ANDREA STEWART-COUSINS

February 20, 2020 at 4:30 am

We examine public policy and the Empire State with New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

Aired on February 19, 2020. 

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>>> GOOD EVENING.
WELCOME TO "METROFOCUS."
I'M JACK FORD.
WE BEGIN IN ALBANY WITH AN
EXCLUSIVE LOOK AT AN INDEPTH
INTERVIEW WITH ANDREA STEWART
COUSINS.
THE LAWMAKER HAS BEEN AT THE
CENTER OF THE FIGHTS OVER BAIL
REFORM, LEGALIZING MARIJUANA
ACCIDENT AND THE OPIOID CRISIS.
WHAT ELSE DOES SHE HAVE IN STORE
FOR NEW YORK IN THE NEW YEAR?
WELL, SHE SAT DOWN WITH THE NEW
HOST OF WMHT NEW YORK NOW DAN
CLARK.
DAN?
>> THANKS, JACK.
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER ANDREA
STEWART COUSINS IS STARTING A
BUSY YEAR WITH THE FOCUS ON THE.
>> I WANT TO START WITH SOME
NEWS OUT OF ALBANY.
THE SENATE PASS AD PATCH OF
BILLS ABOUT THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC.
CAN YOU TELL US WHAT IT IS
ABOUT?
WE HAVE SEVERAL.
>> THAT I KNOW EVERYONE
UNDERSTANDS THAT THE OPIOID
CRISIS IS NOT JUST A CRISIS IN
NEW YORK.
IT IS A NATIONAL CRISIS.
WE DECIDED NOT TO SIT BACK AND
HOPE SOMEBODY ELSE WOULD START
WORKING TOWARD SOLVING IT FLAG
BECAUSE IT IS ACROSS THE STATE,
WHAT I ASKED IS FOR A TASK
FORCE.
WE HAD THREE CO-CHAIRS.
TO BEGIN THE PROCESS OF GOING
AROUND THE STATE AND LISTENING
TO PEOPLE.
AND I WILL SAY THAT THIS WAS A
BIPARTISAN TASK FORCE.
A TASK FORCE LIKE THIS HAS BEEN
CONSTITUTED BEFORE, UNDER THE
PREVIOUS MAJORITY WITH NO
DEMOCRATS, FRANKLY.
>> I REMEMBER THAT.
>> BUT I KNEW THAT THIS IS SO
IMPORTANT AND IT CERTAINLY
CROSSES EVERY LINE AND EVERY
DEMOGRAPHIC WE INVITED SOME
REPUBLICAN SENATORS TO BE PART
OF IT AS WELL.
THEY WENT AROUND THE STATE AND
THEY TALKED TO EVERYONE IMPACTED
AND CAME ONE A PACKAGE THAT
WOULD DO A FEW THINGS.
IT WOULD EDUCATE, WHICH IS SO
IMPORTANT, AS WIDESPREAD AND
PERVASIVE AS THIS.
SO IT RAISED THE EDUCATION.
IT WOULD MAKE INSURANCE MORE
RESPONSIVE.
IT WILL LOOK AT DIFFERENT
TREATMENTS METHODS.
>> IT IS A HUGELY IMPORTANT
THING IN NEW YORK.
ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THAT
WE'VE LOOKED AT.
WE'VE WILL SO MUCH MORE.
I WANT TO ASK YOU, WHAT ARE YOUR
PRIORITIES THIS YEAR?
WE'VE HAD A LOT HAPPEN.
DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO
GET ACROSS THE FINISH LINE?
>> AGAIN, WE ARE VERY, VERY,
ALWAYS FOCUSED ON MAKING SURE
THAT WE ARE BUILDING OUR
ECONOMY, THAT WE ARE PROVIDING
TAX RELIEF TO OUR WORKING
FAMILIES, MIDDLE CLASS.
FAMILIES WHO ARE STRUGGLING
STILL WITH DAYCARE EXPENSES,
WITH COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY.
WE'RE ALWAYS TRYING TO DO THAT.
JOB AND JUST MAKING SURE THAT WE
PROTECT OUR EDUCATION, THE
FUNDING FOR EDUCATION, AND OF
COURSE, WE HAVE A HEALTH CARE, I
WON'T SAY A HEALTH CARE CRISIS
BUT WE HAVE A DEFICIT THAT WE'LL
HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO BRIDGE
THAT GAP AS WELL.
>> I WANT TO ASK BUT THE DEFICIT
SINCE YOU BROUGHT IT UP.
THE GOVERNOR HAS PLAN.
FINDING $2.5 BILLION IN SAVINGS
USING WHAT HE IS CALLING THE
REDESIGN TEAM.
IT IS BASICALLY A PANEL OF
PEOPLE HE'S APPOINTED TO FIND
THE $2.5 BILLION.
HE ANNOUNCED HIS PICKS THIS
WEEK.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THEM?
>> WELL, OBVIOUSLY, WHAT I LIKED
WAS IN HIS MESSAGE, THE BUDGET
MESSAGE.
HE TALKED ABOUT THE MEDICAID
REDESIGN TEAM, TOO.
HE TALKED ABOUT ONE OF THE
PRINCIPLES.
THE PRINCIPLES WERE WE WERE
GOING ON DELIVER THE HEALTH CARE
THAT NEW YORKERS NEED WITHOUT
CAUSING SOME KIND OF PAIN,
WITHOUT TAKING AWAY FROM WHAT
PEOPLE HAD AS EXPECTATIONS FOR
THE HEALTH CARE DELIVERY SYSTEM,
WITHOUT HAVING A BURDEN FOR THE
TAXPAYERS.
THE GOALS, THE OBJECTIVES ARE
LAUDABLE.
HE HAS PROFESSIONALS WHO HAVE
BEEN TASKED TO DO THIS.
AND WE WILL SEE WHAT THEY'VE
COME UP WITH, OBVIOUSLY, WE KNOW
HOW IMPORTANT IT IS THAT HEALTH
CARE BE DELIVERED, AND THAT WE
KNOW THAT PEOPLE ARE LIVING
LONGER.
AND THAT NEW YORKERS ARE, YOU
KNOW, MANY OF THEM WHO ARE
INVOLVED IN CERTAIN LONG TERM
CARE ARE SENIORS WHO WE WANT TO
BE ABLE TO REMAIN IN NEW YORK.
>> RIGHT.
ON THAT PANEL IS THE SECRETARY
OF THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE.
YOU DO HAVE SOME REPRESENTATION
ON IT.
DO YOU WANT MORE?
DO YOU WANT TO BE MORE INVOLVED
IN THAT PROCESS?
>> WE WILL BE INVOLVED IN THE
PROCESS.
THE SECRETARY OF OUR FINANCE
WILL BE THERE.
WE'LL BE GETTING FEEDBACK.
AND IT IS A LONG, IT WAS LONG
BUT SHORT TIME BETWEEN NOW AND
THE TIME WE HAVE TO MAKE THESE
DECISIONS IN THE BUDGET.
AND WE'LL BE ENGAGED THROUGHOUT
THE WHOLE PROCESS.
AND GIVE OUR FEEDBACK, PUSHBACK
OR SUPPORT.
>> ANOTHER BUDGET ISSUE ON THE
TABLE HAD YEAR WAS ON MARIJUANA
LEGALIZATION.
WE KNOW THAT IT WILL BE A HUGE
ISSUE THIS YEAR.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
I KNOW SUPPORT LEGALIZATION.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IT WILL TAKE
TO GET AS MANY DEMOCRATS ON
BOARD AS NEEDED TO FAST BILL
THIS YEAR?
>> IT IS ASSAL, IT IS THE
CONSENSUS BUILDING THAT IS
NECESSARY.
I THINK PEOPLE PROBABLY
UNDERSTAND THAT LEGALIZATION IS
HAPPENING ALL AROUND US.
>> IT SEEMS INEVITABLE.
>> IT DOES?
>> YEAH.
BUT WE'VE ALWAYS BEEN, CERTAINLY
OUR CONFERENCE HAS BEEN A
CONFERENCE THAT SAYS, WE DON'T
NECESSARILY WANT TO DO WHAT
EVERYBODY HAS DONE BECAUSE IT IS
BEING DONE.
WE WANT TO MAKE SURE WE'RE DOING
IT RIGHT.
THERE ARE ALL THESE ELEMENTS
ABOUT THAT.
MAKING SURE THAT THERE ARE
FUNDING RESOURCES FOR EDUCATION
AROUND THE ISSUE AND OF COURSE
THE EQUITY ISSUES THAT WE ALWAYS
TALK ABOUT.
MAKING SURE THE COMMUNITIES THAT
HAVE BEEN MOST IMPACTED ARE ABLE
TO BENEFIT FROM THE ECONOMICS
WHICH WE ALL KNOW ARE PROJECTED
TO BE VERY, VERY LARGE FROM THIS
PARTICULAR INDUSTRY.
IT IS HOW THE A INDICATION
HAPPENS IN THE BUDGET.
WHERE DO THE RESOURCES GO?
HOW DO WE MAKE SURE THEY'RE
DIRECTED IN A VARIETY OF WAYS
THAT PEOPLE WOULD LIKE TO SEE
THEM DIRECTED.
THOSE ARE THE CONVERSATIONS THAT
ARE REQUIRED FOR US TO AGREE ON.
AND AGAIN, WHAT WE ALSO SAY IS
THAT FROM WHAT OTHERS SAY TO
EXPERIENCES, IT IS NOT AN
IMMEDIATE REVENUE SOURCE.
IT DOES TAKE A WHILE TO BECOME,
AND THEN THERE IS ALL THE THINGS
THAT HAPPEN IN BETWEEN.
WHICH WE'RE TRYING TO LEARN FROM
OTHER STATES THAT HAVE DONE
THIS.
>> BEFORE WE RUN OUT OF TIME, I
WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT BAIL
REFORM.
I FEEL LIKE YOUR POSITION HAS
BEEN MISREPRESENTED BY SOME
PEOPLE.
YOU'RE SAYING DOWN THE LINE, YOU
MAY SEE TWEETS THAT COULD
HAPPEN.
YOU'RE NOT SAYING THAT.
THERE ARE IMMEDIATE CHANGES YOU
HAVE IN MIND.
>> WELL, I AM SAYING THAT PEOPLE
ARE TALKING ABOUT, WE MUST
REPEAL THE LAW.
WE ARE NOT REPEALING THE LAW.
WE UNDERSTAND WHY WE DID THIS.
WE DID THIS BECAUSE FOR TOO
LONG, THE SYSTEM THAT EXISTS HAS
REALLY CRIMINALIZED POVERTY.
PERSONS WHO HAVE DONE THE SAME
EXACT CRIME BUT CANNOT AFFORD TO
GET OUT ON BAIL ARE, YOU KNOW,
LEFT IN JAIL FOR AN ENORMOUS
AMOUNT OF TIME WITHOUT RECOURSE.
JUST BECAUSE THEY COULDN'T
AFFORD TO BUY THEIR WAY OUT.
WHAT WE DID WAS RIGHT.
WE ATTACKED SYSTEM THAT WAS NOT
JUST.
WHAT WE WERE LISTENING TO, WE
WILL CONTINUE TO LISTEN TO STAKE
HOLDERS, TO SEPARATE FACT FROM
FICTION, TO SEE IF THERE ARE
SOME TWEETS OR ADJUSTMENT THAT'S
WE CAN MAKE, THAT WOULD MAKE
THIS A LOT BETTER.
WE'RE TRYING TO MAKE SURE NOT
ONLY VICTIMS OF CRIME ARE
ABSOLUTELY PROTECTED IN THE
COMMUNITY, THE COMMUNITY IS
PROTECTED, BUT WE HAVE A JUSTICE
SYSTEM THAT IS JUST.
>> YOU'VE BEEN MEETING WITH
MEMBERS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT.
TAKE ME INSIDE THOSE MEETINGS.
>> JUST A STATEMENT OF FACTS.
I'M ASKING FOR THEIR DATA.
SOMETIME PEOPLE SAY, WELL, WHAT
HAPPENED?
AND THEN WHEN YOU DRILL DOWN, A
LOT OF NUANCES OR PEOPLE WHO
DIDN'T QUITE UNDERSTAND THE LAW
OR THERE COULD HAVE BEEN CAN
DIFFERENT OPTIONS.
WHAT I WANT FROM THEM, WHAT I
THINK WHAT WE HAVE, WE CAN ONLY
DO THIS WELL IF WE'RE WILLING TO
SHARE THE FACTS.
AND TELL ME HOW IT IS REALLY
IMPACTING THE COMMUNITY AND IF
THERE IS A CHANGE BASED ON FACTS
WOULD HELP EVERY PIECE OF THIS
PUZZLE, WE'RE WILLING TO LISTEN.
IT IS ESTABLISHING THE TRUST AND
CONTINUING THE ALLIANCE OF
COMMUNICATION.
THE OTHER THING I WANT TO SAY.
PEOPLE ARE SAYING, THEY DIDN'T
TALK TO THESE GROUPS.
WE DID.
>> YOU DID.
>> WE DID.
>> SO IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW
THAT NONE OF THIS HAPPENED IN A
VACUUM AND IT CERTAINLY DIDN'T
HAPPEN IN A VACUUM OF EVERYONE
KNOWING.
100% OF THE PEOPLE KNEW.
THAT WHAT WE HAD WAS UNJUST.
WE'RE PROUD THAT WE ARE TRYING
TO FIX THIS.
>> ALL RIGHT.
THANK YOU SO MUCH.
>> THANK YOU.

Funders

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