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Thomas Dinapoli

The Empire

Cuomo honored amid pension battle

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Governor receiving an award last year. (Huffington Post/AOL / Billy Farrell Agency)

Even as Governor Andrew Cuomo accepts an award tonight for his austerity program in Albany, he’s in the middle of a battle over his proposal to overhaul the state’s multi-billion dollar pension fund. On one side it’s been the Governor and a slew of business-backed groups, local elected officials—including Mayor Michael Bloomberg—and Republican state legislators. On the other, Cuomo has found a foil in Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who has been one of the most vocal defenders of keeping the public pension system public, backed by the unions and, to a lesser public degree, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

The Pierre Hotel—a classy, if a bit musty hotel at the eastern corner of Central Park in Manhattan—will host the Citizens Budget Commission’s 80th Annual Awards dinner tonight. The non-profit think tank will use the opportunity to honor a man who has, over the past year, done more to advance its agenda than anyone else in New York: Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“He has articulated and pressed for many of the key items on the CBC agenda,” said CBC’s president Carol Kellermann. “He is in many ways a spokesperson for fiscal responsibility, and the wise and prudent expenditure of tax-payer funds. He had an on-time budget last year, with no tax increases, and very few ‘one-shots’—all very important items on the CBC agenda.

She went on to note that, this year, he’s included even more of the group’s agenda items in his budget, including pension reform, which has been “something that CBC was—until the stock market crash—virtually alone in advocating for.”

“When it was time to decide who would win our award this year, there really was unanimity among the trustees on the executive committee that he was the logical choice,” Kellerman said.

Cuomo accepts the award amidst what has proven to be arguably the most contentious issue he’s taken on so far with pension reform. Cuomo initially wanted to semi-privatize the pension system by introducing the possibility for new employees to put their retirement savings in 401(k)-type accounts, though, lately, he appears to be softening on the idea.

However, the Governor has keeping the pension fund as-is “could literally bankrupt the State of New York,” and that “[t]here must be pension reform in the budget.” He still supports changing the benefits future employees will receive out of the pension, as well as the amount they contribute.

The Comptroller has responded to the pressure for change in the pension system by pointing to both the benefits of the system—its better-than-most-states level of funding, the safety in pooled capital for its investors, the ability to use the fund’s investments to demand change from companies—as well as the fact the system is still rebounding from the worst recession since the Great Depression, and mostly intact. He’s called using the current fiscal state of things to justify a long-term critical overhaul of the pension system “not the smartest move.

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The Empire

Local lawmakers' coalition hammers DiNapoli over pension reform

Friday, February 24, 2012

Local lawmakers think that Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is the one misinformed about pension reform.

A bipartisan coalition of local lawmakers that includes New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg are continuing to push for Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed pension reform. And they're taking direct aim at the person seen as the biggest defender of the current pension fund system: Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

In a recent op-ed, you defended the status quo and criticized those who say that pensions are “unsustainable and unaffordable.” But we know first-hand that the facts on the ground run counter to your comments. Pension costs for New York’s localities and counties have grown by more than 630% over the last decade. These skyrocketing costs have meant less money for our schools, less money for our police departments, less money for job creation, and less money for social services. If pension costs are allowed to continue to grow – as they will in the absence meaningful reform now – the level of service cuts and tax increases that will be required to balance our local budgets in the future will be devastating. That outcome is unacceptable and entirely avoidable.

The letter is signed by the mayors of New York City, Syracuse and Jamestown, as well as the county executives of Westchester, Suffolk, Monroe, Onondaga and Oneida. In it, they argue the Governor's plan will save localities--including New York City--$79 billion over the next 30 years.

"To dismiss the importance of $79 billion in savings because it will be realized over time is simply not responsible," the letter says. "In the weeks ahead, there will undoubtedly be efforts by special interests to distort the facts and stop responsible and fair reform of our pension systems. We hope you will reject those efforts and instead be guided by the fiscal realities that local governments are facing."

02 24 DiNapoli Pensions Final

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The Empire

DiNapoli gets three CA-based companies to disclose political donation system

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Not too long before Governor Andrew Cuomo went on Fred Dicker's radio program to declare "you are either with the special interests or your with the people" on pension reform, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli put out a statement that highlighted one of the major benefits he sees in keeping the pension system largely like it is.

The Comptroller announced that the state's pension fund succeeded in getting three large California-based companies to agree to disclose how they're spending corporate political money. The release said the agreement with one of the companies, Pacific Gas & Electric, "includes a ground-breaking provision to provide further disclosures of the company’s policies and procedures regarding political lobbying activities."

“These agreements are a victory for shareholders and another step forward for transparency and accountability in the wake of the Citizen United decision,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “I am proud that the New York State Common Retirement Fund is in the vanguard of the movement to ensure that companies are acting with the best interests of shareholders in mind when they engage in political action. It is my hope that other companies will follow these companies’ leads by agreeing to fully disclose their political spending activities.”

DiNapoli has highlighted the usefulness of the fund from a political standpoint before. “By aggregating that capital, we can not only maximize the power to get superior return,” he said in an interview with the Empire last month. “You also can focus on the other ways in which you can make those companies you invest in be responsible corporate citizens in a way that makes their business model sustainable and profitable.”

The state pension fund has over $164 million invested in the companies mentioned in the statement today.

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The Empire

Groups layout support for pension reform as Cuomo escapes the shill label

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Courtesy of the Comptroller's office

Pension reform is one of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s highest priorities this year. In both his state of the state speech, and more formally in his budget proposal, the Governor laid out his vision for fixing what many perceive to be the state’s broken and unsustainable pension system.

Cuomo would give future employees the option of participating in a defined contribution plan, which works like a 401(k) and would be similar to the system SUNY and CUNY use today. It's one of a couple reforms instituted under the Governor's new Tier VI proposal.

On the other side of things you have State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. The Comptroller has called basing policy on the current state of the pension system—still recovering from the financial sinkhole of the last few years—“not the smartest move.” In an op-ed today, he calle allowing a 401(k)-style option for state employees "a false choice" which would "undermine [new employees'] long-term retirement security."

“New York’s proposed move to a 401(k)-style plan just doesn’t make sense," DiNapoli said in the op-ed.

Over the past week think tanks, good government groups and research institutes have weighed in on the debate. In general, they’re supportive of the Governor’s proposals to change the state’s pension system—but in various ways, and in varying degrees.

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The Empire

Comptroller DiNapoli: higher sales tax receipts not a big step in the right direction

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has a new report out this morning on sales tax receipts from around the state. The good news is that sales taxes are bringing in more money, especially for local governments.

But as seems to be his want, DiNapoli cautioned yet again that what looks like a step in the right direction should be seen as a baby one--if that.

“The positive growth last year in sales tax collections are a good sign for the economy, but continued caution is warranted,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “New York’s economy has improved over the past two years, but growth has been sluggish and unevenly distributed throughout the state. The degree to which local governments depend on sales taxes varies, but it is an important source of revenue for many. As localities adjust to the property tax cap, more may turn to sales tax revenues to fill in budget gaps.”

Sales tax receipts were up just over 4 percent outside of the city, and just over 6 percent in New York City, from 2010 to 2011.

The Comptroller's office pointed out the significant spending that occurred after the tropical storms that ripped through the state last year as a driver for spending and thus taxes. The city upped its sales tax and started collecting taxes on clothing purchases over $110, according to the Comptroller's office, which help account for the jump there.

To illustrate the uneveness of the tax receipts the report pointed this out:

The strongest growth was in the Southern Tier where purchases of goods and services to rebuild and repair damage caused by Tropical Storm Lee drove an 8.6 percent increase. The weakest growth was on Long Island with a 2.4 percent increase.

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The Empire

'The Capitol Pressroom' with Susan Arbetter

Friday, February 17, 2012

Today on "The Capitol Pressroom":

NY Daily News Albany Bureau Chief Ken Lovett and Bloomberg Business News Albany Correspondent Freeman Klopett on the Governor’s 30-day amendments, this weekend’s Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, Hank Morris, and the Cuomo-DiNapoli fissure.

Common Cause’s Susan Lerner is back with some thoughts on the latest in redistricting news.

And Soffiyah Elijah, the Deputy Director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School, has represented political prisoners and activists for over 18 years. Professor Elijah joins us today to discuss New York’s criminal justice system.

For show archives, please visit The Capitol Bureau's website here.

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The Empire

Cuomo: it's about efficiency, not grabbing power

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

By Karen DeWitt, New York State Public Radio Capital Bureau Chief

Governor Andrew Cuomo says he’s trying to make government more efficient by taking pre-audit oversight powers away from the State’s Comptroller in his state budget proposal.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli criticized Cuomo’s proposal, saying the pre-audits have saved millions of dollars by flagging potential problems in the contracts. Cuomo says he’s not taking away the comptroller’s authority but trying to speed up an inefficient procurement process. The governor suggests some of the pre audits significantly delay the contract process.

“Let’s slow down every contract for three months,” Cuomo said. “And what is the benefit, how many times do you actually find something? All of these are a balance.”

Cuomo says the Comptroller and others are simply resisting reform of what he says is a “historically dysfunctional government”.

“If you try to streamline contracting there’s going to be opposition,” said Cuomo. “Any change brings opposition.”

Office of General Services commissioner RoAnn DeStito  says the proposed change only effects a small number of contracts, and she says the comptroller can always stop payment if any red flags are raised later.

Cuomo says just because he and the Comptroller disagree on the issue doesn’t mean they don’t have a good relationship, and he says the thinks DiNapoli is a “good comptroller”. Cuomo says he last spoke to DiNapoli in early January, at his State of the State speech.

Comptroller DiNapoli, in a statement, offered a response.

“Most contracts are approved within 13 days, and one-third are approved within five days. All levels of government need checks and balances to ensure that errors have not occurred and that the process was done in a fair and open way,” the Comptroller said. “Why change something that works?

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The Empire

Labor and DiNapoli himself pushback on Tier VI criticism

Monday, February 13, 2012

After getting the one-two punch from business-backed groups critical of Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's lack of support for a 401(k)-like system to be an option for future state employees, the state's two largest union--as well as the Comptroller himself--came to his defense.

CSEA President Danny Donohue issued this statement in response to the criticism leveled against DiNapoli:

The Business Council (the lobby for Big Business in New York State) Unshackle
New York (another front for big business interests) and Billionaire NYC Mayor Michael
Bloomberg are all taking shots at state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli for standing up for
working people in the Tier 6 debate. DiNapoli has raised legitimate concerns that a 401K
style pension option will lead to greater economic instability.

Once again, the corporate interests and the 1 percent are at it trying to demonize
anyone who stands up for fairness and consideration of what’s right.

The other big public employee union, PEF, released this statement from its president, Ken Brynien:

Tom DiNapoli is talking about the facts, and the facts show our defined benefit-pension system is the best way to provide retirement security.

Meanwhile, the highly paid lobbyists for millionaires in the Business Council and other right-wing groups are trying to take money out of the pockets of nurses, firefighters and other workers, so Wall Street can further enrich itself at the expense of the middle class.

I understand why the supporters of Tier 6 are afraid of the truth, because the truth is their plan will hurt the average worker and make retirement with dignity an impossibility.

In a statement from DiNapoli's office, the Comptroller chose to come at the situation with a bit of humor:

I haven’t seen such a coordinated attack since Francesca was voted off Survivor.

I stand firmly behind my position that defined contribution plans are not adequate for retirement security for public or private workers. Study after study has shown that defined benefit plans cost less in the long run than 401k style plans and perform better. It is unconscionable that so many New Yorkers and Americans do not have a secure retirement, often times because corporations have stripped retirement plans for short-term fiscal gains.

He went on to say that "[t]he best public policy comes from thoughtful discussions, accurate and realistic presentation of the facts, and a long-term view."

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The Empire

Biz groups blast DiNapoli over Tier VI stance

Monday, February 13, 2012

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's position on a major component of Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed new Tier VI plan isn't a secret: he's been opposed to the idea from the start.

But today two business-backed groups took turns swinging at the Comptroller. The first was this statement from the Business Council's Heather Briccetti:

We are surprised and disappointed by Comptroller DiNapoli’s attacks on pension reform. When given an honest presentation of the facts there should be little dispute that a Tier VI plan is needed in New York.  Pension costs are exploding at all levels of government across the state and we are rapidly approaching a tipping point. Taxpayers are already struggling under the burden of existing pension obligations, and the Tier VI proposal will avoid this in future years without taking benefits away from anyone currently in the pension system.

The second came as a statement from Unshackle Upstate--an upstate business-affiliated that focuses on economic reforms like taxes and, yes, pensions--via a spokesperson:

“The Comptroller is looking out for his own politics rather than the good of the state. What he is effectively saying is he'd prefer to subject the taxpayers of New York State to the volatility of the stock market, and our property taxes demonstrate how well that has been working, rather  than back a reasonable plan that begins to lessen the risks assumed by the taxpayers.

The Comptroller fails to acknowledge that roughly 90 percent of the population of New York does not have a guaranteed retirement option. It is time he takes a step back and looks at what is best for all New Yorkers, not just a few. Someone should point that out the next time he runs for reelection.

What's interesting in this last one is that DiNapoli has brought up the issue of retirement security for folks outside of the pension system, calling for a commission to look into addressing the issue on a national scale.

"We need to put a retirement system in place that allows the middle class to retire in dignity and forestalls the profound future costs on government and individual taxpayers of providing food, housing and other support to millions of Americans--living well into their nineties--who simply don’t have enough to support themselves," DiNapoli said during a speech at the New School in December. "We must change the perception of pensions being viewed primarily as a liability and a cost to taxpayers to what they really are: a pre-funding of a legitimate, looming government liability and societal obligation."

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The Empire

Do industrial development agencies really create jobs?

Friday, February 10, 2012

By Innovation Trail's Marie Cusick

Ask just about any politician these days, and he'll likely tell you that a big part of his job is to create jobs.

So how does the government attempt to do that?

Here in New York, industrial development agencies (IDAs) are one of main job creation mechanisms for local communities.

In 2009, IDAs gave away close to half a billion dollars in tax breaks to companies in the name of economic development.

IDAs are known as "public benefit corporations" - they're supposed to help their local communities, and create jobs.

But in their four decades of existence, they've been accused of everything from failing to comply with state laws, to simply being inefficient.

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The Empire

State elected officials irked by Cuomo

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

By Karen DeWitt, New York State Public Radio Capital Bureau Chief

Courtesy of the Governor's office.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is taking some heat for a series of actions being criticized as consolidating more power for the executive branch, at the expense of the legislature and even some other statewide office holders.

When Cuomo’s tax commissioner authorized nearly three dozen members of the New York State Inspector General’s staff to look at state employees’ tax returns as part of an investigation, it was met with reservations by members of the state legislature.

“There are just general privacy concerns,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Silver says, ordinarily, tax returns can only be viewed under a judge’s order. The Cuomo Administration insists it was merely the result of a restructuring to increase efficiency in state government.

The action came as the Governor had already beefed up his newly created Department of Financial Services to claim some investigatory powers traditionally controlled by the State Attorney General. In his budget plan, Cuomo also seeks to eliminate the State Comptroller’s role of pre-auditing state contracts, a move strongly objected to by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

“I don’t know that that trade off really makes sense in the long run,” said DiNapoli. “Sometimes our pre audits actually point out situations where we can get a better deal for the state and for taxpayers.”

Di Napoli says for example, the pre audits saved $700,000 in a review of a medical contract from SUNY Stony Brook, and red flagged a state contract for $14.5 million dollars from the Office of General Services with an energy company, after his office discovered the firm included an alleged member of the Gambino crime family.

Cuomo is also getting push back for more changes he wants to make in the state budget.

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The Empire

DiNapoli: Gov's budget erodes government oversight -- updated

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Courtesy of the Comptroller's office

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli gave Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed executive budget a mixed review today. DiNapoli applauded the Governor and state legislature for making "progress toward aligning state spending with revenue" but criticized Cuomo for proposing changes that would give him and future governors "greater powers that would reduce long-established checks and balances".

“This year’s Executive Budget proposal continues that trend and substantially reduces out-year deficits," DiNapoli said in a statement. "However, this progress should not be made at the expense of transparency, appropriate checks and balances, and the realistic and necessary safeguarding of public dollars.”

DiNapoli has warned before of the threat the sluggish economy poses to the state's finances. He reiterated his concerns over tax receipts, the potential for a global economic slowdown and the potential for decreased federal funds "that could make achieving the expected level of revenue or savings challenging" in this year's budget.

He also took Cuomo to task for a number of proposals in his executive budget plan:

  • Allow the Executive to move spending authority from one agency to another with minimal oversight, or legislative input, and without regard to the original intent of the funding in the Enacted Budget as approved by the Legislature.
  • Strips the Comptroller's office of its power to review and approve contracts issued by state agencies.
  • Doesn't put a price tag on the implementation of a Tier VI pension plan, which would give state employees the option of enrolling in a 401(k)-type plan.

A request for comment was put into the Governor's office.

Here's a statement from Budget Director Robert Menga, in a somewhat oblique response to DiNapoli's criticism:

We can no longer abide by the Albany status quo that allows for out of control spending and contracting that wastes taxpayer dollars. To avoid cuts in services, local aid or tax increases, the Executive Budget directs State agencies to be more efficient and focuses resources on their core programs and services. The flexibility language will allow for a range of operational measures and will improve functions such as procurement, real estate, and information technology.

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The Empire

DiNapoli: State's economy has improved, but...

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Courtesy of CSPAN

A new economic report by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli shows a New York economy that weathered the financial crisis and recession better than most, but is far from in the clear.

The state regained 46 percent of its workforce since the recession. That makes us 16th among states in terms of recovery, and outpaced the national average by 34 percent.

But the report notes the recovery hasn't been broadly shared, with some regions lagging behind others. For example, Rochester has regained 98 percent of its workforce while Long Island has continued to lose jobs. And while unemployment claims have continued to fall, the unemployment rate has fallen less than a full percentage point since its peak and has flat lined over the past two months at 8 percent.

Here are the three key paragraphs from the opening of the report:

New York’s fragile economic recovery could be derailed by a number of developments. The European sovereign debt crisis could affect the banking and tourism sectors, which are important to the State’s economy. A spike in oil prices would consume a greater share of consumers’ disposable income, leaving less available for spending that ultimately creates jobs.

...

The securities industry, the State’s economic engine, lost $3 billion in the third quarter of 2011, and most large firms reported weak earnings for the fourth quarter. The industry has resumed downsizing in response to reduced profitability (4,300 jobs have been lost since April 2011), and cash bonuses will likely be smaller than last year.

After a strong first half of 2011, job growth in New York was markedly weaker during the second half of the year, raising concerns about the pace of the recovery in 2012.

The full report is viewable after the jump.

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The Empire

'The Capitol Pressroom' with Susan Arbetter

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Today on "The Capitol Pressroom":

See if you can follow this thread… Does New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie – who we are trying to land an interview with – support the plan to expand gambling on Port Authority land?

It’s an important question since in part, that land is owned by the Port Authority of the State of NY & NJ. It would seem unlikely that the Governor of New Jersey, home to a well-established gambling destination, Atlantic City, would support a proposal that could draw tourists away from the Garden State. Here’s another question about the land that Genting is looking to expand on: Will NYRA, the New York Racing Association support such a move? They also own part of the land that the Port Authority doesn’t. NYRA has been on the sharp end of the Cuomo Administration’s stick on several occasions. In addition, today we may see the results of an audit done by the Comptroller’s office on NYRA. As you may know, the Comptroller and the Governor haven’t seen eye to eye on pension reform.

Today NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli joins us to discuss his own priorities for this session, as well as offer up his thoughts on Governor Cuomo’s budget initiatives, including pension reform.

Meanwhile, the Governor did not provide money for foreclosure relief in his budget, although he did assign Ben Lawsky the job of forming a foreclosure commission to look into the problem. Is that enough? We hear reaction from Kirsten Keefe, senior staff attorney with the Consumer Housing, C.A.S.H. and Community Development Unit in Empire Justice Center’s Albany office as well as Hilary Lampishaw, housing counselor at TRIP/ NeighborWorks Alliance NYS.

For show archives, please visit The Capitol Bureau's website here.

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The Empire

DiNapoli: Cuomo pension plan not 'the smartest move'

Monday, January 23, 2012

Courtesy of CSPAN

Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling for a new pension tier for future state workers, which would give them the option of enrolling in a 401(k)-style retirement plan. But the state’s top fiscal officer, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, calls making decisions about the pension system based on today’s fiscal troubles “might not be the smartest move.”

“We can no longer sustain the current pension system,” Cuomo saidduring his budget address in Albany last week. He went on to call the rising costs to state and local government “devastating.”

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The Empire

DiNapoli: most towns stayed under the property tax cap

Monday, January 09, 2012

It looks like local governments are coping with the state's tax cap after all.

According to a report from State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office, 70 percent of localities were able to bring their budgets in line without overriding the 2 percent tax cap. The audit report also found that some five percent of localities had illegally exceeded the tax cap.

“Our review assisted local governments by providing insight into common issues and errors calculating the new tax cap, and I have directed my staff to develop additional training and expand our outreach to eliminate these errors," DiNapoli said in a statement.

The Comptroller found that 22 percent of localities voted to exceed the tax cap.

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The Empire

Comptroller DiNapoli: Kruger, other convicted corrupt pols, should 'suffer a cost'

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Disgraced former State Senator Carl Kruger may have been found guilty on corruption charges, but he will still collect his pension as an elected official, per the state's constitution. New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli wants to try again to do something about it.

The Comptroller's office released a statement saying Kruger has submitted the necessary paperwork to collect his pension today. In response DiNapoli will resubmit a bill that would go beyond the recently-passed ethics reform to penalize lawmakers monetarily, as well as make Official Misconduct--currently a misdemeanor--a felony.

"Former Senator Kruger's actions were a breach of the public's trust, but the State Constitution prevents the forfeiture of his pension," DiNapoli said in a statement. "Public confidence in government has been bruised and battered. This bill will be a strong step toward rebuilding trust."

Lawmakers who took office after this past November are subject to losing their pensions if convicted of corruption. But acts that occurred before the law went into affect--as was the case with Kruger--are exempted. The Comptroller's bill would impose a fine of twice whatever monetary amount a lawmaker is convicted of (so let's say you're convicted of stealing $5,000, DiNapoli's law would fine you $10,000) as well as the aforementioned penal class increase.

"My bill would ensure that those public officials who engage in corrupt practices and wrongdoing will suffer a cost to themselves and their families if they abuse their position for personal gain," DiNapoli said.

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The Empire

Tax extension failure could cost NYers $7.1 billion: DiNapoli

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The state comptroller is weighing in on the federal fight over a payroll tax extension for workers. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is warning that the failure to come to an agreement that would extend the tax holiday could end up costing New Yorkers $7.1 billion in additional taxes next year.

"Partisanship has a $7.1 billion price tag for residents of this state if an agreement can’t be reached to extend the payroll tax cut and that’s simply not what New York families need right now," DiNapoli said in a statement.

And to his point, the Comptroller's office broke down the increase in taxes on various earners:

Wage        Tax Increase

$ 20,000     $400

$ 40,000     $800

$ 60,000     $1,200

$ 80,000     $1,600

$100,000    $2,000

$110,100+  $2,202

WNYC's It's A Free Country and other blogs have been covering the Washington gridlock over this, with lots of great insight into the issue.

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The Empire

Di Napoli warns tax receipts continue to fall behind

Monday, December 19, 2011

The State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office warned again today that New York's tax collection efforts continue to lag behind projections. According to DiNapoli, the state is nearly $72 million behind estimates.

“Financial sector downsizing, as well as lower profits and bonuses on Wall Street, may result in lower than expected state revenues over the next several months," the Comptroller said in a statement. "The Personal Income Tax (PIT) actions taken by the governor and the Legislature this month should reduce projected deficits in the near-term, but balancing next year’s budget will again be a struggle, and current conditions add risk to the upcoming state budget."

DiNapoli said his office was projected lower tax returns for the next two years. Governor Andrew Cuomo's office had projecting a shortfall of $350 million for the current fiscal year, and an additional shortfall of as much as $3.5 billion next year. The tax reform package put together earlier this month reduced the estimated shortfall by $1.9 billion.

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The Empire

Four connected to Queens Senator Shirley Huntley indicted on corruption charges

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Add another New York City elected official to the growing list of corruption-related activities. An aide, a person who "shares a residence with the senator" and two others were indicted by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today.

Patricia D. Savage, the president of the non-profit Parent Workshop, Inc. and an aide to Huntley's, and Lynn H. Smith, the organization's treasurer and house guest/roommate/something else of Huntley's, are accused of diverting approximately $29,950 in tax payer funds from the non-profit and in to their pockets. Two other individuals, David R. Gantt and Roger N. Scotland, are accused of "falsifying documents to cover up the theft once the investigation commenced," according to a statement from the AG's office.

"This personal profit-making scheme defrauded taxpayers, all the while depriving communities of much-needed funds. Now it's time to hold those behind it accountable," Schneiderman said in a statement. "The charges announced today send a strong message that those who abuse their positions to rip off taxpayers will be prosecuted."

The bust was part of a joint effort between the offices of Schneiderman and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli (the other two state elected officials not named Cuomo) to combat public corruption.

"Taking money intended for families in need is unconscionable," DiNapoli was quoted saying.  "Abuse and fraud will not be tolerated. By combining forces, my office and the Attorney General have exposed and are prosecuting this egregious theft of state funds which were intended for the public good."

Huntley herself was not charged of any wrong doing.

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