Andrew Cuomo

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Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino announced on YouTube his candidacy to run as a Republican against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Astorino, a Republican who has won the county executive seat twice in the Democratically dominated Westchester County, painted a grim picture of New York under Cuomo, saying the state is “dying” from the highest taxes in the nation and is one of the poorest business climates in the country.

“Is New York winning? Or are we losing?” Astorino asks.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The movie business is coming to central New York. With the help of some state tax incentives, the nation’s first nano film school, along with a film production company, will set up shop in suburban Syracuse.

"Now who would have ever figured? Hollywood has come to Onondaga. Right, you would have never guessed, but it has..."

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at dueling rallies on education at the state Capitol, highlighting the two politicians’ differences over education issues.   

A rally to promote de Blasio’s plan for universal pre-K had been planned for weeks. The mayor spoke to around 1,500 union members, urging them to put pressure on lawmakers to approve in the state budget the mayor’s plan to provide classes for thousands of four-year-olds starting in September.

Durrie Bouscaren / WRVO File

The debate over pre-K funding in New York has pit Gov. Andrew Cuomo against New York City area politicians. But one influential Syracuse-area state politician is hoping it doesn’t get in the way of successful budget negotiations, which ramp up this month.

New York state has had an on time budget each year since Cuomo took office four years ago. Sen. John DeFrancisco hopes the pre-K debate doesn’t break that streak.

Cuomo Committee / Vimeo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is dipping into his multi-million dollar campaign war chest to run ads promoting his state budget priorities.

The ads, which begin with Cuomo speaking directly into the camera, focus on the governor’s pitch for his tax cut plan and an ethics package that includes public financing of political campaigns and a crack down on bribery.

Karen Scharff, with Citizen Action, says the ethics ads are a good sign.

The state budget deadline is approaching and education issues are taking center stage. Only one day before massive rallies for universal pre-K and charter schools, other advocates say they’ve gathered evidence for potentially another lawsuit for more state aid for schools.

The Alliance for Quality Education has been touring schools around the state to document what they say is the erosion of districts in economically depressed areas.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

It’s expected that Republicans will have an announced candidate for governor as early as this week. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has formed an exploratory committee and has expressed interest in what most believe will be an uphill climb against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is seeking reelection.

Astorino, a former radio executive, has twice won the county executive’s seat in Westchester County on the Republican line, in a region where Democrats now dominate.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is starting a new push for his property tax freeze plan, while counties in the state say they have a better idea which could result in lower property taxes in New York for even longer.

Cuomo has begun a new campaign to promote his multi-part property tax freeze plan. It’s aimed at enlisting the aid of the public to help convince the legislature. A video features average homeowners and advocacy groups endorsing his plan.

“Lower our property taxes,” say various people identified as homeowners and standing in front of suburban looking homes.

The ruling coalition in the state Senate has grown by one member. Sen. Tony Avella, of Queens, has left the minority Democrats to join the governing coalition of Republicans and Independent Democrats.

Avella is a progressive-leaning Democrat who’s been called a maverick. He says he’s become convinced he can get more accomplished by joining the Senate’s ruling coalition, which includes all of the Republicans and a few break away Independent Democrats.  

Opponents of New York’s tough gun control law called the SAFE Act, continue to oppose the legislation more than a year after it was passed, with more rallies and court cases on the calendar. But attempts to engage Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a debate about the pros and cons of the legislation might be better spent in more low-key settings. One vocal opponent of the law met with the governor Tuesday in private quarters in Albany to talk about it.

A new poll finds New Yorkers remain confused about the worth of the new Common Core learning standards, which schools in the state are in the process of adopting.

The Siena College poll finds voters are divided over the program, with around the same amount saying they are not confident that Common Core will result in better preparing students to be college or career ready, as those who say that the new learning standards are on the right track.

Syracuse’s recently created stadium task force sat down together for the first time Tuesday. Its job is to take a deeper look at the idea of a new athletic venue in the city that the mayor put the brakes on a few months ago.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner had too many unanswered questions to get behind a new stadium for Syracuse University next to the Kennedy Square redevelopment project on the city’s Near Eastside.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to cut the estate tax is drawing praise from fiscally conservative groups and condemnation from advocates for the poor.

The governor's proposal would raise the threshold for New York’s estate tax from the current $1 million to $5.25 million, which is the current federal rate of taxation. EJ McMahon, with the fiscally conservative think tank The Empire Center calls the levy a death tax. He says it’s about time New York got in synch with the rest of the country, where many states have already eliminated the tax altogether.

Katie Keier / Flickr

The funding crisis facing public education will be on display during forums held in the coming weeks across central New York. Lobbyists are hopeful that public support for school funding can have an impact on the state budget process in Albany.

Charles Borgongoni has been the head of the Central New York School Boards Association for three years. He says the fiscal troubles for schools just keep getting worse, with not much help in sight from the state.

Meesh / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is defending his plan to pay for college classes for prison inmates, saying it will cut down the number of convicts sent back to prison.

Cuomo has proposed expanding a program that currently offers privately funded college courses in some state prisons. The program would offer associate's and bachelor's degree education at 10 prisons, which Cuomo says will reduce the likelihood of inmates returning to crime.

More fracking pro and con as the battle rages on

Feb 19, 2014
Capital District Against Fracking

The future of hydraulic fracturing in New York has been in limbo since the Department of Environmental Conservation began a review of the practice in 2008. Now, six public hearings are being held across New York to receive public comment on the draft State Energy Plan, with one of them in Albany.  Environmental groups were at the Capitol Tuesday calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to put renewable energy ahead of fossil fuels in his effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

eranderson428 / Flickr

Two weeks ago, the landowners coalition sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo demanding the release of the environmental impact study on hydrofracking, known as the SGEIS . The deadline was Thursday, February 13 and Scott Kurkoski, a lawyer for the coalition, filed the promised lawsuit the following day.

“Is he in favor of this or not? Because the rest of the nation is moving forward in a way that is providing energy independence," Kurkoski said. "Is New York a threat to that process?”

The state legislature has finished its hearings on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal, and will be ready to start crafting a spending plan once they return from the President’s Day break. One of the final hearings focused on the governor’s tax cutting plans, and lawmakers had plenty of questions.

Legislators at the hearing quizzed Cuomo’s tax commissioner on a plan that could result in a freeze of local property taxes. Tax Commissioner Thomas Mattox admits it’s a complex plan.

“This is clearly a very complicated space,” Mattox said.

Credit Jenna Flanagan / Innovation Trail

Mayors from across the state have a bone to pick with the Cuomo administration. It is the governor’s proposal for a two percent tax freeze over two years. It would reward communities with property tax rebates if local governments implement austerity measures to keep their growth under the cap.

It sounds great on the surface, but according to the New York Conference of Mayors in Albany recently, looks can be deceiving.

James F Clay / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems to have gained the upper hand and some new allies in his policy skirmish with New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio over how to fund pre-kindergarten, as the fight threatens to turn into an upstate downstate split.

DeBlasio has been seeking permission from Cuomo and the legislature to raise income taxes on the wealthy in New York City in order to pay for access to pre-kindergarten for almost 75,000 four-year-olds there, arguing that it would help ease income inequality.

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Gov. Cuomo has declared a state of emergency for nearly all of Eastern New York including New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley into Albany, as another winter storm hits the region.

The governor says the frequency of storms this winter has depleted the state’s budget for plowing, sanding and salting, but he says his budget staff will find the money from other parts of the budget to deal with the storm and potential future storms this year.

A new poll finds that New Yorkers statewide favor Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to fund pre-kindergarten over New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio’s proposal.

The Quinnipiac poll finds that the majority of New Yorkers prefer Cuomo’s plan to finance expanded pre-K through state funds, than favor deBlasio’s proposal to tax the wealthy to get the money.

Blue Square Thing / via Flickr

Christopher Missick and his wife got into the wine business three years ago when they bought a winery along the west side of Seneca Lake. Last year he decided to break his Villa Bellangelo wines into the lucrative New York City market.

"We don’t have access to the huge distribution houses down there and we work with, for the most part, really high quality, but small family distributors," Missick said.

Missick’s distributor and other small operations working in New York City have their warehouse across the river in New Jersey, where real estate is cheaper.

The debate regarding universal pre-kindergarten shows no signs of slowing down at the New York Capitol. The Democratic Mayor of New York City is not backing down from his plan to tax the wealthy to pay for pre-K, while upstate and suburban Republicans in the state Senate say they will block a vote on the tax proposal.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, in his State of the City address, stuck to his plan to continue to ask state lawmakers for permission to tax the wealthy to fund universal pre-K. De Blasio says he’s not advocating for a statewide income tax hike.   

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Local union activists and community organizers are hoping to send a message to state lawmakers about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget: they don’t like it. And they suggest it will increase the income gap between the rich and the poor.

On a snowy day in Syracuse, union activities and community organizers gathered to rally at the state office building in Syracuse against the governor's budget plan

Thomas Favre-Bulle / via Flickr

The New York State Board of Regents at the last minute reversed course and decided not to hold a final vote on some changes to weaken implementation of the Common Core standards in New York.  

The Regents were set to vote to delay the effects of Common Core on high school seniors for five more years, until 2022, and to offer teachers some protections if they are fired during the next two years.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO/file photo

The state Board of Regents is poised to delay some requirements of the federal Common Core standards. But some state lawmakers are still questioning whether the Regents are going far enough to remedy what critics say is a flawed rollout of the new standards.

The Board of Regents, facing pressure from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature, is recommending that the effects of the new high stakes testing on students, designed in response to the Common Core, be delayed for five more years.

Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch, in a statement, offered an apology.

Wallyg / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tax commissioner is set to testify before a legislative budget hearing Monday morning, and he’s expected to get plenty of questions about a plan to freeze property taxes and cut some income taxes. Critics, who are also scheduled to speak, say the governor should focus more on lower income New Yorkers, as well.

Jenna Flanagan / Innovation Trail

The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) wrapped up its annual meeting in Albany this week where county executives discussed the unique needs of New York’s regional governments.

One prominent issue was consolidation. During his budget presentation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo renewed his push for local governments to share more resources as part of a plan to freeze property taxes if counties stay within a two percent cap.

While tax breaks are the cornerstone of some of the programs in New York state meant to boost business, there are other areas where the state can become an impediment to anyone wanting to do business. A state report released recently points the finger at a bureaucracy that gets in the way.

There are 750,000 regulations on the books in New York state, many of them outdated and never reviewed. And many of them can get in the way of New York's businesses.

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