State’s ad splurge didn’t pay off by Kenneth Girardin |  | NY Torch

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New York State's economic development agency spent more than $200 million to advertise its programs without attempting to measure whether the ads produced results, according to an audit by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. [Read_more]

Senate to ambush taxpayers? by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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While the news media and public were distracted by the questions swirling around the future leadership of the Senate Republican majority, the Senate this week moved a bill that would lock in tens of billions of dollars of unfunded lifetime health insurance coverage health coverage for police and firefighters. [Read_more]

Cuomo, lawmaker pay on auto-hike by Kenneth Girardin |  | NY Torch

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Squirreled away in the new state budget is a provision—first proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo—that will guarantee future periodic pay raises for the governor, New York State legislators and other state government officials. But is it constitutional? [Read_more]

Stigmatizing tax checkoffs by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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New Yorkers who haven't yet filed their 2014 tax returns are about to be reminded that the Empire State's income tax form is more cluttered than ever -- thanks, in part, to a proliferation of voluntary contribution "check-off" boxes.

Since the establishment of the "Return a Gift to Wildlife" fund in 1982, the list of check-offs has expand to 10 causes, including cancer research, veterans remembrance and the development of the 9/11 memorial.

As if that wasn't enough, some mental health groups want lawmakers to approve an eleventh checkoff, this one to be known as "Gift for Eliminating the Stigma Relating to Mental Illness." [Read_more]

Oink again! by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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Albany's biggest, juiciest capital pork pie — the mysterious State and Municipal Facilities Program — just keeps getting bigger and bigger. [Read_more]

No tax news is good news, for now by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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One of the best things about New York's newly adopted state budget for fiscal 2016 is something that's not in it (yet): a costly new state subsidy of homeowners' local property taxes.

Governor Cuomo's Executive Budget proposal included an income tax credit (of the type also known as a "circuit breaker") that, when fully implemented by 2019, would funnel $1.7 billion a year to about half of the state's homeowners, plus renters. [Read_more]

Gone with the windfall by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan for allocating $5.4 billion in windfall funds has survived, almost intact, in the agreed-upon New York State budget for the 2016 fiscal year, which starts April 1.

Consistent with Cuomo’s original vision, the final plan shortchanges basic transportation and municipal infrastructure. [Read_more]

Budget serves up leftover pork by Kenneth Girardin |  | NY Torch

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The pork-barrel spending better known as legislative member items has reappeared in a budget bill that New York State legislators are expected to vote on this week. [Read_more]

Tax cap 2, NYSUT 0 by Kenneth Girardin |  | NY Torch

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New York’s property tax cap has survived a legal challenge from the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) for the second time in six months. [Read_more]
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