Governor hands out LI report card
Before visiting with the Newsday Editorial Board on Thursday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo spoke about Long Island highlights in the recently adopted state budget during a Long Island Association event at Stony Brook University.
At different points during his PowerPoint presentation, the faces of three Democratic state senators flashed on the screen — Monica Martinez, whom Cuomo thanked for helping pass the permanent property tax cap; Jim Gaughran, for his work on fully restoring $26 million in funding for local governments through the Aid and Incentives for Municipalities program; and Anna Kaplan, whom he called a “great fighter” for education aid.
Conspicuous by their absence on screen and in Cuomo’s remarks were Todd Kaminsky, John Brooks and Kevin Thomas, the other three members of Long Island’s six-person Democratic Senate contingent. But all six senators were in the room.
Cuomo also applauded two Long Island Assembly members — Steve Englebright, whom Cuomo praised as a “great, great champion of the environment,” and Phil Ramos, for his advocacy in the fight against MS-13.
Asked later by the editorial board to evaluate the performance of the six senators during the budget process, Cuomo said his response was off the record.
Nassau GOPers go back to the well
Nassau County Republicans are trotting out familiar language in their latest critique of state Democrats.
“This is the reinstatement of the commuter tax,” Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said Thursday morning, echoing the words of several other GOP elected officials who gathered for a news conference to denounce Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and State Senate Democrats for New York City’s new congestion pricing plan. “It’s dead wrong.”
Saladino joined county Republican Committee Chair Joseph Cairo, a host of Nassau County lawmakers, state and town representatives, and even Rep. Pete King in a verbal assault on congestion pricing, the plan that would toll Manhattan’s Central Business District to relieve traffic and provide steady funding to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Nearly every Republican who spoke referred to the pricing plan as a “commuter tax” -- a reference to the oft-maligned MTA payroll tax that went into effect the last time Democrats controlled the Senate. The payroll tax is considered part of the reason Republicans took control in 2010 and kept it for eight years.
“Why is Long Island bankrolling a New York City project? Why is Long Island paying the tax and only getting 10 percent towards their commuter system?” asked Republican Assemb. Melissa Miller.
But during a meeting with the Newsday Editorial Board Thursday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo dismissed the Republican argument, noting that Long Islanders won’t be paying most of the money that’s going to the MTA. The real estate transfer tax and internet sales tax money, he noted, come only from New York City. As for congestion pricing, state officials say fewer than 2 percent of Nassau residents commute by car into Manhattan’s Central Business District.
And Cuomo pointed out that besides the money Long Island will get from congestion pricing and the other city taxes -- 10 percent of the total, or $2.5 billion -- the MTA is also continuing to build out the third track and upgrade stations across Long Island, which amounts to another $6.6 billion for Long Island.
“You don’t want to have a conversation about how much you paid versus what you’re getting,” Cuomo said of the Republicans’ criticism. “You’re going to be way ahead.”
Randi F. Marshall
The real black hole
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The winds of fortune
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo told Newsday’s editorial board Thursday that awards in the state’s solicitation for 800 megawatts of offshore wind would be made “in a few weeks,” and his staff confirmed that contracts given likely would be for more than 800 MW.
“Demand has been explosive,” Cuomo said.
And bidders have been doing their best to make themselves more attractive.
Sunrise Wind, one of four proposals submitted in response to the solicitation, said last week it would build its operations and maintenance hub in the Port Jefferson area and create there 100 full-time jobs — if it lands a contract.
That followed the earlier announcement by Sunrise — a joint venture from Danish wind giant Orsted and transmission company Eversource — that it would invest $10 million in a new national training center at Suffolk County Community College, in partnership with local unions — also contingent on winning its bid.
The two moves are smart not only in terms of currying local favor. They also could be pivotal in winning the state competition.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which issued the solicitation, is using a scoring system with a maximum of 100 points that weights three components, the largest of which at 70 percent is price. But the second factor, at 20 percent, is local economic benefits — in other words, the training center and O&M hub, which would include a warehouse, an office facility and dockage for a 250-foot vessel which would perform maintenance on the wind farm, pitched for 30 miles off Montauk. The third factor, worth 10 percent, is project viability.
Sunrise isn’t the only proposal pitching local benefits. Empire Wind, a project from Norwegian giant Equinor, has said it’s looking in Nassau County for sites for its O&M hub with a similar number of jobs for its proposed wind farm in the New York Bight, as close as 14 miles off Nassau. Equinor also would develop training and research programs with Stony Brook University, Farmingdale State College and SUNY Maritime.
Officials from Liberty Wind, a 1,200-megawatt project 85 miles off Montauk, have committed to spending $20 million on job-training programs at Stony Brook and other schools, and on grants to local businesses interested in getting into offshore wind.
NYSERDA said in an email that it will make awards for 25-year contracts and that individually they would range from 200 megawatts to 800 megawatts or more “if sufficiently attractive proposals are received.”
NYSERDA’s decision — which will help determine how much offshore wind energy can be injected into the grid, how quickly and where — will impact all other energy discussions in the state, such as whether to repower old plants or approve National Grid’s controversial proposed 24-mile natural gas pipeline extension under lower New York Harbor from New Jersey to the Rockaways in Queens. Other solicitations likely will follow.
Wind companies are betting that a little home cooking will help sweeten their pot.