Andrew Cuomo

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’ll increase funding to environmental projects as well as state parks, in his 2016 budget. The news was applauded by environmentalists, as well as some business leaders.

Cuomo is releasing parts of his 2016 agenda in the days leading up to his speech. In a speech on Long Island, he said that he’ll increase the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, which languished during the long recession and slow economic recovery.

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An executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo that will require homeless people to be taken to shelters when the temperature is freezing goes into effect today. Homeless organizations and shelters in central New York still have unanswered questions about how the order will work.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo won’t be giving his State of the State speech for another week, but he has already begun laying out his 2016 agenda. On Monday, he held a rally to raise the minimum wage for all New York workers to $15 an hour.

Cuomo has already begun a piecemeal attempt to increase the minimum wage through executive actions to phase in an increase for state workers and fast food workers to $15 an hour over the next several years.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The state of New York's energy market changed dramatically in 2015. As natural gas and renewable sources took center stage, nuclear power sources like Oswego County's FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant were squeezed.

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It’s a time of educational upheaval in New York. Changes are piling up fast -- the state Board of Regents delayed state tests’ impact on teacher evaluations, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s task force called for nearly two dozen changes to learning standards. In the midst of it all, here are three things you need to know.

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As of December 31,  New York state has no chief judge of the Court of Appeals. It’s the second time in recent years that either Gov. Andrew Cuomo or the state Senate have missed a deadline to fill the slot.

Current Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman is forced to retire at the end of 2015. Lippman  has reached the age of 70, and under New York state law, he must step down from the bench. In an exit interview with the statewide  public television show New York Now, Lippman criticized that age limit set in law, calling it the “constitutional age of senility.”

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2015 saw the fall of two of the three most powerful people in state government, and the rise of one U.S. Attorney. 

Less than a year ago, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Leader Dean Skelos led the legislature. They were both at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State speech on January 21, sitting on stage, where Cuomo acknowledged his partners in the government triumvirate.

“To a good year, Dean,” Cuomo said to applause from the assembled lawmakers and lobbyists in the cavernous auditorium. “It’s a pleasure to be with you, Mr. Speaker.”

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced plans for mass pardons of young people who commit non-violent crimes. It’s the latest in a string of actions Cuomo has taken in the past year in an attempt to get around opposition from some factions in the state legislature and to further some progressive issues.

New York State Senate

Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to say that he will propose major reforms in the new year in the wake of the conviction of the two top legislative leaders on multiple corruption charges. But, the governor, in a radio interview, said there’s only so far that he can go to reign in campaign donations.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Advocates for paid family leave in New York say they hope 2016 is the year that the state finally provides a program to allow workers to take time off to care for a child, or a sick elderly relative.

The effort includes nurses, advocates for the mentally ill, the League of Women Voters and the New York Civil Liberties Union, who say everyone has an interest in seeing paid family leave become law.  The AARP’s Derrick Holmes says it’s a multi-generational issue encompassing the elderly,  baby boomers and Generation X-ers.

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An upstate business group is seeking tax cuts for small businesses in the new year, and are opposing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to phase in a minimum wage hike to $15 an hour.

Unshackle Upstate’s Greg Biryla says while portions of  the economy have improved somewhat, including the Albany and Buffalo regions, wide swaths of the Southern Tier, North Country, and Mohawk Valley continue to stagnate, and have lost jobs.

Office of Governor Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made anti-sexual assault legislation on college campuses a key part of his agenda in 2015. Six months after signing what’s called the “Enough is Enough” legislation, college officials say it’s helped accelerated a trend toward better awareness and reporting of incidents.

The governor, in his efforts to pass the anti-sexual assault measure, enlisted the aid of prominent women in the political and entertainment world including House Leader Nancy Pelosi and actress and comedian Whoopie Goldberg, who made a video.

NYCLU

State officials have inked a five-year deal with the New York Civil Liberties Union that will reshape the way solitary confinement works in the state's correctional facilities.

Eileen Buckley / WBFO News

New York's education commissioner said no new laws are needed to reverse a proposal in this year’s state budget tying teacher performance reviews more closely to standardized tests. At the December Board of Regents meeting, members voted to postpone the effects of the tests on teacher evaluations for at least four more years.

The latest Siena College poll finds that most people agree with the corruption conviction of the state’s former longtime Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was found guilty on seven counts two weeks ago.

The poll finds that 80 percent think Silver is guilty and the jury got it right, and 89 percent think corruption is a big problem in Albany. But, says Siena poll spokesman Steve Greenberg, many are cynical about hopes for reform.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the $500 million Upstate Revitalization Initiative award to central New York signals a turning of the tide for the area. The region's economic development plan was one of three big winners in Cuomo's competition to invest $1.5 billion in upstate. At a ceremony in Syracuse Sunday to commemorate the region's success, Cuomo said this investment in upstate rights a wrong.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

A task force by Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reversing a number of policies in the Common Core standards, including parts of a measure on teacher evaluations pushed by Cuomo less than a year ago.

The governor’s task force report, released with little fanfare late on Thursday, also calls for scrapping the Common Core standards, which the governor initially fast tracked, in favor a of a new state generated standard.

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Three of seven regions in upstate New York were awarded $500 million dollars each in economic development money, in a contest by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that critics have called the “hunger games.”

The annual awards ceremony took on a game show atmosphere, with lots of slick videos, and an enthusiastic announcer.

The three winning regions Rochester-Finger Lakes, central New York, and the Southern Tier, each received $500 million each in economic development money, phased in over a five-year period.

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Central New York will receive $500 million over the next five years as one of the big winners of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative. The central New York proposal includes projects affecting a wide range of industries.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to try to revise his role in creating the Moreland Commission. He now says the defunct commission was never intended to investigate or prosecute anyone.   

Early in December, Cuomo was asked about the Moreland Commission on government corruption that he created, and then ended. He said it was never supposed to actually probe suspected law breaking or accuse any state politicians of illegal acts.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The last time the state held a constitutional convention, Bobby Kennedy was senator. That was in 1967.  The last time a constitutional convention met and voters actually ratified it’s result, was 75 years ago. It was in 1938, at the height of the Great Depression.

Now voters will have another chance, in November 2017, to decide whether they want to hold another one.

Constitutional convention expert and SUNY New Paltz Dean Gerald Benjamin says if the “stars align” for approval, it will be largely up to one factor.

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Later this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is scheduled to hand out more than $2 billion in economic development funds to regional groups. But a budget watchdog group says there needs to be better measurements to show how many jobs have actually been created and retained.

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As world leaders look for ways to combat climate change in Paris, New York officials are working on their own plan for a green future in the state.

"Time on Test" The Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz

Changes to New York standardized testing are in the air. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Common Core Task Force finished its public sessions last month examining the state’s standards and testing program, and Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has already pledged to shorten math and English Language Arts (ELA) exams. 

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the current legislative leaders have downplayed efforts for new reforms in Albany following the conviction of the former Assembly Speaker on seven counts of corruption. 

Former Speaker Assembly Silver is now facing up to 20 years in prison for illegally gaining millions of dollars through his outside employment. Former Senate Leader Dean Skelos is in the midst of another federal corruption trial, accused of misusing his influence to gain jobs and money for his son.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

A new plan has been proposed to keep the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County open. But it may not be enough.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has chosen Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore as his choice as the next person to lead the state’s highest court.

Cuomo chose DiFiore, an ally who ran his ethics commission for a time, who would be only the second woman chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals.

“I think she’s going to do an extraordinary job,” Cuomo predicted.

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New York state will add another $200 million toward the effort to end the AIDS epidemic.

These new funds are on top of $2.5 billion the state has already committed to the fight against AIDS by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration. And that has made a difference according to Micheal Crinnen, head of ACR Health in Syracuse. He said beyond the billboards and publicity, it’s huge having the health department pushing universal testing for HIV so doctors offer it routinely.

New York State Senate

 


Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke publicly for the first time since the former leader of the Assembly was convicted on seven counts of corruption for abusing his powers to earn outside income. But, Cuomo said he does not think it’s the right time now for a special session on ethics reform.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo is due to announce his choice for the state’s next chief judge on December 1.

The list of nominees that Cuomo will choose from to lead the state’s highest court includes potentially the first African American chief judge of the Court of Appeals, as well as a former U.S. Attorney who could be the state’s first Hispanic chief judge.

But, the favorite is the Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore, who would be only the second  woman to lead the court.

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