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This Week in New York State Government

Governor:

Governor Cuomo Announces Nearly $4 Million Awarded to Combat Motor Vehicle Theft and Insurance Fraud

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced more than $3.7 million in grant funding to fight against motor vehicle theft and insurance fraud. The grant awards will go to district attorneys’ offices and police departments in seven counties and New York City, the Fire Department of New York, as well as to two training organizations, all of which will work to enhance their efforts in reducing these crimes. The selected agencies will continue their efforts to combat motor vehicle theft – which has been steadily declining in New York. Law enforcement reported 15,451 thefts in 2013, a 10 percent decrease from 2012 and a 62 percent decrease since 2003. They will also target suspected motor vehicle insurance fraud.

The 17 organizations and agencies will receive grants and use them in a variety of ways to combat fraud, including funding either all or a portion of the salaries of assistant district attorneys and investigators specifically assigned to handle motor vehicle theft and insurance fraud cases, pay overtime for enhanced enforcement and sting operations and offer specialized training for prosecutors, police officers and investigators. The funding cycle for the grants aligns with the calendar year.

Comptroller:

Comptroller DiNapoli: Needles, Birth Control Go Missing From NYC School Health Centers

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced that an audit of the New York State Department of Health (DOH) found that medications and potentially hazardous medical supplies were unaccounted for at its School-Based Health Centers (Centers).

The DOH operates 222 Centers that provide medical services to nearly 170,000 city students, accounting for about 700,000 health care visits every year. Most Centers – 129 – are on school property. The audit looked at the facilities’ operations between July 1, 2011 and Nov. 21, 2013.

DOH requires the Centers to follow the same inventory controls and record-keeping rules as hospital pharmacies. DiNapoli’s audit sampled 11 health centers serving 47 schools and found they had no procedures to ensure they followed these regulations. Auditors noted that failure to control inventory not only allows important and hazardous medical supplies to go missing, but can also mean that medications are not ordered when they are in low supply or not available when needed.

The audit identified the following items that were unaccounted for:

  • 2,712 hypodermic needles were missing at Martin Luther King, Jr Educational Campus in Manhattan. Officials at the health center said they did not keep a record of stock or conduct inventory;
  • Excluding the hypodermic needles, a total of 907 units (39.5 percent) of various medications could not be accounted for out of the 2,298.25 units listed in the sampled Centers’ records
  • 712 packages of contraceptives from several schools;
  • 131 boxes of antibiotic tablets from several schools; and
  • 21 albuterol inhalers from several schools.

DiNapoli’s audit also found that 9 of the 11 audited Centers kept no records of the medications they received from or returned to parents and that they kept no record of their contact with parents regarding expired medication or arrangements to return medication at the end of the school year. In addition, the audit found the Centers’ list of drugs-on-hand included medications used to treat ADD/ADHD, autism, bipolar disorder and anxiety conditions that were not in the students’ medication cabinet. Officials said they must have either thrown them out or returned them to parents and forgotten to make a record of it.

Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Bond Calendar for First Quarter

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced a tentative schedule for the planned sale of obligations for the state, New York City, and their major public authorities during the first quarter of 2015.

The proposed new issuances total approximately $2.44 billion, including approximately $1.65 billion scheduled for this month, $551 million for February and $239.5 million for March. The first quarter of anticipated new issuances compares to past planned new issuances of approximately $6.71 billion during the fourth quarter of 2014 and $3.93 billion during the first quarter of 2014.

The State Comptroller chairs the Securities Coordinating Committee which was created by Gubernatorial Executive Order primarily to coordinate the borrowing activities of the State, New York City and their respective public authorities. All borrowings are scheduled at the request of the issuer and done pursuant to its borrowing programs.

Comptroller DiNapoli and Senator Peralta Pen Op-Ed on NYS Dream Act

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and state Senator Jose Peralta co-authored an op-ed on the NYS DREAM Act. If passed, the bill would extend the state’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to eligible undocumented students.   In 2013, Comptroller DiNapoli released a report estimating that additional TAP costs would be less than     $20 million, an increase of less than two percent, if extended to undocumented undergraduate students attending City University of New York (CUNY) and State University of New York (SUNY) colleges during the 2012-2013 academic year. A revised version of that report using student enrollment data for the 2013-2014 academic year reaffirmed the cost and impact estimates from the 2013 report.  To read the op-ed, click here.