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Coalition For Homeless Blasts Bloomberg
August 23rd, 2012

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was recently quoted as saying that the sharp rise in the length of stays at city homeless shelters has to do with “more pleasurable” shelter conditions. The Coalition for the Homeless called the comments “shocking.” and their executive director Mary Brosnahan issued this statement:

“The Mayor’s assertion that homeless New Yorkers are staying in shelters longer because they are ‘much more pleasurable’ is shocking and offensive. Mayor Bloomberg systematically closed every single path to affordable housing once available to homeless families with vulnerable children. His failed policies are the major factor leading to the record shelter population this summer. Blaming homeless families and suggesting they are luxuriating in ‘pleasurable’ accommodations shows just how badly the mayor is out of touch.”

By on August 23, 2012, 2:07 pm
In category: City Hall,Economy,Housing | 2 Comments »

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City Reaps $260M from Same-Sex Marriage Law
July 24th, 2012

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the legalization of same-sex marriage last year helped generate almost $260 million in revenue for the city.

Gay marriage is a win for everybody,” he said at a news conference earlier today across the street from the marriage license building in Manhattan, where he was joined by other elected officials.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who also spoke, said the economic activity generated by marriage equality “has put a lot of people to work, helped restaurants, helped catering halls and helped others.”

NYC & Co., the city’s tourism arm, and the City Clerks office conducted a survey of more than 1,700 same-sex couples, finding that since the Marriage Equality Act went into effect in July 2011, 67 percent of gay couples held wedding receptions at restaurants, homes or catering halls in the five boroughs. The average cost was $9,000 per wedding.

The City Clerk says 75,000 marriage licenses were issued from late July 2011 to mid July 2012, with over 7,000 couples issued marriage licenses identifying themselves as same-sex.

Quinn said that advocates for same-sex marriage now need to turn their attention to the national stage.

Our job now is to make sure every American has that opportunity on a national level,” she said.

By on July 24, 2012, 5:12 pm
In category: Civil Rights,Economy,Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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City Council to adopt budget, override mayoral vetoes
June 28th, 2012

The City Council is expected to adopt a $68.5 billion budget at today’s stated meeting that preserves funding for child care and after school programs, while at the same time raising no new taxes.

But fiscal policy experts say the budget also makes the risky assumption that the the city will reap hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from the sale of taxi medallions. The sale has been held up in court.

The Council also plans to override mayoral vetoes on bills that call for a so-called “living wage” on some city-subsidized projects and a “Responsible Banking Act.”

Bloomberg called the living wage bill “a throwback to the era when government viewed the private sector as a cash cow to be milked, rather than a garden to be cultivated.” The living wage bill would apply to companies that receive at least $1 million in city subsidies.

Bloomberg was equally dismissive of the banking bill.

“Nobody would argue, I would think, that the city has the expertise or the resources to try to regulate the banking industry,” he said at the time the bill was passed by the Council.

By on June 28, 2012, 10:26 am
In category: City Hall,Economy | Comments Off

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Minimum wage bill on the move in Assembly
May 15th, 2012

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced this morning that his house will likely pass a measure that will increase the state’s minimum wage by $1.25 an hour. Silver made it clear that the move is designed to pressure the state Senate into either voting on the legislation or having to go home during an election year to explain to their constituents why they didn’t vote for the measure.

“I think the rank and file in the Senate are going to have difficulty going back to their voters, including the numbers I showed you from conservatives and registered Republicans, they’re going to have a very difficult time showing up on Election Day saying I’m against this when they are all for it,” Silver told reporters.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos has called a minimum wage increase, “a job killer.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo hasn’t come out fully for or against the bill. “Especially in times like now, a minimum wage increase would be in order,” Cuomo told Susan Arbetter host of The Capitol Pressroom, earlier this month. “You can have a discussion about how much over what period of time.”

Silver said that he believes Cuomo now supports his bill and would corroborate his support if asked. The Governor’s office has not yet responded to our inquiry about his stance on Silver’s legislation.

By on May 15, 2012, 2:25 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Eye on Albany,Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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NYC Council wants banks to detail efforts in communities
May 15th, 2012

The City Council plans to vote onlegislation that would require banks that receive billions in municipal funds to release information on their lending practices in struggling neighborhoods.

The bill is expected to pass today at the council’s stated meeting. Its supporters, including the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, say it will help policymakers make better decisions about where the city’s money is deposited and encourage banks to invest in communities.

“This bill will make the banking capital of the world the responsible banking capital of the world,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said during the meeting.

Other cities are considering or have passed similar ordinances after a punishing financial crisis. Los Angeles was expected to pass its own today.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg told The New York Times he was wary of putting restrictions on where city money could be deposited. “You would think, between the federal government and the state government, we’d have enough bank regulations,” Bloomberg told the newspaper.

The city currently banks with over 30 major financial institutions, including JPMorganChase, Bank of America, New York Community Bank and Citibank.

At a council hearing in March 2011, the city Department of Finance said it was opposed to the bill, saying it was overly broad and could mislead consumers and businesses into believing it regulates banks.

“When procuring banking services, the city focuses and should continue to focus solely on the financial safety and soundness of each bank, its banking capabilities and its pricing,” said Elaine A. Kloss, in testimony before the committees on finance and community development.

The Department of Finance oversees the city’s money, in conjunction with the city comptroller and the Banking Commission. The commission approves or denies applications from financial institutions seeking to do business with the city.

By on May 15, 2012, 12:08 pm
In category: City Hall,Community Development,Economy,Gotham City | 2 Comments »

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Obama in Albany
May 8th, 2012

The Capital Region is abuzz about President Barack Obama’s visit to UAlbany’s School of NanoScale Science and Engineering. Obama will deliver a speech on the economy. For those of you who don’t know–the nanotech school is attached to the UAlbany campus and it has been gradually, or should I say, quickly expanding over the years. The high-tech building it resides in looms over the road to Albany’s biggest mall like some sort of alien space craft and now construction has begun on a major expansion with a cool bridge doohickey that will eventually allow gear heads to safely cross over mall traffic in space age comfort.

Anyway it is all pretty neat and the President will certainly get to have the opportunity to pose with funky head gear/head covering as the building features clean rooms and workers routinely wear neat-o space suit looking things.

Last time the president visited the area local businesses broke out the stops to try to attract his attention. His patronage of Five Guys in DC had local chain restaurants crossing their fingers. But this time it is a strip joint called Shenanigans that is trying to lure in Secret Service members.

Of course no one is as excited to have Obama in town as the politicians themselves. Democrats and Republicans are tripping over themselves to take credit for the nano college.

This dry press release may not convey his joy but Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is definitely amped by the President’s visit.

Read the rest of this entry »

By on May 8, 2012, 1:16 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Eye on Albany | 6 Comments »

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Bloomberg Vetoes Prevailing Wage Bill
April 25th, 2012

Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed the living wage bill today that would have raised the wages earned by people who work on city-funded developments. Council President Christine Quinn has promised to override the veto.

Bloomberg announced the veto during a speech about job creation.

“Unfortunately, the City Council has recently passed a bill, and is about to pass a second bill, that imposes costly conditions on businesses, and that will make it harder for government to encourage job creation, and harder for businesses to grow,” Bloomberg said.

Those bills the so-called living and prevailing wage bills are a throwback to the era when government viewed the private sector as a cash cow to be milked, rather than a garden to be cultivated.

In those days, government took the private sector for granted. We cannot afford to go back to those days. We cannot take our economy for granted. And I will not sign legislation no matter how well-intended that that hurts job creation and taxpayers.

And thats why I will veto both the living and prevailing wage bills. But before I do, I wanted to explain the principles guiding my decision,” said Bloomberg.

Comptroller John Liu issued this statement: As a City employee the Mayor continues to ignore the widening wealth gap within the five boroughs. In opposing these bills, he is sending the wrong message, that our scarce taxpayer resources are better spent on lining the pockets of wealthy corporate executives rather than creating fair-paying jobs to support working families and the communities in which they live. Needless to say, my office looks forward to the Council overriding these vetoes, and to continuing to enforce Prevailing Wage Laws, which help promote equality and fairness in our City. Read the rest of this entry »

By on April 25, 2012, 3:18 pm
In category: City Hall,Economy | 4 Comments »

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Bloomberg and Quinn on Cuomo's Budget
January 17th, 2012

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn have major praise for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2012-2013 fiscal year budget. This is the strongest state budget that New York City has seen in a long time. With this new budget, Governor Cuomo is establishing a stronger financial basis for a more vibrant and healthy New York,” Quinn said in a statement.

Governor Cuomo put forward a budget that demonstrates a bold commitment to tackle some of the toughest challenges facing our great state. He has my strong support,” said Bloomberg in a statement.

Bloomberg hasn’t had the smoothest relationship with Cuomo so far but the Mayor is especially pleased with Cuomo’s plans for mandate relief and pension reform.

The Governors push for mandate relief and pension reform could save the City billions in the long term,” Bloomberg’s statement continues. “New York City spends more than $8 billion annually more than 12 percent of our budget on pension costs, more than we spend on the operating budgets for the Police, Fire and Sanitation Departments combined. Without a new pension tier, which will not diminish the retirement benefits of a single current employee, taxpayers will continue to spend more and more on pension costs, leaving less and less for public education, public safety, job creation, affordable housing and other critical services.

Here are Quinn’s and Bloomberg’s full statements: Read the rest of this entry »

By on January 17, 2012, 3:40 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Economy,Education,Eye on Albany,Work and Labor | 3 Comments »

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Budget Highlights From Cuomo's Office
January 17th, 2012

Here is the general budget overview sent out by the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo is still delivering his remarks and you can watch them here.

Highlights of the plan include:

Closing the current budget gap with no new taxes, fees or gimmicks, and including zero growth in State agency spending;
Eliminating automatic spending inflators and implementing reforms throughout the budget to ensure that spending increases for service providers reflect performance and actual cost;
Allocating $1.3 billion in State investment designed to spur a total of $25 billion from other sources to launch and accelerate major infrastructure projects and create thousands of jobs;
Creating a plan for the State to take over 100% of the costs of Medicaid growth that will be phased in over three years, saving local governments $1.2 billion over the next five years;
Creating a pension reform plan that will save State taxpayers and local governments outside New York City $83 billion, and will save New York City $30 billion over the next 30 years; and
Increasing school aid by $805 million, including $250 million linked to improved academic performance and management efficiency, and implementation of an enhanced teacher evaluation process.

Due to the structural reforms enacted in last year’s budget as well as the reforms proposed in this budget, the budget gap in 2013-14 is projected at $715 million. That is the lowest “first out-year” budget gap in two decades. The Executive Budget recommendations cut the projected four-year deficit by more than half, from $16.4 billion to $7.4 billion.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on January 17, 2012, 2:27 pm
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Ruben Diaz Jr. On Living Wage Deal
January 13th, 2012

Council Speaker Christine Quinn has decided to back a compromise legislation on the living wage that according to the Wall Street Journal would require, “businesses that receive subsidies of $1 million or more will be required to pay their employees $10 an hour with benefits or $11.50 an hour without benefits. But in a compromise, the bill will no longer require the tenants who move in after these projects are completed to also abide by the higher wages.”

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz approves of the deal and he released this statement:

I am extremely happy that we have reached a deal on the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, and that this important bill will finally see a vote in the City Council. The deal we have reached today creates the strongest living wage legislation in the nation, one that will demand that direct recipients of significant taxpayer subsidies will do better by their employees. This will guarantee that happens and marks an important shift in the economic development policy in the City of New York. This bill sends an important message to the business community. Indeed, New York City is open for business, but not at the expense of the taxpayer. Read the rest of this entry »

By on January 13, 2012, 3:25 pm
In category: City Hall,Economy,Work and Labor | 3 Comments »

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Silver Applauds Bloomberg on Minimum Wage
January 12th, 2012

Mayor Michael Bloomberg used his State of the State address to announce his support for an increased minimum wage. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver backs the idea big time and he issued this statement:

“I applaud and thank Mayor Bloomberg for joining our call to increase the minimum wage. As I have said, it is wrong to expect anyone let alone working families to be able to afford the cost of living today and invest in their future on a salary of $7.25 an hour. Increasing the minimum wage would benefit more than 14 percent of our workforce. Mayor Bloombergs commitment to helping the more than 1.2 million low wage workers in New York climb the ladder of financial security is welcome news.”

By on January 12, 2012, 3:26 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Eye on Albany,Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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Bronx Business Incubator Opens
January 9th, 2012

The Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a city-backed business incubator in the Bronx earlier today. The Sunshine Bronx Business Incubator at 890 Garrison Ave. in Hunts Point is set up to house 400 entrepreneurs. The New York City Economic Development Corporation helped started the incubator with a $250,000 grant. The incubator is the 8th to open as part of the city’s network of incubators.
Here is the release from the Mayor’s office: Read the rest of this entry »

By on January 9, 2012, 1:13 pm
In category: Economy,Gotham City,Land Use,Public Finance,Tech,Work and Labor | 12 Comments »

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Coalition Wants Corporate Tax Loopholes Closed
January 9th, 2012

In Albany today, a group of progressive groups gathered together to call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature to close corporate tax loopholes that they say would raise $1 billion for the state budget this year. The groups that include various Occupy groups, The Fiscal Policy Institute, Citizen Action and others want the money gained through the closing of the loop holes to be used to prevent cuts to services and perhaps even make some restorations. The groups provided a list of what they say are the worst “tax dodging companies” in the state.

Here is a collection of quotes from the group’s leaders. Read the rest of this entry »

By on January 9, 2012, 1:07 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Eye on Albany,Governing | 5 Comments »

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Alliance for Quality Education Reacts
December 6th, 2011

Billy Easton of the Alliance for Quality Education said that the deal reached by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders today is a step in the right direction. He does not blast the deal but seems to reserve judgement.

AQE applauds the Assembly Majority and Senate Minority for consistently advocating tax fairness and adequate revenues. We appreciate the fact that the Governor and the Senate Majority are responding to the demands of the 99% of New Yorkers for tax fairness. However, we are concerned that $2 billion in revenues does not fully address the $5 billion hole created by the elimination of the existing millionaires tax,” said Easton in a statement.

Easton goes on to say that the plan will be judged on whether it allows the state to restore cuts made to schools.

By on December 6, 2011, 3:59 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Education,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

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Three-Way Deal on Taxes, Jobs, Infrastructure
December 6th, 2011

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office just announced that he has reached a deal with the legislature to implement tax code changes, create a new jobs program, fund infrastructure investments and interestingly enough–lower the Metropolitan Transportation Authority payroll tax. Here is the release:

GOVERNOR CUOMO, MAJORITY LEADER SKELOS & SPEAKER SILVER ANNOUNCE COMPREHENSIVE PLANS TO CREATE JOBS AND GROW THE ECONOMY

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today announced that they have reached a proposed three-way agreement on legislative and executive proposals to create jobs and cut taxes for middle class New Yorkers. The agreement includes support for a comprehensive New York Works Agenda that will create thousands of jobs with new investments in New York’s infrastructure, passing a fair tax reform plan that achieves the first major restructuring of the tax code in decades resulting in a tax cut for 4.4 million middle class New Yorkers taxpayers, approving $50 million in additional relief for areas devastated by recent floods, and reducing the MTA payroll tax to provide relief for small businesses. The leaders will now present the agreement to their members for approval.

“Our state government has come together in a bipartisan manner to create jobs, grow our economy and, at the same time enact a fair tax plan that cuts taxes for the middle class,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are investing in projects that will restore our state’s infrastructure and put thousands of people to work. We are cutting taxes on middle class New Yorkers and small businesses, which will inject nearly $1 billion into our economy. We are targeting new tax credits to hire inner city youth and reduce unemployment in some of the poorest areas of our state, as well as providing direct aid to communities struggling to recover in the wake of this year’s severe storms. This would be lowest tax rate for middle class families in 58 years. This job-creating economic plan defies the political gridlock that has paralyzed Washington and shows that we can make government work for the people of this State once again. I commend Majority Leader Skelos and Assembly Speaker Silver for their partnership in our effort together to create jobs for New Yorkers and put our state’s economy on a path for growth.”

“This year, working in a bipartisan manner, we’ve accomplished some very important things for the people of this State – - including eliminating a $10 billion deficit, bringing spending under control and capping property taxes,” Majority Leader Skelos said. “This comprehensive plan will reduce the tax rate for middle class families to their lowest levels in more than fifty years, create thousands of new private sector jobs, and begin to turn our economy around. I am pleased that this proposed agreement realizes long-held Senate Republican priorities like cutting the corporate franchise tax for manufacturers, reducing the job-killing MTA payroll tax for small businesses, eliminating New York’s stealth tax by indexing tax brackets and deductions, and building our reserves, along with providing additional flood relief to support job growth in devastated communities. I am looking forward to presenting this framework agreement to the members of our conference tomorrow and hearing their feedback.”

“Assembly Democrats share the Governor’s belief that we need to restore fairness and equity to our tax system – someone who makes $50,000 should not be paying the same tax rate as someone making $5 million,” Speaker Sheldon Silver said. “With Governor Cuomo’s leadership, we have forged a bipartisan plan that is fair to all New Yorkers and will help build a brighter economic future for this State. I am submitting to my conference a proposal that will provide $2 billion in revenue for the people of New York in each of the next three years by creating a more progressive tax structure, coupled with a significant middle class tax cut. I will recommend that they give it favorable consideration. I congratulate the Governor for helping to forge this comprehensive plan to revitalize New York State’s economy.”

The Governor’s New York Works Agenda will create tens of thousands of jobs through a $1 billion targeted and accelerated investment in key infrastructure projects around the state including roads, bridges, parks, energy and water projects. The NY Works Agenda also includes pursuing a comprehensive gaming plan and enacting a new tax credit to incentive the hiring of inner city youth.

The Governor and the legislative leaders have agreed to tax code reforms including a temporary restructuring of current tax brackets to reduce taxes for 4.4 million middle-class New Yorkers. The Governor is also establishing a commission to examine a comprehensive overhaul of the state’s entire tax code that will make it simpler and fairer for all taxpayers and to create economic growth in the state.

In addition to these agreements, the Governor and legislative leaders announced a new round of flood relief, including a $50 million grant program for at businesses and counties impacted by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. The plan also includes a job retention tax credit for businesses impacted by a natural disaster during the last year. Finally, the Governor and legislative leaders announced that the MTA payroll tax will be reduced for small businesses.

The details of the proposed agreement are as follows:

The New York Works Agenda

New York Works Infrastructure Fund: Creating Jobs by Rebuilding New York

The Governor and the legislative leaders have agreed to a plan creating New York’s first infrastructure fund to inject over $1 billion in job creating investment. The accelerated state funding will leverage $10 billion in direct capital investment to create thousands of direct jobs by rebuilding roads and bridges; parks, dams and flood control projects; upgrading water systems and educational facilities; and investing in energy efficient improvements to commercial and residential buildings. The plan will focus on projects that support regional Economic Development Plans in the transportation, energy, environment and public facilities sectors. The accelerated infrastructure fund investment is within the state’s debt ceiling.

Specific investments undertaken by the New York Works Infrastructure Fund include replacing deficient state and local bridges in every region of the state, rehabilitating dams and flood control infrastructure, renovating parks, rebuilding water systems, conducting energy retrofits on homes, farms, businesses, and schools, as well as accelerating major SUNY and CUNY projects.

The Governor and the legislative leaders agreed on proposing legislation that will permit the New York Works Infrastructure Fund to bid the design and construction of infrastructure projects as a single contract, reducing costs and improving construction time. Passage of “Design-Build” legislation would shave 9 – 12 months from the construction time of major infrastructure projects. The Fund would also streamline permitting and regulatory approvals for infrastructure projects and procurements and consolidate activities across agencies and authorities.

Financing for the infrastructure fund would be provided through advancing capital investment and the creation of a public/private infrastructure fund. $700 million in state capital investments would be front loaded to increase job and economic impact by moving up capital projects planned for 2013 to 2012 wherever possible. An additional $300 million from the Port Authority would be directed towards funding for infrastructure projects in New York City. A new public/private infrastructure fund would raise up to $1 billion from pension funds and private investment.

Gaming Agreement

The Leaders expressed support to work with the Governor and request support from their respective majorities to put a constitutional amendment up for a vote.

Inner City Youth Employment Program and Tax Credit

The Governor and the legislative leaders agreed to create an inner-city youth employment program and a $25 million tax credit for employers who hire unemployed youth between 16 and 24 years of age over the first six months of 2012. The program and credit would be available to employers in businesses such as clean energy, healthcare, advanced manufacturing and conservation. Eligible employers would receive up to $3,000 for a six month training period and an additional $1,000 if they retained their workers for an additional six months.

Nearly $37 million in funding will be provided to critical jobs programs for inner city youth. This includes $12 million in support grants to youth providers for work readiness training, occupational training, placement or job matching, workplace mentoring and follow up services to increase retention. Participating youths will be provided with up to three monthly stipends of $300 each to cover costs associated with transitioning into the workplace. An additional $25 million will be appropriated for workforce skills training and support programs including digital literacy, basic education and occupational training, summer youth employment, job search and placement, and facilitated child care enrollment.

Fair Tax Code Reform

The Governor and the legislative leaders announced tax code reforms to create jobs and restore fairness to the tax system. Under the new rate structure, a total of 4.4 million New Yorkers would receive a tax cut, including a $690 million reduction for middle class taxpayers, and all taxpayers would see a tax reduction or no change compared to their previous tax bill. Brackets would increase with the rate of inflation. The newly implemented top bracket expires in December 31, 2014.

The new tax structure would generate $1.9 billion in additional revenue for the State. Any additional unspent funds from this revenue would be held in a new priority reserve fund to be dedicated towards future needs regarding job creation, local mandate relief, education, health care and mortgage foreclosure protection.

The new tax bracket structure would be reorganized as follows:

Income Level

Previous Tax Rate

New Tax Rate

$40,000 to $150,000

6.85%

6.45%

$150,000 to $300,000

6.85%

6.65%

$300,000 to $2 million

7.85% – 8.97%

6.85%

Over $2 million

8.97%

8.82%

Through an executive order, the Governor has created the New York State Tax Reform and Fairness Commission to address long term changes to the tax system and create economic growth. The commission will have thirteen members, including four recommended by the Senate and Assembly majority leaders and two recommended by the Senate and Assembly minority leaders. The chair of the Commission will be appointed by the Governor. All members are required to have expertise in the tax field and will receive no compensation.

The Commission will conduct a comprehensive and objective review of the State’s taxation policy, including corporate, sales and personal income taxation and make revenue-neutral policy recommendations to improve the current tax system. In its review, the Commission will consider ways to eliminate tax loopholes, promote administration efficiency and enhance tax collection and enforcement.

Flood Recovery Grant Program

The Governor and the legislative leaders have agreed to establish a $50 million grant program to continue recovery efforts in regions of the State impacted by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

The program includes the following support for communities recovering from the storms:

$21 million for small businesses, farms, multiple-dwellings and non-profit organizations that sustained direct physical flood-related damage costs not covered by other federal, State or local recovery programs. Grants would be limited to $20,000 and eligible only to companies that are on the Small Business Administration’s list of companies that have sustained damage.
$9 million for county flood mitigation or flood control projects. The grants for each county would range from $300,000 to $500,000; however, counties could jointly apply. Eligible counties must be included in Federal disaster declarations
An additional $20 million included in federal disaster declarations distributed on an as needed basis
Permitting local government to let taxpayers impacted by the storms to pay their property taxes in installments

Jobs Retention Credit for Businesses Impacted by a Natural Disaster

The Governor and the legislative leaders have agreed to the enactment of a job retention credit for businesses harmed by a natural disaster. The credit would be available to firms with at least 100 employees that have retained or expanded their workers’ roles during this time. The credit would equal 6.85 percent of the wages of retained jobs and is targeted towards employers in financial services, manufacturing, software development, new media, scientific development, agriculture and other sectors.

Reduced Manufacturing Tax Rate

The Governor and the leaders agreed to provide a new reduction in the tax provided to corporate manufacturers by lowering their tax rate that would save them $25 million.

Reducing the MTA Payroll Tax

The Governor and the legislative leaders have agreed to reduce the MTA payroll tax on small businesses while maintaining the necessary funding for the MTA from other sources. The payroll tax would be eliminated or reduced for 294,900 taxpayers overall. The tax would also be eliminated from an additional 415,000 taxpayers by raising the self-employment income exemption. In addition, private elementary and secondary schools, as well as parochial schools, would be exempt from the tax. The State would compensate the MTA for the $250 million in lost revenue.

By on December 6, 2011, 2:00 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Eye on Albany,Transportation | 3 Comments »

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Occupy Broadway To Entertain and Protest
December 1st, 2011

Time for a new street! Occupy Broadway, a 24-hour performance at the red steps in Times Square, will start at 6 p.m. tomorrow and last 24 hours.

Organizers say, that “New York artists will introduce tourists and New Yorkers going to Broadway shows or shopping themselves into debt to the idea of occupation as CREATIVE resistance with non-stop free performances.”A bonus performance location will be announced by organizers tomorrow on occupybroadway.net.

Over 70 acts will participate in the performances including: The Working Groups of OWS, Mike Daisey, The Civilians, HERE Arts Center, Jenny Romaine and Great Small Works, The Foundry Theatre, The Church of Stop Shopping, Rude Mechanical Orchestra, NY Labor Chorus, The Yes Men, Ayo Jackson, April Yvette Thompson, The Living Theater, Bread and Puppet Theater, Tony Torn, Carlo Alban, Urban Research Theatre, Yolanda Kay, The Big Bank- A Musical, Rocha Dance Theater, Reno and Penny Arcade.

By on December 1, 2011, 4:17 pm
In category: Economy | 2 Comments »

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Rivera Credits OWS For New Thinking on Taxes
December 1st, 2011

“I believe Occupy Wall Street changed the national dialogue,” said Sen. Gustavo Rivera. “The conversations we were having 6 months ago got no traction. But things have changed because of what the folks at Zuccotti Park Started.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is considering altering the tax code so that the wealthy would pay more and the poor would pay less. He was grilled on the subject by NY Post editor Fred Dicker and Cuomo refused to rule out the possibility of a tax hike for the wealthy.

“Ive always believed we need a more progressive tax system,” said Rivera. “I’m glad to hear the Cuomo administration seems to be open to it. We have the greatest economic disparity in New York. The economic gap is as bad as it was was in the depression.”

*Update* Rivera’s spokesperson says Rivera was speaking about OWS’ impact on the national dialogue and not specifically about Cuomo’s new thinking on the tax code. However, his response was to a question specifically about Cuomo’s new thinking.

By on December 1, 2011, 12:44 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Eye on Albany,Governing | 2 Comments »

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Hearings on Helping Veterans
October 25th, 2011

The New York State Assembly along with the Senate Puerto Rican Hispanic Task Force will be holding a televised town hall meeting tomorrow in conjunction with Time Warner Cable to discuss issues facing returning veterans. The meeting called, “New York Cares About Veterans” will take place from 6 -7:30 p.m..

The discussion, according to the press release, will include issues like the governments preparedness to provide services to veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, providing veterans with jobs housing and education opportunities and what kind of help the military offers returning veterans. The Gazette recently took a look at the services provided to veterans by Mayor Michael Bloombergs Office of Veterans Affairs. A a number of city council members were shocked by the lack of services provided by OVA. The following press release contains locations where you can attend the state-wide town hall:

Read the rest of this entry »

By on October 25, 2011, 4:29 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Eye on Albany,Health,Social Services,Work and Labor | 7 Comments »

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Tent Pressure
October 25th, 2011

It is getting cold out there and the protesters at Occupy Wall Street are starting to notice. So, Bill Lipton of the Working Families Party sent out an e-mail to supporters this morning asking them to put pressure on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to allow tents in Zuccotti Park.

“It was only two weeks ago when cleaning crews threatened to remove the protesters from the park. We stood together, made phone calls, picked up brooms and mops, and turned out by the thousands before dawn on a Friday morning,” writes Lipton. “And we won. We can do it again, if we stand together. If you can’t come down to the park to help pitch a tent, pitch in by signing our emergency petition to Mayor Bloomberg. Tell Mayor Bloomberg to protect free speech and allow the protesters at Zuccotti park to build tents.”

Here is the full appeal

Dear friend,

As winter approaches, tarps and sleeping bags won’t be enough.

Help make sure cold weather doesn’t end the Occupy Wall Street protest.

It got pretty chilly this weekend. Next week will surely be cooler.

The protest which has focused the eyes of the world on corporate greed and economic inequality is free speech in action. But without shelter, the protesters occupying Wall Street down at Zuccotti Park could be frozen out and forced to an early end.

Occupy protests from Boston to Philadelphia to Seattle have been allowed to put up tents to provide shelter and warmth. But down at Wall Street, tents are against the rules. Even the protest’s medical tent was nearly removed before the activists’ impassioned defense saved it.

Tell Mayor Bloomberg: Let the protesters stay — let them set up tents.

After you sign, please forward this email or share on Facebook to spread the message far and wide. The world is watching.

The protest movement that has sprung up over the past month is giving voice to millions of Americans who feel left out or left behind. It’s focusing the political debate across the nation on the corporate greed and economic inequality we so desperately need to address.

The coming winter isn’t the only threat the protest is facing. New York’s real estate and developer lobbyists are pushing hard for new rules that would allow them to shut down Zuccotti Park every night and impose a curfew.

Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t have to love the Occupy Wall Street movement’s message. But he has a duty to protect and uphold the First Amendment rights of the protesters to peacefully assemble and make their voices heard.

The heart and soul of the First Amendment is protecting protest movements like Occupy Wall Street not assuring unlimited corporate spending on elections.

It was only two weeks ago when cleaning crews threatened to remove the protesters from the park. We stood together, made phone calls, picked up brooms and mops, and turned out by the thousands before dawn on a Friday morning.

And we won. We can do it again, if we stand together. If you can’t come down to the park to help pitch a tent, pitch in by signing our emergency petition to Mayor Bloomberg.

Tell Mayor Bloomberg to protect free speech and allow the protesters at Zuccotti park to build tents:

http://action.workingfamiliesparty.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=4853

Thanks for spreading the word,

Bill Lipton
Deputy Director, WFP

PS. For information on how to donate donate winter coats, sleeping bags, or other supplies, reply to this email.

By on October 25, 2011, 11:17 am
In category: Civil Rights,Crime & Safety,Economy,Parks | 6 Comments »

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Fred Dicker's Evolving View of Occupy Albany
October 24th, 2011

In his column this morning NY Post’s Fred Dicker described Occupy Albany protesters as “200 mainly young, hippie-like demonstrators,” but only hours later his view of the group seems to have changed. Dicker, who has acted as a one-man cheer leading squad for Gov. Andrew Cuomo now seems to view the people who are running the group as wealthy “trust-fund baby type people” who are “slender” and “well-dressed.”

The Albany County District Attorney seems less concerned about the protesters and what they look like–he has informed law enforcement officials that he does not plan to prosecute any peaceful protesters –despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push to have them arrested for violating a city curfew.

Meanwhile Occupy Albany seems to be emboldened and driven now that Cuomo has taken notice of them and is annoyed by their presence. A rally involving groups that support the millionaires tax is planned for Thursday.

By on October 24, 2011, 1:46 pm
In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Economy,Eye on Albany,Governing | Comments Off

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