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State pushing private growth, cutting workforce, to make budgets work

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From California to the New York island, governors are pushing private job growth.

Stateline has a look at how governors across the nation are dealing with their budget deficits.  Key tactics include trimming state workforces, cutting taxes, and pushing private businesses to grow jobs.  New York is held up as an example of the latter:

In New York, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo used his state of the state address to outline an ambitious plan that he said would make New York more business-friendly by capping spending and property taxes. He said he would “fix” the recently enacted Excelsior Tax Credit Program that gives $5,000 for each new job created, including streamlining the application process. He also would like to set up 10 regional public-private councils across the state to create jobs and compete for $200 million in funding.

It's a great survey piece and definitely worth checking out if you're interested in how our neighbors (and competitors) are fairing.

Comptroller reports
An audit from state comptroller Tom DiNapoli shows that Upstate Medical University failed to "sufficiently document" why it needed to contract out help, reports James Mulder at the Post-Standard:

The audit questioned Upstate’s use of temporary staff. Upstate told auditors using temporary staff provides flexibility because these workers are only used when needed. The audit, however, found 24 temporary staffers worked or were expected to work continuously for one year or longer in the same assignment. One temporary worked half-time for more than three years in the same assignment, the audit said. “We believe that Upstate should periodically analyze whether hiring state employees on a part-time or per diem basis is more appropriate than continuing long-term assignments of temporary contract staff,” the audit said. The audit recommended Upstate routinely justify in writing the need for services and periodically assess all contracts to identify opportunities to defer, eliminate , reduce or bring these services in-house. In a written response to the audit, Monica Rimai, SUNY’s senior vice chancellor, said Upstate managers routinely review contracts as part of the annual budget process as well as any contracts that come up for renewal.

In other DiNapoli news, the comptroller appeared on Capital Tonight Wednesday to talk about his report earlier in the week that said the governor's budget is missing $4 billion in gap closing measures.  Here's the video.

High speed rail cash
When Florida says no, New York says yes please!  Michael McAulliff at the New York Daily News reports that the Empire State's senators are already trying to jump on the federal high speed rail funds that Florida's governor has declined:

"Florida’s loss should be New York’s gain," [Senator Chuck] Schumer said. "Other states may not be ready to unlock the potential of high-speed rail, but it is a top priority for upstate New York. We can put these funds to use in a way that gets the best bang for the buck. The administration should redirect these funds to New York as quickly as possible.” [Senator Kirsten] Gillibrand agreed, and went one step farther -- writing to LaHood to ask for the cash directly, much like Gov. Cuomo did in November after soon-to-be governors of Wisconsin and Ohio said they didn't want some $1.26 billion in high-speed rail funds. "New York State stands ready to put these dollars to good use in developing the next generation of American passenger rail," Gillibrand wrote. "These investments will create jobs, spur economic development, and continue to build on the growth of ridership we’ve seen in recent years." The administration didn't jump at the New Yorkers' request, but did say Scott made the wrong call, and the money would still go to rail somewhere.

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