142 billion budget agreement, McGinn and Smith order to pay $99 M, helping out Jay Street merchants, how not to celebrate April Fool's Day

Hi. We're continuing to try out a new format for Morning Blend. Thanks for the feedback so far, and we welcome continued suggestions.

Spring? Is that you?
45 today. 61 on Thursday. Not quite flip-flop weather, but promising.

Under the wire
Legislators raced the clock to get the $142 billion NYS budget passed by the deadline. . Ethics and education reforms that were deal-breakers for Andrew Cuomo ended up in the Education Labor & Family Assistance bill. A not so comforting thought from Assemblyman Dan Stec on the bills which were submitted with less than 12 hours until the budget deadline "I'm sure there isn't a soul in Albany that's read all of these." [WNYT][Gazette][TU]

$11.5 million
What Albany County gets to deal with debt that dates back to the construction of the Knickerbocker Arena, Pepsi, Times Union Center. Other local budget items include:
+ $152 million for projects at the Harriman state office campus.
+ $2 million appropriation for the Schenectady Metroplex redevelopment.
+ $42 million appropriation for the University at Albany Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurial Complex and other projects part of the SUNY 2020 challenge grant program.

Silver's View
Sheldon Silver on budgets, from his new seat in the back row of the Assembly.
"Some are smoother, some are less smooth," he said. "We all hit bumps in the road at some point."[NYT]

Ten million pieces of paper
That's the estimated number of pieces of paper still printed for the NYS budget even though more than 77-percent of New York voters approved the legislature going paperless last election. They're working on it. [TWCN]

$99 million
A judge has ordered David Smith and Timothy McGinn to pay back $99 million to the investors they were convicted of defrauding in a Ponzi scheme. [News 10]

X-Ray weapon case update
Lawyers for the Saratoga County man who allegedly plotted to create a mobile, remotely operated X-ray device to silently kill Muslims from a distance using lethal doses of radiation, say their client is battling a "wholesale government fabrication of a crime" and have filed a request to dismiss the charges. [TU]

The Streets of Schenectady
Schenectady is considering ways to reconfigure the streets near the old Alco sites to connect Jay and Nott streets and improve visibility and walkability to the future site of the Rivers Casino and Resort at Mohawk Harbor. [Gazette]

Andrew Cuomo has banned all non-essential state government travel to Indiana to protest the state's controversial religious freedom law, which critics say allows for discrimination against gays and lesbians. [TU]

Docking at the NYS Museum
The "World Trade Center Ship" docks at the NYS Museum. [NYT]

It's cool
A judge has dismissed the charges against Snow Cone Joe. [WNYT]

How to help out today
The Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp is hosting a fundraiser from 5-8 pm in Key Hall to help the Jay Street merchants affected by the fire that destroyed two buildings last month. Suggested donation: $25.

Other stuff to do today

The annual Canstruction exhibit opens at the State Museum. Teams of "architects, engineers, contractors and students" will be creating structures out of canned goods (the food is donated to the Food Pantries for the Capital District at the end of the exhibit). This year's theme is "Heroes!" Visitors can vote for their favorite by donating a canned good in a bin by each sculpture. Runs through April 16.

State Museum curator of geology Marian Lupulescu will be talking about "the geology, mineralogy, and mining history of iron, rare earth elements, and other commodities such as zinc, talc, and wollastonite deposits found in New York State." Wednesday 7 pm, State Museum Huxley Theater - free

Music: Citizen Cope at Troy Music Hall
"An intimate solo/acoustic evening with..." 8 pm - $26 and up

Celebrating April Fool's Day -- not
Before you play that April Fools Day joke you've been working on, take John Oliver's pledge.


That World Trade Center Ship sounds fascinating. Especially this bit about Hudson River Sloops having “very beamy hulls that placed an emphasis on carrying a large cargo or a great amount of passengers rather than speed.” Hope that happens soon.

I concur, the World Trade Center Ship coming to Albany is an excellent development and should reinforce the fact that there is a bounty of heritage that this region just ignores. I think a museum downtown, focusing on our colonial history, our impact on the Revolutionary War (the Albany Plan, penned by Ben Franklin, was a precursor for the Declaration of Independence), etc. Maybe we can apply for a regional cultural heritage museum through that "Upstate Revitalization Initiative" program just passed in the budget. $500 million could help underwrite a lot of neat stuff to tell our region's story.

RE: format - maybe only use the bold/bigger headings for larger stories with several items under? Or group the smaller, more one-line stories into "Also in the news..."?

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They should turn Maiden Lane into a stepped pedestrian street, like they have all over Europe. We don't need to reinvent the wheel, they do steep small streets pretty well across the pond, let's look for some precedents... Human scaled lighting is critical too, that goes for the whole city. And we don't need paint on the road, just signage perpendicular to the flow of traffic at the bridge entrance. I also echo the call for basic, ongoing maintenance to our current infrastructure. How about some weed removal in sidewalks, etc?

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