01/17/17 6:00am
01/17/2017 6:00 AM

Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal last week for free tuition at SUNY and CUNY schools has roots going back nearly two centuries in this region, to 1847 and the founding of the Free Academy of the City of New York, which became City College.

It was later dubbed “the poor man’s Harvard.”

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01/19/16 9:01am
01/19/2016 9:01 AM

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A proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to eventually increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour — a 66 percent increase from the current rate — has members of the agriculture industry on edge.

“That would put us at a huge disadvantage,” said Jeff Rottkamp, owner of Fox Hollow Farm on Sound Avenue. “A monstrous disadvantage.” READ

03/29/13 3:50pm
03/29/2013 3:50 PM

Aside from school aid bumps, other items in the New York State budget adopted Thursday include a “middle class” tax rebate for families with kids, a creation of a bar-type exam for prospective teachers and financial incentives for top-performing teaching.

The spending plan will also increase the state minimum wage, and provide more highway improvement funds for local towns.

The budget deal extends from last year a higher tax on top earners, which reportedly raises about $1.9 million annually.

The 2013-14 budget is the third consecutive state budget that’s been adopted before the April 1 deadline by which it’s supposed to be adopted. That hasn’t always been the case, as the state routinely missed the budget deadline for many years prior to that.

This is the first time since 1984 the state made the deadline three years in a row.

Overall, the $135 billion budget increases total state spending by under one percent, according to state documents.

“This budget agreement puts New York on track to have the third consecutive on-time, balanced, budget that holds increases in spending under 2 percent,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a press release.

The adopted budget “includes direct tax relief for middle class families in the form of a $350 Family Tax Relief credit,” according to officials.

Over the next three years, each New York family with at least one dependent child and a household income between $40,000 and $300,000, will receive a “Family Tax Relief” credit in the amount of $350.  The statewide amount of these payments will be $1.23 billion over three years, beginning in 2014.

The budget extends the “middle class” personal income tax rate reductions enacted in 2011, which were due to expire in 2014. Those reductions will provide 4.4 million taxpayers with $707 million in tax relief per year, according to state officials

The new budget also calls for creation of “Bar Exam for Teachers,” officials said.

“To ensure the best and brightest are teaching our children, the State Education Department will increase the standards for teacher certification to require passage of a “bar exam,” in addition to longer, more intensive and high-quality student-teaching experience in a school setting,” Mr. Cuomo said.

The state also plans to reward “high performing teachers” under the new budget.

“To improve results and incentive high-performance, the budget implements a program that will offer $15,000 in annual stipends for four years to the most effective teachers beginning with math and science teachers,” the governor said.

A total of $11 million in incentives will be given statewide. Specifics were not available on how teacher performance will be judged.

Local municipalities on the North Fork will see an increase in Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) funding under the new budget, which increased that fund by $75 million statewide.

“This nearly $7 million in funding for towns and villages in the First Senatorial District will allow us to put New York back to work by repairing roads and bridges,” said state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson).

This is the first time since 2008 that CHIPS funding has increased.

Locally, Riverhead Town will receive $372,218 in CHIPS funding for 2013-14, an increase of 26 percent over the previous state budget allocation.

Likewise, Southold Town will get $421,071, a 28 percent increase, Southampton Town will get $842,159, a 28 percent increase, and Shelter Island Town will get $123,321, also a 28 percent increase.

Greenport Village is getting $52,902, a 24 percent increase, and the tiny Village of Dering Harbor on Shelter Island, is getting $59,891, a 27 percent increase.

The new budget also raises the minimum wage in New York State from $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour, but over three years.

“Recognizing that New York’s minimum wage is unlivable and that 19 other states have higher minimum wages than New York, the budget raises the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $9.00 per hour over three years, beginning with $8.00 by the end of 2013, $8.75 by the end of 2014, and $9.00 by the end of 2015,” the governor said.

The budget also provides hiring tax credits to businesses that hire returning veterans and young people.

The credit will equal 10 percent of wages paid for hiring veterans, and 15 percent of wages if the veteran is disabled, officials said.

The budget includes a refundable tax credit for businesses that hire people under the age of 20, which officials say will save those businesses a total of $112 million over three years, statewide.

tgannon@timesreview.com

03/21/13 8:00am
03/21/2013 8:00 AM
Governor Andrew Cuomo on Long Island

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | Governor Andrew Cuomo must decide when a special election for the recently vacated 2nd Assembly District seat will be held.

More than a week has passed since Dan Losquadro was sworn in as Brookhaven Town highway superintendent and still no date has been set for a special election to replace him in the New York State Assembly.

That responsibility falls squarely on New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who could opt to set the special election date to coincide with local elections in November.

Area Democrats have said the main reason to wait until November would be to save taxpayer dollars. But is that the only reason?

The Dems have a list of potential candidates that’s shorter than a stack of pancakes. With a decent crop of interested parties on the GOP side — including two elected Southold officials — we suspect the governor may be dragging his feet for political reasons.

A November election could put GOP favorite Chris Talbot — who’s up for re-election to the Southold Town Board this year — on the sidelines in the Assembly race, lest he risk giving up his town seat. It would also give the Democratic nominee, who would almost certainly be someone not currently in office, the standard six months to campaign for the seat and raise his or her profile.

If the election were set today and scheduled for May 21, the date of the statewide school budget votes, candidates would still have almost two months to campaign. Hosting the election on that date would assure a higher voter turnout and than on any other non-Election Day — and would minimize election costs.

If the governor’s true concern were saving money, he’d already have set an election date. After all, the former assemblyman’s staff is still getting paid, as it works to field calls from constituents who have no elected representative. The staff now reports to the office of Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver, a New York City Democrat who, we’re quite certain, has very little use for an office full of East End Republicans.

State records list the expenses for Mr. Losquadro’s office at $300,000 last year. Even if you subtract the assemblyman’s salary from the budget, it still costs more than $18,000 per month to keep the district offices staffed and open for business. If the Assembly post is not filled until November, taxpayers will have shelled out close to $150,000 to maintain an office with no elected leader.

Gov. Cuomo needs to set a special election date quickly.

He needs to set it for May 21.