Andrew Cuomo

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has released a bill to close a loophole that allows for unlimited big money donations to candidates. The LLC loophole has played a key role in the federal corruption trials of both former leaders of the state legislature, and may be a factor in the ongoing federal investigation of the governor’s economic development projects.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

It’s just over three weeks until the legislative session is scheduled to end, and hopes for reform are fading, during an unprecedented level of corruption in state government.

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City officials and area leaders in Oswego are putting together an application for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's downtown revitalization initiative competition that will award $10 million to 10 New York communities.

Courtesy of New York State Assembly

Before the state’s legislative session ends in mid-June, local lawmakers are weighing in on what can be accomplished. Democratic Assemblyman Al Stirpe of Syracuse said two big issues at the top of lawmakers’ lists include addressing the heroin and opioid epidemic and ethics reform.  

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With his former top aide facing a federal probe for potential conflicts of interest for consulting work, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said twice now that he did not know what the former close associate of the Cuomo family was up to. Joe Percoco left state service earlier this year for a job at Madison Square Garden.

But it turns out that the governor had not one, but two ways to know if his current or former top aides have any business deals that could present an ethical conflict.

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Another once-powerful New York state politician has been sentenced to prison.

In federal court Thursday, Dean Skelos received five years for corruption; his son, Adam, got a 6½-year sentence.

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Former Senate Leader Dean Skelos was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay over $334,000 in restitution after his conviction on corruption charges. His son Adam got 6 ½ years.

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Every day for the past two weeks, news reports have focused on a federal probe of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration. It comes as both former leaders of the legislature are being sentenced to prison for corruption. Despite that, Cuomo and legislative leaders say they are trying to achieve some agenda items in the closing weeks of the legislative session.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Advocates for farm workers are trying a new route to gain the right to form a union and be allowed benefits afforded to other laborers in New York. They are suing the state government. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he agrees with the farmworkers and won’t be defending the law in court.

For decades, migrant farmworkers and their advocates have tried to get a law passed to place the laborers under the protection of the state’s labor laws, giving them the right to form unions, and collectively bargain with their farmer employers for better working conditions.

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It’s been reported that subpoenas from the U.S. attorney in a federal probe of the Cuomo administration cover several of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top staff and over two dozen companies doing business with the state. But Cuomo says his understanding is that the investigation focuses on just two people, who he has cut ties with.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Opponents of a planned fracked gas power plant in the Hudson Valley say they are hoping the U.S. attorney will investigate decisions made in the permitting process for the plan, now that it’s been revealed that the wife of a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo took payments from the lead engineering firm in the project, and that her husband is the subject of a federal probe.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s explanation of some of the circumstances of a U.S. attorney’s probe into his administration has left some answered questions.

Cuomo offered a brief explanation of his former top aide’s involvement in a scandal now encompassing his administration, saying the actions of Joe Percoco were perfectly legitimate. The governor says he knew that when Percoco left his $156,000-a-year job to manage Cuomo’s 2014 reelection campaign, that Percoco would also work for private clients, but that’s all he knew about the situation.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke for the first time since news broke that his former close associate is under federal investigation for possibly taking illegal payments from developers working on state economic development projects.

Former top aide Joe Percoco left his state job for several months in 2014 when he managed Cuomo’s reelection campaign. Cuomo says  Percoco told him that he might do some other consulting work while he was off the state payroll, but Percoco did not tell him who the clients were and the governor said he did not ask.

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The New York State Legislature has been on a three-week break. In their absence, federal investigations into aides close to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have intensified, spurring even more calls for reform. Also, both former leaders of the legislature will be sentenced in the next few days on multiple felony convictions.

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Over the weekend, news broke that top aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo are being probed by the U.S. attorney in connection with the Buffalo Billion economic development project.

The Buffalo Billion project is the centerpiece of Cuomo’s efforts to reverse decades of economic decline in New York’s second largest city. It’s been credited with helping spur jobs and new industries, including in high tech and the medical field.

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In the past week, two major natural gas pipelines have been scrapped in New York. A third, which would expand a line that is near the Indian Point Nuclear Power plant, is still scheduled, but opponents are putting pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to use his persuasive powers with the federal government to stop the expansion.

Opponents of new pipelines carrying natural gas extracted from hydrofracking have had a good week.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

New York’s restrictive voter access rules came under scrutiny during Tuesday’s presidential primary. And some are saying there’s a need for changes.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Proponents of New York’s new medical marijuana law say so far, it’s barely functioning, and they say major revisions are necessary to allow more than just a tiny number of patients to benefit.

New York’s limited medical marijuana began in January, but advocates and patients say it has not worked out as well as they hoped. They say strict limits on diseases that are eligible for treatment, no insurance coverage, and near complete lack of doctors who have undergone the required training and will prescribe the medicine has left them frustrated.

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A quirk in the newly-enacted minimum wage increase could mean that in upstate New York by the early 2020s, fast food workers could be paid significantly more than other low wage jobs, like home health care workers or grocery store cashiers.

In the state budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature approved a multi-step plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 in New York City and its suburbs, and to $12.50 in the next five years for the rest of the state.

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“We have a government in hiding,” said Dadey. “A government that operates in the shadows and makes big decisions on behalf of the public without any public scrutiny.”

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Speaking to a crowd of around 2,000 who waited for hours in the cold to hear the address at Cohoes High School in the Albany area, Clinton focused on economic issues, saying she’d push for rebuilding crumbling infrastructures, and mentioning the ongoing water crisis in nearby Hoosick Falls. She also promised to bring back jobs to the once-thriving mill town and other struggling cities in New York.

“I will be the president who brings manufacturing back to upstate New York and America,” Clinton said, to loud cheers.

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The newly approved state budget includes a minimum wage increase that is the result of several compromises.

Announcing the details in a briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo spelled out a complex plan that would allow New York City’s minimum wage workers to receive $15 an hour in three years, Long Island and Westchester employees to get $15 in six years and the rest of the state to reach $12.50 in five years. The governor admits he had to make concessions, but said the new plan will work.

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State lawmakers were down to the wire on meeting the state budget deadline and voting went beyond the midnight deadline, into Friday, once all of the budget bills were finalized.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

There’s a framework deal on the state budget as the Thursday midnight deadline approaches, but it appears less likely that the midnight deadline for passage will be met. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says his minimum wage proposal now includes a pause in the phase-in to $15 after three years, to reassess the health of the state’s economy.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the minimum wage increase now under discussion with the legislature will include a pause after three years, to reassess the health of the state’s economy.

Under the latest plan, the $15 an hour minimum wage would be fully phased in over three years. The timetable for Long Island and upstate would lag behind that. Cuomo says after the first three years, there would be a pause to analyze the effects of the wage hike on the economies of those regions.

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Updated at 3:25 p.m.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders appear to have reached an impasse in talks on the state budget, as the March 31 deadline looms.

State Senate leaders abruptly left a nearly two-hour, closed-door meeting with Cuomo, saying that unfortunately, they had nothing new to report.

“We are not there, we’ll get there, but we are not finalized,” said Senate GOP Leader John Flanagan.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says Cuomo’s plan to require New York City to pay a higher share of Medicaid costs remains a sticking point.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders said they hoped to have final agreements on the state budget by Tuesday evening, but no agreement has been reached as of Wednesday morning.

Cuomo says he and the leaders have decided what issues will be included in the budget, like minimum wage and paid family leave, but he says important points remain unresolved.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders say they hope to have final agreements on the state budget by Tuesday evening, and could possibly print bills Tuesday night, to begin voting on Thursday. But by Tuesday afternoon they were still working on reaching final agreements. 

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Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said there are too many unanswered questions about the proposed government merger between her city and Onondaga County. Miner weighed in on the Consensus CNY recommendations for the first time since they were revealed earlier this year, telling Onondaga County's Conservative Party over the weekend that she cannot definitively support or oppose the consolidation plan without more information.

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When the state budget is approved next week it will likely not include a discount for frequent users of the New York State Thruway. The legislature has rejected Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to use some of the state’s surplus to subsidize tolls.

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