WXXI AM News

Capitol Bureau

There’s now one official candidate running for governor of New York in 2018, and that’s the Assembly’s Republican leader, Brian Kolb.

He announced his plans in a video released Tuesday.

Kolb, who’s been an Assembly member since 2000, is also a businessman. He’s the founder and past president of two companies in the Rochester area, where he grew up. Kolb said he’d draw on the experiences of both worlds if he were to lead the state.

He said he’s been traveling and meeting with New Yorkers and asking them whether state government is working for them. 

At an event that’s become increasingly rare in state politics, two politicians from opposing parties sat down together and had a civil discussion about issues facing New York.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, a Democrat, and Republican state Sen. John DeFrancisco spoke in Albany during a forum about state issues and politics. 

“To have a vibrant civic dialogue is important,” said Miner. “The fact that it’s been missing, we’ve all suffered for it.”

DeFrancisco, who also is from Syracuse, agreed.

According to published reports, some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s hiring practices are the subject of an FBI investigation.

The Albany Times Union first reported that the FBI is looking at Cuomo’s longstanding practice of hiring employees for his office but paying them through other state agencies.

Groups opposing the federal tax overhaul plan held a demonstration Friday at the State Capitol, chanting “kill the bill,” and saying the measure is bad for New York and the nation. 

Karen Scharff with Citizen Action said Congress has its priorities backward and should reject the tax overhaul bill. She said the cost of eliminating the estate tax alone is equal to the entire price of the Child Health Plus program, which provides health insurance for poor children. Congress let Child Health Plus expire in September. In New York, 130,000 children are at risk. 

County leaders across New York are the latest to complain about the tax overhaul plan now being crafted in Congress. They predict higher taxes for many New Yorkers, declining home prices and slowed economic growth.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said the federal tax bill will lead to many middle- and upper-class New Yorkers paying higher taxes because of the proposed end to state and local tax deductions. And he said the state’s over $4 billion projected deficit and potential funding cuts aren’t helping either.

“Brace yourselves,” McCoy said.

Karen DeWitt

New York faces fiscal challenges in 2018, but that has not stopped groups from asking for more money in the new state budget, including agencies that provide care to people with disabilities. 

Chanting, “Be fair to direct care,” about 200 New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, along with their family members and caregivers, gathered in a reception area outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office Wednesday to ask for more help in paying the workers more money. 

One of the biggest challenges that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers will face in 2018 is balancing the state’s budget, which already has a structural deficit of more than $4 billion. On top of that, federal changes to taxes and health care could cost the state billions more in lost funding. 

State tax revenues are down, contributing to the largest structural budget gap in seven years. State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli estimates the deficit to be about $4.4 billion.

The governors of New York, California and New Jersey on Monday strongly condemned the GOP tax bill now before Congress, saying it is unfair to their states and will wreak havoc on the U.S. economy.

In a conference call, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the federal tax overhaul plan that severely restricts state and local tax deductions is “political retaliation” against 12 states that are run by Democrats.

A leading Senate Democrat said if a planned unification between rival factions in the State Senate occurs, don’t expect any immediate action on key items like women’s reproductive rights, public financing of campaigns and transgender rights. 

Senator Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat who is the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, said under the current plan, the reunification would not happen until late in the legislative session, and there likely won’t be time to act on the bills. 

Senator Krueger's office

Democratic state Sen. Liz Krueger spoke to WXXI’s Karen DeWitt about sexual harassment cases now rocking the country, including the case of state Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, sanctioned this week for sexual harassment.

Krueger says it’s a “wake-up call,” and she says the state Legislature would do better with an independent panel to examine allegations.

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