Fighting for our Freedom in Western New York
An in depth look into the politics of Erie County, Albany and Western New York.
ALBANY is once again re minding New Yorkers that "creativity" is a dirty word when wielded at budget time.
This year, state lawmakers are focusing their creative powers on conjuring up money for school construction. Their inventive solution to a straightforward issue has poor implications for the future of the state's - and the city's - fiscal health.
State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno have signed off on a plan to provide Gotham with $11.2 billion over the next several years to build and repair public schools.
The first part of Albany's schools solution is "Excel," the "Expanding Our Children's Education and Learning" program. But "expanding our children's debt and tax-paying" is more like it. Albany will authorize one of its famously unaccountable public authorities, the Dormitory Authority, to issue $2.6 billion in new debt: $1.8 billion for city schools, and $800 million for other districts in the state.
Albany could simply give Gotham and other districts the $2.6 billion - the state has a $4 billion surplus. But then lawmakers would have to cut back spending in other areas. So, instead, Albany will borrow all of this money and pay it back over 30 years - meaning nearly $200 million in extra costs each year from now until 2037.
New Yorkers already understand that this is penny-wise and pound-foolish: They voted down a similar proposal nearly a decade ago. That's why Silver and Bruno are trying to sneak this one through the back door, via the public authority rather than regular state debt.
Have these two ever done anything above board and in the public eye? NO! Except for their stupid displays of public debate they have done nothing in public.
All deals are done behind closed doors clearly in violation of NYState open meetings Law. But do they care? Hardly.. What ever they want these two get by hook or by crook. And the latter word foits them to a T..
Turn it over to an Authority! and the Dormitory Authority? They control everything, everything in this state and they will ride the titantic untill it is capsizing. Then jump ship leaving us to clean up their destruction.
Bills in the Senate and the Assembly, backed by the Working Families Party, that would assess large employers in the state $3 per hour per worker for health care coverage if they're not providing sufficient benefits. Such legislation is known familiarly as the Wal-Mart bill.
Nationwide, the mega retailer is in the cross hairs of similar union-backed bills critical of its stinginess on wages and benefits. In January, the AFL-CIO launched the Fair Share for Health Care campaign and targeted 33 states; many are considering legislation like that introduced in New York by Sen. Nicholas Spano, R-Yonkers, and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan.
A mandate on large business is sure to dribble down to smaller firms at some point, he reasoned. NFIB, which has valued the $3 per hour per worker assessment at $8.4 billion in New York, has termed the legislation "government-assisted economic suicide" since many surveys already rank the Empire State as among the most unfriendly to business in the nation.
Help lower businesses' costs by reducing mandates and finding relief on high energy, workers' compensation and real property taxes. But, he said, "you still have to fight" when legislation like the Wal-Mart bills surfaces. "If this passes, you can turn out the lights," he warned.
His NFIB has put a fine point on that by calling workers "the first casualties" of the Wal-Mart bills backed by the Working Families Party. "Sadly, working people are always the first victims of New York's economic policy," according to the NFIB.
My God this is a mirror of the Bill just passed in Maryland, this is another step toward the destruction of the businesses in the state of New York. Some times I think they are trying their best to make us a third world nation. The budget is bad enough and must be vetoed, I sure hope and Pray that the legislators wake up and not even allow this in for debate. But with the union influence and the buying off of our government it will most likely happen. This should enrage the people of this state that are surviving on a shoe string budget and are on the verge of leaving. Soon enough some one will have to turn out the lights because the remaining jobs and the people will be gone.
Headlines across the state read..
State budget passes on time
Lawmakers pass on-time budget for second year in a row
All I have to say is.. This budget is a complete disaster for this state, and Pataki must veto it, the whole dam thing.. Problem is the legislature has the vote to override it and we will be stuck with the worst budget since the last years of Gov Cuomo....and one that creates the second-biggest one-year spending increase in New York history. It should have been expected as this year is election year and they must give out all the cookies to keep the people happy... See that is their twisted thinking. What the people want is responsible government, major reform, medicaid reductions, tax cuts, reduction in utility rates and a responsive legislature. The plan added about $3 billion to the budget proposal offered by Pataki in January. Most of the bills sailed through on votes such as 56-4 in the Republican-run Senate and 134-9 in the Democrat-led Assembly. So much of the budget is unclear as there is no place to get information on it but media outlets. Pataki says the plan actually adds up to $115.5 billion — and that parts of it are unconstitutional. Pataki, a Republican, said legislators ignored his calls to slow down the growth of the sprawling Medicaid program.
One thing is certain much of it is funded by sources with revenue that is simply projected as the collection of taxes from the Reservations and the Medicaid fraud unit that has yet to be put in place. They are arguing over who will do the appointing of the committee..
They can't get anything right.
``There isn't a nickel's worth of savings,'' said Assemblyman James Hayes, R-Amherst, Erie County. ``It's a public-be-damned attitude.''
and Mr Hayes is exactly right on this.. Bravo to you Jim... I can only imagine how frustrating it is for him in a Dem controlled assembly being led by Silver..
Look at some of the comments coming from these supposed leaders.
``There is really no reason whatsoever that anyone should vote against this budget,'' said Senate Education Committee chairman Stephen Saland, R-Poughkeepsie
The only skunks at the garden party were fiscal watchdogs and a handful of legislators who called the $7 billion one-year jump irresponsible.
Excuse me Mr irresponsible Saland.... There are very few Fiscal watchdogs in Albany and clearly you are not one of them.
"We've done it," said Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. "We find what we're doing here is extremely right for the people ... this is truly a proud moment for all of us."
"This one is a good budget, on time," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in a press conference before the last bill was voted upon. "The budget is done."
Sen. Michael Balboni, a Long Island Republican, dismissed the criticism by independent government analysts, saying their perspective is "viewed through the prism of cynicism" that the budget spends too much and is motivated by the fall elections.
"This decision marks for us that we choose hope over despair ... I vote yes on this budget as an affirmation of what we can do when we decide to do it," he said.
"This is my 34th budget," said Sen. Dale Volker, an Erie County Republican. "I don't believe I have ever been part of a budget that provided the kind of money we have."
Assemblyman William Parment of Jamestown, a member of the Democratic majority, said, "I think we're spending more than we need to." But he said the way the budget bills are packaged, lawmakers can "pick and choose."
Pataki calls budget plan unacceptable
"I don't have a clue as to what the governor is going to do," said Senate Majority
Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, Rensselaer County, when asked about potential vetoes, which the Legislature could override.
Oh I beg to differ Mr Bruno you do.. You know exactly what he is going to do and you know exactly where your next step is. You and Silver will both work together and vote to override the veto.
"This budget ... is extremely right for the people," declared Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Rensselaer County, a sentiment shared by most legislators.
It appears you already have the votes to do so.
"Seems to me if people wanted to be helpful to the people of this state, they'd find ways to make it happen," Bruno said of the Pataki administration. "Stop having a tantrum because you're not getting their way. All I keep hearing ... is negativity and they ought to get with the program."
The one year where we thought there would be some sort of fiscal restraint, some steps toward reform and there is not only none, they go beyond where they have ever been before. Why do we have a supposed 4 billion dollar surplus? #1 is the incredible amount of money the state took in due to the ever increasing cost of gasoline, #2 we have been so overtaxed. They are addicted to money there is no if's and or but's about it. Seems like it's Bruno that needs to get with the program.
Not one nickel cut in Medicaid... Instead they are looking to the fed's to give them more.. The feds already pay
Population of California-35,893,799Population of Florida-16 Million+
We pay more than both combined.. and this legislature does nothing about it.
Population of New York-19,227,088projected Medicaid cost- 50 Billion
That is $10,788 per Medicaid enrollee--more than $43,000 to insure a family of four. New York spends more on almost every service category than comparable states: hospitalization, long-term care, and in-home and personal care.
Some highlights of this budget..
A direct cash rebate will go to an estimated 3.3 million to 3.7 million payers of property tax. Estimated costs around $800 million. The amount of tax rebate will be based on 30 percent of their 2005 STAR school property tax credit, based on that year’s school tax figure. The checks would range from $82 to $822, state officials estimate.
•Legislation barring the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from charging a $1 per month surcharge on E-Z Pass tagholders.
•$22 million to make improvements to the New York State Empire Rail Corridor between New York City and Niagara Falls.
The first phase is between Albany and New York City.
•$200 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, including $50 million for land acquisition, $20 million for farmland protection and $7.5 million for municipal recycling.
•$1.4 million for redevelopment of Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, Oneida County and $100,000 for Niagara Falls Air Force Base redevelopment.
•$500,000 for a math and science hub for Rochester-area colleges.
•$100,000 for the state to create a Web site for consumers to compare auto- insurance rates.
- $1.1 billion increase in school aid, tax credits for parents of school-age children and at least a 16 percent raise in aid to every city, town and village in New York.
- There's nearly $300 million for sports stadiums and a 33 percent rise for environmental preservation
Your taxes go to their perks
State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno ran up $10,825 in booze bills from eight upstate liquor stores over the past two years.
Jetting to Italy last fall, he chalked up a $7,990 tab for fine dining and lodging in Rome, Venice, Florence, Chianti, Orvieto and Positano.
Back in Manhattan, he enjoyed a $1,140 feast at Palm West, the West Side steakhouse, and a $979 repast at City Hall, the Tribeca hot spot.
But the Rensselaer Republican didn't spend a dime of his own money: He charged the extravagances to his campaign treasury.
Bruno is not alone: At least 145 of the 212 members of the state Legislature have raided their political war chests to pay for exotic travel, champagne lifestyles and personal pleasures, a Daily News review of campaign spending found.
Bottom line: Contribute to a campaign and the money may buy TV ads or mailings — but it can also pay for vino, lobster, criminal defense bills and trips to sun-kissed beaches.
"Yes, I admit it, I went to Bali, said Assembly Majority Leader Paul Tokasz. "I had a very nice meal and I jogged on the beach. But this was a grueling trip."
The Buffalo Democrat is a frequent flier who taps campaign cash to pay for portions of his getaways, like the 10-day, goodwill mission he took to Indonesia and Singapore last year with a national group of state legislators.
"Bali was a brief respite. But I still had eight hours of meetings with local legislators," he told The News. "This was after the tsunami so we used lessons learned after 9/11 to help with post-tsunami issues."
Tokasz argues that using his campaign kitty saves taxpayer money
But Mr Tokasz is this what all your contributors are giving you money for??? Either way it is improper and abuse of your office..
They live like “Lifestyles of the rich and famous only it’s your money that funds it not theirs. No wonder they enjoy their cushy jobs.
First they don’t have to make any decisions, the special interests and the unions do that for them. Who ever gives the most money gets the favorable legislation. Secondly while they are supposed to be in session they have the opportunity to go to all the cocktail parties, golf games while getting paid from you and I…
I have heard that being a senator or an assemblyman is the best job any of them could have… It’s all becoming clear to me now, how bout you?
Looks like the voting is over the tally has not changed in a few days.
OK, Tim, Kevin..What say you?
New time slot for Hardline with Hardwick?
Yes74% No26% I did a little digging found the voter registration for the 28th congressional district and this is what I found. Republican99,726 Democratic219,037 Blank 68,630
Total eligible voters- 387,393
People that are not registered with a party the so called Blanks really have more control over the results of an election than anyone would give them credit for. Who votes in elections? Last year the turnout was sinful, 13% of people thought the elections in Erie county were important, that is basically the base. Could you imagine if the registered blanks voted? The blanks alone could swing an election one way or the other. People have just lost faith in the elected and I don't blame them, look at the quality of people in office. Very few actually represent their districts. Like Giambra said on Sandy's show, they get elected and in no time they defend the institution in Albany/DC than their district. He is dead on right with that issue. Let's look at Reynolds district..
Congressional District 26
Republican 185,838 Democratic141,589 Blank 91,035
Davis has a real good shot at beating Reynolds in the race this year.
Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - Among budget proposals being floated by New York State legislators is a tax rebate for property owners that would come to your house just before all the members face re-election in November.
The rebates, an average of $170 for Erie County property owners, still face scrutiny from the Governor, but among the WNY delegation, the proposal is a popular one.
WBEN's Tom Puckett spoke with several lawmakers who represent the greater Buffalo area in Albany, and found all support the proposal. To hear his report, click on the audio link above.
I wish I could find the sound byte of Volker, he sounds so contentious.
Of course it's political and they are using this to buy votes. We have got to get rid of these people.
I've about had my fill of this "illegal immigrant" crap.. I lived in Arizona and the illegal Mexicans destroyed the construction industry. When working out there you get paid piece work, you get paid a certain dollar figure for a project, if you don't like the pay there is van loads of illegals that will do it cheaper. They have succeeded in driving down the wages in the desert southwest. Don't tell me me that there aren't Americans that won't do the jobs. Problem is with the low pay you cannot survive out there. They on the other hand can deal with the low pay, of course they co back to Mexico and live very well on the American dollar. Come to this country, your welcome to but do it legally, fly the American flag not the Mexiacn, Jamican, Cuban flag.. And by the way the stars go up and the Mexican flag flies under the Mexican flag. Speak english, my ancestors came here on the Mayflower, from Ireland and England. They came here to work, to be Americans. This is how they chose to fly the flag the other day.. You don't have to agree with the Law but the Law is the Law and until it changes, you must obey it otherwise leave.
School construction aid is good priority
That crunching you hear throughout the five boroughs is the sound of shovels breaking ground on billions of dollars in city school construction, courtesy of Albany. It's the sound of city kids moving out of crowded, crumbling classrooms no suburban parent would tolerate. And while another court order was needed to create the political will, it's about time.
The legislature, at the behest of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and in consultation with Gov. George Pataki, has approved helping the city spend $11.4 billion on school buildings over the next five years. That's roughly the target set by a state appeals court in a ruling to stop shortchanging city students. Although a potential budget buster, like many worthwhile initiatives in the legislative spending plan, the state would pay $6.5 billion, and the city would come up with $4.7 billion. That's a fair split of responsibility.
This year, the city also will get at least $400 million in new operating aid. Unfortunately, that doesn't come close to meeting the court's order to boost operating aid by $4.7 billion to $5.6 billion within four years. And there is no plan to fund the remainder. Even Pataki's underfunded proposal, if for fewer dollars, devoted a higher percentage of new aid to needy districts than the legislature's does.
Wow... just wow..
Governor Pataki said he's ready to use his veto power to make sure the state's budget is in place by Saturday, when the fiscal year starts.
The Republican governor said the Legislature's $112 billion budget spends too much and doesn't include enough reforms. He said there will have to be major changes to have a budget that's acceptable to him.
Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno wouldn't say if the Legislature has enough votes to override any vetoes.
The Legislature's spending plan would increase spending by more than $1.6 billion over Pataki's proposal and return hundreds of dollars in tax credits and "rebate" checks to most New Yorkers.
The current budget totals $106 billion and includes a $2 billion to $4 billion surplus.
He will veto and they will override it, they get what they want anyway....
What a mess of a government we are stuck with..
AMHERST, N.Y. -- Businessman Jack Davis launched a rematch against U.S. Rep. Thomas Reynolds Thursday, hoping to build on the 44 percent of votes he collected against the powerful Republican in 2004.
Davis, 73, revived a platform centered around opposition to globalization and free trade agreements such as the Reynolds-supported CAFTA, which Davis blames for the demise of the country's economy.
"They are destroying America's wealth-producing jobs, farms and industries," he told about 100 supporters at the first of three planned stops in the western New York district which has lost much of its industrial base.
Davis came close last time, he just may do it this time.
Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - It's back to the drawing board for Erie County lawmakers who favor an apprenticeship law. Today, they heard from both sides of the issue as they try to draft a new version.
Carpenters union president Tom Burke says apprenticeship programs increase opportunities for all, especially women and minorities. But Chip Jones of the Associated Builders and Contractors says apprenticeship programs are good, but there are other programs that are just as effective but not as costly.
Democrat Tim Kennedy, who sponsored the initial apprenticeship law, is trying to rewrite the legislation in time for next week's meeting. The law that was rejected called for any worker on a county project to be part of a state apprenticeship program.
Listening to sound bytes on WBEN yesterday I heard Mike Ranzenhofer make a real good point, he asked, "has the quality of our construction suffered over the years? are our roads crumbling? are buildings falling down?".... Every government project I have ever worked on is over built, they have better built facilities than any other. Road construction on the thruway is done with "high early" concrete and is 10 to 12 inches thick. High early is concrete that sets up faster as not to delay opening roads back up again. I was superintendent of the communications center at NiaFalls AFB, they had backup heating - cooling systems, two roofing systems, two sprinkler systems, all steel constructed walls, concrete floors and a computer system floor on top of that with removable panels for electric and cables to be run through. The building was built to with stand a bomb blast. That small building cost us 1.5 Million dollars. I won't even get into the union busting tactics that went on as smashing windshields, flattened tires, picket lines I had to drive thru...
It was a very ugly, ugly situation until I was forced into hiring the local unions to do some of the work. Remember we have to pay union scale for all work, laborers were getting $30 per hour, carpenters $39. an hour.... I was superintendent and made $600 per week, if I broke it down to hourly wage it would be equeal to minimum wage.
As state lawmakers scramble to pass an on-time budget, they're including a proposal that would give raises to thousands of workers across the state. The thing is -- they're not government workers, and one local leader is crying foul.
In their version of the budget both the New York State Assembly and Senate are trying to attach a special fund of $37.5 million to give raises to home health care workers, who do not work for the state.
The fund still requires final approval from both the legislature and the governor.
"We do this on a regular basis to get people into industries and into areas of work that are very difficult to recruit for," Assemblyman Paul Tokasz (D-Cheektowaga).
Erie County Executive Joel Giambra sees it differently.
"Thirty eight million dollars that could be used to help the taxpayers of Erie County is going to support a private union," Giambra said.
He's referring to 1199/SEIU, the powerful health care workers union that lobbied for the extra money, which would benefit all home health care workers, not just its own.
SEIU has donated big money to the campaigns of the most powerful state lawmakers. Among the Western New York delegation, it's given Assemblyman Tokasz the most since the year 2000 -- $26,000.
Several elected state leaders representing Erie County also have taken money from SEIU since 2000. They include:
Tokasz -- $26,000 Hoyt -- $17,570 Volker – $12,725 Peoples -- $6,100
Rath -- $1,000 Hayes -- $500
"It's obvious what's happening there," Giambra said. "The people who pay the most get the most access to government and the most benefits from that."
Tokasz also pointed out that both Erie County and the City of Buffalo will also benefit this year from an increase in state aid.Isn't this nice of Mr. Tokash, give us a little cookie as an increase of state aid.. instead of cutting and doing what needs to be done and that is to reign in the spending. This is exactly the type of corruption that has got to stop, it is destroying NY..
and seiu is only one of the many unions that bribe our elected with heavy $$$$ for their campaigns.. This is what we are up against trying to run candidates against the entrenched political machine. We must remember that we out number then 4 to 1.. Voting in a primary is crucial and the only place where these people are vulnerable.
It's inevitable -- every year there are winners and losers in the state budget process. But this time around, the Spa City is hitting the jackpot.
The jackpot is the more than $2.5 million the city is getting from the state for having the racino right in its backyard.
The Times Union is reporting that Senator Joe Bruno and Assemblyman James Tedisco reworked the budget so Saratoga cashes in.
Governor Pataki originally proposed putting aid in the pockets of VLT towns if they had a high percentage of kids in the free school lunch program. Bruno and Tedisco worked out a deal to delete that part of the plan.
Everyone cashes in with our tax dollars. They are out of control, my blood boils watching this constant abuse of our money. Notice the newest statistics every county in the USA is growing but New York.. Do we have to wonder why any longer?