WXXI AM News

Capitol Bureau

SUNY

The outgoing chancellor of New York’s state university system said President Donald Trump’s budget, if enacted, would seriously hamper the chances for many of New York’s young people to attend college.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said cuts to programs that help disadvantaged high school students gain the opportunity to attend college, as well as reductions to federal college aid and cuts to medical research, including cancer research, would have a huge negative impact on New York’s colleges.

“It would have a devastating effect on access,” Zimpher said.

President Donald Trump, who’s never been very popular in New York, has reached an all-time low in the opinions of voters, according to a new poll.

Faith leaders from around New York came to the Capitol to gain support in the state Senate to adopt a statewide single-payer health care system. It would be an alternative to the national Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump have been trying to dismantle.

After an embarrassing controversy over stipend payments, the beleaguered group of breakaway Democrats in the state Senate is trying to change the subject.

The eight-member Independent Democratic Conference has been the target of some bad headlines lately because some of its members have accepted stipend payments of $12,500 to $18,000 for chairing committees when they were in fact the vice chairs, a position that does not legally entitle a senator to extra pay.

The IDC’s leader, Sen. Jeff Klein, has said repeatedly that it’s all legal.

There are reports that state senators who received payments for chairing committees that they actually did not chair are now under a probe by the state attorney general and at least one U.S. attorney.

Several Republican and independent Democratic senators were paid stipends allocated to chairs of Senate committees. But the senators weren’t actually the chairs; they had all been designated as vice chairs, a relatively new title. There is no provision in state law to pay stipends to vice chairs.

Karen DeWitt

The state is one step closer to having ride-hailing services available before the Fourth of July, now that the state Senate has passed a bill to speed up when companies like Uber and Lyft will be allowed to operate outside of New York City.

When state lawmakers agreed to allow the companies to operate in upstate New York and on Long Island as part of the budget, they thought that they would pass the legislation by April 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

The leader of the Senate Independent Democratic Conference for the first time publicly answered questions from the media about news stories that some of his members received stipends for committee chair positions that they do not actually hold.

Sen. Jeff Klein defended the practice, while the leader of the Senate Democrats is calling for an investigation.

There are calls for a criminal investigation of some questionable stipend payments to some New York state senators. One of the senators who received those payments is giving it back, while another is calling the controversy a “witch hunt.”

Several senators who are part of a breakaway group of Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Conference were paid extra stipends — ranging from $12,500 to $18,000 a year — for serving on various Senate committees controlled by the majority party Republicans.

NPR

School districts across the state are holding votes on their budgets Tuesday. While almost all of them are keeping their spending requests within the mandatory tax cap, some districts wonder whether the cap is sustainable over the long term. 

The property tax cap is now in its sixth year, and according to David Albert with the New York State School Boards, most of the state’s nearly 700 school districts are asking for increases that are within the limits of the cap.

A new online ad featuring Gov. Andrew Cuomo and promoting tolerance has once again fueled talk that New York’s governor may be planning a presidential run. There are some questions, though, about the ad and its donors.

The ad, which for now is only running online, features Cuomo and several well-known actors, including Steve Buscemi and Whoopi Goldberg. All claim to be something other than they actually are to promote the message of unity and tolerance in a diverse state.

“As a New Yorker, I am black,” Cuomo says in the ad.

“I am white,” Goldberg says.

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