Items tagged with 'state budget'
Two weeks ago was the State of the State address (the talk), this week: the budget proposal (the walk). The budget is a big deal for the state, because it's the Cuomo administration putting its money (actually, all our money) where its mouth is.
Like last year, this year's budget presentation didn't include the dire pronouncements about gloom and doom that had been so common in previous years. As Andrew Cuomo said at Tuesday's presentation, "It's not supposed to be traumatic." He even called this year's budget proposal "simple and straightforward." (Those are always in the eye of the budget beholder -- we are talking about a plan to spend $130something billion here.)
So let's get to it...
Updated Tuesday at 6:30 pm.
Andrew Cuomo and his administration presented their proposed 2012-2013 budget this afternoon. The budget is a big deal for the state, because it's the Cuomo administration putting its money (actually, all our money) where its mouth is.
This year's presentation was less dramatic than last year -- there was no declaration of the state being "functionally bankrupt." Cuomo touted the measures taken in last year's budget for helping to make things easier this year. "We regained the public trust," he said, "That is a great gift and an awesome responsibility. Let's build on it this year, even higher, together." (pause for applause)
So, we watched the address and skimmed through the budget briefing docs so you don't have to. Here's a quick overview of Cuomo's proposed budget...
To much fanfare (and powerpoint) Andrew Cuomo presented his proposed state budget yesterday.
During the presentation he described the state as "functionally bankrupt," and remarked that he viewed his dental appointments for root canal as a welcome respite from the budget process. So, that gives you a sense of where the state's at.
We've read a bunch of the details and coverage of the budget so you don't have to. Let's get to it...
This week's This American Life featured a long segment about the New York State budget. During the setup for the piece, host Ira Glass says: "For those of you who live far from New York, you need to understand a few things about just how terribly run New York State is." And then he runs through all the scandals and drama (that part runs longer than many regular radio segments).
That all leads to the appointment of Richard Ravitch, whom Glass describes as the "hero of our story." Says Ravitch at one point, when asked if he felt like he was going to into a "madhouse" after being appointed to Lt. Governor (at Peter Luger):
Yes. But I'm also... this sounds terribly pompous, forgive me... but I have a kind of romance with the whole idea of government and public service. So, at the same time I knew I was going into a madhouse, I also, it was a matter of pride that perhaps I could be helpful and there was nothing more useful I could do with my life.
Ravitch later says: "I didn't know how serious the problem was. I didn't realize the state had been faking balanced budgets for so many years."
The piece includes a bunch of people from around the Capitol, including David Paterson, state budget director Bob Megna (and his non-state-funded stress balls), Ruben Diaz, public radio correspondent Karen Dewitt, YNN's Erin Billups, the singing of Jay Gallagher and NYSNYS's Kyle Hughes.
The piece is a good overview of how the state got into so much budget trouble. It's not a hopeful picture.
The show is available as a free download this week. It's also available for streaming.
photo: Paterson admin media images
The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced this afternoon it's opening all of the state parks -- including Thacher and the other parks that had been closed -- for this weekend. From the release:
[Commissioner Carol] Ash said staff will immediately reopen gates to parking lots and unlock the facilities to make them available for normal day-use activities, including picnicking, hiking, cycling and fishing. Other amenities will become available over the next few days as workers who have been reassigned return to their regular work sites and normal levels of seasonal park workers and lifeguards are hired.
WNYT reported earlier this afternoon that the closed signs at Thacher Park are already down and the grass is being mowed.
Just this afternoon (in fact, just within the last hour), the state Senate voted 32-27 in favor of a bill that provides funding for the parks (the Assembly passed a similar bill last night). [State of Politics]
Update: Senate minority leader Dean Skelos criticized the measure as "a classic bait and switch scam that promises open parks and delivers a mess of millions of dollars in new taxes and fees on businesses and reduces environmental protection funds." [Skelos statement]
photo: Kathie Dello
New York Now has posted a condensed version of today's public state leaders meeting about the budget. (You might say it's a package of "highlights," but somehow that word doesn't seem appropriate for New York State politics.)
The meeting kind of reminded us of a really uncomfortable family dinner where a few of the people argue over some longstanding grudge while everyone else stares at their plates and contemplates the mashed potatoes.
Oh, and David Paterson would like Scottie to beam him up.
It should all be good material for Ira Glass.
A federal judge has granted a restraining order against the state worker furloughs.
WTEN has posted a copy of the order. Among the orders:
- It temporarily blocks the Paterson administration from furloughing state employees
- It also blocks the admin from including another furlough measure in upcoming budget extenders.
- And, if we're reading it correctly (if), it also blocks the administration from holding back the four percent raises that are part of the union contracts.
A hearing on the issue is scheduled for later this month.
Also: Jack McEneny apparently led some sort of sit-in this afternoon outside Paterson's office to protest inaction on the budget. [State of Politics]
Update: The temporary restraining order is embedded after the jump.
photo from anti-furlough rally earlier this week: Rob Gierthy
Rob sent along a handful of photos from the bit anti-furlough rally at the Capitol today. The giant inflatable rat made an appearance.
The Troy Record reports there were estimated to be about 3,500 in the crowd. Kaitlyn Ross reports Jack McEneny told the crowd that Assembly is trying to take the furlough measure out of the emergency budget extender. But Erin Billups reports that Ron Canestrari says that's not legally possible.
photo: Rob Gierthy
David Paterson announced that he will include furloughs for state workers in the next emergency budget extender. From the release:
"I have repeatedly called upon the State public employee unions to work with me to achieve critical workforce savings. Because unions have not accepted any proposals to achieve necessary savings, I am left with no other choice but to move forward with this plan. I do not take this action lightly, but it is necessary given the unions' unwillingness to make any sacrifices and I will do whatever is necessary to protect New York's finances."
The Paterson admin says agency heads will be given the discretion to schedule "one furlough day for each of their employees during the week of May 17." Positions in "essential" fields such as health and safety won't be included. Management/confidential employees also won't be subject to the furlough because their annual raises were canceled.
The furloughs are being framed as a cost-saving measure by the administration, but it's likely Paterson is using them to squeeze the legislature. By tacking the furloughs on to the budget extender, he's forcing the legislature to pick between the furloughs (which will irk the powerful state worker unions extraordinarily) and shutting the down government. Or, of course, there's option three: passing a budget.
Paterson is also floating an early retirement incentive. Details after the jump.
But New York apparently still needs the money. And it probably doesn't need the calories.
So here's a potentially sweeter idea: instead of specifically taxing sodas that contain sugar, New York should tax high-fructose corn syrup.
So, why not legislating?
State delaying refund checks, Save the Y rally, father of American Idol judge to challenge Kirsten Gillibrand, Hasbrouck makes NBA
Paterson said yesterday that "we wouldn't project that the Saratoga racing season is in jeopardy at this point." Members of the racing industry have said recently the Saratoga season could be in doubt because of problems with New York City OTB and the stalled-again Aqueduct racino. [YNN]
Paterson signed The Family Health Care Decisions Act yesterday, which allows family members and close friends to make decisions on behalf of a patient who lacks capacity. The law has broad support, but was hung up in the legislature for 17 years. [YNN] [TU]
More than 100 people showed up yesterday for the Save the Y rally outside the Washington Ave location in Albany (photo above -- more photos here). Protesters criticized the Capital District YMCA and city officials for their handling of the location's now-imminent closure. A spokesman for the Y says it "just wasn't possible" to keep the location open. [Fox23] [Sebastien B] [TU] [YNN]
Day 11 of the Steven Raucci trial focused on testimony by former Schenectady school district athletic director Gary DiNola, who testified that an un-exploded device left on his car and vandalism of his house had "terrorized" his family. The testimony featured a heated exchange between DiNola and Raucci's lawyers, who objected to his characterization of the situation. Emails introduced as evidence indicated Raucci at one point wrote to DiNola: "I'm not a tolerant person to begin with. I'm even less tolerant of people who show me disrespect." In an email from DiNola to district superintendent Eric Ely, DiNola said that he had "learned to park my beat-up Volvo in front of the security cameras near the loading dock." [Daily Gazette $] [TU] [Fox23] [CBS6]
Washington Ave Y closing, track season at Saratoga threatened, little hope for on-time budget, police say teen party caused $200k in damage
The Washington Ave YMCA will close March 31, according to a letter dated March 11 from Capital District YMCA president David Brown. The letter cites the $400,000 annual loss from the Washington Ave location and calls the decision to close the branch "very painful and difficult." The Y has said the location has been losing money for the last two decades. [Save the Y Facebook] [TU] *
A state police report on the fatal police car crash on Madison Ave in Albany last summer concludes that both drivers were at fault, according to the APD. The primary fault was laid with the civilian driver, who the report concludes failed to yield to the oncoming police car. The driver has said she didn't hear the car's siren (the report concluded the car's siren was on). The report says "secondary contributing factor" to the crash was the "failure to drive with reasonable care for all persons using the highway" on the part of APD officer Christopher Orth. [Troy Record] [WTEN] [TU] [Fox23]
Leaders of New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc say "there will be no Saratoga race meet this summer" if that state doesn't find a way to get $15 million to NYRA -- either by fixing the bankrupt NYC OTB or finding a new winning bidder for the Aqueduct racino contract. Saratoga business owners are anxiously watching the situation. [NYTB] [TU] [WTEN]
Potential bidders for the Aqueduct racino apparently believe that the contract is step towards the legalization of casino gambling in New York State. [NYT]
State police say a man pulled over for driving the wrong way on 787 Saturday afternoon had a blood alcohol level almost three times the legal limit. [WNYT] [YNN] CapNews9 is now YNN
This video from HANYS -- the state's big hospital lobbying group -- gets a +1 for creativity (and use of Playmobil). But we also have to mark it down for giving the legislature artillery. If there's anything legislators don't need, it's a tank.
Also: don't people always sort of root for Godzilla?
We've read (too) much of the reaction to David Paterson's decision to exit the race for the governor.
Here are a bunch of the quick-scan highlights -- about lame duck status, Paterson's work habits, calls for resignation, the budget, Andrew Cuomo and... yet another SNL skit.
Weird and difficult budget process could be ahead, jury selection in Raucci trial, RPI knocking down presidents house, man robs supermarket with a note
Pundits say David Paterson's now-lame duck status could be the beginning of a very weird and difficult state budget process. That has some people -- notably Sheldon Silver -- calling for lieutenant governor Richard Ravitch to handle the budget negotiations. Meanwhile, the head of the state Democratic Party called Andrew Cuomo "all but the presumptive nominee" for governor. [AP/Post-Star] [NYDN] [TU]
John Sweeney pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DWI Friday afternoon. As part of the deal, he's up for 30 days in jail -- and he'll have to wear an alcohol monitor on his ankle after he's released. He'll also have to do 300 hours of community service. [Daily Gazette $] [Saratogian] [TU] [WNYT]
Jury selection is scheduled to start today in the trial of Steven Raucci. The pool of potential jurors for Schenectady County Court has been doubled to 675 this week. Raucci faces 26 criminal charges, including arson and terrorism. [TU] [Daily Gazette $] [Daily Gazette $] [CBS6]
The state Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation just released a "recommended list of closures and service reductions."
As rumored, Thacher Park is on the list -- and it's slated for closure. Eight other parks and sites in the greater Capital Region are also on the list.
The full Capital Region list -- and more info -- after the jump...
Updated at 5:30 pm -- new Facebook pages added
It's hard to say, because there's been no public declaration by the state that Thacher and other state parks are facing the budget axe. But the signs seem to be pointing in that direction.
The Quinnipiac Poll out today reports that 71 percent of New York voters favor the legalization of medical marijuana. The poll reported strong support across pretty much every demographic group -- Republicans supported it the least, at 55-41.
Also from the Q Poll: New Yorker voters oppose the proposed tax on sugared sodas 57-40 (the poll described this measure as a "fat tax" or "obesity tax"). That makes sense -- after smoking all that pot for, you know, medicinal purposes, you have to wash down the cheesy poofs with something. (We joke -- but there is evidence that compounds in marijuana have therapeutic value.)
The poll did not ask people about outright legalization of pot. We did some hazy math last year that suggested doing so could generate something like $230 million for the state in revenue.
As it happens, there's already a bill in the legislature that would legalize medical marijuana. Fifteen states currently allow medical marijuana in some form, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Earlier on AOA: MMA legalization smacked in poll
photo: Flickr user Caveman 92223
Paterson says budget gap growing, Gillibrand asks Obama question, rabid kitten found, another escaped dog
David Paterson says the state is now facing an $8.2 billion budget gap -- that's up about $750 million from the previous estimate. The state's budget director says the widening gap is the result of smaller than expected tax revenue from Wall Street bonuses. In the increased estimate had member of the legislature criticizing the governor for not providing an "accurate picture" in his proposed budget. [TU] [AP/Post-Star] [NYT] [Daily Politics]
The Greenfield man accused of stabbing and killing a tenant last year during a fight pleaded guilty to manslaughter yesterday. The case ended up being a bizarre tangle of allegations. [Saratogian] [TU]
A Marist poll out late last week reports that 68 percent of the registered voters it surveyed were against legalizing ultimate fighting in New York State. Twenty-nine percent were in favor.
That split held more-or-less true across the political ideology, geographic region and income (Republicans and upstaters favored legalization a little bit more). The split was more even when sorted by age: 50/50 for 18-29 and 54/43 against for 30-44.
David Paterson's proposed budget includes a measure that would legalize ultimate fighting (or mixed martial arts, as it's also known) -- though the plan projects the revenue generated to be modest.
By the way: A promoter of the cage fight at Washington Ave Armory Friday night said the event was a step toward ultimate fighting. The fight had originally been scheduled for the SEFCU Arena -- but UAlbany canceled after there were concerns it was an illegal MMA event. [Daily Gazette $] [@albstudentpress]
photo: Flickr user Lee Brimelow
Chilly reaction to Paterson budget, shooting near school in Troy, mop protests at Bruno fundraiser, prof accused of growing pot
David Paterson's proposed budget doesn't seem to have gone over well with state legislators, some of whom are already vowing to make significant changes the proposed cuts in education and health care spending. Local elected officials also seemed cool to the budget plan. School district officials also weren't happy. Andrew Cuomo: good start, let's see it actually happen. And the conservative-leaning Empire Center said Paterson's budget didn't cut enough. One person who did seem enthusiastic: SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher (the Paterson plan would give SUNY more control over its tuition rates). [NYT] [TU] [Troy Record] [Saratogian] [Daily Politics] [Post-Star] [CapNews9]
The state legislature didn't vote yesterday on a plan to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state. The legislature had been bouncing the plan around because of a deadline yesterday afternoon to file for federal education money. [TU] [NYT]
Troy police say a man was shot in the back yesterday afternoon in North Central, just a block from a school. (map). A witness said he saw two men run from the scene and drive off. [TU] [CapNews9] [Troy Record]
The woman who was driving over the Dunn Memorial Bridge in 2005 when a section dropped two feet has settled with the state Department of Transportation for more than $100k, according to her attorney. The lawyer says her client has suffered from PTSD because of the experience. [TU] [Fox23]
Updated at 1:44 pm
The Paterson administration officially released its proposed 2010-2011 state budget today. David Paterson called the state's financial picture "lugubrious" and said his proposal was "a budget of necessity." He also criticized past budgets: "We can no longer afford this spending addiction."
A (relatively) quick scan of the proposed budget is after the jump. It includes items about a soda tax, wine in supermarkets, speed cameras, The Egg and ultimate fighting.
"Sources" tell NYDN that David Paterson will include a measure legalizing ultimate fighting in his proposed budget plan later this month.
Reps from the Ultimate Fighting Championship have been lobbying for legalization in NY the last few years -- and apparently Paterson sees this as a way to generate revenue. A Bronx assemblyman floated the same idea earlier this year.
Colonie assemblyman Bob Reilly has been one of the most outspoken critics of legalizing MMA. That prompted a UK paper to wonder if Reilly was "the most hated man in MMA."
photo: Flickr user Lee Brimelow
New York State had to scrape together enough cash to cover all its bills at the end of 2009, according to state comptroller Tom DiNapoli. The comptroller said on December 31 that it was looking like the state's general fund (its short term cash) account would have a negative balance for the first time in "recent history." He blamed last year's state budget and said "New York dropped the ball." (David Paterson sort of echoed DiNapoli's comments.)
Toward the possibility of holding on to the ball in the future, the Empire Center -- a conservative think tank -- released a report today called "Blueprint for a Better Budget". It includes a bunch of interesting facts and details if you're wonkishly inclined. But this line caught our eye:
If New York had budgeted at the national per-capita average in 2008, it would have spent nearly $32 billion less.
That's about $1,641 less per person.
Earlier on AOA: The state budget gets bigger and bigger and...
photo: Flickr user califrayray
Education groups sue over state aid, Schumer apologizes to flight attendant, police say stolen Timberlands kicked off chase, Albany councilman calls for cancellation of "Jersey Shore"
A coalition of education groups -- headed by NYSUT -- filed suit against David Paterson yesterday in attempt to eliminate the delay in education aid payments. The coalition argues that Paterson has overstepped his authority -- and the uncertainty created the action is making budgeting difficult. Paterson accused the coalition of trying to be "extra special" interest groups. [TU] [NYT] [Fox23] [Daily Politics]
Saratoga Springs' finance commissioner says the city may have to borrow money to cover the gap created by delayed state aid payments. [Saratogian]
Democrats in the Rensselaer County legislature says three incoming Republicans should not be allowed to serve in both the county legislature and their town boards. One of the incoming Republicans called the practice "totally legal." [TU] [Troy Record]
Richard Daines, New York's health commissioner, got an H1N1 shot during a photo opp yesterday. Even though flu activity in the state is decling, Daines called the flu a "tricky virus" and urged people to still get vaccinated. [CapNews9] [TU] [Fox23]
Chuck Schumer apologized yesterday for calling a flight attendant a "bitch" after she told him to stop talking on his mobile phone. Kirsten Gillibrand was sitting next to him on the plane (and apparently did end her call) and Republicans are now criticizing her for not publicly condemning Schumer's actions. [NYDN] [Politico] [NYT] [Daily Politics]
State school aid cuts detailed, state police report on I-90 shootout, town's bond rating downgraded to junk, the $40,000 tree
The state Division of Budget released a breakdown of how much funding would be held back from each school district as part of David Paterson's cut-for-solvency. Among the Capital Region districts, Albany took the largest hit (in absolute terms) -- $744,643. Albany's interim superintendent says the district had been anticipating the cuts and had already started trimming its budget. David Paterson said this week that the districts could eventually receive the delayed money if the state's fiscal condition improves. NYSUT is leading a coalition that plans to file suit over the delays/cuts. [Daily Politics] [CapCon] [TU] [NYT] [WTEN]
The state Board of Elections has finally approved new voting machines. [TU]
David Paterson is expected to extend anti-discrimination protections to transgender state employees today. [NYT]
A State Police investigation reports that the man at the center of January's shoot-out on I-90 was probably high on PCP and yelled for police to shoot him (which they eventually did -- he later died). They also released video of the incident from a camera in a state trooper's car. State Police say it appears the man was on the run from crimes in Connecticut. One effect of the shoot-out: the state police troop based in Loudonville is now equipped with 48 patrol semi-automatic rifles. [Daily Gazette $] [Troy Record] [Fox23] [WTEN] [CapNews9] [TU]
Paterson says he's cutting local aid to keep state solvent, downtown Albany Y could close, yet another bank robbery, sinkhole swallows car, more quakes in Berne
David Paterson announced yesterday that he's unilaterally withholding $750 million in aid to local governments and schools in order to keep the state solvent. Said Paterson at the announcement, "I can't say this enough: The state has run out of money. We are $1 billion short." He also blamed the legislature, again, for not addressing the state's budget gap. A spokesman for the state Senate majority called Paterson's action "self-indulgent theatrics." [TU] [NYDN] [NYO] [NYT]
A state panel's draft report, obtained by NYT, says that New York State's juvenile prisons are in such bad shape that family court judges should stop sending all but the most dangerous offenders to them. [NYT]
The lawyer for De Von Callicut, the teen accused of firing the shot that killed Richard Bailey, is trying to get Callicut's statement to police tossed because he didn't have an attorney present. [TU]
A state lawyer told a state Supreme Court judge that the planned expansion of the Albany landfill would be its last -- probably. [TU]
Saratoga Springs are investigating an early Friday morning shooting. [Saratogian]
Record snowfall yesterday, Paterson defends Wall Street, parking ticket plan approved, new license plates still on the way, again no ice skating at ESP
Yesterday's storm dropped 7.3 inches of snow on the Capital Region, according to the National Weather Service (forecasts on Tuesday had been predicting 2 to 5 inches). That's a record for December 9 (the previous high mark was 6.3 inches). Parts of Saratoga County reported getting as much as 10 inches. [NWS] [Saratogian]
A freight train hit a snow plow at a crossing in Northumberland yesterday morning, killing one of the the men on the plow truck and injuring the other (map). The crossing doesn't have gates or signals. [Post-Star] [CapNews9] [Saratogian]
Albany County's public works commissioner says yesterday's short, strong blast of snow made it hard to keep the roads clear during rush hour. Troy somehow found a way to clear its streets without Bob Mirch. [TU] [Troy Record]
David Paterson again vowed to hold back aid to local governments in order to keep the state solvent (his budget director compared the fiscal situation to driving in the snow). The chair of the state Senate finance committee says Paterson will be sued it he tries to do that. [NYO] [Daily Politics] [TU]
During the same speech yesterday, Paterson also defended Wall Street -- calling it the engine of New York State's economy. Said a state Senate "source" of the speech: "I half-expected to see Michael Douglas come out and reprise his role as Gordon Gekko." [NYT] [NYDN]
Day six in Bruno trial, marriage equality vote protest, details in Colonie soldier's death, residents weigh in on APD chief, Albany in-flight
Day six of deliberations is underway in the trial of former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. Yesterday jurors heard a three hour read-back of testimony from former Senate attorney and current judge Francis T. Collins. Collins testified early in November that he had sparse information on Bruno's outside business dealings when he was asked to give an ethical opinion about them. The jury has reached a verdict on two counts, but is still considering six counts. Bruno was optimistic enough about his own situation yesterday to comment on someone else's problems. [TU] [News9]
About 150 people showed up last night to protest the senates vote against gay marriage. Eight Democrats joined all the Senate Republicans in voting against the Marriage Equality Act this week. Governor Paterson is a strong proponent of marriage equality, but there's some question as to how involved he was in lobbying Senators to pass the act. Paterson's sagging popularity may be the reason same-sex marriage advocates did not seek his support for a final push. [AOA] [NYT]
The debate over how to close the NYS budget gap continues. Governor Paterson claims the legislature's efforts to close the gap this week don't go far enough. Paterson continues to claim he'll cut spending further, saying "I'm going to do it even without their permission, and if they want to take me to court, they can sue me, but I will not let this state run out of money on my watch." [WXXI via DailyPolitics]
Former State comptroller Alan Hevesi may have accepted bribes from a California investment banker who pleaded guilty in Andrew Cuomo's Pension Fraud investigation. Hevesi is believed to have taken 75 thousand dollars in luxury vacations for himself and his family while he was in office. Also named in the investment banker's confession -- former "Mod Squad" actress Peggy Lipton. [NYP]
State Senate votes down same-sex marriage bill, Bruno trial still deliberating, alleged elderly safe robber arrested, Albany school district considers mid-year job cuts
The state Senate voted down the same-sex marriage bill 38-24. Supporters of the bill apparently thought the vote would be closer. Eight Democrats joined every Republican in the chamber in voting "no." Here's a listing of how each senator voted. [TU] [NYT] [NYDN] [CapCon]
The state Senate passed the $2.7 billion deficit reduction bill. David Paterson criticized the legislature's cuts for falling "well short" of what's actually necessary to cover the budget gap. The Senate also passed bills that reform the state's public authorities (such as the Thruway Authority) and change the pension rules for new state employees. [TU] [Daily Politics] [NYT] [NYT]
Joe Bruno Trial: the jury is still deliberating. The jury asked to have testimony read back yesterday from Jared Abbruzzese, the Loudonville businessman who bought an overvalued horse from Bruno apparently to make up for a canceled consulting contract. Oh, no: the trial seems to be affecting Uncle Joe's perma-tan (if not his loquaciousness). [TU] [Troy Record] [NYT]
After the Saratoga Springs' police and fire chiefs announced their retirements this week, Ron Kim -- the outgoing Saratoga Springs public safety commissioner -- says he's moving to hire their replacements. That's not going over well with Richard Wirth, who become public safety commissioner on January 1. [TU] [Saratogian]
Movement on state budget gap, Bruno trial jurors say they're stuck, Saratoga chiefs retiring, still no public release of plan for Harriman, police say guard was tied up during safe robbery
The state Assembly passed a deficit reduction bill during the middle of the night -- the bill falls short of making all the necessary cuts, though. The state Senate is scheduled to vote on a budget gap bill today. [NYO] [Daily Politics] [TU]
Joe Bruno Trial: The jury said yesterday that it had reached a verdict on two counts (which ones and what verdict unknown) -- but was stuck on the six other counts. Judge Gary Sharpe then basically told them to keep trying. The Bruno camp appeared to be heartened by the development. [Troy Record] [NYT] [TU]
Saratoga Springs' police and fire chiefs announced yesterday that they're retiring. The chiefs say they hope their retirements will helps save the jobs of younger members of their departments slated for layoffs. Both chiefs make about $100k. [TU] [Saratogian] [Post-Star]
The SUNY central office says it will not be investigating allegations that SUNY Cobleskill allowed unqualified students into the school just so it could get their tuition money. The allegations are part of a suit filed by a former dean, who alleges that the school discriminated against African-American students from NYC by lowering its admission standards in order to balance its budget. [TU] [CapNews9]
Porco appeal focuses on nod, state budget gap deal could be close, job cuts at Skidmore, police say 11-year-old called 911 on alleged robbers, CDTA bus bursts into flames
The judges hearing Christopher Porco's appeal in a Brooklyn state appellate court yesterday focused on the admissibility of the nod that detectives say Joan Porco made indicating Christopher was responsible for the attack. Joan Porco says she has no memory of the crime -- and the defense argued that prevented Christopher from being able to confront his accuser. The prosecution argued that the defense just missed its chance to have Joan Porco testify that she didn't remember. Christopher Porco is currently serving 50 years in state prison for the murder of his father and attempted murder of his mother. [TU] [Fox23] [CapNews9] [Troy Record]
A deal to close the state budget gap could be near. Or not. Members of the legislature indicated last night that they had put together a plan to cut $2.8 billion (from the $3+ billion gap), which borrows almost $400 million federal education aid from next year for this year's budget. David Paterson said that wasn't good enough -- and announced that he would move to withhold payments to local governments in order to keep the state solvent. [TU] [NYDN] [Daily Politics] [NYT]
The board overseeing redevelopment of the Harriman State Office Campus announced yesterday that Columbia Development has been picked to develop the site. Officials with Columbia have close ties to Jerry Jennings, which prompted a competing developer to accuse the board of making a politically motivated choice. [CapNews9] [TU]
Paterson addressing budget gap by himself, Porco appeal expected today, glut of apples this year, Salvo has to hire bell ringers
David Paterson said yesterday that he's decided to act unilaterally to save the state $1.6 billion through a series of cuts, transfers and accounting maneuvers. He also continued to blame the state Senate for the lack of progress on a deal that would close the state's $3+ budget gap. Paterson might also be considering declaring a "fiscal emergency," a move floated by John Faso. The legislature is expected to be back for a another budget gap special session today. The state is projected to have just $36 million in cash by the end of the year (the state comptroller says even less). [NYO] [Daily Politics] [NYDN] [TU] [CapNews9] [NYT] [NY Post]
Joe Bruno Trial: Jury is back for deliberations today after a break for the holiday. [CapNews9]
Christopher Porco's appeal is expected to be heard today before a state appellate court in Brooklyn. Porco's attorney recently said prosecutors in the case "took a blow torch to the constitution." [CBS6] [CapNews9]
Kirsten Gillibrand, in the area to announce an initiative aimed at protecting seniors against fraud, said the Army has not been forthcoming about details surrounding the death of Colonie soldier Amy Seyboth Tirador. [WNYT] [TU]
Paterson proposes unilateral authority cut budget, Troy residents irked by parking ticket sweep, reward grows for info about duct-taped dog
David Paterson introduced his own deficit reduction bill yesterday -- and said during a webcast that if the legislature wouldn't make cuts, they should give him the temporary authority to do it unilaterally. That second proposal didn't go over well with the legislature. One assemblyman said, "What's next, martial law?" And others, including Neil Breslin, questioned the constitutionality of the arrangement (though apparently some think it might fly). Ron Canestrari praised Paterson's attempt to move the budget ball. Paterson's speech did appear to make some progress -- in further uniting the state Senate against him. The legislature won't be back in session until next week. [NYO] [Daily Politics] [NYDN] [NYT] [Daily Politics] [NYO] [TU] [AP/Troy Record] [Daily Politics] [Fox23]
One thing that was apparent from testimony in the Bruno trial: his second office was the golf course. [NYT]
Legislature back for another try at budget fix, demand up at food banks, local venture capitalists criticized for not taking enough risks, the weekend in crime
The state legislature is scheduled to be back in town today for another special budget session. David Paterson continued to sound the alarm about the budget gap, warning of "furloughs, layoffs, borrowing, downgraded credit ratings" and a range of delayed payments (including to state workers). He also has continued to blame the legislature -- especially the state Senate -- being in "denial" about the problem. It seems the legislature's not a huge fan of him, either. [CapNews9] [Daily Politics] [NYDN] [NY Post]
Summations in the Joe Bruno trial are expected to start today. On Friday, Jared Abbruzzese, a longtime Bruno friend and business associate, testified that he had hired Bruno has a consultant for the senator's contacts and "aura." He said the $80k he paid Bruno for a horse was payment to settle a "a moral obligation" for canceled consulting contracts. And Abbruzzese also said Bruno introduced him to Donald Trump, who -- in Abbruzzese's words -- "walked over me." Even though Abbruzzese was the prosecution's last witness, he may have been most helpful to the defense. It was also announced on Friday that Bruno will not be testifying in his own defense. [TU] [TU] [Fox23] [NYDN] [NYT] [TU] [Troy Record]
Kirsten Gillibrand has been calling state senators in an effort to get "yes" votes for the same-sex marriage bill. [Daily Politics]
Legislature goes home with no budget deal, state worker buyout extended, all sorts of rumors about Rudy, student accused of lighting firecrackers in school cafeteria
The state legislature has gone home -- and there's no deal to fix the budget gap. David Paterson said he and the state Senate are still stuck on proposed cuts for health care and education funding. Some senators are floating a plan that would "spin up" money for this year's budget, which is apparently just another way of saying borrowing from next year's budget. It looks like the legislature will be back on Monday. [NYO] [TU] [Daily Politics] [Susan Arbetter] [NYO]
The Paterson Administration is extending the $20,000 state worker buyout. [TU]
Joe Bruno Trial: A Senate aide testified yesterday that Bruno allocated "member items" (you know, pork) to other senators based on political considerations (this was apparently something akin to actually acknowledging the elephant in the room). NYT has strung together bits of info from the trial that it argues provide "vivid and sometimes captivating detail how easily official duties and private business can overlap for lawmakers in Albany." [TU] [NYT]
One side effect of the Bruno trial: the Senate is apparently now short on computers. [NYO]
The Albany Convention Center Authority released plans and renderings for the facility this morning. [TU]
Bruno trial focuses on disclosure forms, progress -- or not -- on state budget gap, contractor dies on dredging project, the crow wars continue
Joe Bruno Trial: Much of the testimony yesterday focused on how Bruno's financial disclosure forms had been compiled. Ken Riddett, the former counsel to the Senate majority, testified that state senators were instructed to hand deliver their financial disclosure forms because of "concerns with federal mail fraud statutes." Also: Bruno's former executive assistant continued her testimony yesterday. She recounted the time Bruno sent her to the bank to get a $1000 bill for his wife -- and she says Bruno got "very angry" with her when she returned with ten $100 bills instead. [NYT] [TU] [Troy Record]
What's the state of discussions on how to close the state's budget gap? It depends on whom you ask -- though count David Paterson as one who's not optimistic, calling the situation a "prelude to what will be continued unhappiness." The governor also said he wouldn't rule out state worker furloughs if a deficit deal doesn't come about. [Daily Politics] [TU] [NYO] [NYDN]
Amy Seyboth Tirador, the Colonie soldier who recently died in Iraq, was buried in Saratoga National Cemetery yesterday. About 300 people attended her funeral in Colonie. Military officials in Iraq told the TU via email yesterday that "we do not know if her death was accidental, a suicide or a homicide." Seyboth Tirador's family has said the soldier was shot in the back of the head. During the funeral yesterday her grandfather said, "Whoever did this crime, I hope they rot in hell." [WTEN] [Troy Record] [TU] [WNYT]
Extraordinary legislative session very ordinary, Army still investigating Colonie soldier's death, judge blocks Fort Orange Club demolition, prisoners to make new license plates
Today is Veterans Day.
Yesterday's "extraordinary" session of the state legislature produced rather ordinary results -- there was no agreement on cuts to close the state budget gap and no Senate vote on the same-sex marriage bill. Late yesterday afternoon David Paterson said he will call the legislature back next Monday and Tuesday. He also said the Senate would vote on same-sex marriage "at a date not certain between now and the end of the year." [TU] [NYT] [Daily Politics] [NYO]
Joe Bruno trial Day Seven: the business manager of a Saratoga County plumbers union testified that Bruno recommended Wright Investment Services -- and didn't mention that he was a consultant for the firm. The union also got two state grants, perhaps at Bruno's discretion, around the time it invested $4 million with Wright -- and the timing of those came up yesterday during testimony by state Senator Betty Little. After one of Bruno's attorneys tried to introduce five years of member items as evidence, Judge Gary Sharpe scolded both sides. "This trial has lost its way for a long time. This is not an election campaign," he said. [Troy Record] [TU] [Fox23] [NYT]
The Army says "the facts and circumstances" surrounding the death of Colonie soldier Amy Seyboth Tirador in Iraq are "still under investigation." The military has called Seyboth Tirador's death "non-combat-related" -- her family has been telling the media that she was shot in the back of the head on a base in Kirkush. [TU]
The condition of 12 bridges in the Capital Region -- and 110 upstate bridges in total -- scored lower on state inspections than the now-closed Champlain Bridge, according to an analysis by a group of upstate legislators. There was a rally outside the Capitol yesterday calling for more state funding for upstate bridge maintenance. [TU] [Fox23]
The Troy city council has proposed budgets cuts it says will hold next year's tax increase to 2.2 percent. The slate of cuts includes the elimination of a handful of city jobs, including the commissioner of public works and the mayor's spokesperson. [TU] [Troy Record]
Legislature back today, Tonko and Murphy split on health care vote, the weekend in stabbings, police chase half-naked suspect through Watervliet
The legislature is back this week for at least a few days. Today's schedule includes a joint session this afternoon in which David Paterson will speak about the state budget gap (whatever size it may be). A special session is schedule tomorrow to take up measures to address the gap -- and, maybe for the state Senate to vote on the same-sex marriage bill. [Fox23] [TU] [NYDN] [Daily Politics]
The two local House members split on the health care reform vote his past weekend. Paul Tonko voted "yes" -- in a statement he said the bill will provide coverage to 22,000 people in his district. Scott Murphy voted "no" -- in a statement, he said the bill didn't do enough to curb costs. Murphy was one of 39 Democrats to vote against the bill -- and one of three from New York. [TU] [Paul Tonko] [Scott Murphy] [NYT] [Daily Politics]
The Army has called the death of Colonie solider Amy Seyboth Tirador "a non-combat related incident" in Iraq. But her family says the staff sergeant was shot in the back of the head -- though beyond that, they say the military hasn't given them any more details. [Fort Lewis press release] [CBS6] [Fox23]
Week two of the Joe Bruno trial begins today. On a Friday Leonard Fassler, a longtime associate of Bruno, testified that the senator set up meetings with government officials, including then-Governor Pataki, for companies which were paying him consulting fees. Fassler said the consulting fees were paid to Bruno because he helped Fassler become a "better executive." [CBS6] [TU] [Troy Record]
Public voices concerns about Troy crime, questions about Paterson's budget cutting plan, supervisor race includes accusations of illiteracy, high demand for flu vaccine
More than a hundred people showed up last night at Troy City Hall for the public forum about a recent streak of crime in the city. Both mayor Harry Tutunjian and police chief Nicholas Kaiser stressed that crime is down for the year. Citizens said they were concerned about gangs in Lansingburgh and a lack of officers walking beats. [Troy Record] [CapNews9] [CBS6] [Fox23]
Saratoga Springs police say they're investigating a report from a Skidmore student that she was nearly assaulted by a taxi driver early Saturday morning>. The student says she was able to escape when the cab stopped near campus. The SSPD says it hasn't identified the company that owns the cab. [Saratogian] [Fox23] [TU]
Critics of David Paterson's proposed $3 billion in budget cuts say the list includes a bunch of one-time shots and some questionable assumptions. It appears that Democrats in the Assembly are leaning toward along with Paterson's plan. It doesn't look like the state Senate is all that interested, though. [TU] [Daily Politics] [Daily Politics]
Both Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand released statements yesterday calling for state senator Hiram Monserrate to resign. Gillibrand said Monserrate doesn't leave soon, the state Senate should bounce him. State Senate majority conference leader John Sampson is expected to announce the formation of a committee that will look at what to do about Monserrate. [Daily Politics] [CapNews9] [NYO]
Reaction to Paterson's proposed budget cuts, investigators say RPI student's death was homicide, state says it didn't know hotel owner was behind on taxes, Saratoga sued over Taser info
David Paterson has proposed $3 billion in cuts to this year's state budget. He said yesterday that "all of us will have to sacrifice to save the state." Sheldon Silver said Paterson "took the bull by the horns" -- but the governor's proposals were met with skepticism by state senators, and outrage from interest groups. [AOA] [Daily Politics] [NYT] [Daily Politics] [Daily Politics]
The man who was stabbed in Albany's Grand Street neighborhood last week has died -- the city's 8th homicide of the year. [CapNews9]
Private investigators hired by the family of the RPI student found dead of a gun shot in a Troy apartment last year say they have concluded the student was murdered. Troy detectives have said the case was a suicide -- but the private investigators accused the TPD of coming to that conclusion in "a rather imaginative way." [TU] [Troy Record] [Troy Record]
The state's Division of Human Rights has ruled that Saratoga Springs must pay 8 city employees damages of $10k each because the city had not provided sufficient facilities for female employees of the city's police department. The decision prompted squabbling between mayor Scott Johnson and public safety commissioner Ron Kim (who are both running for mayor this year) over who's to blame for the situation. [Daily Gazette $] [TU] [Saratogian]
Updated Friday morning
The Paterson Administration says the plan would cut $5 billion over the next two years (including $3 billion this year).
State budget widens and Paterson warns of pain, Raucci to get pension even if convicted, Gillibrand pushes repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, goat kidnapped
New York State comptroller Tom DiNapoli now says the state's budget gap could be as big as $4.1 billion. David Paterson has said that he will release a slate of proposed budget cuts that would involve "pain." LG Richard Ravitch, who's helping Paterson with budget issues, says the plan will be "asking every agency in the government to cut back significantly." As bad as things might be this year, apparently the real problem is next year when the federal stimulus money ends. As one anonymous legislator told Liz Benjamin: "Then we're in deep sh*t." [TU] [NYT] [CapNews9] [Daily Politics]
Adrian Thomas, the Troy man charged with causing the death of his infant son, took the stand in his own defense yesterday -- and testified that he had lied during his videotaped interrogation by police. Thomas said he admitted to police that he slammed the child down so he "could go to the hospital and see my son and my wife." [Troy Record] [TU]
Albany police have arrested two men -- one already in prison, the other 18 years old -- for a 2007 murder on Second Street. [TU]
The Lansingburgh High School student suspended for having a pocketknife in his car says he's been contacted by West Point and told the incident won't have any effect on his application to the service academy. [WTEN]
Steven Raucci, the now-retired Schenectady school district employee accused of arson, intimidation and harassment related to his former job, will receive a pension of $79,067 -- even if he's convicted. [TU]
Paterson order state agencies to cut back, proposed Saratoga budget includes paid parking, natural gas prices down, teachers say they were secretly videotaped
David Paterson has ordered state agencies to cut their non-personnel expenses (travel, equipment, office supplies) by about 11 percent -- a move that his administration says will save the state $500 million. Paterson has been projecting that the state will face a $3 billion budget gap this year. He's been criticized for not setting an overarching lists of cuts -- but the governor says he's letting the legislature "participate in formulating that menu." [NYS DoB] [NYT] [AP/Troy Record] [TU]
The witness lists for both the prosecution and defense in the Joe Bruno trial include more than 100 names (with a lot of overlap). The lists include current state senators, current and former state officials, legislative staffers and two journalists. [Troy Record] [TU] [NYT]
The budget proposed by Saratoga Springs' finance commissioner includes a 7.8 percent tax increase, 50 job cuts and a plan for paid parking on city streets and lots. [Saratoga Springs] [Fox23] [TU] [Saratogian]
The first batch of H1N1 vaccine arrived in the Capital Region yesterday. Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties have all received limited quantities (in the hundreds of doses). Albany Med received 1000 doses. The focus on flu this year has apparently prompted a lot of interest in flu shots -- and local doctors' offices report that they they're having trouble getting shipments of the regular seasonal flu vaccine. [Daily Gazette $] [Fox23] [Saratogian] [Schenectady County] [CapNews9] [WTEN] [WNYT]
Another gap in the state budget, foreclosure rates stay low, authority moves to buy Albany's oldest building, big plans for bus rapid transit
The state Division of Budget is projecting that New York will be short $2.1 billion during this fiscal year. The reason: less-than-expected revenues from both income and sales taxes. The projected gap will probably bring the legislature back into session in September. [NYS DoB] [NYT] [TU]
A state appeals court has ruled that Richard Ravitch can serve as lieutenant governor until the legality of his appointment is argued in court August 18. One catch: he's not allowed to preside over the state Senate or cast tie-breaking votes in the chamber. Ravitch says he been working on budget issues in the administration. [Daily Politics] [Biz Review] [Fox23]
A handful of state governors will be in Saratoga this weekend for
eating, drinking, horse racing and partying a conference hosted by David Paterson. [Daily Politics]
Albany police say a man -- dressed as a woman -- stabbed a stylist at a salon on North Lake in yesterday. Police say the man then ran off with the woman's purse before being arrested. [CapNews9] [CBS6]
No progress in state Senate, mid-year budget change could be necessary, alleged pharmacy robber nabbed, stimulating the sign economy, hunting for what's left of Henry Hudson
The state Senate had two more in-and-out sessions this past weekend. Negotiations are apparently going on behind the scenes. The big sticking point remains leadership of the chamber -- specifically Pedro Espada's role as president pro tem. David Paterson is reportedly telling Democrats they may just have to get over it. [Newsday] [Daily Politics] [Buffalo News] [NYDN]
State comptroller Tom DiNapoli says it's looking like the state will be short on money later this year -- and a mid-year budget adjustment will probably be necessary. Of course, the would be virtually impossible with the state Senate locked in its current mess. [NYDN]
A state audit of the Schenectady Metroplex Authority reports that the org isn't tracking whether its investment projects are meeting job creation targets and that it's leaving parking money on the table. The authority disputed many of the findings -- and said it's purposefully not charging for parking. [Daily Gazette] [TU]
Is it a coincidence that the owner of the construction company with a virtual lock on big projects in the City of Albany is BFF with the mayor and police chief? [TU]
Ambulance delay questioned, Paterson pessimistic about state finances, Rensselaer council doesn't show for no-show vote, Listerine blamed for failed sobriety test, surge of interest in home gardens
Albany mayor Jerry Jennings says he's putting together a task force to investigate why it took 25 minutes for an ambulance to show up at the scene of a fatal crash between a kid on a bike and a car. A spokesman for the ambulance company, Mohawk Ambulance, said "extraordinary circumstances" required the company to pull an ambulance from Troy to make the run. Firefighters who first responded to the scene reportedly called dispatch twice inquiring about the location of the ambulance. The boy -- who wasn't wearing a helmet -- later died at St. Peter's. The site of the crash was a little more than two miles from the hospital. [CapNews9] [TU] [Fox23] [Google Maps]
David Paterson is warning that $3 billion may have to be cut from this year's state budget -- though it seems that prediction isn't based on much more than his own hunch. Paterson's own budget office gently disputed the claim yesterday. [NYT] [NYDN]
Paterson made his comments about the budget at an appearance yesterday to sign a bill that uses federal stimulus money to extend a person's possible collection of unemployment benefits to 72 weeks. [TU]
State leaders are trying to work out a fix for the new bottle bill. It looks like a revised version will not include the New York-only barcode that bottlers said was going to be so much trouble. [TU]
Saratoga Springs police say they found a grenade and a bunch of guns during a domestic violence call yesterday. SSPD -- along with the ATF -- later arrested a man who lived at the residence. The bomb squad was called to remove the grenade. [TU] [Saratogian] [Daily Gazette]
School budgets pass with a few notable exceptions, state budget might have to be cut again, state driving while texting ban proposed, SPAC tax might help Saratoga close gap
Most school budgets in the Capital Region passed yesterday -- but the budgets for Schenectady and Troy did not. Schenectady's schools superintendent blamed recent negative media coverage (Raucci, suicides) for the defeat. Troy's budget was narrowly defeated and its schools superintendent says he thinks the budget would pass on a second attempt. County round-ups: Albany, Schenectady, Rennselaer, Saratoga. [TU] [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Troy Record] [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Troy Record] [Saratogian]
State revenues are falling significantly behind last year's pace and it looks like this year's budget will have to be cut again, according to a report from the state comptroller. [NYT]
It doesn't look like caps on state spending or property tax increases currently have any chance in the state legislature, but municipal consolidation is getting attention. Also (sort of) surfacing again: the soda tax. [TU] [Daily Politics]
A state Assemblyman from the Bronx has proposed a bill that would ban texting while driving. The bill is currently being blocked by a Rochester legislator, but it apparently has some support from Sheldon Silver. [CapNews9] [Buffalo News]
The bottled water industry has filed suit in federal court arguing that the new bottle deposit bill is unconstitutional because it violates the commerce clause and the equal protection clause. [TU]
David Paterson has proposed that the state tie its spending increases to the rate of inflation -- and, as his budget people figure it, that would have meant $17 billion less in state spending over the last five years.
OK, but what would the size of the state budget look like if it had been tracking inflation over the last two decades? Hey, look, we already have a chart for that.
Short story: if the budget had been tracking inflation all that time, this year's budget would be almost $47 billion smaller.
Suspected case of H1N1 tests negative, Salt filming continues, acre of garbage revealed, cop crashes through storefront window, bakeries call for cupcake exemption
One of the local suspected cases of the emerging H1N1 influenza has already tested negative. Samples from as many as six suspected cases in the region are still being tested. [TU]
Andrew Cuomo says his office is widening its investigation of kickbacks and other fishy stuff going on with the state pension fund. Andrew Cuomo says "a national network of actors" was involved in defrauding the fund. A handful of people with connections to former state comptroller Alan Hevesi, who ran the fund, have already been indicted. Allegations of wrongdoing at the fund stretch back to at least 2002. [TU] [NYT] [Daily Politics]
A group of politically-appointed attorneys that allegedly maneuvered their way into protected jobs at the state Department of Taxation and Finance have been told by civil service that they need to explain why their jobs shouldn't be revoked. [TU]
The state recently settled a civil rights lawsuit filed by a Schenectady man who said he was fired from his job as a photographer for the state Senate in 2003. The man, who's white, alleged that he had been fired by then-Senate minority leader David Paterson's staff because he wasn't an African-American. [NY Post]
Albany Common Councilwoman Barbara Smith says she wants to know whether it was just a coincidence that a former Albany cop was picked for child porn shortly before he was scheduled to testify about the ghost ticket scandal. [TU]
Officials expect statewide spread of swine flu, Murphy to be sworn in, Vick offer "a big mistake," paid parking proposal for Saratoga, ice cream truck pulls crazy U-ee
State health commissioner Richard Daines says he expects swine flu to eventually spread to every part of the state -- and DoH is already testing suspected cases in a handful of upstate counties. There have been 45 confirmed cases in New York State so far -- all of them in NYC. Said David Paterson yesterday: "This not time for alarm, but it's time to be alert." [WXXI] [TU]
State budget director Laura Anglin says this year's budget is on track to stay even -- if the planned state worker job cuts go through. The next few years aren't looking good, though. [NYS DoB] [TU] [NYT]
About 8,700 state worker job cuts, the Division of the Budget says it's still reviewing plans submitted by various agencies. [TU]
Scott Murphy is scheduled to be sworn in today at the US Capitol. [Daily Gazette]
State worker union turns down no-layoff deal, Paterson pushes for same-sex marriage bill, Hearst cancels guild contract at TU, rescued animals pack humane society shelter
CSEA says it has rejected a deal offered by the Paterson administration in which state workers would give up this year's scheduled three percent raise in return for a no-layoffs guarantee. Liz Benjamin reports there may be a "pay lag" agreement coming together behind the scenes, though. Also: as promised, David Paterson has sent 10 percent of his salary ($18k) back to the state. [AP/TU] [Daily Politics] [TU]
David Paterson said yesterday he thinks the public will accept same-sex marriage and he wants to see a same-sex marriage bill come up for a vote in the state Senate -- whether it's guaranteed to pass or not. That call didn't go over all that well with same-sex marriage advocates. [NYT] [Daily Politics]
The state budget has lead to cuts in open hours at state parks this season. The local regional state park director calls the cutbacks "fairly unprecedented." Among the local consequences: the Peerless Pool will be closed on Tuesdays (the day it gets the smallest number of visitors, according to officials) and the beach at Grafton Lakes will be closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays. [TU] [Troy Record] [Saratogian] [Post-Star] [Daily Gazette]
As of this morning, the New York State Board of Elections was reporting that Scott Murphy had an eight vote lead over Jim Tedisco in the 20th Congressional District special election. The count of absentee ballots will continue today. The NY 20th may be missing out on federal stimulus money because it doesn't have a House member right now. [NYSBoE] [AP/TU]
Dalai Lama visit cancelled, Sweeney picked up for DWI again, Tuffey's niece had bull's eye sticker, another Schenectady HS suicide, school district ordered to pay for not preventing beating, Albany Freenet expanding
A representative for the Dalai Lama tells the TU that the Buddhist spiritual leader will not be coming to Albany as planned. It seems concerns surrounding the sponsor organization's ties to NXIVM, the controversial "personal growth" training org, caused the Dalai Lama's people to reconsider. [TU]
The state Senate finished passing the budget bills Friday night. Assessments of the budget differed greatly between the two parties. Even with passage in both houses, the contents of the budget aren't entirely clear -- and it may have to be revised later this year. [TU] [Daily Politics] [NYT]
At the least for the moment, the vote totals for Jim Tedisco and Scott Murphy are exactly tied. That number is almost sure to change as five counties have yet to finish re-checking the numbers on their voting machines. Tedisco announced Friday that he was stepping down as Assembly minority leader to "focus on his transition to Congress" -- though he also said he's not declaring victory. It seems Assembly Republicans were also keen to push him out of the position. The Saratoga Springs regional office for the 20th Congressional District has temporarily re-opened with its old staff while the election is sorted out. [TU] [Daily Gazette] [NYT] [Daily Gazette] [Post-Star]
Former Congressman John Sweeney was arrested early Sunday morning for allegedly driving drunk on Route 9 in Clifton Park. This is Sweeney's second DWI arrest, which bumped the charge up to a felony. Earlier in Sweeney's career he served as Rensselaer County's STOP-DWI coordinator. [Daily Gazette] [TU] [Troy Record]
Among those who had a bull's eye sticker: the niece of police chief James Tuffey (another one of her uncles was also police chief for a time). An unidentified source tells the TU that Tuffey's niece didn't get a ticket for a 2007 crash because of the sticker. [TU]
Special election vote totals shifting, Morris says Albany treasurer lied, arrest in Barnes assault, Shen coach suspended after old accusations come to light, state budget leading to Saratoga paid parking?
The vote totals for the 20th Congressional District special election keep shifting as voting machines and emergency ballots are "re-canvassed." What appears to be the latest tally has Jim Tedisco now ahead of Scott Murphy by 12 votes. The election will ultimately be decided by the count of the absentee ballots -- which won't start until Monday at the earliest. Both campaigns continue to express confidence that they'll come out ahead. [Troy Record] [PolitickerNY] [TU]
The Saratogian reports that Jim Tedisco will be stepping down as state Assembly minority leader on Monday so he "can focus on this congressional district." The TU reports that Tedisco is facing a no-confidence vote on Monday because members of his caucus are annoyed that he's spent so much time on his Congressional campaign during the state budget process. [Saratogian] [TU]
The state Senate has continued its debate of the budget bills, though a vote could be coming soon. The Senate voted to allow Democratic Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, who's been in and out of the hospital with pneumonia, to vote "yes" on all the budget bills ahead of time. The majority Dems didn't have enough votes to pass the bills without Hassell-Thompson. [TU]
Albany Common Council president Shawn Morris says she thinks city treasurer Betty Barnette "flat-out lied" when Barnette testified earlier this week that her office doesn't "fix" parking tickets. The Common Council is now seeking copies of every parking ticket dismissed in 2008. [TU]
Guilderland police have arrested a mixed-martial arts fighter for the assault of the TU's Steve Barnes and a friend last year in the parking lot outside Creo. According to the TU, the police are investigating "connections" between the fighter and an unnamed Albany restaurant that Barnes wrote about. [TU]
State budget voting held up, Murphy's lead down to 25 votes, TPD split over whether RPI student was murdered, bathtub full of drugs allegedly found in doctor's home
Voting on the state budget bills hit a snag yesterday when Democratic Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson had to return to the hospital because of pneumonia (the Dems need her vote for the required 32 "yes" votes). The Assembly finished passing all the budget bills yesterday morning -- though a handful of Democrats, most of them from upstate, voted "no." State comptroller Tom DiNapoli, also a Democrat, publicly criticized the budget for relying too much on federal stimulus and other temporary money. [TU] [AP/Saratogian] [NYT] [Biz Review]
There still seems to be a lot that's unknown about the 8,900 state worker layoffs David Paterson has ordered. [Saratogian]
Scott Murphy now leads Jim Tedisco by just 25 votes in the 20th Congressional District special election after a re-check of some voting machines. Counting of absentee ballots won't be begin until Monday at the earliest -- Republican hold an enrollment edge in the pool of absentee ballots. About 165,000 people voted in Tuesday's election, the largest turnout in a US special election in two decades according to a Skidmore prof. Both campaigns are saying publicly that they'll come out on top. [Daily Gazette] [Saratogian] [Post-Star] [TU]
Albany Common Councilman -- and mayoral candidate -- Corey Ellis has called for the council to issue subpoenas as part of its ghost ticket investigation. [CapNews9]
Special election not over yet, state budget hits snags, doubts about Tuffey's ghost ticket testimony, CDTA fare hike takes effect, milk spilled in Troy
The special election in the 20th Congressional District isn't over. Initial tallies indicate that Scott Murphy leads Jim Tedisco by as few as 59 votes and as many as 65 votes. Here's a county-by-county breakdown of the totals. There are about 6000 absentee ballots that need to be counted -- they've been impounded and won't be counted until Monday at the earliest. As you might expect, both campaigns think they'll come out ahead in the final count. There are some indications the parties are already gearing up for a Coleman-Franken-like recount. [TU] [Daily Politics] [WNYT] [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Post-Star] [Saratogian] [Daily Politics]
Voters told reporters the top issue in the race was, surprise: the economy (great quote about Tedisco: "He's like a little bulldog."). There was a little bit of drama for voters on the Skidmore campus. And apparently some people in Schenectady showed up at the polls looking to vote -- except that Schenectady's not in the 20th (for what it's worth, Tedisco wasn't able to vote either). Many voters said they're just happy the TV ads, polling and robocalls are over. [Post-Star] [TU] [TU] [Saratogian]
The state budget isn't wrapped up yet (the official deadline was midnight last night) -- in part because Republican Senators, upset about the budget, stalled for a while yesterday and a Democratic Senator had to be taken to the hospital. [TU] [Daily Politics]
Three state Senators, including Neil Breslin, have asked David Paterson to meet with the state worker unions about the layoffs Paterson says are on the way. [Biz Review]
Still stung by the cut to Saratoga County's VLT aid, political leaders there seem to be missing Joe Bruno. [TU]
This year's almost $132 billion state budget has provoked quite a few, uh, passionate reactions.
Here's the condensed version of what people are saying...
We were a little taken a back when we saw Monday morning that this year's total state budget is shaping up to be almost $132 billion. All we'd been hearing about was how there was no money -- and yet this year's budget is almost 9 percent bigger than last year's.
As it happens, we shouldn't have been surprised. At all. New York's total budget has been on this path since the late 1990s. Almost any budget is going to grow over time because of inflation. But even when you consider inflation, New York's total budget has been skyrocketing.
We've put together an annotated chart comparing the growth of the total budget to the track of inflation. It's kind of shocking laid out like that.
Discussion, notes and caveats after the jump.
State budget agreement includes big increase, more trouble for Schenectady cops, IBM to continue investing at Albany NanoTech, forest kindergarten planned
The Three Men in the Room have agreed to a state budget totaling almost $132 billion -- yep, that's $10 billion more than David Paterson's proposed budget and almost 9 percent bigger than last year. Direct spending by the state, not counting federal money, is increasing one percent. (Look how the Three Men buried the budget total in the 7th paragraph of the agreement's press release.) The budget includes a bunch of new taxes and fees, including hikes in the income tax for higher income households. It also kills the STAR rebate checks. The legislature still found room to keep a combined $170 million in "member items" (you know, pork). This budget was composed in "profound" secrecy. State Senate Republican minority leader Dean Skelos called it "the height of irresponsibility." [AP/Daily Gazette] [PolitickerNY] [Buffalo News] [Newsday] [TU] [NYT] [NYDN]
State Senate majority leader Malcolm Smith says the proposed reforms of the Rockefeller Drug Laws will save the state $250 million in expenses. [TU]
Yet another Schenectady cop is in trouble. A patrolman was charged Friday night with taking his girlfriend's car without her permission. The officer was already under investigation for abusing sick time and once lost his gun. "We need to bring the hammer down," mayor Brian Stratton said of the city's troubled police force. [Daily Gazette] [TU]
The APD detective accused of driving drunk through Albany and Delmar in January has pleaded not guilty. The detective is currently suspended with pay. [TU]
The Dalai Lama's emissary says he's OK with the fact that his leader's Albany visit is being sponsored by an organization that's been accused of being cult-like. [TU]
With New York State scraping to cover a seemingly ever-widening budget gap, state leaders have been exploring all sorts of options for new revenue. But here's one that, as far as we know, hasn't come up, yet: taxing marijuana.
Ha! That's a joke, right? Well, in California -- which is facing a $42 billion budget gap -- a state assemblyman has proposed doing just that. And by some estimates, the Golden State could bring in more than a billion dollars that way.
OK. If New York started taxing pot, how much could it bring in?
Unemployment rate continues to rise, state budget deals, another into the Albany mayoral pool, mom accused of helping daughter fight, excused for Jumpin' Jacks
The Capital Region's unemployment rate hit 7.6 percent in February, according to the state Department of Labor. (The overall state rate was 7.8 percent.) That's up half a point from the month before and 2.1 points compared to the same month last year. A labor department analyst says the rate is probably the highest it's been since the early 80s. The region's job losses appear to be hitting people without college educations and easy access to transportation the hardest. [AP/Saratogian] [Daily Gazette] [TU] [TU]
The state's Three Men in a Room have a reportedly reached an agreement to raise taxes on households with incomes of $300,000 and up. It also appears that wine sales in supermarkets won't be approved. But who knows -- all the negotiations are going on in secret. The Three Men apparently want the budget bills printed this weekend so they can be voted on before the budget deadline Tuesday night. [TU] [NYT] [NYDN]
The former head of a state-funded institute who was convicted of ripping that state off for more $100,000 was sentenced to house arrest and probation. [TU]
Schenectady County leaders balked at Schenectady mayor Brian Stratton's proposal to dissolve the city's troubled police force and form a new countywide department. The chair of the county legislature said the city needs to do a better job disciplining its officers. [TU] [Daily Gazette]
State worker layoffs planned as budget gap grows, Tedisco-Murphy debate, Wellington demolition begins, converting ounces to grams
There were two (gulp!) developments yesterday regarding the state budget. First, state leaders announced the projected budget gap for the next fiscal year is now $16.2 billion -- $2 billion more than earlier projections. And then the Paterson administration announced it plans to cut nearly 9,000 state jobs in an effort to save almost $500 million over two years. [TU] [TU]
A state Inspector General's investigation has concluded that a group of Pataki political appointees in the state Department of Taxation and Finance got themselves into protected civil service jobs by tailoring tests and job requirements specially for their own resumes. [TU]
Andrew Cuomo says he's planning to run for re-election as state Attorney General next year -- not governor. "I'm very happy being the attorney general," Cuomo told the crowd last night at a public forum in Schenectady. [Daily Gazette] [TU]
Jim Tedisco and Scott Murphy argued about the definition of pork during their debate last night (full video). (Debate analysis from Bob Conner at Planet Albany.) Earlier in the day they were talking up voters in Saratoga County. And in an email that went out this morning, Barack Obama endorsed Murphy. [TU] [WNYT] [Saratogian] [HuffPo]
State budget talks appear to be stalling, police commander: no-fine stickers date back 17 years, home prices down again, school district worried about backyard wrasslin'
The Three Men in the Room say they're struggling to reach consensus on the state budget. (Of course, it's hard to tell if that's true or not because all the negotiations are going on behind closed doors.) The budget is due April 1. [NYT]
State Senator Hiram Monserrate, a Democrat from Queens, was indicted yesterday on charges that he slashed his girlfriend with a broken glass. Monserrate says he's innocent and will not resign. The Democrats hold a two seat majority in the Senate. [TU][NYT]
Chuck Schumer says he now supports gay marriage. The New York US Senator had been a supporter of civil unions and vote for the federal Defense of Marriage Act (which forbids federal recognition of gay marriages) in 1996. [AP/NYT]
An Albany police commander testified before the Common Council last night that the "bull's eye" no-fine parking stickers date back to 1992 -- and were administered by the Albany Police Officers Union. The head of the APOU at that time: current police chief James Tuffey. [TU]
The median sales price for a home in the Capital Region fell five percent (to $176,000) in February compared to the same period last year, according to the Greater Capital Association of Realtors. [TU]