ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mayor Bill de Blasio traveled to Albany Monday, where lawmakers turned his annual budget hearing into a fiery showdown.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the mayor defended himself against questions surrounding his performance.
De Blasio was on a charm offensive on steroid as he shook hands and exchanged hugs and kisses at the start of his annual attempt to get funding from Albany. But it did not take long before he found himself on the ropes – with two grand jury investigations front and center.
“What should be of grave concern to every single person in this room is the two sitting grand juries; is the $11 million you’re asking the taxpayers to pay for representation for you and your administration’s legal fees,” said state Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-Shrub Oak).
Murphy was questioning why de Blasio deserves a three-year extension of mayoral control of the schools.
Murphy: “I just find this absolutely, incredibly astonishing with everything going on with you and your administration.”
De Blasio: “We handled all matters of government appropriately.”
Murphy: “These are not my allegations.”
De Blasio: “Senator, I’m sorry — they’re allegations.”
Murphy: “This is not allegations. This is at another whole level…. The trust factor is just something that everybody in this room, and everybody in New York state, should be worried about.”
De Blasio: “Senator, you obviously have a bone to pick.”
Lawmakers questioned the mayor about a number of his administration’s shortcomings, from the homeless to child protective services, to fears of reduced federal aid because of his stance on sanctuary cities.
For his part, the mayor asked state lawmakers to approve a new “mansion tax” – a 2.5 percent tax on the sale of condos, co-ops and homes valued at over $2 million. It would raise $336 million.
“And the revenue would be used to keep 25,000 senior citizens in their home at an affordable level,” de Blasio said.
State Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) was outraged that the mayor would propose such a mansion tax while refusing to back off a 5-cent tax on plastic bags, which he said punishes poor New Yorkers.
“Mayor, do you know how much a loaf of bread costs? A dozen eggs?” Felder said – speaking with both of those items as props. “I was in the store with a mother that didn’t have enough money. We’re not taking the nickel and putting it to protect the environment. We’re the store owners another nickel profit. If you talk about a mansion tax before this is a mansion credit for the one percent, let me tell you — this is a 99 percent tax on the 99 percent.”
Felder said if the mayor really cares about the environment, he should give people positive incentive and give people back a nickel every time they don’t use a plastic bag.
On the homeless, the mayor admitted he was dissatisfied with his administration’s progress. He said he would unveil a new program next month.