Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer are joining forces to call for more protection for middle class homeowners. Nick Reisman reports.
BETHLEHEM, N.Y. -- It was just after 10 a.m. and Gov. Andrew Cuomo strolled up the driveway of a suburban home in Bethlehem outside of Albany.
He bent down to shake the hand of the son of Kathleen Dispirito, whose home was being used as the backdrop for a news conference with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The boy had a lollipop and gave Cuomo one too. The governor gamely took the red lollipop and sucked on it for a little bit while waiting underneath a basketball hoop.
“We just need the senator and we’ll be all set,” Cuomo said.
Schumer did arrive a few minutes later, apologizing in the process.
“First, I want to apologize on being late. I blame it on Governor Cuomo,” Schumer said with a laugh.
“Why not?” Cuomo responded while standing behind him at the lectern.
“His Rebuild New York program is so successful that a huge truck taking up both lanes of Route 32 carrying construction parts for a new bridge -- we were stuck behind them for a long time. It’s a good way to be stuck.”
The byplay and joking blame for the tardiness aside, Cuomo and Schumer, two of the state’s most prominent Democrats, teamed up on Monday to push back against a proposal to cap or eliminate the deduction of state and local taxes.
Cuomo and Schumer have been allies before on issues such as bolstering an upstate manufacturing plant. But typically, they have been kept to their own spheres on influence — Cuomo in Albany, Schumer as the Democratic leader in Washington.
In his remarks, Schumer echoed much of what Cuomo has been saying on the issue for the last several months -- the deduction plan will be a “dagger” for a state like New York, which has higher taxes and would be disproportionately impacted.
“The plan will pull thousands and thousands of dollars from middle class taxpayers and put in the pockets of the wealthiest,” Schumer said. “Congress has placed a bull’s eye on New York state.”
Cuomo, in turn, praised Schumer’s opposition.
“This is an essential fight for New York. The senator and I have been around for a while and we’ve seen proposals come and go. This is probably one of the most destructive policies I’ve heard proposed for the state of New York in 30 years. So let’s give the senator a round of applause and thank him for his leadership.”
Cuomo is also lobbying Schumer’s congressional colleagues. The governor confirmed he spoke in person to House Speaker Paul Ryan last week at the Al Smith Dinner in New York City last week. At the dinner, Cuomo could be seen standing over the seated Ryan, both dressed in white tie and tails.
“I spoke to him directly on this issue and I said it’s a death blow to New York,” Cuomo said.
It’s unclear what the fate of the deduction will be. Cuomo and Schumer agreed that even capping it would hurt the state, given it could force the wealthy and businesses to move out.
Both pushed Republican House members from New York to oppose the plan.
“We know these are important issues,” Schumer said, “and that’s why Gov. Cuomo and I are here today.”