August 19, 2021 2021
ALBANY LEGISLATIVE LIAISON
REPORT FROM THE HILL
Governor Cuomo has resigned his office as of August 24th to be replaced by Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, a lawyer and former congresswoman from upstate, regarded as a moderate, who has announced she will seek a full term as governor, reform the ethics profile of government, forswear the hostile atmosphere of her predecessor and place the state on a path to renewal.
Her obstacles to election are formidable: how she gets on with Senate President Pro Tempore, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Carl Heastie; can she win a primary challenge in June 2022; can she stand up to the state’s formidable public unions; will she alienate upstate voters when she starts moving left to enhance her chances downstate; and perhaps least, can she govern effectively or will she concede to a veto proof legislature filled with progressives whose policies may rankle upstate voters?
In filing for his retirement at $50,000 per year, any pending or future charges against him may be dropped either by a politically self-interested cabal who’d rather govern without reminding voters of the sexual harassment accusations that forced him from office or because existing law escape hatches in existing law may allow resignation and vitiate any pending charges.
New York’s political climate – messy and sordid – may distract the public from the significant effect of climate change driven policies that align NY with the goals of the Paris agreement and alarmist characterizations of the recent United Nations report.
Legislation passed in 2019- Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and the proposed Climate and the proposed Community Investment Act (S.4372/A.1168) – a carbon tax with significant financial impacts on all fuels – seek targets for achieving carbon reductions by unrealistic deadlines, which may either be modified or result in fines for non-attainment. These appears to be an amalgam of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, and carbon tax proposals typically invoked to mitigate the social cost of negative externalities.
The New York State Energy and Research Administration and the department of environmental conservation and other sympathetic organizations (but just two private sector parties, National Fuel Gas and the Independent Power Producers of NY (IPPNY)) have formed the Climate Action Council to determine implementation without first completing the benefit/cost analysis required by law and has deflected calls for the study. Such studies of public expenditures usually can rely on a accurate cost assessment with benefits more elusive – roads and other infrastructure – but determining the benefit of slowing climate change would require a conclusion that would withstand scrutiny by nonpartisan, disinterested analysts and unlikely to produce the consensus needed to justify the staggering costs of these proposals,
Even the sponsor acknowledged in floor debate the tentative dates for achieving the carbon reduction goals, adding most of those present wouldn’t be alive to see if the program worked and therefore not face any consequences from the electorate.