NY leads in unionization by Kenneth Girardin | | NYTorch

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New York State had the nation's most unionized workforce in 2014, thanks largely to its very heavily unionized public sector.

Bankrolling Buffalo’s botox by Kenneth Girardin | | NYTorch

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School districts across New York are clamoring for a full restoration of state aid cuts known as the Gap Elimination Adjustment, or GEA. But a look at spending in the state's second-largest city illustrates how this battle is not necessarily all about the kids.

Despite probe, Cuomo ups VC funding by Kenneth Girardin | | NYTorch

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A little-noticed section of Governor Cuomo’s State of the State “Opportunity Agenda” calls for investing another $100 million in state money in startup companies—even as federal auditors probe Innovate NY, the state’s original dalliance with venture capital (VC).

Got flowers? Thank surge pricing by Kenneth Girardin | | NYTorch

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One of the hallmarks of ride-sharing services like Uber is their practice of temporarily boosting prices to encourage more drivers to accept fares. It’s supply and demand at its simplest, and while critics have derided this price mechanism, anyone giving flowers to their valentine today is living proof that “surge pricing” benefits both providers and consumers.

Pension fund inches up by E.J. McMahon | | NYTorch

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New York State's largest public pension fund earned 1.91 percent during the quarter ending Dec. 31, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced today.
Meanwhile, the New York State Teachers' Retirement System (NYSTRS) has confirmed its contribution rate will drop for the first time in five years when pension bills for 2015-16 come due in the fall.

Neither announcement says much about the long-term future path of taxpayer-funded pension costs in New York, however.

Questioning Cuomo’s numbers by E.J. McMahon | | NYTorch

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Governor Andrew Cuomo's projection of future "surpluses" rests on the expectation that he "will propose, and negotiate with the Legislature to enact, Budgets that hold State Operating Funds spending growth to 2 percent."

But is the governor really living under his own cap? A budget analysis by the state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office suggests, persuasively, that he isn't.

Cuomo upholds local control of police by E.J. McMahon | | NYTorch

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Better late than never, Governor Andrew Cuomo has exercised a pocket veto of legislation that would have allowed unions representing police and other civil service employees to insist on collective bargaining of disciplinary procedures.

The bill was passed at the end of session in June, but wasn't even sent to Cuomo's desk by the Senate until December. That effectively re-started the clock for gubernatorial consideration, making this a measure the governor could kill by not signing it within 30-day period, which just ended.

State budget keeps oinking along by E.J. McMahon | | NYTorch

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Governor Andrew Cuomo eliminated funding of new "member item" spending when he took office four years ago—but the Ghost of Pork Barrels Past continues to haunt the state's finances.

Each of Cuomo's first four Executive Budget proposals projected the depletion and elimination of what's technically known as the "Community Projects Fund - 007" -- but every year, the enacted budget has restored the money to back up reappropriations of the member item lump sum.
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