ALBANY — Cardinal Timothy Dolan said he felt disappointed Tuesday after Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie was the only top state leader who didn’t meet with the him on a busy day of lobbying.
“They didn’t give us a reason,” Dolan, the archbishop of New York, said. He made the comments to reporters after meeting with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), who leads the Independent Democratic Conference in the Senate, and as Dolan was headed to meet with Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport).
Heastie’s office acknowledged that the cardinal requested a meeting, but said the speaker couldn’t fit it into his schedule.
Dolan traditionally meets with all legislative leaders on his trips to Albany. But this wasn’t the annual lobbying trip. Cuomo had called Dolan on Monday and asked the cardinal to provide an opening prayer at Cuomo’s rally to drum up support for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which Cuomo and Dolan support. Dolan also spoke to Cuomo Tuesday about providing more state aid so the Catholic Church’s many nonprofit organizations that provide social services with state aid could afford to pay the minimum wage.
Heastie was at the rally Tuesday, which included a full day’s legislative session — although the speaker usually isn’t in the chamber for the Assembly’s daily session — and the day the “mother ship” convenes for the first time. “Mother ship” is the Albany term for the top Assembly and Senate leaders to meet briefly in public and assign subcommittees to try to negotiate compromises for the state budget due by April 1.
Heastie had met with Dolan earlier this year.
Still, the lack of a meeting Tuesday stung Dolan and his entourage of top bishops. They hoped to press Heastie to gain the Assembly’s support for an education tax credit that would encourage increased charitable donations to scholarship funds and public school programs.
“We have one disappointment today, that Speaker Heastie has canceled a meeting with us,” said Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre. “Now this is unfortunate, because we are used to talking to everybody. We don’t have to agree, but at least we have the courtesy of speaking directly and this is an unfortunate situation. He obviously seems to be against the tax credit, he doesn’t feel he can do it, so he’s not speaking to us, which is a disappointment.”