New York state

Richard Ravitch has had a life full of significant public service positions in New York City, and has assumed those positions at critical times.  He has a memoir out, titled So Much To Do.  In this conversation with host Grant Reeher, Ravitch looks back on some of those experiences, and argues that a sense of collective responsibility and shared sacrifice were the keys to overcoming the challenges, and considers how those qualities are faring in today's political climate.

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.

jamelah / via Flickr

The WRVO News team is covering races around the region and state today including races for: New York state governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and comptroller; New York state ballot measures, Proposition 1, Proposition 2, Proposition 3; congressional races for the 24th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd districts; New York State Assembly races in the 121st, 126th, 127th, 128th,

Governor Andrew Cuomo / via Flickr

It was an opening day to remember for Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the New York State Fair.

Cuomo opened the fair this morning with a ribbon cutting at the dairy cattle building. Standing next to politicians, goats and cows, he declared the 2014 edition of the fair open.

“On three, don’t cheat, don’t cheat," Cuomo said to those surrounding him. "One, two, three."

The skies opened up shortly after Cuomo left the Dairy Building to make his way to Dinosaur Barbecue for the traditional sausage sandwich.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

For the first time in several years, New York state has a surplus of between $3 billion and $4 billion. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’s still looking at options on how best to use it.

The state has recently been the beneficiary of a windfall from major lawsuit settlements with several banks and insurance companies. After years of running a debt or breaking even, Cuomo says New York now has more than $4 billion additional dollars.

The governor says he’s still thinking about the best use for the money.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision McCutcheon v. FEC, striking down some campaign donation limits is expected to have an effect in New York. Reform advocates say Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers missed a key chance this week to counter act the ruling.

Now that the state budget is in place, lawmakers can turn their attention to more controversial end-of-session issues. That means a return to one of the more contentious items that failed at the end of last year’s session; the Women’s Equality Agenda.

The Women’s Equality Agenda is a ten-point plan that deals with several women’s issues, including a call for equal pay, the end of sexual harassment in workplaces and the strengthening of human sex trafficking laws.

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.

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New data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows New York state and local government employees experienced a much higher rate of injury and illness than workers in any other industry during 2012.

It may not be something you’ve ever considered, but a lot of the time, there’s an inherent risk associated with jobs in the public sector.

And, according to Nellie Brown, director of the workplace health and safety program at Cornell University, that has a big impact on statistics like these.

The BLS report states:

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.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

New York's state comptroller says the Cuomo administration racked up a record $611 million in overtime payments over the past year.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says the 16 percent increase in overtime payments between 2012 and 2013 comes mostly from employees in institutional settings, like prisons and psychiatric centers. The state police also paid troopers $35 million in overtime payments, at an average of over $74 an hour.  

DiNapoli says the uptick comes at a time when state government has been downsizing employees.

A state ethics board has denied applications from groups on both sides of the abortion debate a request to keep private their donor lists.

The groups, including the pro-choice Family Planning Advocates, and the Christian conservative New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, had argued that making their donor lists public could pose a danger to their contributors because they lobby on controversial issues.  The Joint Commission on Public Ethics, rejected the request from both groups, along with the request by the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Women’s Equality Coalition.

New York state's Workers' Compensation Board has started a sweeping effort to examine the system, and look at how it could more effectively meet the needs of injured workers and employers. It's in the midst of holding sessions where injured workers can express their opinions.

The second of three sessions was held yesterday in Syracuse, and allowed injured workers to chime in on the discussion in central New York. Fidel, Alejandro Velacqueis Perez was among those telling stories.

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It’s illegal to buy and sell organs in the United States, but a new study suggests paying people to donate kidneys could address the chronic shortage of available organs and be more cost effective than the current system.

The idea immediately raises the question; is there a way to buy and sell organs ethically?

In upstate New York alone there are more than 1,300 patients on the waitlist for a donated kidney. Some have been on that list for more than four years.

Jenna Flanagan / Innovation Trail

New York state continues to have a higher percentage of children living in poverty than any other state. Experts in the field gathered in Albany recently to brainstorm ways to deal with the issue at a forum titled "Growing Up in Poverty" organized by the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy.

Children growing up in poverty are denied equal access to education according to author and keynote speaker at the Growing Up in Poverty event, Jonathan Kozol.

401(K) 2012 / Flickr

Now that the elections are over, state budget deadlines are rapidly approaching. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has released a largely positive budget outlook for the new year, though he warns of some uncertainties.

Under reforms adopted a few years ago, state officials including the  comptroller, are required to start the budget process, which ends in late March, even earlier.

DiNapoli is out with his report, and he says the state budget is largely in balance.

Two of the six amendments on Tuesday’s ballot deal with land swaps in New York’s Adirondack Park. One of the proposals has split environmental groups.

Proposition 4 would clear up some land disputes for property owners on Raquette Lake, in Hamilton County. It would allow the state to give clear titles to around 200 homes along the lake. In exchange, the landowners would contribute to a fund to buy alternative land for the Adirondack forest preserve. There is no organized opposition to that land swap.

But Proposition 5 is more controversial.

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One of the key points of contention in the Affordable Care Act is the medical devices tax. Republicans want the 2.3 percent tax designed to help fund health care reform removed.

The medical device industry has also lobbied extensively to have the tax repealed, claiming it will stifle innovation and result in job losses.

Roy Saplin / Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Three North Country communities were awarded grant money from New York state yesterday to address contaminated sites called brownfields.

The village of Lyons Falls in Lewis County received over half a million dollars to figure out a plan for 4 sites – including the old abandoned paper mill in the center of town.

Katie Liendecker is mayor of Lyons Falls. She says the mill is in pretty bad shape.

"Looking over at the paper mill you can see how some of the buildings have just collapsed. And thank goodness from our main street we’re not looking at that."

Raise the Age New York

New York is one of only two states that prosecutes 16 and 17-year-olds as adults. But a broad-based coalition, made up of governmental and community groups, is hoping that getting the word out about the issue will lead to legislation raising the age that juveniles are put in the criminal justice system from 16 to 18.

401(K) 2012 / Flickr

New York has been labeled a "leading" state for effective use of cost-benefit analysis in a new study from the Pew-MacArthur Results First initiative. That means New York is doing a better job of making sure tax dollars are spent well, than other states.

Cost benefit analysis is determining the return on an investment. In this case  it's determining how much the taxpayer benefits from each public dollar spent.

The state is one step closer to giving patients access to their medical information online. The New York e-Health Collaborative has announced nine finalists in their competition to design an online patient portal.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

New York state has one of the lowest organ donation rates in the country, at 20 percent. Donor boosters are trying to get the word out that donating an organ is something most everyone can do to save a life.

WBFO file photo

A recent study outlines a scenario that would see New York state’s energy infrastructure based on close to 100 percent renewable sources by the year 2030.

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The state's Connect NY Broadband Grant program awarded $25 million to 18 projects on Tuesday.

Daniel Robison/Innovation Trail

Governor Andrew Cuomo is reportedly putting together a proposal that would see a second, non-Indian operate casino open in downtown Niagara Falls. The question is whether the market could sustain another casino.

New York gets mixed grades in tobacco report

Jan 17, 2013

The American Lung Association has published its annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, and New York state did not fare well.

The department of Health and Human Services awarded more than $5 million to school-based health centers in New York state this week. The funding is part of an $80 million dollar pot distributed to 197 centers around the nation.

New York State Government has long had a reputation as a secretive and guarded place.  Phrases like “three men in a room” come to mind.  In this edition of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher speaks with the man charged to make government more open and transparent—Robert Freeman, Executive Director of the State’s Committee on Open Government.

Bureau of Economic Analysis

Personal income growth in New York state remained below the national average in 2011, a new report shows. Figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis show growth in some areas of New York were almost 2 percentage points below the national average of 5.2 percent.

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