March 2013 News

March 29, 2013                                                                                     

 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

in the 2013-2014 Budget

The total funds spending for this year’s budget is $135.1 billion or $141.3 billion with Federal Superstorm Sandy and Affordable Care Act funding.

As important as a timely budget is, it is far more important to be on target.  While there were some bright spots in the budget this year the bulk of the budget fell short on many critical issues.

The Good

 The final budget contained a number of items that will be beneficial to New Yorkers.

  • $1 billion in new aid to Education and Schools
  • Increases Community College Base Aid $150 per student, for a total of $2,422 per student 
  • $75 million in additional CHIPS funding
  • $4 million in library aid increases
  • Extension of the Middle Class Income Tax Cut
  • EPIC funding is increased $1.2 million 
  • $21.1 million in new agricultural assistance programs
  • $20 in federal aid to recovery from Superstorm Sandy
  • Creates the Hire-A-Vet Tax Credit for businesses that hire veterans
  • Reduces the tax rate for qualified manufacturers over the next six years between 10% and 25%  
  • Establishes a venture capital fund to provide seed and early-stage funding for business startups and technology transfer
  • Enacts cost saving Workers' Compensation and Unemployment Insurance Reforms 

The Bad


The final budget contains a numbered of missed opportunities to implement fiscal policies that promote economic development and regulatory relief to businesses and taxpayers.

  •  cuts of $90 million in  crucial funding for the developmentally disabled
  • NO meaningful progress to relieve local municipalities and school districts of unfunded mandates
  • Does not eliminate local reporting requirements or allow County authority over sales tax extenders 
  • $661 million in tax increases this year and nearly $9.4 billion over the next five years
  • Extends the 6% Nursing Home Assessment until 2015 
  •  Minimum wage increase from $7.25 to $9 over three years 
  • Funding of the NY SAFE Act

The Ugly


I took particular exception to the extension of the 18-a utility tax, a surcharge passed in 2009 that was scheduled to sunset in 2014.  I introduced legislation to repeal this tax when it was passed in 2009.  I advanced a budget amendment to allow the tax to sunset but the new budget for 2013-2014 extends the fee for four more years, costing families and businesses over $1.7 billion.  The amendment I advanced would have offered immediate relief to taxpayers.  This tax hurts all New Yorkers from Upstate to Downstate, families to businesses, low-income to high earners and everyone in between.  If we really want a "New New York" we cannot continue this taxation without realistic, reasonable and responsive representation.


March 12, 2013                                                                                     

Misguided Budget

          I voted against the Assembly Majority's misguided budget resolution because of the favoritism for New York City-area projects at the cost of Upstate and Western New York communities.  The Assembly Majority's budget resolution would take form Upstate and give to downstate and failed to include funding for the Western New York Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP).  Money was swept from the New York State Insurance Fund that should have been used to help small business with the excessive premiums related to worker's compensation insurance.  New York City schools were awarded grants they failed to qualify for when every other school district in the state earned their fair share of funding.  I have sponsored legislation to end the surcharge on utilities but this budget resolution extends that fee.  The tale of two New York's becomes more evident day by day.

ARC of Orleans County

                   Today I met with members of the ARC of Orleans County during their visit to the Capitol in Albany.  They presented me with a large "Thank You" banner to show their appreciation for my continued support of those with developmental disabilities in our community.  The ARC of Orleans has acheived unparalleled work for those with developmental disabilities since 1970 and it is my honor to work apace with them.  March is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, so there's no time like the present to reach out to ARC and get involved with the wonderful services and support they provide individuals with disabilities and their families.


March 11, 2013                                                                                      

 Inviting the Governor to Talk About Education

          I recently wrote to Governor Andrew Cuomo to invite him to visit the 139th Assembly District to discuss educational issues with local School Superintendents and board members.  We need to address the unequal and inadequate funding for rural school districts.  Our local schools have been tasked with providing a world-class education for our children, despite facing dwindling resources.  Western New York's school boards and superintendents have established a successful blueprint for living within their financial means while protecting the services our children rely on.  The time to restore our area's fair share of education aid is long past due, and I believe that a meeting between our local education officials and the governor would prove to be beneficial for all involved.


March 7, 2013                                                                                      

Farm Bureau Reception

           I joined New York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel Aubertine, New York Farm Bureau President (NYFB) Dean Norton and farm advocates form across the state for the NYFB's annual legislative reception at the capitol.  I am a member and a past president of the Farm Bureau as well as serving on the Assembly Committee on Agriculture.  At the reception I met with agriculture officials, sampled New York-grown products and discussed the promotion and preservation of the farming industry.  Farming isn't just a prime job creator in our community; it's a way of life.  The Western New York economy relies on the agricultural industry and I am proud to stand with the NYFB to make dure our farmers have the tools they need to continue the proud traditions our families have carried on for generations.


NO Price Gouging Found in Region

           There has been an ongoing push to protect consumers from gas price gouging and I have been meeting with local gas station owners to discuss the varying prices drivers pay at the pump.  In light of the attorney general's report indicating that price gouging is not occurring in the region, business owners have seen a fluctuation in the wholesale price of gasoline, this fluctuation is seen in the price for consumers also.  the community has gotten tired of the difference in prices between gas stations from county to county, after three different investigations from the attorney general's office over the last five years, it has become clear that zone pricing has led to the discrepancy rather than any sort of price gouging by business owners.  Business is at the mercy of the free market, gas is no exception to the rule.  As the price of gasoline rises and falls on the international market, so too will the price at the pump.


March 6, 2013                                                                                       

Pushing for Road Repairs


           I was joined today in Albany by legislative colleagues and local highway officials to advocate for greater attention to road and bridge repair in New York State.  We brought attention to the need to support the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPs), which porvides the bulk of state aid to counties and towns for the maintenance, rapirs and improvement of local roads and bridges.  The quality of our roads impacts our safety, it helps facilitate the flow of goods and services to boost our economy, repair work creates local jobs and enhances our overall quality of life.  I am proud to stand with my colleagues to fight for crucial CHIPs funding that supports a partnership with the state and localities to make our communities great places to live, work and raise a family.



March 5, 2013                                                                                       

Voting Down a Job-Killing Bill

           Today I voted against a dangerous, job-killing piece of legislation to raise the minimum wage both now and on an automatic escalator in the future.  The bill would raise the minimum wage now to $9 an hour and includes annual increases tied to the rate of inflation.  This legislation is a poorly thought out plan that will force businesses to eliminate jabs and pass the increase in the cost of doing business down to the consumer.  The agriculture industry will be particularly devastated by this measure and will wreak havoc on our local economy.  This is not the way to show the world that New York is open for business.  This is just another example of the disconnect between Upstate and Downstate.

March 1, 2013                                                                                        

Rally for the 2nd Amendment

          On Thursday, February 28th I joined the National Rifle Association, the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, SCOPE and Second Amendment supporters at a rally outside the Capital.  The event drew over 5,000 participants from Western New York and across the state.  The rally was held in opposition to the NY SAFE Act that was forced into passage in January.  The attendance and response at the Second Amendment rally were like nothing I've ever seen during my time in state government.  The people have spoken loud and clear "Our rights shall not be infringed!" 

Here is a link to my speech at the rally:

Celebrating Read Across America

            I recently celebrated Read Across America and Dr. Seuss' birthday by reading to Ms. Kristen Fix's Kindergarten class at Jackson Elementary School.  This event is promoted annually by the National Education Association and is aimed at encouraging the personal and educational benefits of reading to children.  Instilling a love of literature inour children at a young age helps them develop mentally and sets them up for a lifetime love with reading.  This year we read the Dr. Seuss book "Green Eggs and Ham."




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