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Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Hawley and Collins knock Cuomo's proposal to fund college for criminals

post by Howard Owens in Andrew Cuomo, chris collins, NY-27, steve hawley

Press release from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today announced his opposition to Gov. Cuomo’s plan to give free college degrees to people in prison. The governor’s plan reflects the misplaced priorities of Downstaters who continue to ignore the needs of hard-working Western New York families. Instead of rewarding criminals, Hawley says the state should help the families who are taking on overwhelming debt to put their kids through college.

“The governor’s plan to give free college to convicts is one of the worst ideas I’ve heard during my tenure as an assemblyman. It’s insulting to middle-class Western New Yorkers who are taking on debts over $50,000 to go to college,” Hawley said. “This plan punishes law-abiding citizens while rewarding criminals. Not only is this idea wrong in principle, but it may cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. We should never ask taxpayers to pay for the college education of convicts while they are taking on debt to pay for their own.”

Press release Congressman Chris Collins:

“The Governor’s latest plan to fund college educations for convicted criminals with New Yorkers’ tax dollars is an insult to law-abiding citizens all across our state who are struggling to pay for higher education or find employment in this stagnant economy. This plan is just the latest sign that for a state that is the highest taxed and ranks among the worst in job creation, Albany has its priorities all screwed up.”

The Wall Street Journal: New Gov. Cuomo Initiative Will Fund College Classes in Prisons

UPDATE -- from Chris Collins:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) will introduce legislation to prohibit the use of federal taxpayer dollars to provide a college education to convicted criminals. The pending legislation is in response to Governor Cuomo’s announced plan to use taxpayer dollars to fund college degree programs for convicted criminals in New York State prisons.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons provides states with funding for educational and other programs at state prisons and correctional facilities. Collins’ legislation would ban states from using the federal taxpayer dollars to fund college degree programs for convicted criminals.

“We hear over and over again from politicians concerned about the growing cost of higher education and the amount of student debt our young people are sacked with after earning their degree," Collins said. "Strangely, many of these same politicians think tax dollars should be spent to give convicted criminals a free college degree.”

According to The Project on Student Debt, 60 percent of college graduates in New York State carry student debt. The average amount of student debt for New Yorkers is $25,537.  

Congressman Collins will formally introduce the legislation in the coming days. As the House moves forward with the Appropriations process later this year, Collins will also introduce a limiting rider to ensure no appropriated funds in a particular bill are used to fund college courses for convicted criminals. Collins’ bill would not ban states from using federal dollars to support GED or work training programs in prisons and correctional facilities.

Saturday, January 18, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Protesters turn out on cold morning at State Police barracks to rally against Cuomo, SAFE Act

post by Howard Owens in batavia, 2nd Amendment, Andrew Cuomo, SAFE Act

More than 100 gun rights advocates turned out this morning in 20-degree whether at the NYSP barracks on West Saile Drive to protest the SAFE Act.

As expected, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was the target of the protest signs and the speakers' rhetoric, but as it turned out, Cuomo gave the protesters a little extra ammunition when, during a radio interview yesterday, the first-term governor said, “If they are extreme conservatives, they have no place in the State of New York."

More than one speaker mentioned Cuomo's statement and suggested that perhaps it's Cuomo who should leave New York and is the one out of step with the majority of New Yorkers.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley also took Cuomo to task for his statement.

“The governor’s comments about my constituents are offensive and are a Freudian slip, which reveals what he truly thinks of Upstate New Yorkers. He has no right to come to Upstate New York and call himself governor when he has such obvious disdain for its people,” Hawley said. “The majority of Upstate New Yorkers are pro-Second Amendment and believe in traditional family values.

"If the governor does not think the good people of Upstate New York have a place in New York, he seems to be doing a good job of driving our families out of the state with his highest-in-the-nation taxes and infringements on our rights.”

Cuomo's apparent lack of fondness for the people of Upstate New York is yet another reason, Hawley said, for supporting his call for a voter referendum on dividing New York into two states.

For more on Cuomo's statement, see this Buffalo News article.

We had a request to purchase these photos, so, for anybody who would like to purchase prints, click here.

Monday, June 10, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Governor's office releases legislation for proposed 'Tax Free New York' program

post by Howard Owens in Andrew Cuomo, GCC, taxes

The language of the proposed law that would create "Tax Free New York" has been released. It articulates how tax free zones would be created on SUNY campuses, as suggested by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Genesee Community College would be among the state's colleges that could potentially host tax-free zones.

In order to foster entrepreneurial businesses, especially in tech fields, Cuomo hopes the proposal will lead to start-ups and business expansions on college campuses.

Highlights:

  • Colleges would apply for use of vacant space on campus or on property owned by the college and within one mile of the campus with space allocated to business not to exceed 200,000 square feet.
  • The state could also select up to 20 strategic locations of currently vacant or soon to be vacant state buildings for tax-free zones.
  • The college must demonstrate how a business located within a zone would align with or further the academic mission of the college.
  • In its application, the college must discuss whether the business in the tax-free zone would compete with a business in the community, but outside the tax-free zone.
  • Businesses would be required to create new jobs and pay employees prevailing wage in accordance with the Labor Law.
  • The tax exemption would last for 10 years and in order to maintain tax-free status, a business must retain the new jobs it created or face sanctions.
  • Businesses that cannot participate: retail, real estate and professional services.
  • The state will not reimburse local governments for any tax revenue loss.

The state Legislature has this week to either pass or reject the proposal.

Documents (PDF):

Friday, May 31, 2013 at 9:28 am

Cuomo did not criticize tax breaks for COR Development

During the "gaggle" (that's what reporters call it) with Gov. Andrew Cuomo following his speech at GCC yesterday, I asked him specifically about Genesee County Economic Development Center providing tax incentives to the retail project at Batavia Towne Center.

In these mini-press conferences, reporters are only given enough time to ask a few questions and it's difficult to ask follow-up questions, so I fumbled through my question (which really should have been a two- or three-parter), trying to cram in as much information into a short time as possible (and it was still a pretty long-winded question).

Another media outlet has reported that Cuomo was critical of the retail tax subsidies given to COR. The quote used: “It wasn’t the smartest investment of money."

The quote, in my view, is being taken out of context.

Here's Cuomo's full response to my question:

Your case is fact specific and I would have to look at the actual facts to see what they did. We had proposed IDA reforms. I believe there are economies that I can find there and I believe there are incidents where you can find it wasn't the smartest investment of money. That's why, that's one of the reasons I like the approach we're talking about here today. It's simple. It's clean. It doesn't have a lot of bureaucratic red tape. It's very easy to administer. Very few government officials required to administer it. So I think it's preferable to a lot of things we've done in the past.

Included in Cuomo's budget was a reenacted law meant to curtail IDAs providing tax breaks to retail projects. I asked Cuomo what the intent of that law was. He said, "Just improve the process and address the kind of abuses you've been talking about." He then said thank you and turned and left.

I didn't report any of this because I didn't find it particularly newsworthy. He couldn't address the specific local issue (hardly surprising, but I had to ask) and his answer to the more general "intent" question referenced my own question, which by his own admission, he didn't know much about. That seemed like a kind of circular logic that didn't make a lot of sense.

However, given that another media outlet used the quote, and though I don't mean to be critical of a fellow reporter, I feel obliged to put the quote in context.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 5:47 am

NY is Open for Business

post by Bob Harker in Andrew Cuomo, business, ny, politics, taxes

"ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Chief Executive magazine ranks New York as the49th worst state for business in the opinion of CEOs questioned. The ninth annual survey of CEOs blamed New York's high taxes, bureaucracy and a regulatory system that is difficult to navigate. The CEOs ranked New York just better than California. Most larger states with strong labor unions faired poorly in the rankings. CEOs liked Texas most for the ninth straight year, followed by Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana. The ranking comes as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is continuing a "New York Open for Business" campaign with TV ads that say the Empire State is now far more welcoming of business and employers. A Cuomo spokesman notes the state is now at its highest work force size ever."

Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Photo: Sign of the times

post by Howard Owens in 2nd Amendment, Andrew Cuomo, elba, SAFE Act

I'm seeing quite a few anti-Cuomo, anti-SAFE Act signs around Genesee County this spring. This one is in Elba.

Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 11:47 am

Local administrators react coolly to governor's proposed pension plan

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Andrew Cuomo, genesee county, pensions

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a program that would help local governments save on near-term pension costs, potentially relieving local administrations of a major budgeting challenge, but both County Manager Jay Gsell and City Manager Jason Molino are reacting to the news with some caution.

Molino said until he can fully study the budget bill, assuming this provision even moves forward, he can't really comment on it.

He isn't yet ready to agree with the governor that the city will realize $3.1 million in pension savings over the next five years.

In a press release yesterday, Cuomo isn't promising local governments that they will completely avoid the pension expense, just some relief from near-term pension cost instability.

From the press release:

Under the plan, localities are given the option for a stable pension contribution rate that significantly reduces near-term payments but still keeps the pension systems fully funded over the long term. Local governments which opt in would avoid significant volatility in contribution rates and be better able to plan for the future. Though the locality receives short-term relief, because the contribution rate remains fixed, the total amount paid into the fund by the locality would not be diminished over the life of agreement, thereby maintaining the fiscal stability of the pension fund.

While over the next five years, Genesee County could receive a $11.5 million benefit over five years under the plan, Gsell is also keeping the proposal at arm's length.

Here's his e-mail response:

On the surface it is intriguing, but there are concerns as to the back-end balloon escalators in 10 to 25 years and what Comptroller Dinapoli will do every 5 years to "protect" the retirement system dollars is a major note of caution. This could be the NYS version of the Titanic iceberg, only it involves our budgets and employees retirement assets. Once the full details and not just the second-floor spin are revealed we will look at our pay-as-you-go options.

A year ago, Albany enacted a Tier VI retirement plan, which covers only new hires by government agencies. The plan will supposedly greatly reduce local government pension costs, but not for decades from now. What Cuomo is proposing now is to shift those savings so local governments can realize some benefit from Tier VI in the near term.

In the press release, Cuomo hails the plan as a major step toward helping local governments.

"The difficult financial pressures facing localities are well-known here in Albany, and my administration from day one has been committed to helping local governments meet their budgetary obligations as well as continue to provide critical services to their residents," Governor Cuomo said. "While the Tier VI reforms were a major step toward helping local governments deal with the pension crisis, we understand that more help is needed. For this reason, the Executive Budget proposed the Stable Rate option to offer local governments and schools a bridge to the long-term savings of Tier VI, as well as greater predictability."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 9:20 am

Statement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo on anniversary of Sept. 11

post by Howard Owens in 9-11, Andrew Cuomo, kathy hochul

Press release:

"On this day, we mark the eleventh anniversary of the terror attacks that claimed thousands of lives and truly changed New York and our nation forever. On this day, we honor the memories and the lives of those who were killed and the families who will never forget them. We also honor the first responders who bravely put themselves in harm’s way – many of whom never returned home.

"It is also our obligation and our duty to make sure that we will always remember. As a new generation grows up without having witnessed the horror of September 11th, it is important to educate our children so they can understand the tragedy that unfolded on that day, the bravery and courage of our first responders, and the outpouring of goodwill in communities across New York and America as we recovered as one state and one nation."

UPDATE:  Statement from Rep. Kathy Hochul:

“Today as we mark the passing of another year since the September 11 attacks in 2001, we honor those we lost on that day. We recall the innocent victims taken too soon, the courage of the passengers who prevented further tragedy, and those first responders, who in doing their jobs, laid down their lives to protect their fellow Americans.

“What grew from this tragedy was an all encompassing spirit of patriotism, bonding our nation together in common purpose to move our country forward. Our endeavor today is to find that spirit once again. We must recognize that so much more binds us than divides us, and as Americans we are capable of solving the challenges of our time.

“In the memory of all who were lost on 9/11, I call on each of us to rekindle the spirit of patriotism that brought us together in our country’s darkest hour.”

Tuesday, August 7, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Cuomo's new criminal penalties for synthetic drug sales seen locally as a 'Band-Aid'

post by Howard Owens in Andrew Cuomo, bath salts, crime, synthetic drugs

Local officials welcome new NYS Health Department regulations cracking down on the sale and possession of synthetic drugs, but also say the new rules are no substitute for aggressive legislation from Albany.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made three stops across the state today to announce new rules against drugs he deemed more dangerous than crack cocaine or methamphetamines or heroin.

“It is a new face on a very old enemy. It’s an enemy that we fought decade after decade. The enemy is drugs, and it’s an ongoing battle. When you beat one manifestation of the drugs, it comes back in another form, sometimes more virulent.

But whether it’s crack cocaine or methamphetamines or heroin back in the old days, this is just the newest explosion of that old enemy. And in some ways it’s more dangerous and it’s more insidious, because this wasn’t sold in a back alley. This wasn’t sold on a street corner. This isn’t sold in the shadows. This is sold in broad daylight, over the counter in stores all across this state and across this nation.”

Unlike a previous health department ban on synthetic cannabinoids, which allowed only for civil penalties, the new emergency regulations give local police officers the power to arrest people found in possession of banned substances.

If convicted, a person caught selling or possessing one of the banned substances could be fined $500 or serve 15 days in jail, and while the new regulation (PDF) allows for multiple penalties for a shop owner caught with several packages of drugs, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said he's concerned the new rules won't have the desired effect.

"When you consider the harm that we know is caused by these substances, I would like to see more teeth in the law," Friedman said.

When The 420 Emporium stores, along with the residence of the owner(s), were raided by the DEA on July 25, agents recovered more than $700,000 in cash.

Friedman said thinks the penalties need to be harsher than just a $500 fine, even if the fine and jail time can be strung together.

Sheriff Gary Maha expressed some of the same reservations.

Maha urged the Legislature to pass a bill that would make the sale or possession of synthetic compounds a violation of the law under the state's penal code, rather than just a violation of the public health law.

"This appears to be a 'Band-Aid' approach until the legislature enacts such legislation," Maha said. "It helps, but is not enough."

The new regulation bans a dozen specific compounds associated with the type of synthetic drug commonly known as "bath salts." 

While the state has already listed some "bath salt" compounds as controlled substances, the state doesn't have a comprehensive "analog" law (a law that bans substances that are the same or similar to already illegal controlled substances).

The new regulation does specifically cover analogs of banned substances. It also covers a wider variety of the more than 450 known synthetic cannabinoids.

While the regulation specifically states employees of stores selling such products can be prosecuted, the store owners (anybody with an ownership interest in the store) are also held to criminal liability even if not present at the time of sale.

Besides the fine and jail time, a store owner could lose his business.

Batavia PD Chief Shawn Heubusch wasn't available for comment today, but City Manager Jason Molino said the health department's new regulations were a topic on conversation today in a meeting between city staff and the county health department.

Molino said that while the new law seems to lack teeth, it is a step in the right direction.

He also pointed out that tonight is National Night Out and several neighborhoods in the city are actively participating, including the neighborhood around Pringle Park, which organized its own event this year.

"When neighborhoods get together, that is your more powerful enforcement tool," Molino said.

Inset photo: File photo.

Saturday, February 19, 2011 at 8:44 am

How is this a "cut"?

post by Bob Harker in Andrew Cuomo, NY Politics, nys taxes Governor

AP) An early list of proposals from a task force redesigning the most expensive Medicaid system in the nation seeksto charge hospitals and nursing homes more as a way to cut New York's cost.

The above appeared on a Rochester news site, The link for the full article appears below.

How in the world is charging hospitals and nursing home morea  cost cutting move?!! After wooing the state's taxpayers with a speech revolving around a redesigning the way state government works, it seems the old doublespeak is alive and well.

It seems the governor does not have the guts to say that he isconsidering cutting aid to these facilities by 750 million bucks over two years. Instead, he buries this fact by creating a charge back instead. Any bets the chargeback will be called a fee?

 

http://www.wham1180.com/pages/localnews.html?feed=122742&article=8195356

 

 

 

 

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