ALBANY (WSKG) - The first of a series of federal corruption trials begins Monday for several former associates of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The proceedings in the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan will focus on bribery and other charges against Cuomo’s former closest aide, Joseph Percoco. Percoco worked for Andrew Cuomo and his father, the late Governor Mario Cuomo, on and off since Percoco was a teenager. Mario Cuomo once referred to Percoco as his “third son.” Percoco, age 48, from the lower Hudson Valley, was often seen by Andrew Cuomo’s side during Cuomo’s time as state Attorney General and during his first five years as governor. He was the governor’s top confidante, and in some cases, chief enforcer of Cuomo’s policies and wishes.
ALBANY (WSKG) - A report by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tax department lists ways that New Yorkers could get around the loss of some of their state and local tax deductions under the new law. But all of them come with complications. When the federal tax overhaul law was signed by President Donald Trump in December, Americans lost their ability to deduct much of their state and local taxes from their federal tax forms. As Cuomo has said repeatedly, the loss of what are known as the SALT deductions harms taxpayers the most in relatively high-tax states like New York. Cuomo said in his budget presentation on Tuesday that it’s “complicated” to change New York’s tax code to try to make up for the loss, but it has to be explored. “Washington hit a button and launched an economic missile, and it said ‘New York’ on it, and it's heading our way,” Cuomo said.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
ALBANY (WSKG) - The leader of the Independent Democrats in the state Senate denies that he forcibly kissed a former staffer, and says he intends to remain as leader of the breakaway democratic faction. Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) and his colleague, Sen. Diane Savino, issued a preemptive strike Wednesday against an article in the Huffington Post, where the former female staffer, 30-year-old Erica Vladimer, says Klein forcibly kissed her on the sidewalk outside an Albany bar on March 31, 2015, the night the state budget was approved. Klein said the incident did not occur. “I want to be crystal clear,” Klein told reporters on hastily arranged conference call. “This alleged incident never happened, nor did anything inappropriate happen that evening in any fashion.
ALBANY (WSKG) - The state’s Comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, warns of a “problematic” budget season, as the state faces a structural deficit, changes to the federal tax code, and uncertainty over continued funding from Washington. DiNapoli, speaking at a forum sponsored by the Albany Times Union, says this year’s $4.4 billion dollar budget gap is on top of expected cuts from President Trump and the Republican led Congress. “On health care alone, we still stand to lose billions of dollars,” DiNapoli. “We really could be behind the eight ball.”
Governor Cuomo introduces his budget plan next week, and says he wants to include a plan to shift the state income tax to a pay roll tax, in order to get around the loss of state and local tax deductions in the new federal tax law. DiNapoli says he’ll comment after he sees the governor’s specific plan, but says any proposal would be “complex” to implement.
ALBANY (WSKG) - Republicans in the State Senate say that, despite the over $4 billion structural deficit, taxes need to be cut further and a property tax cap must be made permanent. Senate GOP Majority Leader John Flanagan says the state needs to cut income taxes, property taxes and energy taxes, in the midst of a brutally cold winter. And he says some tax cuts for middle class New Yorkers that begin to take effect this year need to be speeded up. “We actually want to accelerate the tax cuts,” Flanagan said. Senate Finance Committee Chair Cathy Young says even though there’s a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, and that “budget circumstances may be tough,” she says the GOP will resist any potential efforts by Democrats to roll back the middle class tax cuts that are to be phased in over the next several years.