Cuomo's big budget day, and National Grid cuts 1,200
Cuomo budget address
It’s budget day in New York, so let’s get out facts straight:
- The address starts at 1 p.m. and is being held at Albany’s infamous Egg.
- You can watch or listen to the budget address on your local Innovation Trail station (WMHT, WSKG, WRVO, WXXI or WNED).
- Governor Cuomo is expected to announce some pretty stiff cuts.
- The budget deficit that Cuomo has to cope with is $10 billion.
Actually scratch that last one. This morning the Times Union reports that Cuomo says that number is part of a "sham" budgeting system that assumes increases "at the behest of special interests.” The real number is more like $2 billion, according to the governor:
While stopping short of backtracking on the existence of a $10 billion deficit, Cuomo said that without laws such as those that drive school aid formulas or set Medicaid payments, the deficit would be far lower. Cuomo made his argument in an Op-Ed piece that was widely distributed. "Who is responsible for setting the growth in the state's budget? The answer is, shockingly, no one. It is dictated by hundreds of rates and formulas that are marbleized throughout New York State laws that govern different programs," Cuomo wrote.
Big job cuts at NYS power company
National Grid is planning to lay off around 1,200 workers, following a state regulator granting the utility the right to hike rates only a percentage of what it was seeking. The Post-Standard reports:
The Public Service Commission gave National Grid an increase of $112.7 million, which the utility said was too small to cover operating expenses. “It’s a big part of us having to go fairly deep into the cost cutting,” said Tom King, president of National Grid’s U.S. operations. “If (the rate increase) was $360 million, I think you’d find a significantly smaller (jobs) impact.”
Natural gas drilling
Fracking is not safe: House Democrats are saying that they've found diesel fuel in the fluid used in natural gas drilling (AP):
The investigation found that 12 of 14 companies hired to perform hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking," used diesel alone or in a mixture from 2005 to 2009. Of the 32.2 million gall ons reported, most was injected in Texas, followed by Oklahoma, North Dakota, Louisiana and Wyoming.
Fracking is safe: Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection says there's no air quality health threat to people who live near drilling operations in the Marcellus shale. But the study only looked at exposure over a month, so it doesn't say anything about the cumulative effects.
Innovation trust fund
The president's innovation agenda is getting a boost from three big tech companies. Intel, IBM and Hewlett-Packard say they're investing in a multi-million dollar fund to nurture start-ups (AP in TU).
Nuclear in the north country
New York's 20th district congressman Chris Gibson is supporting the notion of a nuclear power plant in his district (which spans Oneonta to Poughkeepsie and up to Lake Placid, and looks to me like a guy with his hands in his pockets kicking a stone). The Times Union reports:
Gibson believes that nuclear power offers not only a reliable and clean source of energy, but also would give the region a huge economic boost with a billion-dollar construction project. "It's an affordable source of power as well," Valle said. Although there are several nuclear power plants in the state, construction of a new plant would likely face a lot of local opposition and years of regulatory approvals.
Mortgage lender hiring
A mortgage lender in Rochester wants to add 50 jobs this spring, but is having trouble finding people with the right kind of licensing in New York, reports the Democrat and Chronicle.
The Post-Standard's editorial board is applauding SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher's campaign to position SUNY as a job creator:
SUNY needs new revenue streams to fill the gaps left by declining government support. With the state at least $10 billion in the red, the budget Cuomo unveils today will have to cut into muscle and bone. It’s unlikely SUNY will be spared. Zimpher isn’t waiting for the ax to fall. SUNY is making moves to consolidate back-office operations of the 64 campuses to save money. She put institutions on notice that in 2012 they’ll start competing for state funding based on their performance in such critical areas as research spending, degrees that match workforce needs and graduation rates. And she’s tapping SUNY’s 3 million alumni for donations to double fundraising in support of the university’s mission.
Students at the Rochester Institute of Technology's National Technical Institute for the Deaf got a sneak peek at two mobile devices that provide video phone service aimed at deaf and hard of hearing users.
And the University of Rochester will be getting a $20 million donation to create scholarships for students who show academic promise and financial need. It'll cover everything - tuition, books, room and board (no word on beer), according to the Wall Street Journal.
Founding father endorses Obama
I'm only linking to this one because of the headline: "Ben Franklin encouraged by White House focus on innovation." Now that interview is, as we say in the biz, a GET.
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