Another Year Of Pennsylvania Budget Woes

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- Pennsylvania has struggled for a decade to pass balanced state budgets, and this year was no exception. A funding plan finally made it to Governor Tom Wolf's desk four months after it was due, though like all his previous budgets, Wolf let it become law without a signature. Many fiscal watchdogs say it doesn't do much to address the commonwealth's underlying issues anyway. Off the bat, lawmakers were at a disadvantage when creating it. Revenue had come in more than a billion dollars less than expected the year before, and all told, they were on the hook to fill a $2.2 billion hole.

Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program Enters Final Stages of Rollout

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- Pennsylvanians have started receiving identification cards to get medication through the commonwealth's new medical marijuana program. More than 10,000 people have registered, but only about 1,188 have been approved so far. Medical marijuana ID cards started going out to patients in mid-December, with 435 released in the first wave. The Department of Health says more are being issued as we speak. Acting DOH Secretary Rachel Levine said people can actually start getting medication sometime during the next four months--though it's still unclear exactly when.

Broome Legislature Approves Funding For Addiction Treatment Center

In front of a standing room only crowd, the Broome County Legislature voted to accept New York state funding for an addiction treatment center on Wednesday. The nearly $2.7 million comes through the state’s Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, or OASAS. The facility will be located at the former Broome County Developmental Center in Binghamton. It's expected to be hold 50 beds for supervised withdrawal and stabilization. Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare will provide services.

New York Climbs To Number 10 In National Health Ranking

WBFO (BUFFALO) - A report ranking all 50 states on how they’re dealing with public health issues places New York at number 10 this year. The 2017 America’s Health Rankings report from the United Health Foundation looks at 35 measures covering behaviors, community and environment, policy, clinical care, and outcomes data to rank every state across the nation in how they deal with public health issues. Moving up three ranks since last year, New York State now sits at number 10 in the country. “What that tells us is that New York is doing fairly well and progressing towards becoming a healthier and healthier state,” said Dr. Adam Aponte, Medical Director of UnitedHealthcare Community and State for New York. “It’s still not in the top five, but interestingly enough the top five are all in the northeast region.”

Among the five categories, New York’s best overall average comes in the policy arena where it ranked eighth in the nation.

Cuomo Calls For Major Investment, New Approach To Algal Blooms

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing an investment of $65 million into fighting algal blooms that have created an increasing number of problems across the state in recent years. The Cuomo administration will target 12 priority lakes in four different regions that are vulnerable to harmful algal blooms. They are all different, and lessons learned form studying each lake would be applied to other similar lakes going forward. Greg Boyer of SUNY ESF in Syracuse has been studying algal blooms for years. He says this approach works because not all algal blooms are created equally. "It’s not going to be one size fits all," Boyer said.

Cuomo Faces Challenges In 2018 And Beyond

Governor Cuomo has not officially announced a candidacy for a third term, but has told everyone he’s planning to run next year. But it’s hard to talk about Governor Cuomo’s potential race for reelection next year without discussing the Presidential race in 2020, and whether Cuomo will be a candidate. The governor for his first six years in office, kept a low national profile, but in 2017 he stepped up his appearances on national news shows, and took on President Trump on issues like climate change. He’s been very vocal in his opposition to the federal tax overhaul, calling it a “dagger in the heart” of the state, and saying it  penalizes blue, high tax states like New York. “They’re using New York as a piggy bank to pay for the tax cuts in other states,” Cuomo said on December 13th.

Cuomo Offers Limited Option To Shield Taxpayers From Effect Of Federal Law

Governor Cuomo, responding to the end to state and local tax deductions in the federal tax law, has issued an emergency order to allow New Yorkers who owe more than $10,000 in property taxes each year to pay them early to get around the new law. Under the emergency order signed by the governor, New Yorkers can pre pay their 2018 school and local property taxes, and get the benefit of deducting them from their federal taxes next year, before the new tax law takes effect. New rules will limit deductibility to $10,000 or less, so those who owe more than that amount can pre pay the difference and still benefit from the old laws. Cuomo and his budget director Robert Mujica say, for instance, if a taxpayer owes $15,000, then under the emergency order $5000 could be paid before the end of this year. Cuomo admits that not every school and local government may be able to comply in the short time frame.