Tired of New York’s Subways? Blame Andrew Cuomo

Tired of New York’s Subways? Blame Andrew Cuomo



When the Metropolitan Transportation Authority opened the Second Avenue Subway extension in January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was quick to put his stamp on the new line. At news conferences, inaugural rides and even a star-studded New Year’s Eve party, the governor branded the project as his own.

Five months and innumerable subway breakdowns later, riders can hardly be faulted for asking: Where’s Governor Cuomo now?

New Yorkers have recently been treated to repeated subway meltdowns. This month, two power failures in Brooklyn caused delays and reroutings on seven lines. On April 24, a signal failure and track fire led to significant delays. And three days before that, a power failure in Midtown Manhattan led to a near systemwide breakdown.

These wholesale disasters come on top of all the minor breakdowns and delays that characterize a typical rush hour in New York these days. And each time these failures occur, we leave hundreds of thousands of riders stuck underground, sometimes for hours. The economic costs of these delays are enormous. But the human cost of missing work or school, or being late to pick up your kids from day care, or canceling appointments, is just as important.

Yet the governor has been conspicuously absent as riders vent their frustrations about our subway system. And when the M.T.A. finally announced a plan this week to tackle subway delays, Governor Cuomo was nowhere to be seen. Instead, the agency’s acting executive director talked about a $20 million investment to try to address the problem — a far cry from the billions of dollars the governor has promised the agency and so far failed to deliver. 

As a state agency, the M.T.A. is ultimately run by Governor Cuomo — yet rather than face its challenges, he has instead taken up other priorities: rebuilding the Tappan Zee Bridge, redesigning La Guardia Airport, revamping Penn Station. In short, he has done an excellent job funding projects to help people flee New York City, but has been content to keep an arm’s length from a crumbling subway system that carries 1.7 billion passengers a year.

One reason is obvious: Governor Cuomo can use the M.T.A. as a shield from criticism from commuters, who blame the agency for their commuting woes instead of pointing the finger at the man behind the curtain. This misdirection gives the governor cover to raid tens of millions of dedicated transit dollars to fund other projects, spend two years refusing to fund the M.T.A.’s ambitious 2015-19 capital plan to invest in subway and bus infrastructure and — just a few months ago — wipe $65 million a year from our subways and buses with the stroke of a pen. The consequences of years of disinvestment have been severe: Riders now have to contend with more than 70,000 delays a month (well over a delay every minute) and record levels of overcrowding on trains.

The other reason for Mr. Cuomo’s avoidance is that fixing mass transit is difficult. It’s expensive, it’s complicated and the benefits often don’t accrue until long after the elected officials who funded them have moved on. Many a politician takes a hard look at public transit and decides to find an easier fight.

But right now, New Yorkers don’t need a politician. We need a leader like those who had the foresight to build this sprawling, messy, utterly essential system and sustain it for over a century. If we want to keep public transit running for another century, Governor Cuomo must make necessary investments now. As a first step, he should give the M.T.A. the full $8.3 billion he has promised for its capital program, rather than make it wait years and borrow billions of dollars more.

Governor Cuomo can think big when building bridges or airports. He should apply the same grand vision to our vital public transit system. Installing modern signals should take years, not decades — the current plan stretches beyond 2050 to implement 20th-century technology. He should replace all cars that are past their useful life; some of today’s trains date to the 1960s. He should make buses an attractive alternative for riders, as they are in London or Seoul, by investing in inexpensive improvements like all-door boarding and traffic light priority. And most important, he should announce an influx of state funding above and beyond the M.T.A.’s existing capital budget to pay for these necessary improvements, instead of making riders shoulder the cost through ever-increasing fares.

Over a year ago, my organization, the Riders Alliance, collected hundreds of “subway horror stories” from riders. Sadly, since that time, the problem has grown only worse. But there’s still something we can do: When you’re stuck this summer on a hot platform waiting for a train that seems as if it’ll never come, let the person most responsible for the success or failure of our public transit system know you’re upset. Use that newly installed subway Wi-Fi to tweet @NYGovCuomo. There are nearly 8.5 million rides on the system every day; if we speak with one voice, we can save our subways.

Robert McCarthy: Questions for Cuomo are met with silence

Robert McCarthy: Questions for Cuomo are met with silence


By Robert J. McCarthy


  • Published Thu, May 18, 2017

Steve Pigeon was back in court a few days ago, facing a judge for the third time in the last 10 months. This time the former Erie County Democratic chairman appeared in U.S. District Court to answer more questions about his controversial fundraising methods.

A federal complaint alleges that Pigeon, a longtime confidant of Andrew Cuomo, conspired to solicit a $25,000 contribution to the governor’s 2014 campaign. The donation allegedly originated with a Montreal-based internet gambling company that paid Pigeon’s Papi Holdings LLC $388,000 in lobbying fees from 2010 to 2015.

The FBI now says Pigeon conspired to hide the true source of the foreign contribution for a Manhattan event featuring the governor. He denies the allegation, claiming he is the victim of a political “witch hunt” and an overzealous FBI.

All of this will be sorted out in due time. Meanwhile, the federal government is not the only entity with questions. The Buffalo News would like to ask a few, too.

The governor’s press office routinely refers political questions to the state Democratic Party. So The News placed three calls to Basil A. Smikle Jr., the party’s executive director. He did not return any. That leaves nobody to answer questions surrounding Pigeon’s most recent court appearance, which have everything to do with the Cuomo campaign. Asking questions of the Cuomo political team seemed like the right thing to do.

The party’s response was to issue a “statement,” which indicated the Cuomo campaign followed all rules and regulations. But it did not answer questions that seemed relevant in view of the Pigeon connection.

Nevertheless, if anyone in Cuomoland ever returns a phone call, here are the queries The News would pose:

• Has the governor been interviewed by law enforcement? Was he subpoenaed?

• Was anyone in the campaign interviewed by law enforcement? Were they subpoenaed?

• The federal complaint outlines a series of emails between Pigeon and others as they sought a $25,000 donation from a Canadian businessman, whom Pigeon referred to as David Baazov, CEO of Montreal-based Amaya Gaming Group. Pigeon maintains he followed all legal avenues in seeking the donation, and that Florida attorney Marlon Goldstein simply accepted an invitation to the dinner without connection to Baazov.

Did Baazov attend the Manhattan dinner for the Cuomo campaign? Did Goldstein?

• Pigeon attorney Paul Cambria emphasized to the press that Cuomo campaign officials knew all about the efforts to obtain the donation.

Did they?

• A political action committee called America Rising – obviously no friend to the governor – has called on Cuomo to return the $25,000. Others ask the same question.

Will the campaign return the money?

• The Pigeon case is now dragging the Cuomo campaign into the mud.

Does the campaign believe the charges have any merit? Does it also view the case as a “witch hunt?”

• The U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI indicate the case remains under investigation.

Has anyone in the campaign retained a lawyer?

• Announcing the complaint, acting U.S. Attorney J.P. Kennedy explained why Baazov’s original donation was not accepted:

“That donation was twice rejected by the campaign, first because it came from a corporation, contrary to state law,” he said. “The second time, it was returned because it came from someone not a United States citizen. The third time was the charm as Pigeon and the foreign national orchestrated the $25,000 donation be made through a U.S. citizen.”

Why was the third time the “charm?” And who was the campaign’s point person?

Cuomo has long championed transparency in state government, dating to his days as attorney general and his Project Sunlight database. But nobody in his world appears interested in this case.
The News remains interested. So do its readers.


State insurers to seek rate hike for 2018 ObamaCare policies

State insurers to seek rate hike for 2018 ObamaCare policies

By Carl Campanile

May 15, 2017 | 1:43am | Updated

New York’s health insurers will request double-digit rate increases for ObamaCare policies for 2018 while debate rages in Washington on overhauling the law, analysts told The Post.

The insurers officially submit their rate plans to state regulators on Monday.

Last year, the state Department of Financial Services approved an average 16.6 percent hike for individual policies and an average 8.3 percent for small group policies on the state’s ObamaCare exchange — the highest in four years.

Insurers sought higher increases last year, but regulators trimmed the requests following a financial review.

The uncertainty over Republican efforts to overhaul or replace the Affordable Care Act may spur insurers to seek even higher hikes in medical premiums, said Bill Hammond, health policy director at the Empire Center for Public Policy.

“New York health plans have requested double-digit rate hikes in each of the past three years, and it’s a safe bet they will do so again,” Hammond said.

“The driving forces would include an underlying increase in health care costs, the Trump administration’s repeated threats to withhold $8 billion in promised subsidies, and uncertainty about ObamaCare’s future, given the attempts to repeal and replace it with something very different,” Hammond said.

Hammond said another factor is that President Trump’s Internal Revenue Service is signaling weaker enforcement of the tax penalties for not carrying insurance — the individual mandate — which could cause some younger, healthier people to drop coverage, leaving behind a costlier risk pool of older and sicker subscribers. The association representing New York’s health insurers said double-digit rate requests are all but certain, especially given proposed increases in surrounding states.

In neighboring Connecticut, the only two insurers on the ObamaCare exchange are seeking premium increases ranging from 15 percent to 34 percent. Insurers in Maryland and Virginia also requested double-digit increases, some as high as 60 percent.

“We would expect something similar to Connecticut. The cost of doing business in New York is higher than Connecticut,” said Leslie Moran of the New York Health Plan Association.

New York’s state-run ObamaCare exchange — called New York State of Health — has been more stable than most other states’, with fewer insurers dropping out.

The 16.6 percent increase in the individual market last year was below the 25 percent average nationally.

Meanwhile, most New Yorkers enrolled through the ACA would be shielded from big increases because they either qualify for public health insurance or receive tax credits under ObamaCare that grow along with premium hikes.

There are 3.6 million New Yorkers who obtain health insurance through the ACA. That’s about 18 percent, or nearly one in five New Yorkers.

But more than two-thirds — 2.72 million — obtain coverage through public health insurance programs Medicaid and Child Health Plus.

Another 665,324 lower-income residents are enrolled in the heavily subsidized Essential Plan for those who don’t qualify for Medicaid but have incomes under 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

The remaining 242,880 are enrolled in private health plans and 59 percent receive tax credits.


When the Going Gets Tough at the MTA, Andrew Cuomo Disappears

When the Going Gets Tough at the MTA, Andrew Cuomo Disappears

For two decades, New York’s transit system was on the rebound. Then came Pataki and Cuomo.

It’s not hard to recall the times when Andrew Cuomo wanted to be seen as the boss of the MTA.

There was the day Cuomo announced that he’d sealed the deal on a new contract with the TWU. Or when he empaneled an “MTA Reinvention Commission” to shape the agency’s five-year capital program. Or when he ordered the MTA to quit dragging its heels on cashless tolling, and the agency promptly delivered.

The governor would like you to forget all that.

With subway crowding mounting, reliability plummeting, and massive cascading delays rippling through the system on a regular basis, Cuomo is shrinking from responsibility. Yesterday he told reporters that he merely has “representation on the board” of the MTA. Nevermind that Cuomo is the only person who can issue directives to any arm of the MTA, up to and including the agency’s chief executive, and expect obedience.

It’s a remarkable about-face from just a few months ago, when Cuomo was dropping in on Second Avenue Subway construction sites and directly overseeing the scramble to put the three-station extension into service by his end-of-year deadline.

Yesterday, Cuomo was not the do-er, expediter, and all-around man of accomplishment he usually tries to project to the world. He instead cast himself as the inheritor of his predecessors’ negligence. “All of our infrastructure is 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 years old, 100 years old, and it hasn’t been maintained,” he told reporters. Blame George Pataki or Cuomo Sr., not helpless Andrew.

That would have been a fair argument in 2011 or 2012. But more than six years into his tenure as governor, Cuomo is out of excuses.

The history of the New York City transit system is cyclical — long periods of political apathy and stagnation that lead to crises, followed by flashes of urgent problem-solving that carry the system forward until apathy sets in again.

You can trace the most recent cycle of rejuvenation to Governor Hugh Carey and former MTA Chair Richard Ravitch, who, in the early 1980s, cobbled together new revenue streams and initiated the MTA’s first five-year capital program. Those capital investments turned around a creaking system, prone to frequent breakdowns, that riders had abandoned.

As reliability improved, riders came back, and the momentum from that era carried into the 1990s, when the transition from tokens to the MetroCard — with its unlimited passes and free transfers — propelled ridership upwards.

But then apathy returned. Governors Pataki and Cuomo coasted, scaling back direct state support for the MTA, letting debt pile up, and building the world’s most expensive subway expansion projects while the core system capacity stagnated. As long as ridership stayed below a certain point, they could get away with it. But the failure to plan for growth is now dismally apparent in the current crisis of subway crowding and delays.

At around the same time the MetroCard supplanted tokens — the last great systemwide improvement — the MTA started looking into replacing its ancient subway signal system with modern technology that would improve reliability and allow trains to run closer together. The first contract with Siemens for upgraded signals was issued 18 years ago.

Andrew Cuomo has been governor for more than a third of the time that has elapsed since then. There is still just one subway line with modern signals, and the MTA says they aren’t on track to be deployed systemwide until 2045.

Cuomo had years to get out in front of the MTA’s core capacity problems. And he failed.

Today NY1 reported the results of a poll that found only 31 percent of New Yorkers hold Cuomo most responsible for the sorry state of the subways — while 33 percent blame Mayor de Blasio. That’s terrible news for a transit system in desperate need of political accountability. New Yorkers can’t let Cuomo get away with his disappearing act.


The Trump budget is just telling the truth—and you can’t handle the truth!

The Trump budget is just telling the truth—and you can’t handle the truth!

  • Trump’s budget begins to tell the hard truths to the American people.
  • It’s a “taxpayer first” plan, which is what any sustainable budget needs to be.
  • More harsh truths are needed, but this is a good start.


Jake Novak@jakejakeny

Tuesday, 23 May 2017 | 12:04 PM ETCNBC.com

America finally has something it’s needed for decades: A budget that starts to tell the truth. And some people don’t seem to be able to handle the truth. But they need to start.

The truth is coming in the form of the White House budget that calls for major cuts to entitlement programs that are not sustainable, taxes that punish productivity and growth, and the fundamental understanding that politicians cannot be trusted to spend our money.

That is, it at least begins to deliver the truth.

Let’s start with what it gets right in the reality department. The screaming headlines are all about that truth right now as every major news outlet has chosen to focus on the cuts the Trump budget makes to food stamps, Medicaid, student loans, and agencies like the EPA and the Department of Education. Do any of those articles or the angry members of Congress quoted in them include anything about how these spending programs are unsustainable as they are now anyway? Do they include any arguments about how the overstretched “safety net” of welfare programs provides aid to too many people who aren’t actually poor, thus reducing the amount of funds available for the truly needy? Do they include any of the arguments that so many federal agencies like the EPA and the Education Department aren’t truly needed in their current sizes? How about some information on how student loan guarantees from Washington are a major source of tuition inflation?

Don’t be ridiculous.

“The unicorns aren’t coming, and it’s time for our elected leaders to stop pretending only the politically easy-to-cut programs should go.”

But the Trump budget does just that by simply calling for those cuts because “ridiculous” is really the best word to describe anyone who thinks continuing to promise the American people unicorns like the massive increases to the budgets of all the above-mentioned programs aren’t going to crowd out spending for almost anything else. The truth can be harsh, but ultimately it’s kinder than having our presidents and members of Congress continue to lie to us. The unicorns aren’t coming, and it’s time for our elected leaders to stop pretending only the politically easy-to-cut programs should go.

It’s time to stop throwing the word “poor” around like it’s nothing. The fact is, way too much of the so-called “safety net” has been stretched to people who are not poor by most definitions and are thus siphoning vital funding away from those who are truly at the economic bottom. Specifically, this problem has manifested itself with the massive expansions in the number of people on food stamps and taking federal disability payments that has not subsided even with the economic recovery coming out of the Great Recession.

This says nothing of the significant fraud in these systems that such a bloated enrollment makes inevitable. 10 percent of Medicaid payments were found to have been improper in 2016 alone, according to the Government Accountability Office. That’s $36 billion, for those of you counting at home.

The massive expansions of just about all of the programs the Trump plan seeks to cut have led to a growing number of unemployed people in America who are just getting by on various forms and levels of government assistance. This puts an undue level of new strain on the people who actually are working and paying payroll and other taxes to prop up the rest of the country. Yes, Mitt Romney was roundly pilloried when he complained that 47 percent of the people would never vote for him because they pay no federal taxes. But what part of what Romney said was factually wrong? What part of what he said wasn’t indicative of an unsustainable political and economic reality? The Trump budget at least starts to tell us the truth about what benefits can survive even in the short-term future.

And there’s another harsh but crucial reality in the Trump budget — it knows where the money comes from. Taxpayers. Somehow, prioritizing the people who actually provide us the money to spend in Washington has been portrayed as selfish or mean.

Now, let’s get to what the Trump budget gets wrong. In short, it still isn’t “harsh” enough. So far, we have no details of any reforms to the three biggest problems in our budget: Medicare, Social Security, and Defense. No real anti-deficit and pro-taxpayer moves can be made permanent until all three of those programs are reformed and essentially cut. It’s not surprising the White House plan doesn’t make the hard choices on that three-headed fiscal monster considering it would make the current political firestorm over his other cuts look like a small campfire.

The political class and the news media remains convinced that the public will never accept even the slightest cuts or even any significant changes to those programs, but that’s just plain wrong. 41 percent of Americans don’t believe that Social Security will even exist when they retire, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. Are we supposed to believe that they won’t stand for changes to a program they don’t expect to be around for much longer? Politicians simply don’t want to bother to make those tough choices and they’re hiding behind the voters to avoid them.

But first things first. You have to start telling the truth somewhere, and the Trump budget does the most truth telling since at least the cut-heavy Reagan budget in 1981 that helped launch a major economic expansion. Our debt is about $20 trillion, and the number of unfunded liabilities coming due in the future have some experts pegging our real debt at more like $200 trillion. There’s not enough taxpayer money in the universe to cover those costs.

With these harsh truths in mind, we have to remember that a budget that doesn’t make the harsh cuts Trump’s does simply isn’t realistic. Oh, and there’s no such thing as unicorns either.

Commentary by Jake Novak, CNBC.com senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.



Even Cuomo’s Fellow Democrats Don’t Want Him to Run for a Third term!

May 1, 2017

Even Cuomo’s Fellow Democrats Don’t Want Him to Run for a Third term!


In case you missed it, Ken Lovett’s column in the Daily News today quotes multiple Democrats saying Cuomo will have problems running for a third term.


You’d have to be living under a rock to not see Cuomo’s naked national ambitions and his creep toward running for the presidency.


We agree–his lack of focus on doing the job of governor will end badly, but Cuomo faces a much bigger hurdle to re-election or achieving his national fantasies: the serious corruption at the highest levels of his administration.


Cuomo’s “brother” and eight of his close associates and donors are facing trial for bribery and kickback schemes, right when the Governor will be forced to make a decision about running for re-election.


Couple that with his dismal record (New York continues to have the worst economic outlook, most people leaving a state, worst business climate, and the list goes on…) 


And we’d suggest he take the advice of these Democrats, too!


Read more here.

N.Y. Republican chairman rips Democrats for choosing pol accused of anti-Semitic views as fund-raiser headliner



ALBANY — State Republican Chairman Ed Cox blasted state Democrats for featuring a top national Democrat who has made controversial statements about Israel as headliner at an upcoming fund-raiser.

The Daily News reported Monday that Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, who was recently named deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, will headline a June 9 New York City fund-raiser for the state Senate Democrats.

“It’s shocking that Senate Democrats would invite and embrace someone who has a long history of anti-Semitic leanings to headline their event,” Cox said. “Regardless of party, New York is home to nearly two million Jews, and to embrace someone with that history is deeply offensive and disturbing.”

Ellison voted against funding Israel’s Iron Dome defense system and was lambasted by the Anti-Defamation League after he was heard on a recording during a private 2010 fund-raiser saying that Israel has control of U.S. foreign policy.

“Is that what the New York Senate Democrats are looking for?” Cox asked. “This invitation speaks volumes about their values, and is more proof they are wrong for New York.”

Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy dismissed Cox’s attack as “ironic coming from a party that embraces Donald Trump, who leads the most hateful administration in modern American history.”

Donald Trump talks with Rep. Claudia Tenney’s son on eve of Iraq deployment

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPqTP6j9qm8 (Watch Video)

WASHINGTON — Marine Corps 1st Lt. Trey Cleary received one of the biggest surprises of his life Friday when his mother texted him, “Do you have time to talk with POTUS?”

Seconds later, U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney was talking with her son at Camp Lejeune, N.C., who is due to leave Saturday for a six-month deployment to Iraq.

Tenney, R-New Hartford, said she handed her cell phone to a waiting President Donald Trump.

“This is President Trump,” the commander-in-chief said. “I’m sitting here with your mother. Thank you for what you do for your country. I’m so proud of you. I want you to do your best. We’re all counting on you.”

Tenney said she was stunned as the president, before a bill signing ceremony at the Treasury Department in Washington, took the time to have a serious talk with her son.

“They had quite a long conversation for a couple of minutes,” Tenney recalled after the ceremony. “I said, ‘What’s going on? (Trump) laughed a little bit. They must have been joking or something. He handed me the phone back and my son said, ‘Oh my God.'”

Tenney, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, joined Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., on Friday as the only two members of Congress to witness Trump sign three executive orders to roll back some of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms passed after the Great Recession.

While waiting for Trump to arrive, Tenney and Perdue chatted in a private room at the Treasury Department. Tenney mentioned that her son, Trey, was due to deploy Saturday to Iraq out of Dulles International Airport in suburban Washington.

“He said, ‘That’s amazing. You should say something to the president,'” Tenney recalled.  She was reluctant to bring it up when Trump arrived, but Perdue told the president and asked if he could sign an autograph for the Marine.

Tenney pulled out a piece of stationery from her backpack, and the president wrote, “To Trey. Thanks. Donald Trump.”

Then the president asked, “Can we call him?” Tenney said she replied, “Sure, but let me text him first. He doesn’t usually take my calls.”

Later, after Trump signed the first of the executive orders in front of the cameras, he handed his pen to Perdue — a tradition at such presidential signings. “Senator, you get the first one, can you handle that?” Trump asked.

Perdue promptly handed the pen to Tenney to give to her son.

Trump, seated at a desk, turned and looked at Tenney as she accepted the pen with the presidential seal and Trump’s name on it. “Oh, that’s even better,” the president said. “I like that. Great boy.”


The Cuomo College Fiasco


Donald Trump sets the bar very high, but the award for the worst public policy idea of the year goes to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo presides over a state with a rich diversity of educational institutions. But he also presides over a state, like all states, where many students don’t complete college and where many are unprepared for the information economy. For example, fewer than half of the African-American and Hispanic students in New York public colleges graduate within six years.

Cuomo could have done many things to improve New York’s higher ed system. He could have poured all available money into the Tuition Assistance Program, which is directed at poorer students. He could have spent more to help students become academically ready for college, which is the biggest barrier to graduation. He could have done more to help students pay room and board expenses. He could have massively improved overstretched mental health services. He could have massively improved career counseling.

But in 2016 Bernie Sanders made a big splash on the campaign trail with a plan to make college “free.” So Cuomo proposed and on Wednesday signed legislation to make tuition free at New York public colleges for anybody coming from a family making no more than $100,000 a year, with the cap rising to $125,000 in 2019.

If he runs for president, this will be an outstanding talking point. Unfortunately, the law will hurt actual New Yorkers.

First, the law is regressive. It does nothing to help students from families earning less than $50,000 a year. Their tuition is already covered by other programs. But it does pay for tuition for New Yorkers who make double the state’s median income. The higher up the income scale you go, until the ceiling, the more you benefit.

Second, it doesn’t make a dent in reducing the nontuition fees, like living expenses, textbooks and travel, which for many students are far more onerous than tuition.

Third, it doesn’t cover students who don’t go to school full time and don’t complete in four years. In 2017 this is the vast, vast majority of all students, especially poorer students.

Fourth, it demotivates students. Research has shown that students who have to work to pay some college costs, even if only small expenses, are more spurred to work hard and graduate. As Northwestern researcher Chenny Ng put it in a Washington Post essay, “as the cost of attending college drops to zero, so does the perceived cost of dropping out.”

Fifth, Cuomo’s law threatens to destroy some of New York’s private colleges. Cuomo could have championed a Pell-like program that subsidizes attendance at any accredited school. Instead, he pays for tuition only at state schools.

This means that suddenly the state’s 150 private colleges have to compete with “free.” Many of these schools are already struggling to survive. If upper-middle-class students are drawn away to public colleges, private ones may close. That hurts the state’s educational diversity, it destroys jobs and it hurts the state.

These private colleges tend to have smaller classes, they tend to do a better job of graduating their students and they tend to spend heavily to subsidize poorer students.

Sixth, the law may widen the gap between rich and poor. When state schools are “free,” more people will apply. As more apply, selectivity will increase, as administrators chase higher U.S. News & World Report rankings. That will exclude students with lower credentials, who tend to be from more disadvantaged homes. Even Georgia’s successful Hope Scholarship program had this unintended consequence, widening the college attendance gap between white and black and rich and poor.

Seventh, over the long term the law could hurt the quality of New York’s state system. Right now those schools rely on tuition to help fund programs. If New York moves more toward a purely publicly funded model, it may suffer from the slow decay that has hurt many state systems. State budgets are perpetually challenged by rising entitlement spending. Education gets squeezed. The universities will try to claw back the private money with dorm fees, activities fees and other charges that don’t officially count as tuition, but still quality suffers.

Even in Germany, where a generous welfare state is valued, per-pupil spending has dropped by 10 percent since universities became free. Germany is an extremely successful country, but lecture classes are huge and the country’s universities are not generally ranked among the world’s best.

Finally, the law will hurt its recipients’ future earnings. Students who receive free tuition for four years have to remain in New York State for four years after graduating, or pay the money back. This means they won’t be able to seize out-of-state opportunities during the crucial years when their career track is being formed. They’ll be trapped in a state with one really expensive city, and other regions where good jobs are scarce.

This is a really counterproductive law. We’re all focused on Trump, but one of the reasons Trump was elected was that many of the people who try to use government to do good just haven’t thought things through.


Trump’s First Jobs Report Crushes Expectations


Economists had forecast 200,000 nonfarm payrolls in February, according to a Bloomberg survey. They raised their forecasts Thursday after a report by the payrolls-processing giant ADP showed the private sector added 298,000 jobs in February, many more than expected.

The manufacturing sector saw solid gains last month, according to the BLS and ADP. Economists cautioned, however, that this may have been because of an unusually warm month. This February was the second-warmest on record, most likely increasing demand for jobs in industries that involve outdoor work. The construction sector added 58,000 jobs, the most in 10 years.

The jobs report was key for the Federal Reserve and for President Donald Trump.

For Trump, it was the first major economic report that covered a full period with him as president; the survey week of January’s report, released last month, fell under President Barack Obama.

Though Trump called the jobs report fake during his campaign and said the unemployment rate was a hoax, he is likely to take the credit for this report.

“Sentiment or optimism on the part of business and consumers has been lifted by the Trump victory, but that’s not quite the same as increased sales,” Mark Hamrick, a senior market analyst at Bankrate.com, said in a note. “Businesses need to see a rise in demand before deciding to boost their employment.”

At the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting next Tuesday and Wednesday, the Fed is likely to raise interest rates for the third time since the recovery. This jobs report and other employment data shown in separate surveys during February give the Fed its final green light.

The unemployment rate is at a level Fed officials consider to be full employment, which means virtually everyone who wants a job can get one, at least theoretically.

After an unexpected drop in January, wage growth was revised higher in Friday’s report. Average hourly earnings rose by 2.8% year-on-year in January and February.

The labor-force participation rate increased to 63%.