Will The New York Legislature Return?

BY Nick Reisman New York State

State lawmakers aren't ruling out a return to Albany for finishing up a legislative session that has been disrupted by a global pandemic.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday signaled he felt the Legislature's work wasn't done, days after they put the finishing touches on a state budget that will have to be re-adjusted throughout the year amid non-existent tax revenues and uncertainty surrounding continued federal support.

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Siena Poll: 87% of New Yorkers Say Virus Has Upended Life

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The vast majority of New Yorkers polled say the coronavirus pandemic has upended their lives in either a somewhat or very significant way, a Siena College poll released on Monday found.

The pandemic found the crisis has impacted the daily lives of 87 percent of New Yorkers, while 14 percent said they were under a form of mandatory quarantine.

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Cuomo: "Too Early To Tell" if New York State Is Reaching its Apex

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

While the number of people who have died from the coronavirus in New York continues to climb, the numbers also bring with it a moment of hope.

"We're not sure if it is a blip...We could be at the apex, we could be at the plateau, but we do not know yet," Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D, said with caution on Sunday.

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Barclay on the Budget: Thought It'd Be More Transparent

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay is exhausted.

He told Capital Tonight over Skype that he was up until 5:30 a.m., presumably finishing up the budget and other legislative business. “I always think that the process for New York budgets have been terrible,” he said. “It’s usually three men in a room, and not a lot of transparency. We thought it might be different this year since we are facing this public health crisis, but it wasn’t.” He’s not the only one to complain about this year’s lack of transparency. Senator Jim Tedisco told WRGB, “We went from three men in a room to three men in a Zoom”. Barclay was unhappy with the substance of the budget as well, especially the inclusion of public campaign financing, bail reform, and the legalization of gestational surrogacy. “I don’t think it’s good public policy for New Yorkers,” he said. “What we really should have done, what I would have preferred and what my conference would have preferred is, if we just did a bare-bones budget,” Barclay explained. “Let’s try to get through this crisis, go for two more months and we can come back and reevaluate.” When asked if he and his conference were planning to return to Albany after the two-week break, Barclay said no. “My understanding is that there’s no plans to do that right now. We may have too. Obviously, a lot of things happen in government that need legislative attention, so we’ll see how it goes,” said Barclay. “We gave the governor in this budget process a tremendous amount of power to unilaterally change the budget numbers as we go forward so it’ll be a question of what the legislature wants – what kind of input we need and what kind of issues come up that need to be addressed, legislatively. But as of right now, there’s no plans to come back," he said.

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Budget Sets Stage for Wind, Solar Projects to Go Up in Record Time

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Upstate New York will see new wind and solar projects being built in record time thanks to a new provision in the budget.

The state’s new spending plan fast-tracks the way renewable energy is sited, something Anne Reynolds, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy, says has been needed since last year's passage of climate legislation.

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Cuomo Orders Requisitioning Of Ventilators For COVID-19 Patients

BY Nick Reisman New York State
UPDATED 12:31 PM ET Apr. 03, 2020

New York state government will requisition ventilators from institutions with the spare equipment to make up for an expected shortfall that could come as soon as next week.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the latest executive order on Friday as deaths attributed to the virus over the last 24 hours have increased by more than 500 people, and confirmed cases in the state have topped 100,000 people.

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Exclusive: Gillibrand Urges Federal Officials To Provide Protections for U.S. Prison Staff, Inmates

BY Nick Reisman New York State

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand urged federal officials in a letter sent this week to provide better safeguards and guidance to federal prisons in order to prevent the further spread of coronavirus.

The letter sent to U.S. Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal and Attorney General William Barr and obtained by Spectrum News on Friday morning, comes as corrections union leaders and criminal justice advocates call for safer conditions in New York state prisons as well.

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A Crisis State Budget Is Approved; Here's What's In It

BY Morgan McKay New York State

The New York state Legislature has approved a 2020-21 state budget, perhaps one of the most difficult spending plans lawmakers have had to vote on in a decade, when a recession last tore through the state's economy.

And this budget was very different, approved in the middle of a pandemic that has largely upended daily life in the state and around the country while sickening thousands, including several members of the Assembly and Senate. Leading up to this week in March, hallways are usually teeming with protesters and their chants boom off the marble walls. Lobbyists hover outside legislative chambers, slipping their cards to the Sergeant at Arms to deliver to a lawmaker inside. But this year the corridors were silent and for the first time in state history, chamber seats remained empty as lawmakers cast their votes remotely.

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Cuomo Warns States: You Could Be Next In COVID-19 Fight

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Mixed in with Governor Andrew Cuomo's daily and increasingly dire warnings of the impact of the pandemic on New York's strained public health system has been a message to other states: You could very well be the next part of the country to face the coronavirus.

New York has the most coronavirus cases in the U.S., with New York City leading the way followed by suburban counties in the Hudson Valley and on Long Island.

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Robust Budget Progresses Under Coronavirus Cloud

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany
UPDATED 11:09 PM ET Apr. 02, 2020

Passing a New York state budget is arguably the most important task lawmakers face all year.

Leading up to this week in March, hallways are usually teaming with protesters and their chants boom off the marble walls. Lobbyists hover outside legislative chambers, slipping their cards to the Sergeant at Arms to deliver to a lawmaker inside.

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Criminal Justice Advocates, Republicans Unhappy With Bail Law Changes

BY Nick Reisman New York State
UPDATED 5:50 PM ET Apr. 02, 2020

New York's controversial law ending cash bail for misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenses will change in the new state budget. The changes will mean a variety of criminal offenses — including sex trafficking, sex degree burglary, and money laundering — will once again require cash bail.

As highlighted by Democrats in the state Senate, the changes include $40 million for the implementation of new evidentiary discovery measures. But the changes for criminal justice advocates like Erin George of Citizen Action go too far.

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How to Be a News Consumer During the Pandemic

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The coronavirus pandemic is keeping people glued to the news more than ever before: But what news can you trust? I went to the experts to find out.

Since the first COVID-19 case in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has been providing daily briefings — updates that include charts, graphs, and lots of numbers.

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Jobless Claims Rise In New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

More New Yorkers were able to file for unemployment insurance with the state Department of Labor, representing a flood of claims amid an economic shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Department of Labor on Thursday announced 369,025 unemployment claims were filed for the week that ended March 28. That is an increase from the previous week, when 80,516 claims were filed.

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New York Has 6 Days Until Ventilators Run Out, Cuomo Says

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Ventilators in New York could be exhausted in six days as the state is taking "extraordinary measures" to make up the difference, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday in his daily briefing.

Cuomo: "We need what you need. If a person comes in and you don't have a ventilator, the person dies." Cuomo says the state is taking "all sorts of extraordinary measures" to handle a shortage.

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Controversial NY Bail Law Would See Changes if Budget Legislation Passes

BY Nick Reisman New York State

New York lawmakers are poised to approve legislation that would expand the criminal charges that would qualify for cash bail — altering a measure that was approved in the previous year's budget.

The provision will qualify charges for offenses like sex trafficking, second-degree burglary, aggravated vehicular assault, money laundering charges, and child pornography.

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Beginning of Chris Collins Prison Term Delayed Until June 23

BY Ryan Whalen New York State

A federal judge has granted a request from attorneys for Chris Collins to delay the beginning of the former congressman's prison sentence two more months.

Collins will now be required to report on June 23. The attorneys, in a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Vernon Broderick, cited the coronavirus pandemic as the reason they asked for an extension.

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Lawmaker: Require Hospitals To Communicate With Families

BY Nick Reisman New York State

A state lawmaker on Wednesday urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to require hospitals to provide medical updates to family members of patients on a regular basis as visits are barred due to the pandemic.

Democratic Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein in a statement called on Cuomo to issue an executive order amid the no-visitor policy implementation.

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Businesses, Battered By Pandemic, Say Budget Doesn't Help

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The New York chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business in a statement on Wednesday did not find a lot to like in the new state budget.

The group pointed to rejected small business tax cuts and a paid sick leave policy that could end up costing business owners more money.

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New York's Coronavirus Budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York's state budget outside of the Albany bubble often draws little attention.

Sure, there are items that can affect a broad range of New Yorkers, like last year when the spending plan banned plastic bags in supermarkets.

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Environmental Measures Find Home In Budget

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

Even though this is a rough budget season, full of expected cuts as the state stares down a potential $15 billion budget hole, things are looking bright for environmental advocates.

The New York State Senate included a host of environmentally friendly bills in the the state budget agreement.

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Foundation Aid Freeze: It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

In 2009, as the economy’s bruising from the Great Recession had started to become truly painful, then-Governor David Paterson froze Foundation Aid, the primary vehicle for education financing in New York. He also proposed a reduction in total school aid, later named the “Gap Elimination Adjustment.”

When federal stimulus aid became available, it was used to offset the planned cut in state support, leaving overall school aid essentially flat.

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Delayed Paychecks Anger Union Leader

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday declared there is a framework deal in place for a state budget, hours after the state's fiscal year began.

The delayed budget has meant a snag in payroll for 120,000 state workers given the budget due date lined up with payday. So it's meant delayed direct deposits for state employees, including those who are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Cuomo, Public Left Wondering, When Will All This End?

BY Morgan McKay New York State

There have been a lot of theories recently, about when New York is expected to reach its "apex," or peak number of cases.

Projections have continued to hover at one to two weeks, but now it has been moved to the end of April. And if you find it confusing and frustrating, you are not alone.

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Department Of Corrections Now Allowing Staff To Wear Masks While on Duty

BY Ryan Whalen New York State
UPDATED 12:12 PM ET Apr. 01, 2020

The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision is now allowing all staff to wear either an N-95 respirator or surgical-type mask while on duty inside of correctional facilities, but they have to bring their own.

Acting Commissioner Anthony Annucci notified all DOCCS employees in a memo sent Monday. He said he made the decision after extensive discussions with the various bargaining unit representatives in order to continue to protect the staff and the incarcerated population from exposure to coronavirus.

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Counties Make Last-Ditch Plea On Medicaid

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Local government budgets are going to be hit hard by the resulting economic recession in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

And now the state budget is poised to return more costs of the Medicaid spending onto county governments.

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New York, New Jersey Delegations Seek Regional Hospital Funding

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Federal lawmakers who represent two of the hardest-hit states in the coronavirus pandemic are seeking to direct aid to regional hospitals that could be overwhelmed by an influx of patients.

New York and New Jersey House members on Monday released a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar urging him to prioritize the $100 billion in hospital spending in a $2 trillion rescue bill for hospitals in their states.

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Coronavirus Protections for New York Prison Workers Sought

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Republican Sen. Robert Ortt, in a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday, urged more protective measures be put in place for corrections officers in the state's prisons.

Ortt in the letter called for expanded availability of personal protective equipment, like masks, for corrections officers.

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How Labor Officials Are Dealing With Unemployment Surge

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Over six days last week, the New York State Department of Labor's phone system received 8.2 million calls. The system typically handles 50,000 calls. During the same period, the state's online filing system received 3.4 million visits. Typically, the system gets 350,000 visits.

But these are not typical days, as a pandemic has led to an economic shutdown and tens of thousands of people unemployment or on furlough without pay.

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Common Cause: Legislature Must Stay in Session Post-Budget

BY Susan Arbetter City of Albany

Susan Lerner of the good government group Common Cause NY says the legislature is a co-equal branch of government and cannot cede its responsibility to the governor by leaving town (figuratively speaking) after the budget.

Furthermore, she says any claim that lawmakers can’t do their job because of technology is rubbish.

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Cuomo Apologizes For Labor Department Malfunctions

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday acknowledged the trouble at the the state Department of Labor being overwhelmed by a wave of calls from people who have lost their jobs seeking to file for unemployment.

"I apologize for the pain," Cuomo said. "It must be infuriating to deal with. I'm telling you, we have every technology company on it."

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NY-17: Buchwald Ad Focuses on New Normal

BY Nick Reisman New York City

Assemblyman David Buchwald has released his first TV ad of his congressional campaign, a 30-second spot that focuses on pulling together during the coronavirus pandemic.

The ad is perhaps one of the first to seize on the new normal of the last two weeks, featuring the candidate talking through a laptop computer as millions of Americans take to video streaming to have conversations with loved ones.

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Cuomo For President? No Thanks, He Says

BY Nick Reisman New York State

For years, Governor Andrew Cuomo studiously avoided building a national profile and the accusation that he has his eyes set on the presidency.

Being governor of New York, he has said in so many words, is his dream job. He rarely traveled out of the state, and when he did it was a quick few hours on the ground -- even if that ground was in Israel or Cuba -- and then back home again.

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Corrections Union Chief Tests Positive for Coronavirus

BY Morgan McKay New York State

NYSCOPBA announced on Monday its Union President Michael Powers tested positive for COVID-19 and the union is calling for safety reform within the system during this pandemic.

The New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association is asking the state to allow all employees working in parole offices, correctional and mental health facilities, and other essential agencies to use personal protective equipment.

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Cuomo Warns Of Major Budget Cuts, What Does This Mean For Education?

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

The clock is ticking away the hours now until the state budget is due and there is still a lot left to be done. Schools get the second biggest slice of the budget pie, but Governor Andrew Cuomo is warning of major cuts in the state budget this year. "The schools are the second biggest expense for the state after health care and that’s where we have zero dollars," Cuomo warned. In January, Cuomo proposed a 3% increase in funding to grades K-12. At the time, the state was facing a growing economy and a revenue increase. However now that the coronavirus has significantly impacted the state's revenue, worst case scenario, the state is facing a $15 billion revenue shortfall. Cuomo is proposing making quarterly adjustments to this year's budget, so the amount of money coming in can determine how much goes out. Yet, this leaves county and school budgets in a bit of a limbo. The Federal Stimulus Coronavirus bill passed by Congress does give $1 billion to grades K-12 and another $1 billion to higher education in New York. But how and when that money can be used is still being worked out. According to NYS Education Department Officials, the state is "awaiting further guidance from the US DOE and will review this issue in the coming days." In the meantime, the state teacher's union, NYSUT, says that money is needed just to keep schools running. "So many districts will be dependent on those extra funds," explained Andy Pallotta, president of NYSUT. "And especially as the state looks at its own needs, we're saying this makes it so that they don't have to have the drastic cuts that they were talking about. Saying there were drastic cuts coming to education, this is definitely a stop gap." However, how much money schools will receive in the state budget is still being determined. The budget is due on April 1.

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How The Restaurant Industry Has Been Slammed By Virus

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A survey released by the New York State Restaurant Association this week found restaurants in the state alone lost $1.9 billion in sales and 250,000 jobs lost as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Restaurants were ordered to close earlier this month in the state in order to halt the spread of the virus; Gov. Andrew Cuomo subsequently ordered people with non-essential jobs to stay home through at least April 15.

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Lawmakers Feeling "Impotent," "Concerned" Over State Budget

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

The situation is dire. There’s no money. The budget is due at midnight on Tuesday. Traditional in-person negotiations are limited thanks to the contagion, and the governor, whose popularity is skyrocketing, wants yet more power.

In a series of interviews with lawmakers from both parties, some say they feel sidelined, impotent and out-of-time. Some are resigned to the situation. Others say they get it.

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Sen. Jim Seward Hospitalized For Coronavirus

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Sen. Jim Seward and his wife Cindy have both tested positive for coronavirus, his office announcced on Monday.

Seward has been hospitalized at Albany Medical Center and has exhibited mild symptoms. In a statement, Seward's office said he "is expected to make a full and complete recovery.

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Calls To Safeguard Prisons Against Virus Grow

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Calls to provide further safeguards for prisons against the spread of coronavirus are heightening after the president of the state corrections officers' union tested positive for the disease.

Meanwhile, criminal justice advocates have further urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to release vulnerable inmates in New York over concerns prisons would be a breeding ground for the virus and spread quickly much in the same way it can through a nursing home.

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NYSUT Ad: Don't Cut Education Spending

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The state budget this week will force state lawmakers into making some difficult choices, including cuts to education aid amid the coronavirus pandemic as the crisis has led to plummeting revenue for New York and soaring costs.

The New York State United Teachers Union on Monday will unveil a 30-second ad pushing back against any cuts this week.

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New York State Legislature Moves To Vote Remotely

BY Nick Reisman New York State

When state lawmakers cast votes for the state budget this week, many of them might not be in the chamber — or in Albany for that matter.

Both the state Senate and Assembly are taking steps to formally allow for remote voting during a declared emergency.

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Siena Poll: New York Voters Give Cuomo Top Marks For Pandemic Handling

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the last month has given him his highest favorable rating with voting in eight years, a Siena College poll released Monday morning found.

According to the poll, 87 percent of voters in New York approve of the job Cuomo is doing to manage the crisis as he has become a national focal point with daily briefings providing updates on the infection rate, the need for equipment and the push to expand hospital capacity.

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Cuomo Extends 'Pause' for 2 More Weeks, Budget Crisis Looms

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The New York "pause" that is keeping non-essential workers at home will continue until at least April 15 in order to prevent the continued spread of coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday said.

Meanwhile, the governor dug in against accepting more than $6 billion in federal aid that would also prevent the state from shifting Medicaid costs onto local governments in the state.

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Cuomo Delays New York Presidential Primary From April to June

BY Susan Arbetter New York State
UPDATED 2:20 PM ET Mar. 28, 2020

After weeks of speculation, Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced Saturday New York’s presidential primary would be delayed until from April 28 to June 23.

The change means that the state’s presidential, congressional and legislative primaries will all fall on the same date. “Ironically, I had been advocating to have it on that date anyway,” Cuomo said during his daily press briefing.

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Good-Government Advocates: Move Presidential Primary

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A coalition of good-government organizations on Friday endorsed moving New York's presidential primary from April 28 to June 23 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Their letter -- signed by Common Cause, the New York League of Women Voters, the New York Public Interest Research Group, Citizens Union and Reinvent Albany -- comes days after elections commissioners in the state also endorsed the move, as have several state lawmakers.

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Fourth NY Lawmaker Tests Positive For Virus

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A Republican state lawmaker from the Mohawk Valley region is being hospitalized in Utica and tested positive for the coronavirus, Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said Friday.

Assemblyman Brian Miller is the fourth state lawmaker to test positive for the virus in the state Legislature.

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Cuomo: New York Schools to Remain Closed For Another 2 Weeks

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York schools will remain closed until at least April 15 in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday said.

Some schools ordered closed by the state were set to re-open on Wednesday, and schools overall had a portion of the 180-day open rule for funding waived until then.

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School Districts Brace for the Worst

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Governor Andrew Cuomo is asking the legislature for the flexibility to make mid-year budget adjustments every quarter depending on revenues.

Dave Albert, the chief communications and marketing officer of the New York State School Boards Association, says this means both unpredictability and instability for the state’s 700 school districts.

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Senator Urges Cuomo To Open Gun Shops

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Republican state Sen. Robert Ortt in a letter this week to Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged him to open gun and sportsmen stores in New York amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Keeping them closed, Ortt argued in the letter, deprives New Yorkers of their Second Amendment rights. He pointed to neighboring Pennsylvania, which has allowed gun stores to operate on a limited hours basis.

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Local Governments Face Budget Limbo

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

The New York state budget process this year is shaping up to be far different than years past.

Possible remote voting and a complete shakeup to how funds are distributed will mark a historic year in the state budget process.

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Jobless Claims Soar In New York

BY Nick Reisman New York State

More than 80,500 jobless claims were filed in the last week in New York, according to the state Department of Labor, amid the deepening public health crisis surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

The initial increase for unemployment insurance is a 520 percent rise. Each of the state's 10 labor markets saw a minimum 284 percent spike in unemployment insurance claims, state officials said.

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Covering Cuomo In Crisis

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

One late summer day in 2011 a member of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's press office asked if I wanted to go for a helicopter ride.

A helicopter?

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What Will New York's Jobless Picture Look Like?

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The state Department of Labor had some good news on Thursday: New York's unemployment rate in February declined from 3.8 percent to 3.7 percent.

But that last month, before the coronavirus pandemic wrecked Wall Street and Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other states ordered non-essential workers to stay home and businesses to close to prevent the spread of the disease.

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Assembly Majority Leader: Marijuana Legalization More Important Than Ever

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Governor Andrew Cuomo isn’t the only politician who wants to see legalization of marijuana in the budget.

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes of Buffalo, one of the authors of the bill, told Spectrum News on Thursday that with a probable recession on the horizon, it’s more important now than it was before to pass a bill that will help poor black and brown communities.

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EMS Workers on Pandemic Frontline

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Ambulance workers are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

But Monroe Ambulance President Tom Coyle says like anyone else in the health care field right now, EMS workers need supplies to keep them safe.

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Senate Approves $2 Trillion Coronavirus Rescue Bill, But Is It Enough For New York?

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The U.S. Senate has put the finishing touches on a $2 trillion coronavirus rescue bill that is meant to shore up businesses, states and individuals who have been affected by the pandemic.

"With this economic package, New Yorkers have more help on the way," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the state's junior senator. "This economic package will deliver a surge of protective equipment and resources to New York hospitals and first responders, and put real dollars in New Yorkers’ pockets."

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State Assemblyman: Don't Charge Taxes On Unemployment Insurance

BY Morgan McKay Albany/Capital Region

New York State Assemblyman Dan Stec is calling on the the state and federal government to lift taxes on unemployment checks, while the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the state.

Right now, there is a 10 percent federal tax and a 2.5 percent state tax on all unemployment checks. With thousands of New Yorkers out of a job, Stec said that suspending these taxes is one way the state can help.

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Cuomo: NY’s Share of Coronavirus Funding a "Drop in the Bucket"

BY Nick Reisman New York State
UPDATED 10:07 PM ET Mar. 25, 2020

Governor Andrew Cuomo sharply criticized the coronavirus relief bill in the U.S. Senate, calling the $2 trillion plan a “drop in the bucket” for New York.

The state now has more than 30,000 confirmed cases of the disease, 10 times more than the next state, New Jersey.

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Analysis: Trump Exaggerates New York Ventilator Report

BY Nick Reisman New York State

President Donald Trump on Tuesday knocked Gov. Andrew Cuomo amid a push from New York officials to gain access to tens of thousands of ventilators.

Trump pointed to an article from Gateway Pundit, a right-wing website. He made two basic claims:

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NY Senate Republican Leader John Flanagan Won't Seek Re-Election

BY Nick Reisman New York State
UPDATED 2:28 PM ET Mar. 25, 2020

Republican Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan on Wednesday announced he would not seek re-election this November, ending a career in Albany that started in the state Assembly and spanned more than 30 years.

Senate GOP Leader John Flanagan not seeking re-election pic.twitter.com/PUsUJImhcv

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Criminal Justice Advocates: Not The Time To Alter Bail Law

BY Nick Reisman New York State

A rise of coronavirus infection rates in jails should bolster the arguments against altering the state's cash bail law, criminal justice advocates are warning lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

"We're seeing that jails and prisons are hotbeds for this disease," said Rena Karefa-Johnson, the New York criminal justice director at FWD.us, a progressive group.

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Hickey Freeman To Make Face Masks for Rochester General

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Hickey Freeman, a clothier synonymous with Rochester, will convert its factory in the city manufacture protective face masks for the medical staff at Rochester General Hospital.

The decision by the company to do so comes as private industries have announced plans to change their production efforts to medical supplies in an effort to turn back the coronavirus pandemic and shore up flagging medical supplies.

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State AGs: Use Defense Production Act To Fight Coronavirus

BY Nick Reisman New York State

More than dozen state attorneys general on Tuesday in a letter to President Trump urged him to fully invoke the Defense Production Act to kick the production of medical equipment into a higher gear.

Signing on to the letter: New York Attorney General Letitia James.

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Jobless Claims Flood State Labor Department

BY Morgan McKay New York State

New York is "on pause," which means thousands of businesses across the state have closed, some permanently.

Since the economy's reboot date is still uncertain, many employers laid off their employees to allow them to collect unemployment checks.

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Stewart-Cousins Questions Pulling Back on Medicaid Spending in Pandemic

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Throttling spending in the state’s Medicaid program is being questioned by the top Democrat in the state Senate, who said in an interview on Tuesday the state’s hospitals were already being asked to shoulder the heavy burden of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re asking out hospitals and supportive services to do much more, to increase capacity from 50 to 100 percent,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “We’re asking a lot from hospitals and caregivers, for all of our sake. So we want to make sure we are supportive of those efforts in everywhere.”

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Will the New York State Budget Be Cuomo’s Big Buzzkill?

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

After weeks of PowerPoint-filled press conferences; almost daily hits on national television; Red Room appearances by two of his three daughters; tiny but tantalizing glimpses into Cuomo family dynamics; and at least one online love letter, it’s difficult to find anyone but hardcore Andrew Cuomo-haters who have critical words for New York’s ubiquitous governor.

But that may soon change as budget negotiations get heated.

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Small Businesses Say They've Been Slammed by Pandemic

BY Nick Reisman New York State

More than three-quarters of small businesses in the country say they have been negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic, a survey released this week by the NFIB Research Center.

The survey comes as non-essential workers have been ordered to stay home in New York, California and elsewhere in the country in order to contain the spread of the virus.

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Cuomo Pleads With Federal Government for Coronavirus Help

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pleaded with the federal government to provide more help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, as new projections show the state’s hospital needs will be far higher than initially estimated.

“We haven’t flattened the curve,” Cuomo said at a press briefing at the Javits Convention Center in New York on Tuesday morning. “The curve is increasing.”

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Elections Commissioners: Delay Presidential Primary

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The association that represents elections commissioners in New York is urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature to postpone the state’s April 28 presidential primary to June 23.

The move would also postpone special elections, including a congressional race in western New York and a Syracuse-area state Senate, to June as well.

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Cuomo Considers What’s Next For the Economy

BY Nick Reisman New York State

New York’s economy, along with the rest of the world, has largely ground to a halt in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

Millions of New Yorkers have been ordered to stay home. Businesses have closed, some have laid off thousands of workers.

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Hate Crimes Hotline Announced in New York

BY Morgan McKay New York State

New York officials on Monday announced it was launching a hotline number New Yorkers could call to report hate crimes and bias-based incidents.

Even during this pandemic, hate crimes are still a pervasive problem in New York.

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Can State Government Work From Home During COVID-19 Outbreak?

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

As a practical matter, state lawmakers have to be in Albany, in the Capitol, in their seats at their desks, in order to vote.

But a coalition of good-government groups have proposals that could help the state Legislature find ways, like millions of New Yorkers this week, of maintaining transparency and even working remotely.

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Officials: Unemployment, Isolation May Lead to Domestic Violence

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

The head of Vera House in Syracuse says unemployment and isolation, two byproducts of the coronavirus pandemic, can be stressors that may lead to domestic violence.

“It breaks my heart,” said Randi Bregman of victims during this crisis. She explains that for most people, sheltering in place can seem like protection from the outside world. But it’s just the opposite for those in abusive relationships.

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In Crisis, Cuomo Turns to Familiar Faces

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Governor Andrew Cuomo has, over the course of the coronavirus crisis, surrounded himself with familiar faces that have come and gone, and occasionally come back again for cameos within his administration or campaigns.

Old Cuomo hands that have made public appearances in recent weeks include Jim Malatras, the current president of SUNY Empire. Malatras, who looks like a compact version of Marvel Comics' Tony Stark, oversaw efforts to have schools come up with a plan to close.

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Bill Would Bolster Absentee Voting, Move April Primary

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Count state Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz among those who want to move New York’s April presidential primary to June 23.

Dinowitz on Monday announced the introduction of a bill that would do just that, along with measures that would allow changes to absentee ballot criteria to include the COVID-9 pandemic.

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Restaurant Owners: Boost Benefits For Workers, Help Industry

BY Nick Reisman New York State

A group of 20 restaurant owners in a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo backed guaranteed paid sick leave and a higher minimum wage for workers, which should be packaged with rent and tax relief to restaurants who commit to those policies, including after the COVID-19 pandemic crisis ends.

The group, Restaurants Advancing Industry Standards Employments, released a letter to Cuomo on Monday urging a bolstering of the industry that is reeling from the closure of their businesses to all but take-out and delivery services.

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Cuomo Orders Hospitals To Increase Capacity

BY Nick Reisman New York State
UPDATED 12:22 PM ET Mar. 23, 2020

New York hospitals must increase their capacity by 50 percent — including new beds and rooms — to manage the influx of coronavirus patients, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday.

Cuomo is urging hospitals to set the goal of doubling their capacity overall.

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Cuomo and Trump Find Common Ground

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The coronavirus crisis has created some common ground for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Donald Trump.

Yes, Trump and Cuomo had a public spat earlier this month over how to handle the crisis. But that quickly extinguished.

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Ulster County Opens Mobile Testing Site

BY Nick Reisman Ulster County

Ulster County has opened a mobile testing site at Tech City, with plans to provide a second location in Ellenville in the coming days, County Executive Pat Ryan said on Sunday in a statement.

The site is operating as part of a partnership with Nuance Health and is expected to add to testing capacity and streamline the process for people to be safely tested.

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Group Urges Statewide Vaping Ban Amid Pandemic

BY Nick Reisman New York State

A statewide medical group on Sunday called for a complete ban on the sale of vaping products, arguing the use of e-cigarettes and similar devices will help spread coronavirus in New York.

The group, the New York State Academy of Family Physicians, urged Governor Andrew Cuomo to issue an executive order banning the sale of vaping products in New York during the crisis.

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Cuomo Urges Trump To Take Charge of Medical Supply Production

BY Nick Reisman New York State
UPDATED 3:52 PM ET Mar. 22, 2020

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday urged President Donald Trump to invoke a decades-old law that requires companies to manufacture medical supplies to make up for a shortfall and prevent states from competing among themselves for masks, gowns and ventilators.

The supplies are needed to combat the growth in coronavirus cases and the coming wave of hospitalizations as a result.

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Cuomo: “There’s a Technical Issue With the House Bill”

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

In his most candid comments to date about the state the New York’s finances, Governor Andrew Cuomo admonished Albany’s advocacy community on Saturday, saying, “To be advocating for more state funding is beyond the pale of a colorable claim. The state is broke.”

Cuomo also urged lawmakers to return to Albany to finish the budget due April 1.

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AG James Urges Trump to Not Change Public Charge Rule

BY Morgan McKay New York State

New York Attorney General Leticia James wrote a letter to the federal government, asking that it delays implementation of its Public Charge Rule as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The new Public Charge Rule that went into effect in February of this year, denies green card and other visa applicants from being approved if it is believed at any time in the future they are likely to use certain public benefits or subsidies such as Section 8 housing or SNAP.

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Cuomo Orders New Yorkers To Stay Home

BY Nick Reisman and Morgan McKay New York State
UPDATED 4:13 PM ET Mar. 20, 2020

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday ordered 100 percent of the workforce to stay home and avoid going outside except for emergencies and for solitary exercise in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus cases.

"These actions will cause disruption," Cuomo said. "They will cause businesses to close. They will cause much unhappiness. I understand that."

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States Seek $150 Billion In Federal Aid to Combat Coronavirus

BY Nick Reisman New York State

State governments need a $150 billion aid package from the federal government, the National Governors Association on Friday said in a letter to top members of Congress.

The letter was backed by NGA Chairman Larry Hogan of Maryland and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the group's vice chairman.

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Cuomo Orders All Barber Shops, Salons, Tattoo Parlors to Close

BY Nick Reisman and Spectrum News Staff New York State

Business closures continue as the coronavirus continues to spread in New York state.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced all barber shops, hair salons, tattoo/piercing parlors and other related personal care services would be required to close to the public as of Saturday, March 21 at 8 p.m.

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Construction Industry Could Play Key Role In Hospital Expansion

BY Nick Reisman New York State

New York will need to double its hospital bed capacity and potentially expand its intensive care unit needs to 10 times its current scale.

The construction industry expects to play an essential role in ramping up that capacity in the coming weeks, said Mike Elmendorf, the president and CEO of the Associated General Contractors.

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Stefanik: Waive Federal Test Mandates For Schools

BY Morgan McKay Northern NY

Federally mandated tests in schools should be waived as classrooms remain empty during the coronavirus pandemic, Rep. Elise Stefanik said in a letter on Thursday to top House lawmakers.

Students in grades 3-12 are required to take English language arts and math tests, but lawmakers and the New York State Teachers Union worry that students will not be prepared. Schools across New York closed Wednesday for at least the next two weeks.

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Medicaid Redesign Team II Recommends Hospital Cuts Amid Pandemic

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

The Medicaid Redesign Team II voted Thursday to approve a package that includes $400 million in cuts to hospitals amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. The entire package of Medicaid changes was approved in a single vote.

T.K. Small, a disability-rights attorney and the only consumer advocate on the MRT, abstained from the vote as did Secretary to the Senate Finance Committee Todd Scheurermann and Assembly Ways & Means Secretary Blake Washington.

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Moody's Warns Of MTA Downgrade

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Moody's Investor Services on Thursday warned the Metropolitan Transportation Authority could face a downgrade for both its transportation revenue bond and BAN ratings.

The report from Moody's said action in the coming weeks will be crucial for the MTA, which is seeking a $4 billion bailout amid a sharp decline in ridership during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Novel Coronavirus Testing in New York State Ramps Up

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Not long ago, about 200 or so novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, tests were being conducted per day: That has since changed with 28 private laboratories enabled to perform tests, the addition of drive-through sites on Long Island, Staten Island, and Rockland County, as well as the New Rochelle hotspot.

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday said the sluggish testing rate has started to increase dramatically in the last several days. Now, 7,500 people were tested in the last day alone. All told, there have been 22,000 COVID-19 tests conducted.

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