Senate prepares to ambush taxpayers | 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 quietly fast-tracked 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]

Shining a light on teacher union contracts by Kenneth Girardin |  | NY Torch

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Throughout New York State, no public document has a greater impact on tax burdens and educational performance than the local teacher union contract.

Yet few school districts have made any effort to share these contracts with taxpayers — and so the Empire Center has stepped into the breach by doing it for them. [Read_more]

Senate steps up on cap by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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New York's local property tax cap would be made permanent under the Senate Republican version of a new state budget.

From the taxpayers' perspective, it's very encouraging to see the Senate make a high-profile move to line up on this issue beside Gov. Cuomo, who already has promised to seek the cap's permanent enactment. [Read_more]

Welfare is back by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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New York City's welfare caseloads are expanding again—a deliberate and predictable outcome of Mayor Bill De Blasio's policies, as Manhattan Institute's Steve Eide points out in his new "Poverty and Progress in New York" report. [Read_more]
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