News from the Associated Press - February 28, 2014

Associated Press
February 28, 2014

Comptroller: NY state sales tax collections up 5%

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York state's comptroller reports local sales tax collections statewide rose $739 million or 5.2 percent last year, exceeding the 3.3 percent increase in 2012.

In the annual report released Thursday, state tax data from all 62 counties show New York City was responsible for much of the gain, with sales taxes up $406 million or 6.8 percent.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says that's partly due to rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy, though collections from retail sales have rebounded significantly in the city since the recession, up almost 38 percent since 2009.

Overall, including the state's 57 other counties, sales taxes have risen 25.4 percent since then to $14.9 billion last year.

Collections on Long Island rose 6.9 percent in 2013 from the year before, while falling 2.3 percent in the Southern Tier.


Cuomo proposing out-of-network health coverage

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — In an effort to protect consumers from big surprise medical bills, the Cuomo administration has proposed extending out-of-network coverage requirements for emergencies and specialists to all health insurers in New York.

According to the state Department of Financial Services, the requirements currently apply to health maintenance organizations and 16 insurance plans in New York's new health exchange.

Legislation Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed for the fiscal year starting April 1 would apply those consumer protections to non-HMOs, which provide most health coverage in New York.

It would also help protect patients from big surprise medical bills from out-of-network doctors by requiring clear advance disclosures about who's actually in their insurance networks.

Disputes would go to arbitration between doctors and insurance companies, leaving the patients out.


Computer chip center marks 1st phase of Nano Utica

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The State University of New York's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering says construction of the $125 million Computer Chip Commercialization Center at the SUNY Institute of Technology is ahead of schedule.

The completion of the steel construction of Quad-C on Thursday is the first phase of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $1.5 billion Nano Utica initiative announced in October.

Nano Utica is a private-public partnership that will feature six global technology companies and will invest $1.5 billion to create a regional hub for nanotechnology.

The 253,000 square-foot facility will include a 56,000 square-foot cleanroom and have an annual operating budget of $500 million to support an estimated 1,500 jobs.

Quad-C is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.


NY parks almost get record visitors despite Sandy

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Last year marks the second highest attendance rate for New York state parks and historic sites, despite damage from Superstorm Sandy temporarily closing parks throughout the state.

More than 60.1 million people visited New York state parks, second behind 2012's 60.3 million visitors.

In spite of Superstorm Sandy, 16.6 million people visited parks on Long Island.
State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey says parks on Long Island rebounded strongly. Two of the most popular parks, Robert Moses State Park and Jones Beach along the south shore, were closed for half of the year for repair and opened for peak season on Memorial Day.

Allegany, Niagara Falls, Letchworth, Watkins Glen, Green Lakes, Saratoga Spa and Bear Mountain state parks all saw attendance increase in 2013.


Energy master plan under way in upstate NY

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The New York Power Authority says work is underway on an Energy Master Plan for five upstate cities.

The power authority is working with local utilities, civic and government entities, and environmental groups in an effort aimed at reducing energy consumption and operating and maintenance costs.

An NYPA website also has been created to solicit ideas from the public and present details on the master-plan process.

The cities involved are Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Yonkers. Individual plans for all five cities are expected to be completed by fall.

The initiative complements the Build Smart NY program established just over a year ago by Governor Andrew Cuomo. That program aims to improve energy efficiency in state government buildings by 20 percent by 2020.

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