The annual state report on lobbying is out, and it finds that $226 million was spent on influencing government leaders, with the largest amount from education groups.

It’s not a surprise that education entities spent the most money on lobbying than any other group in 2014, just as controversy over the new Common core standards and the related standardized tests reached a peak.

  New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will vacate his post by next week. Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle will serve as interim speaker until an election for the post is held on February 10. So, who will be the next Speaker?

We discuss the contenders with Legislative Director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, Blair Horner.

  A reform group studied votes taken by local governments across the state on whether to allow hydro-fracking, and found numerous potential conflicts of interest that they say could have tainted the outcome of the votes.

The New York Public Interest Research Group studied 59 municipalities that have voted to permit hydro-fracking in the past few years, if New York State eventually approves the process.  They found numerous questionable activities, including local elected officials holding gas leases and town attorneys who also represented oil and gas companies.


A new paper issued by the New York Public Interest Research Group says the number of doctors in the state has increased. The findings counter recent research showing the opposite.

The report, titled “The Doctor Is In: New York’s Increasing Number of Doctors,” purports to "debunk the myth" that New York is seeing a loss in the number of its doctors.

Blair Horner
C.W. McKeen / The Post - Standard, 2006

A member of a government reform group says it’s OK if New York Governor Andrew Cuomo uses his campaign coffers to finance this week’s trip to Israel if the visit is for political, rather than government purposes.

Blair Horner, with the New York Public Interest Research Group, says it’s preferable for Governor Cuomo to use funds from his $35 million  campaign fund to pay for his visit to Israel than for state taxpayers to foot the bill.  Horner says by using the campaign money, Cuomo is also signaling that the trip is more of a political event than official government business.

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Government reform groups are split over whether an amendment on the November ballot to change the way legislative district lines are drawn is an improvement, or will make only make gerrymandering worse.

Blair Horner
C.W. McKeen / The Post - Standard, 2006

Government reform groups are beginning their push early to convince voters to reject an amendment on redistricting on the state’s November ballot. They say it’s a sham that does not offer the changes that it promises.

WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

The recession may be over, but many New Yorkers say they still feel a pinch in the pocketbook, paying more for just about everything on stagnant salaries. For many it's another day, another bill. People in high places have heard citizens' cries.

GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino has been holding a mirror to citizen sentiments with his campaign mantra.   "We're losing more people to other states than any other state in the country. 400,000 people in the last four years.  We are losing because we have the highest taxes in America. And it's not even close."


The April 1 deadline has come and New York State has an on-time budget. New York Public Interest Research Group Legislative Director Blair Horner joins Alan in the studio today to talk about the budget. We want to know what you think of it, too.

On this week’s Capitol Connection, our Alan Chartock asks Blair Horner, legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group about one of the six ballot questions New Yorkers will vote on next Tuesday – specifically, question as to whether certain judges in New York should be allowed to serve up to ten years after the age of 70 …

NYPIRG’s Blair Horner on this week’s capitol connection which you can hear tomorrow afternoon at 3.