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February 22, 2018 - 10:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, UMMC, NY-27, business.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) announced that four hospitals in his district will receive funding included in the Bipartisan Budget Act so they will be able to continue serving those most in need. The Bipartisan Budget Act provides an extension of the Medicare Dependent Hospital program and Low-Volume hospital payment adjustment for five years, providing necessary certainty to hospitals largely in rural areas.

“This funding means life or death for rural hospitals,” Collins said. “In the event of an emergency, my constituents in need to know that the lights will be on and they have somewhere to go for treatment.”

The hospitals that will receive funding are Bertrand Chaffee Hospital in Springville, Noyes Memorial Hospital in Dansville, United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia, and the Wyoming County Community Health System in Warsaw. In total, Collins secured more than $8 million for the four hospitals through FY2022.

“The Medicare Dependent Hospital and Medicare Low-Volume payment adjustment help ensure New York's rural and small community hospitals can continue to provide essential healthcare services to patients in need," said HANYS President Bea Grause. "We thank Rep. Collins for supporting the reinstatement and extension of these important policies.”

“We appreciate Congressman Collins' recent efforts in assuring inclusion in the federal budget agreement programs that have been essential for hospitals like WCCHS,” said Donald Eichenauer, CEO of Wyoming County Community Health System. “Over the past decades, these programs were generally included in legislation with authorization for only one or two years.

"The short-term extensions put us in a positon where almost annually we had to invest efforts in searching for ways to cut staffing or reduce expenses if the programs were not reauthorized. The five-year extension will give us greater confidence that services can be maintained, jobs retained and our efforts can be focused on continuing patient care at its high level.”

“The Low Volume adjustment is critical for Noyes Hospital to help offset the cost of providing services as well as uncompensated care,” said Amy Pollard, president and CEO of Noyes Memorial Hospital. “Emergency Services at Noyes and other hospitals must operate fully staffed 24/7.

"Last year 14,600 patients were treated at the Mary Saunders Beiermann Emergency Department at Noyes. The continuation of the Medicare payment adjustments helps assure that these vital services remain intact. I am very grateful to Congressman Collins for his support of the rural hospitals and thus, our community.”

Collins added: “I was proud to support this Bipartisan Budget Act and the important funding included for rural hospitals. I have and will continue to stand against any cuts in funding for hospitals in rural communities.”

February 16, 2018 - 3:17pm

Submitted photo and press release:

Turn 27 Blue proudly endorses Nate McMurray for Congress. For the first time in a generation, Democratic leaders, who normally endorse, have joined ranks with grassroots activists to make a strong endorsement in this year’s congressional race. We believe that McMurray has what it takes to represent the people of Western New York. His impassioned and energizing campaign is already gathering the momentum and support it needs to win in November.

McMurray is an experienced businessman, dedicated public servant, and Western New York native, who believes that families should have access to quality healthcare and education, that full-time work should come with a decent paycheck, and that elected representatives should represent their constituents, not their donors.

Turn 27 Blue brings together voices from the county Democratic chairs and from many of the district’s dedicated activist groups. We endorse McMurray because of his demonstrated ability to work across the aisle as Town Supervisor of deep red Grand Island (NY) and his dedication to improving the lives of hardworking Americans.

“I’m honored to receive the endorsement of this group of county Democratic Chairs and grassroots leaders. I’m confident we are going to turn the 27th District blue, and I’m eager to take this fight to Chris Collins,” McMurray said, in response to the news.

Michelle Johnston Schoeneman, a resistance leader in the 27th and member of Turn 27 Blue, said “we were incredibly impressed with Nate’s passion for Western New York, his platform for bringing jobs and prosperity to the area, and his ability to persuade people who have never voted for a Democrat that he’s the person for the job.”

Over the past several months, Turn 27 Blue has hosted public forums, meetings, and interviews with the several talented and dedicated individuals running.

“From the start, our goal was simple: identify the best candidate to beat Chris Collins,” said Judith Hunter, chair of the Livingston County Democratic Committee, “and create the best possible conditions for victory in November. Each of the five announced candidates has something to offer, and we are grateful that they volunteered to serve. We are extremely proud to conclude our process by supporting Nate McMurray for the Democratic nomination.”

As the candidates traversed the 27th and met residents from every county in the district, one thing was clear: “from the pending ethics investigation against him to his decision to ignore his district in favor of his wealthy donors, people were fed up with Chris Collins and his cronies," said Jeremy Zellner, chair of the Erie County Democratic Committee.

Supporters of McMurray say Collins’s arrogant disregard for his constituents and his support for extreme policies that directly hurt New Yorkers has remade NY-27 into a competitive district.

Jamie Romeo, chair of the Monroe County Democratic Committee added, “we urge everyone who cares more about Western New York’s economy than tax cuts for the rich, who cares more about affordable healthcare for our families than favors for donors, and who cares more about a true representative of the people than a talking head who rushes onto cable news to talk about anything but the needs of his constituents, to support Nate McMurray for Congress.”

February 9, 2018 - 11:27am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today voted in support of the Bipartisan Budget Act that keeps the government funded through March 23 as Congress works toward finishing the Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations process.

The legislation also includes a sensible compromise on budget caps, boosts defense spending, raises the debt ceiling, and includes funding for community health centers, the opioid epidemic, infrastructure, agriculture programs, and disaster relief.

“This legislation is critical to our national security as we are giving Secretary Mattis the funding he needs to rebuild our military and keep Americans safe,” Collins said. “This bill is a big win that accomplishes many of our priorities and provides budget certainty so we can move forward on other important tasks.”

Under this agreement, Congress has ended the sequester for the next two years, providing greater certainty and a much-needed increase in funding for national defense. After eight years under President Obama, our military was left inadequately prepared to defend our country. This agreement also provides for America’s veterans by helping reduce the maintenance backlog at the Veterans Administration.

This deal increases the debt ceiling to March of 2019 so we don’t default on our nation’s obligations. The Bipartisan Budget Act includes $6 billion over two years to combat the opioid crisis and support mental health programs and boosts National Institutes of Health spending. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will be funded for 10 years, community health centers for two years and multiple Medicare payment policies also received significant extensions.

Additionally, this legislation includes provisions that are critical to farmers in New York State, including improving the Margin Protection Program (MPP) for dairy producers, which offers protection to farmers as prices in milk and feed fluctuate. The legislation also removes a $20 million cap on the Federal Crop Insurance program, which protects against natural disasters or the loss of revenue due to a decline in price, giving livestock and dairy farmers more options.

Collins added: “I am pleased that we were able to work across the aisle to keep the government open while making sure the brave men and women in uniform can succeed on the battlefield and have the resources they need when they return home."

February 6, 2018 - 10:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business, chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today denounced actions by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to bring a lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s decision to either rescind or revise the Waters of The United States (WOTUS) rule imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President Obama.

In 2015, the Obama Administration finalized their WOTUS rule giving the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) expanded jurisdiction over bodies of water including farm ponds, storm drains, and wetlands. The Obama rule, if implemented, would have increased permitting costs, lead to unnecessary litigation, and pile on red tape for anything from a construction site to a farm.  Adoption of the flawed WOTUS rule will have disastrous effects on agriculture, small business, and municipalities across the country. 

Realizing how devastating the Obama edict would be to local farmers and communities, President Trump signed an executive order in February 2017 to roll back the WOTUS rule. The Trump executive order instructed the EPA and USACE to begin the process of withdrawing the Obama rule with the EPA filing paperwork to suspend the rule for two years while they work to replace it.

“Yet again we are seeing Attorney General Eric Schneiderman catering to the liberal left and disregarding anything that is good for Western New York,” Collins said. “He continues to meddle with federal policy by supporting an Obama rule that would create confusion, increase costs, and place huge burdens on our nation’s farms, state governments, manufacturers, and just about any type of business resulting in detrimental economic impacts.”

Collins has been a vocal advocate for withdrawing and rewriting the Obama WOTUS rule since he was elected to Congress, something that has received strong bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. Implementing Obama's rule would contradict two Supreme Court decisions, as well as many state and tribal water laws. 

Collins added: “It is ironic that as we are heading into an election year, we are seeing more and more frivolous lawsuits from the Cuomo Administration and his left-wing allies. It is sad that instead of figuring out how to cut New York’s bloated budget and protect New York property owners and businesses, Cuomo and Schneiderman continue their never-ending effort to score political points at the cost of our State’s economy and the taxpayers who pay the bills.”

January 31, 2018 - 10:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

“President Trump had a record-setting first year of his Presidency,”Congressman Chris Collins said. “The United States was suffering under the failed policies of President Obama, which resulted in high unemployment, slow economic growth, burdensome regulations on businesses, and a lax approach to trade around the world.”

In 2017 alone, the Trump Administration eliminated 22 regulations for everyone one new regulatory action, created 2.1 million new jobs, lowered taxes for American families, and saw an average of 2.5 percent GDP growth. Due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, hundreds of businesses have given wage increases and bonuses to more than 3 million workers across America. Under President Trump, we have seen significant progress overseas and are winning the war against ISIS.

The President talked about his $1 trillion plan to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, which would create jobs across America. A key factor will be streamlining the permitting process to take less than two years, in comparison to the sometimes seven- to 10-year process it currently takes to get approval to build things like roads, bridges and highways.

Additionally, President Trump is committed to fixing the problems created from President Obama’s executive order on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which he implemented unilaterally instead of working with Congress. Trump emphasized the need for Congress to pair any DACA solution with increased border security, elimination of the visa lottery, and ending chain migration to make sure we are not faced with similar problems years down the road.

Trump also discussed pursuing trade deals that treat the United States fairly and protect American workers. And in a world of growing threats, Trump has committed to rebuilding our military and strengthening efforts to combat terrorism.

Collins added: “I am confident that President Trump will lead us to greater opportunities as we build a safe, strong, and proud America. As we look back on this past year, I applaud the Trump Administration’s success and look forward to continuing our work to Make America Great Again.”
January 20, 2018 - 12:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Chief Administrative Officer requesting that his pay be withheld during the lapse in appropriations beginning on Jan. 20 at midnight until an appropriations agreement has taken place.

"In light of the reckless actions by Senate Democrats last night that shut down the government, I have requested my pay be withheld until we come to a solution. Last night, Senator Schumer decided to play political games instead of providing millions of children with health care and paying our troops. I am disgusted with the Schumer Shutdown and will not accept any paycheck until the brave men and women of our military can get theirs."

January 19, 2018 - 10:17am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) released the following statement after voting in favor of legislation to maintain current funding for federal operations and prevent a government shutdown through Feb. 16. In addition to continuing government funding, the bill includes language to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years.

"Today, House Republicans voted to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years, yet again providing certainty to millions of low-income children. The bill also includes short-term funding to keep the government open and make sure our nation’s military has the resources they need to keep us safe.

"I am confident that we will come to a solution on a long-term funding bill while taking care of the DACA situation, but as negotiations continue I hope that Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats stop playing politics with the health of our nation’s children and vote to keep the government up and running."

January 17, 2018 - 11:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in broadband, chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) introduced legislation today that would create a national federal registry of communications infrastructure to help address the lack of high-speed Internet access in rural areas. This registry will help determine which assets are available for lease to better expand access and will facilitate coordination between federal, state and local governments, as well as between carriers.

“It is almost unbelievable to think that approximately 65 percent of my district is underserved by broadband technology and about 3 percent is completely unserved,” Collins said. “Broadband access is important to our rural communities as our reliance on the Internet continues to grow for education, starting and administrating a business, receiving care from a doctor, or just plain shopping.”

Broadband companies have found it time-consuming, expensive and complicated to reach the communities that currently lack access. This inventory would be available to communications providers and include a description of assets, their locations, and a point of contact from each agency for more information on a given asset.

Collins sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, which will be holding a series of hearings in the coming weeks to address removing barriers to infrastructure buildout, supporting innovation, and strengthening the public safety benefits that come with access to broadband Internet.

Collins added: “We need to think about things like public safety, making sure law enforcement has the ability to receive notification of an emergency and quickly respond. Our communities need broadband Internet access to stay connected, and I am confident we are taking steps in the right direction."

For more information about the Inventory of Assets for Communications Facilities Act of 2018, click here.

January 3, 2018 - 11:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, steve hawley, michael ranzenhofer, chris collins, NY-27.

Press release from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

“Although I am glad that the governor did not continue his game of political hide-and-seek with the legislature as we saw last year, wasting large sums of taxpayer money to present over 20 ideas with unsubstantiated legislative backing or confirmed funding sources amounts to little more than an expensive taxpayer-funded speech.

“I am glad to be back in Albany continuing to work hard for the residents of Genesee, Orleans and Monroe counties with my focus on lowing our families’ tax burden, making New York more business-friendly, fully funding our infrastructure and continuing to reform our charitable gaming laws.”

Press release from State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer:

“This year, the state of New York is facing a deficit in the billions. The budget must be balanced by restraining spending and not by more taxes for a state that has one of the highest burdens in the nation. It’s time to remove the barriers that inhibit growth in our Upstate economy and enact policies that stem the consistent loss of population of past decades, such as enacting comprehensive regulatory reforms and cutting energy taxes. 

“We should also seriously consider eliminating expenditures for the state’s economic development programs that are not creating jobs, including Start-Up NY and the tens of millions of dollars being spent on television advertising by the Executive.

“By getting our fiscal house in order, we can continue investments in improvements to our community’s transportation infrastructure and water quality, combating the heroin and opioid crisis and ensuring Western New York gets its fair share of state funding for our schools.”

Press release from Congressman Chris Collins:

"The Governor's speech was a pathetic attempt to rile his base, although even they have realized that his political empire is crumbling judging from the fact that the loudest round of applause came when he mentioned the Buffalo Bills. Republicans under President Trump have lowered taxes, rolled back regulations, and are seeing explosive economic growth. In comparison, under Andrew Cuomo, New York is facing a $4 billion deficit, the New York City subway is crumbling, and the FBI has opened an investigation into his hiring practices. New Yorkers deserve better."

December 22, 2017 - 2:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, chris collins, veterans.

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Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today released the following statement offering his appreciation to elementary school students, businesses, and community organizations from around the 27th District for participating in his “Holiday Mail for Veterans” program. The office collected more than 1,500 holiday cards and delivered them to veterans at the Buffalo and Batavia VA facilities.

“I am proud of the tremendous support we received for our Holiday Mail for Veterans program from around the 27th District,” Congressman Collins said. “This program is a great opportunity for young students and other community organizations to say thank you and share some holiday cheer with the men and women who bravely served our country.

"I would like to thank everyone who participated and extend my very best to our veterans and active duty personnel and their families this holiday season.”

“We appreciate the support of our community for Veterans at VA Western New York Healthcare System,” said Paul Crews, interim Healthcare System director. “The cards with thoughtful messages brighten up their days knowing someone has taken the time to think about them at holiday time.”

Each year, Congressman Collins’ office reaches out to all NY-27 elementary schools to join together to show our appreciation during the holiday season. This is the first year cards were delivered to VA hospitals.

Below is a list of the 2017 “Holiday Mail for Veterans” participants:

Geneseo Elementary School – Geneseo
Livonia Elementary School – Livonia
York Central Elementary School – Retsof
Bloomfield Elementary School – East Bloomfield
Lewiston-Porter Primary Education Center – Lewiston-Porter
Charles A. Upson Elementary School – Lockport
North Park Junior High – Lockport
Hyde Park Elementary School – Niagara Falls
Colonial Village Elementary School – Niagara-Wheatfield
Blasdell Elementary – Blasdell
Clarence Center Elementary School – Clarence Center
Highland Elementary School – Derby
Parkdale Elementary – East Aurora
Wales Primary – East Aurora
Eden Elementary – Eden
GLP Primary School – Eden
Charlotte Avenue School – Hamburg
Union Pleasant Elementary – Hamburg
Harold O. Brumsted Elementary – Holland
Ellicott Elementary School – Orchard Park
Colden Elementary School – Springville-Griffith
Northwood Elementary School – West Seneca
Alexander Elementary School – Alexander
John Kennedy Intermediate School – Batavia
Byron-Bergen Elementary School – Bergen
Wolcott Street Elementary School – Le Roy
Dorothy B. Bunce Elementary School – Pavillion
Manor Intermediate School – Honeoye Falls
Monica B. Leary Elementary School – Rush
Perry Elementary School – Perry
Warsaw Elementary School – Warsaw
West Elementary School – West Seneca
Avon Primary School – Avon
Avon High School – Avon
Royalton-Hartland Elementary School – Gasport
Geraldine J. Mann Elementary – Niagara Falls
Marilla Primary School – Marilla
Camp Stella Maris School Age Program -- Livonia
Geneseo Girl Scouts – Geneseo
YMCA Preschool
4H Scottsburg Leaders – Scottsburg
Arbor Realty – Williamsville
Attica Elementary School – Attica
Kendall Elementary -- Kendall

Photos of cards, decorations, and letters from Jackson School, Byron-Bergen and Pavilion.

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December 4, 2017 - 9:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today made the following statement after the United States Senate passed tax reform legislation:
 
“Now that the Senate has passed tax reform, we are one step closer to delivering on a once-in-a-generation opportunity to replace our outdated and complicated tax code. By doubling the standard deduction, lowering tax rates, and enhancing the family tax credit, families in Western New York will be able to keep more of what they earn.

"Tax reform will unleash America’s competitiveness and bring jobs and profits back home, where they belong. While there are differences in the House and Senate versions of the legislation, we will find common ground in conference and get this important bill to President Trump’s desk.”

November 17, 2017 - 6:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.

collinsethics162017inset.jpgIt's not technically accurate to say the House Ethics Committee is investigating his involvement with Innate Immunotherapeutics, Rep. Chris Collins said today while in Batavia.

There have been questions about Collins and his alleged "insider trading" related to the Australia-based pharmaceutical company for more than a year.

The issue was first raised, Collins said, by Rep. Louis Slaughter, which led to an investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics.

The three charges investigated by OSCE were dropped but the investigators referred two additional points of inquiry to the House Ethics Committee.

That, Collins said, is not an investigation.

"The Ethics Committee hasn't done anything," Collins said. "So to people who say I'm being investigated by ethics, I would say ethics is reviewing the OSCE, what I call 'the mall cops' report.' That doesn't mean they're investigating. And what didn't they do -- they did not appoint a subcommittee to look into it. If they thought there was wrongdoing they would have appointed a subcommittee to look into this."

Collins called the initial three points of contention and the two new issues a "nothing burger."

The points initially raised by Slaughter, he said, were that he had insider information about the progress of a clinical trial that he shared, that he facilitated discounted stock trading for congressional members, and that he supported a bill, the 21st Century Cures Act, because it benefited Innate.

To the first charge, Collins said, the clinical trial was a double-blind trial with nobody at Innate, including him, getting any idea of the potential results until the trial was completed and the results were released in July.

He couldn't have provided information on the trial to anybody because there was no information to provide.

As to the alleged illegal discount, Collins said, "We got this discount. The Office of Congressional Ethics totally dismissed that because it was available to every investor."

The allegation that Innate might someday come to the United States, and therefore benefit from the 21st Century Cures Act, was so preposterous, Collins said, that OSCE dismissed it without giving it serious consideration.

"That was such an outlandish allegation it wasn't even investigated," he said.

Out of the all the documents and emails reviewed by the OSCE, the staff came up with two more items it referred to the House Ethics Committee. One was that Collins allegedly communicated non-public information in emails to other investors and that he provided insider information about Innate to staff at the National Institute of Health.

In emails, Collins said he mentioned that the clinical trial had 93 participants. It was public knowledge that the trial would have at least 90 participants and the fact that there was 93 wasn't material to the value of the stock, he said.

He also shared his personal view that the trial would be done by a certain date, and then another date after that, and then a date after that, and in all cases he was wrong, he said.

"It was just my personal subjective opinion," he said.

'"Our CEO has done an affidavit saying he looked at those emails and there was nothing non-public in them," Collins said. "There was nothing significant in them."

As for the number of participants, he said, it's standard practice to sign up more participants than needed for a trial because some patients always drop out. The count of 93 vs. 90 really meant nothing to the value of the trial and it wasn't considered a secret by the company.

"Anyone who had called our office and asked how many people were recruited, we would not have even considered that confidential information and would have shared it," Collins said.

Significantly, Collins said, none of the people whom Collins shared information with through the emails bought or sold shares after receiving the information.

"If no one traded on it, even if I did share nonpublic information, there's no crime," Collins said.

The NIH meeting, Collins said, was part of a two-hour tour of the facility that he initially forgot about when the issue came up again a couple of years later.

The so-called insider information provided by Collins was an introduction of one scientist to another. It's common practice, Collins said, for NIH scientists to share information with outside scientists.

"There was a scientist in the one meeting who was looking at biomarkers and other indications from multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease, and some things (some aspects of the research) that there are no hard science measures on," Collins said. "It looks like this. It looks like that. Boom. Boom. Boom Boom Boom.

"And I said, 'you know, you might want to talk to our scientists because we're finding the same frustration in finding scientific measures of secondary progressive M.S. because there aren't any -- it's quality of life, patient-reported outcomes, doctor-observed things that are subjective, not objective, not scientific.

" 'You might want to want to talk to Jill. You guys should share some information.' And this woman said, 'I think it makes a lot of sense,' because that's what they do with the NIH. They talk to companies all the time."

The OSCE didn't even give Collins a chance to respond before forwarding the issue to the ethics committee, he said.

"My attorneys have subsequently done that, to point out that part of the role of the NIH is to meet with outside scientists," Collins said.

Now that these issues are in the hands' of the ethics committee staff, there isn't much Collins can do but sit and wait, he said.

It's possible there will be an investigation, but Collins said he knows of members of Congress who have waited for years while the committee did nothing on complaints brought to them, and didn't even publicly acknowledge when the case was dropped.

"Here's the most frustrating part," Collins said, "they may never look at this. This could be hanging over my head as a 'nothing burger' because they're not even investigating it."

November 17, 2017 - 4:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, taxes, news, notify.

collinsregovnov162017.jpg

(Photo: Chris Collins during a meeting today at the Job Development Center in Batavia.)

Rep. Chris Collins thinks he has the proof he needs to label Gov. Andrew Cuomo now and forevermore a pathological liar.

Following a meeting with county employment officials at the Job Development Center in Batavia, Collins took questions for reporters and in response to comments by Cuomo that the recently passed House tax reform bill will cost New Yorkers money, Collins immediately launched into a prolonged attack on Cuomo for claiming he had spoken with Collins about the bill.

"He attributed a quote to me that said that I said the reason I voted for the tax act was that I was pressured by Republican leadership," Collins said. "As I said, and it’s in The New York Times today, 'liar, liar pants on fire.' In seven years, I’ve never spoken to the governor. I certainly did not speak to him on this. Aand the outrageousness of him even fabricating a quote will tell you, if he will lie about something like that, he will not hesitate to lie about our tax plan."

The Batavian reached out to the governor's office for a response and received this statement:

The Governor's point was the Republican congress members he spoke to said they were under pressure from their political leadership‎ to vote yes‎. Collins and the rest of the New York Congress members who voted for their donors and against their own constituents can try to deflect from this irresponsible vote, but it's the Governor who stood up for New York taxpayers and always will.

Contrary to Cuomo's assertions about the reforms, the changes in the tax code will save most of his constitutes money Collins promised.

"I have said I will stake my career, my election next year, on the fact that 95 percent of the folks in GLOW and Erie County will pay less in taxes," Collins said. "If you do, then vote for me, and if you don’t, then don’t vote for me."

He challenged Cuomo to make the same pledge.

"If under our plan you pay more, then the governor was right and you should re-elect him, but next year when 95 percent of my constituents pay less, I would expect them to vote against our governor because he’s lying to them," Collins said.

Why isn't every single taxpayer in the NY-27 saving money? Collins explained it this way: If you're a married couple with no kids, with $80,000 in current state and local taxes, making $300,000 a year, living in a $1.5 million home, then, he said, you might pay $1,000 more in taxes.

Collins said most of his constituents will be quite happy when they get their first paycheck after Jan. 15 if the House bill passes the Senate -- and the Senate has its own ideas about how to change the tax code -- and they see their withholding has gone down.

"(The governor) is lying and he’s deliberately lying," Collins said. "He lied again and he exposed himself by talking about this and then attributing a quote to me. That’s beyond outrageous. I think he’s lost it.

"Now, from this day forward I can remind people, he is a pathological liar," Collins added.

November 17, 2017 - 12:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Job Bureau, chris collins, news, notify, NY-27.

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Rep. Chris Collins toured the offices of the county's Job Development Bureau this morning to learn more about the work the department does to help people in Genesee County find jobs.

The tour, led by Jay Lazarony, GLOW Workforce Development Board executive director, focused on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (oWOIA), which is a federal program designed to help youth and those with significant barriers to employment find and retain high-quality jobs and careers.

Many of the clients who enter the program have not developed the job skills that help them retain jobs.

Lazarony told the story of one woman who entered the program who had been working as a home health care aide but couldn't stay in a job. The training she received helped her understand what it takes to hold onto a job and also provided her with the skills to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. The program helped her with the expense of travel, shoes, and scrubs. She eventually landed a full-time job at the Genesee County Nursing Home and now she's studying to become a Registered Nurse.

"This is the stuff that we can do with that funding, is give people a great start," Lazarony told Collins.

Collins said he appreciated the insight because so often the programs that pass before congressional members for review are just numbers on a page but the tour helped him see how the program benefits people.

So far in 2017, the center has helped 989 clients, including 141 through WIOA. A total of 137 veterans have been assisted.

There have been 1,322 people placed in jobs in Genesee County through the department's services.

Collins also learned about on-the-job-training programs through 13 participating businesses, occupational training programs, 38 on-site employer-specific job recruitment sessions, and the Summer Youth Employment program that placed 39 high school students in jobs at 23 work sites this summer.

Sometimes the clients of the center need ongoing help, said Scott Gage, director of the bureau.

"We’ll actually stay with them for 12 months after they leave us," Gage said. "We can mediate anything going on with the business, help this person out with issues. We’ve got a lot of community partners we rely on to help us out, social service agencies that will help us out in a number of ways and there’s no funding involved. They provide services and we access those services."

There are currently more than 600 job listings on file with the bureau and most of those are good-paying jobs, Gage said. With local unemployment at about 4 percent, it's proving hard for companies to find skilled workers.

The tight job market is helping to bring some people into the workforce who until now had opted out, Lazarony said. He said two recent clients the bureau has placed in jobs have worked their way up to full-time employment. They were in their mid-20s when they first came in and had never worked any type of job in their lives. They weren't part of the system at all. They just lived at home and didn't work.

There are other long-term unemployed who rely on the state's Safety Net program and they can be hard to assist, Gage said. They're capable of working, but they also have other underlying issues, such as disabilities, and sometimes they've just given up. That's a challenge, Gage said.

Collins observed that "Anybody who wants to get a job can get a job. It may not be at the wage they want, or the hours they want, or the job they want, but they can get a job."

Changes in aid programs initiated by Congress might change some of that, Collins said.

"As we continue down that road you’re going to start to see people lined up out your door," Collins said.

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November 16, 2017 - 11:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release: 

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today voted for H.R. 1, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which will provide historic tax relief to families across America and spur economic growth. 

“With today’s vote, President Trump and House Republicans have seized this once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform our nation’s tax code,” Collins said. “Since this plan was introduced, I have crunched the numbers and know that this bill will allow families in Western New York and the Finger Lakes to keep more of what they earn, while unleashing America’s competitiveness to bring jobs and profits back home, where they belong.”

The legislation passed by the House today lowers tax rates, collapses tax brackets, increases the child tax credit and doubles the standard deduction, which will allow families to keep more of their paychecks.

Most families are likely to use the new standard deduction, no longer needing to itemize deductions. For those who still choose to itemize, House Republicans have maintained important deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and state and local property taxes up to $10,000.

“Families that are struggling to make ends meet will see more cash in their pockets to help with everyday expenses,” Collins said. “This tax reform will also have an overwhelming impact on our nation’s economy that will create jobs and increase wages.”

Currently, the United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. H.R. 1 will lower this rate to be competitive with other industrialized nations. Additionally, the plan lowers the tax rate on small businesses to the lowest it has been since World War II.

Collins added: “Unfortunately, career politicians like Andrew Cuomo and Chuck Schumer have not been truthful over the past few weeks as they look out for New York City millionaires and try to keep more of my constituents’ hard earned money for their wasteful spending.

"I am only looking out for the people of Western New York and the Finger Lakes, and their wallets. The tax reform package ultimately sent to President Trump’s desk will improve the lives of my constituents and will truly Make America Great Again.”

Based upon average family household income, average home value, an estimated mortgage interest of 4 percent, and respective state and property taxes, a family of four in the follow counties under the House Republican tax plan would save an average of:

Erie: $1,845.60
Genesee: $1,637.50
Livingston: $1,736.40
Monroe: $1,872.76
Niagara: $1,703
Ontario: $1,836.52
Orleans: $1,362.64
Wyoming: $1,509.28
 
For more information on H.R. 1, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, click here.

November 2, 2017 - 2:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, taxes, chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) applauded legislation to update our nation’s tax code that was released today by House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady. Collins cited the fact that this legislation will provide tax relief to hardworking families across America, create jobs, and grow our nation’s economy.

“Passing comprehensive tax reform will be one of the most important accomplishments we will see under President Trump,” Collins said. “Making America more competitive on the world stage will truly 'Make America Great Again' and allow more Americans to achieve the American Dream. Our nation is struggling and we need to fix the broken, outdated tax system that has burdened hard-working individuals and has crushed our economy.”

The plan outlined by House Republicans will strengthen the American middle class by doubling the standard deduction, and for those who want to itemize deductions to continue to write off property taxes, mortgage interest, and charitable contributions. The legislation also reduces rates for middle-class Americans, eliminates the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and enhances the Child Tax Credit.

“Tax reform is essential in order to grow our economy for our children and grandchildren’s generations,” Collins said. “I am confident that we will get this bill to President Trump’s desk and will see explosive economic growth.”

The framework puts America’s corporate tax rate below the average of other industrialized countries and promotes greater investment in American manufacturing. Collins supports reducing the minimum tax rate for small businesses and corporations in order to increase American competitiveness, create jobs and grow the nation’s economy.

For more information on H.R. 1, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, click here.

October 30, 2017 - 7:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, chris collins, NY-27, taxes.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) released the following statement applauding Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady’s decision to include a state and local property tax deduction in the House Republican tax reform bill.

"I am pleased that Chairman Brady has agreed to keep the SALT property tax deduction in the new tax reform legislation. It goes to show you that leadership does listen to the concerns we as members point out. Now, New York taxpayers are poised for a big victory when federal tax reform provides them with more money in their pockets and better economic opportunity. It’s time for Andrew Cuomo to follow our lead and deliver comprehensive tax reform when it comes to the state income and property taxes New Yorkers pay."

The Ways and Means Committee is expected to release its tax reform legislation on Wednesday. For more information on the unified framework for fixing our broken tax code, click here.

Here's CNN's story on the status of the deductions.

October 26, 2017 - 12:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Today Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) released the following statement after voting in support of the Senate-passed budget that paves the way for tax reform:

“Passing the budget was essential to getting tax reform completed without the threat of a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. We have set the stage to pass a tax reform bill that will drop corporate tax rates, put the United States on an equal playing field with the rest of the world, and lower the tax burden on small businesses. My colleagues and I are committed to sending President Trump a tax reform package in the coming weeks that will lead to explosive economic growth, create jobs and put money back in the pockets of working families.”

The budget passed 216-212. Here's more from the Washington Post.

October 24, 2017 - 1:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.

There are eight people who have active files with the Federal Elections Commission, making them eligible for a primary campaign in June 2018 for New York's 27th congressional district.

Rep. Chris Collins is the incumbent and is one of the eight who has filed.

Not all who have filed are running, but even among the announced candidates, an incumbent being targeted by both primary and general election challengers is unusual.

His campaign chief Chris Grant said he isn't worried.

"We live in very fluid political times, so people, especially on the Democratic side, whip themselves into a frenzy because they believe, wrongly, that the country agrees with their progressive, extremist positions and then they run into the reality of running against an incumbent congressman who is very popular in his district," Grant said. "I'm not surprised by any of it."

The seven people with FEC filings are:

  • Kevin Aleong, who has no party affiliation but does have a campaign website;
  • James Banks, a Republican, whom we wrote about yesterday;
  • David Bellavia, who ran against and lost to Collins in a primary in 2012, and has yet to express his intentions for 2018;
  • Sean Bunny, a Democrat, who has said he's running but has yet to make an appearance in Genesee County;
  • Erin Cole, a Democrat who has reportedly dropped out of the race;
  • Michael McHale, a Republican who ran in 2006 but has made no announcement about 2018; and,
  • Nicholas Stankevich, a Democrat who was in Batavia yesterday to announce his candidacy.

Frank Smierciak II, a 26-year-old Republican, has also announced his intention to challenge Collins in the primary and got a lot of attention from the media for running at such a young age, but he has yet to file with the FEC.

The fact there are Republican challengers also isn't a concern, Grant said.

"Every cycle now, people get into the fall of an off-year election and they think there is an opportunity and then the reality of qualifying for the ballot and running a real campaign rears its ugly head before they reach February, March, and April," Grant said.

Collins is popular in his district, even with an ethics investigation hanging around, and it hasn't hurt Collins at all that he was an early and vocal supporter for Donald Trump for president and continues to be loyal to Trump.

Trump is perhaps more popular in the NY-27 than any district in New York.

"It's not Trump," Grant said. "It's because of what Trump said, Trump's message."

Collins was out in front on the issues that drew people in the 27th to Trump, Grant said, such as "destructive trade agreements, and jobs being shipped overseas, and a Washington culture of elitism that ignores the people in districts like the New York 27."

Challengers to Collins are perhaps a bit out of touch with reality in the 27th District, Grant suggested.

"I think all of these candidates watch way too much cable news, pay too much to the Acela corridor press and whip themselves into a frenzy about a race they can’t win," Grant said. 

He added, "The progressive resistance movement is nonsense. It's so out of touch with what middle-class working families care about. It just shows they don't understand what people care about in the district."

As for Bellavia, the one candidate who might come into a race with some name recognition, Grant had no insight on whether he's actually running.

Last night, The Batavian emailed Bellavia, a resident of Batavia, about the FEC filing and his only response, "You noticed that?" He didn't respond to a follow-up message pressing for more clarity and confirmation.

"David's his own man and we respect him and we respect his service (Bellavia is an Iraq War vet), but we're going to fight hard for every vote in the New York 27," Grant said.

October 17, 2017 - 11:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Charles Schumer, chris collins, NY-27, news.

Sen. Charles Schumer is using the visit of Vice President Mike Pence to draw attention to the potential impact of the GOP-proposed tax plan would have on WNY, including in the congressional district of Rep. Chris Collins.

Schumer said that in the NY-27, 29 percent of taxpayers take a deduction for paying state and local taxes for an average deduction of $12,125.

The GOP plan calls for the elimination of the deduction. 

“Eliminating the state and local deduction, while slashing taxes for the wealthy and huge corporations, will hurt middle-class taxpayers, and various attempts at a ‘compromise’ are just as bad," Schumer said in a release. "If the Republicans cap the state and local deduction too high, they will still blow a huge hole in the deficit. Cap it too low, and they’ll continue socking it to the middle class. And forcing people to choose between the state and local deduction and other deductions is like offering to taxpayers to cut off one hand or the other."

We asked Schumer's office for data on Genesee County and locally, a press aide provided a link to the Tax Foundation, which shows the average state and local tax deduction for Genesee County is $2,257. (The formula for this calculation appears to be different then the calculation presented by Schumer's office in the second paragraph above. That formula is the average of the 29 percent taking the deductions; this formula, according to the article, is an average of all filers in the county.)

To claim the deduction, filers must itemize their deductions, which might include things like health care costs, mortgage interest, and charitable contributions. 

Filers who don't itemize can take the standard deduction, which is currently $6,350 for single filers and $12,700 for married couples.

The current GOP tax plan calls for simplifying deductions and increasing the amount of the standard deduction. 

Collins expressed support for elimination of the state and local tax deduction in an interview with The Batavian last year when we produced our series on Trump, trade and the local economy.

“When Vice President Pence arrives in Buffalo today, I hope he’s prepared to explain why he wants to hike taxes on thousands of middle-class families in the Buffalo area and across the country," Schumer said. "It hurts the middle class; it hammers the New York economy; and, it undermines property values."

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Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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