Empire Center

Catherine Loper / WRVO News (file photo)

Two reports issued in recent days indicate that Gov. Andrew Cuomo may be facing his most difficult budget in seven years.

The midyear financial report by the governor’s budget office has lowered revenue estimates by $850 million for the current budget year and the next two years. And it finds that next year’s projected deficit is now at $4.4 billion, if spending growth continues unchecked.

Cuomo began sounding the alarm weeks before the report was released.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

The future of the Affordable Care Act is uncertain in Washington, and there are several scenarios under consideration. The latest possible changes could affect New York’s relatively healthy health care system.

The good news is that the Affordable Care Act in New York is doing quite well, according to state officials. The health insurance exchanges are functioning, with 17 carriers offering plans in 2017. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, at a recent rally to preserve the ACA, said New York has built “one of the best health care exchanges in the country.”

401(K) 2012 / Flickr

The state budget’s been in place for just less than two months, and already there are signs that tax revenues may be significantly lower than expected. Anticipated federal tax reductions later this year may be one of the reasons.

Late on the Friday before the Memorial Day holiday weekend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget division released its financial analysis of the new state budget approved in early April.

If you look closely at the numbers, they show that tax revenues reported in May declined by just over $600 million from projections made as recently as February.

How the GOP health care bill could unfold in New York

May 8, 2017
www.bbb.org

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act law, the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. This came after several changes to the AHCA, including to the policy on coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

The update would allow insurance companies to charge sicker consumers more and healthier consumers less. The bill would offset the cost of sicker people with special funding -- $8 billion over five years. But what exactly this change would mean for individual consumers largely depends on which state they live in.

Catherine Loper / WRVO News

A fiscal watchdog group is questioning the state’s century-old prevailing wage law for construction workers, saying it unnecessarily costs taxpayers billions of dollars a year in added expenses for big road, bridge and other projects.

The Empire Center, a fiscally conservative budget watchdog group, looked at the state’s constitutionally protected prevailing wage law. It requires contractors on public projects to pay their workers the amounts set in unions’ collective bargaining agreements.

U.S. Census Bureau / Empire Center for Public Policy

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that New York's statewide population fell for the first time in a decade, largely a result of upstate population losses outpacing the gains made downstate.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is distancing himself from the corruption scandal within his administration and placing the blame on others. But some say Cuomo might be better off making some changes instead.

Cuomo has made a number of public appearances across the state, continuing to promote economic development efforts, just as he did before U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara charged several of Cuomo’s former close associates and two major real estate developers with bribery and fraud in connection with the Buffalo Billion and other projects.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

A new report from the conservative Empire Center, a fiscal watchdog, finds that New York state's Clean Energy Standard plan to boost renewable sources of energy and support struggling nuclear plants could cost more than the state estimates.

Doug Kerr / via Flickr

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.

A think tank out of Albany has analyzed census data that show the number of New Yorkers has increased by 2.2 percent over the last five years, a jump of almost 418,000 people. But population growth in the New York City metro area makes up for the regional trend in upstate New York, where statistics show the area losing thousands of residents between 2010 and 2015.
 

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

A left leaning thank tank is out with its assessment of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget. They say there’s a lot to like and dislike about it.

Ron Deutsch is with Fiscal Policy Institute, a progressive leaning think tank in part funded by the unions. He said Cuomo deserves credit for pushing a phase in for a $15 minimum wage for all low income earners in the state.

“It would be the first in the nation,” Deutsch said. “We think now is the time to get that done.”

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

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.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

State lawmakers said a few years ago they would no longer permit the controversial member item program to continue, but critics said the old system, which gave taxpayer money to legislators’ pet projects, is being revived in a new form.

stgermh / Flickr

A fiscal watchdog group says it’s uncovered what it calls a “secret slush fund,” used by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators to fund pet projects around the state, but the governor’s budget office says the grants are subject to oversight.  

slgckgc / Flickr

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders announced a new rebate check for property taxpayers, they touted it as a significant, “real” benefit to average homeowners. But fiscal watchdog groups say the program is severely flawed and the money could be better used on something else.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Leaders of all of the state’s local governments, as well as unions representing teachers and public workers, are warning state lawmakers not to simply renew the state’s property tax cap without some changes.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

There’s a push by business groups and Republicans in the New York State Senate, as well as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, to make the state’s 2 percent per year property tax cap permanent. Backers have issued a report to bolster their views, and say public opinion is on their side.    

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

State lawmakers say they want to act quickly to spend the state’s growing $5 billion surplus on an infrastructure fund to fix up roads and bridges, among other things. At a think tank sponsored conference on the state’s infrastructure, participants said there are deep needs and they warn lawmakers not to spend the money frivolously.  

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

New York state will begin 2015 with the largest one-time windfall budget surplus since the end of World War II, due to settlements with major banks after the financial crisis. Fiscal watchdog groups are warning lawmakers not to go crazy with ideas for how to spend it.

The settlements from Bank of America, PricewaterhouseCoopers and other financial institutions have netted the state $5.1 billion in settlements over alleged misconduct during the 2008 Wall Street meltdown.

Katie Keier / Flickr

The Nov. 4 ballot includes an amendment to borrow $2 billion to buy new technology for school children, like iPads and other tablets. Fiscal watchdogs are against it and the reaction of the education community has been lukewarm. But with one week left to go before Election Day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who came up with idea, has finally started to push for it.

Brad Flickinger / Flickr

New York's November ballot includes a proposal for the state to borrow $2 billion to spend on technology, like computer tablets, for school children. But a fiscal watchdog group says it’s not a good way to finance the purchase of iPads.

The bond act would give New York state permission to borrow money primarily to invest in new technology for students in elementary and secondary schools. It would also include money for building more classrooms for expanded pre-kindergarten.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration and the legislature are spending around $1.3 million this year in payments to private law firms, and the public is paying for it, says a fiscally conservative study center.

The Empire Center analyzed reports filed on line by the legislature, and found that the state Assembly paid over $650,000 to outside attorneys, while the state Senate gave a private law firm over $400,000 between October of 2013 and March of 2014.