Unshackle Upstate


Republicans fared better than Democrats in pro-business group Unshackle Upstate’s rankings of state legislators who are seeking re-election in November.

Unshackle Upstate’s Greg Biryla said overall, GOP lawmakers did better than Democrats when ranked on issues that business groups care about, such as holding the line on taxes and spending.

He said Assembly Republicans, the smallest conference, scored highest.

“They had numerous members who received 100, overall,” Biryla said. “They were the only conference to achieve that.”

Duffy proposes state lawmakers form upstate caucus

Aug 26, 2016
Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

State lawmakers in upstate New York should form an "upstate caucus." That idea was floated this week by Bob Duffy, the former lieutenant governor, who is now president of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce.

Duffy says upstate lawmakers should join in a bipartisan way, to help advance the interests of the region.  As an example, he points to the recent bills approved raising the minimum wage, which did address the different economic needs of upstate and downstate.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Advocates for paid family leave in New York say they hope 2016 is the year that the state finally provides a program to allow workers to take time off to care for a child, or a sick elderly relative.

The effort includes nurses, advocates for the mentally ill, the League of Women Voters and the New York Civil Liberties Union, who say everyone has an interest in seeing paid family leave become law.  The AARP’s Derrick Holmes says it’s a multi-generational issue encompassing the elderly,  baby boomers and Generation X-ers.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

An upstate business group is seeking tax cuts for small businesses in the new year, and are opposing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to phase in a minimum wage hike to $15 an hour.

Unshackle Upstate’s Greg Biryla says while portions of  the economy have improved somewhat, including the Albany and Buffalo regions, wide swaths of the Southern Tier, North Country, and Mohawk Valley continue to stagnate, and have lost jobs.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

Supporters of paid family leave in New York say they hope 2016 will be their year, but business groups are urging caution.

A measure to allow all workers in the state 12 weeks of paid leave to take care of a new baby or sick family member was approved in the New York State Assembly, and two measures gained support in the New York State Senate, but the issue fell by the wayside in the end of session rush to pass bills and adjourn for the summer.

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has spent the days leading up to this joint State of the State and budget message rolling out a number of new programs and proposals, including an anti-poverty agenda that includes raising the minimum wage, and tax cuts for small businesses.

Cuomo says as part of his budget, he’ll include a new phased-in increase of the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour by the end of 2016. In New York City, the rate would rise to $11.50 an hour. The governor says New York City is arguably “the most expensive market” in the U.S.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO file photo

Environmentalists are celebrating after Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there will be no hydrofracking in New York for now, citing inconclusive scientific evidence on the health effects of the gas drilling process.


An upstate pro business group is out with ratings for the Senate and Assembly, and finds, not surprisingly, that more liberal Democrats are at odds with the group’s agenda than conservative leaning Republicans. Unshackle Upstate says that could have implications for the group’s interests if Democrats take over the Senate in November.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The fallout from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new alliance with the progressive Working Families Party continues at the state Capitol, with those who say they represent upstate interests dismayed at the development.

Brian Sampson, with the business friendly group Unshackle Upstate, had planned to begin his organization’s final push on several items they wanted to see passed in the legislature. But he arrived at the Capitol just after Cuomo struck a deal with the progressive Working Families Party to help Democrats take over the state Senate.

Zack Seward / WXXI

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has some harsh words for state lawmakers who are fighting his commission in court regarding subpoenas that would force legislators to reveal their outside business with private legal clients.

Cuomo says state lawmakers fighting the subpoenas are acting like they are concealing something.

“Those that have nothing to hide, disclose,” Cuomo said. “Those that don’t, have an issue.”


An upstate pro-business group says regions of the state north of Westchester need special attention in the coming months to help the floundering economy. The group Unshackle Upstate is proposing a series of tax cuts, as well as a start to hydrofracking as the remedy.

The Regional Economic Development Councils have been a cornerstone of Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to revitalize the state's economy. In his budget address Tuesday, Cuomo proposed a third round of state funding for the regional councils totaling $210 million.

After canceling two meetings where a proposed 45 percent toll hike on trucks was believed to be voted on, the New York State Thruway Authority now says it needs more time to consider options before going ahead with the controversial proposal.

The New York State Thruway Authority will hold a meeting Tuesday, after postponing a meeting scheduled for Friday afternoon. While there’s no official agenda, opponents of a toll hike on trucks believe the board will vote on the issue at the meeting.

Jacob Enos / Flickr

The New York State Thruway Authority has scheduled a board meeting for Friday afternoon.  There is no public agenda yet, but it is believed that the board will consider a 45 percent increase in truck tolls.

The New York State Thruway Board has not yet scheduled a new meeting, after postponing their most recent gathering. The Thruway Authority is considering a toll hike on trucks. Opponents of the toll increase see the delay as a good sign.

A business group is asking the New York State Thruway Authority to delay a proposed 45 percent increase in truck tolls and conduct an audit of the authority’s finances instead.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is running television ads proclaiming New York’s business friendliness, but a recent set of rankings finds the state dead last in that category. The truth likely lies somewhere in between.

Jacob Enos / Flickr

A coalition of business groups is opposing a proposed 50 percent toll hike for trucks on the New York State Thruway, saying it will have a drastic impact on manufacturing, farming, and many other industries.