“Unfair,” or just “not enough”? by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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Before leaving Albany for the Legislature's President's Week recess, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie tweeted up a storm in support of a new soak-the-rich tax hike proposal backed by most of his fellow Assembly Democrats.

In the process, he trotted out some familiar myths and misleadingly incomplete data to support the claim that wealthy New Yorkers don't pay their "fair share" of state income taxes. [Read_more]

Senate panel OK’s huge OPEB bill by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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For the third time in as many years, a state Senate committee has approved and sent to the Senate floor a bill that would lock in tens of billions of dollars worth of unfunded retirement health insurance coverage promised to New York government employees.

The bill in question, sponsored by Republican Sen. Andrew Lanza of Staten Island, is designed to prevent state and local government employers from even attempting to restructure other post-employment benefits (OPEB) without first bargaining such changes with public employee unions. [Read_more]

Tax cap a near-freeze for 2016-17 by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has officially confirmed what federal inflation statistics were already telegraphing: New York's statutory cap on local school property tax levies will be just a hair above zero for 2016-17 school year budgets, which will be submitted for voter approval in May. [Read_more]

Cuomo’s magical mystery cash by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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So, how is Governor Andrew Cuomo paying for that $100 billion infrastructure "development initiative" that, as he put in his State of the State message yesterday, "would make Governor Rockefeller jealous"?

The answer: for the most part, he actually isn't. [Read_more]

Power for tolls? by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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The New York Power Authority (NYPA) could be taking the money-losing state Barge Canal off the back of the Thruway Authority under the fiscal 2017 state budget that will be proposed today by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Assuming this Buffalo News report is true, it would explain how Cuomo intends to finance his proposal to freeze Thruway tolls for five years even while building the $4.8 billion Tappan Zee Bridge replacement. [Read_more]

DFS in denial on health plan collapse by Bill Hammond |  | NY Torch

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The recent collapse of Health Republic Insurance—disrupting health coverage for 215,000 state residents, and leaving doctors and hospitals with upwards of $200 million in unpaid claims—should have been cause for soul-searching at the state Department of Financial Services (DFS).

Instead, based on the department’s first extensive public comments on the issue, given at a legislative panel last week, DFS officials seem to be in denial about their role in the demise of Health Republic, the largest non-profit health insurance cooperative set up three years ago under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. [Read_more]

Supremes could hammer NY unions by Kenneth Girardin |  | NY Torch

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The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, and the stakes couldn’t be higher for New York’s politically powerful public-sector unions. [Read_more]

Robert Moses, call your office! | NY Torch

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Apparently looking to make a big splash with a pre-budget rollout of downstate infrastructure initiatives, Governor Andrew Cuomo aimed for the biggest body of water he could find: the Long Island Sound.

The "2016 agenda" Cuomo unveiled before the Long Island Association today included revived plans for a third track on the main line of the Long Island Railroad, improvements to regional airports and other development projects. But the governor couldn't resist capping off the agenda with a real attention-getter: a $5 million feasibility study of "a tunnel connecting Long Island to either the Bronx, Westchester County or Connecticut." [Read_more]

Cuomo foils FOIL by Tim Hoefer |  | NY Torch

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"I want the Legislature to understand that we're serious about reform."

So said Governor Andrew Cuomo following his veto of two bills that would have strengthened New York's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL)—helping citizens hold government, at all levels, more accountable.

So if you can follow the governor's logic, before he could show us he was "serious about reform," he had to block a pair of reforms he had sitting on his desk. [Read_more]

Highway project highlights waste by Kenneth Girardin |  | NY Torch

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Governor Cuomo last week announced the completion of a construction project in Orange County, four years after the state Department of Transportation (DOT) deliberately added at least $4 million to the cost by improperly steering jobs to Hudson Valley unions—and cost taxpayers up to $22 million for the way it did it. [Read_more]

I’m just a bill by Tim Hoefer |  | NY Torch

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Governor Andrew Cuomo has a chance to make good on a promise to New York taxpayers by signing two bills that would help make information more accessible for public consumption. [Read_more]
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