A losing quarter for NYS pensions by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

Still betting far too heavily on the stock market, New York State's main state and local government pension fund lost money in the first half of its current fiscal year. [Read_more]

Not his father’s wage subsidy? | NY Torch

As part of his ongoing push for a statewide $15 minimum wage, Governor Andrew Cuomo repeatedly has denounced what he calls “the mother of all corporate loopholes.” In Buffalo this week, he amped up his rhetoric, reportedly charging that “business is stealing from taxpayers of this state.”

Cuomo wasn’t referring to any of the notable business tax giveaways he has personally promoted, such as the $420 million a year the state doles out to wealthy film and TV producers, or the state's $750 million speculative investment in billionaire Elon Musk’s solar panel factory in Buffalo, or the 100 percent tax exemptions that will flow to the handpicked corporate occupants of START-UP NY zones. [Read_more]

State-backed batteries out of juice by Kenneth Girardin |  | NY Torch

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One of New York State's highly touted high-tech "investments" just shorted out.

General Electric announced today it is pulling the plug on its Durathon battery project, which is manufactured by a Schenectady-based subsidiary, GEMx Technologies. The project, which for a time employed more than 350 people, was awarded $12.5 million in "JOBS Now" capital funding from the state Empire State Development Corp. in 2013. [Read_more]

State to end pension borrowing by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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Starting next year, New York's state government plans to (finally) stop deferring a portion of its annual required pension payments—but over the next 10 years, it will still have to repay $3.3 billion it owes on pension fund borrowings since fiscal 2011. [Read_more]

Cuomo again late with budget update by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

For a fifth consecutive year, Governor Andrew Cuomo is late in releasing the required Mid-Year Update to the state Financial Plan.

The governor, who likes to boast of getting budgets adopted before the March 31 end of the fiscal year (which is not required by law), maintained his perfect record of never once meeting the Oct. 30 statutory deadline for filing the latest quarterly financial report, which is supposed to summarize the state's actual financial experience during the first six months of the year and to update projections for the next four years. [Read_more]

Teacher pension calcs get a tweak by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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The New York State Teachers' Retirement System (NYSTRS) earned only 5.2 percent on its investments—well short of its assumed rate of 8 percent—during the fiscal year ending last June 30.

But taxpayer contributions to NYSTRS, already due to drop by more than four full percentage points of covered payroll in school year 2015-16, nonetheless are projected by the system actuary to decrease by a little bit more (up to 1.76 percentage points) in 2016-17. [Read_more]

A mixed picture of upstate jobs by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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Year-over-year private-sector job growth has picked up in Buffalo and Rochester but is still sinking in the Southern Tier and weakening in the Hudson Valley, according to the latest statistics from the state Labor Department. [Read_more]

LI towns cry a river on tax cap by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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Some Long Island town officials are crying the blues over the budgetary squeeze supposedly created by the state's property tax cap, according to Newsday. But the thrust of their complaints—that the tax cap is somehow blocking towns from funding urgent needs and projects—just won't hold water.

Due to low inflation, the basic tax cap for local fiscal years beginning Jan. 1, 2016, will be 0.73 percent, lowest since the cap's 2011 enactment. [Read_more]

A new bad idea for NY cities by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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A Syracuse Common Council member says he'll introduce a city ordinance forcing city government contractors to hire some of their workers from city neighborhoods.

Councilor Khalid Bey's hiring preference proposal reflects an understandable desperation to jump-start employment growth in a city with 33.2 percent poverty rate.

It's also a really bad idea. [Read_more]

A check on transparency by Tim Hoefer |  | NY Torch

The MTA has now paid the Empire Center's expenses for a successful lawsuit compelling timely release of the agency's payroll data. [Read_more]

“Less profit, less profit, less profit” by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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Governor Andrew Cuomo is blaming the profit motive for employer resistance to raising New York's statewide minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Even some notable liberal economists who generally favor a higher federal minimum wage are not in favor of going up as far as $15, as the Manhattan Institute's Alex Armlovich pointed out in this Daily News op-ed over the weekend.

Yet the governor, so far, has yet to acknowledge any possible tradeoffs from a policy that would make it much more expensive for employers to hire unskilled or less skilled entry-level workers. [Read_more]
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