Karen DeWitt

Albany Reporter

Ways To Connect

The commissioner of the state’s environmental agency is leaving his post, just two days after Joe Martens issued the final environmental impact statement banning hydrofracking in New York. Supporters say the ban is having an effect in other areas of the country.

When Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders announced a new rebate check for property taxpayers, they touted it as a significant “real” benefit to average homeowners. But fiscal watchdog groups say the program is severely flawed, and the money could be better used on something else.

WBFO News file photo

Governor Cuomo and leaders of the legislature finally settled all of their differences and voted on the final piece of legislation to end a session that dragged on longer than most anticipated.

Photo from Karen Dewitt

The legislature continued negotiating and printing legislation Wednesday, one day after a framework deal was announced by legislative leaders and Governor Cuomo. The session limped to a close, after a year that’s seen the resignation of both leaders of the legislature over corruption scandals, and ongoing federal probes.

Photo from Karen Dewitt

Nearly one week after the legislative session was supposed to end, governor Cuomo and legislative leaders have announced a deal on all major end of session issues, including renewal of New York City’s rent laws and a related property tax cap, as well as a new tax rebate program for property owners.

Photo from Karen Dewitt

The fourth and final hearing was held by a board specially appointed Governor Cuomo to consider raising the minimum wage for fast food workers in New York.

Photo from Karen Dewitt

Leaders of all of the state’s local governments, as well as unions representing teachers and public workers, are warning state lawmakers not to simply renew the state’s property tax cap without some changes.

Photo from Karen Dewitt

More than 10 days after two convicted killers escaped from a state prison near Plattsburgh, some state lawmakers are considering new legislation and holding hearings to correct what they see as flaws in the state’s prisons system that  may have contributed to the break out.

WBFO File Photo

Governor Cuomo is promising police and firefighters in New York City a better deal on their disability benefits, as a budget watch dog group warns against the proliferation of end of session bills that give union workers more benefits.

One of the ethics reforms agreed to in the state budget has still not been passed by State Assembly Democrats, and minority party Republicans say they are worried that the bill will be delayed, or watered down.

WBFO File Photo

Lawmakers are struggling to reach end of session deals, as the corruption scandals and on going federal investigations seem to be hampering their progress. 

A reform group is taking a new approach to trying to close a loophole in the state’s campaign finance laws, as years long attempts to crack down on what’s known as “dark money” donations have failed.

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One day after Governor Cuomo arranged a meeting  with some state lawmakers and Catholic Church leaders to promote the education tax credit, the measure seems to be losing support among Assembly Democrats, with some Democrats saying they are angered by tactics used by backers, which has included picketing their offices.

Governor Andrew Cuomo visited a state prison Thursday to announce he’s hiring  more  guards, and to push for a change in how 16 and 17 year olds are treated in the state prison system.

In the final weeks of the legislative session, groups are lobbying for some of the major remaining issues still on the table, including groups who want a property tax break for homeowners struggling to hold on to their houses.

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A new poll finds Governor Andrew Cuomo with the lowest approval ratings since he took office, in a year where corruption scandals have dominated news at the Capitol.

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Governor Cuomo has been steering clear of public events at the State Capitol recently, after a second major party legislative leader, the head of the Senate was forced to resign over corruption charges. 

A near record number of school budgets were approved around the state in Tuesday’s vote. Many are attributing the relative lack of controversy to the three year old property tax cap that limits tax levy increases, as well as an increase in state aid.

Assembly Democrats are approving a one house bill to strengthen New York City’s rent regulations in favor of tenants. The rent law renewal and many other issues, including an education tax credit and the Dream Act, are in flux as the final weeks of deal making approaches. 

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The legislature will be finishing up its work in the next couple of weeks with two new legislative leaders- one in his third month, the other in just his second week on the job.

WBFO File Photo

Now that the leadership crisis in the Senate is settled, Governor Cuomo and the legislature are pushing their education priorities.

Photo from Karen Dewitt

The new leader of the State Senate, John Flanagan, replaced Dean Skelos, who is facing corruption charges. On Day Two in office, Flanagan says he does not expect any major new reform legislation to happen before the end of the session.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is coping with the breast cancer diagnosis and impending double mastectomy surgery of his longtime partner and cooking show celebrity Sandra Lee.

Karen DeWitt

Senate Leader Dean Skelos has resigned his post over a corruption scandal and Republicans have elected Senator John Flanagan, currently chair of the Education Committee, to be his successor.

Photo from Karen Dewitt

Disagreements that have roiled the state’s education community in the wake of new teacher evaluation laws approved by Governor Cuomo and the legislature as part of the budget were highlighted at a day long summit called by education officials.

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Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his first public comments since the leader of the State Senate was charged in an extortion and bribery scheme, says if true, he finds the accusations “disturbing.”

WBFO File Photo

Major newspapers have posted editorials calling for the Senate Leader, Dean Skelos, to resign after the Senator and his son have been accused of running a corruption scam. But so far, Skelos is hanging on, and Republicans are trying hard to carry on business as usual.

WBFO News photo from video clip of Skelos

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who turned himself in to federal authorities on corruption charges Monday, will remain as the head of the Senate, his republican members announced after a more than three hour closed door meeting Monday night.

nysenate.gov

The leader of the State Senate, Dean Skelos, surrendered to federal authorities Monday morning and was charged with six counts of corruption, including bribery and extortion, in connection with an alleged scheme that used his political position to enrich himself and his son.

WBFO News File Photo

The annual state report on lobbying is out, and it finds that $226 million dollars was spent on influencing government leaders, with the largest amount from education groups.


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