New York Lawmakers React To Cuomo’s 2018 Budget Proposal

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb:

“The governor continued his familiar theme of blaming Washington D.C. for problems that have been evident in New York for years. Oppressive taxes, a high cost of living, and financial pressures that drive residents away are not new issues. Unfortunately, today’s Executive Budget presentation was long on finger-pointing, yet short on financial details. Despite the fiscal peril the governor insists we face, today’s presentation failed to make a commitment to actually reduce spending. There was no plan to lower the costs Albany places on local governments.

State Senator Accused Of Sexual Harassment Expects To Be “Vindicated”

ALBANY (WSKG) - State Senator Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat, spoke publicly for the first time since an investigation has begun into allegations that he sexually harassed a female staffer. Klein, who has denied that he forcibly kissed a former female staffer in 2015, says an investigation has begun by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or JCOPE. The leader of the Independent Democratic Conference in the Senate says he’ll fully cooperate. “I expect to be vindicated,” Klein said. Klein spoke after Governor Cuomo’s budget presentation, where Cuomo proposed giving more money to JCOPE to set up a unit to investigate charges of sexual harassment and issue conclusions  quickly.

Cuomo Proposes New Taxes, Tax Restructuring In New Budget

ALBANY (WSKG) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a $168 billion budget plan that would close an over $4 billion gap by reducing some spending and imposing tax increases on health insurers, big businesses and prescription opioid users, among others. Cuomo said he also wants to look into legalizing marijuana in New York. “This is going to be challenging, my friends,” Cuomo told lawmakers gathered at the state museum for the budget presentation. He said he’s holding the line on state agency spending, and he’s eyeing additional revenues by taxing health insurance plans and deferring corporate tax credits. He said both received big tax breaks in the federal tax overhaul, so can afford it.

Cuomo’s Budget Expected To Be Grim

ALBANY (WSKG) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his budget Tuesday, and the news is not expected to be good. The state faces an over $4.4 billion budget gap, as well as funding cuts and policy changes from Washington that could cost New York and some of its taxpayers billions of dollars. The governor set the tone in his State of the State speech earlier this month, saying, “2018 may be the toughest year New York has faced in modern history.”

“We have unprecedented challenges ahead on every level,” Cuomo said. Cuomo, in his speech, said President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress in Washington are responsible for many of the state’s challenges, including $2 billion in cuts to hospitals and health insurance programs for the working poor. He called the cuts “an arrow aimed at New York’s economic heart.”

While he warned of the dark times ahead, the governor did not name any spending cuts that might have to be made, and even said he wants to increase some education programs. Those details will come in the budget address on Tuesday afternoon.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court To Decide If State Congressional District Map Is A Partisan Gerrymander

KEYSTONE CROSSROADS - Pennsylvania’s congressional district map is often considered one of the most gerrymandered in the United States, but is it unconstitutional? And if so, how do you fix it? Those are the central questions the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will weigh when hearing oral arguments on Wednesday in a lawsuit that has the potential to change the state’s political landscape. The case was initiated by 18 voters, all Democrats, and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania. Plaintiffs claim Republican lawmakers, who drew the congressional map, violated their state constitutional rights, and are requesting the court to order the state legislature to draw a new map before the primary elections in May.

PA Governor Declares Opioid Crisis ‘Disaster Emergency,’ Waiving Regulations

 

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- Governor Tom Wolf has declared Pennsylvania's opioid addiction epidemic a "disaster emergency." Usually, that designation is reserved for things like floods or hurricanes. This is the first time a Pennsylvania governor has used it for a health issue. The move is designed to let the state cut through red tape to address the opioid crisis more quickly. Pennsylvania currently has the fourth-highest rate of addiction-related deaths in the country, and while many states are starting to see their rates level off or begin to fall, the commonwealth's are rising.

Redistricting Reformers Make Last Ditch Arguments Ahead of PA Supreme Court Proceedings

 

KEYSTONE CROSSROADS - Next week, the state Supreme Court will hear a lawsuit claiming Pennsylvania’s congressional map is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. Top state Democrats chimed in Wednesday in an attempt to sway the court in favor of the plaintiffs. In a press conference held in the capitol, Lt. Gov. Mike Stack offered an alternative map he referred to as the “Stack map.”

It wasn’t drawn by Stack, though. Instead, it’s the first in a series of 1,000 prototypes generated by Jowei Chen, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota who testified earlier in the case, during proceedings in Commonwealth Court nearly a month ago. “There were a number of possible maps that could meet legitimate districting goals: creating compact districts and respecting political subdivisions.