Retirement choice popular so far by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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New York’s two-year-old Voluntary Defined Contribution (VDC) retirement plan—the most significant structural reform in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2012 Tier 6 pension legislation—is shaping up as a popular alternative among the relatively small number of government employees eligible to sign up for it.

The 580 enrollees in the VDC plan between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2015 include at least eight of the 29 state Assembly and state Senate members elected during that period, according to the plan managers at the State University of New York (SUNY). [Read_more]

A glimpse into slush guidelines by Kenneth Girardin |  | NY Torch

New York State’s $1 billion capital project slush fund is dispensing borrowed money across the state outside public scrutiny, but two local governments have inadvertently given New Yorkers a glimpse of its inner workings. [Read_more]

Inside Albany’s secretive slush fund by Kenneth Girardin |  | NY Torch

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The Cuomo administration and the state Legislature have begun dishing out grants from a secretive $1.1 billion capital slush fund—all of which will be borrowed money—with no disclosure of project sponsorship or award criteria. [Read_more]

Warning: lower tax hikes ahead by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

The starting point for computing next year's local property tax cap in most of New York State will be less than 1 percent—and so state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is warning local governments "brace for ... [lower] growth in property tax revenues."

DiNapoli's tone clearly implies that a lower tax cap is a negative. But most property owners will no doubt see it another way. [Read_more]

Another frack at NY shale gas? by Kenneth Girardin |  | NY Torch

Days after New York formalized its ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, a Tioga County business is looking to use a newer method to harvest natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus Shale formations. [Read_more]

Ranking NY state’s financial status by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

The Mercatus Center at Virginia's George Mason University is out with a 50-state ranking that says New York State's "overall fiscal solvency" is among the worst in the nation.

The new study suggests that New York's state government finances fall into the "poor" category—ranking 46th, or roughly about as messed up as those of New Jersey (49) and Illinois (50). [Read_more]

More subpar pension gains likely by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

The stock market's recent performance suggests that the New York State Teachers' Retirement System (NYSTRS) had trouble meeting its ambitious 8 percent return target during its most recent fiscal year, which ended a week ago. [Read_more]

Another phony property tax “cut” by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York's legislative majority members would have you believe they have just reached an end-of-session agreement to "cut" your property taxes. Again.

Don't believe them. Again. [Read_more]

Tax cap sausage still in grinder? by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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Based on initial descriptions, the delayed end-of-session "big ugly" package deal announced Tuesday afternoon by Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders is simply confounding on the subject of property taxes.

Although Cuomo and Senate Republicans both said they wanted to make the state's 2 percent property tax cap permanent, the cap apparently will be extended only temporarily. [Read_more]

NY job growth still trails US by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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Private-sector job growth in New York continued to trail the U.S. average on a year-to-year basis during the 12 months ending in May, according to the monthly state jobs report from the state Labor Department. [Read_more]