Andrew Cuomo

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The New York State Senate held a confirmation hearing for  Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s choice for the state’s chief judge, Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore. Meanwhile, Cuomo appointed another nominee to fill the final vacancy on the court -- Michael Garcia, who as U.S. attorney, brought down former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

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New York's statewide poverty rate is 16 percent, but in upstate cities, that number doubles. In Syracuse, more than 1/3 of the residents live in poverty. Syracuse also ranks the highest nationwide for its concentration of minorities in poverty.

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Eight years after the stock market crash and the start of the recession, the New York state Senate leader say it’s time to get rid of a law that limits funding to some schools. The measure was created when the state had a $10 billion budget deficit now that the state is running  surpluses.

This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with two veteran Syracuse area lawmakers about the upcoming legislative session, and about the governor's influence over the legislature--and what his overall political agenda has been.  State Senators John DeFrancisco and Dave Valesky offer contrasting views about the governor's use of executive orders, and the need for legislative reform, but largely agree on what the session is likely to focus on, and share an optimistic view of the state budget being passed on time. 

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo got involved in the rhetoric of the GOP presidential debate, appearing on three morning TV news shows to defend New York against disparaging remarks made by candidate Ted Cruz in Thursday night's debate.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State speech was far less combative than in the past when it comes to education. But, education groups say while they are pleased that Cuomo has reversed his previous unpopular positions, they say his school aid funding proposal still falls short.

The governor, who has attacked components of the public school system as an “education bureaucracy” that must be broken, instead stuck to the positive in this year’s State of the State address.

“We will not rest until our K-12 system is the best in the nation,” Cuomo said.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo admits he is laying out an ambitious agenda for New York state lawmakers this year.  In his State of the State speech today in Albany, Cuomo laid out plans to  spend money on roads, schools, the environment, transportation, homeless shelters and housing. He also asked lawmakers to consider an eight-point ethics reform proposal, a $15 minimum wage and a paid family leave program.

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Gov. Andrew is to deliver a joint State of the State and budget speech later today, during which the governor is expected to focus on ethics and education policies.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

One day before Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address, where he is expected to address ethics issues after the criminal convictions of the two legislative leaders, some state legislators are already demanding reforms that would break up the power of the leadership.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo is scheduled to give his State of the State speech on Wednesday. The governor has already spent the past week rolling out a lengthy agenda for the New Year.

Cuomo has already announced more than a dozen separate proposals as part of a 10-day roll out of his agenda leading up to Wednesday’s formal speech. 

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo received a bit of good news just two days before he’s to give his State of the State address. The governor and his office have been cleared of any wrongdoing in the premature closing of an ethics commission.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo will move to close more state correctional facilities. He made the announcement on Sunday while addressing a church congregation in Harlem.

"I'm going to go down in the history books as the governor who closed the most prisons in the history of the state of New York and I am proud of it," Cuomo told parishioners at Mt. Neboh Baptist Church. "I want to close more prisons with more alternatives to incarceration."

During his time in office, Cuomo has already closed 13 state prisons.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has some big ideas for rebuilding the state’s neglected infrastructure. But, will it come with a big price tag?

Cuomo began the week with an ambitious proposal to add a third track to the Long Island Railroad, to cost around $1 billion. The governor also wants to spend $5 million on a feasibility study for a tunnel under Long Island Sound to either Connecticut or the Bronx or Westchester in New York.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said 2016 is going to be a big year for upstate New York. Cuomo made an appearance at the implosion of the Grandstand at the New York State Fairgrounds on Saturday. He said he wants to continue to "focus like a laser" on upstate New York this year.

“It’s a beginning of a new year," Cuomo said. "It’s a beginning of a new environment, a new economy in upstate New York.”

The governor announced a new proposal to invest $200 million in upstate airports. Several northern and central New York airports would be eligible for grants.

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The New York State Senate held a hearing on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. While Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Democrats support the phase in to a higher wage, many senators remain uncommitted.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The opening day of the legislative session featured talk of ethics reform, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo chose to be elsewhere, putting off his traditional State of the State message for another week, and giving speeches in Syracuse and New York City instead.

The Senate and Assembly convened  for the first time since both leaders of the legislature were convicted of multiple corruption charges in late 2015 and now face potentially decades in prison.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2016 agenda includes more spending on transportation infrastructure and a plan to ease tolls on the the New York State Thruway for some New Yorkers.

Cuomo unveiled the latest peek into his plans for the coming year in Liverpool yesterday, proposing $22 billion for fixing roads and bridges upstate over the next five years, in what he calls the biggest ever transportation capital plan.

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President Barack Obama announced yesterday that he plans to tighten gun control measures using his executive authority. That move drew mixed reviews here in New York, a state with some of the toughest gun regulations in the country.

Some activists said government officials were infringing on their right to own and carry firearms, but others said New York should go even further to restrict access to guns and ammunition.

The shooting that changed the debate

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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.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

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.

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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.

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