New York is a reliable Democratic state in presidential elections. There are no statewide races for governor or U.S. Senate this year. The state has 27 congressional districts. New York voters must be registered with a political party to participate in its primary elections.

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.

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.


New York Democrats Heartened By Wins

ALBANY (WSKG) Democrats in New York are heartened by what they call a “blue wave” in this week’s election results in the state and the nation. This year is considered an “off” election year with no presidential race or statewide contests like a governor’s race. Nevertheless, Democrats in New York hungry for signs of encouragement after the 2016 election of President Donald Trump are very happy about Democratic wins in the county executive races in two suburban New York counties, Nassau and Westchester. Gov. Andrew Cuomo seemed especially gleeful over the defeat of incumbent Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican who lost to Democratic state Sen. George Latimer. “He was trounced, trounced!” Cuomo said.


Reformers Plan Next Steps After “Con-Con” Fails

Supporters of holding a Constitutional Convention to fix problems in state government say they are disappointed with the resounding defeat of the measure in Tuesday’s voting, but they say they are not giving up. The League of Women Voters’ Jennifer Wilson says while a constitutional convention could have provided a great opportunity to repair flaws in state government, there are other ways, including the normal legislative process. She says both houses were opposed to the convention, saying there are better ways to improve government. She says now lawmakers have the chance to prove that they were right and can achieve changes.   “Now do it,” said Wilson. “Stop saying that you can do it and that want to do it, and actually get some things done.” Both legislative leaders opposed the convention, saying they feared it would be taken over by special interests from outside New York.


Schumer, Cuomo Denounce Federal GOP Tax Overhaul

Governor Cuomo and New York Senator Chuck Schumer are once again warning that New Yorkers will be hurt if the Republican tax overhaul plan in Congress is approved.  Schumer, who is Senate Democratic Leader, says while the tax plan has changed from the original version, 71% of the deductions that now benefit state residents would be eliminated. The plan would end deductions for state and local income taxes, and cap the property tax deduction at $10,000 a year.   “The plan will increase taxes on New Yorkers by $16 billion,” Schumer said in a joint conference call with Cuomo. Cuomo says the plan would undo seven years of work that his administration has done to keep taxes and spending steady in New York. “President Trump said this is a Christmas gift,” said Cuomo. “ If it’s a Christmas gift, New York gets a lump of coal from Santa Trump on this one.” Cuomo and Schumer are calling on four New York Republican House members- Claudia Tenney, John Faso, John Katko and Elise Stefanik, who have all expressed reservations about the provision, to vote against the tax plan.


Poll Shows Constitutional Convention Sinking

ALBANY (WSKG) – A new poll finds that the ballot question on whether to hold a constitutional convention in New York has become widely unpopular with voters.  The Siena College poll finds likely voters in the Nov. 7 elections are leaning against Proposition One “by a better than two-to-one margin,” said Siena spokesman Steve Greenberg. The numbers are a change from earlier in the year, when a poll showed the majority of voters said they were in favor of holding a constitutional convention, despite the fact that they had not heard much about it. And the negativity about the proposed convention is widespread. Fifty-six percent of voters who identify as liberals and 60 percent of New Yorkers who say they are conservative are against the idea.

RSVP to the Gray Riders Film Screening

See The Gray Riders documentary before it premieres on television. We’re hosting a special screening on Thursday, November 2 for this film, so RSVP to rsvp@wskg.org. There will be a reception at 5:30pm with light refreshments and snacks. The film will begin at 6pm. This one-hour documentary looks at the remarkable 100-year history of the New York State Police.


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.


NY Workers’ Compensation Reform Has Something For Everyone

State lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are touting workers’ compensation reform as a win this legislative session. It was added as part of the recently approved New York State budget. WSKG’s Sarah Gager and Gabe Altieri discuss some of the big changes. Interview Highlights:

On what workers’ compensation is:

Gabe Altieri: Worker’s compensation is the insurance that employers buy to cover employees who are injured at work. It’s a big cost for businesses.


Almost All New Yorkers Think Poor Families Struggle To Get Healthy Food, New Poll Says

Ninety-six percent of New Yorkers say, “in our state, no one should go hungry,” according to a new poll released from Siena College today. However, about 1 in 8 New Yorkers received food from a pantry last year. Most respondents to the survey said they understand a few things about struggling to get food: it’s harder to plan a meal; it’s harder to get to the store; and it’s harder to eat healthy. In the last year, 45 percent of respondents said they contributed money to an anti-hunger agency. Forty-nine percent said they have donated food.


Unpacking Changes To How New York Values Solar

Earlier this month, New York’s Public Service Commission changed how solar energy is valued in the state. Ahead of the decision, some solar advocates were worried a change in regulations would make solar panels less attractive for homeowners and small businesses. WSKG’s Gabe Altieri spoke with Valessa Souter-Kline, who works with NYSEIA, about what the decision means for the solar industry. NYSEIA is a trade association that advocates for the solar industry. On what the Public Service Commission decided: 

Valessa Souter-Kline: This new system gets into ‘what is solar actually providing to the grid?’


Small Solar Advocates Worry State Decision Will Limit Access

The New York Public Service Commission could make a decision this week that would have a big impact on the state’s solar industry. Advocates for small solar producers worry they’ll be left behind. Big Pay Back For Small Producers 

Meredith Kohn-Bocek has had solar panels on her house for about five years. She seems to be the only one in her small Tioga County neighborhood who has them. “I’m not aware of anyone else in the terrace that has solar,” she said.

'Being Poor: Too Old to Work'

The Connect: NY series explores statewide issues of critical importance with monthly, one-hour panel discussions. This episode, ‘Being Poor: Too Old to Work’, explores how as baby boomers age and the gap between rich and poor widens, the number of seniors living in poverty is on the rise. Housing costs are so high that today’s seniors are going to dangerous lengths to save money. Cutting prescription pills in half, living without heat, amongst others. Meet a Central New York senior too old to work and completely dependent on a frayed social safety net. Panelists joining the show:

Patricia Campany, RSVP Project Coordinator, Catholic Charities Elderly Services
Randall Hoak, Associate State Director, AARP, Central and Western New York
Maria Alvarez, Executive Director, NY Statewide Senior Action Council, Inc.
Mason Kaufman, Executive Director, Meals on Wheels of Syracuse

Watch this new episode on Monday, February 13, 2017 at 9:00pm. 
Join us as we uncover compelling and unexpected stories throughout New York State and the history and systemic forces influencing current realities.


State Language Led Elmira To Rebuke Consolidation Grant

New York State wants municipalities to share services and it’s offering $20 million to do it.  Chemung County and the City of Elmira had planned to apply for the funds, but that has now changed. The two municipalities already share a lot of services, so they felt they had a good shot at winning the $20 million. They informally agreed to apply for the money, but city leaders had second thoughts. They were worried they’d have to dissolve and the state language on that wasn’t clear.


Three Things To Know About NY Education Changes

It’s a time of educational upheaval in New York. Changes are piling up fast: the state Board of Regents delayed state tests’ impact on teacher evaluations, and Governor Cuomo’s task force called for nearly two dozen changes to learning standards. In the midst of it all, here are three things you need to know. One: Remember what’s not changing – the bulk of the Common Core standards themselves. The standards are expectations for students, what we say students should be able to do when they finish a grade.


NY Must Pay For Child Care Mandates, Lupardo Says

New York is getting ready for big changes to child care regulations. New federal rules say child care centers have to start fingerprinting employees and increase requirements for background checks, training, and annual inspections, among other changes. State Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo expects the rules to take effect next year. She says they’re welcome but have a high price tag. “That’s something we’ve been wanting for a very long time, and we appreciate the federal government stepping in and basically saying, ‘You have to do this,’” she says. “The $90 million impact, however, is what’s a concern to us.”


High Schoolers Take On The Headlines With ‘Theory Of Knowledge’

The run-up to elections can be a tricky time for schools. Rhetoric heightens, and teachers often struggle with how much of it to address in class. For one class at Binghamton High School, the key is a focus on questions. On a late September afternoon, senior Christiana Joseph sits at a computer in search of some solid research. The Syrian refugee crisis is all over the headlines, with harrowing photographs and fearful rhetoric from countries like Hungary, which will close one of its borders in just a few weeks.


Study: ‘Fixed Costs’ Double Time Spent On Standardized Tests

Changes to New York standardized testing are in the air. Governor Cuomo’s Common Core Task Force finished its public sessions last month examining the state’s standards and testing program, and Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has already pledged to shorten math and English Language Arts (ELA) exams.

According to the New York Times, Cuomo may be ready to de-link tests and evaluations entirely. In the midst of it all, though, a new study from SUNY New Paltz urges the state to re-think how it calculates time spent on tests. Co-author Robin Jacobowitz says testing takes more time in schools than we realize. The report estimates the “fixed costs” of testing: extra chunks of time used to prepare and get students back on track after the exam.


Behind The Rich History Of Upstate Farms

New York state has long been a center for agriculture. and, tonight, WSKG premieres a new documentary that celebrates upstate’s farming history. The movie is called Harvest. Brian Frey directed the film, and he says he misses the presence of farmers in popular culture.


Want To Improve Graduation Rates? Emotional Connection Matters.

American Graduate Day is tomorrow. It’s a day meant to highlight “education heroes”–the people who inspire kids to graduate. We can’t fully appreciate the day without understanding the trend we’re fighting. The big statistic is that in the United States, 1 in 5 students will drop out. Annie Cartie from WSKG’s education department tells us that finding the dropout rate for the Southern Tier region is difficult.


NY Colleges Gear Up For ‘Yes Means Yes’

College students are getting down to work on campuses across New York, and many are also learning a new definition for sexual consent. New York passed a law in July requiring “affirmative consent” for sexual activity. It’s one of the farthest-reaching laws in the country, and the state is selling it to colleges as a marketing tool. Colleges are in fierce competition for students these days. Enrollment is down across the country.


Cuomo’s Common Core Review: Promise Or Politics?

New York’s Common Core is about to get another hard look. Earlier this year the state’s Education Commissioner started a review of the standards. Now Governor Andrew Cuomo is forming his own panel for the same purpose. He says Common Core implementation was flawed and that he sympathizes with parents who opted their children out of state tests. But some educators are skeptical about Cuomo’s effort.


With NY Set To Announce Medical Marijuana Picks, Bidder Aims For Johnson City

Winners of New York’s five medical marijuana licenses could emerge any day now. The state Department of Health says it will announce the picks in mid-July. One bidder, Salus Scientific, aims to start growing in Johnson City. If the company wins a license, it will have to get right down to business. Co-founder Michael Falcone says he plans to refurbish a former grocery warehouse in the city to use for cultivation.


NY Education Official Tapped For Top RI Job

A senior New York education official is set to leave for a new post. Ken Wagner, Senior Deputy Commissioner for Education Policy, was nominated Wednesday to Rhode Island’s top education job. Wagner oversaw troubled times at the New York education department. He helped hand down multiple revisions to the state’s controversial Common Core rollout, and he’s been even more prominent over the past few months since Commissioner John King left for a job in the federal government. Wagner’s nomination still needs approval from Rhode Island state officials, who are set to consider it next week.


Corning Community College Offers Dorm Discount

Students at Corning Community College have less than a month to take advantage of a big discount on dorm life. They can get a thousand dollars off their room if they book before August 1. The college built the dorm two years ago to attract students from a wider area and to encourage all students to live closer to class. Executive Director of Institutional Advancement Bill Little says there are advantages to living on campus. “Because they aren’t spending their time in the car driving back and forth to home, they have more time to commit to studies, they have more time to commit to school and they have more time to commit to their own lives,” he says.


NY Efficiency Plans: Worth The Paperwork?

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s tax-reduction plan includes a much-discussed property tax cap. But there’s another part that has unfolded with less fanfare. It pushes local governments to consolidate services in order to save money. What does that consolidation look like? The Tompkins County 911 center is a good example.


Majority Of Parents Say ‘No’ To Standardized Tests

On state test day at school, all the students file in, sharpen their No. 2 pencils, and bend over their bubble sheets. Or, not. In Cooperstown, New York last month, sixty-one percent of students in grades 3-8 refused to take the state tests. They call it “opting out.” They’re part of a push in New York and elsewhere to refuse tests as a form of protest against controversial education policies.

Angela Ray's daughters, Ariana and Kiara

Pre-K All Day? Not So Fast

New York governor Andrew Cuomo calls universal preschool one of his big priorities, and last year state lawmakers approved a big grant program to increase full-day preschool slots. It’s $340 million a year for five years. That grant just got approved for its second round, but the first year brought mixed results. Angela Ray lives just west of Binghamton, in the Southern Tier of New York. On a recent school vacation day, her two kids show up at a family friend’s for dinner with lots of energy.


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.