New York State


Improved Outlook for NY’s Credit Rating

Monday, August 27, 2012

A major credit rating service has issued a more optimistic view of New York's future, which could eventually boost its credit rating. Standard & Poor's revised its outlook for New York to "positive" from "stable" on Monday.


Transportation Nation

NY State Releases Final Report on Environmental Impact of New Tappan Zee Bridge

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Tappan Zee Bridge (photo by waywuwei via flickr)

New York has just released the final environmental impact statement for its new Tappan Zee Bridge.

The state says over the last six months, it has received over 3,000 public comments about the project, and the EIS document groups them into four categories:  concern about construction impacts (noise/dust/air quality/traffic),the design aesthetics of the new bridge, the construction impact upon the Hudson River environment, and transit capability of the new bridge.

Here are some ways the state says it will deal with the concerns:

  • Construction noise and air quality will be monitored 24/7, and the results will be publicly available online
  • A  "Blue Ribbon Selection Committee" will participate in the design selection -- meaning some members of the public will have input into what the new bridge will look like
  • Dredging will be limited, the discharge of sediment into the river will be minimized, and the state will use "bubble curtains and other technologies to minimize acoustic effects of piles driving on the fish."
  • The bridge will be designed "so that it could accommodate transit in the future."

The report does not include a widely touted plan to turn the old bridge into a greenway. The State Thruway Authority says it will demolish the existing structure.

More later. In the meantime, you can read both the summary and the entire report here. And please comment below to let us know what you think of the report.




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The Brian Lehrer Show

New York as National Checkbook

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

It's a Free Country reporter Anna Sale talks about how races around the country seek funding in New York. Then Noah Bierman who covers government and politics for The Boston Globe talks about the Massachusetts Senate race between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown. 

Comments [12]

The Brian Lehrer Show

To Be or Not to Be a Lawyer

Friday, May 04, 2012

Kris Fischer, editor-in-chief of the New York Law Journal, discusses a new requirement to do pro bono work in order to practice law in New York, and the broader question about whether to become a lawyer.

Comments [23]

Transportation Nation

No Federal Loan for Tappan Zee Bridge -- At Least Right Now

Thursday, April 26, 2012

UPDATED WITH LETTER FROM FEDERAL GOVERNMENT New York State had been hoping that a third of the cost of the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement would be funded through a low-interest loan. But the federal government has taken a pass -- at least for this round.

State officials are maintaining that today's announcement is "very good news."  Speaking at an Albany press conference, director of operations Howard Glaser said the bridge would still be considered in later rounds of funding.

"They advised us the Tappan Zee bridge would be one of the six large scale projects that will be considered in the second round," Glaser said. But Glaser acknowledged financing couldn't come until after congress passes a surface transportation re authorization bill, which many experts predict won't happen until after the November elections.  And a letter supplied to Transportation Nation (at the end of the post) didn't mention a short list of six projects.

In February, the state sent the U.S. Department of Transportation a letter of interest, requesting a $2 billion TIFIA (for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) loan for the massive bridge construction project.

The state had said that the total cost of the project would be about $5.2 billion, although a budget hasn't been finalized.

The TIFIA website says that the agency received "26 Letters of Interest (LOIs) seeking more than $13 billion in credit assistance to finance approximately $36 billion in infrastructure investment across the country." It continues: "While limited TIFIA resources mean that not all of the LOIs can be selected, five projects are being invited to apply for credit assistance."

But state officials -- who have yet to release a financing plan for the project -- say the Tappan Zee bridge isn't out of it. "In this first round they only did $100 million total for the whole country," Glaser said. " Remember our application for the Tappan Zee alone is in excess of $2 billion.  So those large sclae  high profile projets will be a further round based  on federally available funding. They can't fund these large programs right now."

Glaser said the Tappan Zee bridge funding would have to wait until Congress reauthorizes the transportation bill.

TIFIA loans are used for large-scale infrastructure projects that cost $50 million or more. Loans can't exceed 33% of project costs.

The letter to the state from the federal government didn't make any mention of a short list of six projects. Here's the letter:

John M. Bryan
Chief Financial Officer & Treasurer
Interim Chief Information Officer

Thank you for submitting a Letter of Interest (LOI) in response to the FY 2012 TIFIA Notice of Funding Availability.  In response to the December 30, 2011 deadline, the Department received 26 LOIs seeking over $13 billion in credit assistance to finance an estimated $36 billion in infrastructure investment.  The requested level of TIFIA financing is more than 10 times the level than can be supported given current program resources.

Each LOI has been evaluated against the TIFIA statutory criteria, and the Tappan Zee Bridge project performed well in our review.  Unfortunately, the Department does not have sufficient budgetary resources to invite an application for your project at this time.  In light of those constraints, the Department prioritized projects that could be accommodated within resource levels and required financing in the nearest time frame.  However, if TIFIA budgetary resources are significantly increased as proposed in the President's Budget and the House and Senate reauthorization proposals, we will create an expedited review process for those funds.  We encourage you to continue the planning and financial work necessary to move your project if and when that review process takes place.  Please note that even with an augmented program, the level of TIFIA credit assistance may still be constrained, which could impact the amount available for the Tappan Zee Bridge project.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Duane Callender
TIFIA Credit Program  (HITJ)
US Department of Transportation

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City's Film, TV Crews Keep Busy Thanks to Pilot Season, Tax Credit

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New York is in the midst of a TV and film production boom. The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment reports there are 13 TV pilots in development in the city so far this spring. That's on top of a record 23 series that were filmed in New York last year.



Court Rejects Order for Mentally Ill Housing in NY

Friday, April 06, 2012

A federal appeals court on Friday reversed a judge's order making the state provide apartments and small homes to thousands of mentally ill people, questioning the scope of the order and delaying a resolution to a controversy that even the court acknowledged will continue.


The Brian Lehrer Show

State of New York Courts

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jonathan Lippman, chief judge of the state of New York, talks about his plans for a separate youth court and to settle foreclosure cases.

Comments [8]

The Leonard Lopate Show

Flooding & Upstate Farmers

Monday, September 12, 2011

Farmers upstate have been devastated by Hurricane Irene – and at a crucial harvest time. We’ll speak with Jacquie Berger, executive director of Just Food as well as Cheryl Rogowski, whose farm has suffered great losses.

Comments [8]


State Pension Fund, Budget Would Be Jeopardized by Fed Default: DiNapoli

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

President Barack Obama and Congress do not agree on a way to increase the federal debt ceiling, the default could affect New York State in a number of ways — from a weakened state pension fund to significant gaps in the state budget, the state's comptroller warned.


The Empire

City and state econs continue to improve Fed says

Friday, July 15, 2011

Your morning economic check-in!

The New York Federal Reserve's release of the latest economic snapshot show New York City and State continuing to improve from our recession lows. The Fed shows that New Jersey's economy, on the other hand, continues to be stuck in a rut.

The Fed's most recent analysis is for May 2011 data. You can read more about here.

Lasted Fed report shows NY improving.

(Courtesy of the NY Federal Reserve)

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It's A Free Country ®

What's Stopping Gay Marriage From Being Legal in New York?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Public support for same sex marriage in New York state is at an unprecedented 58 percent. Only 36 percent of New Yorkers are opposed. Taking those numbers along with Governor Andrew Cuomo's recent insistence upon marriage equality legislation getting passed this year, it suddenly seems likely that the state could see another vote on the issue sooner rather than later.

But we've been down this road before, and same sex marriage can't seem to get past the State Senate. With the Assembly perennially in favor, and public support ever increasing, what seems to be the trouble? 

Comments [2]

The Brian Lehrer Show

What Governor Cuomo Means For New York Business

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City and Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York—both members of the business-centric Committee to Save New York—offer their perspectives on Governor Cuomo's State of the State address.

→ Read More And Join The Conversation At It's A Free Country

The Brian Lehrer Show

What's Ahead for Governor Cuomo

Monday, January 03, 2011

New York has a new Governor. Celeste Katz, writer for the Daily Politics blog at the New York Daily NewsErrol Louis, host of NY1's Inside City Hall; Stephen Madarasz, director of communication at the Civil Service Employees Association Local 1000; and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. react to Governor Cuomo's inauguration speech and discuss what's ahead for the governor in 2011. Then Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino weighs in on how his county may be affected during Governor Cuomo's term.

Read More And Join The Conversation At It's A Free Country

Transportation Nation

New York "Must Prevent a Self- Destructive Backsliding" on Transportation Infrastructure

Thursday, November 18, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch released a report today that says New York needs billions of dollars just to maintain its aging infrastructure--and "has no credible strategy for meeting future needs."

"Because of the constraints on the State’s resources, New York must refocus its transportation program to emphasize state-of-good-repair, safety and security, more efficient and cost-effective project delivery, and better regional planning," he writes in the report.  "While politicians often speak of doing more with less, the fiscal reality of the next decade may dictate that New Yorkers learn to do less with less."

We'll have more analysis later. You can read the full report below.

43136674 Lt Governor Report Transportation Capital Needs 1

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Empire State Apples

Monday, November 15, 2010

It’s the tail end of apple season. Steve Clarke of Prospect Hill Orchard in Milton, New York, joins us to taste some of the local and antique varietals found in New York State—from the Newtown Pippin to the Black Twig. We'll also speak with Emily Vaughn, biodiversity coordinator with SlowFoodUSA.

Comments [21]

Transportation Nation

NYT Poll Finds 22% Would Cut Transportation to Balance Budget

Monday, October 18, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Buried deep within an excellent New York Times poll about the governor's race is a striking finding: 22% of New Yorkers would cut transportation to balance the budget. Given the choice of what to cut, transportation was the runaway choice over health care, and education.

This is the first time this question has been asked and there's a little unpacking to do here, so we called Marjorie Connelly, an Editor in the Survey Department of the New York Times.

"If you had to choose, which of the state funded services do you think should be cut, local education, higher education, health care, or transportation?"

There were no follow up  questions, or specific definitions about what constitutes "transportation." So, Connelly posits that for this survey, of which this was just one tiny part, when respondents hear transportation they aren't thinking roads and bridges so much as commuter trains. "I think people are hearing public transit. They are probably thinking subways, and perhaps Metro-North type trains."

A few extra correlations run by the NYT support this.  Connelly tells us they found that "the further you got away from New York City the more likely people were to pick transportation" as the area to cut. The less you use public transit the more you are likely to say cut it. That's logical.

Even in New York City, transportation was the plurality, but there's a gaping hole between New York City and upstate Downstate 38 percent chose transportation to cut, but upstate, far more people chose transportation to cut—58 percent of respondents.

No other factor seemed to predict who wants to cut transportation, not age, not race, not income, just location, a proxy for likelihood to use transit.

The answer might have changed if some sense of what the relative expenditures are for health care, education compared transportation. That would give a sense of which service is eating up most of the budget. If you are curious, New York State spends $4.3 billion on transportation compared to $14.2 billion on health, and $23.1 billion on local education not counting an additional $5.6 billion on higher education.  That doesn't Medicaid spending.

In the same poll, 51 percent of respondents support reducing pension benefits for future state employees, and 35% think its a good idea to lay off 5% of state employees to balance the budget.

Other budget categories that were not asked about are human/social services, mental hygiene, public safety,and environment, categories with spending levels closer to transportation. It would be interesting to see how transportation stacks up against an expanded list.

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Hevesi Snagged in Pay-to-Play Scheme

Friday, October 08, 2010

In exchange for almost $1 million in campaign cash and other gifts, former New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi admitted Thursday that he handed access to $250 million in state retiree funds to a California-based private equity firm.

Comments [1]


Paterson Vetoes 34 Bills, Signs More than 100

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gov. David Paterson vetoed 34 bills over the weekend -- most of them unfunded grants and mandates -- and signed another 103 measures into law. "The legislature must stop passing legislation that spends money that we can no longer afford," Paterson said in a statement announcing the vetoes.

Comments [1]

Transportation Nation

'Leandra's Law,' and Ignition Locks for all DUIs in New York

Monday, August 16, 2010

The crash was fit for a rallying cry.  On October 11, 2009, Carmen Huertas was driving six children to her house for a slumber party.  She had been drinking, and, one of the kids in the car said, asked her young passengers to raise their hands if they thought "we're gonna get into an accident."

Huertas did crash the car, and the result was the death of 11-year-old Leandra Rosado.  As he grieved, her father started a campaign to make New York state's laws the toughest in the nation.  A month later, a new law was unanimously passed in Albany, and signed by the governor.

"Leandra's Law" as its now called, makes it a felony to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs while carrying passengers age 15 and under.  It went into effect statewide on Sunday.  UCLA transportation scholar Eric A. Morris says it does something even more important, however.

It requires any driver convicted of DWI to install an ignition interlock system on any car they drive.

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