New York state budget

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A leading budget watchdog group is accusing Gov. Andrew Cuomo of fudging the numbers in his state budget to appear to stay within his self-imposed two percent per-year spending cap.

Matt Ryan / New York Now

Environmental groups are pushing Gov. Andrew Cuomo to codify into law some of the steps he’s taken to protect the environment and cut down on pollution related to climate change. At a budget hearing Monday, lawmakers were focused on a more immediate concern — clean drinking water.

Legislative budget hearings were interrupted once again, this time by anti-climate change activists shouting that they want “climate justice in the budget.”

Alliance for Quality Education

The Alliance for Quality Education says Gov. Andrew Cuomo is misleading the public in a debate about school funding. The school advocacy group has published a new report that criticizes the governor's proposed education spending plan and his attempts to defend it. 

BaronBrian / Flickr

Famous public health advocate Erin Brockovich is leading a campaign to pressure New York state lawmakers and officials to focus more resources on combating the deadly Legionnaires' disease. Brockovich says New Yorkers are at risk of seeing even more cases of the disease if major steps are not taken.

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An allocation in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget could resolve a dispute over casino revenues in the Mohawk Valley. 

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The leader of the Senate Republicans said he’s not happy with what he said is over $800 million in new taxes and fees tucked away in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new state budget.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said he’s upset over about new proposed fees that a preliminary analysis shows total $803 million – with $250 million in new Department of Motor Vehicles fees alone.

Flanagan said he’s also not happy with the way Cuomo presented his spending plan to lawmakers. He said Cuomo failed to mention all of the new fees in a private briefing at the executive mansion.

Onasill ~ Bill Badzo / Flickr

One of the chief arguments over the state budget will be whether to renew an income tax surcharge on New York’s wealthiest.

The state is facing a $3.5 billion deficit, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to add a billion dollars to the state’s public schools. He also wants to offer free tuition at public colleges for families making less than $125,000 a year.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr (File Photo)

One of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature economic development programs is being downsized in his new state budget. Start-Up NY is being rebranded as other economic development projects have suffered setbacks.

The Start-Up NY program — which offered 10 years of freedom from income, business and other taxes to companies that sought to begin a business on a college campus — initially was a centerpiece of Cuomo’s big plans for more jobs in upstate New York.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget is not just facts and figures about what taxes to collect and how to spend them. Cuomo also has put unrelated changes into the spending plan — everything from allowing ride-hailing services to expand in the state to enacting ethics reforms.

From allowing Uber and Lyft outside of New York City to imposing term limits on lawmakers, the governor’s budget includes many items that normally would be considered policy changes and debated and approved in the regular part of the session.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Some state lawmakers are rejecting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to extend a tax on millionaires. Cuomo spent Tuesday rolling out his spending plan to individual groups of lawmakers in private briefings, then at night, released details to the public.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Some state lawmakers are rejecting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal to extend a tax on millionaires.

The spending plan was outlined to some lawmakers at a lunch at the governor’s mansion, but won’t be available to the public until later this evening.

Senate Republican Majority Leader John Flanagan said he’s against a plan by Cuomo to once again extend the tax.

“I like cutting taxes,” Flanagan said.

Courtesy David Irish

In Betsy Irish’s room, it’s all about the music. There is a big boom box in the corner, framed CD jackets and a special box just for Christmas music.

She’s hanging out with her dad, David Irish, at her group house in a suburb of Rochester. They’re doing one of their usual activities — reading the dictionary.

“L is for letter,” she says.

“That’s what the mailman brings, a letter,” her father answers. “You could write a letter.”

“To?” she responds.

“Who you going to write to?” he eggs her on.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is due to release his budget on Tuesday, and agencies that work with those with intellectual disabilities are among those hoping for more funds. They say they need help to pay workers the new higher minimum wage.

New York’s minimum wage is going up over the next few years, to $15 eventually in New York City and lesser amounts upstate. Groups that provide services for the developmentally disabled rely on Medicaid reimbursements to pay their workers, and they say they’ll have a hard time meeting the higher wages without more money from the state.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

After several years of budget surpluses, New York state tax revenue is coming in at a lower-than-expected rate.

That could affect big-ticket programs like school aid and health care as well as a multi-year tax cut planned by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislators.

Income tax collections are down nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars from what Cuomo’s budget division projected in April, at the start of the state’s fiscal year.

Wallyg / Flickr

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.

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“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.

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