Cuomo releases budget proposal today, local family returns after surviving cruise ship wreck, Black Bridge to be rehabilitated by fall, airlift wing helps with Antarctic evacuation

It's a big day in state politics: Andrew Cuomo will present his budget proposal at 2 pm this afternoon. (Video will be livestreamed from the Cuomo's administration's site.) Cuomo's $130something billion proposed budget arrives as state revenue hasn't bounced back as much as originally forecasted last year -- and there's still a $2 billion budget gap. Of particular interest to the city of Albany: $7.85 million in advance PILOT money for the ESP that the city is hoping to use to balance its budget. [State of Politics] [AP/Troy Record] [AP/Post-Star] [TU]

At a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration yesterday, Cuomo said disparities in the education system are a civil rights issue and instead of being "the great equalizer," education has become "the great discriminator." Cuomo has been critical of teachers' unions and school administrators, and yesterday said again he's pushing for a statewide teacher evaluation system. [TU] [NYT]

The Duanesburg family that was on the Costa Concordia cruise ship that crashed off the coast of Italy Friday is now back home. Says Joan Fleser of the moment the ship hit rocks: "There was this big lurch in the ship and I don't know if you ever saw the Titanic, but it was a scene like right out of the movie." The family says the most helpful cruise line employee during the panic and chaos of the evacuation was a showgirl. [CNN] [YNN] [WTEN] [WNYT] [TU]

The Saratoga County Water Authority has reached a deal to sell water to the GlobalFoundries chip fab in Malta. GloFo will be buying 4 million gallons of water per day. The company is the water authority's biggest customer. [Daily Gazette] [TU] [Saratogian]

A jury has found Eric Peters, the Schenectady police officer accused of assaulting his fiance, not guilty. Said his fiance after the verdict: "He didn't hit me. He's the best man I know." [TU] [Daily Gazette]

The former Golub Company employee accused of stealing more than $300k via a gift card scheme pleaded guilty Friday and faces 1-3 years in prison. [Daily Gazette]

The state lottery is looking at the possibility of offering lottery games online. [TU]

Cohoes mayor John McDonald says the rehabilitation of the Black Bridge into a bicycle and pedestrian crossing should be completed by this fall. [WNYT] Earlier: Kim's soapbox about the fixing the bridge.

Almost 30 people are without a place to live after a large fire in a multi-family unit in Albany's West Hill neighborhood (map). The fire -- and efforts to put it out -- created a huge plume of smoke and steam. [WTEN] [TU] [Fox23]

The village of Stillwater has started taking water from the Saratoga County Water Authority because PCBs were found in the village's well system. [Saratogian]

The New York National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing (the one based in Scotia) helped evacuate fisherman from Antarctica who had been burned during a fire aboard their ship in the Ross Sea. [TU]

The Albany Police Department is one of two departments in the state with a full-time mounted unit. [Fox23]

The Irish American Heritage Museum opens at its new location in downtown Albany today. [Daily Gazette]

Ellen Barrett Bevins, who taught history at Watervliet High School for 46 years, has passed away. [TU]

Cindy Conway, the Saratoga Springs resident who was on Jeopardy Friday, was yet another contestant foiled by the buzzer. [Troy Record]

A fundraiser for a woman with cancer in Glens Falls went bad. [Post-Star]

The Union College men's hockey team beat Harvard 2-0 Friday night in a game played outside at Fenway Park. [Daily Gazette]

In which a Schenectady fifth grader argues against the inclusion of "chickabiddy" in the spelling bee. [Daily Gazette]

The "Ms. Coeymans" skull now has a face -- she's still waiting for a backstory. [TU]

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I went to one last month. My friend took his oath of citizenship. It is a great ceremony. A local school choir sang. There was a moving speech from one of the new citizens who grew up a refugee and at the age of 21 was finally a citizen of a country for the first time in her life. The League of Women Voters give warm welcomes, flags and voter registration cards to all the new citizens. It gave me such warm fuzzies. Everyone should try to go to one of these if they get the chance.

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