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ALBANY – Despite the wrangling at the Capitol, in excess of 90 percent of the state’s upcoming $160 billion budget already has been decided. It wasn’t because of keen negotiating by the governor or lawmakers, but the reality that so much of the state’s spending is largely on auto pilot, whether for Medicaid or state payroll. But with two weeks to go before th…

ALBANY – One Democrat blasting other Democrats for lining up with "Trump Republicans" can set off a firestorm. The ever-simmering venom between two dueling groups of Democrats in the state Senate played out in public Wednesday in a series of stinging verbal assaults during debate over an otherwise symbolic, non-binding budget resolution. During one heated moment, S…

College basketball fans are confronting two things in Buffalo that wouldn't rise to the top of anyone's travel wish list: a winter storm and no ride-hailing service. Fans arriving here for this week's NCAA tournament games likely knew snow could hit Buffalo in March. But they might be surprised when they fire up their Uber or Lyft apps and they can't get service. …

ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday he wasn’t really aware of the controversy surrounding the firing of Preet Bharara as U.S. Attorney and therefore had no comment. “I didn’t follow the situation. There’s a transition from one administration to the next, but beyond that I haven’t followed it,’’ Cuomo said. It was Cuomo's first public comments on t…

ALBANY – Both houses of the Legislature will approve separate state budget plans this week permitting Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to spend $500 million on a new round of Buffalo Billion economic development programs in Western New York. But while neither the Senate nor Assembly is calling for a direct say in how state money is spent by Cuomo, the houses are demanding what la…

Some go high, some go low, and some don’t go at all. Twenty-three school districts in Erie County have granted tax exemptions for veterans since the state Legislature placed the idea in their laps a little over three years ago. Five districts have not. Tax exemptions for veterans put school board members in a tough spot. They want to acknowledge the sacrifices vete…

The state health commissioner last year declared New York’s medical marijuana program a success. But the five companies that the state selected in 2015 to get marijuana into the hands of people suffering from debilitating and sometimes terminal diseases such as cancer,  AIDS and multiple sclerosis tell a different story. “Our company is not close to break-even …

By Maggie Haberman and Benjamin Weiser NEW YORK – Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who was asked by President Donald Trump to remain in his post shortly after the election, was fired Saturday after he refused an order to submit his resignation. Bharara's dismissal capped a brief but highly unusual showdown in which a poli…

ALBANY – In shades of their bitter campaign, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Rep. Chris Collins on Friday dueled over a Medicaid plan that, for now, is far from certain to even become law. Hochul, who lost her congressional seat to Collins in 2012, started things off on Friday by putting out a lengthy statement about a plan by the Republican congressman that she said would …

ALBANY – The Assembly unveiled Friday a new measure that permits ride-hailing services in upstate, but its stronger consumer and driver protections differ from what the Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are pushing. The legislation was introduced in the Assembly on Friday night. The 26-page single spaced bill makes demands of both ride-hailing companies and their drivers. …

YOUNGSTOWN – A new pool bathhouse and boat docks are part of a $2.7 million project currently underway at Fort Niagara State Park, according to state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation officials. The bathhouse will reflect the architecture of the adjacent Old Fort Niagara historic site, including brick and stone masonry. It will be fully compliant w…

State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has subpoenaed central figures in George D. Maziarz’s political orbit in a probe of the former state senator and his campaign finances, according to four sources familiar with the situation. Assemblyman Michael J. Norris, R-Lockport, confirmed Friday that he is among those directed to appear before an Albany County grand jur…

Nearly 23,000 vehicles cross the Grand Island bridges every day, and drivers must stop to pay a toll - now $1 - that has been in place since the bridges were constructed nearly 90 years ago. Even Grand Island residents must pay a discounted toll to return to the island. But it's not just the tolls that aggravate motorists on the main highway from Buffalo to Niagara F…