News from the Associated Press - February 26, 2014

Associated Press
February 26, 2014

NY health exchange reports 501,000 enrolled

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The state's new health exchange reports more than 800,000 New Yorkers have completed applications for insurance while more than 501,000 of them have now enrolled for specific coverage.

The health department says enrollment for individual and family coverage since October includes 276,681 New Yorkers in the 16 commercial and nonprofit insurers in the exchange and 224,524 in government-funded Medicaid.

Open enrollments continue through March for 2014 coverage at state-approved rates. Applicants with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty line are eligible for tax credits to help offset premium payments.

Another online exchange offers insurance for businesses with up to 50 employees.


NY Legislature's top Democrat: pre-K tax not dead

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The state Legislature's most powerful Democrat says New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to fund citywide pre-kindergarten with a tax increase is not off the table as lawmakers negotiate a budget.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says Tuesday that neither de Blasio's plan nor Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan has been ruled out for the state budget due April 1. Cuomo wants to pay for pre-K statewide with existing state funds instead of raising a tax.

The Senate's Republican leader, Dean Skelos, appeared to shut the door this month on taking up a bill that would allow New York City to pay for pre-K with higher taxes on the wealthy. Silver says that stance was unacceptable.

Silver said he was open to different funding solutions.


Poll: Most in NY back locally set minimum wages

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A new poll shows 73 percent of New York voters support giving municipalities the authority to raise the minimum wage locally, something Gov. Andrew Cuomo opposes and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio advocates for his city.

The Siena College poll released Tuesday shows 85 percent support among Democrats, 48 percent among Republicans and 74 percent among independents.
The governor and state Legislature last year raised the statewide minimum from $7.25 an hour to $8 this year.

Cuomo says letting each city set its own rate could lead to destructive competition.
De Blasio says it would help address "the unique crisis" working families face in New York City.

The poll of 802 registered voters last week has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.


Cuomo names 3 to board for tax-free NY plan

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced the approval board for the state program to give new employers and their employees 10 years of tax-free living if they locate on or near college campuses.

Called Start-Up New York, the program meant to attract new businesses was approved by the Legislature last June.

The Approval Board will be responsible for the evaluation and approval of private university and college plans as designated tax-free areas.

Members are Edward Cupoli, Abraham Lackman and Andrew Kennedy.
Chosen by the state Assembly, Cupoli is professor emeritus of NanoEconomics at the State University at Albany.

Lackman, chosen by the state Senate, is senior officer for civic affairs at the Simons Foundation.

Chosen by Cuomo, Kennedy is the governor's assistant secretary for economic development.


NY parks advocates to seek more funds from state

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Advocates for New York's state parks will be gathering in Albany to urge lawmakers and other officials to protect and preserve the Empire State's parks system.

Parks & Trails New York says members of park friends groups and environmental organizations will be at the state Capitol Wednesday for the eighth annual Park Advocacy Day.

The advocates will seek support from legislators for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal for $90 million in capital investment in the state park system, increasing operating funds for state parks and historic sites, and boosting the Environmental Protection Fund.

Advocates have praised Cuomo's efforts over the past two years to improve the parks system by spending $200 million on infrastructure repairs, but the groups say hundreds of millions more has to be spent to clear up a backlog of needed improvements.


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