State Sen. Jeff Klein earns a lot of praise for the kind of money he brings into his district, especially Riverdale. And it appears he might be far better in finding that cash than many might have realized.
Politico’s Jimmy Vielkind reported last week Klein has pulled in $17 million in earmarks for his various projects. That’s not only more than any other legislator, but it’s five times more than all the senate Democrats — combined. And that money didn’t come from the Republicans who cherished their alliance with Klein’s breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, but instead from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s discretionary funds.
Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, told Politico this shows how money follows power. For the senate, Republicans get a majority of the earmarks outside of what’s distributed to the IDC, but in the Assembly, it’s the other way around — Democrats divvied up $150 million compared to just $4 million for Republicans since 2013.
Klein’s office chose not to comment on the report, but an IDC spokeswoman told Politico that “every district in the state is uplifted through this vital (fund distribution) program, whether they receive funds through the senate or the Assembly.”
Klein has been under increased pressure in recent months to dissolve the IDC and rejoin the Democratic Party. If his eight members did rejoin along with support by Brooklyn senator Simcha Felder — who was elected as a Democrat but caucuses with Republicans — the senate could move back to Democratic control.
Klein maintains the IDC coalition is his way to keep progressive issues in the pipeline despite a Republican majority, pointing to several bills including one that raised the age necessary for teenagers to be tried as adults for crime. However, opponents have complained about a number of bills that have stalled, including the New York Health Act which they believe could serve as a counter to President Donald Trump’s attempts to wipe out his predecessor’s Affordable Care Act on the national stage.
While Klein is a co-sponsor of the single-payer health act, he has been unsuccessful in convincing a Republican committee chair to hold a hearing on the bill.
New York’s attorney general Eric Schneiderman has joined 18 of his peers across the country to sue the federal government over plans to cut subsidies provided by the Affordable Care Act.
The subsidies help policyholders defer some of the out-of-pocket expenses typically incurred with health insurance, including co-payments and deductibles. Removing these subsidies, as President Trump did through an executive order last week, would destabilize the health care market, Schneiderman contends, and remove millions from New York alone.
“These subsidies make critical health care affordable for our most vulnerable,” Schneiderman said in a release. “President Trump’s move to cut these subsidies is a reckless assault on the health care of thousands of New Yorkers and millions of Americans. I will not allow President Trump to use New York families as political pawns in his dangerous and partisan campaign to sabotage our health care system.”
Although Congressional Republicans have tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act — more commonly known as Obamacare — for years, it wasn’t until Trump took office in January that many in the GOP felt they actually had a chance to do so.
However, while the House of Representatives was able to pass a measure that would effectively gut Obamacare, the U.S. Senate has failed to pass similar legislation.
The lawsuit argues the feds are required to make these subsidy payments, and failure to do so is an “arbitrary and capricious” violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.