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Tom Precious


The fiscal news for Buffalo and other distressed upstate cities worsened Tuesday, when a joint state legislative panel agreed to an overall spending target for municipalities certain to fall far short of Mayor Masiello's budget request."They have to grow that pot of money. I don't care how they do it," said Masiello Tuesday afternoon after cutting short an economic develop…

The Pataki administration's property tax-reduction program, dubbed STAR, will create cash-flow problems for local school districts across the state, forcing some to even borrow money to cover shortfalls, officials said Monday.A state commission Monday recommended a number of accounting changes to the School Tax Relief program, which is kicking in this year for thousands of…

With state budget talks under way in earnest, a group of members from the Buffalo Niagara Partnership spent Monday pressing lawmakers to further cut taxes and reduce regulatory burdens imposed by Albany."We feel that you constantly have to remind our legislators that small business owners need their consideration, especially in the areas of tax relief," said Richard Romer,…

Western New York lawmakers were thrust into key posts to help resolve the state budget stalemate during Day 2 of the State Capitol's new twist on democracy.The leaders of the Senate and the Assembly on Thursday named several veteran Buffalo-area lawmakers to head the panels that will decide how specific areas of the budget -- from economic development projects to prisons -…

The State Capitol on Wednesday became the scene of something indeed rare for this town: open democracy.After decades of closed meetings between governors and legislative leaders about how to divvy up the state budget's dollars, the fiscal process moved to a public forum for what might have been the first time in the state's history.Republicans and Democrats from the two le…

The future of how New York treats the sales of products by Indian nations now rests in the state's highest court.Lawyers for the state and non-Indian business interests squared off before the Court of Appeals Tuesday in a case with sweeping legal, economic and political implications.At issue is whether the state has to collect taxes on gasoline and tobacco products sold on…

Five months after the case of Nushawn Williams infecting women with the AIDS virus in Chautauqua County became public, health officials, lawmakers and community activists began stepping up their efforts Tuesday to reform the state's AIDS confidentiality laws."The time has come to treat AIDS as a public health menace rather than a privacy issue," said Assemblywoman Nettie M…

Inching closer to a new state budget, legislative leaders accomplished something on Tuesday that last year took them until mid-July to resolve: How much money they have to spend.Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, also said they will try a new approach to settle remaining differences over how the taxpayers' mo…

Buffalo's trees, which do everything from reduce air pollution to boost property values, are continuing to decline at disturbing levels, a statewide lobbying group reported Monday.Pressing for more state funds to plant new trees and maintain old ones in cities across the state, Environmental Advocates said there are at least 20,000 so-called tree "vacancies" on Buffalo's s…

For weeks, when no one at the Capitol was talking in specifics about the state budget, the warm and fuzzy atmosphere between the normally battling partisan sides was striking.On Wednesday, the haze and the vagueness began disappearing as the Senate and the Assembly released billions of dollars in proposals for how they would spend the taxpayers' money in the coming year.Li…

Abused and neglected children are being put at risk by bulging caseloads of local social services workers assigned to look out for their interests, according to a state audit.State Comptroller H. Carl McCall said the caseloads in Erie County of workers assigned to deal with abused children and those already in the foster care system are nearly double a national standard."I…

Abused and neglected children are being put at risk by bulging caseloads of local social services workers assigned to look out for their interests, according to a state audit.State Comptroller H. Carl McCall said the caseloads in Erie County of workers assigned to deal with abused children and those already in the foster care system are nearly double a national standard."I…

The prospects for Erie County getting state money this year for a new convention center in Buffalo are growing increasingly unlikely, state lawmakers said Monday.The number of hands reaching out for money from the Capitol in an election year is growing by the day. And lawmakers say the county also hasn't helped itself by failing to complete plans for a new center or to set…

State Sen. Catherine M. Abate of Manhattan, portraying the state attorney general's office as a partisan "dumping ground," announced her candidacy Wednesday for the Democratic nomination to challenge Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco this fall.Sen. Abate, a former trial lawyer who once ran the New York City jail system, said she will change the hiring policies for lawyers a…

Gov. Pataki, surrounded by an unusual assortment of Democrats, including Mayor Masiello, launched a new push Tuesday to bring charter schools to New York State."This year is the time we can wait no longer," Pataki said of the proposal to allow communities to open public schools independent of many of the mandates from Albany.While a similar plan died in the Legislature las…