Wed May 14, 2014

Astorino the underdog in the governor's race

Ellen Abbott WRVO file photo

Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive, faces a steep challenge. He’s 30 points behind the well-known incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the polls, and has only a fraction of Cuomo’s record $33 million campaign war chest.  

Astorino is a Republican in a state where Democrats now dominate and independents, not registered in either major party, are gaining ground. But the 47-year-old married father of three says he’s used to being a long shot.

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Wed April 16, 2014
Regional Coverage

East Syracuse voting on future of police department

The village of East Syracuse is deciding this evening whether it can afford to continue staffing a fulltime police force.

In October 2012, residents of the village voted down the idea of dissolving its police force and merging it with that of neighboring DeWitt. But since that vote, taxes for residents have shot up 22 percent and the town board again approved the measure this spring.

For Janini Puliatti, having more eyes watching over the village is worth the expense.

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Mon April 7, 2014
The Upstate Economy

What upstate NY needs to do to stay relevant in global economy

Bob Moritz is chairman and senior partner of PWC.
Photo courtesy of PWC

The chairman of the worldwide accounting firm PWC, formerly called Pricewaterhouse Coopers, has roots right here in central New York. Bob Moritz is a graduate of SUNY Oswego and visited the campus last week to speak about the global economy. WRVO's Catherine Loper spoke with Moritz about how those trends apply to the economic situation in upstate New York.

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Fri March 21, 2014
Politics and Government

Dispute ends budget meeting

Wallyg Flickr

The next several days will be crucial ones in Albany for negotiations on the state budget. Tensions ran high at a closed-door meeting between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders.

Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos abruptly left the final leaders meeting before the weekend early, complaining there was too much emphasis on the needs of the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, at the expense of the rest of the state.

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Wed March 19, 2014

Utica City School District discusses layoffs to help balance budget

The Utica City School District is looking at another year of layoffs, though the final budget has not been completed.
Gino Geruntino WRVO

For the fourth straight year, the Utica City School District is facing a deficit, causing the school board to consider layoffs. School Business Official Maureen Albanese says right now the district, which is among the state's poorest, is having trouble balancing its nearly $146 million budget.

"We had a $3.8 million deficit in the general fund, and we're looking at a $2.6 [million] deficit in our federal grants, which brought our total budget deficit to $6.4 million," Albanese said.

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Fri March 14, 2014

Gillibrand wants higher tax write-off for child care

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) at a pre-kindergarten classroom in Herkimer County earlier this year.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants to double the tax write-off for child care expenses, saying it will benefit working mothers and families.

Right now 35 percent of a child’s daycare – or up to about $1,000 – can be written off on annual tax filings. Gillibrand’s bill would raise that to half of the expenses, or $3,000. She says making child care more affordable will allow more parents to work full time and bring home more money.

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Fri February 14, 2014

Pre-K funding fight fuels upstate-downstate divide

James F Clay Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems to have gained the upper hand and some new allies in his policy skirmish with New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio over how to fund pre-kindergarten, as the fight threatens to turn into an upstate downstate split.

DeBlasio has been seeking permission from Cuomo and the legislature to raise income taxes on the wealthy in New York City in order to pay for access to pre-kindergarten for almost 75,000 four-year-olds there, arguing that it would help ease income inequality.

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Wed February 12, 2014

Poll intensifies Cuomo-deBlasio debate over pre-K funding

A new poll finds that New Yorkers statewide favor Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to fund pre-kindergarten over New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio’s proposal.

The Quinnipiac poll finds that the majority of New Yorkers prefer Cuomo’s plan to finance expanded pre-K through state funds, than favor deBlasio’s proposal to tax the wealthy to get the money.

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Wed February 12, 2014
Politics and Government

Union activists protest governor's budget plan

Protestors rally against Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget plan in front of the state office building in Syracuse.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Local union activists and community organizers are hoping to send a message to state lawmakers about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget: they don’t like it. And they suggest it will increase the income gap between the rich and the poor.

On a snowy day in Syracuse, union activities and community organizers gathered to rally at the state office building in Syracuse against the governor's budget plan

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Wed January 15, 2014
Politics and Government

Pro-school funding rally draws hundreds to state Capitol


Hundreds of school children, parents and union members held a rally and sit-in at the state Capitol to build momentum for more spending on schools in the state budget.

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Tue January 7, 2014
Politics and Government

Cuomo tax cut plan reduces business and property taxes

Ryan Delaney WRVO

Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a key portion of his State of the State address early. He unveiled a plan to cut business taxes, and potentially freeze local property taxes for two years.

Surrounded by business leaders, Cuomo outlined a plan Monday that would cut business taxes, and result in property tax reductions for businesses and homeowners, if local governments and schools comply with a set of requirements in the next three years.   

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Mon December 30, 2013
Politics and Government

Taxes likely to top agenda for governor, state legislature

One of the top issues of the 2014 legislative session will be taxes. While Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to cut taxes, some -- including New York City Mayor elect Bill de Blasio -- want to raise them. 

In a year where Cuomo and all 213 of the state’s legislative seats are up for reelection, it’s not a big surprise that the legislative session would focus on tax cuts.

Cuomo appointed two tax commissions to study the issue, but even before they were finished, he was already signaling his intentions.

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Tue November 26, 2013

Brewers ask Rep. Maffei for reduction in federal taxes

The assembly line at the F.X. Matt Brewery, maker of Saranac beer, in Utica, N.Y.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Some New York craft brewers are asking their local congressman to reduce the federal taxes on their beer so they can continue to grow.

The number of craft brewers in the state has risen to more than 140 in the past two decades as demand for more flavorful beers has grown. A handful of brewers met with Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei Monday at Empire Brewery in Syracuse. They had two main requests.

A reduction in the federal excise tax will help them expand, Mark Rubenstein, owner of Middle Ages Brewery, said.

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Tue October 15, 2013
Politics and Government

Cuomo setting the stage for tax cuts

Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems to be setting the stage for a tax cut next year. Recently, he’s appointed a new commission to look at cutting property and other taxes, and has said the state may have a budget surplus to pay for them.

The governor announced a new tax policy commission headed by former Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, and former state Comptroller Carl McCall, a Democrat. Both are past political rivals of Cuomo.

Cuomo charged the new panel with finding a way to cut taxes.

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Mon July 29, 2013
Politics and Government

Study finds New York analyzing tax dollar usage well

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.

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Tue July 9, 2013
Politics and Government

Gov. Cuomo talks tax returns, or lack thereof

While many New Yorkers who filed their income tax returns have already received a refund from the state, there are others, mainly those who filed their returns on paper, whose refund has not arrived yet.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week the reason for the delay is not due to an oversight, but rather because of a backlog of tax returns to sort through.

"Ninety-six or 97 percent of the refunds have been already sent out and the tax department is working on the remaining three percent," Cuomo said. "It's just a volume issue that they're working through."

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Wed June 19, 2013
Politics and Government

Senate passes bill forcing landlords to pay taxes

The New York State Senate has passed a bill that would authorize public welfare officials to withhold rent from landlords who have not paid their real estate taxes.

In many cases, publicly funded subsidies meant to help families pay their rent are paid directly to landlords through social services programs. In October, the Syracuse Post-Standard reported that two landlords received more than $400,000 in government aid for rent while neglecting to pay over a million dollars in property taxes to the city.

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Tue June 4, 2013
Regional Coverage

Ag advocates applaud movement on tighter farmland assessment cap

Farmer John Peck, of Peck Homestead Farm in Champion, Jefferson County, is worried about how steadily rising farmland property taxes are affecting his livelihood.
Credit Joanna Richards

Agriculture advocates are welcoming progress on state legislation that would slow rising property taxes for farmers. The Senate passed a bill last week that tightens the cap on farmland assessment increases. Yesterday, that measure also passed out of the Assembly's Agriculture Committee. 

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Wed May 29, 2013
Politics and Government

Cuomo seeks help from local leaders to pass tax free zone plan

governorandrewcuomo Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked local government leaders from around upstate New York help him convince the legislature to approve his tax free zone plan.
Cuomo wants to create tax free zones for new businesses who locate at state-run and some private college campuses around the state. All taxes, even for employees, would be waved for a decade. The governor says he may even increase the plan to 20 other state-run sites.

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Tue May 28, 2013
Politics and Government

Cuomo's 'Tax-Free Zones' proposal draws mixed reviews

Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his stop in Syracuse to promote his tax free zones.
Credit Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been traveling the state promoting a plan to allow new businesses to go tax-free for up to a decade if they locate near a State University of New York campus.  The plan, which is yet to be drafted into bill form, has raised some questions.

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Fri May 17, 2013
Regional Coverage

Mayor Miner wants Hotel Syracuse redeveloped - one way or another

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says the city isn't giving up on the latest proposal to renovate the Hotel Syracuse. A plan for the city to take over the tax delinquent property stalled last week when, Financitech, which holds the mortgage on the hotel, paid back taxes at the last minute.

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Fri March 29, 2013
Politics and Government

New York state legislature passes budget

The state legislature is finished voting on a $141.3 billion state budget, with the Assembly completing it's work shortly before midnight on Thursday. The final passage occurred one week past lawmakers’ s self-imposed deadline, but three days before the spending plan was actually due to be finished. 

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Thu February 21, 2013

DiNapoli says Syracuse's finances suffer from "systemic problems"

New York State's financial overseer is warning Syracuse's finances face "systemic problems."

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Wed January 23, 2013
Politics and Government

Cuomo proposes third lean budget

Governor Cuomo unveiling the proposed 2013-14 Executive Budget and Management Plan.
governorandrewcuomo Flickr

Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a $142 billion state budget, that includes federal aid for post Superstorm Sandy recovery, and closes a $1.3 billion dollar budget gap.

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Tue January 22, 2013
Politics and Government

Cuomo proposes budget with "no new taxes"

Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a $137 billion state budget Tuesday afternoon. In a speech in Albany before state legislators, he presented his plan to increase spending by about two percent.

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Thu December 27, 2012

Tax season may bring changes and surprises next year

401(K) 2012 Flickr

There could be some surprises for taxpayers in 2013. Many of them may find themselves with a bigger tax bill next year.

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Fri December 14, 2012
Politics and Government

Gillibrand says she's optimistic fiscal cliff can be avoided

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is optimistic that the President Barack Obama and leadership of the House of Representatives will cut a deal to prevent the so-called "fiscal cliff."  New York's junior senator predicted there would be progress soon during a visit to Syracuse Friday.

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Tue November 13, 2012
Politics and Government

Schumer: compromise is key to avoiding fiscal cliff

The focus in Washington, D.C. is now on the so-called "fiscal cliff," which describes the automatic budget cuts and tax hikes that are scheduled to go into effect at the end of the year if Congress and the president don't come to an agreement to reduce the deficit.  Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) is among those saying that the election was a mandate for compromise.

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Thu October 11, 2012
Politics and Government

Schumer on tax rate compromises: "You can't do three things at once"

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is skeptical about the latest compromise being discussed in Washington to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. Schumer expects a deal to be done by the end of the year, but says he won't support what's under discussion now.

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Wed October 10, 2012
Politics and Government

State comptroller predicts Wall Street profits up in volatile economic climate

Profits on Wall Street are going to be up this year, according to a new report from the New York state comptroller, but are still below their pre-recession highs. The report also finds fewer job losses in the securities industry, and many economic uncertainties ahead.

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