- Associated Press - Saturday, October 22, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - In the latest developments in New York state government, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli spar over hedge funds, power plant companies sue over nuclear subsidies, and farmers and anti-hunger advocates team up to push for tax credits for farmers who donate food to food banks.

A guide to the week’s top stories in New York government:

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CUOMO-DINAPOLI FRACAS

Relations between Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli worsened this week when Cuomo’s Department of Financial Services slammed DiNapoli for state pension fund investments in hedge funds.

The scathing report issued Monday concluded hedge fund investments have cost the state retirement system $3.8 billion over eight years, a figure which includes $1 billion in management fees.

DiNapoli said the report was filled with inaccuracies and “inflammatory language” and noted that he has reduced state involvement in hedge funds and made no new investments in more than a year.

The sparring between the two Democrats comes after DiNapoli last week criticized Cuomo’s economic development programs, saying a bid-rigging and bribery scandal shows a worrying lack of oversight.

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POWER COMPANIES SUE OVER NUCLEAR SUBSIDIES

The owners of several power plants sued New York utility regulators Wednesday to challenge the state’s approval of billions of dollars in subsidies for aging nuclear plants.

The suit filed in Manhattan federal court argues the state’s subsidies interfere with the federal government’s role in regulating electricity rates, and will burden the ratepayers who will foot the bill, estimated to cost as much as $7.6 billion over 12 years.

Plaintiffs include the owners of natural gas and coal plants such as Eastern Generation LLC and NRG Energy Inc.

Cuomo argues the subsidies will keep plants running while New York transitions from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

State Public Service Commission Chairwoman Audrey Zibelman dismissed the lawsuit as a “frivolous” effort by the fossil fuel industry.

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FARMERS, FOOD BANKS TEAM UP

A broad coalition of 144 environmental organizations, food banks and agriculture groups are urging Cuomo to sign legislation giving farmers a tax break for donating food to food banks.

More than 2.3 million New Yorkers rely on emergency food programs, and advocates say finding fresh fruits and vegetables is a major challenge. Farmers already donate millions of pounds of food every year, but say the credit of up to $5,000 annually would reduce the costs of harvesting and transporting surplus crops that would otherwise go to waste.

The coalition’s members include the New York Farm Bureau, regional food banks, the League of Conservation Voters, the Hunger Action Network of New York and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Cuomo vetoed the bill last year because lawmakers didn’t include it in the budget.

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RECORD VOTER REGISTRATION

New Yorkers are setting voter registration records in advance of the presidential election.

More than 214,300 people filed online voter registration applications between Oct. 1 and Oct. 14, the deadline. The previous one-month record of 140,602 was set last month.

A new record for single-day registration was set Oct. 14 when nearly 68,000 people signed up to vote.


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