Metrofocus: April 11, 2022

FRONTPAGE FORECAST

Tonight on the Frontpage Forecast, Mayor Eric Adams gets Covid-19 on his 100th day in office after attending a reported super spreader event in Washington and Governor Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers finally strike a $220 billion budget deal after a week of back and forth on key issues like crime, childcare and prices at the pump. But how will the deal get doled out? Pulitzer-winning columnist now writing for marketwatch.com, Ellis Henican joins New York Post columnist Nicole Gelinas, and City & State senior reporter Zach Williams with the inside scoop on these headlines and more.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON THE FRONT PAGE FORECAST, MAYOR ADAMS TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID ON HIS 100th DAY IN OFFICE, AND ALBANY STRIKES A BUDGET DEAL.

WAS IT WORTH THE WAIT FOR NEW YORKERS?

'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS.'

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, THE AMBROSE FOUNDATION, AND BY --

> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO THE 'METROFOCUS FRONT PAGE FORECAST.'

I'M RAFAEL.

IN THIS WEEK'S LOOK AHEAD AT THE MAJOR HEADLINES, MAYOR ADAMS TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID ON HIS 100th DAY IN OFFICE.

GOVERNOR HOCHUL STRIKES A BUDGET DEAL THAT WAS A WEEK LATE, THE KEY ISSUES THAT DELAYED THE PROCESS, BUT HOW THE BUDGET WILL IMPACT NEW YORKERS WHEN IT COMES TO CRIME, CHILD CARE, AND PRICES AT THE PUMP.

JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT THESE AND OTHER STORIES ARE ELLIS HEN GANN, 'NEW YORK TIMES' BEST SELLING AUTHOR WHO WRITES FOR MARKETWATCH.COM.

SENIOR FELLOW AT THE MANHATTAN INSTITUTE THINK TANK, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR FOR CITY JOURNAL, AND 'NEW YORK POST' COLUMNIST.

AND ZACK WILLIAMS, SENIOR REPORTER AT THE NEWS ORGANIZATION CITY AND STATE NEW YORK.

WELCOME TO YOU ALL.

IT'S A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU HERE.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

GOOD TO BE WITH YOU GUYS.

SO, WE'RE GOING TO SPEND MOST OF THE PROGRAM TALKING ABOUT THE BUDGET THAT WAS JUST APPROVED IN ALBANY.

BUT BEFORE WE GET INTO ALL THAT, LET'S TALK ABOUT MAYOR ADAMS TESTING POSITIVE FOR COVID YESTERDAY.

ELLIS, ARE THERE ANY LESSONS FOR US ABOUT THE STATE OF THE VIRUS IN THE CITY AND HOW WE AS INDIVIDUALS AND AS A CITY DEAL WITH IT FROM THE MAYOR GETTING COVID?

OR IS THIS JUST A PUBLIC FIGURE WITH A VERY PUBLIC LIFE WHO GOT COVID LIKE MANY OF US HAVE AND MANY OF US WILL?

YES, YES, AND YES.

YOUR HEART HAS TO GO OUT TO THE MAYOR.

HE'S OUT RUNNING AROUND TRYING TO BE MAYOR, AND THAT DOESN'T REQUIRE YOU TO INTERACT IN AN UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WAY WITH AN AWFUL LOT OF PEOPLE.

HE'S A HIGH RISK GUY OUT THERE RUNNING AROUND.

BUT, YES, THE REAL MESSAGE IS TO PLEASE, PLEASE HAVE YOUR VACCINES BECAUSE IF SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPENS TO YOU, IT MAKES IT LESS LIKELY YOU'LL END UP IN THE MORGUE OR THE HOSPITAL.

BUT IT'S STILL A REAL DEAL, AND WE'VE GOT TO ACT LIKE IT.

SO, NICOLE, THE MAYOR HAS GOTTEN SOME CRITICISM ON TWITTER FOR ATTENDING PUBLIC EVENTS MASKLESS A WEEK AFTER HAVING ATTENDED AN EVENT IN WASHINGTON, D.C., THE GRIDIRON CLUB ANNUAL DINNER, THAT HE KNEW OR SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BECAME A SUPER SPREADER EVENT.

DID THE CRITICS HAVE A POINT?

I'M WITH ELLIS.

I THINK, YOU KNOW, TWO YEARS INTO THIS, IF YOU LOOK AT THE CDC WEBSITE, 81 MILLION PEOPLE HAVE TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID.

THERE'S PROBABLY A LOT MORE WHO -- THERE'S DEFINITELY A LOT MORE WHO HAVE NEVER BEEN TESTED.

SO, YOU'RE LOOKING AT AT LEAST A QUARTER OF THE COUNTRY THAT HAS GOTTEN THIS.

IT SEEMS LIKE UNLESS WE ARE GOING TO STAY HOME FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES, EVERYBODY IS GOING TO GET THIS AT SOME POINT.

SO, I'M SURE PEOPLE CAN POINT TO THINGS THAT THE MAYOR COULD HAVE DONE BETTER, BUT THE REALITY IS YOU'VE GOT TO GO TO EVENTS.

SOME OF THOSE EVENTS ARE INDOORS.

I WEAR MY MASK AT INDOOR EVENTS, BUT I'M THE ONLY ONE.

I MEAN, I REALLY STICK OUT AND LOOK KIND OF FUNNY, AND THE MAYOR CAN'T REALLY -- YOU KNOW, I THINK IT'S REALLY HARD TO BE WEARING A MASK ALL THE TIME AT INDOOR EVENTS AND BE THE MAYOR.

ALL RIGHT.

WELL, WE ALL OF COURSE WISH HIM A QUICK RECOVERY.

> SO, LET'S TURN TO THE BUDGET.

ZACK, BY ALL ACCOUNTS, THE ONE ISSUE THAT DELAYED THE BUDGET AGREEMENT WAS NOT, IN FACT, A FISCAL ISSUE, BUT BAIL REFORM, SOMETHING GOVERNOR HOCHUL INTRODUCED PRETTY LATE INTO THE BUDGET GAME.

WHAT WAS THE GOVERNOR SEEKING?

AND WHAT EXACTLY DID SHE GET?

WELL, YOU ARE DEFINITELY RIGHT.

BAIL REFORM AND ASSOCIATE ISSUES WERE DEFINITELY THE BIG STICKING POINT.

I THINK A USEFUL WAY TO APPROACH THE ISSUE IS TO KIND OF SEE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS GOING ON.

ON THE ONE HAND WE HAVE BAIL REFORM AND THEN WE HAVE THIS CRIME INCREASE.

AND THERE'S KIND OF AN INTERACTION BETWEEN THE TWO THAT EVERYONE'S ARGUING ABOUT.

IN THE BUDGET, HOWEVER YOU WANT TO INTERPRET BAIL REFORMS EFFECTS ON ONGOING INCREASE.

THERE WERE CERTAIN CHANGES THAT MADE ADDITIONAL GUN CRIMES BAIL ELIGIBLE AS WELL AS CREATING DIFFERENT MECHANISMS WHERE A JUDGE CAN ORDER THAT SOMEBODY IS HELD PRETRIAL IF THEY'RE ONE OF THESE REPEAT OFFENDERS THAT WE'VE SEEN SO MUCH IN THE HEADLINES.

YOU KNOW, SPECIFICALLY PEOPLE WHO SHOPLIFT.

YOU KNOW, IF THEY ARE ACCUSED OF A SECOND CRIME AFTER FIRST BEING ISSUED A TICKET FOR SOMETHING ELSE, THEY COULD BE HELD -- DEPENDS ON WHAT THE JUDGE RULES.

THIS OF COURSE IS A BIG COMPROMISE ON THE SO-CALLED JUDICIAL DISCRETION DEBATE THAT WE'VE HAD.

SOME MODERATE DEMOCRATS, INCLUDING THE GOVERNOR, HAD WANTED TO SEE SOMETHING THAT WAS A LITTLE BIT MORE EXPANSIVE IN THE OPTIONS JUDGES HAVE.

BUT ALL IN ALL THEY MAKE SOME CHANGES BUT NOT ALL OF THE TEN-POINT PLAN THAT GOVERNOR HOCHUL REALLY JUST THREW AT STATE LAWMAKERS JUST AS THE BUDGET TALKS WERE BEGINNING.

IT SEEMED LIKE A QUIET BUDGET, A BIG BUDGET SURPLUS.

AND THEN SHE JUST SAID ALL OF A SUDDEN, I WANT TO CHANGE BAIL REFORM AS WELL AS OTHER STUFF THAT HAVE TO DO WITH MENTAL HEALTH LAW.

AND THEN IT WAS REALLY ON.

YOU KNOW, WE HAD A HUNGER STRIKE.

WE HAD, YOU KNOW, MODERATES VERSUS THE POLITICAL LEFT.

WE HAD THE REPUBLICANS COMING UP TRYING TO EGG THE DEMOCRATS ON TO DO SOMETHING MUCH MORE EXPANSIVE THAN ACTUALLY WHAT GOT INTO THE BUDGET.

WHAT'S CLEAR NOW IS BAIL REFORM AND ALL THE ARGUMENTS ABOUT IT ARE NOT GOING ANYWHERE AS CAMPAIGN SEASON REALLY GETS UNDERWAY.

SO, NICOLE, DEPENDING ON WHO YOU LISTEN TO, THE BAIL REFORM DEAL WAS EITHER, A, AN INCREDIBLE VICTORY FOR THE GOVERNOR, SHE GOT EVERYTHING SHE WANTED, B, THAT THE DEAL AGREED UPON WAS MERE WINDOW DRESSING THAT WILL SOLVE FEW PROBLEMS, OR, C, THAT THE AGREEMENT IS A SIGNIFICANT BUT UNFORTUNATE STEP BACKWARDS IN THE FIGHT TO ACHIEVE CRIMINAL JUSTICE IN THIS STATE?

WHICH ONE DO YOU PICK?

IT'S SOMEWHERE BETWEEN OPTIONS A AND B.

THE GOVERNOR CLEARLY DIDN'T GET WHAT SHE WANTED.

BUT IF WE DON'T THINK ABOUT IT IN POLITICAL TERMS AS A VICTORY OR A DEFEAT, IT'S CERTAINLY GOOD TO GIVE JUDGES THE ABILITY TO REMAIN PEOPLE ACCUSED OF REPEAT CRIMES, PEOPLE ACCUSED OF PARTICULAR GUN CRIMES THAT WERE PART OF THE NO BAIL BAIL REFORMS THREE YEARS AGO.

SO, HOPEFULLY THIS WILL MAKE US A LITTLE BIT SAFER.

BUT WE STILL -- THERE ARE SO MANY ISSUES WITH THE COURT SYSTEM RIGHT NOW THAT THE LEGISLATURE ENTIRELY IGNORES BECAUSE THEY'RE TOO HARD.

FOR EXAMPLE, WHY DOES IT TAKE A YEAR AND A HALF TO PROSECUTE A BASIC BURGLARY FELONY CASE?

THESE CASES ARE TAKING WAY TOO LONG.

THIS IS A BIG PART OF THE ISSUE AT RIKERS ISLAND.

WE NEED TO -- WE NEED TO WORK ON SPEEDING UP THESE TRIALS.

AND OF COURSE WE SAW THE PERSON CONVICTED OF HOMICIDE A COUPLE WEEKS AGO, AND THE JUDGE SAID HE WAS NOT AWARDED HIS RIGHT TO A SPEEDY TRIAL.

IT TOOK SIX YEARS.

AND THE JUDGE IS RIGHT.

IT SHOULDN'T TAKE SIX YEARS TO BRING THESE CASES TO TRIAL.

SO, I THINK WITH ALL THE TALK OF BAIL REFORM, ALTHOUGH IT'S VERY IMPORTANT, WE'RE NOT GOING TO GET VERY FAR UNTIL WE MAKE THESE COURT SYSTEMS MUCH MORE EFFICIENT.

ELLIS, WHERE DO YOU FALL IN THE BAIL REFORM REFORMS?

WELL, FIRST OF ALL, I'M COMPLETELY CYNICAL ABOUT THE NUMBERS, RIGHT?

I MEAN, CRIME NUMBERS ARE EASY MANIPULATABLE.

ANYONE WHO HAS SIMPLE EXPLANATIONS FOR WHY CRIME GOES RIGHT AND DOWN IS LYING TO YOU.

ON THE LEFT PEOPLE WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE INEQUALITY AND THE RACIAL DISPARITIES.

HERE'S WHAT WE KNOW.

CRIME WENT DOWN A WHOLE LOT, BUT WE STILL DON'T REALLY KNOW WHY IT WENT DOWN.

EVERY SINGLE POLITICIAN IN TOWN WILL TAKE CREDIT FOR IT.

BUT WE DON'T REALLY KNOW WHY IT'S GOING OFF.

SO, IT'S INTERESTING.

YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE A MULTIFACETED APPROACH.

AND THERE ARE A COUPLE GOOD PIECES HERE.

ONE IS THAT WE'RE LETTING JUDGES BE JUDGES AGAIN.

LEGISLATURES LOVE TO TRY TO DETERMINE OUTCOMES FROM THE STATE CAPITOL.

BUT THE JUSTICE SYSTEM IS A HUMAN AND SLIPPERY AND COMPLICATED PLACE, AND SOMEWHERE IN THERE YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE SOME HUMAN BEINGS MAKING SOME JUDGMENTS.

AND I LIKE TO SEE THE JUDGES ARE GETTING A LITTLE BIT MORE OF A GRIP THERE.

AND LISTEN, THESE REFORMS WENT IN A MOMENT A YEAR AND A HALF AGO WHEN POLITICS WERE A LITTLE DIFFERENT.

ONCE CRIME IS UP, PEOPLE ARE SCARED, THE PENDULUM IS SWINGING, I WISH I HAD A SIMPLE ANSWER FOR YOU.

REALLY DIDN'T SEEM TO WANT ANY BAIL REFORMS INCLUDED IN THIS BUDGET, AND REPORTEDLY WERE SO UNHAPPY WITH THE ONES PASSED THAT SHE DIDN'T JOIN THE GOVERNOR WHEN SHE MADE THE ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT THE BUDGET DEAL ON THURSDAY.

BUT THESE REFORMS WOULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED WITHOUT THEIR SAY-SO.

SO, WHY DID THEY AGREE TO THESE REFORMS IF THEY'RE SO ANGRY AT IT THAT THEY DON'T EVEN WANT TO PUT THEIR FACE TO IT?

WELL, OF COURSE BAIL REFORM IS NOT AN ISSUE THAT WAS IN ANY WAY IN ISOLATION.

YOU KNOW, YOU HAVE A $220 BILLION STATE SPENDING PLAN THAT'S PACKED WITH POLICY INITIATIVES, SPENDING, AND YOU GOT, YOU KNOW, THREE DIFFERENT PARTS.

YOU'VE GOT THE ASSEMBLY, THE STATE SENATOR, AND THE GOVERNOR, EQUALS, BUT NOT COMPLETELY EQUAL.

THE GOVERNOR IS BY FAR THE MOST POWERFUL PERSON IN ALL THIS.

AND SHE WANTED BAIL REFORM TO HAPPEN.

SHE WANTED THE $600 MILLION IN TAXPAYER MONEY FOR THE BUFFALO BILLS STADIUM.

AND IN EXCHANGE SHE WANTED TO GIVE THE LAWMAKERS WHAT THEY WANTED.

THEY WANTED CHILD CARE EXPANSION.

THEY WANTED HEALTH CARE FOR UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS.

THEY TOO DIDN'T GET EVERYTHING THEY WANTED.

BUT THEY GOT MORE IN SOCIAL SPENDING.

THAT'S KIND OF FUNNY BECAUSE THAT REQUIRED BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN ADDITIONAL REVENUE TO COME OUT OF THIN AIR.

STATE REVENUES WERE APPARENTLY HIGHER THAN EXPECTED, WHICH JUST SO HAPPENED TO GIVE THE GOVERNOR ENOUGH MONEY TO PLEASE HER CRITICS IN THE LEGISLATURE SO SHE CAN GET THE BAIL REFORM CHANGES SHE WANTED WITHOUT TOO MUCH OF A FIGHT.

SHE DOES WANT A BUDGET THAT'S ON TIME AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, RIGHT, AND ESPECIALLY WITH THE PRIMARIES COMING.

YEAH, YEAH, SOME PEOPLE SAY BAIL REFORM COST HER $4 BILLION.

YOU NAMED A FEW.

COULD YOU GIVE US A LIST, A SUMMARY, OF THE ITEMS THAT DIDN'T MAKE IT INTO THE BUDGET AND WE'LL BREAK IT DOWN, TIME PERMITTED.

I THINK SOME OF THE BIGGEST ITEMS WERE A TAX INCENTIVE NOT GIVING INCENTIVE CALLED 421A.

NICOLE CERTAINLY KNOWS A LOT MORE ABOUT IT THAN I.

BUT THE GOVERNOR PROPOSED TO REPLACE THE EXPIRING TAX INCENTIVE WITH SOMETHING NEW THAT THE PROGRESSIVE LEFT SAID MORE OR LESS IS THE SAME PROGRAM AS BEFORE.

THERE HAS BEEN CRITICISM IT WAS TOO FRIENDLY.

ANOTHER BIG ITEM THAT FELL OUT OF THE BUDGET, MAYORAL CONTROL OF NEW YORK CITY SCHOOLS.

THIS IS A BIG ONE.

IT EXPIRES THIS YEAR.

GOVERNOR HOCHUL SEEMINGLY WANTED TO PLEASE THE MAYOR BY OFFERING A FOUR-YEAR EXTENSION.

THAT MEANS HIS ENTIRE FIRST TERM, HE WOULDN'T HAVE TO COME UP TO ALBANY TO BEG THEM TO KEEP CONTROLLING NEW YORK CITY SCHOOLS.

THOSE ARE TWO BIG THINGS THAT ARE UNDOUBTEDLY GOING TO BE CONTROVERSIAL IN THE UPCOMING WEEKS BEFORE LEGISLATORS ADJOURN FOR THE YEAR ON JUNE 2nd.

GIVE US A LIST OF THE THINGS THAT DID MAKE IT IN.

BAIL REFORM CHANGES, OF COURSE, THE SUSPENSION OF SOME BUT NOT ALL OF STATE GAS TAXES.

TO GO COCKTAILS LEGALIZATION.

THOSE ARE THE TYPE OF ISSUES THAT REALLY GET A RESPONSE FROM VOTERS AFTER ALL.

AND SO MUCH MORE.

ONE THING I FORGOT THAT DIDN'T MAKE IT INTO THE BUDGET EITHER WAS A NEW BUILDING MANDATE THAT THE GOVERNOR HAD PROPOSED THAT WOULD NOT ALLOW ANY NEW GAS HOOKUPS IN 2027.

PROGRESSIVE WANTED SOMETHING MORE AGGRESSIVE AND IN THE END NOTHING GOT DONE AT ALL.

SO, THAT'S GOING TO BE ANOTHER HOT ITEM FOR THE REST OF THE SESSION.

LET'S SPEND A LITTLE TIME ON THE ITEMS THAT MADE IT IN.

THE 600 MILLION SUBSIDIES FOR BIG ISSUE FOR THE GOVERNOR, WHO IS OF COURSE FROM BUFFALO.

WAS IT A GOOD INVESTMENT FOR THE STATE?

NO.

I MEAN, WE KNOW THAT STADIUM SUBSIDIES ARE NOT A GOOD ECONOMIC DEAL.

THIS ONE MAY BE PARTICULARLY BAD IN THAT IT'S A SUBSIDY FOR A SUBURBAN-LOCATED STADIUM.

YOU HAVE THE OWNERS WHO ARE DOMICILED IN FLORIDA, ACCORDING TO PRESS REPORTS, SO NOT RESIDENT NEW YORK STATE TAXPAYERS.

I MEAN, IT'S JUST A BAD IDEA ALL AROUND.

AND I JUST WANT TO ADD, I WOULD BE REMISS -- YOU KNOW, ZACK MENTIONED A $220 BILLION BUDGET FIGURE.

THREE YEARS AGO, THE BUDGET WAS $176 BILLION.

SO, JUST IN TERMS OF THE NUMBERS, IT'S A 25% INCREASE IN SPENDING OVER THREE YEARS.

INFLATION, EVEN THOUGH INFLATION IS HIGH, HAS RUN ABOUT 12% OVER THOSE THREE YEARS.

SO, WE'RE LOOKING AT DOUBLE THE INFLATION RATE.

SO, WE REALLY -- WHETHER YOU'RE IN FAVOR OF BIG GOVERNMENT OR SKEPTICAL OF BIG GOVERNMENT, THE TAXPAYERS REALLY HAVE TO START THINKING, ARE WE GOING TO BE GETTING OUR MONEY'S WORTH FROM EVERYTHING THAT'S IN THIS BUDGET?

AND THE STADIUM IS ONE WHERE YOU'RE ALMOST CERTAINLY NOT TO GET YOUR MONEY'S WORTH.

I'M GUESSING --

I JUST GOT TO SAY --

LET ME GET --

OH, SORRY.

I JUST WANT TO GET ELLIS' THOUGHTS ON THIS.

OH, OF COURSE.

WHY ON EARTH DO HARDWORKING TAXPAYERS OF NEW YORK HAVE TO BE SUBSIDIZING THE OWNERS OF AN NFL TEAM.

IT'S RIDICULOUS.

THAT'S THE WORSE SPENDING YOU CAN -- CAN I CALL OUT ONE POSITIVE NOTE, RAISE A GLASS TO THE GO CUP.

I GREW UP CONSUMING GO CUPS FROM JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL, AND MY GOD, FINALLY SOME OTHER STATE IS BEING CIVILIZED ENOUGH TO LET PEOPLE CARRY A COCKTAIL OUT OF A BAR.

LET'S HOPE IT REALLY HAPPENS.

I'M SORRY I INTERRUPTEDMENT YOU WANTED TO --

NO WORRIES.

I GET EXCITED ABOUT THIS STUFF.

THE GOVERNOR GAME IN TRYING TO PLEASE THE PROGRESSIVE LEFT, THE CENTRISTS, AND SHE STARTED HAVING TO PICK SIDES ONCE NUMBERS RAN INTO LEGISLATIVE LANGUAGE.

ONE INTERESTING THING WITH THE STADIUM WAS HOW SHE ENDED UP TRYING TO FUND IT.

PROGRESSIVES CHAFED AT THE IDEA OF SPENDING $600 MILLION, AS DID ECONOMISTS AND PUNDITS, LIKE NICOLE.

GIVEN THE LONG HISTORY OF STADIUMS STIMULATING ECONOMIC ACTIVITY.

SO, THE GOVERNOR TRIED TO REALLY PUT PRESSURE ON THE SENECA NATION, OF ALL PEOPLE, TO RESOLVE THIS YEARS-LONG DISPUTE OVER GAMBLING REVENUES.

THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO SHARE THEM WITH THE STATE, VERY COMPLICATED ARGUMENT.

ONE WEEK OR SO BEFORE THE FINAL DEADLINE, THE HOCHUL ADMINISTRATION FROZE THE BANK ACCOUNTS OF THE SENECA NATION, WHICH RESULTED IN THEM FINALLY GIVING UP -- GIVING HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN A FINAL SETTLEMENT THAT THE GOVERNOR THEN SAID WOULD GO TO THE STADIUM.

NOW, YOU MIGHT SAY IT'S CLEVER.

SHE'S FINDING A WAY TO SOLVE A PROBLEM.

WELL, THE ONLY PROBLEM WAS IT CREATED A WHOLE OTHER PROBLEM, WHICH WAS THE TRIBAL CHAIRMAN THEN STARTED TALKING TO JOURNALISTS ABOUT HOW THIS IS JUST THE LATEST EXAMPLE OF, YOU KNOW, BASICALLY WHITE PEOPLE COLONIZING THE SENECA NATION.

SO, SHE TRIED TO SOLVE ONE PROBLEM, CREATED ANOTHER.

I THINK IT WAS REALLY INDICATIVE OF A WIDER PHENOMENON, THESE BUDGET TALKS, WHERE HOCHUL COULDN'T PLEASE EVERYONE AFTER MONTHS AND MONTHS OF EFFORT.

THAT'S FOR SURE.

LET'S MOVE ON TO ANOTHER ISSUE.

THE CASINOS COMING TO A NEIGHBORHOOD NEAR YOU.

THREE CASINOS ARE GOING TO BE COMING TO NEW YORK CITY.

PLUSES AND MINUSES OF THAT IDEA?

WELL, I THINK MORE MONEY IS THE PLUS.

YOU KNOW, LISTEN, IT'S SO HARD TODAY WHEN GAMBLING IS EVERYWHERE AND ALL OUR NEIGHBORS ARE MAKING HUGE MONEY OFF OF IT NOT TO SAY, HEY, WHERE'S MY HAIR SHARE.

I AM IN THE CAMP, I DON'T REALLY LIKE WHAT GAMBLING DOES TO FOLKS.

I KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO SUFFER FROM IT, PARTICULARLY PEOPLE WHO CAN LEAST AFFORD TO.

I DON'T THINK WE HAVE A CHOICE AT THIS POINT.

IT'S EVERYWHERE.

PEOPLE DO IT -- THE SPORTS BETTING THING IS EXPANDING THE MOST DRAMATICALLY AND MAYBE THE MOST DANGEROUS OF ALL.

YOU AGREE, NICOLE?

INEVITABLE?

WHETHER IT'S INEVITABLE OR NOT, I THINK WE SHOULD BE PUTTING MORE THOUGHT INTO IT.

THIS SHOULD REALLY NOT BE A BUDGET ITEM.

THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN PROPOSED AS ITS OWN STAND ALONE POLICY ITEM BEFORE THE END OF THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION SO THAT WE CAN AT LEAST HAVE STAND-ALONE PUBLIC HEARINGS WHERE PEOPLE CAN GO AND TESTIFY ABOUT WHAT IS GOING TO BE THE IMPACT ON PROBLEM GAMBLERS OF HAVING A CASINO.

YOU ALREADY HAVE A CASINO IN YOUR HAND, AS ELLIS SAID, WITH SPORTS BETTING.

BUT IF WE'VE GOT MORE CASINOS WITHIN EASY MASS TRANSIT REACH, WHO ARE THE CUSTOMERS GOING TO BE?

THIS MARKET IS MAYBE SATURATED, WHERE THE ARGUMENT USED TO BE, IF YOU OPEN A CASINO IN CONNECTICUT, THERE'S NO CASINOS IN MASSACHUSETTS OR NEW YORK, SO YOU'RE GOING TO GET GAMBLERS FROM OUT OF STATE.

YOU'RE NOT STEALING MONEY FROM YOUR OWN PEOPLE.

YOU'RE STEALING MONEY FROM OTHER PEOPLE'S PEOPLE.

I DON'T KNOW IF THAT'S A GOOD ARGUMENT, BUT THAT WAS ALWAYS THE ARGUMENT THAT WAS MADE.

BUT NOW THAT WE'VE SATURATED THIS MARKET, ARE WE JUST IN THE LONG TERM TAKING MONEY OUT OF THE HANDS OF PEOPLE WHO REALLY CAN'T AFFORD TO LOSE THE MONEY?

BUT AT THE VERY LEAST, IT IS WORTH HAVING PUBLIC HEARINGS ON THIS, JUST LIKE WITH THE BAIL REFORM.

I MEAN, THIS SHOULD -- BAIL REFORM REFORM IS WORTH A WEEK'S WORTH OF PUBLIC HEARINGS IN ITSELF.

WE SHOULD KIND OF LOSE THIS BAD HABIT OF PUTTING ALL OF THESE DIFFERENT NON-BUDGET POLICY ITEMS INTO THE BUDGET AND SCRAMBLING TO COME OUT WITH A MIDDLE-OF-THE-NIGHT AGREEMENT AND NO ONE REALLY KNOWS WHAT'S IN THEM.

ONE OF THE THINGS PROGRESSIVES WERE ABLE TO ACHIEVE WAS MORE MONEY FOR CHILD CARE, MORE MONEY THAN THE GOVERNOR INTENDED TO PUT IN IN THE FIRST PLACE.

WHO BENEFITS AND WHO DOESN'T FROM THIS?

BOY, SO MUCH THAT WE COULD SAY ABOUT CHILD CARE.

THEY DID -- THE FINAL AGREEMENT BASICALLY WILL EXPAND SUBSIDIZED CHILD CARE TO FAMILIES THAT MAKE THREE TIMES THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL.

SO, THAT'S ROUGHLY A FAMILY OF THREE THAT MAKES ABOUT $70,000.

$7 MILLION OVER FOUR YEARS TO FUND THIS, BUT UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN WERE NOT INCLUDED, WHICH WAS A MAJOR -- WHICH CERTAINLY THE PROGRESSIVES DID NOT LIKE.

ONE INTERESTING THING ABOUT CHILD CARE THAT GETS BACK TO WHAT NICOLE WAS SAYING ABOUT WHAT THE BUDGET IS SAYING AND HOW STATE GOVERNMENT WORKS IS THAT NOBODY KNEW WHAT WAS HAPPENING WITH IT.

THE FINAL DAY OF TALKS, I HEARD $3 BILLION IN THE MORNING, I HEARD $5 BILLION, THEN IT WAS $7 BILLION, THEN IT WASN'T HAPPENING OR SOMETHING.

THIS GETS BACK TO HOW GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL HAS AND HASN'T CHANGED ALBANY.

FOR DECADES, EVEN A CENTURY OR SOMETHING, BUT CERTAINLY SINCE THE 2002 COURT RULINGS, THE GOVERNORS HAVE ENORMOUS POWER IN THE BUDGET, TO INSERT POLICY ITEMS AND REALLY GET THINGS DONE THAT WAY, RATHER THAN TAKING IT ONE BY ONE THROUGH THE STANDARD LEGISLATIVE PROCESS.

AND WHAT DOES IS KIND OF SMOOTH PASSAGE FOR CONTROVERSIAL THINGS LIKE BAIL REFORM.

IF YOU PUT THEM ALL IN AN OMNIBUS BILL, CALLED THE BIG UGLY IN ALBANY SLANG, YOU GET LAWMAKERS WHO HAVE A CHOICE.

DO I VOTE FOR REFORM THAT I DON'T LIKE OR DO I VOTE AGAINST SCHOOL FUNDING OR DO I VOTE THE SHUT DOWN THE STATE GOVERNMENT?

THE GOVERNOR HAS THE MOST LEVERAGE OF ALL.

THAT'S HOW THINGS GET DONE.

OTHERWISE YOU GET MESSY FIGHTS WITH THE LEGISLATURE OUT IN PUBLIC, AND THAT'S HOW STATE GOVERNMENT IS SUPPOSED TO WORK BUT NOT AT ALL HOW IT ACTUALLY WORKS.

SO, NOT A BIG VICTORY FOR TRANSPARENCY THIS TIME AROUND.

I WOULDN'T SAY SO.

YEAH.

ELLIS, A BIG ITEM IN THE BUDGET WAS A GAS TAX SUSPENSION, AN ACTUAL TAX CUT.

WAS IT -- WAS IT SIGNIFICANT DO YOU THINK?

WELL, IT'S GOOD POLITICS.

I DON'T THINK IT'S PARTICULARLY GOOD ENERGY POLICY, BUT, YOU KNOW, WE SHOULD BE DISCOURAGING PEOPLE FROM DRIVING.

HIGH PRICES DO THAT PROBABLY MORE EFFECTIVELY THAN ALMOST ANYTHING.

BUT, HEY, LISTEN, PEOPLE ARE HOWLING ABOUT IT JUST LIKE THEY'RE HOWLING ABOUT THE INCREASE IN CRIME.

THIS IS A GOVERNOR WHO'S RUNNING FOR RE-ELECTION WHO IS SORT OF TREADING WHAT I WOULD SAY IS A RELATIVELY MODERATE PATH.

THE PROGRESSIVES BEING MAD ABOUT SOMETHING, THE OTHERS BEING MAD ABOUT SOMETHING, THAT'S PROBABLY NOT THE WORSE PLACE FOR HER TO BE AS SHE APPROACHES HER FIRST REAL ELECTION.

GAS TAX SUSPENSION, NOT ONLY GOOD POLITICS BUT ALSO GOOD ENERGY POLICY, NICOLE?

NO, IT'S TERRIBLE POLICY.

THIS IS -- THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE A DEDICATED TAX.

THIS GOES BACK 100 YEARS, AND IT DOESN'T WORK PERFECTLY.

WE SUBSIDIES AUTO USE, OBVIOUSLY.

BUT IF YOU ARE DRIVING A CAR, YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO PAY FOR ROAD AND BRIDGE UPKEEP THROUGH THE GAS TAXES YOU PAY AND ALSO FUND MASS TRANSIT BECAUSE MASS TRANSIT KEEPS OTHER CARS OFF THE ROAD, WHICH LETS PEOPLE WHO ARE ON THE ROADS DRIVE WITHOUT EVEN MORE CONGESTION THAN THERE IS.

AND I DON'T THINK PEOPLE ARE EVEN GOING TO NOTICE IT.

I MEAN, 16 CENTS OUT OF THE GAS PRICE THAT IS INCHING PAST $5 IN SOME PARTS OF THE STATE, PLUS THE PRICE OF GAS UNFORTUNATELY IS PROBABLY GOING TO CONTINUE TO RISE.

SO, WHEN YOU LOOK AT HOW MUCH IT WILL RISE OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS, COMPLETELY ERASES THAT BENEFIT OF 16 CENT CUT.

BUT IT COSTS THE STATE AND THE MTA AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF MONEY.

AND ONCE THEY'VE MADE THIS CUT, IT'S GOING TO BE REALLY HARD.

IT WILL BE FRAMED AS INCREASING THE GAS TAX WHEN IT EXPIRES AND PEOPLE GO BACK TO RENEW IT SO IT DOESN'T EXPIRE.

SO, NOT A VERY GOOD -- AND NOT GOOD ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY VICTORY EITHER.

SO, MAYBE IF I HAD TIME FOR ALL THREE OF YOU TO ANSWER THIS.

OVERALL, WITH ALL THE PLUS AND NEGATIVES OF THIS BUDGET, IS IT GOOD FOR NEW YORK CITY?

ELLIS, I'LL START WITH YOU.

I DON'T KNOW.

WE'VE ALREADY HIT TWO OR THREE THAT ARE BAD AND A COUPLE THAT ARE GOOD.

TO ME, IT'S GOOD FOR THE GOVERNOR HONESTLY.

SHE WAS SOMEBODY WHO MOST NEW YORKERS COULD NOT PRONOUNCE HER NAME SIX MONTHS AGO.

WAS IT HOCHUL OR HOCHUL, WHO KNOWS?

SHE GOT THROUGH IT WITHOUT DISASTERS.

I WOULD SAY FOR A LIBERAL DEM, SHE TRIED TO FAIRLY MIDDLE DOWN THE ROAD PATH AT A TIME THAT IT'S KIND OF TOUGH.

SHE WON MORE THAN WE DID, I GUESS.

NICOLE, GOOD FOR NEW YORK FOLKS?

NO, I THINK ON BALANCE IT'S NOT VERY GOOD FOR NEW YORK CITY.

WITH THE CAVEAT THAT IMPORTANT POLICY THINGS SHOULDN'T BE IN THE BUDGET AND SCHOOL CONTROL -- NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL SCHOOL CONTROL IS AN IMPORTANT POLICY THING.

BUT TO HAVE THAT BE THE ONE POLICY THING THAT WAS LEFT OUT, NOT A VERY GOOD SIGN FOR DOES THE LEGISLATURE WANT ADAMS TO HAVE FREE REIGN ON A HOST OF CITY ISSUES?

OR DOES A MUCH MORE PROGRESSIVE LEGISLATURE WANT TO REIGN IN A MORE MODERATE, MIDDLE OF THE ROAD MAYOR.

SHE MAY HAVE A TOUGH TIME WITH ALBANY ISSUES.

AND ANOTHER THING THAT WAS LEFT OUT WAS STREET CAMERAS.

TRAFFIC DEATHS ARE UP THIS YEAR.

WE NEED TO KEEP THE SPEED CAMERAS ON, AND IT WAS JUST COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN LAST WEEK.

ZACK, VERY QUICKLY, YOUR TAKE.

YES OR NO, GOOD OR BAD?

IT'S EASY FOR POLITICAL REPORTERS TO FOCUS ON THE PERSONALITIES, BUT I WOULD LIKE TO SAY THE LOSERS IN THIS BUDGET INCLUDE DOWNSTATE STRAP HANGERS WHO ARE SUBSIDIZING THIS GAS TAX.

THESE EXPENSES HAVE TO HAPPEN AT THE STATE LEVEL AND THEY COVER HOMELESS PEOPLE WHO MAYBE DIDN'T GET AS MUCH AID AS MANY PEOPLE WANTED TO SEE IN THE BUDGET, MENTALLY ILL.

AND TAXPAYERS IN GENERAL WITH THE BUFFALO BILLS STADIUM DEAL THAT HOWEVER MUCH YOU LOVE THE BUFFALO BILLS -- AND I'M SURE GOVERNOR HOCHUL LOVES THEM A LOT -- JUST REALLY COULD NOT MAKE THE NUMBERS ADD UP IN A WAY THAT MAKES SENSE AS AN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECT.

I THINK ALL THESE TYPES OF FUNNY MATH WITH THE GAS TAX.

40 CENTS THEY'RE GOING TO SAVE PEOPLE.

IT SHOWS HOW BAD OF AN IDEA IT REALLY WAS BECAUSE LEGALLY IT COULDN'T BE DONE FOR 48 CENTS.

ELLIS, LESS THAN 40 SECONDS.

THE REPUBLICANS -- LIKE MICHAEL GOODWIN SAID LAST YEAR, THE REPUBLICANS WERE RELEGATED TO THE STATUS OF HECKLERS IN THE BUDGET.

IS THAT THE CASE THIS YEAR?

IS THAT GOING TO CHANGE?

YES, IT IS STILL THE CASE.

THE SAME GOES ON AT THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL, MORE SO.

THIS IS A STATE THAT IS IN THE HANDS OF PROGRESSIVES.

AND WHILE MANY SOUTHERN STATES HAVE GONE EXTREME THE OTHER WAY, NEW YORK IS HEADED LEFT AND IT'S GOING TO BE THAT WAY FOR A WHILE.

THAT'S THE LAST WORD, GUYS.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

IT'S BEEN A PLEASURE.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER SCONENY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE

©2022 WNET. All Rights Reserved. 825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019

WNET is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Tax ID: 26-2810489