The New York Legislature has passed a $140 billion election-year budget that expands pre-kindergarten statewide and provides tax relief to homeowners and corporations. The Senate passed the budget around 10:30 p.m. Monday and the Assembly approved it 45 minutes later for a fourth consecutive on-time state budget. The new fiscal year begins today. Cuomo and legislative leaders reached an agreement on the spending plan early in the weekend, but the governor had to waive the required three-day review period on the education and health bills that weren't printed until early Saturday. The budget contains almost $138 billion for the coming year with an additional $5 billion in one-time federal aid for Superstorm Sandy rebuilding and the rollout of the Affordable Care Act for uninsured New Yorkers.
Chautauqua County's top-elected official is pleased that the state will at least have a nearly on-time state budget... and, he's expecially happy with at least one item added to the spending plan. County Executive Vince Horrigan says the state Senate successfully added 40-million dollars in what's being called "Extreme Weather Assistance" to deal with pothole and road repairs in local counties and municipalities. Local Senator Cathy Young told Horrigan that the added funding will be distributed under the same formula at the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program -- or CHIPS -- dollars are. Horrigan is among the local leaders who earlier expressed skepicism over Governor Cuomo's proposed two-year tax freeze on local property taxes. That program... which involves rebate checks to property owners... has conditions attached to it. Namely... local governments have to keep their taxes under the two-percent state property tax cap. Horrigan still feels there are better way to go to provide tax relief. Horrigan says he would prefer simplifying tax relief by letting people "keep their money." He also would like to see some state money used to not only fix... but, upgrade Route 60 to eventually a four-lane highway that would help local economic development efforts.
There will be a new, second full-time judge in Jamestown by the end of the month. That from Mayor Sam Teresi... who says part-time Judge George Panebianco... who was first in line to get the position... has turned it down. After last night's City Council voting session... Teresi said Panebianco had given the position a lot of consideration... but, decided not to take it. The mayor says Panebianco would have been required to give up his current law practice... and, he didn't want to do that. With that... Teresi says a handful of very good candidates have come forward... and, he's asked a couple of others to be considered. If he had accepted... Panebianco would have been appointed by Teresi... and, started hearing cases today. However... Teresi says he now has to find another person to name. He says there are two main requirements for a full-time judge. The first is they must be a resident of the city... and, second... they must be a licensed attorney who has practiced locally for at least five years. The person confirmed will serve a 10-year term on the local bench.
A city man is jailed for allegedly running and trying to hide from Jamestown Police who were trying to arrest him on a warrant. City officers add they also found 25 year-old Matthew Goodlow in possession of marijuana. Police were responding to a call about 2 PM yesterday when they spotted Goodlow... who was wanted on a city court bench warrant. Officers say he failed to respond to their orders... and, continued to run away. Goodlow was finally caught on West Eighth Street at Cherry... hiding under a discarded mattress. Goodlow is being held pending arraignment on charges including unlawful possession of marijuana... and, obstruction.
New York state health officials say more than 812-thousand people have enrolled for health insurance statewide under President Obama's health care overhaul. Monday marked the deadline for open enrollment through the state's health plan marketplace... called NY State of Health. Residents can choose from various health plans from 16 insurers and 10 dental insurers. The state health department says more than 70 percent of those who have enrolled since October 1st had been uninsured. Authorities say New York is on pace to meet its enrollment goal of 1.1-million people by the end of 2016. Nationally... the Obama administration says more than 6-million Americans have signed up for insurance under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
Southern Tier Congressman Tom Reed was in Jamestown Monday hosting a Senior Citizen Roundtable to get their input on issues affecting them in Washington. Reed was at Christ First United Methodist Church on Buffalo Street for a two-hour gathering to talk about what's happening in the nation's Capitol... and, allow local seniors to offer input. Reed expected a proposed, 300-million dollar cut to the Medicare Advantage program under the Affordable Care Act to be one of the topics. He says it's come up at other constituent meetings he's held. Reed was among the lawmakers who recently called on the White House to "back off" on additional cuts proposed to Medicare Advantage. Since corresponding with the White House on the matter... he says there hasn't been any further talk. Reed says 1.1-million New Yorkers rely on Medicare Advantage... and, he says if the cut goes through... there would be a double-digit cut in the program over the past 24 months.