Thruway toll credit crashes by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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In their budget bills, state Assembly Democrats and Senate Republicans both had the good sense to reject one of the most egregious fiscal-political gimmicks ever to emerge from Governor Andrew Cuomo: a temporary income tax credit that would have reimbursed a portion of Thruway tolls paid by New York State residents and businesses. [Read_more]

Assembly busts budget cap | NY Torch

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"Spending cap? What spending cap?" In effect, that's the state Assembly's opening public bid in state budget negotiations with Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the fiscal year that starts April 1. [Read_more]

NY job growth slows down sharply by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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Statewide private sector employment in New York as of December was up just 1 percent over the same month a year earlier—less than half the national rate, and the lowest such growth rate in New York since the end of the recession in 2009, according to revised employment data released last week by the state Labor Department (DOL). The total year-to-year gain of just 76,500 private jobs was less than half the average recorded in each of the four previous Decembers since Governor Andrew Cuomo took office. [Read_more]

Unsavory roots of the minimum wage by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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In his push for a statewide $15-an-hour minimum wage, Governor Andrew Cuomo frequently invokes fairness, justice and the rhetoric of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. But the pre-FDR Progressive Era advocates of the minimum wage had a worldview that today would fit in best at a Donald Trump rally. [Read_more]

Save the cookies by Tim Hoefer |  | NY Torch

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New York’s Legislature has been exempt from many provisions of the state Freedom of Information Law since FOIL was first enacted in 1974. The Assembly and Senate ultimately decide how much legislative information to make public. This makes about as much sense as putting Cookie Monster in charge of security at the Chips Ahoy factory.

As a result, a lot of information on legislative matters ranging from individual employee timesheets to a billion-dollar slush fund has been concealed from taxpayers.

But if Governor Cuomo has his way, that could soon change. [Read_more]

“Unfair,” or just “not enough”? by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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Before leaving Albany for the Legislature's Presidents' Week recess, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie tweeted up a storm in support of a new soak-the-rich tax hike proposal backed by most of his fellow Assembly Democrats.

In the process, he trotted out some familiar myths and misleadingly incomplete data to support the claim that wealthy New Yorkers don't pay their "fair share" of state income taxes. [Read_more]

Senate panel OK’s huge OPEB bill by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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For the third time in as many years, a state Senate committee has approved and sent to the Senate floor a bill that would lock in tens of billions of dollars worth of unfunded retirement health insurance coverage promised to New York government employees.

The bill in question, sponsored by Republican Sen. Andrew Lanza of Staten Island, is designed to prevent state and local government employers from even attempting to restructure other post-employment benefits (OPEB) without first bargaining such changes with public employee unions. [Read_more]

Tax cap a near-freeze for 2016-17 by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has officially confirmed what federal inflation statistics were already telegraphing: New York's statutory cap on local school property tax levies will be just a hair above zero for 2016-17 school year budgets, which will be submitted for voter approval in May. [Read_more]

Cuomo’s magical mystery cash by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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So, how is Governor Andrew Cuomo paying for that $100 billion infrastructure "development initiative" that, as he put in his State of the State message yesterday, "would make Governor Rockefeller jealous"?

The answer: for the most part, he actually isn't. [Read_more]

Power for tolls? by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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The New York Power Authority (NYPA) could be taking the money-losing state Barge Canal off the back of the Thruway Authority under the fiscal 2017 state budget that will be proposed today by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Assuming this Buffalo News report is true, it would explain how Cuomo intends to finance his proposal to freeze Thruway tolls for five years even while building the $4.8 billion Tappan Zee Bridge replacement. [Read_more]

DFS in denial on health plan collapse by Bill Hammond |  | NY Torch

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The recent collapse of Health Republic Insurance—disrupting health coverage for 215,000 state residents, and leaving doctors and hospitals with upwards of $200 million in unpaid claims—should have been cause for soul-searching at the state Department of Financial Services (DFS).

Instead, based on the department’s first extensive public comments on the issue, given at a legislative panel last week, DFS officials seem to be in denial about their role in the demise of Health Republic, the largest non-profit health insurance cooperative set up three years ago under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. [Read_more]

Supremes could hammer NY unions by Kenneth Girardin |  | NY Torch

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The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, and the stakes couldn’t be higher for New York’s politically powerful public-sector unions. [Read_more]