ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — In this week's New York state government news, state lawmakers return to the Capitol, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Republican opponent John DeFrancisco rack up endorsements.

A look at stories making news:



Lawmakers are heading back to Albany after a week off for winter break — with the state budget looming.

There's only one more budget hearing scheduled, on Tuesday, focused on spending on environmental protection. After that, members of the Senate and Assembly will begin the difficult task of assembling their own spending proposals. Legislative leaders will then use those spending proposals as the basis of negotiations with Cuomo, a Democrat who proposed his $168 billion budget proposal in January.

Lawmakers hope to agree on a final deal by April 1, the start of the next fiscal year.



Cuomo has yet to formally kick off his re-election campaign but is accepting key Democratic endorsements nonetheless.

The largest labor union in the state, 1199 SEIU, announced its support Wednesday for Cuomo's bid for a third term. Last weekend, the governor won the support of civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Meanwhile, the most high-profile Republican candidate at this point, state Sen. John DeFrancisco, continues to pick up his own endorsements, including ones from U.S. representatives John Katko and Lee Zeldin and GOP Senate Leader John Flanagan, along with several of his GOP Senate colleagues.

Former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra is also running for governor. There's also an emerging effort to urge Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro to enter the race after taking his name out of contention last month.



DeFrancisco was quick to capitalize on an unforced error included in the latest economic development report from Cuomo's administration.

The report — intended to show the state's economic growth — included a prominent, eight-year-old photo of seven construction cranes in South Africa. The photo bore no caption, and was apparently used to give the impression of heavy construction activity in the state. Its true origin was uncovered by The Associated Press.

DeFrancisco quickly capitalized on the "Cranes over Cape Town" kerfuffle.

"We shouldn't have to borrow photographs from South Africa to remind people what economic progress looks like," he said.

Cuomo's administration said the photo will be replaced.

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