This Week in Albany

Week ending December 15, 2017

Kolb Announces Run for Governor

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) announced that he will run for governor next year.

Kolb is the first Republican to officially announce a 2018 gubernatorial campaign, and his announcement sets up a potential Republican Primary. Other potential candidates include businessman Harry Wilson, State Senator John DeFrancisco, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, and former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra.

Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo will seek re-election to his third term next year.

Federal Update

On Wednesday, Republicans announced that they had reached an agreement on tax reform legislation. Under the terms of the agreement, the corporate rate would be lowered from 35% to 21%, the top income tax rate for wealthy individuals would be lowered, the estate tax exemption would be doubled, and the Affordable Care Act’s “individual mandate” that all Americans have health care or pay a penalty would be repealed. Importantly for New Yorkers, the bill would limit state and local tax deductions, including the deduction for property taxes, to a total of $10,000. For many New Yorkers, this could result in a tax increase. The Senate is expected to take up the bill as early as Monday with a vote in the House to follow.

As Congress worked towards a deal on tax reform, the outcome of a special election in Alabama this week added pressure to Republican efforts to pass a bill before the end of the year.

Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore in a special election for a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama, becoming the first Democratic senator from that state in a quarter century. Jones is expected to be sworn-in as Senator in early January, replacing temporary Republican appointee Luther Strange.

Once Jones is seated, the Republican majority in the Senate will drop to 51-49. If Republicans are unable to pass their tax reform bill before Jones is seated, this tighter margin would make it more difficult for the two houses to reach an agreement.

At a Glance

The state legislature will return to Albany on January 3 for the start of the 2018 legislative session.