Minimum wage increase said to be "dead," Schenectady less broke than previously thought, state retirement fund invests in local social media company, LaFrate has stopped watching

It's school budget vote day. Don't know where to vote? Check your school district's website.

The state Assembly is expected to pass a bill today that would increase the state's minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50. But "officials" say the increase is dead because the state Senate has no plans to take it up. Earlier: a recent Siena poll reported strong support for a minimum wage increase. [YNN] [AP/Troy Record]

A federal jury has found former state Senate majority leader Pedro Espada guilty of stealing half a million dollars from his Bronx-based non-profit healthcare org. The jury didn't reach reach a verdict of a handful of other counts against Espada, after what sounds like some unusual discussion in the jury room. The verdict quickly became grist in the local Senate race between Neil Breslin and challenger Shawn Morse. [NYT] [TU] [YNN] [State of Politics]

An independent audit of the city of Schenectady's finances concludes that the situation isn't as bad as previously described. "The city is not anywhere near a position of being broke," said McCarthy after the new audit. But the audit also concluded that the city has been using budgets that planned to spend more than they bring in. One of the ways the city is planning to bring in more money: squeeze people behind on their property harder in order to get them to pay up. [TU] [YNN] [Daily Gazette] [WNYT]

The Saratoga-based Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, recently accused by the state attorney general's office of not properly caring for its horses, says the AG's complaint is "a product of misinformation and incompetence." The AG's office says it's received additional complaints about TRF since filing the lawsuit. [Saratogian] [TU]

It appears the state's new ethics panel -- JCOPE -- is investigating an allegation involving Tom Libous, the state Senate deputy majority leader. [TU]

Albany County exec Dan McCoy's push to have the county keep more of the sales tax money it collects -- rather than distribute it to cities and towns -- appears to be a no-go in the county legislature. [TU]

The state retirement system has invested $1.2 million in WhoSay, an Albany-based company that manages social media accounts for celebrities. [NYS OSC] [TU]

Even after the Albany County DA's office decided the case didn't rise to the level of criminality, the state comptroller's office is reviewing a pension case involving a former Green Island official -- now with competing accusations of over who knew what and when. [TU]

The fire on Swan Street in Albany on Saturday has now resulted in the demolition of seven buildings and two garages. [TU]

The former UAlbany police officer who pleaded guilty to being part of an operation that included 100 pot plants growing at her home has been sentenced to home confinement. [TU]

Kirel Prince, the 18-year-old who pleaded guilty to shooting Schenectady brothers Shaune Daniels (18) and Nasjarah Pulliam (11) in Hamilton Hill in 2010, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison. [TU]

The mother of the Saratoga woman who allegedly drove her car into two houses and threatened people with lighter fluid and knives said in an email to the Saratogian that her daughter is "very ill (and) needs major treatment." [Saratogian]

The Saratoga Springs city council is scheduled to vote tonight on whether to move last call from 4 am to 3 am. The State Liquor Authority recently issued the opinion that the city can't change the last call time unless Saratoga County does the same. [Saratogian] [TU]

The Saratoga Industrial Development Authority has approved a property tax assessment deal with GlobalFoundries that will have the Malta chip fab's value peak this year, decline for the next 15 years, and hold steady from there until 2059. [Post-Star]

A developer is asking the Saratoga IDA for $390,000 in tax breaks in order to build a large warehouse in Malta that would be partly used by GlobalFoundries. [Daily Gazette]

Saratoga Springs officials are "concerned" about the former Borders building on Broadway now that it's sat empty for more than a year. [Daily Gazette]

The owner of the Flavour Cafe in Troy says he hopes to have the fire-closed cafe back open by August. [Troy Record]

A bear was spotted in Rensselaer. [TU]

Laura LaFrate, the Scotia native who's in the final three of the current season of America's Next Top Model, says she's stopped watching the show. [TU]


News Soon to be Reported: The NYS Senate Republicans offer a bill bringing back indentured servitude. Officials are quoted as saying "Excessive regulation in the area of peonage and servitude has restricted the free labor market in NYS for far too long. This job-creation bill will benefit all New Yorkers."

What's with all the Tea Party-esque comments on AOA lately?

Minimum wage hikes are generally a pretty bad idea. They aren't very effective at helping the poor (most minimum wage workers live in households with >$30k/year income) for example. An EITC increase is a better idea for short-term poverty relief. Long term relief can only be achieved through robust economic growth, of which we've seen unfortunately much too little of recently.

Minimum wage hikes tend to increase the base prices of most products produced by minimum wage workers and therefore are paid for by consumers (not businesses, generally) via higher prices. This depresses the economy somewhat since it reduces everyone's buying power.

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Washington Avenue definitely needs more than one lane in each direction, but that doesn't mean it can't be redesigned. They can reduce the size of the lanes, add a median, and add a protected bike lane where the shoulder of the road now lies. I agree, however, that the entire Harriman loop would have to be redesigned and that includes those over-passes, so this would be an extremely expensive undertaking if they want to do it right. But there could be significant development on the land that is now wasted by asphalt that could offset that cost and bulk up the tax base for the city.

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