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Andrew Cuomo

Transportation Nation

NY Gov Will Sign Complete Streets Law

Monday, August 15, 2011

A “complete street” with space marked out not only for vehicles but pedestrians and bikes. (Photo by NYC DOT.)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that he plans to sign statewide complete streets legislation. The law, crafted in partnership with the state Department of Transportation, would "require state and local transportation agencies to consider "complete streets" designs that factor in non-car uses of streets and sidewalks, according to the Cuomo's announcement.

"New York's roadways should safely accommodate all pedestrians, motorists and cyclists, and this legislation will help communities across the state achieve this objective," Governor Cuomo said in a press release.

According to The National Complete Streets Coalition, 24 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. have already passed some type of complete streets legislation. Each state writes the laws differently, as cataloged here, but broadly speaking each of the laws calls for future road planning to factor in pedestrians, bike and other non-car uses for public roadway construction and design. We've reported on TN about Montana and Florida's varied efforts at enacting complete streets laws to increase safety and stimulate foot traffic in downtown areas. There is also a national law awaiting support in Congress.

According to Governor Cuomo's office, the New York law would "facilitate improved joint use of roadways by all users, including pedestrians, motorists, and bicyclists as well as promote a cleaner, greener transportation system with reduced traffic congestion and the resultant air pollution." Examples of those non-car design elements were listed in the announcement. "Design features may include sidewalks, bicycle lanes, crosswalks, pedestrian control signalization, bus pull outs, curb cuts, raised crosswalks, ramps, and traffic calming measures."

One of the bill's sponsors State Senator Charles Fuschillo said, "Complete streets design principles have been proven to reduce fatalities and injuries, and by taking them into consideration on future projects we will greatly improve the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers of all ages and abilities."

Kate Slevin of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign applauded the announcement. She said the death last year of Brittany Vega, who was struck and killed by a vehicle while walking to school on Sunrise Highway in Long Island, might've been prevented with a countdown clock and pedestrian median at the crosswalk. "This Complete Streets bill will ensure that when engineers and planners are designing and redesigning roads in the future, they will take into account the needs of everyone who uses them," Slevin said in a statement.

Complete Streets, she continued, "are safer and encourage walking and cycling, leading to healthier neighborhoods and better quality of life."

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The Empire

Cuomo bans smoking on MTA platforms

Monday, August 15, 2011

Governor Andrew Cuomo today appears to be picking up where Mayor Bloomberg left off when it comes to banning smoking forever, everywhere, all the time.

The governor's office just sent out a notice that smoking is now banned on all outdoor MTA platforms--including the LIRR. This was already the case for MTA platforms in the city, of course.

"It is important that commuters are not unwillingly subject to the dangers of second-hand smoke while waiting on train platforms," the governor is quoted saying in a statement. "Exposure to second-hand smoke can lead to serious health problems for non-smokers and this law will make outdoor MTA train platforms, ticketing and boarding areas a cleaner, healthier place for all commuters."

The law is set to take affect in 90 days. State Senator Charles Fuschillo, a co-sponsor of the bill, called it "an important health initiative." Fuschillo also supported the anti-texting-while-driving bill the governor recently passed. The bill is set to take affect in 90 days.

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The Empire

CSEA contract vote results expected later today

Monday, August 15, 2011

The members of the state's largest union, the Civil Service Employees Association, have cast their ballots on the contract negotiated between the union's leadership and Governor Cuomo. If passed, the contract will be a big piece of the plug the governor's office is counting on for this year's $10 billion budget gap.

The contracts would freeze wage increases for the next three years, as well as mandatory unpaid time off and an increase in health care contributions. The results of the union's vote are expected later today.

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WNYC News

CSEA Union Set to Announce Results on Contract Vote

Monday, August 15, 2011

WNYC

Under threat of nearly 10,000 layoffs, members of New York's largest public employees' union will soon find out the status of a new five-year contract with New York State.

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The Empire

Poll #1: New Yorkers sum Cuomo up in a word -- Quinnipiac

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

(Courtsey of the Governor's office)

“Good.”

“Competent.”

“Trying.”

“Honest.”

“OK”

Those are the top choices for words that described Governor Andrew Cuomo, according to a Quinnipiac poll released this morning. The poll surveyed 1,640 New Yorkers and found almost all of the top 30 descriptors to be positive; "arrogant," "liberal" and "dissapointed" were the possible negatives pollsters identified. Astonishingly there was only one genuine crusty soul out of the whole lot who chose to sum up the governor using vulgarity.

Voters continue to give the governor high job approval marks--62 percent, down a bit from last month's 64 percent.

Likewise, the Empire State thinks the governor is a better leader than both New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 51–35 percent, and President Barack Obama--46–38 percent.

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The Empire

DiNapoli wants gas companies to pay for hydrofracking contamination fund

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

By Karen DeWitt, WXXI Capitol Bureau Chief Governor

  (Courtesy of the Comptroller's office)

As New York state prepares to permit hydrofracking on some private lands, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says he’s attempting to address a missing element so far in the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s plans.

Under the current rules, if a homeowner’s drinking water were to be contaminated by hydrofracking accidents, their only choice is to hire a lawyer and try to sue the gas company for damages.

“That could be costly and time consuming,” said DiNapoli. “Because it is a private right of action, we don’t really know how many accidents or incidents are happening right now with natural gas drilling.”

The comptroller proposes setting up a fund, financed by fees on drilling companies, that could be used to pay for remediation should there be an accident at one of the fracking sites, or if chemicals leak to drinking wells and water is contaminated. The Comptroller says his office already administers an oil spill fund, the hydrofracking fund would operate under the same structure.

“It would make sense to have a safety net in place ,” said DiNapoli.

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The Empire

Cuomo signs NYSUNY 2020 legislation

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

(Courtsey of the Governor's office)

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill earlier today that will allow SUNY and CUNY schools to increase tuition $300 a year over the next five years--and more for certain campuses--as well as providing $140 million in capital funds for campus construction projects

""New York State's universities are the jewel of our state's educational system, and with this bill the SUNY system will now be perfectly positioned to become the engine of economic growth across the state," Cuomo said in a statement.

The governor's office noted that, over the past two decades, the average annual SUNY tuition increase has been 6.7 percent, which, according to the statement, was well above the five-year, $300 increases included in this legislation.

"Today, in signing the NYSUNY 2020 bill, Governor Cuomo has instituted fair, rational, and predictable tuition reform in New York State, providing peace of mind for SUNY students and their families," SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher was quoted as saying in the release.

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WNYC News

Cuomo: Toll Hike Proposal a 'Non-Starter'

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Governor Andrew Cuomo stopped short of ruling out toll increases but called the steep hikes proposed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey last Friday a "non-starter."

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Transportation Nation

Neither Governor Cuomo Nor Governor Christie Rules Out Port Authority Toll Hikes

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (photo courtesy of Gov. Cuomo's flickr page)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey plan to hike Hudson River tolls to as much as $15 for cash-paying drivers during peak hours (from $8) "a non-starter." The proposal would also hike PATH commuter rail fares from $1.75 to $2.75.

But the governor isn't ruling out toll hikes altogether. The governors of New York and New Jersey appoint members to the Port Authority board.

The Port Authority announced late Friday it would be hiking the tolls (which would be be smaller for EZ Pass users) with a joint statement from Governors Cuomo and Christie saying they would need to review the proposal.

The board will hold hearings August 16 and will make a final vote August 19.

At a press conference today in Albany, Cuomo acknowledged the Port Authority needs money.

"To the extent the thrust is: there appear to be long term problems at the Port, and the situation was developing for some time, I think that’s probably right. I’ve heard over the past several months that there are financial issues at the Port and to the extent -- what and how and why  --that’s what we want to find out."

Cuomo added: "I think the proposal is a non-starter for obvious reasons and we’ll now look at what the need for the revenue is."  In a follow-up email, Cuomo spokesman Joshua Vlasto said Cuomo was ruling out this proposal, not any toll hikes whatsoever.

Neither, by the way, did New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at a news conference yesterday, in Burlington City, NJ, where he was asked if he would veto a Port Authority board vote to authorize a toll hike.

"Obviously we both have veto authority over the minutes and we can veto it if we want to, but remember this: the Port made very clear in their announcement on Friday that that would mean that hundreds of projects would have to be stopped, that thousands of people would be laid off, and that progress on the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site would slow, if not stop. So, governing is about choosing. You’ve got to make choices. So, we have a full range of options available to us including the veto.

"Neither one of us are sitting here threatening anything right now because we want to get all the information before we take any public position on it, except to say as you saw in the joint statement that both of us were surprised at the magnitude of the increase that was being asked for and at the condition of the finances of the Port. Now remember just this spring, I finally got my Chairman of the Port Authority in place and so up to this time really Chris Ward’s been running the Port Authority and so these decisions on budgeting and what’s been spent and what’s been wasted have been under Mr. Ward’s purview, not an appointee of the Christie Administration, so now we have General Samson there. He is looking into it for me. He has been controlling things, I think, at a much better rate than has been done before, and I’m pleased with the kind of experience and professionalism that Chairman Samson has brought to his new role but it is a brand-new role. So, we’re digging in. We’re going to find out the information; we’ll see where we go from here."

Cuomo said he'd be huddling with his two appointees, Jeffrey Lynford and Scott Rechler (the other New York board members were appointed by his predecessors) to review the proposal, but his office didn't say whether would have the review completed by August 19.

 

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The Empire

The governor, in a word

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Quinnipiac Polling is set to release a poll tomorrow that shows the one word people use to describe Governor Andrew Cuomo but we thought we'd conduct our own, unofficial poll. What's the one word you would use to describe the governor?

Post your word in the comment section or Tweet at us @TheEmpireBlog with the hashtag #cuomoinaword.

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The Empire

Cuomo names his advisory committee to replace MTA chief Jay Walder

Monday, August 08, 2011

(Courtsey of the Governor's office)

Earlier today Governor Cuomo announced the formation of an advisory committee to help find a replacement for Jay Walder, who will leave as head of the MTA in October.

"This committee will help conduct a national and international search to find and recommend the most talented candidates for the next chairman of the MTA," Governor Cuomo said in a statement. "I am committed to appointing a new chairman who will put straphangers first and who will continue to reform the MTA by reducing costs and waste, while improving efficiency and service."

The full list of appointees are below. The Regional Plan Association's Robert Yaro, who made the list, praised the governor for assembling the committee. "Governor Cuomo has charged this committee with assisting in the selection of a new chairman for the MTA and over the next months we will help evaluate and review top public transportation professionals from across the nation," he said in a statement.

William Henderson, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, said the advisory committee should seek another CEO-like figure to head the sprawling bureaucratic agency.

"Sometimes it's more than what other folks face when they're answering to a board and running a a system that's a relatively straight forward system," Henderson said. "Its' not so much an operating job as being the CEO of a large, $12 billion operation."

Intimate knowledge of the city's subway system was at the top of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign's spokesperson Veronica Vanterpool's list of requirements for the job. "We need someone who has a strong know of New York City transportation issues in particular," she noted, going on to say the next head of the MTA needed to improve the agency's "credibility with the public."

"It's been a historical perception; it's not just due to one person," she said.

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The Empire

Governor Cuomo and Senate Republicans forge an alliance that benefits both

Monday, August 08, 2011

By Karen DeWitt, WXXI Capitol Bureau Chief

Governor Cuomo, a Democrat, has lately been lavishing praise on Senate Republicans. Here he is in Rochester singling out GOP Senator Jim Alesi for recognition at an economic development announcement. Senator Alesi was one of four key GOP Senators who changed their mind on the issue of gay marriage, and provided enough votes for the bill to pass in the Senate.

“In politics you can agree, you can disagree,” said Cuomo. “But a person who’s about conviction and a person who’s about principle, that’s more important than anything else.”

Cuomo, traveling around the state to announce the formation of regional economic development councils, did not reserve his kind words just for Senators who helped put the same sex marriage bill over the top. The Governor, in Schenectady, also heaped praise on GOP Senator Hugh Farley, who did not vote for the measure.

“He is unparalleled in his statesmanship, his quality of public service,” said Cuomo. “It’s an honor to work with him.”

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The Empire

Prisoner count fight just the beginning of redistricting war

Friday, August 05, 2011

[A great explainer on prisoner populations and why they're counted how they appeared on It's a Free Country in May. Read it here.]

By Karen DeWitt, WXXI Capitol Bureau Chief

(Getty)

The 2012 elections for the state legislature will be influenced, more than anything else, by the mandatory redistricting process, required every ten years after a new census.

In the past, Democrats, who have long dominated the Assembly, and the Republicans who have controlled the Senate in all but two years in more than a half century, have allowed the majority party in each house to have free reign in drawing the district lines, largely to the advantage of the incumbent politicians.

In recent decades, that arrangement has especially benefited Senate Republicans, who are losing party voters to Democrats in the increasingly blue state.

A law passed in 2010, during one of the rare times that Democrats held the State Senate, also has the potential to further erode the GOP’s remaining base. The new law says prison inmates can no longer be counted as residing in the prisons, located mostly in remote rural upstate legislative districts, but must be counted in the districts where they lived before they were put in jail. For decades, Republicans had counted the prisoners as living upstate to help boost population for their Senate districts.

Alice Green, with the Center for Law and Justice, who testified at a legislative hearing, says that’s fundamentally unfair. She says nearly half of the state’s 57,000 prisoners are from New York City.

90% of African American inmates, or around 24,000, are serving time in prisons upstate. She says white rural communities have benefited from counting the inmates as residing in the prison towns because it artificially boosts their populations, at the expense of mostly poor urban communities, where populations then appear to decline.

“This is tantamount to airlifting the population of zip code 10039 out of Harlem and dropping it somewhere in the middle of the Adirondacks,” Green said.

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The Empire

The Queen of Soul performs for Rep. Rangel birday fundraiser bash

Thursday, August 04, 2011

If you've got a few hundred bucks to spare and the night of the 10th free, why not join the city's most prominent Democratic politicians in celebrating Manhattan congressman Charles Rangel's birthday?

The shindig will be held at the Plaza Hotel. Govenor Cuomo and both of the state's Democratic senators, Charles Schumer and Kirstin Gillibrand, will join the city's top elected Ds and most of the New York congressional delegation as they enjoy a rare performance by Aretha Franklin. Guess someone isn't planning on leaving congress any time soon. More details here.

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The Empire

NY moving in the right direction: NY1/Marist poll

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The polls continue with the good news for Governor Cuomo. A new NY1/Marist poll out today indicates New Yorkers are ever so slightly leaning towards the state moving in the right direction. It's the first time in four years that the majority of respondents weren't feeling pessimistic about the future.

According to the poll, 46 percent report New York State is moving along the right path while 45 percent say it is on the wrong course.

“New York State voters are responding to what they see as change in Albany,” Dr. Lee Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, said in a statement. “Governor Cuomo still has a way to go before confidence is restored, but this represents a step in the right direction.”

Additionally, 56 percent give the governor high marks on his job performance, and 67 percent view him favorably.

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The Empire

Cuomo launches investigation into non-profit executive pay

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

By Karen DeWitt, WXXI Capitol Bureau Chief

(azi paybarah / wnyc)

Cuomo has appointed a task force, which includes his own Inspector General and the Medicaid Inspector General, to look into executive and administrative compensation levels at not for profits that receive taxpayer support from the state.

Cuomo says the probe was prompted by a New York Times story that alleges two owners of not for profit homes for the developmentally disabled, financed largely by Medicaid, each received an annual salary of around a million dollars, and received compensation that included payment of college tuition at private schools for their children.

Cuomo, in a statement, says “there is a whole range of compensation levels and extremes that have existed for too long and must be reviewed”.

“The use of taxpayer dollars must be scrutinized at every level,” the governor continued.

Sue Lerner, with the government reform group Common Cause, says it’s an “absolutely appropriate inquiry”, in a time of record executive pay packages in many organizations.

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The Empire

Cuomo announces first meeting of regional econ councils

Monday, August 01, 2011

The governor's office announced the schedule of the regional economic councils (list below). The councils were announced last week and were created as part of the governor's stated economic push for the state.

"With the launch of the Regional Councils, we are transforming the state's approach to economic development," Governor Cuomo said in a statement. "For the first time ever, regions will compete for up to one billion dollars in economic development aid to help support the plans for their own economic future. The plans the councils begin to develop this week will chart a course for growth and job creation for each region and for all New Yorkers."

The statement described what the councils are charged to do:

During the inaugural meetings, council members will begin to identify key regional issues and opportunities, begin to discuss a regional economic vision, identify work groups to focus on public engagement, address key issues and outline major elements of the strategic plans. Each meeting will be followed by a media availability, where, among other things, the council members will discuss their plans for future public forums.

Applications for projects and programs will be due in November. The winners of the grant money and tax credits are scheduled to be announced this December.

Western New York
August 3, 2011
University at Buffalo, 10:00 AM

Finger Lakes
August 3, 2011
Monroe Community College, 3:00 PM

Central New York
August 4, 2011
SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, 9:30 AM

Southern Tier
August 4, 2011
University at Binghamton, 3:00 PM

North Country
August 5, 2011
SUNY Potsdam, 11:00 AM

Capital Region
August 9, 2011
University at Albany, 9:30 AM

Mid Hudson
August 9, 2011
SUNY New Paltz, 3:00 PM

New York City
August 10, 2011
CUNY Baruch College, 9:30 AM

Long Island
August 10, 2011
SUNY Stonybrook, 3:00 PM

Mohawk Valley
August 11, 2011
SUNY Institute of Technology, 11:00 AM

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The Empire

Lt. Gov. Duffy announces New York City's regional economic council

Friday, July 29, 2011

[New York City's council's full roster at the bottom.]

(Courtesy of the Governor's office)

The governor’s traveling economic development roadshow finally made its way to New York City today. Local politicians, agency and labor representatives, city officials and perhaps even a few tech students congregated in the auditorium of Brooklyn’s New York City College of Technology to hear Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy announce the creation of the city’s new regional economic council—the last of ten.

“The governor has outlined a fundamental shift in the state's approach to economic development, from a top-down to a community-based approach that emphasis each region's unique assets, harnesses local expertise and empowers each region to set plans and priorities,” said Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson, in his introduction of Duffy.

This past week Governor Cuomo and his lieutenant have been traveling all over the state, announcing the creation of new regional economic councils that draw from local academic, civic and business leaders. This is the next phase of the governor’s promised push to revive the state’s economy. Each council will be submitting ideas for bringing business and jobs to the state, working with a streamlined state agency system also announced this week, and competing for funds from a $1 billion grant to help get the best ideas off the ground.

“It is about what is the best way we can pull together regionally to continue to grow jobs, and bring jobs and companies here,” Duffy said.

The lieutenant governor made it clear that the regional councils were, in part, meant to steer away from the upstate-downstate divide that normally colors statewide economic discussions. But being the last council to be named, having the capable but junior Duffy deliver the announcement, and, at the time of the press conference, only being able to name one of the co-chairs to head the whole thing—CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein—gave the impression that bringing the city into the mix was not the governor’s priority.

In a sense, why should it be? Mayor Bloomberg has been working for years to develop a city-centric program of job industry diversification, entrepreneurial growth, and academic development that he would like to see set as the crowning jewel of his time as mayor. Upstate New York has never recovered fully from the death of American industry. While counties upstate continued to hemorrhage young, able-bodied workers—something Duffy reminded the assembled—New York City has been growing in population for years.

And if there was any doubt these councils were creatures of the state, the dearth of city officials present, with the exception of Bloomberg’s deputy mayor for economic development, Bob Steel, and the presence of numerous state legislators made that clear.

The governor’s office has made a major show of these councils and its desire to make New York “open for business.” The councils were created, the governor said, to allow regional insight, issues and economic solutions to come from the bottom up. Given their composition—appointed and so far without a mechanism for public input—whether or not the issues of concern to the people of the regions will be represented is uncertain. What is certain, here in the city, is that Goldstein and his co-chair, American Express chairman and CEO Kenneth Chenault, have nine other regional councils they need to catch up to.

New York City Regional Council Members

Regional Co-Chairs
Matthew Goldstein, Chancellor, City University of New York
Kenneth Chenault, Chairman & CEO, American Express

General Members
Ann Moore, Former Chairman & CEO, Time, Inc.
Gail Grimmett, Senior Vice President for New York, Delta Airlines
Steve Spinola, President, Real Estate Board of New York
Douglas C. Steiner, Chairman, Steiner Studios
Ashok Nigalaye, President & CEO, Epic Pharma LLC
Gary LaBarbera, President, New York City Building and Constructions Trade
Dr. Marcia V. Keizs, President, York College
Sheena Wright, President & CEO, Abyssinian Development Corp.
Francine Y. Delgado, Senior Vice President, Seedco
Steve Hindy, President, Brooklyn Brewery
Kevin Ryan, Founder & CEO, Gilt Groupe
Kenneth Knuckles, President & CEO, Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development
Corporation
Marcel Van Ooyen, Executive Director, Grow NYC
Cesar J. Claro, President & CEO, Staten Island Economic Development Corporation
Marlene Cintron, President, Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (BOEDC)
Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO, Partnership for New York City
Carl Hum, President & CEO, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
Nick Lugo, President, New York City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Carol Conslato, President, Queens Chamber of Commerce
Stuart Applebaum, President, RWDSU
Mike Fishman, President, 32BJ SEIU
Peter Ward, President, Hotel & Motel Trades Council

Elected Officials
Mayor of New York City (appoints one representative)
Bronx Borough President
Brooklyn Borough President
Manhattan Borough President
Staten Island Borough President
Queens Borough President

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It's A Free Blog

Stucknation: Schneiderman's Mission to Restore Faith in the American Mortgage

Friday, July 29, 2011

There are so many people who got bad deals - and are stuck with those bad deals - who are just seething with the sense that the bankers who put them in those bad deals are not stuck with the deal.

-AG Eric Scneiderman on his investigation into banks that created the mortgage crisis.

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WNYC News

Cuomo: Debt Ceiling Deal Will Be Worked Out Before Deadline

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Governor Andrew Cuomo said he remains hopeful that President Barack Obama and Congress will resolve their differences over the debt ceiling, and that a default that could harm New York and other states won’t occur.

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