Work from Ken Girardin

Another frack at NY shale gas? by Ken 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]

“Warning”: taxes might not rise by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

Don't look now, but given current inflation trends, next year's school property tax cap may be ... zero!

That's the message of a statement released last week by the Educational Conference Board (ECB), a coalition of groups representing public school administrators, school boards and—last but hardly least—the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) labor union.

The ECB's "warning" was meant as an inside-the-Albany-bubble scare tactic, but for most New Yorkers, it's good news: further confirmation that the tax cap is working exactly as intended. [Read_more]

EPA drills under anti-frackers by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has just eliminated a substantial "scientific uncertainty" cited in support of New York State's ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of deep-underground natural gas deposits. [Read_more]

Large majority wants to keep the cap by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

Almost three-fourths of New Yorkers agree that the property tax cap "has accomplished what was intended" and "should be continued," according to a Siena Research Institute poll released this morning. But support climbs even higher when respondents in New York City—which was not affected by the property tax cap law—are excluded. [Read_more]

State’s ad splurge didn’t pay off by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

New York State's economic development agency spent more than $200 million to advertise its programs without attempting to measure whether the ads produced results, according to an audit by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. [Read_more]

Cuomo, lawmaker pay on auto-hike by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

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]

Budget serves up leftover pork by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

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 Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

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 Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

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]

A tangled broadband proposal by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

As part of his plan for allocating $5.4 billion in one-shot windfall funds, Governor Cuomo wants to spend $500 million to expand the availability and capacity of broadband Internet access across New York. But given pressing traditional infrastructure needs, should broadband rate a high priority? Do we really need it? The governor's case, on closer inspection, is less than compelling. [Read_more]

Bankrolling Buffalo’s botox by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

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. [Read_more]

Despite probe, Cuomo ups VC funding by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

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). [Read_more]

Got flowers? Thank surge pricing by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

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. [Read_more]

Silver’s golden parachute by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

If Sheldon Silver remains a rank-and-file legislator after stepping down as Assembly speaker, he will be losing money on the deal, according to the Empire Center's pension calculator. [Read_more]

Alcohol’s state of limits by Ken Girardin |  | Albany Times Union

At a time when New York is desperate to promote private-sector growth, one state agency seems bent on shutting down a thriving local business—which isn't accused of breaking a single New York state law. [Read_more]

PLA’s loss is taxpayers’ win by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

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. [Read_more]

NY tax burden near top, again by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

New York continued to impose one of nation's highest state and local tax burdens relative to income during fiscal 2012, according to data released today by the US Census Bureau. [Read_more]

When Albany plays venture capitalist by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

Governor Andrew Cuomo last week announced a new "Innovation Venture Capital Fund" to invest up to $50 million in public funds into start-up companies. Meanwhile, the state’s existing venture fund, known as Innovate NY, is the subject of a federal audit focused on a firm whose managing director was named by Cuomo to his 2010 gubernatorial transition team and to a regional economic development council. [Read_more]

Union ends day-care fee grab by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

New York’s largest state and local government employee union is ending its unconstitutional collection of mandatory agency fees from day care providers who receive subsidies from the state, according to a letter the union has sent to providers. [Read_more]

Court spoke; did Albany listen? by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

Is New York State abiding by the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Harris v. Quinn, which said that union fees cannot be collected from government-subsidized daycare providers who are not “full-fledged” public employees? [Read_more]