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Westerlo teen helps senator draft anti-bullying legislation

ALBANY - Paige Pless is accustomed to being singled out.  But Monday, on the state Senate floor, it was for her work to combat bullying.  Not as a victim of bullying.

"There was a point I completely shut down, I was so sick of it," the 15-year-old from Westerlo explained.

Instead of withdrawing even more, Paige began working with Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, to draft new legislation to make cyber bullying a crime.  The bill updates New York's current stalking and harassment laws to include electronic communication like texting or the internet

Race to the Top education funds at risk

ALBANY - State Education Department Commissioner John King expressed concern Tuesday that hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid are now in jeopardy. 

"Certainly disappointed because we thought we'd be further along in the evaluation process," King said.

This came after a stern rebuke from the federal government that New York has not kept its promises to get Race to the Top funds.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a report "New York has a chance to be a national leader, or a laggard," and that "backtracking on reform commitments could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

"He's right. We made a set of commitment in our Race to the Top application. I was there for the interview. We made some promises. He's going to hold us to those promises. That's the right thing to do. The right thing for the administration to do," King added.

Lee Kindlon announces run for District Attorney

ALBANY - Albany County District Attorney David Soares has a new political fight on his hands and it comes from someone in his own party. Lee Kindlon announced Thursday morning that he will primary Soares.

US Senate approves jobs bill for returning vets

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The U.S. Senate has passed legislation meant to address the high unemployment rate among returning veterans.

New York Sen. Charles Schumer, a cosponsor, says the unemployment rate for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan hovers near 15 percent in some counties.

The bill, approved 94-1, would provide tax credits for employers hiring veterans, as well as job training to help vets return to the work force.

The Hire Heroes Act would provide companies that hire a vet who has been looking for work for at least four weeks to get a tax credit of $2,400.

Businesses that hire a vet who has been looking for a job for at least six months would get a $5,600 tax credit.
      

      
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

NY seeks fed grant to bolster kids in early grades

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York is seeking a $100 million grant to make students better prepared for kindergarten.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says 44 percent of New York's third graders don't meet state reading standards, giving students a bad start to their academic careers.

State Education Commissioner John King says the grant would help the current effort by the state Board of Regents to improve the readiness of students from pre-kindergarten through elementary school.

In part the funding would be used for a new assessment process that would evaluate if a student is ready to advance to the next grade.

      
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

NY seeks fed grant to bolster kids in early grades

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York is seeking a $100 million grant to make students better prepared for kindergarten.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says 44 percent of New York's third graders don't meet state reading standards, giving students a bad start to their academic careers.

State Education Commissioner John King says the grant would help the current effort by the state Board of Regents to improve the readiness of students from pre-kindergarten through elementary school.

In part the funding would be used for a new assessment process that would evaluate if a student is ready to advance to the next grade.

      
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Albany County's new budget contains tax hike

ALBANY - Governor Cuomo says he would be concerned if he lived in Albany County because Albany County's new budget contains a tax hike that is nearly ten times the two percent tax cap Cuomo recently signed into law.

The tax increase being recommended would be 19.2 percent by outgoing County Executive Michael Breslin.  

Breslin leaves office at the end of the year and his parting gift to taxpayers is this budget that will cost the average homeowner about $110 to $120 dollars more a year, depending on where they live

Breslin says the proposed tax hike, a whopping 19.2 percent was unavoidable. Revenues are down sharply, sales tax and investments off by $24 million, expenditures meanwhile are up sharply and Medicaid and pensions increased nearly $9 million.

Breslin blames it mainly on state mandates, expenses the county has no control over.