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Andrew Cuomo

The Empire

Cuomo's revenue raisers: horses, Quick Draw, 'free game credits'

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

So, just a few words on where Andrew Cuomo expects to raise money for his budget without raises taxes.

Basically, it's mostly coming from gambling.

From the "Revenue Actions" section of the governor's budget book:

$11,922,000 - an "amended fee" for people requesting Security Clearance Requests clearance checks - jumping fro $5 to $60.

$7,600,000 - a new 2 3/4 percent charge on "purses for all horse races conducted within the state."

$22,000,000 - repealing a tax benefit for "cooperative insurance companies" with profits exceeding $25 million.

$5,000,000 - automatically withholding a lottery winner's unpaid taxes.

$200,000,000 - requiring all sales tax vendors to file their taxes electronically, which will result "in increased State revenue through denied refunds." Also, require "more frequent filing from sales tax filers who have poor filing records."

$38,000,000 - granting "free game credits" on video lottery games "to induce frequent players to use paid credits [money] when their 'free play' is exhausted."

$4,000,000 - expand the number of certain instant games.

$10,000,000 - eliminate certain restrictions on where Quick Draw machines can be located.

$2,000,000 - combining video lottery games here with progressive jackpots (which grow larger until there's a winner).

$100,000,000-expand the Lottery sales force, and add things like a "Megaplier" feature on the Mega Millions game.

$55,000,000 - shorten the length of time a vendor is allowed to hold onto uncollected property or money, from 5 or 6 years, down to 3 years. Uncollected money is turned over to the state.

These actions are expected to raise $455,552,000 this year, in Cuomo's budget.

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The Empire

Cuomo, the Transformer

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The governor says his budget changes funding formulas for Medicaid and education. (azi paybarah / wnyc)


My story:

He equated it to Enron, said it defied logic and warned (or perhaps, promised) that fixing it would send lobbyists "running around the hallways like their hair is on fire."

New York's new Democratic governor said he wanted to replace formulas that called for annual double-digit increases to the state's most expensive programs, with more modest rates of growth, that also, for the first time, took performance into account.

By the end of his hour-long presentation Monday, Governor Cuomo had cast himself as a transformer: changing Albany's decades-old budget habits, and repositioning the state "nationally" as an economic destination for the private sector.

And

E.J. McMahon, a budet expert with the business-backed Manhattan institute, said eliminating the formulas was indeed a shock to the Albany system, but the rest of Cuomo's budget was not extraordinary.

The elimination of those automatic cost increases "'just drives people here crazy. I love it," said McMahon. He said Cuomo did nothing to empower school districts to cut program costs hoisted upon them. McMahon also doubted the Medicaid Redesign Team which Cuomo empaneled — which included legislator and organizations representing health care workers and hospital operators — would come up with any drastic changes to the program.

"That crew ,on that Medicaid Redesign Team, they may hit a target of 2 billion and change — they aint going to change Medicaid," said McMahon. "All right. They're going to find a way to get through this year, you know what I mean. That group, they putting the stakeholders in a can, shaking it up and seeing what comes out is not going to alter Medicaid for all-time. What it is, is 'I'm putting a gun to their head and saying 2 billion my way or 2 billion your way.'"

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WNYC News

Cuomo Tries to Reinvent Albany With Bold First Budget

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

WNYC

By the end of his hour-long budget presentation Tuesday, Cuomo had cast himself as a transformer: changing Albany's decades-old budget habits, and repositioning the state "nationally" as an economic destination for the private sector.

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WNYC News

Cuomo Proposes Across-the-Board Cuts in First Budget

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Governor Andrew Cuomo's first budget presentation to state lawmakers includes across-the-board cuts, a consolidation of 11 state agencies, a warning of 9,800 layoffs and "one new fee" on horse racing. 

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WNYC News

Cuomo's Budget Proposal for New York: Read It Here

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Take a look at Governor Andrew Cuomo's State of New York 2011-2012 Executive Budget Book. He is proposing a $132.9 billion budget that would cut Medicaid funding by two percent and school aid by 2.9 percent.

Go to It's A Free Country to watch the governor's speech live at 1pm.

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The Empire

Cuomo on reducing Medicaid, closing prisons

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Cuomo's budget presentation is pretty consistent with what he's been saying all along: no new taxes, no borrowing, and across-the-board cuts.

But there are parts of the budget that assume cooperation among some well-entrenched interests.

Medicaid. The budget relies on the Medicaid Redesign Team "will identify initiates to reduce state Medicaid spending by $2.85 billion for 2011-12 and by $4.6 billion in 2012-13." They'll find these savings by "modifying program requirements and limiting spending growth."

The Medicaid Redesign Team - which includes legislators and members from the health care industry and unions representing health care workers - has not yet announced their recommendations. That'll come on March 1.

Prison Consolidation. To close prisons, Cuomo is offering up to $100 million to those communities to wean them off those institutions as a form of economic development. (The New York Times earlier said Cuomo wouldn't press this issue in his budget presentation.)

While closing prisons is unpopular with local lawmakers who rely on those facilities to employ constituents, the $100 million carrot should be enticing.

And, if not, there's always the stick.

Cuomo will create  a "task force by Executive Order" to make recommendations. If the recommendations are rejected by the legislature, the commissioner of Correctional Services (which is appointed by the governor) "would be empowered to implement facility closures."

"Communities affected by the closures wold receive assistance" from the governor's new Regional Economic Development Councils, with "$100 million available to help communities end their reliance on incarceration as a major source of employment."

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The Empire

Cuomo's budget

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Part of Governor Cuomo's budget presentation. (Governor Cuomo)

I'm going through Cuomo's budget book now, but here are some highlights:

9,800 layoffs, in addition to attrition

$41.5 million- how much is expected to be raised from "enhanced collections from existing taxes"

$0-Aid and Incentives for Municipalities to New York City.

UPDATE: Some photographs from inside the budget book.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: NYC Mulling Over Sliding Doors for Subway Platforms, Netherlands to Put Solar Panels on Some Bike Lanes, and SF Considers Parking Permits for

Monday, January 31, 2011

Another day of wintry delight in NYC. (Kate Hinds)

Hope you're not flying today. Via CNN: "Airlines canceled flights by the hundreds for Tuesday as a massive snowstorm of historic proportions began to coat the nation's heartland with a thick blanket of snow."

New Jersey Transit opened a new light-rail station in Bayonne, marking the completion of a one-mile extension of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Line from the previous southern terminus at 22nd Street to 8th Street in Bayonne. (NorthJersey.com)

New York's MTA may install sliding mechanical doors on subway platforms so riders can't fall, jump -- or get pushed -- onto the tracks.  The metal-and-glass doors would be part of a barrier along a platform's edge and would open only after a train stops at the station, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority document shows. (NY Daily News)

The US issued a travel warning for the United Kingdom, citing “the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems, aviation and other travel infrastructure in the U.K.” (Bloomberg News)

You can listen to NY Governor Andrew Cuomo's budget address--and learn how transit will fare--on It's A Free Country beginning at 1pm. Which brings us to Tweet of the Day, from WNYC's Azi Paybarah: "anyone on this Amtrak train to Albany not going to #nygovCuomo's budget presentation?"

Florida ranks number one in the country for fatal bicycle crashes. The problem is so bad, communities are spending hundreds of thousands of tax dollars on plans to make the roads safe, but a TV news investigation found little to nothing has been done. (NBC2)

Birmingham's mayor said he will pursue a two-pronged approach to transit that involves lobbying for state funding for the area's existing bus system along with federal dollars for a new light-rail train service. The state does not provide money for the constantly struggling Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority, and Mayor William Bell said he'll work to change what a succession of other city leaders couldn't. (The Birmingham News)

Traffic cameras save lives: a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says cameras at red lights have reduced the rate of fatal crashes by 24 percent in 14 large cities that introduced them from 1996 to 2004. (AP via NYT)

Construction began yesterday on two bicycle lanes in downtown Long Beach, part of an overall plan to make the city more bike-friendly, officials said. (Los Angeles Times)

The Netherlands will be placing solar panels on a cycle path in one town. The project, called Solaroad, will be installed in 2012, and is expected to generate 50 kWh per square meter per year. (AltTransport)

The San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering issuing parking permits available exclusively to childcare providers. (AP via Washington Post)

This past weekend a blind man successfully navigated a 1.5 mile road course section at the Daytona International Speedway. The car, a specially modified Ford Escape the uses non-visual technology to convey spacial information to the driver, was built by the National Federation for the Blind and Virginia Tech. (Good)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: America's fastest growing form of transportation? The high-tech bus. Houston's planned Grand Parkway would go right through the Forbidden Gardens. And: an art project turns the NYC subway map into a musical instrument.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

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The Empire

Cuomo cracks the budget code

Monday, January 31, 2011

Governor Cuomo says he can explain why the state budget keeps growing, despite everyone's "cuts." (azi paybarah / wnyc)

In an op-ed, Andrew Cuomo says he's uncovered something "close to a state secret." The cost of health care, education and other state-funded programs are calculated based on formulas that wildly increase prices, and that this growth in cost is blindly incorporated in budget negotiations.

The program costs, Cuomo writes in the op-ed are:

"dictated by hundreds of rates and formulas that are marbleized throughout New York State laws that govern different programs – formulas that have been built into the law over decades, without regard to fiscal realities, performance or accountability…this year these rates and formulas in total call for a 13 percent increase in Medicaid and a 13 percent increase in education funding next year…[therefore] a “cut” is then defined as anything less than a 13 percent increase."

He adds:

The expression used to explain this budget process is that the rates are in “permanent law,” and thus, cannot be changed.  “Permanent law” is a term to suggest differentiation from the state’s annual budget bills which are “temporary” as they only exist for one year.  This “permanent law” is really the way the “permanent government” of lobbyists, special interests and political friends manipulates the entire system and misleads the public in the process.

This is the system that has brought New York to the brink, and it is why we are the highest “spending-and-taxing” state in the nation with programs that fail to perform for the people.

This all must end.

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The Empire

reading Cuomo's property property tax

Monday, January 31, 2011

Financial experts with the state teachers union are saying the property tax cap bill Cuomo introduced is more drastic than the governor has let on. Instead of a 2 percent increase, the bill, they say, could cut that down to 0.

If the district is asking voters to approve a levy increase which is higher than the lesser of 2% of inflation, then 60% of voters must approve the tax levy.  If the voters defeat the proposed tax levy, then they will hold a second vote on the third Tuesday of June.  If the tax levy cap is defeated two times by the voters, then the school district may not increase its tax levy at all from the prior year.  Therefore, this bill sets a 0% tax cap on school districts.

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The Empire

How a popular governor braces for an unpopular budget

Monday, January 31, 2011

Part of Cuomo's tools have been direct appeals to lawmakers, lots of food, and, notably, a lack of demonizing the people who got the state into the fiscal mess.

My story:

Cuomo has taken a matter-of-fact tone to describe the drastic maneuvers he's about to unveil, saying it's the result of a "national economic decline, on top of a state that has been spending too much money for too long."

"Those two facts are now compounding and the chickens are coming home to roost," he said in Poughkeepsie earlier this month.

All that spending — those chickens coming home — went set in motion, year in and year out, by the legislators in Albany. But unlike his predecessors, Cuomo isn't steamrolling, scapegoating or even blaming them.

If anything, he's bludgeoning them with charm.

"The New York State legislature is, historically, the best legislature in the nation," he said in his State of the State speech. "The most talented people — those who we are. That's who we are. And that's who we can be again."

Everyone applauded.

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WNYC News

A Popular Cuomo Prepares to Deliver an Unpopular Budget

Monday, January 31, 2011

WNYC

Andrew Cuomo is about to make a lot of people unhappy — not that it's sinking in just yet.

"Andrew Cuomo is not a polarizing figure," said Marist pollster Lee Miringoff, discussing the governor's latest numbers on New York 1. "Democrats, Republicans, independents, New York City, the suburbs and upstaters all pretty much saying, 'Hmmm, I kind of like this guy."

For a governor about to cut $10 billion out of the state budget, lay off tens of thousands of state workers, and "realign" the state to meet it's new fiscal realities, the Cuomo seen on Monday may not be around after he unveils his budget on Tuesday.

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The Empire

Bloomberg: state 'must' combine school cuts with rules change

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg wants Governor Cuomo to end teacher seniority rules. (azi paybarah / wnyc)

Governor Cuomo is, reportedly, not eager to embrace Michael Bloomberg's call to change laws that require teacher layoffs be based on seniority, rather than merit, known as Last In, First Out.

It's an important rule, considering all the cuts Cuomo is expected to announce when he unveils his budget on Tuesday.

At a church this morning, Bloomberg kept pressing his case.

"I say: Enough with Albany rules. You just cannot do this. If the Governor's budget contains education cuts, it must also contain changes to the law so that we can take merit into account when making these difficult decisions," Bloomberg said, according to a transcript sent out by a spokesman.

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The Empire

how much food to serve when negotiating an austere budget?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Governor Cuomo invited the public to meet him in the govenor\'s mansion on January 1, and later, lawmakers too. (azi paybarah / wnyc)


Thomas Kaplan has a good peek inside the governor's mansion, where Cuomo has relocated much of the budget talks with legislators. There, the governor is plying his audience with food and beverages as he tries getting them to support what is expected to be a painfulround of budget cuts.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver - whose support is crucial for the governor - is quoted saying after his meeting, "They served too much."

Not everyone feels the same way.

On Monday, Cuomo hosted members of the Brooklyn, Bronx and Westchester delegations. Among the attendees was Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from Brooklyn. He said the wooing he got from the governor was more modest, and in keeping with his fiscally conservative talking points.

"I think the most generous way I can describe it was 'light refreshments,' " Jeffries, of the meeting. "Clearly it was consistent with the notion that we are in austere times and the days of wine and roses are over. And it was made clear to us in advance of the meeting: Don’t cancel your dinner plans."

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The Empire

poll: voters like Cuomo, don't love legislators

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Governor Cuomo has across-the-board appeal, according to the latest Marist poll. (azi paybarah / wnyc)

Marist Pollster Lee Miringoff has an explanation for why Andrew Cuomo's latest poll numbers are so high with just about every different kind of New York voter.

"They see him as a moderate," Miringoff said in an interview with NY1 tonight about the poll.

"We hear so much about polarization in our politics today," Miringoff said. "Andrew Cuomo is not a polarizing figure. Democrats, Republicans, independents, New York City, the suburbs and upstaters all pretty much saying, 'Hmm, I kind of like this guy.' "

Miringof, smartly, explains the fault lines Cuomo is deftly navigating at the moment.

"The gap in New York State politics today is not Democrats and Republicans against Cuomo, or for Cuomo. It's between the executive, Andrew Cuomo, and the State Assembly and State legislature," he said.

"Could the overall chamber be held in lower esteem? Not really," said Miringoff. Only 1 percent said either the State Assembly, or State Senate, were doing an "excellent" job.

My favorite number from the poll: when asked if Cuomo is changing "Albany for the better," voters who have a union member in their household agreed, 57-29.

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The Empire

how to link school funding and the economy

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's not easy to call for spending cuts and spending bursts in the same speech.

But spokesman Carl Korn of the state's teachers union does a good job hitching his group's top priority (protection education aid) to Governor Cuomo's (bolstering the state's economy).

Referring to a computer chip company building a plant in Saratoga - just outside of Albany - Korn told me, "Wouldn't it be ironic if...when this latest generation computer chip manufacturing plant opens up, the [company is] forced to go to other states or other nations to hire their engineers because our public schools are cut so deeply that they're not turning out students with the skills that they need to fill those jobs?"

Korn declined to discuss what preparations, if any, the unions has in the works for Governor Cuomo's budget presentation next week, which many are expecting to be quite painful.

"No decisions" have been made, he said.

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The Empire

Cuomo plucks Business Council President for Economic Development Gig

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Today's nomination of Ken Adams of the Business Council to lead the state's Economic Development Corporation is just one more nod from the Democratic governor to the business community.

Adams has long ago come out in favor of Cuomo's economic agenda, going as far to say that the Business Council and the then-Democratic gubernatorial candidate were "almost in lock step."

Rick Karlin at the Times Union adds more details:

Adams’ nomination follows that of Leecia Eve, daughter of former Buffalo Assemblyman Arthur Eve, to serve as ESDC’s senior vice president.

The nomination of Adams as President and CEO also bears out what we’ve reported as Cuomo’s plans to split the ESDC leadership, with a president/ceo and a chairman. Still no word on who the ESDC chairman will be.

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The Empire

Cuomo vs Cuomo

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The executive director of Citizens Action contrasts Governor Andrew Cuomo's approach to the budget with the actions of his father, Governor Mario Cuomo.

There once was a governor, who, when confronted by similar difficult fiscal challenges, took a different approach.

It was Mario Cuomo, who dealt with deficits that were similar on a percentage basis, who said:

“A technically balanced budget that fails to meet the reasonable needs of the middle class and poor would be the emblem of hypocrisy.”

Mario Cuomo also said:
“Faced with hard facts, we have a number of choices. Those of us who are comfortable can choose to pretend that the problems don’t exist... We can say that we have stretched our minds and wills as far as they will go …or we can aim higher. We can try to do more. We can dare to be bolder and wiser.”

Well, we at Citizen Action are going to be urging our elected officials to try harder, aim higher, and be bolder and wiser in the weeks and months ahead.  It’s time to make the right choices for all New Yorkers.

We hope that you’ll join us in this effort. We will be emailing, calling you, and knocking on your doors in the coming months to ask for your help.  Please take action, join our events and make your voice heard.  The future of New York depends on it.

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The Empire

Cuomo prepares to cut, not just slow the rate of growth

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The governor's budget is expecte to include deep cuts to spending. (azi paybarah / wnyc)

That's something the capital hasn't seen since 1995, according to Bloomberg's Michael Quint:

“We were warned to prepare for the worst storm we have seen,” said Senator James Alesi, a Republican from Rochester, after he and other lawmakers met Cuomo for hamburgers this month in the Executive Mansion. “He said, ‘We’re not talking about cutting the growth of spending. We’re talking about cutting spending.’”

Such a reduction would be the first scaling back of the overall budget, which includes federal aid, since at least fiscal 1995, state documents show. In the general fund, the measure that Cuomo must balance by law, declines have occurred only twice in that period: last year and in 1995, when Republican George Pataki, who defeated Cuomo’s father, submitted his first spending plan.

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The Empire

Poll: Not many popular options for trimming state budget

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Freezing wages and capping property taxes are the only budget-cutting solutions that are overwhelmingly popular with New York State voters, according to a new survey by Quinnipiac University.

But the survey also found cuts to two of the most expensive programs in the budget - education and Medicaid - resoundingly unpopular.

Quinnipiac:

82-13 support capping property taxes
75-20 support a wage freeze for state workers
52-30 support furloughs of state workers
47-45 oppose layoffs of state workers
55-38 oppose reducing pension benefits for state workers
69-28 oppose cutting Medicaid funding
79-18 oppose cutting aid to public schools

All of this underscores the heavy lift facing Cuomo when he presents his budget to legislators next week.

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