There goes the windfall? by E.J. McMahon | | NYTorch

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One of the biggest questions heading into New York’s fiscal 2016 Executive Budget presentation was how Governor Andrew Cuomo would choose to allocate an unprecedented, one-shot $5.4 billion windfall "surplus" originating with fines and penalties collected from financial institutions.

Now we have the answer: under Cuomo's proposal, less than one-third of the money—barely $1.6 billion—would be absolutely, positively committed to core transportation infrastructure purposes.

The rest would go to an assortment of stuff, only some of which would fit into even an extra-broad definition of “infrastructure.”

Cuomo: make tax cap permanent by E.J. McMahon | | NYTorch

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Governor Andrew Cuomo's combined State of the State and budget message today included a promise to make permanent the historic property tax cap enacted at his initiative in 2011.

Open(ish) Erie by Tim Hoefer | | NYTorch

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It's a simple concept: governments collect tax dollars from citizens, then spends those tax dollars on services for them. Citizens have a right to know how those tax dollars are spent. Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw gets it.

Breaking bad on property taxes by E.J. McMahon | | NYTorch

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He didn't use the phrase himself, but the property tax credit unveiled yesterday by Governor Andrew Cuomo is of the type commonly known as a "circuit breaker." Like an electrical switch designed to automatically prevent a power overload, a circuit breaker tax credit is supposed to kick in when homeowners' property tax burdens overload their ability to pay.

Cuomo's proposal would not represent a property tax cut but a means-tested state personal income break -- available only to some homeowners, and not available to owners of commercial, industrial or multi-family properties, which pay a hefty share of local taxes.

NY fuel tax drops — a little by E.J. McMahon | | NYTorch

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The impact of declining crude oil prices, already visible at the gas pump, has now rippled through to New York State’s petroleum business tax (PBT). Effective Jan. 1, the PBT on motor fuel has dropped by a whopping six-tenths of a penny, to 17.8 cents per gallon from 18.4 cents per gallon, according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

PLA’s loss is taxpayers’ win by Kenneth Girardin | | NYTorch

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The Kingston school board struck a blow for local taxpayers last month when it voted against requiring a project labor agreement (PLA) on a school renovation project. While local union leaders slammed the move as “fiscally irresponsible,” the board’s 5-4 vote was a big win for taxpayers and sets an example for other communities facing a similar choice.

More New Yorkers moving away by E.J. McMahon | | NYTorch

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With the economy improving, New York’s “domestic migration” loss has jumped back to pre-recession levels—pushing the Empire State to fourth place, behind Florida, in national population rankings.

Thruway still assumes toll hikes by E.J. McMahon | | NYTorch

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The 2015 budget adopted today by the board of the state Thruway Authority was slightly revised from the proposed version but continues to assume rising tolls through 2018.
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