Cuomo pours on the SALT in budget message
In Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s annual budget message Tuesday, his ask went beyond a plea for $15 billion in federal funding. The governor included a demand that the White House and Congress, 24 hours away from Democrats’ control, include a repeal of SALT, as the state and local tax deductions are known. That repeal of a Trump, GOP-era move would return $12.3 billion annually to New Yorkers.
Cuomo’s message was carefully targeted.
"I believe Washington will be fair," Cuomo said.
As he spoke, a slide in one of his infamous PowerPoint displays showed photos of the three key players to whom he really was referring.
One by one, they popped on the screen. President-elect Joe Biden. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. And incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Cuomo called Schumer "not just a friend of New York; a New Yorker."
And he followed that description with another slide.
"Life is in the doing," the slide read — a phrase Cuomo attributed to A.J. Parkinson, the fictitious character to whom Cuomo, like his father before him, attributes many a created saying.
"Government sometimes is no good at the doing," Cuomo said. "You can have good intentions but fail to get good results. That can’t happen here."
It was, perhaps, a message of urgency to Schumer in particular, on whom Cuomo is relying to get the SALT repeal. Schumer says he supports the repeal but it’s unlikely to be in the first economic relief bill. Schumer has said the action that favors New Yorkers, Californians and others in high-tax blue states will be difficult to pass.
Schumer, of course, wasn’t the only political player to make an appearance in Cuomo’s budget address. A host of other Democrats, and a couple of Republicans, joined him, with quotes supporting the SALT repeal. The parade ended with a famous Long Island face – former Senator Al D’Amato, dubbed Senator Pothole for his fixation on local issues, with a more-than-three-decades-old quote saying the repeal of the deduction, when it was considered in the 1980s, would be a "blow" to New Yorkers. But Cuomo didn’t stop there, noting that D’Amato was at the time able to push back against Ronald Reagan, his party’s president. "Then, Republican Senator Al D'Amato stopped it because he thought it was unfair."
Cuomo’s presentation ended with the focus on the man who beat D’Amato and is now ready to be the Senate majority leader.
Schumer opposed the Trump era tax law change but has said repealing the loss of the SALT deduction – "won’t be easy."
That’s clearly not enough for Cuomo.
—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
Piling praise on Polly
With the news that Polly Trottenberg would be nominated as Joe Biden’s deputy secretary of transportation, the word that keeps coming up is "tremendous."
"I’m a tremendous fan of Polly Trottenberg," said Mitchell Pally, Suffolk County representative on the MTA Board.
"She’s tremendously experienced, extraordinarily knowledgeable and progressive on all issues," MTA chairman Pat Foye told The Point on Tuesday.
"I think that Polly is a tremendous asset to the new administration," said Danny Pearlstein of Riders Alliance, an advocacy group that’s quick to criticize government failures.
Part of it is Trottenberg’s lengthy resume. Until late last year, she was NYC’s transportation commissioner, overseeing employees and street-mileage numbering into the thousands. She served on the MTA board, and previously at the U.S. Department of Transportation in the Obama administration. She also worked for incoming U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Old colleagues see her New York expertise as a boon for regional initiatives, from congestion pricing to mass transit funding to big infrastructure projects like the Gateway Hudson River rail tunnels.
"You couldn't ask, from New York’s perspective, for a better appointment," said Carl Weisbrod, who worked with Trottenberg on the MTA board and also in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration.
Despite her NYC background, Trottenberg has a regional perspective. "She was as helpful and supportive of Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road as she was of subways and buses," Foye said.
Pally said he and Trottenberg had a lot of conversations about the railroad’s Third Track project. She "was tremendously supportive of that," he added.
Pally noted that federal help for crucial regional projects from Gateway to East Side Access to Penn Station upgrades would aid Nassau and Suffolk. "Lots of things affect Long Island even if they’re not on Long Island," he said.
Some advocates have been impatient with the city DOT on safety and infrastructure, though they also point the finger at Trottenberg’s old boss, de Blasio, on that front. On the MTA board, she was often seen as a diligent member willing to clash with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who effectively controls the MTA.
Former Dutchess County board member James Vitiello told The Point that Trottenberg was "like an index" when it came to knowledge of voluminous board materials. He’d often try to find her before a meeting "to make sure I had my facts straight."
She also walked the walk of a transportation leader, bringing her bike helmet into meetings and, according to Vitiello, turning down use of the infamous parking placard that other members use or, perhaps, abuse.
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