentless assault from our federal government, NaturalizeNY is an important rejoinder that in New York we honor our state’s past, present, and future by investing in and supporting our immigrants. With Latinos representing the largest immigrant community in the Empire State, the Hispanic Federation and its network of Latino Community-based organizations applaud Governor Cuomo’s renewal of NaturalizeNYand remain committed to working with his Office for New Americans in enabling immigrants to become US citizens and break down financial barriers that are often in their way of naturalizing.”

    Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, said, “Catholic Charities is proud to again play a key role in this year’s NaturalizeNY lottery, helping New Yorkers across the state to register through the New Americans Hotline. This initiative by NYS to encourage citizenship is more important than ever at a time when anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric have continued to tear the very fabric of our society. We are a nation of immigrants. We are stronger and revitalized by welcoming and integrating immigrants into the United States.”

    Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation, said, “We thank the Governor for renewing NaturalizeNY for a third year to support low-income immigrants seeking financial assistance to cover their citizenship application fees – some of who benefited through our Opportunity Center. At a time where immigrant engagement is more important than ever, this program provides an opportunity for our community members to gain further access to civic and voter participation. We hope many in our diverse Asian immigrant communities will take advantage of this initiative.”

NYS Governor Signs Legislation Removing Guns from Domestic Abusers; Seeks to Extend Background Check Waiting Period to 10 Days

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signs legislation removing guns from domestic abusers and seeks legislation to extend the background check waiting period from three to 10 days. “In a time when gun violence continues to relentlessly torment communities across the country while our federal government refuses to act, New York must lead the charge to end this epidemic once and for all.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor also Announces Legislation to Extend Background Check Waiting Period from Three Days to 10 Days

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation to remove guns from domestic abusers and close a loophole in state law that will ensure domestic abusers are required to surrender all firearms, not just handguns. The Governor also announced he is advancing new legislation to extend the waiting period for individuals who are not immediately approved to purchase a firearm through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System from three days to 10 days.

“In a time when gun violence continues to relentlessly torment communities across the country while our federal government refuses to act, New York must lead the charge to end this epidemic once and for all,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this legislation, we can sever the undeniable connection between domestic abuse and deadly gun violence, and continue to build upon the strongest gun laws in the nation.”

“My mother dedicated her life to helping victims of domestic violence and our family started a home to help these survivors,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.“We’ve seen firsthand the fear created when a gun is present in the home of an abuser. This new law today is a dramatic step forward eliminating the vulnerability of these women and their children. While the federal government fails to address the issue of gun violence, we continue to fight to keep guns out of the hands of those who could devastate our communities and our residents.”

Removing Guns from Domestic Abusers

Previously, New York law narrowly prohibited the possession of firearms for individuals either convicted of a felony or a limited number of misdemeanor “serious” offenses, excluding many misdemeanor offenses that are undeniably serious. This bill (S.8121 Phillips/A10272 O’Donnell), which the Governor signed in ceremony today, expands the list of “serious” crimes that require the loss of a gun license and the surrender of all firearms to ensure no domestic abuser in New York retains the ability to possess a firearm once convicted of a disturbing crime.

In addition, this legislation will preclude any individual wanted for a felony or other serious offense from obtaining or renewing a firearm license. Under previous New York law, despite being subject to an arrest warrant, an individual was still legally eligible to obtain a firearm license even as police worked to locate and detain them. This change ensures that the law enforcement who are actively seeking to arrest a wanted individual, as well as innocent bystanders, are not needlessly endangered by a wanted individual who has been able to obtain new firearms.

Extending the Waiting Period

Governor Cuomo has introduced legislation to establish a 10-day waiting period for individuals who are not immediately approved to purchase a firearm through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Current federal law requires gun dealers to conduct the NICS background check on a potential purchaser prior to selling a firearm, which immediately provides the dealer with one of three possible notifications. These notifications include “proceed”, “denied”, or “delayed”. In the case of a “delayed” response, the dealer must wait three days before the sale is eligible to go through, even though the FBI continues to investigate these individuals past the three-day timeframe. Oftentimes, by the time it has been determined that the potential purchaser was, in fact, ineligible, the individual has already been sold the firearm upon completion of the three-day waiting period. Extending the waiting period to ten days would allow sufficient time to complete the expanded background check and builds on legislative efforts to ensure that only those eligible to own a firearm are able to do so.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said, “Today, New York continues its inspirational leadership in addressing the gun violence epidemic by enacting legislation that recognizes the deadly connection between intimate partner abuse and the tragedy of gun violence. Yet, while New York leads, Republicans in Congress refuse to act. As gun violence and domestic abuse exact a daily toll of horror and heartbreak in communities across the country, saving lives and protecting families shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Democrats know that there is a commonsense, bipartisan path forward and we will continue to press for progress on this critical issue.”

Congressman Jerrold Nadler said, “I am proud to stand with Governor Cuomo as he signs legislation to remove all guns from domestic abusers. These measures will close dangerous loopholes in our gun laws and enhance public safety. There is simply no reason why one who has committed an act of domestic violence should maintain ownership of a firearm. Since the Republican Congress has failed to address the national epidemic of gun violence, I commend Governor Cuomo’s leadership in working to enact reasonable gun safety legislation that will protect New Yorkers.”

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney said, “We know that individuals with a history of domestic violence are five times more likely to murder an intimate partner when a firearm is in the house. This bill, to remove guns from domestic abusers, is just commonsense. I was proud to stand with Governor Cuomo today as he signed this important bill that will save lives into law.”

Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez said, “Gun violence is a plague on our nation and our city that too often shatters lives. The steps being announced today will help keep firearms away from those who should never have access to them. We must do more and Congress must act at the federal level. Nonetheless this effort is a good start and shows New York is leading the way to tackle this horrible problem.”

“Domestic violence affects all communities,” Congressman Adriano Espaillat said. “ commend Governor Cuomo on today’s announcement to remove guns from domestic abusers and close a loophole in New York to ensure domestic abusers are required to surrender all firearms. Domestic violence impacts each of our communities, and today we are standing united with victims, survivors and families of domestic abuse to say enough is enough. I vow to continue my work in Congress to end domestic abuse and violence. Today’s landmark legislation is a historic step in our efforts to protect the victims of domestic violence and help keep individuals and our communities safe.”

Connie Neal, Executive Director of the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence said, “The connections between domestic violence and gun violence cannot be clearer. We applaud Governor Cuomo and the members of the New York State Legislature who voted to take a strong stand to remove firearms from domestic violence offenders. The urgency to act was irrefutable, and New York has now made a significant step forward in preventing domestic violence homicides. Because of Governor Cuomo’s leadership, we will now have a strong safeguard in place for protecting countless New Yorkers.”

Kris Brown, Co-President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said“The numbers are very clear. Abused women are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser owns a firearm, and domestic violence assaults involving a gun are far more likely to end in death. By requiring domestic abusers to surrender their firearms, Governor Cuomo closed a glaring loophole in state law. I applaud the Governor’s action, as his advocacy for common sense gun laws will help save the lives of vulnerable people all across our state and prevent family fire.”

“As our nation grapples with how to confront the spread of gun violence, we are proud to work and live in a State who has such a leader on this issue: Governor Cuomo,” said Amy Barasch, Executive Director of Her Justice. “At Her Justice, where we provide free legal assistance to thousands of victims of partner violence every year, we know all too well how dangerous guns are in the context of abuse in the home. This new legislation will ensure guns are taken out of the hands of more convicted domestic abusers. Thank you, Governor, for moving us forward.”

Cicely Fields, Domestic and Gun Violence Survivor said, “As a domestic violence survivor, I am a living testimony to why the signing of this bill today is so important. I know firsthand the connection between domestic violence and gun violence is undeniable, as my abuser was able to possess a firearm that injured me within inches of my life. The wound may have healed, but I will still be physically damaged for the rest of my life and my four children, who rely on me for support, will continue to suffer due to the actions of this domestic abuser. I thank Governor Cuomo for ensuring the passage of this law.”

June Rubin, Volunteer Co-Leader for the New York Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America said, “Today we took another important step towards protecting New Yorkers from gun violence. While this is a meaningful day, we know this legislation is just one of many steps needed to prevent future acts of gun violence. We look forward to working with lawmakers and Governor Cuomo on future steps such as the passage of lifesaving Extreme Risk Protection Order legislation.”

“Under previous law, where people convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor were able keep their firearms, the lives of both their victims and the general public were unnecessarily put at risk,” Rebecca Fischer, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence said. “Thanks to Governor Cuomo, this legislation ensures that everyone convicted of a domestic violence crime is held to the same standard, guaranteeing that these dangerous individuals will lose their gun license and their firearms. This is common sense legislation that was long overdue, and we applaud the Governor for seeing it through.”

“Domestic violence victims are five times more likely to be killed when their abuser owns a firearm,” Senator Elaine Phillips said. “I thank the Governor for signing this legislation into state law, which requires the removal of firearms from individuals convicted of domestic violence. This commonsense legislation keeps firearms out of the hands of those who are convicted of domestic violence, closes the gap in federal law, protects women, men and children from their abusers and will prevent further tragedies.”

Senator Diane Savino said, “This legislation continues our work to strengthen New York State’s nation-leading gun laws. We are closing a loophole that allowed people convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor to keep their firearms, and by doing so we are further protecting the victims of domestic violence across this state. No one should have to live in fear of their abusers, and thanks to working with Governor Cuomo on this legislation, we are helping to ensure that they no longer have to.”

Under Governor Cuomo, New York has passed the strongest gun control laws in the nation and with the passing of this legislation, New York’s gun laws have been further strengthened to ensure that the well-known link between domestic abuse and deadly gun violence can be eliminated. In nine of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in United States history, including Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, the shooter had an existing record of committing violence against women, threatening violence against women, or harassing or disparaging women. In addition, when an abusive partner is permitted to access firearms, the risk that the other partner will be killed increases fivefold. In 2016, firearms were used in 35 domestic homicides in New York.

In addition to continued progressive improvements to New York’s gun legislation, Governor Cuomo led the creation of the “States for Gun Safety” coalition in February of this year to combat the gun violence epidemic in the face of continued federal inaction. Together with New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, New York State entered into an agreement to trace and intercept illegal guns, better share information on individuals prohibited from buying or owning firearms, and create the first-in-the-nation regional gun violence research consortium. Massachusetts, Delaware, and Puerto Rico have also joined the coalition, which now represents over 35 million Americans.

See Bill Here and Memo Here

NYS Reconvenes Scientific Advisory Committee on Climate Change Disbanded by Trump Administration

Superstorm Sandy which decimated Breezy Point, on the south shore of Long Island, was a wake-up call on the need to mitigate against Climate Change and the probability of harsher storms and rising sea levels © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

A key scientific advisory committee on climate change, disbanded by the federal government late last year and subsequently reconvened by New York State, will hold its first meeting in New York City this week. The committee, officially titled the Independent Advisory Committee on Applied Climate Assessment, is a group of leading scientists and experts tasked with providing recommendations to help federal, state and local government, communities, and the private sector plan for the effects of climate change. The federal committee was disbanded by the Trump administration in late 2017 and reconvened by Governor Cuomo in his 2018 State of the State address.

“Denial is no life strategy and pretending that climate change doesn’t exist is harmful to the very future of this planet,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “The work of these experts must continue without political interference and we’re proud to host this group in New York.”

The reconstituted group, formerly known as the Federal Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, will carry on its vital work advising on how to provide decision-makers the ability to better understand the impacts of climate change on their organizations and communities, and what they can do to plan for those impacts. The 19-member Independent Advisory Committee, chaired by Richard Moss, Visiting Senior Research Scientist at The Earth Institute of Columbia University, is meeting in New York City from May 1 to May 3. The committee will collaborate to develop strategies for deeper engagement by states and cities in the National Climate Assessment, a federal government interagency effort on climate change science mandated by the Global Change Research Act of 1990. To learn more about the Independent committee’s work, please go to climateassessment.org.

Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance for New York State, said,“Under Governor Cuomo, we are once again picking up the mantle of leadership by ensuring scientists and climate change experts can convene to do their important work to combat climate change. I’m proud New York is supporting the Advisory Committee and look forward to their recommendations.”

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “While the federal government is willfully ignoring science, New York is embracing it. We stand ready to provide leadership in responding to the critical challenge of climate change and work with these experts to strategically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bolster the resilience of our communities. At Governor Cuomo’s direction, New York is redoubling our efforts to reduce emissions and speed our transition to renewable energy, which will benefit our state with cleaner air, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and provide new jobs for New Yorkers.”

Richard Moss, Visiting Senior Research Scientist at The Earth Institute of Columbia University and Chair of the Independent Advisory Committee, said,“We know that many states and cities are looking for better information to advance their climate preparedness. Scientists are improving knowledge that can support climate action, and our advice is designed to help the National Climate Assessment better evaluate and make that information available. We are extremely grateful that Governor Cuomo, on behalf of NY State, is joining with Columbia University and the American Meteorological Society in the continuation of the committee’s work.”

Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York State is taking bold action to meet the challenge of climate change. On June 1, 2017, when the federal government announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change, New York joined with California and Washington State to form the U.S. Climate Alliance to uphold the goals of the agreement. The U.S. Climate Alliance has grown to include 17 governors representing nearly half U.S. gross domestic product.

New York has also established a Clean Energy Standard for half of its electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030, complementing Governor Cuomo’s ambitious Reforming the Energy Vision strategy. REV is building a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers by stimulating investment in clean technologies like solar, wind, and energy efficiency. The REV strategy is ensuring New York State reduces economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and achieves the internationally-recognized target of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050. To learn more about REV, including the Governor’s $5 billion investment in clean energy technology and innovation, please visit www.ny.gov/REV4NY and follow us at @Rev4NY.

Independent Advisory Committee on
Applied Climate Assessment
 

MEMBERS

  • Richard Moss*, Chair, Columbia University
  • Susan Avery*, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Kristin Baja, Urban Sustainability Directors’ Network
  • Maxine Burkett*, University of Hawai’i, William S. Richardson School of Law
  • Ann Marie Chischilly*, Northern Arizona U., Inst. for Tribal Environmental Professionals
  • Jan Dell*, Wyland Foundation
  • Paul Allen Fleming*, Seattle Public Utilities
  • Kathy Jacobs, U. of Arizona, Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions
  • Andrew Jones, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • Kim Knowlton*, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Jay Koh, The Lightsmith Group/Global Adaptation & Resilience Investment WG
  • Maria Carmen Lemos*, School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan
  • Jerry Melillo*, The Ecosystems Center
  • TC Richmond, Van Ness Feldman
  • Lynn Scarlett, The Nature Conservancy
  • Jared Snyder, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Jessica Whitehead*, North Carolina Sea Grant
  • Daniel Zarrilli*, New York City Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency

*Member of original Federal Advisory Committee

Governor Cuomo Signs Bill to Protect New York Taxpayers from Federal Tax Increases

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation aimed at mitigating against the federal tax law which limits deductibility of State and Local Taxes (SALT) which will cost New York taxpayers $14.3 billion. The plan includes an optional payroll-tax system, new funds for charitable donations and de-coupling from the federal tax code © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Enacted Budget Includes Optional Payroll-Tax System, New Funds for Charitable Donations, and Legislation to De-Couple from the Federal Tax Code – Summary of Reforms Available Here

 Coordinated Response Provides Alternatives to the Devastating Federal Assault; SALT Limitations Cost New York Taxpayers $14.3 Billion

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today recognized Tax Day with the signing of legislation to protect New Yorkers from tax increases brought about by the federal tax reforms. These changes to the state tax code will help preserve New York’s economic competitiveness and protect state and local tax deductibility – a basic tenet of tax law that has been part of the modern federal income tax since it was created. The legislation provides new options for tax deductible charitable donations, creates a new Employer Compensation Expense Program so that employers can help their employees maximize deductibility, and decouples the state tax code from the federal tax code, where necessary, to avoid state tax increases brought solely by increases in federal taxes.

“New York will not stand idle while the federal government takes aim at the economic heart of our communities and takes from the hardworking men and women of this state to benefit this country’s wealthy and corporations,” Governor Cuomo said. “This bill ensure protections for New Yorkers against Washington’s targeted attack and we will continue to lead this fight and do everything we can to protect the rights and wallets of families across New York.”

The legislation signed today enacts a series of reforms to the New York State tax code designed to protect New York residents from the adverse impacts of the recently enacted federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. These changes follow a report issued by the Department of Taxation and Finance in January 2018 that outlines several measures for the state to consider in order to mitigate these negative impacts. After further study and extensive consultation with experts from state and local government, academia, and the private sector, the proposed reforms were found to be viable options for protecting New Yorkers and were included in the Executive Budget and, ultimately, passed by the legislature. Specifically, the FY 2019 Budget takes the following steps:

  • Promotes State Charitable Contributions to Benefit New Yorkers: The FY 2019 Budget creates a new state-operated Charitable Contribution Fund to accept donations for the purposes of improving health care and public education in New York State. Taxpayers who itemize deductions may claim these charitable contributions as deductions on their federal and state tax returns. Any taxpayer making a donation may also claim a state tax credit equal to 85 percent of the donation amount for the tax year after the donation is made. Taxpayers may also make qualified contributions to certain not-for-profit organizations for specified purposes. 
  • Authorizes Local Government to Establish Local Charitable Funds: The FY 2019 Budget authorizes local governments to establish charitable gift reserve funds and to offer real property tax credits to incentivize contributions to these new local charitable funds. Under the law, such funds may receive unrestricted charitable contributions for the purposes of addressing education, health care, and other charitable purposes. This is an optional program available to counties, cities, towns, villages and school districts. Local governments and school districts may also establish charitable funds and offer real property tax credits to incentivize contributions to these new local charitable funds. These funds will help support vital government activities while also helping preserve the tax deductibility that our tax system was built on.
  • Establishes the Alternative Employer Compensation Expense Program: The FY 2019 Budget creates new ways for employers to help their employees with their federal tax bill.  While Federal tax reform eliminated full state and local tax deductibility for individuals, businesses were spared from these limitations. Under this program, employers will be able to opt-in to a new Employer Compensation Expense Program structure. Employers that opt-in will be subject to a 5 percent tax on all annual payroll expenses in excess of $40,000 per employee, phased in over three years beginning on January 1, 2019. The progressive personal income tax system will remain in place, and a new tax credit corresponding in value to the ECEP will cut the personal income tax on wages and ensure that State filers subject to the ECEP will not experience a decline in take-home pay. The program is designed to be revenue neutral for the state. Employers would also not be adversely impacted, but they’d be giving their employees the opportunity to reduce their federal taxes.
  • De-Couples from the Federal Tax Code: The state tax code is closely aligned with the federal tax code. This legislation decouples the state tax code from the federal tax code, where necessary, to avoid more than $1.5 billion in State tax increases brought solely by increases in Federal taxes.

The new federal law disproportionally and adversely impacts New York State, which already sends $48 billion more each year to Washington than it receives in federal dollars. According to a recent report released by the State Department of Tax and Finance, the elimination of full SALT deductibility alone will cost New York an additional $14.3 billion.

“These reforms to our State tax code are the result of collaborations between state agencies, working with many tax professionals, businesses, and experts,” State Budget Director Robert F. Mujica, Jr. said. “This legislation will protect New York’s taxpayers, our State Budget, and our economic competitiveness.”

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, “In Westchester County most residents pay more than $10,000 a year in taxes. These taxes are for schools, local government and state government. The last federal budget robbed Westchester – and our residents’ way of life was threatened. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for this creative plan to help county taxpayers, and Legislators for recognizing how imperative this issue is. We support it, and will do everything in our power to implement it.”

“Today is tax day, and New Yorker’s will again send billions more to Washington than our state will get back in the form of federal funding. As a sovereign state, it is critically important that we do whatever we can to protect the income of our taxpayers, and we applaud Governor Cuomo and state legislators for advancing legislation to do just that,” New York State Association of Counties Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario said,

New York State Conference of Mayors Executive Director Peter A. Baynes said,

“NYCOM greatly appreciates Governor Cuomo’s proactive leadership in offering an option to mitigate the harm inflicted upon New York’s communities and their residents with the new cap on state and local tax deductions. Working collaboratively with NYCOM and other groups, the Governor and the State Legislature have enacted viable options for New Yorkers to avoid increases in taxes, decreases in home values, and reductions in essential municipal services. We look forward to working with the Administration to successfully implement this program.”

These changes to the state tax code are part of Governor Cuomo’s multi-pronged effort to fight the federal tax assault. Along with the Governors of New Jersey and Connecticut, Governor Cuomo announced a coalition to sue the federal government. The new law effectively preempts the states’ ability to govern by reducing the ability to provide for their own citizens and unfairly targets New York and similarly situated states in violation of the Constitution.

Cuomo Sending $19 Million to Long Island to Cut Off MS-13 Gang Recruitment, Support Youth Programs

“New York will not tolerate the monstrous acts and fear that MS-13 has brought to our communities, and by focusing on educating and protecting our young residents, we are furthering our efforts to drive out these violent criminals,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in announcing $18.5 million in programs aimed at cutting off gang recruitment and supporting youth programs on Long Island © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $18.5 million included in the FY 2019 Enacted Budget to launch a multi-pronged program for at-risk young people that will help Long Island communities cut off the MS-13 gang recruitment pipeline. Of this funding, $16 million will support the expansion of after-school programs, case management services and job opportunities for vulnerable youth, as well as community and local law enforcement initiatives to prevent gang involvement. A total of $2.5 million in funding will also support the Gun Involved Violence Elimination initiative and SNUG street outreach on Long Island, which provide law enforcement agencies and community-based organizations with resources to help combat gun and gang violence using proven, evidence-based strategies. Together, this commitment builds on progress New York has made over the past year and ensures that young people have the tools and resources to avoid involvement in a gang.

 

“New York will not tolerate the monstrous acts and fear that MS-13 has brought to our communities, and by focusing on educating and protecting our young residents, we are furthering our efforts to drive out these violent criminals,” Governor Cuomo said. “The launch of this comprehensive plan invests in critical programming to help stomp out gang recruitment, engage young men and women during and after school, and help protect New Yorkers from being victimized, as we work to eliminate MS-13’s presence in this state for good.”

 

MS-13 is an international criminal gang that emerged in the United States in the 1980s. They engage in a wide range of criminal activity and are uniquely violent, oftentimes engaging in brutal acts simply to increase the gang’s notoriety. Despite violent crime being down dramatically on Long Island over the past several years, a recent uptick in violent crime, including a series of senseless homicides, has been traced directly back to the MS-13 gang. This funding is the latest component of a holistic approach laid out by Governor Cuomo to eradicate MS-13 on Long Island and protect New York’s communities.

 

Comprehensive Programs for At-Risk Youth on Long Island

 

Expand the Empire State After-School Program: $2 Million

The FY 2019 Budget includes $2 million to expand the Empire State After School Program this year to schools and nonprofit organizations located in at-risk areas on Long Island, which have been identified by the State Office of Children and Family Services, Division of Criminal Justice Services, and Division of State Police, as well as County Executives, and local law enforcement agencies. This expanded initiative will keep young people engaged in sports, music, art, and other educational programming during after school hours and help deter potential gang activity or involvement.

 

Increase Job and Training Opportunities for At-Risk Youth: $5 Million

The successful New York Youth Jobs program will dedicate up to $5 million to provide job and training opportunities to young people who are most at-risk of being potentially recruited into gangs. This program will guide youth toward employment and vocational training positions and provide tax incentives to companies that hire unemployed, out-of-school youth between the ages of 16 and 24. This engagement will help provide a pathway for young people who may be pressured into crime because of their financial disadvantage.

 

Provide Gang Prevention Education Programs: $2 Million 

Over the next three years, $2 million will be invested to support local education programs focused on early intervention and violence prevention that target middle and high school students. Working with school districts and community-based organizations, this initiative will provide students with counseling, group programming, and other social services to help them avoid gang recruitment, peer pressure, violence, and delinquent behavior. Law enforcement agencies working with schools and community-based organizations on gang prevention education to help both in-school and out-of-school youth will be able to share $500,000 of this investment.

 

Develop Comprehensive Support Services For Vulnerable Youth: $3 Million

To provide immigrant youth with the resources they need to succeed, a $3 million investment included in the FY 2019 Budget will be provided over three years to support comprehensive case management. This service will be used to support vulnerable young people, particularly new immigrant children who are often the focus of MS-13 recruitment. This case management will include medical and mental health support, addiction treatment, trauma and family counseling, language training, and other community support services to promote positive social-emotional development and strong ties to the community.  

 

Establish a New Community Assistance Team: $4 Million

To identify and respond to gang activity in “hot spots,” as well as support local requests for actionable intelligence and increased service, the FY 2019 Budget supports the deployment of a State Police Community Assistance Team to Long Island. The 11-person team will include six Troopers, three investigators, one senior investigator, and one supervisor designated to partner with local law enforcement and community-based agencies to support their efforts to curtail gang-related crime.

 

State Support for Violence Reduction Efforts through GIVE and SNUG Initiatives

 

Gun Involved Violence Elimination Initiative Funding: $1.9 Million

The FY 2019 Budget continues to support the DCJS Gun Involved Violence Elimination Initiative, which is a nationally-recognized approach to reduce violence using evidence-based strategies. This year, Nassau and Suffolk counties will receive a total GIVE award of $1.9 million to fund community outreach efforts, training, equipment, and personnel – such as prosecutors and crime analysts. This support will be shared among Long Island’s police departments, district attorneys’ offices, probation departments, and sheriffs’ offices.

 

SNUG Street Outreach Funding: $687,500

The FY 2019 Budget also continues support for the DCJS SNUG programs on Long Island. These programs, located in Hempstead and Wyandanch, provide community-based organizations, in partnership with local law enforcement, resources to conduct street outreach and steer young people away from violence. This year, these two organizations will receive a total of $687,500 – an increase of $78,500 over the previous year. 

 

Combatting Gang Violence on Long Island

 

Investments included in the FY 2019 Budget mark the latest effort to eradicate gang violence on Long Island led by Governor Cuomo. Last April, the Governor directed the State Police to deploy resources on Long Island to help combat MS-13, including 25 Troopers to conduct high visibility patrols in Brentwood and Central Islip, as well as undercover operations specifically targeting and saturating neighborhoods known to have high levels of gang activity. The State Police also provided six new investigators to the FBI-led Long Island Gang Task Force which comprises more than 30 members of federal, state and local law enforcement partners, and helps agencies combine intelligence and other resources to conduct comprehensive investigations into gang activity.

 

Most recently, Governor Cuomo announced the deployment of a new Gang Violence Prevention Unit, consisting of 10 State Troopers. The unit will work to identify early warning signs of gang activity and coordinates closely with the Suffolk County Police Department on an “Educate the Educators” program to help teachers and faculty recognize the early warning signs of gang involvement and recruitment and provide training to students on the dangers of street gangs. Today’s announcement enacts the 4th Proposal of the Governor’s State of the State which was announced last December in advance of the legislative session.

 

Senator Phil Boyle said, “New York’s investments in gang prevention strategies, education programming, and gun safety initiatives have set us apart from the rest, supporting an increase in community outreach and, a decrease in violent crimes on Long Island. Thanks to the unwavering commitment and collaboration of Governor Cuomo, my colleagues in the NY State Senate and local leaders throughout the region, this latest investment will take our efforts to new heights and engage more students than ever before. I commend our communities for sticking together as we work to put an end, once and for all, to MS-13.”

 

Assemblyman Phil Ramos said, “MS-13 has wreaked havoc in our communities for far too long. I am proud to have worked with my colleagues in the legislature and alongside Governor Cuomo to ensure necessary funding is delivered to Long Island to help stop these dangerous criminals in their tracks and protect our some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers. I look forward to young men and women engaging in more after-school activities and taking advantage of new job training opportunities, as we work to build a brighter future for all of our residents.”

 

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, “As crime in Suffolk County continues to decline and remains at historic lows, we are committed to eradicating MS-13 through a comprehensive approach by focusing not just on law enforcement but also stopping the recruitment pipeline. Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s leadership, this state investment will provide the necessary resources to help fund this anti-gang approach and keep our communities safe.”

 

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said, “I am proud of the joint efforts across Long Island to eliminate the fear of gang violence and return peace to our communities. Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s continued leadership he has ensured the state’s the FY 2019 Budget delivered the funding necessary to provide much needed education programs and gang prevention strategies that will help keep our kids safe. In addition, he again shows his support for the men and women of our police departments by making sure they are equipped with the tools needed to combat gang violence and hold perpetrators accountable. I look forward to working with state and local partners to launch these programs and help shape the lives of New York’s young men and women.”

 

Suffolk County Legislator Monica R. Martinez said, “The state’s holistic approach – educating and protecting our children while working together to put an end to MS-13, is the road map we need to ensure a brighter future for all our residents. Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, crucial funding has been delivered to Long Island that will help drive out fear from our neighborhoods and equip community organizations and schools with the tools we need to wipe out this vicious gang for good. I applaud our state leaders for working together to ensure these investments are made, and for working side-by-side with our region to keep our students safe.”

 

Cuomo Issues Challenge to Trump: ‘This is the Moment’ to Stop Scourge of Gun Violence

New York State Governor tells Trump: “The American gun crisis has long been a plague and scourge on our country. You can do something about it and the American people would support it. This is the moment.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued an open letter to President Trump.

Dear Mr. President,

The old adage is right: “go with your first instinct.” Your White House meeting with bipartisan federal legislators right after the Florida massacre appeared and was unscripted and productive. You essentially had one question that summed up what every American was feeling: “why?” Why sell guns to young people who can’t yet buy a beer? Why sell assault weapons that are designed to kill so many people so quickly? Why not take guns from the mentally ill before they hurt someone or themselves? Why not make sure every gun purchaser goes through a background check?

There was no answer from the electeds assembled, because there is no answer – except the one you suggested – they are afraid of the NRA.

Major political change comes when a window of opportunity opens and a leader seizes the moment. There are brief moments in history where attention, passion and drive combine to unite the American people and overwhelm the forces preserving the status quo and create change.

The American gun crisis has long been a plague and scourge on our country. You can do something about it and the American people would support it. This is the moment. The Republicans will follow your lead. Yes, they fear the NRA, but they fear the enraged citizen majority more.

In New York, after the Sandy Hook massacre, the nation had a similar moment. It was a moment of grief and pain and anger. Sandy Hook touched the hearts and minds of every day Americans. It was anyone’s child – it was everyone’s child. In the immediate aftermath of Sandy Hook we passed the New York Safe Act – common sense gun safety. It has made a dramatic difference, it didn’t negatively affect any legal gun owners, and I believe it has saved lives.

Mentally ill and dangerous people shouldn’t have guns so we need universal background checks. When a person shows signs of mental distress or violence, there should be a provision for police to investigate and determine the facts – a “red flag bill.” Domestic violence offenders should not have guns. Assault weapons are too dangerous in the wrong hands and not worth the risk. In 1938 we outlawed machine guns in this Country precisely for the same reason: they were too dangerous if obtained by the wrong person. Does anyone miss not owning machine guns?

For those of us who serve in government, if we are lucky, we may have a few moments that present a real opportunity to make a lasting difference. There are brief openings where transformational progress is possible and you have that opportunity now. The moments are rare and fleeting. They are leadership moments: don’t squander it.

The political advisers are wrong. NRA members will be nervous about any government change and intervention but they will ultimately realize a functioning system vindicates legitimate gun owners rather than demonizing all. If you lose this moment, I am sad to say there will probably be another shooting and the Country will be in the same place, and it will once again pose the question that you posed – “why?” “Why didn’t we do anything about this after Florida?” You have the responsibility to stop that from happening.