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Monday, February 25, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Hawley promoting talking of two-state solution for New York

post by Howard B. Owens in new york, steve hawley

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C-Batavia) is carrying out a number of interviews to garner support for his legislation that would allow New Yorkers to answer the question “Do you support the division of New York into two separate states?”

Hawley has participated in, and scheduled future interviews with, high-profile outlets such as Capital Tonight, Talk 1300 Radio and WBEN Radio to highlight Assembly Bill 391, which would help Upstate and Western New Yorkers make their voices heard in state government by allowing counties to put the aforementioned question to a non-binding voter referendum.

“Due to the fact that much of New York’s population is concentrated Downstate – primarily in New York City – the vast majority of statewide legislative leaders are not from Upstate or Western New York. As a result, many local families feel their needs are ignored in state government,” Hawley said.

“I have been promoting this legislation across New York to garner support for this measure, which would allow the people of this state to decide for themselves if they would be better represented in the Capitol if New York were split into two separate states. This legislation is meant to give our local families a voice in state government, and I will continue fighting to make our voices heard in all corners of this great state.”

Hawley cited two examples of statewide policy advanced by New York City-area legislators that has drawn the ire of Upstate and Western New Yorkers -- gun control and Medicaid spending.

“We have seen time and time again that one-size-fits-all is not an effective way to approach government,” Hawley said. “When Downstate politicians tax and spend our economy into peril and infringe on our Constitutional rights, our communities are the ones that suffer. We deserve a voice at the table, and that’s what this legislation aims to achieve.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Reader submitted editorial: Welcome to the State of The City of New York

A fact has become clear to me: The State of New York no longer exists. What we have today is a polity that is, in effect, the City of New York and its possessions.

The passage of the “SAFE” Act is a clear message to the residents of the possessions of the City of New York that our interests and lifestyle are no longer relevant to the politicians of the State of New York. The passage of this bill is the legislative equivalent of rape. It was passed suddenly and without our consent. Our interests and concerns, as well as our rights, were secondary to the whims and desires of the City of New York.

I am sure that there are state-level politicians who are absolutely befuddled by the fact that they are required to vote on farm issues since they have never seen a farm in the Bronx. I would not be surprised if the legislature of the State of the City of New York voted for a car tax that required New Yorkers to pay 100% of the value of their automobile each year since, in reality, a car is a luxury. You can always take the subway or a bus to wherever your going, after all. The cultural gap between the City and the State of New York is as vast as the gap between Washington, D.C., and America.

In a perfect world, the residents of the State of New York would have the right, and ability, to divorce themselves from the political overreaching of the City of New York. In the real world, we are stuck with its mandates and its world-view. I have had a recurring dream: I stand at the Rockland County line with a huge saw. I cut, and I cut. Eventually, NYC and Long Island are cut free and I push them out to sea. I wish them good luck in their journeys, but I do not miss them.

Back in the land of the awake, we have to deal with the costs of this NYC control to the people of the possessions of the City of New York. Unfunded mandates, regulations and laws, passed to solve NYC and NYC suburban county problems, but having statewide effect and statewide costs, have built upon and compounded on themselves. These costs are bringing our local governments to the brink of bankruptcy. The State Senate is controlled now by the politicians of the City of New York, regardless of the fig leaf of a few Democrats caucusing with the Republicans to form a “Republican” majority. The situation will continue to worsen and the costs to rise.

I can dream of the counties of Western New York declaring their separation and forming their own polity to free themselves from the tyranny of the City of New York, but this will not happen. It would create a new entity that would potentially result in a new state that would bring with it two new U.S. Senators who would inevitably be Republican. The City of New York would never stomach that, let alone the party of which it is a wholly owned subsidiary.

Alternatively, perhaps the border counties, and their neighbors, could petition Pennsylvania for admission to the Commonwealth. That will not be allowed for very much the same reason. It would tip the balance of power in Pennsylvania in favor of the Republicans. That would never be allowed.

What I suspect will continue to happen, though, is that former citizens of what was, once, the Empire State will continue to make their homes in Free States in the South and West of the United States of America in increasing numbers as the oppression of the City of New York continues. With lower taxes, and better employment prospects than are available in the possessions of the City of New York, it is a no-brainer to flee. Good luck paying your ever-increasing bills with an ever-increasing out-migration of taxpayers, State of the City of New York.

Friday, January 11, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Duffy reiterates governor's agenda for 2013 in speech at GCC

post by Howard B. Owens in GCC, Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, new york

Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy was in Batavia today and spoke at Genesee Community College providing a recap Gov. Andrew Cuomo's State of the State address.

Duffy covered all the major points of the speech, from economic development, education reform (including longer school days and creating a "master teacher program," reducing gun violence and protecting the rights of women.

"It is about making New York State the best we can make it," Duffy said. "This is year three for the governor. He could have rested on his laurels. He has some of the highest support numbers of anybody around. He’s taken on things, some things may be controversial. He’s taken on things he believes are right for the state. It really is about economy, education and really looking at things that make our state stronger."

Absent from both the governor's speech Tuesday and Duffy's remarks today was any talk of mandate relief for local government.

Asked about it after remarks, Duffy said the failure to mention it doesn't mean the governor's office isn't working on the issue.

"There’s been a lot of work on the underpinnings of mandate relief," Duffy said. "I personally went to a lot of the mandate relief council meetings and listened firsthand. There’s work being done. There are not any big announcements to be made right now but there are a number of things happening."

After his appearance at GCC, Duffy went to Larry's Steak House for lunch.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Cuomo promises to cut taxes; local leaders react to State of the State message

post by Howard B. Owens in Andrew Cuomo, new york

Newly minted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his first State of the State message today and came out strongly against taxes:

The New York Times:

Mr. Cuomo proposed to freeze the salaries of the vast majority of public employees for one year, to limit new spending to no higher than the rate of inflation, to limit school property tax increases and to “hold the line” on taxes in general.

“New York has no future as the tax capital of the nation,” Mr. Cuomo said. “Our young people will not stay, businesses will not come, this has to change. Put it simply, the people of this state simply cannot afford to pay more taxes, period.”

Cuomo pledged to cut spending, consolidate agencies and reform programs such as Medicaid.

We've been receiving reactions today from local leaders. Their full statements after the jump:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

In today’s State of the State Address, the governor acknowledged the dark times ahead, but looked to a brighter future on the horizon. Many of his cornerstone proposals, from a property tax cap to an independent redistricting commission, have been advanced by the Assembly Minority Conference for years.

What we must do now as state legislators is change the way we operate in Albany and run state government like a private-sector business. We need to find savings in the state budget through consolidating state agencies and ending optional Medicaid programs that other states do not offer.

Unfunded mandates that force localities to raise property taxes and drive our families across state lines must be repealed immediately. Powerful job-creating programs like IDA’s need to be embraced, not ignored. I am eager to work with the governor to accomplish these goals that will improve the quality of life for Western New Yorkers.

State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer:

Today, the Governor’s State of the State address echoed opinions of so many New Yorkers, including myself – especially for the state to close the budget deficit, impose a property-tax cap, and create private-sector jobs. 

I have been an outspoken advocate and introduced legislation on many of these issues during my first term and I am pleased to hear the Governor make them his major legislative priorities.  More importantly, New Yorkers have been demanding property tax relief and a smaller and leaner State government over the past few years as well. 

As the 2011 Legislative Session begins, the governor and legislature have an opportunity to turn our state’s fiscal and economic future around. I am eager to begin working with the governor and my senate and assembly colleagues during the 2011 Legislative Session.”

Steve Hyde, director of the Genesee County Economic Development Center:

The governor’s message today was one of change, coming together, and hope for a prosperous economic future for the Empire State. During his State of the State, Governor Cuomo mentioned his idea of creating 10 Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC’s) throughout the state which will be chaired by Lt. Governor Bob Duffy. 

Steve Hyde, President and CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC), was impressed with the Governor’s message. “I’m optimistic that the REDC’s will help foster job growth and benefit Genesee County. The private industry uses pay-for-performance and competition to drive success and I think that our state will succeed through rewarding performance.”

He continued “… if done right the REDC’s have potential to better integrate the GCEDC’s regional partners, including Greater Rochester Enterprise and Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, with the development communities, local governments, and the state’s Economic Development Agency. These ongoing partnerships will lead to more efficiency and development for all of Western New York.”

Genesee County has continued to grow and strategically invest to develop shovel-ready industry specific sites for medical devices, food processing, distribution logistics and high-tech advanced manufacturing companies. A mega site, Western New York Science, Technology, Advanced Manufacturing Park (WNY STAMP), is under development in Genesee County, Alabama, NY and has the ability to transform Western New York.

Hyde is convinced that STAMP will be a contender in the competitive funding pool that the governor announced. Funds will be allocated to the most innovative and creative regional job creating initiatives. The WNY STAMP project and the Buffalo East Tech Park in Pembroke, NY, have the potential to bring 11,000 jobs directly into Genesee County and add an additional 27,000 jobs through the supply chain impact between Buffalo and Rochester. Potentially, the REDC will assist to promote WNY STAMP and bring the project to a reality for Western New York.

New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton:

Governor Cuomo's property tax cap plan is a much needed New Year's resolution for New York State farmers.

Because of our land holdings, property taxes are killing us. We love the governor’s plan to cap taxes at 2 percent. Also, we love the cap because it's coupled with a recognition that long-term restructuring is needed to Medicaid, government consolidation and education reform.

Equally exciting is his mandate relief program, which will help shrink the massive tax burden local municipalities are forced to levy against its residents and businesses.

The governor made it clear today, as he did throughout his campaign last fall, that agriculture will be a central factor in his effort to revitalize the economy.

We are grateful for his vow to help get more New York-grown food into the New York City market. This is a no-brainer. This idea will benefit farmers as well as city residents who will have greater access to fresh local produce and dairy products.

We applaud his support to renovate the Hunt’s Point Terminal Market, which is a vital resource for farmers to deliver produce into the New York City market.

We’re looking forward to working with Lt. Gov. Duffy in his role as advisor to regional economic development councils. He’s already visited my farm and many others over the past several months. He has demonstrated a clear recognition of agriculture and its role in the economy and culture of Upstate New York and Long Island.

Governor Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Duffy have pledged their commitment to the farm families of New York and we’re looking forward to working with this exciting new administration.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 at 11:13 am

Budget Round Up: Albany comes to budget agreement 123 days late

post by Howard B. Owens in budget, new york

Parents, do your back-to-school shopping now.

Starting in October, under the 123-day-late budget passed by the Senate last night, clothing priced at under $110 will once again be assessed a 4-percent sales tax.

That's one of the provisions to increase revenue.

Even so, Associated Press reports that budget isn't balanced and Republicans complain that it both raises taxes and increases spending (Gothamist).

The revenue package is expected to generate $1.5 billion dollars and was approved by the Senate on a 32-28 vote.

A soda tax was not included in the bill.

The total budget: $136 billion.

Buffalo News: New financing provision for UB not included in budget.

New York Times: With Connecticut trying to woo hedge funds, the budget doesn't include a change in state law that would have taxed bonuses as ordinary income.

Albany Times-Union: Statement from Gov. Paterson's office.

LoHud.com: Senate is planning property tax cap.

Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 4:18 pm

New Upstate vs. Downstate battle ground: How prisoners are counted

post by Howard B. Owens in new york, politics, prisons

Felons can't vote, but they do, it appears, have a tremendous influence on New York State politics.

It turns out, where they live (like in a prison in Upstate New York) has some influence on how legislative districts are proportioned.

Some Downstate interests don't like the fact that NYC criminals housed in Upstate facilities get counted as Upstate residents.

There's a proposal in the State Legislature to change how prisoners are counted for legislative districting purposes.

Newsweek wrote about the issue recently.

Its prospects are good in the Democratic-controlled Assembly, but it may not get through the nearly evenly split State Senate, where seven districts, including those of two Democrats, would need to be redrawn due to insufficient population if they lost their prisoners in redistricting. The state senators from those districts contend that their constituents are absorbing a public need, not just government dollars, because the prisoners exact a toll on the surrounding areas. “Upstate communities accepted prisons for the economic benefit,” says Sen. Joe Griffo, “but there’s also other impacts, both positive and negative. The fire department, police department, and hospitals all have to respond to the prison and the inmates.”


Although the New York proposal, like the new law in Maryland, would affect only legislative redistricting, not state funding for social services, Griffo argues that political power always translates into government funding, so prison-heavy districts upstate have a real financial stake in preserving their claim on prisoners in redistricting. A spokesperson for Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who sponsored the redistricting bill, characterizes that thinking as “the upstate prison-industrial complex,” protecting its own interests.

Sunday, July 4, 2010 at 10:48 am

New York Stats

post by C. M. Barons in budget, Chris Barons, debt, new york

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE According to a USDA study, it costs between $124,800 and $249,180 for a dual-parent family (range based on annual family incomes between $39,100 and over $65,000) to raise a child from birth to age 18.  As of 2007, the number of children in an average U. S. Family is 1.86.  27% of U. S. families are single-parented.  Single women, by far the majority of single-parent households, earn an average of $26,500 a year.  The average 3-person family in New York State has annual income of $69,421.  8.5% of adults age 55 or older were employed part-time compared to 20.3% of those ages 20 to 24 and 9.4% of adults ages 25 to 54.  Although median household income rose by about $700 between 2006 and 2007, the average income for households between the 20th and 40th percentile of the income distribution—the typical income range for low-income working families—did not grow at all, coming in at $29,442 in 2007. For households at this income level, an affordable housing payment would be $735 a month, so fair-market rents for a two-bedroom apartment would be technically unaffordable.  Government workers in blue-collar jobs earn $0.87 more per hour than private sector counterparts in the five-county Rochester region.


New York State Average Annual Salary by Occupation:

Legislators- $76,230

Education Administrators- $103,510

Accountants and Auditors- $84,280

Loan Officers- $77,310

Computer Software Engineers- $93,910

Computer Support Specialists- $52,570

Surveyors- $58,910

Urban and Regional Planners- $62,700

Substance Abuse Counselors- $42,460

Lawyers- $152,710

Secondary Teachers- $68,010

Teacher Assistants- $25,530

Dentists- $149,370

Veterinarians- $97,890

Landscaping, Groundskeeping- $28,700

Nursing Aides and Orderlies- $30,850

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officers- $60,180

Cooks, Fast Food- $19,480

Waiters, Waitresses- $25,660

Janitors and Cleaners- $28,100

Barbers- $22,510

Childcare Workers- $24,040

Cashiers- $19,710

Telemarketers- $27,120

Bookkeepers- $38,570

File clerks- $28,090

Farmworkers and Laborers- $22,010

Carpenters- $53,300

Roofer helpers- $25,840

Automotive Mechanics- $37,230

Machinists- $39,940

Packaging Machine Operators- $26,790

School Bus Drivers- $34,890

Stock Handlers- $26,650

Assemblers- $26,840

Retail Sales- $26,750



DSS Cash Assistance & Shelter Allowance (Family of three) - $8292

Unemployment Benefit- $21,060


Total New York State recorded debt: $52,100,000,000 as of March 31, 2009.  Six years ago public authority debt (increases annually) amounted to $120.4 billion. Only 30% of public authority debt is represented as recorded debt, yet amounts to more than 90 percent of total outstanding New York public debt. Current New York per capita public debt is $5,666- up from $2,420 in 2004. The state Debt Reform Act was enacted in 2000.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Sheriff concerned about 'minimum force' bill in Assembly

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Gary Maha, new york

Sheriff Gary Maha calls a pending Assembly bill which would require cops to shoot a suspect only to wound him -- presumably aiming for an arm or a leg -- "ridiculous."

mug_gary_maha.jpgThe so-called "minimum force" bill says, "(a peace officer or police officer) uses such force with the intent to stop, rather than kill, the person who he or she reasonably believes is using unlawful force, and uses only the minimal amount of force necessary to effect such stop."

No shooting course teaches law enforcement officers to aim at limbs, Maha noted.

The first job of a cop in a dangerous situation is to protect himself and the people he's sworn to serve, Maha said.

"Deadly physical force, under the (current) law, can only be used as a last resort, under extreme circumstances," Maha told WBTA. "You're going to put more pressure on the officer if he has to shoot to wound. You're putting that officer in jeopardy."

Under provisions of the bill, any officer accused of shooting to kill another person in the line of duty would be charged with manslaughter.

The bill is sponsored by Annette Robinson (D-Bedford Stuyvesant) and Darryl Towns (D-East New York).

While the "minimum force" bill hasn't died, it is languishing in committee and is still drawing reaction from New York's law enforcement community.

A New York detective told the New York Post that the bill would create a situation where cops are expected to shoot the gun out of the hands of suspect, while the criminal would still be firing with the intent to kill. It's been called the "John Wayne" bill because it requires a level of accuracy only seen in Hollywood Westerns.

"These are split-second, spontaneous events -- and officers have to make a full assessment in a fraction of a second," said an angry Michael Paladino, president of the Detectives Endowment Association.

The bill was drafted in response to the shooting death of Sean Bell, a man who was killed by police following a fight at a strip club where he was celebrating his bachelor party. An undercover officer reportedly heard Bell say at some point that he had a gun. In the melee that followed, Bell reportedly slammed his Nissan into a police vehicle.

Photo: File photo of Sheriff Gary Maha.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Once defeated farm labor bill back in New York Senate

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, farm labor, new york

Sen. George Onorato, a Democrat from Queens, represents no farmers and probably no farm workers, but he has reintroduced legislation that New Yorker's farmers have spent close to two years fighting and thought they had defended.

The farm labor bill is now S.7787 and Watertown-area Democratic Senator Dean Aurbertine, who successfully lobbied Senate leadership to have the previous farm labor bill moved into his agriculture committee, where it died last month, said the new bill makes only cosmetic changes to the previously defeated legislation.

In a news release, Aubertine said:

“It’s disheartening that advocates for this legislation after suffering a defeat refuse to accept the fact that this bill went through an open process, was considered and defeated by a majority of senators. Up to now a majority of Senators who have voted on this bill, voted against this bill. The process was set up by the Senate to deal with these bills and the process worked. There really is no substantive change between this legislation and the legislation that went down to defeat.”

The bill allows farm workers to form unions, receive workers compensation and unemployment benefits and provides for 24-consecutive hours of off time each week and mandates an eight-hour work day.

Farmers say the provisions would drive up farm labor costs by hundreds of millions of dollars and put many of New York's farms out of business.

Friday, May 7, 2010 at 9:28 am

Hawley likes his seahorse friends, but votes against protection bill

post by Howard B. Owens in budget, new york, steve hawley

With a state budget five weeks late and a $9.5 billion budget gap, Assemblyman Steve Hawley found a debate on seahorse protection legislation just a bit ridiculous.

Hawley voted no on the bill just as a matter of protest.

“The dysfunction in Albany has reached a breaking point, and today’s debate on seahorse legislation is a prime example of that," Hawley said in a news release. "Despite the fact I want to save my seahorse friends, I voted no on this bill in protest because of the sheer lunacy of its timing during this fiscal crisis. Over the last four weeks, the Assembly Majority has introduced trivial legislation, while continuing to send the rank-and-file members home after only a couple days of work.”

WGRB out of Albany spoke to the bill's sponsor:

The sponsor of the seahorse bill, Steve Englebright of Long Island, says this is important legislation to protect seahorses off Long Island that are collected for the aquarium industry, and that it would be malpractice for the Assembly not to work on other bills while waiting for a budget deal.

Hawley said he's frustrated with the lack of progress on a budget.

"Since April 1, four emergency budget extenders have been put in place, and there are no concrete plans for a budget to be passed anytime soon," Hawley said.

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