Ortt Bill Would Waive Fee Imposed Under Cuomo New License Plate Plan

BUFFALO, NY (WBFO) – State Senator Robert Ortt believes if New York State wants to roll out a newly-designed license plate, motorists shouldn’t be forced to pay to replace their current plates. On Friday, he introduced legislation that would waive that fee, while also questioning the inclusion of one particular proposed design. Under Ortt’s proposal, the $25 fee would be waived, though fees to replace damaged or lost plates would still apply. As the North Tonawanda Republican sees it, the Cuomo plan to replace older plates, with new ones featuring a new design, is not justified. “This is nothing more than a cash grab by New York State and motorists feel the same way,” said Ortt.

LGBTQ Flag Flies Over NY Capitol For First Time

The LGBTQ pride flag is flying over the New York state Capitol for the first time in state history in celebration of Pride Month. The flag went up yesterday.

Policy Expert Says Legislature, Cuomo Need To Address Poverty In Budget

BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) – Religious leaders and fiscal analysts are traveling New York talking to communities about the state budget proposal.  After a recent stop in Ithaca, Ron Deutsch of the Fiscal Policy Institute sat down with WSKG’s Celia Clarke in the WSKG’s Ithaca studio. Here is some of that interview:

 

Cynthia Nixon Wins Working Families Party Endorsement

ALBANY, NY (WSKG) – TV’s Sex and the City star and education advocate Cynthia Nixon won the endorsement of the Working Families Party at a meeting in Albany Saturday. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is running in a Democratic primary against Nixon, dropped out of contention for the party’s nomination Friday night, after delegates were leaning toward Nixon. “I am so proud to accept the endorsement of the Working Families Party,” Nixon told the enthusiastic crowd of progressive and activist groups. She said that New York would be different if she were in charge, she promised to end cash bail, make New York a sanctuary state for immigrants, and phase out fossil fuels. “When I am governor I will push this state ambitiously, aggressively toward a 100 percent renewal energy economy,” said Nixon, who said thousands of green jobs could be created, including in communities hard hit by “corporate polluters”.

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State Leaders Predict US Senate’s Tax Bill Even Worse For New York

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ALBANY (WSKG) – Now that the US House of Representatives has voted for a tax overhaul plan that some state leaders say will harm New York, the action moves to the Senate, where a vote is expected after Thanksgiving.  Governor Cuomo, Senator Chuck Schumer and other top state Democrats say the Senate plan is potentially even worse for New York.  The House plan ends the deduction for state and local income taxes, but allows the deduction of property taxes up to $10,000. The Senate bill omits even that limited deduction. Cuomo says New Yorkers will pay more to finance the main portion of the tax overhaul, the reduction in taxes on large companies. “They’re using New York as a piggy bank to finance the corporate tax cut. It’s disgusting.

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Economic Development Hearing Features Heated Exchange

ALBANY (WSKG) – Testimony at an Assembly hearing Monday grew heated as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development chair defended some faltering job creation programs. Empire State Development Chair Howard Zemsky also signaled the state may be backing away from a key program to give tax breaks to startup entrepreneurs. Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, the chair of the Economic Development committee, asked Zemsky about the leadership of the Start-Up program, which offers tax breaks to entrepreneurial companies that agree to begin operations in New York. The previous director left 16 months ago and has not been replaced. “Has that been resolved yet?” Schimminger asked. Zemsky said the program, introduced several years ago with great fanfare by Cuomo, will now be administered by several existing officials at the Empire State Development agency.

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New York, California Governors Team Up Against Tax Overhaul

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ALBANY (WSKG) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a conference call with California Gov. Jerry Brown, singled out two New York GOP congressmen for criticism after they voted for a budget measure that clears the way for a vote on the Republican plan to overhaul the tax system. Cuomo has been speaking out nearly every day against a proposal in the federal tax overhaul plan to eliminate state and local tax deductions from federal income tax filings. He calls it double taxation and a political attack on New York. The state comptroller has said New Yorkers would lose $72 billion in state and local tax deductions if the Republican plan in Congress were to be approved. That’s because New York has one of the highest local tax rates in the nation.

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New York’s Top Two Democrats Team Up Against Federal Tax Changes

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ALBANY (WSKG) –  The state’s governor and senior senator teamed up to urge New York’s Congressional delegation to oppose a provision in the federal tax overhaul plan that they say could be harmful to the state’s taxpayers and New York’s economy. Speaking outside a suburban home in Albany County, Senator Chuck Schumer and Governor Andrew Cuomo called the federal plan to get rid of the state and local tax deductions “double taxation”. Schumer says middle class New Yorkers will pay more money in taxes each year if the proposal is approved. They cite a study from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, which finds the GOP plan would cause 23 percent of New York taxpayers making $65,900 to $111,100 to see an average tax increase of $460,  and 42 percent of taxpayers making between $111,100 and $240,900 to see an average tax increase of $1,960 next year. “That’s a lot of money out of the pockets of middle class and upper middle call New Yorker’s,” Schumer said.

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Rural Companies Connect Neighbors Through New York Broadband Program

New York’s Broadband for All program hopes to bring broadband speed internet to the entire state by the end of 2018. This has led to an opportunity for local companies in rural areas, who are taking advantage of the state funds to expand to underserved customers. “How Many of Us Are There?” Husband and wife duo Bill Gruber and Helen McLean live in Franklin, New York. Their home sits among the rolling hills of rural Delaware County.

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Cuomo Signs Bill Adding Benefits For 9/11 Rescue Workers

ALBANY (WSKG) – Andrew Cuomo, in what has become an annual event for the New York governor, led a motorcycle ride along the path of a New York City firefighter rescue team to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.  Cuomo was introduced by actor Robert De Niro at a luncheon at the Javits Center in Manhattan, just before the final leg of the motorcycle ride. De Niro said when he heard he would be speaking before members of a motorcycle gang, he expected the Hells Angels.  “You know, a group of aging dudes with rotting leather jackets and teeth,” De Niro quipped. “Not even close.”  De Niro’s speech was a light moment in the program, which honored the firefighters who responded when two hijacked planes struck the World Trade Center’s twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

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N.Y. Politicians Face Pressure To Return Money To Controversial Donor

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A left-leaning group is asking the state’s top politicians to give back donations from a hedge fund manager who made racially charged comments against New York’s only black female legislative leader. But so far, most — including Gov. Andrew Cuomo — have held on to the money.  Daniel Loeb, the founder and chief executive of the multi-billion-dollar hedge fund Third Point LLC, received attention when, in a Facebook post, he compared the leader of the state Senate Democrats, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, to the Ku Klux Klan. Loeb was commenting on an argument over which faction of the divided state Senate was best equipped to lead the chamber, and he said that Stewart-Cousins, who is African-American, has done “more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood.” The post was later deleted. Stewart-Cousins called the comments “outrageous and offensive.” Loeb is a major campaign donor to the state’s top politicians. He gave over $170,000 to Cuomo, more than $19,000 to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and $50,000 to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, as well as tens of thousands of dollars to individual GOP senators’ campaigns.

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Thruway Bridge Set To Open, But Questions Remain On Future Tolls

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo is set to open on Thursday the first span of the new Thruway bridge over the Hudson River, known as the Tappan Zee Bridge and to be renamed the Gov. Mario Cuomo Bridge. But questions still linger over how, ultimately, the bridge will be paid for. Cuomo has been reluctant to divulge details on how the tolls on the bridge will be affected after the multi-billion-dollar project to replace the over three-mile-long span is completed. Part of the estimated $4 billion project has been financed through one-time payments from banks as part of settlements after the financial crisis. There’s a $1.6 billion federal loan, and the Thruway Authority has taken out about three-quarters of a billion dollars in bonds.

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New York State Assembly: Always In Session

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The U.S. Senate plans to use procedural maneuvers to technically stay in session even when senators eventually go home for the Labor Day recess. Their intent is to prevent President Donald Trump from making any unwelcome recess appointments while they are away.  In Albany, taking steps to keep the legislative chambers open is nothing new. On a day earlier this week, Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy stood on the podium in the vast Assemblychamber. She banged the gavel, and began what sounded like an ordinary day in the state Legislature.  “Visitors are invited to join members in the Pledge of Allegiance,” Fahy said, then recited the pledge. But there’s one big difference — all 150 seats in the chamber are completely empty. “I didn’t know what they meant when they said I had the Capitol seat,” Fahy said with a laugh.

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Former EPA Administrator Said Climate Report Leakers Should Be Thanked

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The former EPA regional administrator under President Barack Obama said scientists who leaked the report about further evidence of climate change to The New York Times should be commended as“whistleblowers.”   Judith Enck, who was with the EPA from 2009 until President Donald Trump took office, said it’simportant that the public see the report. Compiled by scientists at 13 federal agencies, it contains theresults of thousands of studies showing that climate change caused by greenhouse gases is affectingweather in every part of the United States, causing average temperatures to rise dramatically since the1980s. Enck said those who leaked the report should be thanked for providing a public service. “I would refer to whoever did it as a whistleblower, not a leaker,” Enck said. “Tax dollars were spentputting this report together.” Enck said it’s also important that the draft report be seen to protect against any potential wateringdown of its conclusions by the Trump administration.

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Lupardo On Seniors, Parking Garage Safety And Childcare

Lawmakers returned to Albany for the 2017 legislative session. Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo represents the 123rd district, which includes the city of Binghamton and the towns of Vestal and Union. She joined us to discuss the session and her new role as Chair of the Committee on Aging. Interview highlights:

What do you want to get done in your new role? Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo: Being someone who is over 60 myself and having gone throw the death of my parents, I’m sensitive to a couple of big things: making sure that those individuals who need services and programs have those available, but also, as people are living longer and healthier lives and want to stay more active, that we’re paying attention to that, too.

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NY Leaders Praise Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision supporting same-sex marriage comes four years after New York took that step on a state level. State leaders reacted to the decision with enthusiasm. Governor Cuomo, who arm-twisted state Senators to win the same sex marriage vote in 2011, said in a statement that the court “is on the right side of history”.  He says the lights on the World Trade center tower will be lit in rainbow colors Sunday night.  As part of the end of session deal, the governor now has the power to perform marriage ceremonies; he says he sought the authority because some same sex couples have asked him to officiate at their weddings.

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Dryden Official Faults Cuomo’s Tax Cap

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to extend the state’s property tax cap. The law limits annual tax increases, and it’s set to expire next year. Cuomo released a report yesterday that said the cap has saved more than $800 for the typical New Yorker over the past three years. He calls that success. But Dryden town supervisor Mary Ann Sumner wants Cuomo to look back a few more years.

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SUNY Implements Sexual Assault Policy

High-profile campus sexual assault cases are forcing colleges and universities across the country to reconsider how they deal with sexual violence. Now New York’s public university system is the latest to update its sexual assault policies. “Yes means yes” is about to become the rule on SUNY campuses. Affirmative consent for sexual activity is one of the main points in SUNY’s new sexual assault policy. SUNY Broome President Kevin E. Drumm says the affirmative consent part of the policy makes an unwritten rule explicit.