Work from Ken Girardin

The smudgy green in biodiesel by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

The state Senate is considering a measure to force New Yorkers to buy heating oil blended with biodiesel—but it’s not the kind of environmentally friendly, “green” policy its supporters would have you believe. [Read_more]

The tax cap works, again by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

Twenty-nine of the 37 districts that sought to override the property tax cap were successful in yesterday’s school budget votes, as the majority of districts elected to limit their tax increases to the cap itself. [Read_more]

Board set to release SolarCity cash by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

A state oversight board this week is set to green-light a $486 million payment to the SUNY Polytechnic real estate subsidiary that is at the heart of the federal probe into Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative. [Read_more]

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

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]

How NY wastes millions on state construction by Ken Girardin |  | New York Post

Gov. Cuomo’s 2017 state budget, which he’ll present next week, is likely to call for billions of dollars in new spending on highways and bridges.

Unfortunately, taxpayers won’t get their money’s worth if the state continues to insist on rigging bids for public-works projects that all but guarantee the jobs will go to unions. [Read_more]

Highway project highlights waste by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

Governor Cuomo last week announced the completion of a construction project in Orange County, four years after the state Department of Transportation (DOT) deliberately added at least $4 million to the cost by improperly steering jobs to Hudson Valley unions—and cost taxpayers up to $22 million for the way it did it. [Read_more]

State-backed batteries out of juice by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

One of New York State's highly touted high-tech "investments" just shorted out.

General Electric announced today it is pulling the plug on its Durathon battery project, which is manufactured by a Schenectady-based subsidiary, GEMx Technologies. The project, which for a time employed more than 350 people, was awarded $12.5 million in "JOBS Now" capital funding from the state Empire State Development Corp. in 2013. [Read_more]

EPA’s double standard at work in NY by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

If a huge private corporation with billions of dollars in revenues at its disposal was caught discharging a “probable human carcinogen” into a rural upstate New York creek, it would immediately be branded in some circles as environmental public enemy number-one.

But the federal government’s own Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is quite deliberately doing exactly the same thing—on purpose—in the Rensselaer County town of Nassau. [Read_more]

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

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]

Another way to drill for gas in New York by Ken Girardin |  | New York Post

There’s more than one way to frack a shale formation, and that could be very good news for New York’s economically stagnant Southern Tier — if, this time, Gov. Cuomo allows it. [Read_more]

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]