News from the Associated Press - March 4, 2014

Associated Press
March 4, 2014

Advocates says NY schools tour shows funding lack

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Advocates and lawmakers say a tour of school districts across the state shows New York is failing to adequately fund public education.

The Alliance for Quality Education and Campaign for Fiscal Equity toured 14 school districts. They say the state is failing to provide the "sound, basic education" required by a 2006 court ruling in a lawsuit over funding New York City's schools.

Representatives of the organizations say Monday the fact-finding tour showed class sizes are climbing to more than 25 students - in some cases 30 students - and some schools have cut staff by as much as 20 percent despite increased enrollment.

Billy Easton, executive director of the alliance, says the districts visited were picked because they represented the diversity of average- and high-need districts and their superintendents were willing to participate.


Seneca Indian Nation buys 32 acres near Rochester

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The Seneca Indian Nation has purchased 32 acres in a suburb of Rochester as the potential site of a fourth western New York casino.
The $2.7 million purchase was announced by the Seneca Gaming Corporation on Monday.

Officials say the site is near Interstate 390 in Henrietta and within an area of New York where, under an agreement with the state, the Senecas have exclusive casino rights. In exchange, the western New York tribe shares slot machine revenues from its Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca casinos with the state and host communities.

A fourth casino likely would require an amendment to the state compact and approvals from the federal government.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration is moving forward with plans to allow up to seven non-Indian casinos to open.


Syracuse airport now under authority's control

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - The city of Syracuse has handed over control of Syracuse Hancock International Airport to an independent authority in an effort to attract more flights.

Mayor Stephanie Miner on Monday officially turned over the operating certificate for the airport to the Syracuse Regional Airport Authority, a nonprofit public benefit corporation run by an 11-member board of directors.

Syracuse officials say in addition to attracting more low-cost flights to central New York, the move is expected to make the airport more efficient.

The Syracuse airport was one of the last airports in New York state still under local municipal control. Major city airports in New York City, Albany, Rochester and Buffalo all operate under independent authorities.

The Federal Aviation Administration's approval of the transfer request was effective last Saturday.


NY sets new rules for tax preparers

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The Cuomo administration has set new regulations for paid tax preparers, saying they will reduce errors and possible fraud.

According to the governor's office, the rules apply to some 40,000 preparers.
The state since 2011 has required most preparers to register annually with the Tax Department.

Under the new regulations, those paid to prepare at least 10 state tax returns in a year are required to pass a basic competency exam, meet applicable IRS requirements and take four hours of annual continuing education.

Those with fewer than three years' experience would be required to take a 16-hour basic tax course.

The state Department of Taxation & Finance says the regulations took effect Dec. 11.

Attorneys, public accountants and volunteer tax preparers are exempt.

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