Capitol Bureau

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is out with a report on the state of New York’s economy, and the news is bleak.

The Comptroller’s numbers show that the already sluggish economic recovery in New York is losing momentum. The slowdown began in the second half of 2011, and is expected to continue into 2012, says Comptroller DiNapoli. 

 “That trend is going to be with us, at least for the short term,” said DiNapoli.  

Governor Cuomo told county leaders gathered for their annual meeting that he would meet them half way in providing mandate relief in the form of helping to defray health care and future pension costs. But he told the county officials, it’s up to them to do the rest.  

Governor Cuomo, in a speech to the county leaders that repeated many of the points of his budget presentation,  says he’s working on mandate relief  that will help the counties live within the recently imposed 2% property tax cap.

Governor Cuomo says the possibility of three primary elections in New York this year is not in anyone’s best interest.

A federal judge has already ruled that congressional primaries must be held June 26th. While Assembly Democrats would like statewide primaries to also be held on that date, Senate Republicans prefer an August  primary.  If no action is taken, the statewide primaries will automatically fall on September 11th this year. The presidential primary is in April. Governor Cuomo says having three separate primaries is “less than ideal”.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver continues to push for his bill to increase the state’s minimum wage. In an interview with public radio, the Speaker also expressed reservations about Governor Cuomo’s plan to offer an option of 401 k retirement plans for future state workers.

Assembly Speaker Silver has made increasing the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour one of his top priorities this year.  

“Nobody in our country who works a full week should be poor,” Silver said. “But today minimum wage earners are poor by all standards.”

The Legislative task force on redistricting held its first meeting since new proposed maps were released. Lawmakers heard numerous accusations that the new lines were “gerrymandered” and say the proposed maps are not set in stone.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver introduced his bill to increase the state’s minimum wage from the present $7.25 an hour to $8.50, saying its “absurd” to think that anyone can make a living on the current amount.

A one paragraph clause in Governor Cuomo’s budget has caused some concern among state lawmakers over the separation of powers between the governor and the legislature.

It’s one short paragraph in the hundreds of pages in Governor Cuomo’s budget plan, and it’s repeated in several different places. It says, essentially, that the governor’s budget office can move money around in state agencies to consolidate business services, like information technology and other functions, without the permission of the legislature.

Matt Ryan, New York Now

The New York State legislature’s proposed redistricted lines have been finally been released to the public. The plans for Senate districts are drawing the most fire,  for the addition of a newly created 63rd district and configurations that pit some incumbent minority party Democrats against one another.

Governor Cuomo’s budget director, testifying before a legislative hearing, faced tough questions from lawmakers on the governor’s new proposed defined benefit pension system for state workers.

Governor Cuomo has proposed a new benefit tier for future state employees, known as Tier VI. It would , for the first time, offer as an option a defined contribution plan, similar to a 401k.

Mayors from across the state came to the Capitol to testify to a joint legislative fiscal committee on Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget. While New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg went out of his way to offer support to the governor and for his budget plan, Mayors of upstate cities, including Rochester Mayor Tom Richards,  begged for a bail out.