Andrew Cuomo

On May 15th, voters across New York will go to the polls to consider school district budgets and for the first time, schools will be under the constraint of a property tax cap, and school leaders say they’ve had to make “sacrifices” to live within those limits.

The New York State School Boards Association surveyed its members, and found that the majority of schools , 92%, are proposing budgets that are within the limits of the new tax cap.

WBFO News photo by Mike Desmond

Governor Andrew Cuomo swept into town Wednesday for a few hours and left with hundreds of thousands of dollars for his campaign till, to add to the $14-million he already has in campaign contributions.  

Cuomo gathered with supporters at the Hotel Lafayette in downtown Buffalo, but refused to meet with reporters.   The Governor arrived quietly through a construction door and left equally quietly through another isolated door.

Governor Cuomo named a blue ribbon commission to look at the problems facing education in New York, instructing them to come back with an “action plan” not a “theoretical document”.

Earth Day came and went in New York without too much discussion of what many environmentalists believe to be the biggest issue facing the state: when and where the gas drilling process known as hydrofracking will occur.

The future of fracking has been stalled in New York for several months now, as the State Department of Environmental Conservation plows through what Commissioner Joe Martens says is a “mountain” of over 60,000 public comments, collected during an environmental review.

“The focus now is on the comments and its monumental,” Martens said.

Governor Cuomo cast further doubt on issues like campaign finance reform and increasing the state's minimum wage to become law this year and says he’s “shifting” to a new phase of governing instead .

In remarks to his cabinet, Cuomo says he expects a “relatively quiet” end to the legislative session. He says campaign finance reform, including public campaign financing, are measures that he supports, but says that they are “controversial” and “polarizing” issues in the legislature.

Governor Andrew Cuomo for the first time addressed speculation that he might be a candidate for President in 2016, saying it’s “flattering”, but “distracting”.

Governor Cuomo, speaking for the first time about speculation that he might want to seek the presidency in 2016, says he finds the talk “flattering”, but he says overtly political talk can be “distracting” when he’s trying to govern and get along with both parties in the legislature.

“All I’m working is being the best governor I can be, “ said Cuomo.

WBFO News file photo

Governor Cuomo has vetoed over half a million dollars of legislative member items, saying he’s following through on a promise to ban the funds, which have been used in the past to finance lawmakers’ pet projects.

The Governor’s $640 million in line item vetoes for member items does not include any new money from this year’s budget.

Rather, they are what’s known as re-appropriations for member items that were approved in earlier budgets from two years ago, before Cuomo was in power.

Cuomo says no, again, to medical marijuana

Apr 10, 2012

Governor Andrew Cuomo's aggressive legislative agenda will not include any action on the issue of medical marijuana.

Cuomo told reporters in Utica Monday that he understands there has been more research and the issue can be re-evaluated, but he doesn't believe there is enough time in this year's legislative session to do that properly.

In his 2010 campaign, Cuomo rejected legalizing marijuana for medical use, but has since said he's reconsidering.

Cuomo says New York still has what he calls ``a terrible problem'' with drug use.

WBFO News file photo

An estimated 250 guests, politicians from both sides of the isle, and a hoard of local media were on hand late Wednesday morning at the Burchfield Penney Art Center for Governor Andrew Cuomo's Buffalo visit.

The Governor was eager to share his administrations accomplishments.

"We reduced the property taxes with a property tax cap that now limits property tax increases to 2%," said Governor Cuomo.  "We reduce the burden on local government by passing real mandate relief that has the state reduce the number of mandates," said Cuomo.

WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

Albany is moving forward to repair New York's aging and decrepit roads and bridges, pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into an accelerated repair program.

That is on top of spending in the regular budget to turn around bad bridges and roads.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is focusing on his New York Works program, with more than a billion federal and state dollars, with $121 million of that going into 48 projects across Western New York, all to start this year.

The new state budget approved by Albany this week will increase state aid to schools over the levels the Governor had proposed.

Locally, that means some jobs and academic programs will be preserved, but the aid will not cover all of the budget gaps for local schools. A majority of the increased aid will go to what are considered high-needs districts, such as Buffalo.

The News reports that the only district in Erie and Niagara Counties not to receive aid was Holland.

State lawmakers were headed for an on time state budget for the second year in a row that keeps spending relatively flat.

State legislators and Governor Cuomo have been touting the on time budget for the second year in a row that also, for the second time, reigns in spending.

Cuomo admits that most people would view that as lawmakers simply doing their job.

But he says in a state that has almost never met the budget deadline for over two decades, it’s a “big deal”.

Reaction to the newly agreed upon state budget continued to pour in at the State Capitol, as lawmakers began passing the first of a series of budget bills, in the hope of finishing the spending plan by the end of the week.

Senate Leader Dean Skelos praised lawmakers and Governor Cuomo, for their work on a budget plan that’s likely to be in place by the deadline.

“This is a budget that we all can be proud of,” Skelos said.

Lawmakers agree on $132.6 billion state budget

Mar 27, 2012

Governor Andrew Cuomo and the leaders of the state Senate and Assembly today announced an agreement on a $132.6 billion state budget for the fiscal year that starts Sunday.

The budget would increase spending by two percent while expanding economic development and jobs programs and providing some protections for the poorest New Yorkers and immigrants.  The agreements include a 10 percent increase in the welfare grant in June. Cuomo wanted to delay half of the increase because of the state's slow economic recovery.

New York lawmakers are very optimistic about getting a budget done on time again this year.

They say 99% of the state’s spending plan has been closed down, and they will pass bills before the end of the week.

In a sign that the end of the budget process is near, some conference committees began wrapping up their work and closing down.

The criminal justice and mental hygiene budget conference committees were among those that gaveled out mid-day Monday.

The New York Senate and Assembly were poised to vote on new district lines, as Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders announced agreement on a number of other unrelated issues, including expansion of the state’s DNA data base, pension reform, and an amendment to allow more gambling in New York.

After months of hearings, debate, and closely guarded private negotiations, the state Senate and Assembly task force on restricting, known as LATFOR, finally moved to adopt new district lines and send them to floor for a vote.

Senate, Assembly budgets bypass Cuomo pension reforms

Mar 13, 2012

The state Assembly and Senate have released one house versions of a state budget that do not include Governor Cuomo’s plan for a new benefit tier to limit the pensions of future public workers.

The budgets plans are designed to stake out the positions of Assembly Democrats and Senate Republicans- and are often changed in the final deal with the governor.

Neither house has included Cuomo’s plan to offer a new Tier 6 benefit package with smaller pensions for new workers.

Redistricting amendment faces scrutiny

Mar 12, 2012
Photo from North Country Public Radio Web

Legislative leaders are crafting a constitutional amendment to create a bi partisan panel to draw new legislative and congressional district lines after the next census in 2020.

Talks have centered on a 10 member panel, five Democrats and five Republicans, appointed by the majority and minority parties of the legislature, with appointees coming equally from both parties in the legislature. 

Governor Cuomo is moving to stabilize the NFTA by nominating four board members, replacing four members whose terms have long since expired.

The governor has nominated businessman and philanthropist Howard Zemsky to move up from a board member to chairman.  Zemsky was previously nominated to be chairman by Governor Spitzer but the nomination never came out of the Senate process.  It has been more than five years since there was a permanent authority chairman.

Cuomo has also nominated educator Bonita Durand, realtor Charles Gurney and union official Philip Wilcox.

Cuomo slips in poll on education issues

Mar 6, 2012

In a new poll released Monday, voters give Governor Andrew Cuomo mixed reviews on his education policies.

They say they like a new agreement on teacher evaluations, but a narrow margin say the governor is overall making the problems in the education system worse.

The poll, by Siena College, asked voters whether they think a new teacher evaluation system brokered by Governor Cuomo will improve the quality of education in New York.

Siena’s Steve Greenberg says 50 percent say they think it would, while 38 percent believed it would have no effect.

Governor's proposed budget could deliver for Buffalo's economy

Jan 17, 2012
Photo from Governors website

Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his second budget address from Albany Thursday. The Governor did mention the already promised  $1 Billion for Buffalo.  

Cuomo said the funding coming will have many purposes.    He said plans are still being finalized for the funding, but noted the city will receive $100 million this year.

"Until we have a specific plan $100 million this year, $100 million next year and the funds are flexible depending on what the business plan is that actually comes to Buffalo," said Cuomo.

Governor gets ready to reveal his budget plan

Jan 17, 2012
WBFO News file photo

Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to call for greater accountability from teachers and schools for student performance when he delivers his annual budget address Tuesday afternoon from Albany.

Cuomo says New York spends more per student than any state in the Union, yet ranks only 38th in terms of its graduation rate.  Facing another year of red ink, the Governor will not ask for any spending increases. 

But despite the challenges ahead, Cuomo says managing the budget this year will be easier than last year.

File Photo

2011 saw a return to normalcy in the State Capitol.  After four years of high profile scandals, a new governor worked with both parties to pass an ambitious agenda, including a property tax cap and a gay marriage law. 

The dysfunction that was so typical of state government the past four years disappeared in 2011.  Governor Andrew Cuomo came into office determined to pass an on-time budget and more.  Ken Lovett, Albany bureau correspondent for the New York Daily News, says it was a refreshing change...

The Western New York region has reason to celebrate. Governor Andrew Cuomo has awarded $100.3 million to the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council. Newly elected state Assemblyman Sean Ryan calls this a huge win for Western New York. “The work of the Regional Council very important. They to put together a very impressive plan, but this really puts in the nice course for the future. It provides a framework that allows the vehicle for nice comprehensive investment for New York State in Western New York to help grow our economy,” said Ryan.

Photo from Governor's video

A tentative agreement has been reached among the governor, and leaders of the state Senate and Assembly, on a new tax structure for New Yorkers.

The proposal would effectively continue the tax surcharge for those making over $1 million per year that was scheduled to expire at the end of the month.

The plan would cut the tax burden slightly for those in the $40,000 t0 $150,000 range. It includes a $1  billion public works component for bridge and road repairs, and other public infrastructure.

Governor issues op-ed on tax reform

Dec 5, 2011
WBFO News file photo

Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued an op-ed piece on tax reform.  It has been issued to newspapers across New York State. 

The following is what the Governor wrote:

New York needs to enact a bold, innovative economic plan and tax code reform to create jobs at this difficult time. To achieve that we will need bipartisan political cooperation and a plan the people of the State support.

I believe economic development, popular support, and political consensus must all be built on the same foundation: fundamental fairness.

File Photo

The failure by the bipartisan "super committee" to reach a deficit reduction deal in Washington will mean more financial troubles for New York State.  

The state receives about $40 billion a year from the federal government.   But with the failed deal, the state will lose  about $5 billion over ten years.   On Tuesday's Capitol Pressroom on WBFO, host Susan Arbetter asked Governor Andrew Cuomo about how the state will be dealing with the projected losses.

File Photo / WBFO News

Halfway through the state's fiscal year, New York is dealing with a $350 million hole in its budget. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo released his mid-year budget assessment Monday, suggesting he may have to call a special session of the State Legislature if the numbers worsen.  On the Capitol Pressroom on WBFO, Cuomo said his budget office is coming up with a fiscal management plan to close the deficit.

WNY Regional Economic Council Approves Strategic Plan

Nov 9, 2011

With millions of dollars of competitive economic development dollars on the line, the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council has approved a five-year strategic plan it will submit to Albany next week.