Fiscal Policy Institute

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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.

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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.

A union-funded think tank finds that New York has the greatest income disparity in the nation. The Fiscal Policy Institute says that trend continues, with the top one percent gaining more financial resources, while the middle class is falling behind and the numbers of the poor are growing.

A report by a policy think tank finds that 500,000 job opportunities were lost in New York in the three year long economic slump, representing a total income loss of $31 billion dollars a year.