Thomas DiNapoli

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New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said there is no political agenda behind a series of audits critical of some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development programs. The democrat said the auditors in his department are simply calling shots as they see them.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not been getting along with other Democrats in the state this summer.

For some time, Cuomo has appeared to have a feud with the Democratic mayor of New York City, but in recent weeks, the governor has directed scathing comments toward state Assembly Democrats.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo had harsh words for the state’s comptroller, a fellow Democrat, over questions about the value of the state’s economic development programs.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has conducted audits raising questions about the value of some of the programs, saying there’s not enough documentation in some cases that New Yorkers are getting their money’s worth.

Cuomo, speaking Tuesday in Buffalo, struck back when asked about DiNapoli and others who suggest the programs should be redesigned.

Karen DeWitt

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner join capitol correspondent Karen DeWitt and Casey Seiler of the Albany Times Union on today's "ConventionCast" to share their thoughts on the Democratic National Convention, the DNC email controversy, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio's relationship.

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Two western New York lawmakers have asked State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to review Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion economic development projects.

The comptroller says an ongoing audit is already looking at some aspects of the increasingly controversial project and other Cuomo administration economic development initiatives that are currently under federal investigation.

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As New York state lawmakers finish up this legislative session, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli hopes one item he’s been pushing for years makes it to the top of the agenda.

DiNapoli has been critical of the use of local development corporations. More commonly called LDCs, these not-for-profit corporations are often created by governments to help spur economic growth.

He says these entities create an environment where it’s easy for communities to use them to engage in back-door borrowing for projects that avoid competitive bidding requirements.

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The city of Syracuse is staying out of fiscal stress, based on a system developed by the New York state comptroller’s office.

The city has never been flagged by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for having a government teetering towards insolvency.

“In the three years we’ve been doing this, Syracuse has never been in any stress categories and that certainly is very good news for this community,” said DiNapoli during a visit to Syracuse Monday.

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The New York State comptroller has issued an audit finding that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration has dropped the ball on some aspects of policing nursing homes.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli took the unusual step of holding a press conference to highlight an audit which concludes that the Cuomo administration is not adequately  fining or enforcing violations at nursing homes.

“Families need to know that their loved ones have safe accommodations and that providers are being held accountable when problems are found,” Di Napoli said.

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State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner are lobbying for more money from New York state to pay for infrastructure improvement. Standing in the shadow of the Evans Street Bridge in Syracuse that the state calls deficient, DiNapoli called on Albany to help localities fix bridges and roads that are falling apart. He said a recent report shows that local government spending on infrastructure has dropped dramatically.

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Despite a tumultuous summer, Wall Street saw its best performance in the first six months of this year since 2011. A report from the New York state comptroller's office released Tuesday found that the securities industry earned more than $11 billion first half of 2015, a 29 percent increase from the same period last year. In addition to higher profits, Wall Street salaries, bonuses and employment are all on the rise.

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A New York comedian, who is also an activist on prison rights issues, is drawing attention to the state’s practice of investing a small amount of its pension fund in the private prison industry.

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There is about $14 billion in lost money or unclaimed funds owed to residents in New York state. People attending the New York State Fair can check out the new state comptroller's booth to see if they have any unclaimed funds.

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The New York State Board of Elections recently issued its final report on an experimental public campaign finance system that had no participants. Government reform groups say it’s another sign that the pilot program for one race in the 2014 election cycle was designed to fail, and that politicians in New York are not yet serious about real campaign finance reforms.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been making frequent trips to upstate cities this summer, touting his success in reviving the regions’ faltering economy. But a new report from the New York state comptroller on job creation shows there is still some work to do.

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State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says he has no interest in challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a primary in three years, saying he prefers to seek re-election as comptroller.

DiNapoli, a favorite among many state Democrats (especially in the party’s left-leaning base), says he has no interest in running in a primary against Cuomo. The state comptroller says he intends to seek another term in his current post and says he’s set up a campaign committee for the comptroller’s slot for 2018.

“I happen to love this job,” DiNapoli says. “I think it’s the best job in state government.”

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New York state’s comptroller finds that local and school property taxes will increase by the lowest percentage in decades, under the rules of the tax cap program recently renewed by the state legislature.

According to the law, property taxes are capped at 2 percent per year or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. The projected rate of inflation for the 2016 calendar year is less than 1 percent, at .73 percent, says Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking credit for the state budget’s turnaround from huge gaps to healthy surpluses, but a watchdog group says Cuomo is relying on future funds that have not yet materialized.

Cuomo often lists his achievements as governor when he gives speeches. He likes to recount how he turned the state’s finances around, as he did in his inaugural address earlier this year.

“We turned a $10 billion deficit into a $5 billion surplus,” Cuomo said then.

governorandrewcuomo / via Flickr

The head of New York state’s economic development agency says a recent report questioning its success is flawed.

In his testimony to a state Legislature budget hearing, outgoing Empire State Development Corporation Commissioner Kenneth Adams said the comptroller’s report on his agency is misleading.

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Maneuvering for the next speaker of the state Assembly is going on largely behind the scenes and government reform groups say that’s the wrong way to begin a new era in what’s been called the people’s house. They’ve asked the announced candidates to commit to an open process, and want an answer before the weekend.

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State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says $5 billion in extra money that New York is reaping from bank settlements should not be viewed as a surplus, and should not be spent as though there will be more money coming in the future.

“I wouldn’t call it a surplus,” DiNapoli said. “It’s really more of a windfall.”

And so the comptroller says it should not be used for recurring expenses, like tax cuts or increased school aid, as some legislators have suggested.

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The first experiment with the state’s new public campaign financing law went out with a whimper. The method of parlaying private dollars into a public match fell short in the race for the state comptroller.

In order to get $1.2 million in state funds for his campaign, Republican state comptroller candidate Bob Antonacci needed to get 2,000 people to donate between $10 and $175, and it had to amount to at least $200,000.

In the end, Antonacci fell about $50,000 short.

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An experimental public campaign finance system for the state comptroller’s race has fizzled, after the lone candidate who applied for the program failed to meet the minimum threshold to obtain public monies.

The pilot public campaign financing program was limited to just the state comptroller’s race as part of a state budget deal.

It was widely condemned at the time by reform groups as fatally flawed. Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group called it cynical.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO file photo

New York state has received a multi billion dollar windfall from bank settlements this year, but a new report from the state comptroller shows the settlement took a bite out of Wall Street profits in 2014, which could have repercussions for the state budget in the future.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli reports Wall Street profits are down by 13 percent so far in 2014, compared to the previous year, 2013, when profits had already shrunk by 30 percent.

“Certainly we’re seeing profits, but down from what we saw last year,” DiNapoli said.

New York state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says SUNY's 29 state-operated colleges are doing a better job of reporting crimes on and around their campuses, but there is still more work to do. DiNapoli's office recently released an audit regarding the Clery Act, which he says was a follow up to an audit performed in 2008.
 

State pension funds hits another all-time high

Aug 28, 2014
Ryan Delaney / WRVO

New York state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says the state's estimated pension fund value has reached an all-time high, thanks to several factors.

"We've been benefiting obviously from the strong public markets, the stock market's been doing well and that's a significant part of our portfolio," DiNapoli said.

"So at the end of our first quarter -- and our fiscal year starts April 1 -- so at the end of the first quarter, which ended June 30, we were up to $180.7 billion. That is an historic high for us, so we're very, very pleased about the continued growth of the fund."

Those visiting the New York State Fair might stumble into some money, thanks to the state comptroller and the Office of Unclaimed Funds.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says there's about $13 billion in lost money throughout the state.

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The only statewide candidate participating in the pilot public campaign finance program says it’s been slow going. But Republican comptroller candidate Bob Antonacci expects to collect enough individual donors to qualify for the state's matching funds.

Antonacci has to convince 2,000 people to donate small amounts of money to his campaign by September 10, and raise $200,000 from them, in order to qualify for a grant that will give him six times the amount of money he raises by that date.

“It has been tedious at times,” Antonacci admits. “It’s been a lot of work.”

Former Altmar clerk-treasurer sentenced to prison time

Aug 5, 2014
Gino Geruntino / WRVO

The former clerk and treasurer of the dissolved village of Altmar was able to get away with theft for five years, mainly because there was no system of internal controls within the village board, according to New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

DiNapoli trying to reduce account of unclaimed funds

Jun 18, 2014
Ryan Delaney / WRVO News file photo

New York’s Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is trying to whittle down a fund of abandoned or unclaimed money owed to both individuals and municipalities.

DiNapoli’s office says there are more than 31 million accounts in the state with money sitting in them. It can be a utility deposit or old bank account that sat unused too long and was turned over to the state.

About 10,000 of those unclaimed funds belong to towns and cities throughout the state, worth more than $5 million.

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State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is urging New Yorkers to invest in a 529 College Saving Program, which helps families save money for college tuition. DiNapoli says parents, grandparents and others can open an account for a child, and receive tax credits of up to $10,000 annually for their contributions.

More than 800,000 529 College Saving Program accounts have been set up in New York, but DiNapoli says many more could take advantage of the program.

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