Gov. Andrew Cuomo was away at the beginning of this week fundraising in California for his 2018 gubernatorial campaign – and enticing members of the entertainment industry to take advantage of New York’s film tax breaks. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was also away this week, vacationing in Connecticut, although he did unveil his plan to build 300,000 affordable homes by 2026. When both of them return to New York City, they may need a recap of current events. For the benefit of the governor, mayor and all others traveling or simply not paying attention, here are the biggest events of the week.
Tax cut attacks popular tax deduction in New York
On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed its version of a sweeping tax reform plan, promoted by President Donald Trump and Republican leadership desperate for their first major legislative win. The bill was approved over the opposition of several GOP lawmakers from states with high property taxes, including New York, because of a provision that would repeal the state income and sales tax deduction and cap the state property tax deduction at $10,000. As many New Yorkers rely on that deduction, the plan could have a serious effect on the state’s economy. The Senate version of the bill goes even further, repealing the state and local tax deduction entirely. The Senate bill also includes a repeal of the individual mandate, a provision in the Affordable Care Act that fines people who do not purchase health insurance. The bill passed in the House is not likely to be the last version of the plan, but New Yorkers should be warned that a partial or full repeal of the state and local tax deduction could remain in the final bill.
Mis-lead-ing claims from NYCHA
The New York City Department of Investigation said the city Housing Authority falsely claimed that it had conducted lead paint inspections on thousands of low-income apartments. Moreover, senior NYCHA leadership, including Chairwoman Shola Olatoye, knew about the false inspection claims since 2016. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called these lapses “unacceptable” – after 24 hours, and through a spokeswoman while he remained on vacation. He also maintained his support for Olatoye.
Bob Holden, a registered Democrat who ran on the Republican Party line, narrowly defeated incumbent New York City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, making her the only sitting council member to lose re-election this year. Holden, who campaigned heavily on opposition to the city opening a homeless shelter in the district, was narrowly in the lead on Election Day, and a recount confirmed his 137-vote victory. Crowley’s loss also means that the number of women in the council will decrease to 11.
Another bad week for the MTA
During a board meeting, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s chief financial officer reported that the agency could face a $643 million deficit by 2021 due to declining ridership and falling revenue from real estate transactions, while the debate over how to fund the MTA continues. MTA Chairman Joe Lhota insisted that the decrease in ridership has nothing to do with crumbling state of the New York City subway system, explaining that more people are working from home and do not use the public transportation. Has he considered that they may be working from home because of the rampant subway problems?