The secret behind the secrecy by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

Why are contract negotiations between public officials and public employee unions routinely conducted behind closed doors? One of New York’s largest public-sector unions has spilled the beans: it’s better for them. [Read_more]

Upstate income sluggish in 2018 by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

Newly released federal data on personal income growth last year point to the continued economic weakness of upstate New York.

Measured in current dollars, unadjusted for inflation, personal income nationally increased 5.6 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to the Bureau of Economic Affairs (BEA). [Read_more]

Cuomo blows a natural gasket by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

Governor Andrew Cuomo is threatening to yank the license of a major downstate natural gas supplier—because he doesn’t like how the company responded to his refusal to permit a new supply pipeline. [Read_more]

Bill puts transit in a bind by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

A bill awaiting Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature—passed by the Legislature based on a misleading sponsors’ memorandum—could lead to higher bus fares in upstate New York’s four largest metro areas by giving labor unions a new edge in negotiations with regional transit systems. [Read_more]

State-boosted contract funds lobbying by Bill Hammond |  | NY Torch

The 1199 SEIU contract that the Cuomo administration subsidized with Medicaid money last year included a potentially nine-figure payment to the union's lobbying arm, which has spent millions on TV ads praising Governor Cuomo's health policies. [Read_more]

$2B delay planned for Medicaid by Bill Hammond |  | NY Torch

In a sign of a deepening state budget crisis, the Cuomo administration says it is planning to delay another $2 billion in Medicaid payments this coming spring, according to a recent report from the Budget Division. [Read_more]

State blows smoke to hide wind costs by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s energy agency issued a stern correction to an October 24 blog post in this space that said subsidies for offshore wind developers could cost ratepayers more than $6 billion. NYSERDA, the state Energy Research and Development Authority, said my calculations (which were based on NYSERDA’s own data) were “incorrect and misleading.” So I went back and double-checked. In one respect, I did make a mistake, explained below—but not in reaching the $6 billion estimate.

In fact, the final price tag could climb even higher. [Read_more]

Mid-year mystery by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

Governor Cuomo has kept his perfect record of consistently ignoring the statutory deadline for issuing a mid-year financial plan update. [Read_more]

NYSTRS (barely) nudges its rate by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

The board of the New York State Teacher Retirement System this week voted to reduce the pension plan's assumed rate of return on investments from 7.25 percent to 7.10 percent, which is (a) a step in the right direction, and (b) still unrealistically high.

The new projected return assumption, used as the discount rate for calculating and funding long-term teacher pension liabilities, matches NYSTRS' actual return on investments during the fiscal year ended June 30, which fell 0.15 percent short of the previous target. [Read_more]

Who benefited from Medicaid hikes? by Bill Hammond |  | NY Torch

A Cuomo administration analysis of its own Medicaid rate hike last fall appeared to show a disproportionate benefit for hospitals associated with the politically influential labor union 1199SEIU. [Read_more]

Wind costs could blow up by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

The long-term cost of subsidies for New York’s new offshore wind turbine projects could exceed $6 billion—or three times the amount acknowledged by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s energy agency. [Read_more]

Offshore wind to soak upstate by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

Upstate electricity customers could shell out more than $1 billion to cover the state’s initial round of subsidies for offshore wind turbines, the Cuomo administration’s energy agency has now revealed. [Read_more]