Karen DeWitt

Albany Reporter

Ways To Connect

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The state legislature’s Black, Hispanic and Asians Caucus is reacting events in Baltimore and is calling for swift action on a package of criminal justice reforms that have been stalled in the State Senate.

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Governor Cuomo introduced a blue print for ending the AIDs epidemic in New York by 2020.

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There’s growing support in the state legislature to address controversial aspects of the state’s Common Core learning standards and related testing.

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Democrats in the State Senate are attempting to close a loophole in the state’s campaign finance laws, while a new poll finds New Yorkers want lawmakers to take more steps to quell corruption.

Less than a month after it was enacted, Governor Cuomo’s new teacher evaluation plan seems to be in jeopardy, with the Regents Chancellor calling for a year’s delay and a key Senator saying the legislature needs to revisit the issue.

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Earth Day 2015 is also the first day that the New York State Assembly transitioned to a paperless system. Assemblymembers have been given I Pads to read bills electronically, and supporters say it will save millions of dollars, and trees.

The final stretch of the legislative session began as more accusations arose about potential wrongdoing by top legislative leaders.

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The New York State Legislature returns for the second half of the legislative session, once again under a cloud of corruption, and with numerous unsettled issues.

The recently completed state budget was the first real test of the new Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s leadership, who became the leader of that house in early February. 

Governor Cuomo and the state legislature approved some significant changes to the state’s education system and how teachers are evaluated going forward. But, before all that can be implemented ,the new system faces a big test, literally, later this month.

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The New York legislature completed an almost on time budget, around 3 a.m. on the first day of the state’s fiscal year. One of the final pieces to come together was an ethics reform package, which will provide greater disclosure of lawmaker’s outside income. But critics say it does not go far enough.

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Governor Cuomo began the budget season with an ambitious agenda than included a wide array of items that he tied to the budget, including raising the minimum wage, the Dream Act, and reforming the state’s grand jury process. In the end, the governor was forced to retrench on nearly every measure.

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Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders reached a framework agreement for a budget deal late Sunday night and hope to begin passing bills Monday to meet the midnight Tuesday deadline.

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The state Assembly, Senate and Governor Cuomo continue to work on sticking points in the state budget, as yet another item has now been dropped from the spending plan, raising the state’s minimum wage.

Governor Cuomo and the legislature are considering a  commission to design a new teacher evaluation plan, in order to break an impasse over the state budget. But even some lawmakers admit that the compromise is just kicking the can down the road.

Photo from Karen Dewitt

Governor Cuomo and the legislature are making progress on the budget. Cuomo, after a private meeting with Senate Republicans, says he’s closer to an agreement on ethics reform, but the governor is getting some criticism for dropping some items out of the budget, including the Dream Act.

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There’s just about a week and a half left before the budget deadline, and Governor Cuomo and lawmakers remain at odds over a number of issues, including whether ethics disclosure rules should apply to Governor Cuomo as well as the legislature.

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Governor Cuomo and the Speaker of the Assembly say they hope the State Senate will sign on to their joint proposal for ethics reform, as a new poll finds the governor with dropping job approval numbers.

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One of the most polarizing issues in Governor Cuomo’s budget is an education tax credit that would allow donors of up to one million dollars to public and private schools to receive a tax benefit. Opponents say it benefits the rich, supporter say it helps poor children.

State lawmakers are moving ahead with approving some portions of Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act, now that  supporters are no longer demanding that all of the items, including an abortion rights provision, be tied together.

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Pressure is mounting to include Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, the only female legislative leader, in the closed-door budget meeting with Governor Cuomo that now consists of four men in a room.

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Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie gave his first broadcast interview to public radio and television. In it, he expressed his frustrations over Governor Cuomo’s decision to link numerous unrelated items to the state budget.

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The state budget might end up in court under some scenarios, as state lawmakers are discussing possible legal action against Governor Cuomo’s budget, and his proposal to link a number of unrelated items, like ethics reform and education changes, to the spending plan. 

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It was the charter schools’ turn to rally at the State Capitol Wednesday in support of Governor Cuomo’s proposal to allow 100 more charter schools in New York.

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Governor Cuomo is taking credit for the state budget’s turn around from huge gaps to healthy surpluses, but a watchdog group says  Cuomo is relying on future funds that have not yet materialized .

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Hundreds of teachers are rallied at the State Capitol late Monday, saying they are calling out Cuomo for what they say is his anti-public school agenda.

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Teachers have been holding rallies all around the state protesting Governor Cuomo’s education proposals, and hundreds are expected to converge on the Capitol Monday to protest over reliance on standardized tests, and other issues.

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Newly elected Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie made clear one of his top priorities in his first news conference, where he called for passage of the Dream Act, which would offer college aid to children of undocumented immigrants.

Budget talks began Wednesday, as Governor Cuomo met behind closed doors with legislative leaders to discuss school aid, economic development proposals and ethics reform. Cuomo’s push to reform practices in the legislature comes at a time when his nearly $1 million book deal is coming under closer scrutiny.

Governor Cuomo has repeatedly threatened to hold up the state budget over ethics reform and other issues, like education policy. Now, a poll finds that voters would rather that the budget be on time.

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