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New hope for Islanders fans
State Sen. Kenneth LaValle has long been known for his efforts to protect the East End and bring more funding to Stony Brook University. But now, LaValle has directed his staff to post a petition on his official website that has little to do with those issues.
LaValle’s petition suggests that the Islanders should return to Long Island, specifically to Nassau Coliseum, which is scheduled to reopen in April after renovations. The Coliseum, he suggests, will bring jobs and revenue back to Long Island, while also giving locals “a source of Long Island pride.”
In a statement, LaValle told The Point Thursday that he’s a “longtime Islanders fan,” and knows many team followers want the team to return to Long Island.
“Fans resent having to drive all the way into Brooklyn to see our team and believe the Barclays Center is not a good venue for hockey,” LaValle said.
There’s been lots of talk about a potential move for the Islanders. The team has had issues at Barclays — including poor ice and obstructed-view seats. On Thursday, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano chimed in, saying in a statement that county officials have “offered the Islanders a path home.”
But the Coliseum isn’t the only alternative. Interestingly, LaValle’s petition makes no mention of Belmont Park, even though the Islanders and state officials are in discussions about building an arena there, discussions that have included architectural renderings.
Belmont is not out of the question for LaValle, who suggested he’d be open to almost any venue that would bring the Islanders back to Nassau or Suffolk counties.
Either way, having an Islanders fan in Albany should help as the team, state and county try to figure out what happens next.
Randi F. Marshall
Millionaires in the middle
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is a master of pushing for more than he wants to make sure he gets what he needs.
That becomes particularly clear at budget time, with the “millionaires tax” being this year’s prime example.
To pay for his spending plan, Cuomo needs to renew the tax, which is a surcharge on individuals making more than $1 million a year that hikes their state income tax rate to 8.82 percent. First passed in 2009 and reauthorized in its current form in 2012, the tax brings in just under $4 billion a year. It affects 45,000 taxpayers, 50 percent of whom are nonresidents, so it’s not a heavy lift politically.
But mostly on principle, State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan opposes reauthorizing the surcharge — and he opposes Cuomo for oh-so-many other reasons. But the situation now sets up so that Flanagan will have to fight to keep even the status quo.
That’s because, according to GOP Senate staffers, Cuomo’s proposed budget removes a chart that indexed the state tax brackets to inflation over time. Without that indexing, taxpayers would see gradual tax increases as average income grows, but the income bands that set the tax levels wouldn’t move with them.
Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says he wants not just a renewal of the millionaires tax, but an increase to pay for more education funding and social programs.
Heastie doesn’t expect to get a further hike of the millionaires tax, and Cuomo has no desire to be portrayed as hiking taxes on the middle class by removing indexing. Both moves simply force Flanagan to bargain with Cuomo, whose game of choice is hardball for concessions the governor always planned to make in the end.
Schumer at the mic
Gillibrand leads the pack
In politics, appearances matter. And so, early returns show the leading Democratic Party presidential contender for 2020 is . . . New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand?
Gillibrand leads the pack in demonstrating anti-Trumpness, at least when it comes to voting. In five Cabinet-related votes so far, she has said no four times — one ahead of fellow presumed contenders and better-known liberal stalwarts Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker.
Let’s see what happens when the race actually starts.