New York state budget

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Some homeless advocates are dismayed by what they say is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s failure at the end of the legislative session to follow through with promises to fund five years of new supportive housing and other services for the homeless. Their complaints come as the state comptroller recently issued a scathing report on the state of homeless shelters across New York.

Onondaga Community College

It’s going to cost more to attend Onondaga Community College this fall. The Onondaga County Legislature approved a budget that includes a tuition hike. OCC President Casey Crabill says tuition is going up just under 3 percent for the 2016-1017 school year.

"It’s going up $70 for a full-time student, $6 a credit unit for part-time students. We would like to work to go a year without a tuition increase, but that’s been really difficult.”

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is introducing a new Hunger Games-style competition, this time aimed at downtown revitalization. Struggling communities in regions across the state will compete for their share of $100 million. Watertown’s mayor thinks his city has what it takes to compete.

A shrinking population? Check. A struggling economy? Check.

But Watertown’s' downtown development hasn't been all doom and gloom. Quite the opposite. The old Woolworth building was renovated into apartments. Mercy Hospital was torn down and a mixed-use building is going up in its place.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

“We have a government in hiding,” said Dadey. “A government that operates in the shadows and makes big decisions on behalf of the public without any public scrutiny.”

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

State lawmakers were down to the wire on meeting the state budget deadline and voting went beyond the midnight deadline, into Friday, once all of the budget bills were finalized.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

There’s a framework deal on the state budget as the Thursday midnight deadline approaches, but it appears less likely that the midnight deadline for passage will be met. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says his minimum wage proposal now includes a pause in the phase-in to $15 after three years, to reassess the health of the state’s economy.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the minimum wage increase now under discussion with the legislature will include a pause after three years, to reassess the health of the state’s economy.

Under the latest plan, the $15 an hour minimum wage would be fully phased in over three years. The timetable for Long Island and upstate would lag behind that. Cuomo says after the first three years, there would be a pause to analyze the effects of the wage hike on the economies of those regions.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Updated at 3:25 p.m.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders appear to have reached an impasse in talks on the state budget, as the March 31 deadline looms.

State Senate leaders abruptly left a nearly two-hour, closed-door meeting with Cuomo, saying that unfortunately, they had nothing new to report.

“We are not there, we’ll get there, but we are not finalized,” said Senate GOP Leader John Flanagan.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says Cuomo’s plan to require New York City to pay a higher share of Medicaid costs remains a sticking point.

stgermh / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders said they hoped to have final agreements on the state budget by Tuesday evening, but no agreement has been reached as of Wednesday morning.

Cuomo says he and the leaders have decided what issues will be included in the budget, like minimum wage and paid family leave, but he says important points remain unresolved.

St. Lawrence County Attorney's office

New York State appears poised to take over funding of legal services for people who can’t afford a lawyer. The St. Lawrence County Attorney led the statewide push, which could save counties millions of dollars. Advocates say the change will ensure better representation for poor people in criminal cases.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Top State University of New York officials say they want a tuition freeze at the state’s colleges and universities, and are asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature to adequately fund SUNY in the budget  so that they don’t have to raise rates for students . The request comes as lawmakers are scrambling to meet a March 31 budget deadline.

SUNY Board Chair Carl McCall says the university board and it’s chancellor don’t want to raise tuition, and they want Cuomo and the legislature to help them avoid it.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The New York State Assembly and Senate have released budget positions that focus on taxes and spending policies, but very little on ethics reform, even though both former leaders of the legislature face prison sentences over corruption convictions.   

stgermh / Flickr

In less than a month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers will get the chance to make major ethics fixes as part of the state budget. But,  so far, there’s been little focus on responding to corruption scandals that led to the two legislative leaders facing long prison terms.

It seems a unique moment ,tailored for major reforms in the way Albany works. Both the leader of the Senate and the Assembly have been arrested, tried and convicted in the past year, on major corruption charges, and the U.S. Attorney may still be investigating others.

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

Groups that serve the disabled say there’s inadequate funding in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget to place thousands of adults with developmental disabilities into group homes. And they say a proposed $15 an hour minimum wage will have a “devastating financial impact” for not-for-profits that serve that community.

Sarah Harris / North Country Public Radio

A farm initiative lead by state Sen. Patty Ritchie plans to restore $12 million to research programs slated to be cut under Cuomo's  budget plan.

Ritchie chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee. She says food safety and research programs ultimately help farmers grow their bottom line. For example, in the past year, Cornell University scientists have researched ways to fight bird flu and stop the die-off of honeybees and more.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been touting a massive infrastructure plan, but budget experts say much of the funding for the projects, estimated to cost $100 billion,  remains unresolved, even with the release of Cuomo’s new budget plan. They also question what they say is a cost-shift from the state to New York City.

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.  

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