Cuomo expected to push for state worker pay freeze, demo begins on old Troy city hall, 103 mph on the Northway, the Capital Region's first baby of 2011

New York State has a new governor: Andrew Cuomo (you may have heard of him). He took the oath of office New Year's Eve. In his inaugural address on New Year's Day, Cuomo said he approaches his job with "constructive impatience with the status quo of Albany" and:

"New York faces a deficit, a deficit that we talk about all day long: the budget deficit, the budget deficit. But it's actually worse. The state faces a budget deficit and a competence deficit and an integrity deficit and a trust deficit. And those are the obstacles we really face."

After the inaugural, Cuomo said he will carry through on the 900 state employee layoffs initiated by the Paterson administration and declared there will be "no new taxes, period." The Cuomo administration is requiring ethics training for staff members. And, in somewhat symbolic move, Cuomo has ordered the concrete barriers removed from the Capitol's south entrance and the opening of a hallway in the Capitol's executive suite. [NYT] [Cuomo admin] [TU] [State of Politics] [AP/Post-Star] [TU] [NYT]

Cuomo's first state of the state speech is this Wednesday. He's expected to push for a pay freeze for state employees and a property tax cap. [NYT] [NYDN]

While Cuomo has named a handful top administration officials, many top positions are still unfilled. Jerry Jennings was MC of the Cuomo inaugural -- and though there's speculation the longtime Cuomo friend will take a position in the administration, Jennings said last week: "I'm staying where I am." [NYT] [Fox23] [TU]

Saying a million dollar state grant was at risk, Harry Tutunjian pushed ahead with the demolition of the old Troy city hall Friday. The demolition defies an order by the city council to delay the action. [Troy Record] [TU]

Demolition crews discovered the body of a man Friday while taking down a Schenectady apartment building damaged by fire December 10 (map). The family of a building resident who's been missing fears the body is that of their missing brother. The building's landlord said he had originally been told that everyone made it out of the fire safely. [TU] [Daily Gazette] [TU]

There were a combined total of 12 homicides in Schenectady, Albany and Troy in 2010 -- 8 in Schenectady, and two each in Albany and Troy. [TU]

The number of hate crimes was down slightly last year in the Capital Region, compared to the year before. [Daily Gazette]

With the addition of 29-year-old Rockland County Republican Democrat David Carlucci, the state Senate now has four members 33 or younger. [TU]

The New York State Retail Council says a large majority of surveyed retailers reported holiday sales number as good or better than last year.

The state's beer keg registration law expired last November, though many retailers say no one told them (what this means for you: don't pay the state-mandated deposit). [Daily Gazette]

The state's Commission on Judicial Conduct censured an Albany County Family Court judge for attempting to use his position to get out of DWAI charges. [NYS CJC] [Troy Record]

The man accused of taping a kitten into a box and then abandoning it in a Troy alley is expected to be arraigned today. [Troy Record]

State police say they nabbed a guy for allegedly driving 103 mph down the Northway in Saratoga County. [WNYT]

The permanent closure of the Delaware Ave post office in Albany has been postponed (map). [TU]

An Elks lodge helped raise $8000 for families displaced by a fire in downtown Cohoes the day after Christmas (map). [Troy Record]

Dr. Bob Paeglow, who runs a health clinic in Albany's West Hill neighborhood, says he was "called" to the job. [Troy Record]

There's a proposed plan to create a series of underwater scuba diving trails around the state, based on a one in Lake George. [Saratogian]

A group of students at Berlin Middle/High School have invented a device to help people with hearing impairments sense objects or motion behind them. [TU]

The first baby born this year in the greater Capital Region: Kaidin DiResta, at 1:55 am at Glens Falls Hospital. [TU]


Verified keg change on state Alcohol Control Board website (could link directly to that rather than Gazette paysite) and with a local beverage center/keg seller who said that they were not informed of the change directly and found out a month late from someone else. So, be sure to mention it to your local retailer if necessary.

Freezing state employee pay will certainly be popular, judging by comments from my friends who want to see state workers suffer as they feel the private sector has. And I support it, for FY2011 at least.

But, the total cost of all state employees, including benefits, is projected to be $19.1 billion (source). Salary only will be $13.1B. If we're looking at a $9 billion gap -- and that's really the minimum -- you'd actually have to eliminate a sizeable percentage of the workforce to make a significant impact.

So, 4% of that $13.1b is $525 million. That's a little less than 6% of the minimum budget gap. That's something, but there are two real problems here. Well, three, but I won't get into contractors because that's its own, bigger issue. One, state employees are also state residents and state consumers with bills to pay. Completely eliminating the salary increase will mean less spending which will in turn mean less revenue. Oops. Two, and more importantly, this is a nonsustainable savings. In no rational universe can you freeze state salaries at 2010 levels forever. So this helps cover a fraction of the 2011 gap; then what? There will be a gap in 2012 and 2013. When will you lift this, necessitating the sustainable cuts that really should be done instead?

No, while I do support a one-year increase freeze as an emergency measure, it's not a solution, and definitely not a platform. Honor the contracts that are currently in effect; when they're up for renegotiation, I'd like to see some compromise on both sides to a smaller increase, which is then renegotiated at the end of that contract, etc. You know, the way that makes sense.

Oh, and by the way, scroll down on that link and read the bit about the Marcellus Shale. Hydraulic fracturing is happening. Hope you have stock in bottled water!

Might want to get your facts right:

"With the addition of 29-year-old Rockland County Republican David Carlucci, the state Senate now has four members 33 or younger."

David Carlucci is a Democrat.

Editors: Fixed. Thanks.

B, very well put. Bravo. I agree with every word.

I want to add, that the masses need to stop crowing about running government like a business. A business has a very specific bottom line and tangible deliverables (specifically speaking, profit). Government, as a rule, doesn't generate revenue, so therefore no profit. Government deliverables tend to be intangible.

Don't believe me? Ask Mayor Bloomberg if he thinks it was worth the paltry savings to the city not to backfill snowplow drivers. No, snowplow drivers don't generate revenue. However, most residents don't realize that there are valuable services being provided by government workers ... that is, until those services are no longer being provided.

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