News from the Associated Press - March 25, 2014

Associated Press
March 25, 2014

Indiana withdrawing from Common Core standards

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana is the first state to withdraw from the Common Core reading and math standards that were adopted by most states around the country.

Republican Gov. Mike Pence's office says he signed a bill Monday pulling Indiana from the program. Legislators earlier approved the measure requiring the State Board of Education to draft new standards outlining what students should be learning in each grade rather than using the Common Core standards.

Pence said in a statement that he believes Indiana's students are best served by education decisions made at the state and local level.

Common Core was developed by the National Governors Association and state education superintendents. Indiana adopted the standards in 2010 under then-Superintendent Tony Bennett, a Republican.

Many GOP lawmakers pushed for the withdrawal from Common Core.


NY budget talks continue at Capitol, deadline near

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York's legislative leaders are negotiating over property tax relief and pre-kindergarten funding a week before a new budget is due.

Leaders emerging from closed-door talks Monday at the Capitol say they continue to make progress to get a deal by April 1.

There have been differences over how much money to devote to pre-K, a signature issue for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. There also has been legislative resistance to Cuomo's property tax relief plan, which would require localities to consolidate or share services for local homeowners to benefit.

Cuomo says Monday more than 225 local officials support his plan.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says he and the Cuomo have been discussing the Dream Act, which would open state education aid to students in the country illegally.


NY state health exchange reports 717,000 enrolled

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The state's new health exchange reports more than 1 million New Yorkers have completed applications for insurance while more than 717,000 of them have now enrolled for specific coverage.

The Department of Health says enrollment for individual and family coverage since October includes nearly 343,000 New Yorkers in the 16 commercial and nonprofit insurers in the exchange and more than 374,000 in government-funded Medicaid.

Open enrollments continue through next Monday 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.


Democrats vow to nix Corbett plan, expand Medicaid

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Democrats in the running to take over Gov. Tom Corbett's job next year say they'll throw out his alternative plan to use federal Medicaid expansion dollars if and when they take office next January.

Pennsylvania's state treasurer, Rob McCord, said Monday he prefers an expansion of Medicaid eligibility under the 2010 federal health care law and expects that he would undo Corbett's plan.

But Corbett's plan is still under consideration by the federal government and McCord acknowledged that he'd have to wait and see what parts of it may be approved.

Corbett wants to use expansion dollars to subsidize private insurance policies, rather than expanding traditional Medicaid coverage.

That could mean differences in provider networks, benefits and retroactive reimbursement for someone who's eligible, but isn't covered when they seek care.


NY asks feds to update oil spill response plans

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York officials are asking the Environmental Protection Agency to update a contingency plan for dealing with oil spills, in light of the rapid expansion of rail shipments of crude oil from North Dakota.

State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens sent a letter Monday to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. He said under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, EPA is responsible for creating Inland Area Contingency Plans to improve preparedness for oil spills.

Martens said a review of crude oil rail safety ordered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January found immediate action was needed by EPA to update contingency plans and develop response plans for environmentally sensitive areas.

EPA spokeswoman Mary Mears said EPA is actively working to enhance prevention and response for oil transport safety.


NY loans for businesses of women, minorities

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York is launching a program to expand access to short-term bridge loans to minority and women-owned business enterprises.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says Monday that participating lenders are committing at least $20 million to the launch of the "Bridge to Success" program.

Loans through the program will typically be less than $200,000 with terms under two years. The money will allow qualified businesses to hire staff, buy material and purchase equipment.

The New York Business Development Corp., State Employees Federal Credit Union, Tompkins Mahopac Bank, TruFund Financial Services and Carver Federal Savings Bank are participating in the program.

The state agency Empire State Development is providing $2.73 million for loan loss reserves.

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