Government

The City of Binghamton will host the second of seven community discussions Thursday afternoon to consider the first update of the city’s comprehensive plan since 2003.

The comprehensive update is being called Blueprint Binghamton. Director of Economic Development Merry Harris says the meetings are an opportunity for community members to provide input on how to make the city more livable.

Governor Cuomo and the state’s district attorneys are pushing for laws to make it easier to prosecute bribery and public corruption cases, in the wake of recent scandals in Albany.

The bills would make it easier for the state’s DA’s to prosecute cases of bribery, and politicians and others  involved in bribery schemes. It would also create a new crime of failure to report bribery. Anyone who does not blow the whistle if they discover potential corruption could be charged with a misdemeanor.

The State’s Comptroller kicked off a week long forum at SUNY’s Rockefeller Institute to examine the plight of economically stressed local governments and school districts across the New York.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says the “new normal” for schools and local governments around the state is prolonged fiscal stress.  He says a combination of rising health care and pension costs, reduced state aide, and two year old property tax cap have put the squeeze on municipalities.

Two days after a State Senator was arrested for trying to bribe his way onto the New York City mayoral ballot, a State Assemblyman has been accused of accepting  payments to sponsor legislation that would benefit developers of an adult day care center in the Bronx.

It was déjà vu all over again, as US Attorney Preet Bharara stepped to the microphones to announce that yet another New York State lawmaker has been accused of bribery and corruption.

The Senator Malcolm Smith scandal is continuing to have repercussions in both political parties and in every level of the state’s government. The State’s Republican Party Chair is calling on two New York City top party officials accused of taking tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to resign their posts.  Governor Cuomo, on an upstate tour to promote the recently passed state budget, is dogged by questions about the scandal instead.

State Senator Malcolm Smith, a former Senate Majority Leader, has been arrested and indicted in a far reaching bribery and corruption scandal.

The corruption case against Senator Malcolm Smith spans village, county, state and New York City governments, as well as both major political parties.

Smith, a Democrat who was leader of the State Senate in 2009 until taken out in a coup attempt, was seeking the Republican nomination for Mayor of New York City.

The state legislature has finished voting on a $141.3b state budget, with the State Assembly completing it's work shortly before midnight on Thursday. The final passage  occurred one week past lawmakers’ s self imposed deadline, but three days before  the spending plan was due to be finished.

The New York State Senate finished it’s work on the state budget in an overnight session at the Capitol. 

The governor and legislative leaders decided to abide by the normal procedures and let the budget bills “age” for three days before voting, so that anyone who is interested could read them.  Some of the bills were not printed until Sunday evening, which made them eligible for voting on Wednesday. Senators abided by the letter, if not the spirit of the law. They planned to vote on the remaining budget bills shortly after midnight Wednesday.

The new state budget that lawmakers are enacting this week contains a tax package that includes both tax breaks and tax increases. The spending plan comes just two months after Governor Cuomo  said there would NOT be any new taxes in the budget.

On January 22nd, when Governor Cuomo introduced his budget plan, he said his proposal did not include any new taxes.

“No new taxes in the budget again,” Cuomo said. “That is what is working for us, it has signaled a new day in New  York.

The state budget is on track to be finished on time, and before the March 31 deadline, now that all of the spending bills were finally printed shortly before midnight on Monday.

Lawmakers plan to vote on the final budget bills later in the week, after they finally agreed to and printed all of the remaining pieces of legislation late Sunday, four days after they had announced that they’d reached a deal.

The Assembly is not scheduled to return until Thursday, but the State Senate met Sunday night to begin passing portions of the budget.

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