blair horner

The Trump Administration continues to distract the nation with a daily stream of misinformation that often provides cover for the policy work of the Administration and the Congress.  The latest is the Trump Administration’s accusations (without evidence) that the Conservative Government in Britain and the Obama Administration had wiretapped the Trump campaign in the months leading up to the election.

Blair Horner: Trump Fires Bharara

Mar 13, 2017

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s statement was brief, but packed a punch: “Today, I was fired from my position as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.”

A few months ago, Governor Cuomo held a news conference with the U.S. Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, to announce a new initiative: to make public college tuition free for families whose incomes were no more than $125,000.

Recently, a Congressional committee once again took aim at New York State Attorney General Schneiderman and his investigation of oil-giant ExxonMobil.  The action was a subpoena issued by Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas. Representative Smith is the chair of the United States House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.  His subpoena is to obtain internal records from the New York State Attorney General’s investigation of ExxonMobil, which may be intended as a way to derail any action.

The governor has done a lot to promote the state’s program to boost breast cancer screening rates.  He spent considerable time advocating for the expanded program and made it a centerpiece of his 2016 State of the State address.  But cancer is not only a women’s issue, it affects all of us. 

It’s not only winter in Albany, it’s budget season—arguably the biggest and most important job for the Legislature each year.  Once the governor proposes his budget, it’s up to the Legislature to decide how to react.  Every year, both houses of the Legislature hold joint hearings to look into what the governor has proposed.  This year is no different.

The public focus on policymaking at the state Capitol has taken a backseat to the actions of the Trump Administration.  Almost from the minute the new President was inaugurated, his nonstop, frantic pace has captured the nation’s attention.

Blair Horner: The Trump Administration And New York

Feb 6, 2017

The public focus on policymaking at the state Capitol has taken a backseat to the actions of the Trump Administration.  Almost from the minute the new President was inaugurated, his nonstop, frantic pace has captured the nation’s attention.

For the longest time, the state Capitol has been rocked by scandals.  In recent years, those scandals have mushroomed: Both leaders of the Legislature have been convicted of corruption and face time in prison, and close aides and associates of the governor have been charged.

Blair Horner: A Closer Look At Free Tuition

Jan 23, 2017

Earlier this month, Governor Cuomo held a news conference with the U.S. Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders to announce a new initiative: to make public college tuition free for families whose incomes were up to $125,000.

Last week, Governor Cuomo took to the road to unveil his State of the State addresses.  The State of the State is a constitutional requirement that the governor report to the legislature on issues of concerns and to offer his recommendations.  For nearly 100 years, the State of the State address was delivered in a written and verbal format in the State Capitol complex.

Blair Horner: The 2017 State Of The State

Jan 9, 2017

New York State’s constitution requires that every governor submit a message to the legislature “at every session the condition of the state, and recommend such matters to it as he or she shall judge expedient.”  Since the early 20th Century, governors have delivered a State of the State speech in addition to delivering a written document.  Usually that speech was delivered in the New York State Assembly chamber.  The Assembly seats 150 and so jamming in the smaller Senate body plus staff and dignitaries was the appropriate venue.

This week, lawmakers return to Albany to kick off the 2017 legislative session.  For the vast majority of state legislators, it is the beginning of a new session, for the newly elected lawmakers, it is the beginning of a new career.

After years of railing against the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, Congressional opponents and the President-elect are now poised to eliminate it. Since its passage six years ago, opponents have argued to “repeal and replace” the law, but that has turned out to be merely a slogan, devoid of substance.

Under the U.S. Constitution this is the election that really matters.  Delegates are chosen by the states and each state gets a total number of delegates that equals of the sum of its members of the House of Representatives plus its two members of the U.S. Senate. 

Blair Horner: The Trump Administration Takes Shape

Dec 12, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump has been revealing his proposed leadership team for the new Administration set to take office next month.  According to media reports, it appears that his nominee for Secretary of State will be the head of oil-giant ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson.  Of course, we do not know if in fact Mr. Tillerson will be the nominee, but the leaks of his nomination will undoubtedly trigger controversy.

Blair Horner: A Special Session?

Dec 5, 2016

The talk of a special legislative session heated up last week.  State legislators – particularly those in the Assembly – were still smarting from the governor’s moves to kill their long-awaited pay increase.  In 2015, the governor and the legislature created a pay commission to establish whether lawmakers – and top ranking members of the executive branch – should get a pay hike, and if so how much.

Blair Horner
C.W. McKeen / The Post - Standard, 2006

Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday shopping season.  It is a time when many adults look for gifts for children.  And while the holidays are a time for fun and giving, it is important that it be a safe time as well.

Blair Horner: Ethics Reforms Are Proposed, Again

Nov 21, 2016

Corruption and ethics continue to dominate the headlines out of Albany.  Last week, the verbal sparring over ethics reforms spilled into public view.

New York state government has been rocked by one scandal after another in the past few years, with corruption cases toppling the Assembly and Senate leaders and an ongoing investigation into the executive chamber. Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo released a nearly 1,600-word statement outlining his ethics reform priorities for the legislative session that begins in January. The good-government groups in Albany took note, as New York Public Interest Research Group executive director Blair Horner tells WAMC’s Ian Pickus.

Blair Horner: A Look At Election 2016

Nov 14, 2016

One of the notable surprises of last week’s Presidential Election is that it appears that Donald Trump has become President-elect while getting fewer votes than Mitt Romney received in his losing Presidential bid in 2012.  You heard that right, while there are still results being counted in Michigan, as of now Donald Trump received roughly 60.3 million votes, while Mitt Romney in 2012 received nearly 61 million votes. 

Blair Horner: Governor Pushes Ethics Reform, Again

Nov 7, 2016

As the election staggers across the finish line, the question for New Yorkers is what next?  At the state level, Governor Cuomo weighed in to support legislative candidates who embraced his agenda.  The governor went so as far as to circulate a questionnaire to candidates quizzing them on their support for ethics law changes, asking their position on limiting lawmakers’ outside income and stricter campaign contribution requirements for Limited Liability Companies (LLCs).

During the lazy, hazy days of last summer, the Cuomo Administration approved a plan to hike New Yorkers’ electric utility bills by billions of dollars. The hike is to bail out three upstate nuclear power plants in central and western New York. Some of these plants, built during the Vietnam War era, were slated to be shut down because they were no longer efficient or profitable, having run well past their projected lifespan of 40 years.

Blair Horner: Hunger Hits Colleges

Oct 10, 2016

College students are not the ones that we think of when identifying people who are hungry in America.  Yet, as the income gap has grown, there are an incredible number of college students who go hungry.

Reformers kept up the pressure last week for Governor Cuomo and the state Legislature to overhaul the state’s economic development programs.  In a letter to the state’s political leaders, the groups urged that steps be taken to reduce the risk of corruption in how the state doles out government contracts.

Blair Horner: Another Scandal Rocks The Capitol

Sep 26, 2016

Another week, another scandal.  Once again, it was U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara who brought the charges.  What’s different is that the focus of the investigation was the governor’s office, not the legislature. According to the U.S. Attorney, “It turns out the state Legislature does not have any kind of monopoly on crass corruption in New York.”

New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been battling with Texas based oil giant ExxonMobil for nearly a year.  Last year, the Attorney General launched an investigation into whether ExxonMobil had deliberately ignored its own research about the dangers of global warming and instead set about a campaign to mislead the public – and investors – about the dangers caused by burning fossil fuels, one of which is oil.

Blair Horner: The Sad State Of Voting In New York

Sep 12, 2016

This week, New Yorkers will vote again – for the third time in six months – in primary elections. Yup, that’s right, New Yorkers vote in, and pay for, two primary elections, and this year a Presidential primary as well.  In June, New Yorkers enrolled in political parties, voted in Congressional primaries and this week they voted for state legislative candidates.

Colleges and universities are kicking off their Fall semesters across the state.  As the summer winds down and the dorms open up, it is a good time to review how state policies are impacting higher education.

According to the New York Times, “The United States, the wealthiest nation on Earth, also abides the deepest poverty of any developed nation, but you would not know it by listening to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.”

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