Who's up and who's down in the state budget?

Now that the ink has dried and everyone has headed out of town for vacation, who were the biggest Winners & Losers in New York's 2018-19 state budget?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces the highlights of the fiscal year 2019 state budget.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces the highlights of the fiscal year 2019 state budget. Mike Groll/Office of the Governor

The governor held his traditional self-congratulatory press conference. The lawmakers stayed up late to vote on the bills with next to no time to review the final language. And New York’s new fiscal year is underway – with a state budget in place. So now that the ink has dried and everyone has headed out of town for vacation, who were the biggest budget Winners & Losers?

WINNERS:

Andrew Cuomo -

The governor has been doing this so long, he makes it look easy. For a while it looked like the 2018-19 spending plan might be delayed for a month, eroding Cuomo’s reputation for delivering on-time budgets – especially after last year’s got done more than a week late. In the end, he got this one done two days early, and seemingly got what he wanted – but do we ever know what our triangulator-in-chief truly wants? Of course, one caveat is that the IRS may shut down his plan to ease the pain of federal changes to the state and local tax deduction in New York.

Simcha Felder -

The Brooklyn state senator almost stalled the state budget singlehandedly over his push to ease state oversight of yeshivas, then left Albany for Passover before the matter was resolved. But in the end he got at least some of what he wanted, with a deal that takes the time students spend studying at religious schools into account in determining whether they meet education standards. Plus, later this month there’s a decent chance he’ll be in a position to decide whether Democrats or Republicans control the state Senate.

John Flanagan -

Going into the budget talks, Cuomo claimed the state had a $4.4 billion budget gap. Of course, capping spending increases at 2 percent – the norm under Cuomo – meant a more manageable shortfall of a little under $2 billion. The governor proposed an array of taxes, fees and accounting gimmicks to close the gap, but in the end most of the proposals were killed off. And that allowed the Senate majority leader to say he had blocked “$1 billion in onerous tax-and-fee increases proposed by the Governor and billions more proposed by the Assembly”  – which will be nice for his Republican colleagues to say on the campaign trail.

George Gresham and Kenneth Raske -

One way the governor scrounged up extra revenue was a money grab from the pending sale of the Catholic-run nonprofit health plan, Fidelis Care, to the for-profit Centene Corp. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who had tried to stop the governor, got on board with the final plan, and Centene saw its stock rise on the heels of the deal. But the clearest winners are the leaders of 1199 SEIU and the Greater New York Hospital Association, who’ll now have the “health care shortfall fund” that they wanted to protect against potential federal budget cuts – no matter how troubling the means were to the ends.

Michael Surbaugh -

No matter who gets behind it – not the Daily News, not Corey Feldman, not even Julianne Moore – the Child Victims Act just can’t get through Albany. The legislation, which would allow more victims of sexual assault as children to sue their alleged attackers, has been adamantly opposed by the Boy Scouts of America and the Catholic Church, for reasons we don’t have to explain. Since Cardinal Dolan had more of a mixed bag with the budget, the winner here is Surbaugh, the “chief scout executive” of Boy Scouts of America.

LOSERS:

Bill de Blasio -

As the wearying feud between Cuomo and de Blasio continues, the governor once again took aim at the five boroughs. He imposed new transparency rules for how much the city spends on its schools. He created a NYCHA independent monitor that will be selected by the New York City Council and a committee of tenants and will work with the city comptroller – with no mention of a role for the mayor. He announced the city would have to pay for half of a MTA Subway Action Plan. And he sought to seize more power over Penn Station and its environs.

Akeem Browder -

During his State of State address, Cuomo was at his most passionate when he called for reforms to the bail system – and he hit a high note in honoring Akeem Browder, a criminal justice reform advocate whose brother famously was mistreated by the system and ended up committing suicide. And then, all the governor’s criminal justice proposals dropped out. To add insult to injury, Cuomo poked fun at Daily News Bureau Chief Ken Lovett during his budget press conference by saying he would set up an emergency bail fund – for arrested reporters.

Bhairavi Desai -

Last year, Cuomo said that congestion pricing was an idea “whose time has come.” On Friday night, he rephrased that slightly: “And congestion pricing, I believe, is a concept whose future has come.” What has come is a “phase one” that imposes a $2.75 fee for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft, who can afford it, and a $2.50 fee for yellow taxis, who are already suffering. There are a lot of losers on this issue – like, say, most NYC commuters – but one of the biggest groups of losers are yellow taxi drivers, who are represented by Desai’s New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

Liz Krueger -

One of the few areas where the two parties came together was passing legislation to improve the state’s sexual harassment policies. And as Cuomo put it, the state Legislature agreed to “the strongest and most comprehensive anti-sexual harassment protections in the nation.” But advocates were quick to criticize the policies as inadequate. The Manhattan state senator spoke for many when she said that legislative process was “deeply flawed” because the right people were not "in the room," and that led to “a deeply flawed product.”

Jose Peralta -

Every year, advocates say this is the year the state DREAM Act will go through. And just like every other year, the bill’s sponsors once again confronted the reality that it will take more than wishful thinking to get it across the finish line. For Peralta, the failure is sure to be mentioned on the campaign trail, where he faces a challenger who’s gaining momentum and has also been criticizing him for joining the IDC.

NEXT STORY: John DeFrancisco, the underdog

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