ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo faced a familiar nemesis during his budget address Tuesday — Brooklyn Assemblyman Charles Barron.
Barron, a Democrat, heckled the governor as he delivered remarks about education, protesting what he claimed was a shortchanging of minority school children by the Cuomo administration.
“This is not working,” Barron yelled at the governor.
“How about you listen to it first and then you say it’s not working ... how about that?” a visibly annoyed Cuomo yelled back at Barron.
Cuomo administration staffers then approached Barron in what appeared to be an attempt to forcibly remove him from the auditorium before an Assembly sergeant of arms warned them off. Barron then left on his own accord, yelling “nonsense, nonsense” and “pay the debt.”
The incident marked at least the third time Barron has interrupted a Cuomo speech since the governor took office, including an incident in 2016 when the Brooklyn pol heckled the governor during his State of the State Address.
“Charles is passionate,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said. “He believes what he believes in education. That’s Charles.”
Barron claims the Cuomo administration still owes city schools more than $4.2 billion from the settlement of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.
“I am tired of him coming before us with this annual budget dance where he cuts all our programs, we put them back and enhance some and that’s the bhaludget process,” Barron said afterward Tuesday. “It’s all nonsense.”aCc
Cuomo administration officials insist they have fulfilled their obligations under the settlement.
During his speech Tuesday, Cuomo noted that his new budget proposal would increase education aid by 3% or $769 million.
“We have increased education more than any area of state government,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo, however, received a smattering of boos when he said funding for charter schools would also increase 3%. Many Democratic lawmakers oppose charter schools.