Does Hochul support Adams’ reelection? She won’t say, yet.

Last updated on May 22, 2024

With help from Shawn Ness

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Happening now:

  • Gov. Kathy Hochul stressed repeatedly how well she’s working with Mayor Eric Adams. But it’s too early to endorse him, she said.
  • Lawmakers are pressing for a bill to encourage more New Yorkers to become firefighters.
  • The City Council wants Adams to reverse cuts to its preschool program.
  • Assemblymember Michael Benedetto is getting some labor help in his reelection bid.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said she would not yet endorse New York City Mayor Eric Adams reelection efforts, but said they have a

A NON ENDORSEMENT: Gov. Kathy Hochul won’t endorse Mayor Eric Adams for mayor — at least not yet.

“I’m not doing endorsements for elections even this November yet, other than my president,” Hochul told reporters today while making a push for more restrictions on kids’ social media feeds.

She added, “Read into it all you want, but I’m not doing endorsements for an election that is a year and a half away.”

The comments were made as a field of Adams’ primary challengers is slowly starting to emerge.

State Sen. Zellnor Myrie launched his campaign in a video two weeks ago where he called for “serious, focused leadership.” Scott Stringer announced in January, and more candidates will surely rise to the surface — like potentially City Comptroller Brad Lander or even Andrew Cuomo.

An endorsement from the governor for mayor would be ahead of schedule. New York’s stay-focused-no-distractions-and-grind mayor hasn’t even officially launched his reelection campaign, even as a federal probe continues to swirl around him.

But let’s remember: Adams didn’t formally endorse Hochul in her 2022 primary until two weeks before the election, as our POLITICO colleague Jeff Coltin points out.

When asked if she would endorse Adams, Hochul was full of praise for the mayor, with whom she has worked with well as she ends a run of bad relations between former mayors and governors.

“We are going to assess everything, but I will tell you this, and you can read into it whatever you like — we are very strong allies and working together. I’m not saying that about anybody else,” Hochul said.

“Have you heard me say it about anybody else right now?”

There was no immediate comment from Myrie’s office. Stringer didn’t want to comment.

The governor’s non-endorsement — yet strong praise — for the mayor comes as the Hochul-Adams relationship has continued to blossom.

The two have increasingly appeared side-by-side recently for a suite of public announcements, which include an investment into Brooklyn’s waterfront, Sammy’s Law to lower city speed limits and cracking down on illegal cannabis shops. And Hochul delivered for the mayor on virtually every measure in the state budget. — Jason Beeferman

A bipartisan group of senators, three of them volunteer firefighters, want to give free tuition to state schools for volunteer firefighters, EMS providers and auxiliary police officers.

FREE SCHOOL FOR VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS: A bipartisan group of legislators want to use free tuition to incentivize more people to become volunteer firefighters.

And many of the lawmakers fighting for it are volunteers themselves.

“They’re going to leave their beds in the middle of night and leave their jobs in the middle of the day to go out to risk their own life and see nothing in return,” Long Island Republican state Sen. Steven Rhoads, a volunteer firefighter, said. “And that’s what makes this bill so special.”

The bill, sponsored by Rochester state Sen. Jeremy Cooney, a Democrat, would allow for volunteer firefighters, EMS service providers and auxiliary police officers to attend a SUNY, CUNY or community college without having to pay tuition.

The exact cost for the state is not yet known, but Rhoads noted that the state “spends money on a lot worse.” — Shawn Ness

IDAS AND YOU: The state’s local industrial development agencies had a record high 4,320 active projects underway with a total value of $132 billion in 2022, according to a new report from Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

The projects are estimated to create nearly 214,000 jobs during their lifespan along with 36,000 construction jobs, the report said.

“IDAs were created to help grow local economies, businesses and job markets,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “The tax breaks they provide businesses can impact local tax collections, however, and New Yorkers should be mindful about weighing the benefits these projects bring to their communities against their cost.”

The data in the report comes from the agencies’ self-reporting through the Public Authorities Reporting Information System.

The IDAs have long been criticized for their largesse to companies through tax breaks and other incentives, but supporters say the programs are needed to attract and retain new businesses. — Shawn Ness

ALCOHOL-TO-YOU WORRIES: A dozen retired law enforcement officers are trying to stop a measure that would allow for the direct shipment of alcohol in New York.

They argued in a letter to top state leaders and Hochul that the proposal would create an opening for criminals and encourage underage drinking. Similar arguments have been raised by wine and liquor stores, who have fretted about the impact of the measure if it’s approved.

“In the absence of a thoughtful and vigilant enforcement strategy with significantly augmented, dedicated resources, direct alcohol shipping will create a windfall for violent criminal networks already exploiting these criminal supply chains in New York,” they wrote in the letter.

State lawmakers are weighing the change, which would allow direct shipments from manufacturers to consumers.

Supporters have contended it could aid small businesses that have sprung up in recent years, but are struggling financially. Nick Reisman

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams is joining preschool parents to urge Mayor Eric Adams to reverse cuts to the city's programs.

PRESCHOOL FUNDING FIGHT: Council Speaker Adrienne Adams is putting pressure on Adams to reverse cuts to the city’s popular preschool program as they enter the final weeks of budget negotiations.

“The executive budget’s more than $170 million cut to early childhood education programs directly contradicts the administration’s stated efforts to secure a seat for every child,” the speaker said during a press conference at City Hall this morning alongside other city lawmakers, parents and advocates.

This comes as more than 2,000 families were denied 3K seats — about 6 percent of 43,000 applicants, Department of Education officials told the Council last week. A City Hall spokesperson attributed the rejections to guidance the DOE sent to families that did not “fully convey” all of the available seats.

Officials have declined to elucidate the number of early childhood seats the school system stands to lose as a result of the reductions, which Adams’ political opponents have seized on to build a case against his reelection next year.

The mayor vowed to provide all families with a seat. “Every child that wants a seat is going to have a seat,” Adams told NY1 earlier this week. — Madina Touré

New York State's Laborers' Union is giving Assemblymember Michael Benedetto's reelection campaign $75,000.

LABOR SPENDS ON BENEDETTO: Assemblymember Michael Benedetto’s reelection effort against a DSA-backed challenger is getting a $75,000 boost from the New York State Laborers’ Union.

First in Playbook, the Build New York Fund, an independent expenditure committee funded by the trade union, plans to spend up to that much on a mail and digital campaign backing Benedetto in his East Bronx District.

“Benedetto has consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to advocating for labor rights, fair wages, and safe working conditions,” the fund said in an unsigned statement. It’s the only primary the super PAC expects to spend in, but may get involved in general elections.

Money often comes to incumbents when they’re challenged by Democratic Socialist candidates like, in this case, by Jonathan Soto, a former organizer for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and an official in former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration.

Soto has been outraising Benedetto and qualified for public matching funds this week, while Benedetto did not. The pair faced off two years ago, however, and Benedetto handily won by 20 points. — Jeff Coltin

SCHOOL BUDGETS PASS: Ninety-seven percent of school budgets in New York passed on Tuesday, and union-backed school board candidates also fared well.

The New York State United Teachers union said 84 percent of its endorsed candidates won their elections to school boards.

“Once again, voters have shown they know strong public schools mean strong communities,” NYSUT president Melinda Person said in a statement. “Investments in our school budgets and dedication in our school boards are vital to the future of our state. Tuesday’s results show that voters agree.”

Nineteen school districts were successful in overriding the tax cap to raise the property taxes, which required approval of 60 percent of voters at the polls. Ten budgets failed, and two were still pending.

Districts whose budgets were not approved will hold a second round of votes June 18. — Shawn Ness

SUNY STATE OF THE UNIVERSITY: SUNY Chancellor John King today gave his annual address on the state of the 64-campus system and his vision for it

His message was well received by the crowd at The Egg in Empire State Plaza. Assembly Education Chair Pat Fahy said King struck the right message for the state to continue increasing aid for SUNY and CUNY.

“We’ve got to make the investment; we know that investments work,” she said to POLITICO.

“I love that the chancellor focused so much on upward mobility, but upward mobility is not there if we don’t make it affordable.”

Hochul took the stage to discuss her budget wins in higher education this year, particularly touting initiatives such as the expansion of the state’s Tuition Assistance Program; making the Free Application for Federal Student Aid program universal for high school students; and her artificial intelligence initiative that will be spearheaded by SUNY.

Missing in the crowd was United University Professions president Fred Kowal. His absence was by design: a stance against the lack of assistance for campuses that the union has deemed to be financially distressed.

“I believe his speech cynically avoided the reality that SUNY is not strong because of the decisions made by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and now the decisions of Chancellor John King,” Kowal said to Playbook.

“I fear the message he’s been delivering for well over a year is that financially strapped campuses are on their own and somehow supposed to find their own way through these deficits.”

For his part, King touted SUNY’s growth and new initiatives to attract new students and strengthen the system.

“Today, SUNY is on the move. Our quest for excellence rests on four pillars: student success; research and scholarship; diversity, equity and inclusion; and economic development and upward mobility,” he said. — Katelyn Cordero 

TOWN POPULATION DECREASING: Eighty percent of New York’s towns and cities have been decreasing since 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The fastest growing town: Palm Tree in Orange County, which is coterminous with Kiryas Joel, the orthodox Jewish enclave, the Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think tank, reported today. The town’s population grew by nearly 9,000 residents, a 27 percent increase. — Shawn Ness

New York City began evicting migrants from its shelters as part of its new shelter time limit rules. (The New York Times)

— New Yorkers favor a ceasefire in Gaza and peaceful pro-Palestinian protests, but also support the police breaking up those that go too far, a Siena College poll found. (Newsday)

— New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation issued a ground-level ozone warning for the lower Hudson Valley. (Times Union)