DiNapoli: Chatham Police Chief Sentenced for Pension Double-Dipping

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/07/dinapoli-chatham-police-chief-sentenced-pension-double-dipping

Excerpt:

Former Village of Chatham Chief of Police Peter Volkmann was sentenced to pay $92,829 in restitution and perform 200 hours of community service today for defrauding the New York State pension system by concealing his unlawful post-retirement public income and for stealing from the village through sham requests for reimbursement. His fraud was discovered during a joint investigation by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka, and the New York State Police.

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Volkmann pleaded guilty in February to grand larceny in the fourth degree for circumventing New York state’s post-retirement income restrictions and cheating the New York State and Local Retirement System out of $74,222. Volkmann hid public-source income from 19 municipalities and school districts in excess of the statutory limit by funneling the earnings through a private business, PF Volkmann & Associates. He also pled to official misconduct, a misdemeanor, for stealing $18,607 from the Village of Chatham by falsifying mileage vouchers and other reimbursements to increase his income. 

Volkmann, 57, of Stuyvesant, served as a Chief of Police for the town of Stockport until 2016. He was also the Chief of Police for the Village of Chatham since the fall of 2013 and he served as unpaid Commissioner of the Hudson Police Department from January 2020, until this investigation became public.

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Publication Date: 19 July 2021

Publication Site: NY State Comptroller

DiNapoli: Local Sales Taxes Jump 49.2 Percent in Second Quarter

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/07/dinapoli-local-sales-taxes-jump-49-point-2-percent-second-quarter

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Excerpt:

Sales tax revenue for local governments in New York state rose by 49.2% in the second quarter (April to June 2021) compared to the same period last year, a dramatic increase from last year’s weak collections during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Sales tax collections during this period grew by just over $1.6 billion and even surpassed collections reported during the second quarter of 2019, before the onset of the pandemic.

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The size of the increase largely reflects extremely weak collections in the April to June period of 2020. However, even compared to pre-pandemic collections for the same period in 2019, statewide collections in 2021 were up 8.7% or $396 million. Every region outside of New York City experienced two-year growth over 18%. The Mid-Hudson and North Country regions both reported increases of more than 29%.

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Publication Date: 23 July 2021

Publication Site: NY State Comptroller

Report Reveals Albany’s Balanced Budget a Gimmick

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Excerpt:

The dramatic reversal that shrank the state’s four-year budget gap from $38.7 billion in January to the current $3.4 billion occurred, incredibly, despite the Governor and legislature adopting a budget that increases state spending significantly in education and other areas. What turned the tide was a massive injection of federal aid—including $12.7 billion in no-strings federal aid awarded to the state in March under the American Rescue Plan—along with tax collections that defied earlier projections of vast, pandemic-induced revenue loss, and new tax hikes inflicted on high earners estimated to yield $2.75 billion in new revenue this year alone. As a result, the enacted budget financial plan the Governor’s budget office issued last month shows a balanced budget for this fiscal year and next. Even the red ink that starts accumulating in 2024 and 2025 looks manageable.

But looks are deceiving here. Extending the budget window—as does a chart on page nine of the Comptroller’s report, shown below—reveals large, yawning budget gaps growing from nearly $8 billion in 2026 to nearly $20 billion by the end of the decade. The dual expiration of American Rescue Plan funds in 2026 and a temporary hike in the PIT in 2027 sends the budget deep into the red.

Author(s): Peter Warren

Publication Date: 28 June 2021

Publication Site: Empire Center for Public Policy

DiNapoli Moves State Pension Fund Toward Net Zero Target, Restricts Investments in Oil Sands Companies

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/04/dinapoli-moves-state-pension-fund-toward-net-zero-target-restricts-investments-oil-sands-companies

Excerpt:

The New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund) will restrict investments in oil sands companies that have not demonstrated that they are prepared for the transition to a low-carbon economy, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, trustee of the third largest public pension plan in the country, announced today.

This action is tied to DiNapoli’s comprehensive Climate Action Plan to lower investment risks from climate change and transition the Fund’s investment portfolio to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

“As nations around the world become increasingly serious about addressing the threat of climate change and as market forces drive a low-carbon economic transition, we need to make sure our investments line up with this reality,” said DiNapoli. “We have carefully reviewed companies in the oil sands industry and are restricting investments in those that do not have viable plans to adapt to the low-carbon future. Companies responsible for large greenhouse gas emissions like those in this industry, pose significant risks for investors.”

Publication Date: 12 April 2021

Publication Site: Office of the NY State Comptroller

DiNapoli: NYS Pension Fund Announces $400 Million in Sustainable Investments

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/04/dinapoli-nys-pension-fund-announces-400-million-sustainable-investments

Excerpt:

The Fund committed approximately $300 million to Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners IV, a European investment fund that will focus on investments in renewable assets including onshore and offshore wind and solar, as well as climate infrastructure assets that support renewable power.

Additionally, the Fund committed $100 million to Excelsior Renewable Energy Investment Fund I, a North American-focused investment fund that will target investments in renewable power assets such as solar and wind.

Publication Date: 20 April 2021

Publication Site: Office of the NY State Comptroller

NY State Pension Commits to $400 Million in Sustainable Investments

Link: https://www.ai-cio.com/news/ny-state-pension-commits-400-million-sustainable-investments/

Excerpt:

The $247.7 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund has committed approximately $400 million to two funds as part of its Sustainable Investments and Climate Solutions (SICS) Program.

The commitments are part of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s climate action plan to lower investment risks from climate change and help shift the pension fund to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions within the next 20 years.

Author(s): Michael Katz

Publication Date: 26 April 2021

Publication Site: ai-CIO

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Subway Ridership in New York City

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/reports/osdc/impact-covid-19-pandemic-subway-ridership-new-york-city

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Subway turnstile data published by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) shows a correlation between median household income and subway ridership. Neighborhoods with lower median household incomes tended to have significantly higher ridership as a share of 2019 levels compared to wealthier neighborhoods. This trend was clear not only in April, when COVID-19 had its most dramatic impact on ridership, but has continued through the recovery to date.

In high-income neighborhoods, residents are more likely to be employed in sectors that have easily adapted to remote-work models, such as financial activities and business services. In neighborhoods where residents are more likely to continue using the subway during the pandemic, common areas of employment are the health care and social assistance sector and the leisure and hospitality sector.

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Date Accessed: 28 March 2021

Publication Site: Office of New York State Comptroller

NYS Comptroller DiNapoli: Wall Street’s 2020 Bonuses Rose Amid Volatility

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/03/nys-comptroller-dinapoli-wall-streets-2020-bonuses-rose-amid-volatility

Excerpt:

The average bonus paid to employees in New York City’s securities industry grew by 10 percent in 2020 to $184,000, in line with the city’s most recent 9.9 percent projection, likely allowing the city to meet or exceed its income tax revenue projections in FY2021, according to annual estimates released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

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As a major source of revenue, DiNapoli estimates that the securities industry accounted for 18 percent ($15.1 billion) of state tax collections in state fiscal year (SFY) 2020 and 6 percent ($3.9 billion) of city tax collections in city fiscal year (CFY) 2020.

Pretax profits in 2020 for the broker/dealer operations of New York Stock Exchange member firms (the traditional measure of securities industry profits) increased by 81 percent to $50.9 billion. It was the fifth consecutive year of growth in profits, which are up 256 percent since 2015. Profitability in 2020 was the second highest on record, trailing $61.4 billion recorded in 2009.

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Publication Date: 26 March 2021

Publication Site: Office of New York State Comptroller

DiNapoli: DOH Needs to Step Up Enforcement of Patient Safety Violations

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/03/dinapoli-doh-needs-step-enforcement-patient-safety-violations

Excerpt:

The State Department of Health (DOH) has failed to hold accountable certain health care providers including hospitals, nursing homes and individual nurses, for patient safety violations and use its power under the law to impose stronger fines. Additionally, DOH does not ensure amounts collected are directed to increase patient safety, as required, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“Lisa’s Law was created to make health care in New York safer and give patients the knowledge they need to make informed decisions,” DiNapoli said. “The Department of Health generally has improved the public’s access to health care information. Too often, however, it gives negligent health care providers a slap on the wrist by not issuing financial penalties that can act as a deterrent against future incidents and help fund improvements in patient safety. DOH needs to do better.”

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Publication Date: 10 March 2021

Publication Site: Office of the NY State Comptroller

DiNapoli: State’s Fiscal Picture Has Improved, but Impact of Pandemic Revenue Losses Will Linger

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/03/dinapoli-states-fiscal-picture-has-improved-impact-pandemic-revenue-losses-will-linger

Excerpt:

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today said there are some positive developments for the state’s fiscal recovery from the pandemic, including higher than expected personal income tax collections and the prospect of significant aid from the federal government, in his review of the Executive Budget for State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2021-22, as amended by the Governor. However, risks remain and could threaten the state’s fragile improvement.

DiNapoli urged the Governor and the Legislature to avoid short-sighted choices when adopting the new budget, to maintain transparency and include oversight measures. He recommended that actions be taken to address the state’s long-term structural imbalance and put the state’s finances on a sustainable path once emergency federal aid ends.

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Publication Date: 2 March 2021

Publication Site: Office of the New York State Comptroller

DiNapoli: State Pension Fund Calls on Companies to Address Climate Risk, Transition to Cleaner Operations

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/03/dinapoli-state-pension-fund-calls-companies-address-climate-risk-transition-cleaner-operations

Excerpt:

The New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund) has reached agreements with five major U.S. companies, including Domino’s Pizza Inc., to set targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), adopt new energy efficiency measures and increase their use of renewable energy, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, trustee of the Fund, announced today. In response to the agreements, the Fund withdrew the shareholder resolutions with the companies.

“More and more companies understand that addressing climate change, by reducing their carbon emissions, helps their long-term success and benefits investors,” DiNapoli said. “The transition to a low carbon future and meeting our country’s renewed commitment to the Paris Agreement present enormous opportunities for smart, sustainable investments. My thanks to these companies for recognizing their role in building a lower-carbon economy and their responsibility to shareholders’ concerns about climate risk.”

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Publication Date: 4 March 2021

Publication Site: Office of the New York State Comptroller

New York Unemployment Claims Show a Year of Economic Devastation

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/reports/impact-covid-19-march-4-2021

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Excerpt:

Immediately before the pandemic hit New York, for weeks ending in late February and early March 2020, statewide UI claims averaged around 167,000. Those claims almost doubled to over 314,000, as the shutdown went into effect, starting a weeks-long upward spike that reached more than 3.1 million in mid-May. The historic peak of nearly 3.4 million claimants came in the last week of May 2020. The totals from May onward include claimants under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (PUA) which provides benefits to individuals not traditionally eligible for unemployment assistance because of self-employment or certain other reasons. (Due to the PUA and other factors, the numbers of workers claiming unemployment benefits differ from the count of those officially counted as unemployed, which peaked in New York State at 1.5 million or 15.9 percent of the labor force in July 2020.)

The longstanding, regular State program of UI benefits funded by employer contributions was the only source of benefits for the first six weeks shown in the graph and continued to fund the largest numbers of claims into early August. (These payments were supplemented by additional federally funded benefits of $600 or $300 weekly for much, though not all, of the period shown.)

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Publication Date: 4 March 2021

Publication Site: Office of the New York Comproller