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WJTN News Headlines

State Assembly Democrats have proposed a $150.7 billion state budget they say will put families first... and, call for larger increases in the minimum wage and school aid than Governor Cuomo did.  The plan also has increased support for child care, affordable housing and social services.  Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, surrounded by colleagues, says the goal is to promote all 19 million New Yorkers' economic independence and future well-being.  The Democrats have a two-thirds Assembly majority, constituting one of three main forces in negotiations on spending for the fiscal year that starts April 1st.  The Cuomo administration has proposed a spending plan that's also loaded with possible new laws on topics ranging from government ethics to teacher evaluations.  The Senate's Republican majority is expected to disclose positions Thursday.


Local state Assemblyman Andy Goodell says he's disappointed by the Democratic majority's rejection of 13 rule changes introduced by minority Republicans.  Goodell says it's especially frustrating when a group of Democrats had supported many of the changes outlined by the GOP. The proposals included measures that would post committee votes online and and establish term limits for legislative leaders.  As a result, Goodell doesn't expect much to change under new Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.  He says that flies in the face of what Heastie said when he was elected speaker... and, pledged to reform the way the Assembly operates.  The votes were mostly along party lines.  Assemblyman Michael "Mickey" Kearns from the Buffalo-area was one of the few Democrats who supported most of the reforms.


The state Assembly's Democratic majority has proposed raising the state's minimum wage twice over the next three years... with higher levels for the New York City area.  The statewide minimum is currently 8-dollars-75 cents... and, is scheduled to reach $9 next year.  The Assembly Democrats, in their budget proposal, say the minimum hourly wage upstate should rise to 10-dollars-50 cents in 2017... and, two years later to $12.60.  For tipped workers it would increase at the same time to $7.50 and later to $9.  In New York City, Westchester County and Long Island, the minimum wage would rise to $12.50 in 2017 and two years later to $15.  Tipped wages there would rise to $9.50 and later to $11.40.  Inflation indexing would begin in 2019.  The rates are higher than what's in Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposal.


Chautauqua County's Congressman was in Jamestown yesterday... learning more about what kind of tax and trade help they need to be competitive in the global marketplace.  Corning Republican Tom Reed spent about an hour Tuesday afternoon touring TitanX Engine Cooling... and, it's wind tunnel on Allen Street.  Reed says meeting with business leaders, and touring their facilities, helps him in working on tax policy as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Early last July... TitanX entered into a unique agreement with it's two unions... the United Auto Workers... and, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.  The "High Performance Partnership" involves giving workers on the floor a voice in making a better product.  Company leaders told Reed about that agreement... which he says is a great example of the "can-do" attitude of Southern Tier Manufacturers.  TitanX makes state-of-the art cooling systems for heavy duty vehicles... and, does a lot of research and development in that area.


Gasoline prices in the Jamestown-area have jumped nearly 11-cents a gallon this week to more than 2-dollars-60 cents.  That from the Triple-A's Fuel Gauge Report... which says the average price of regular, unleaded rose from just over 2--54 last week, to 2--65 this week.  The Triple-A says the average was based on reports from 19 service stations in the area.  The national average is now 2-dollars-45 cents a gallon.  Triple-A reports the national average fell Monday for the first time since increasing for 40 consecutive days, which was the longest streak of daily price increases since 2011.  The Fuel Gauge says retail gas prices typically trend higher this time of year as suppliers undergo maintenance... and, plan to reduce winter grade fuel in preparation for the changeover to summer-grade gasoline, which is more costly to make.  Globally... Triple-A says the price of crude oil remains volatile due to speculations about possible production cuts due to oversupply... and, news of rising global demand.  U.S. production continues to hit record levels, and stockpiles have climbed to their highest weekly levels since the energy agency started collecting statistical data on the subject in 1982.


There is now special foundation in place to help raise money for projects in the Jamestown city school district consistant with the district's mission goals.  The school board recently approved a resolution establishing the PROMISE Fund... and, it's eight-member board of directors.  Jamestown School Superintendent Tim Mains says the fund -- which has been several years in the making -- will help further projects in the district which is facing "severe financial challenges...."  The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation will host the new fund... which Mains says is similar to the Southwestern Schools Education Foundation.  That foundation was established several years ago to help fund construction of that district's new athletic complex.  Mains says the effort raised nearly all the money for the project.  Mains says the PROMISE Fund will begin as a "non-endowed" fund that will raise money for projects... and, scholarships... like the Southwestern Fund. 


The state Assembly has approved four new members to the state Board of Regents that sets education policy for public schools and state colleges and universities.  The Assembly has also returned two members of the 17-member board to additional five-year terms.  The positions are unpaid.  New regents include Beverly Ouderkirk, former teacher, principal and school superintendent and currently school board member and library trustee in Morristown.  Catherine Fisher Collins, is an author who has degrees in nursing, health education and a doctorate from the State University at Buffalo.  The third new Regent is Judith Johnson, a Brooklyn College graduate and former school superintendent, is past president of the New York Association of Small City Schools.  Finally... Judith Chin worked for the New York City Department of Education for 37 years, including as a regional superintendent.