New York state budget

NYSFair/flickr

One of the biggest changes at the New York State Fair this year involves something everyone visiting the exposition will have to deal with -- tickets. This year, the fair in Geddes has started selling some tickets electronically.

Selling tickets at the state Fair hasn’t changed much over the years: you need a paper ticket to get through the turnstiles on any given day of the 12-day fair. And to figure out attendance, the fair counts them by hand, according to interim director Troy Waffner.

nysfair.org

State officials begin the master planning process for a new look State Fair next week. Armed with $50 million of state funds from the recently approved state budget, fair officials can get the ball rolling on proposed fair improvements they hope will transform the aging fairgrounds into a premier, multi-use facility.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News file photo

New York state Sen. Dave Valesky is among those who are calling this year's budget process a difficult one. The central New York senator and member of the Independent Democratic Conference says that's because of the numerous policy proposals that were included in the governor's original budget plan. 

Valesky says it's not surprising that many of the non-spending items were removed -- like the Dream Act, raising the minimum wage and property tax relief. And the senator says that's probably a good thing. 

NY Assembly Video (file)

The recently completed state budget was the first real test of the new Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s leadership, who became the leader of that house in early February. 

By the time the state budget was voted on,  Heastie, the 47-year-old accountant and former budget analyst from the Bronx, elected to the Assembly in 2000, had  been in his new job for less than two months .

Durrie Bouscaren / WRVO File

Some observers of this year's state budget negotiations in Albany thought that the process was more complicated than in recent years. And they're not alone. Syracuse-area state Sen. John DeFrancisco says it's amazing the budget ever got done on time.

As the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, DeFrancisco was intimately involved in the budget talks. The Republican says this year was different because Gov. Andrew Cuomo added legislation like education and ethics reform to the state spending plan.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

The New York legislature completed an almost on time budget, around 3 a.m. on the first day of the state’s fiscal year.

One of the final pieces to come together was an ethics reform package, which will provide greater disclosure of lawmaker’s outside income.

But critics say it does not go far enough.

The ethics changes would deny pensions for lawmakers convicted of serious crimes. The provision requires a constitutional amendment. 

Chris / via Flickr

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says the recently approved state budget took an important first step towards fixing water systems across the state. 

Miner was happy to see a $200 million fund earmarked for fixing water and sewer systems in the spending plan. Getting state support to fix aging infrastructure, is something she, other municipalities and a statewide coalition have been vocal about for months.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Even before the final details of the education changes in the budget are revealed, teachers’ unions are already claiming partial victory in their war of words with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Chris Nelson / via Flickr

State lawmakers have not yet finished the budget, but they are already getting blowback from a provision that would give a tax break to owners of luxury yachts.

The budget includes a sales tax break for purchases of boats worth more than $230,000, as well as for private airplanes. That angers Ron Deutsch, of Fiscal Policy Institute,  a union backed think tank that backs Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to give a property tax break for middle and working class homeowners who pay too much of their income on taxes.

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo began the budget season with an ambitious agenda than included a wide array of items that he tied to the budget, including raising the minimum wage, the Dream Act, and reforming the state’s grand jury process. In the end, the governor was forced to retrench on nearly every measure.

Cuomo spent a week in January rolling out his ambitious budget agenda, which contained plans for a new criminal justice system for teens who commit serious crimes and a major upstate economic development program. 

stgermh / Flickr

State lawmakers planned to hold meetings throughout the weekend as they put the finishing touches on the state budget. But, a couple big issues remain unresolved.

Senate Republicans are trying to modify Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to require full disclosure of law clients in legislators’ outside business.

Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos, who works part-time at a private law firm, says he expects to agree on a “robust” new disclosure law, but concedes that it may only apply to new law clients, not existing business arrangements.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office

As state budget negotiations continue, one of the proposals that hang in the balance is a plan to bring more Internet access to rural areas of the state.

A majority of homes and businesses in the North Country don’t have access to high-speed Internet. Gov.Andrew Cuomo has pledged to change that by connecting every New Yorker to the Internet by 2019.

Government officials from across the region gathered at Jefferson Community College in Watertown Thursday looking for more information on Cuomo’s New New York Broadband Program.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The state Assembly, Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo continue to work on sticking points in the state budget, as yet another item has now been dropped from the spending plan -- raising the state’s minimum wage.

City of Syracuse / Facebook

As budget discussions in Albany rumble towards a conclusion, supporters of the Rebuild New York Now coalition are pressing their case, that surplus money in the state budget should fix roads and bridges and water systems across the state.  

stgermh / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders say they are making progress on the budget. Cuomo, after a private meeting with Senate Republicans, says he’s closer to an agreement on ethics reform, but the governor is getting some criticism for dropping some items out of the budget, including the Dream Act.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Union members at financially distressed hospitals across the state are taking action to urge state budget negotiators to include funding for these hospitals in the final state spending plan.  

The state’s biggest health care union, 1199SEIU, is highlighting what it says is a critical piece of funding, vital to keeping 28 financially troubled hospitals afloat.  

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

With just over a week until the state budget is due, there’s pressure to drop a number of unrelated items in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s state spending plan.

Cuomo has tied ethics reform and education policy changes to the budget, and threatened to hold up the spending plan if the legislature does not agree. 

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

A new poll finds voters disagree with most of Gov. Andrew’s Cuomo’s tactics during the current budget negotiations. Cuomo has tied ethics reform and education policy changes to the budget, and threatened to hold up the spending plan if the legislature does not agree.  

A Siena College poll finds that, while New Yorkers think ethics reform and school funding are important, they don’t want the issues linked to the budget, and they say an on-time spending plan is important to them, says Siena’s Steve Greenberg.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO file photo

 There’s just about a week-and-a-half left before the budget deadline, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers remain at odds over a number of issues, including whether ethics disclosure rules should apply to the governor as well as the legislature. They also disagree on a number of education reform proposals.

On Thursday, the Senate and Assembly called a public budget conference meeting. It lasted less than two minutes, and focused mainly on listing when subconference committees would meet and the relatively small amount of money they could haggle over.

Medical Schools in New York state are asking the legislature to include $50 million for faculty development in the state budget. University leadership calls the  New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR) Faculty Development Program an investment needed to grow programs that will attract high-profile entrepreneurial biomedical researchers.

Colleen / via Flickr

One of the most polarizing issues in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget is an education tax credit that would allow donors of up to $1 million to public and private schools to receive a tax benefit. Opponents say it benefits the rich, supporters say it helps poor children.  

Under the provisions of the education tax credit proposed by Cuomo, people and businesses can donate up to $1 million to a scholarship fund to send underprivileged children to private schools, or support enhanced programs at public schools. They would receive 75 percent of the money back in the form of a tax credit.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Republican rival in last fall’s election is offering his take on political dynamics at the state Capitol. And it is not a positive viewpoint .

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino was at the Capitol to lobby, along with the New York State Association of Counties, for items in the new state budget, including more mandate relief. The former unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor, says its Cuomo now who is losing political power and friends, calling the governor Cuomo a “bully.”

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

Legislative leaders say despite their differences with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, they intend to continue their streak of on time budgets by approving the spending plan on time for the fifth year in a row.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

State Sen. Dave Valesky is optimistic that negotiators will come through with significant increases in public school spending when the state budget plan is finalized.  

The Oneida Democrat notes the both the Senate and the Assembly budgets include almost $2 billion increases in public education spending over last year.  

But, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he won’t approve big spending increases for education unless lawmakers agree to his package of controversial education reforms. Valesky says lawmakers don’t want the two dependent upon each other.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Pressure is mounting to include Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the only female legislative leader, in  the closed-door budget meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo that now consist of four men in a room.

The Black, Hispanic and Asian Caucus issued a statement saying it’s unacceptable to leave the senator, who is African-American out, and Stewart-Cousins spoke up at a public summit meeting for all of the legislative leaders, known as the "mothership budget committee," saying the process is “greatly flawed.”

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

  Gov. Andrew  says he wants ethics reform as part of the budget or he will hold up the state’s spending plan, while legislators say they want to negotiate the issue separately. Government reform groups say the key issue is that the reforms be real.   

Cuomo is threatening to make the budget late over an ethics reform package that the governor is seeking.  He repeated his demand this week at a business lunch in Rochester.

“This year a top priority is having ethics reform done in Albany,” Cuomo said. “Because at one point, enough is enough.”

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Dozens of Central New Yorkers concerned about potential service cuts from CENTRO turned out at a public hearing on the issue at the Oncenter in Syracuse, for the biggest in a series of hearings on the issue so far.

New York Now

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie gave his first broadcast interview to public radio and television. In it, he expressed his frustrations over Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to link numerous unrelated items to the state budget.

Karen DeWitt/WRVO News

In the latest step in the state budget dance, both houses have released their versions of a state spending plan. The Senate and Assembly each increase education well above Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed level, and each leave key elements of the governor’s plan out.

Both the Assembly and the Senate significantly increase school aid spending from Cuomo’s budget, with the Assembly recommending a $1.8 billion increase, and the Senate proposing $1.9 billion more.

governorandrewcuomo / via Flickr

The New York State Assembly and Senate are each rejecting key proposals in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget. Both chambers are submitting what's called one-house budgets -- their counter proposals to the governor's spending plan.

In the Assembly, where Democrats hold the majority, the one-house budget does not include Cuomo’s education tax credit, which would allow donors to give money to the private or public school of their choice and receive nearly full credit for the donation on their state taxes.

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