State Budget

As Economy Opens, New York Revenue Still Down

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

As New York's economy was in the process of reopening last month, state tax revenue still lagged, a report released Thursday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office found.

Tax receipts in June were down $1.5 billion from the previous year, missing the mark by 17.3 percent.

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New York Tax Receipts Tumbled In May

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

State tax receipts for May were down 19.7 percent compared to the year before, according to the monthly state cash report.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced the state was down $766.9 million in monthly tax earnings, pointing to a closed economy as the reason for this decline in revenue.

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Report: Spending Cuts Could Hurt Post-Pandemic Recovery

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Deep cuts to spending by state government could worsen the financial and social upheaval created by the coronavirus pandemic, the Fiscal Policy Institute found in a paper set to be released on Wednesday.

The report comes as state and local governments need billions of dollars to shore up their finances, which have been devastated by the pandemic and subsequent economic freeze meant to reduce the spread of the virus.

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New York Unions Say Raises are Being Delayed

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Unions that represent public workers in New York on Wednesday said the state was moving to delay the implementation of contractual raises for 90 days.

It’s not clear how many workers are affected by the delay, or which segments of the workforce.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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New York's Budget Will Face Adjustments To Respond To Crisis

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The cascading revenue losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is forcing lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to rethink how the state budget will be shaped.

But time is short to have some sort of spending plan in place: The budget is due at the end of the month.

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Coronavirus Scrambles New York's Revenue

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York's projected revenue picture is darkening amid the growing crisis surrounding the spread of coronavirus as a report from Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Tuesday estimated the state's revenue projections are off by as much as $7 billion.

At minimum, New York's tax revenue will be $4 billion below projections -- a gap that lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have to fill by the end of this month.

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Caregivers Could Be the Other Victims of Coronavirus. Here's How

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Last year at this time, media outlets covering Albany were giving airtime and column inches to the usual array of worthy mid-March arrivals to the state Capitol: The Patriotic Millionaires, good government groups, and school districts that fall in between the cracks of the Foundation Aid formula.

There were also stories about the human services sector - those groups that represent people who need social services in a variety of areas: mental health, developmental disabilities, child welfare, foster care, domestic violence, homelessness, and aging.

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Push Made for a "Skinny" or "Bare-Bones" Budget

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Two weeks ago, lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo were likely headed to a change in the state's cash bail law, which ended the requirement for misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenses.

Now New York and the rest of the globe is staring down the barrel of a pandemic.

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School Wellness Effort Gains Ground in New York

BY Nick Reisman New York State

State lawmakers have introduced bills meant to create a first-in-the-nation wellness policy for schools, meant to promote nutrition and healthy lifestyles for students.

The bill, backed by state Sens. Alessandra Biaggi and Robert Jackson, comes as an effort to create a statewide wellness policy for schools has gained ground in recent weeks.

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Good-Government, Budget Watchdogs Raise Concerns With NY Budget Changes

BY Nick Reisman New York State

A collection of good-government organizations and fiscal watchdog groups on Tuesday released a letter raising concerns with how the state budget could make it harder for the state comptroller's office to track spending.

The letter points to a measure in the budget plan that broadens what are known as "refunds of appropriation." At the moment, the practice provides that if the state is refunded money from a vendor due to overpayment or error, the spending authority is restored that money.

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Will Coronavirus Concerns Impact the Legislative Session?

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 1:44 PM ET Mar. 06, 2020

Bottles of hand sanitizer are at the ready at the back of the state Assembly chamber.

Signs on bathroom doors and next to elevators remind people to wash their hands for 20 seconds and avoid touching their face.

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Coalition Pushes Carbon Reduction Plan in New York

BY Nick Reisman New York State

A coalition formed to push New York into becoming the first state that implements a carbon pricing plan is launching a statewide petition on Friday to further bolster their case.

The group, called CarbonFreeNY, wants the state to enact the plan backed by the New York independent System Operator.

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Local Highway Workers, Lawmakers Want More Road Funding

BY Morgan McKay New York State

Hundreds of people clad in bright orange shirts descended on the Capitol this week, calling on the legislature to fund local infrastructure improvement programs.

The Consolidated Local Street Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS), PAVE-NY, and Extreme Winter Recovery are just a few of the current programs in the state that help distribute state funds equally to cities for road and bridge improvements.

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CWA Ad Campaign Pushes Tax Hike For Rich

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The Communications Workers of America this week launched a TV ad campaign calling for tax hikes on the rich in order to avoid cuts to health care and other programs in the state budget.

The ad buy is worth $250,000 and will air in Albany, Buffalo, Long Island and Utica.

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Cuomo Says He Wants Bail Law Change in New York State Budget

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a radio interview Friday, said he wants to see changes to the state's bail law in the budget, due at the end of March.

Cuomo also plans to hold a public meeting with district attorneys, police and criminal justice advocates to discuss changes to the law, which end cash bail requirements for those facing misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenses.

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Push for Housing Stability Provision Begins

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Advocates on Wednesday are set to launch a campaign to boost housing stability support in a final state budget agreement.

The measure would create a rent supplement for qualifying households that meet public assistance thresholds. This includes families that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless due to eviction, domestic violence or other conditions in home life.

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Cuomo Looks to Budget for Bail Law Changes

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The controversy surrounding New York's new cashless bail law could be defused as part of the state budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday in a radio interview on AM 970.

Cuomo in an interview with businessman and political donor John Catsimatidis for the first time acknowledged the budget is the likely destination for making alterations to the law, which ended cash bail requirements for misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges.

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Assembly Democrats Unveil Higher Education Plan

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The state Assembly on Saturday unveiled a budget proposal for New York's public college and university system that is meant to boost funding and reject further tuition increases.

At the same time, the Democratic-led chamber wants to provide more funding for non-tuition expenses and spend more on community colleges, while also boosting scholarships at the city and state universities and colleges of New York.

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State Senate To Call for Local Government Aid Boost

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

The state Senate's one-house budget resolution will include a boost in aid to municipalities funding for local governments — an increase that's being proposed as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called to keep the spending flat.

The added Aid and Incentives for Municipalities funding (AIM) is backed by Sen. Jim Gaughran, a Democrat from Long Island and the chairman of the Senate Local Government Committee.

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Small Businesses Like Proposed Tax Cut, But Say More Help is Needed

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Small business groups have had little to applaud in Albany in the last 10 years or so.

But Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $178 billion budget proposal includes a tax cut aimed at small business owners, a move the National Federation of Independent Business says is a necessary and welcome step.

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Local Sales Tax Revenue Grew In 2019

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Local sales tax collections increased 4.7 percent in 2019, a report released Monday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office found.

That's slower than the 5.3 percent growth in 2018, but it was still among the stronger sales tax receipts of the last decade.

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Cuomo: Legalize Marijuana In Budget

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Legalizing marijuana should be accomplished in the state budget agreement this year or may not get done at all in 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday in a radio interview.

"The best way to get it done is to get it done in the budget," Cuomo said on WAMC. "The budget is more than just numbers; it's the single-most important piece of legislation that's passed during the year."

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3 Things We Learned in Budget Week

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 6:08 PM ET Jan. 24, 2020

Gov. Andrew Cuomo laid out his $178 billion spending plan for the coming year.

The budget proposal, once again, includes plans to legalize marijuana and a boost in education aid that is, as usual, not enough for education advocates. Meanwhile, a push to alter the state's new cash bail law inched along.

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Will Tax Disclosure Squeeze State Lawmakers?

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

State lawmakers would be required to reveal their tax returns under a proposal in the $178 billion budget by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

You might be asking yourself, as do some lawmakers themselves, what do their taxes have to do with a state spending plan?

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NYSUT Says Education Spending Falls Short

BY Morgan McKay New York State

School districts are owed billions in foundation aid, according to education advocates. And even though the state is facing a $6 billion dollar budget deficit, school districts remained hopeful.

Yet, the Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal for education aid fell far short of expectations.

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Budget Would Empower Cuomo to Close Prisons Within 90 Days

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

A provision in the state budget proposal released on Tuesday night would give Gov. Andrew Cuomo the power to close prisons in New York with three months’ notice.

There are no specific savings outlined for the closures, and the number of prisons that could close is left to be determined.

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How Cuomo Wants To Tax Marijuana Sales

BY Nick Reisman NY State of Politics Blog

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget proposal would create a taxation and regulatory system for selling marijuana in New York.

As proposed, Cuomo's plan estimates raising $20 million in the coming fiscal year and $63 million in revenue from the sale of cannabis in the coming years.

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Moody's Says Tax Cap Will Constrain School Districts

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A cap on school property tax increases of less than 2 percent will reduce financial flexibility for districts around New York, a report released on Tuesday by Moody's found.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced earlier this month school districts in New York will be limited to a 1.81 percent increase in their overall levy. The cap, in place since 2012, limits property tax hikes at 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.

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5 Questions For Cuomo's Budget

BY Susan Arbetter Albany/Capital Region

During Monday’s conference call about census funding, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was asked an off-topic question about Medicaid.

The reporter asked if he intended, in any way, to increase the local share that counties pay toward Medicaid.

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Here and Now - Budget Day Edition

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Good morning! It's budget day in Albany as Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveils his proposal for the new year.

It's a pretty important day. Capital Tonight and Spectrum News will have the blow-by-blow and analysis of it all.

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Cuomo Wants $10M In Census Funding

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will propose spending an additional $10 million on state-based efforts to have people respond to the coming U.S. Census, he said Monday in a conference call.

If approved, it would bring the state's total spending to $70 million on Census-promoting efforts.

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DiNapoli Audits Find $790M In Medicaid Savings

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

How can you close a $4 billion Medicaid gap? One audit at a time.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office on Friday released a package of audits of aspects of the Medicaid program, finding $790 million in potential savings. The four audits come as New York faces a $6.1 billion budget gap in the coming fiscal year, which begins April 1.

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Upstate Business Group Releases 2020 Agenda

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The business-aligned Unshackle Upstate on Tuesday released a 2020 agenda that focuses on opposing both the creation of single-payer health and expanding the prevailing wage while also backing more workforce development investment.

The Rochester-based business group has found little cheer about in Albany, opposing increases in the state’s minimum wage and blasting New York’s tax climate.

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DiNapoli: Don’t Take On Debt To Close Budget Gap

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo should not take on more debt to close a $6.1 billion budget gap, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said on Monday in an interview with Spectrum News.

At the same time, he wants lawmakers and the governor to address the underlying issues for the gap, stemming from the state’s Medicaid program in the budget and not kick the can down the road.

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Door Cracks Open Further To Tax Hike For Rich

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Middle-income earners and working class New Yorkers should not take the brunt of closing a $6.1 billion budget gap, but there’s a “discussion to be had” over whether richer people should be asked to pay more, Sen. Mike Gianaris said in an interview Wednesday on NY1’s Inside City Hall.

“I think there’s a discussion to be had about whether we want to focus on some of the wealthier individuals in the state who can certainly afford to contribute a little bit more when times are tough,” he said when asked about a potential tax increase. “But that’s something we haven’t resolved yet.”

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Stewart-Cousins Says ‘First Fallback’ Won’t Be To Raise Taxes

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Raising new revenue through taxes is not the “first fallback” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Monday told reporters during a retreat of the Democratic conference.

The state faces a $6.1 billion budget gap ahead of the state budget due March 31, fueled in large part by a gap in Medicaid spending.

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