Politics and Government

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Ellen Abbott / WRVO News file photo

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) traveled to upstate New York for the first time since his name has surfaced as the next likely Democratic leader in the Senate.

Harry Reid (D- NV), the current senate minority leader, announced last week he would retire in 2016, and then quickly said he would back Schumer to succeed him.  While it will be up to the Democratic senators to elect their next leader, other potential candidates have said they would support Schumer.

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

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders reached a framework agreement for a budget deal late Sunday night and hope to begin passing bills today to meet the midnight Tuesday deadline.

There are still some details to be worked out, including the specific amounts of school aid to each district in the state from a $1.5 billion increase, but Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says the deal is mostly complete.

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.

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.

Thomas Favre-Bulle / via Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature are considering a commission to design a new teacher evaluation plan, in order to break an impasse over the state budget. But even some lawmakers admit that the compromise is just kicking the can down the road.

Cuomo has demanded that education policy changes be passed along with the state budget or he’ll hold up school aid increases.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Sen. Charles Schumer says increasing the amount of federal funding available as grants for sewer repairs and upgrades will make the work more affordable for local governments.

Last year New York was only allowed to give out $10 million in federal money as grants to towns villages for sewer projects. The rest had to be given as loans.

"Cash-strapped local government have difficulty affording the big wastewater infrastructure projects, so they have no choice, they put them off for another day," Schumer said Wednesday. 

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.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

A protest to raise the minimum wage drew hundreds to the state Capitol, and included a brief occupation of the building’s Dunkin' Donuts. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers are considering hiking the minimum wage in the new budget, but protesters say it is not enough.

The protesters, who have been holding rallies every week, stepped up their efforts when around 100 stormed into the Capitol’s Dunkin' Donuts and demanded that the state’s minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour.

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.

Office of Eric Schneiderman / Flickr

There’s still no final three way deal on an ethics reform proposal at the state Capitol.  And reform groups say a proposal offered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Assembly does not go far enough.

The plan by Cuomo and Assembly Democrats requires that lawmakers disclose the source of all outside income they receive above $1,000. Lawyers must reveal the names of their clients if they earn more than $5,000. They would also have to prove they are actually in Albany, through an electronic monitoring system, before receiving their expense payments.

Broome County

 

Among the issues up for discussion in budget talks this year is an overhaul of New York’s Brownfield Cleanup Program. It offers tax breaks for the development of contaminated industrial sites.

Karen DeWitt/WRVO News

Teachers from the Finger Lakes traveled to Albany Friday to deliver 1,000 local apples to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The purpose was not to share in the bounty of the agricultural region, but to make a point about what they say is the governor’s lack of commitment to school spending.

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.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The three Republican members of Congress that now represent northern and central New York have been presenting a united front when it comes to issues important to the region like Fort Drum and border control. And, they say they are not afraid to stand up to their party at a time when Washington often is paralyzed because of inflexibility from extreme elements in the Republican and Democratic parties.

Kirsten Gillibrand/via Facebook

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is once again introducing federal legislation that would create paid family and medical leave. The Family Act would establish a national, gender-neutral insurance program that would mean a paycheck for families with new babies, or ill family members.  

Gllibrand says it’s becoming more imperative to have this kind of program with so many women working.

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the speaker of the Assembly say they hope the state Senate will sign on to their joint proposal for ethics reform, as a new poll finds the governor with dropping job approval numbers.

Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie took the unusual step of calling their ethics measure a deal, even though they need the Senate to agree to the plan in order for it to become law.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

A new poll finds Gov. Andrew Cuomo is at his lowest ranking since taking office, with signs that the governor’s feud with the teacher’s union is taking a toll.

Cuomo’s job approval rating stands at 50 percent, down 8 points just from last December, before the legislative session began and the governor began a more public feud with the state’s teachers unions, says Quinnipiac University spokesman Mickey Carroll.

“It’s not very good,” said Carroll. “A governor should do better than 50."

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Democrats announced a two-way deal on ethics reform late Tuesday, that they say will require full disclosure of outside income for state lawmakers. Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie say they will not be releasing details until later Wednesday, but Cuomo says he's very pleased with the agreement.

CREDIT ONPOINT.WBUR.ORG

 

New York lawmakers have delayed a deadline that would require prescription medications to be electronic. Many doctors in the state needed more time to put the necessary technology in place. 

Many prescribers in New York already submit scripts electronically, but federal requirements mandate a higher level of security for electronically prescribed controlled substances to prevent fraud.

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.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News file photo

The new director of the Secret Service is facing questions from a House of Representatives committee today about recent scandals that have plagued the organization. New York’s senior senator is one of many lawmakers that feel there should be an extensive investigation into the Secret Service,

In Syracuse Monday, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says he believes that some of the Secret Service’s tough standards have slipped.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development is getting blasted for pulling back promised funds for some infrastructure projects in Onondaga County. Last September, HUD promised about $500,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds to several municipalities in Onondaga County to help pay for various infrastructure projects. Two months later, the way HUD figured out which communities were eligible for the funds changed, and much of the funding was taken away.
 

Carlet Cleare / WXXI (file photo)

A Syracuse lawmaker has finally won over the support of his colleagues to toughen city laws on snow removal.

Common Councilor Bob Dougherty had a visible grin on his face when two ordinances he had sponsored were unanimously approved by the council.

"Knock me over with a feather," he said. Earlier bills never came close to passing and he didn’t think his third try would sail through.

Dougherty has made sidewalk snow removal the focal point of his time on the council. Previous attempts to fine property owners who didn’t shovel were shot down.

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

 

State lawmakers are moving ahead with approving some portions of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act, now that  supporters are no longer demanding that all of the items, including an abortion rights provision, be tied together.

Cuomo campaigned last fall , along with his running mate, and now Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul on passing all ten of the provisions in his Women’s Equality Act,  including a measure to codify into state law the rights included in the federal Roe v. Wade decision.

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