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Hochul reviews the State of the State during visit to GCC

By Howard B. Owens

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was in Batavia at Genesee Community College today to review Gov. Andrew Cuomo's State of the State speech.

After cheering the Buffalo Bills and talking a bit about how well Batavia and Genesee County are doing, Hochul highlighted key elements of the speech, which outlines some of the issues the governor's office will take on in 2018.

These issues include: stepping in and filling the gap, like many other states, left by the Trump Administration's announced withdrawal from the Paris Accord on Climate Change; expanding high-speed broadband in rural parts of the state; continuing to address the opiate addiction crisis; improving the lives of children through improved access to nutritious meals, through addressing lead exposure, and expanding after-school programs; ending the state's practice of suspending professional licenses for people who default on student loans; addressing workplace sexual harassment, including among elected officials; bail reform; improving ballot access; and ethics reform for the Legislature.

Hochul also praised the efforts of Cuomo to improve the business climate in New York.

She said under Cuomo's leadership, the state has controlled spending and lowered taxes. The corporate tax rate is the lowest it's been since 1968, she said, and the middle-class rate is the lowest it's been since 1947.

"Keep these numbers in your head," Hochul said. "When you walk around and here people say taxes are too high, they’ve come down dramatically under this governor."

She pointed to the state's investment in infrastructure as another factor in the state's improved economic outlook, noting, too that there are now 8.1 million jobs in the state and the unemployment rate has dropped dramatically during Cuomo's tenure.

The Cuomo Administration has also pushed for paid family leave, tuition-free college for qualifying students, and Raise the Age, a reform that will allow 16- and 17-year-olds accused of some crimes who would have been prosecuted as adults in the past to be moved to Family Court.

Hochul said that while she represents all of New York, Batavia is always a special place to visit. This was her 31st trip to Batavia since becoming lieutenant governor. 

She is excited by the progress she's seeing, from the Downtown Revitalization award to the entry of HP Hood into the former Muller Quaker plant, and the promise of high-tech jobs in Alabama.

"Just talk about the STAMP project," Hochul said. "Yes, it's taking a little longer than we want, I understand that, but there has been $50 million from the State for Ludlow Construction for the infrastructure they've put in at the site during the summertime. That's going to be transformative. That's going to be a magnet."

Speaking with the press after the event, Hochul attacked the GOP tax plan passed in December by the House and the Senate and signed by President Trump just before Christmas. She said it was bad for the working people of New York.

"This one came down to calling on our entire congressional delegation to stand with New Yorkers and four did not, which is appalling to me," Hochul said. "Four individuals broke from their colleagues in the same party in New York and said, 'we don't care.' Now we've got a fight on our hands."

That fight could include dropping the state's income tax and switching to a payroll tax. Such a change, in theory, would not change the take-home pay for workers. Their employers would pay the same amount of tax they currently deduct from paychecks, but it would be pre-tax (federal tax) money. Workers would then not be double taxed (which is the case if they can't deduct the money they pay in taxes to the state on their federal returns).

"Everything is on the table," Hochul said. "We're looking at what other states have done. We're looking at what we can do legally. We believe it is unconstitutional to have double taxation. It's something our Founding Fathers discussed. It's talking about states rights and how not to trample on them. It's amazing to me how people in Washington will pick and choose which states rights they want to protect."

Ed Hartgrove

"... noting, too that there are now 8.1 billion jobs in the state and the unemployment rate has dropped dramatically...".

As the entire New York State population is approximately 20-million (that includes men, women AND children), that would mean there's somewhere around 405 jobs for every man, woman and child. Now, if you subtract the children who aren't old enough to work, I'd guesstimate there's probably more like 700 or 800 jobs PER eligible worker. I find it hard to believe that there is ANY unemployment, using those numbers.

I think Kathy Hochul has her numbers a little skewed. Who knows, maybe she thinks Hillary is still the NY senator, too.

Jan 5, 2018, 10:31pm Permalink
Scott Chismar

There are about 20,000,000 people in the state and we have 8,100,000 jobs.(million not billion Ed). This sounds right to me.

I used to live in Hamburg when Kathy was a member of the Town Council. It was really nice to watch her grew. Too bad the gerrymandering ended up with Collins as the area Congressional Rep. She would have been fantastic. GLOW's loss is Cuomo's gain.

Jan 5, 2018, 11:02pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Hochul won the NY-27 with the same voter composition that was in place the year Collins won. Gerrymandering wasn't the only factor (though Gerrymandering makes nearly all districts impossibly uncompetitive ... a problem I hope the Supreme Court soon fixes).

Jan 5, 2018, 11:20pm Permalink
Scott Chismar

Howard, I may be mistaken, but I do not think Kathy ever won the 27th. She won the 26th in that famous four candidate race after Lee had to go off into the sunset. When she ran against Collins she narrowly lost in the 27th. It was a very close race even with an overwhelming GOP voter advantage. This is why I said I do not think the Dems will ever have a chance in this gerrymandered District, Not many in the party can have her name recognition and fund raising abilities.

Jan 6, 2018, 12:30am Permalink
Ed Hartgrove

OK, Scott. I see Howard (or someone on his staff) must have changed the billion to million. See, I not only copied and pasted it directly from the original post, but, I also took a screen shot of it. It originally said BILLIONS, not MILLIONS.

As I wouldn't want to be accused of getting MY facts wrong, I've learned to take screen shots of things I think "might be changed" without anyone acknowledging that they have changed it.

Jan 6, 2018, 1:07am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

The other alternative, Ed, is email me when you find a mistake rather than post a long rambling comment, otherwise, I'm just going to change it and you're mistake will look rather pointless. Take all the screenshots you want, but when you find trivial mistakes, all I'm going to do is change them.

Jan 6, 2018, 5:52am Permalink
Dave Olsen

Kathy, Kathy, Kathy look at you all talking state's rights and whatnot. I agree, by the way that double taxation is wrong, not sure about the unconstitutional part though. Through the abomination that is the 16th amendment, Congress can tax whomever and whatever it likes. That (the 16th amendment) is what needs to be changed. The Founding Fathers did not believe that one's income or fruits of labor should be taxed, I agree with that too. But the progressives of the late 19th and early 20th centuries loved them some big gub'ment and foreign adventures too and got it passed. Now we have an insatiable beast on our hands, which the founding fathers warned against. I believe the NY income tax accounts for 40% of the states revenue, give or take a bit. How's this - reduce spending by 40% and eliminate the income tax in NY all together? That should be far more important than trying to stay in compliance with the Paris accords. I'm all for saving our environment, but there's a lot of common sense that can be done easily without some outsiders politically motivated or corrupt input.

For the record, I thought Kathy did a good job as our Congressional Representative, I even voted for her re-election and i don;t vote for R's or D's very often, almost never. I don't agree much with her positions, but I felt she did a great job trying to know what the people in her district (whatever # it was) needed. She was actually our representative, not the rep of some faction of a major political party like most of them are. I respected the way she went about her job. Now, however she is in league with the Governor, who basically wipes his nose (and other places) with the Constitution. So Kath, if you have a problem with selective reading of the Constitution, and you should, you could start with your buddy Uncle Andy.

Jan 6, 2018, 9:22am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Mostly agree with your comment, Dave, but point of debate:

"The Founding Fathers did not believe that one's income or fruits of labor should be taxed, I agree with that too."

First, I'd ask for some actual evidence of this ... I don't believe the idea of an income tax was ever considered for the founders to oppose. The standard way of raising revenue the world over in the 17th and 18th centuries was tariffs.

Now, as every good Austrian school economist knows, tariffs are terrible for economic growth. So if we're not going to have an income tax, and we're not going to have tariffs, and value-added taxes are terribly regressive, and property taxes would become even more burdensome if spread out to state and federal government, how do you propose the people fund the necessary functions of government?

Jan 6, 2018, 11:55am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Scott, you're right. But I don't think the redrawn lines were a factor. Kathy was ill-served by the DCCC, didn't run on the populist themes that helped her get elected, and her campaign came off as very partisan and political, which didn't suit the image she started with. It was a poorly messaged campaign.

Jan 6, 2018, 12:00pm Permalink
Dave Olsen

I suppose that first we should define what necessary functions of government are. Cart, Horse and so forth.
The program I like most is one I have spelled out on here and other places more than once. In short: Local municipalities collect sales tax, spend half on what the voters of that municipality want to fund, set half aside. Counties propose a budget to the municipalities 6 months prior to the last one ending and if the municipalities agree then the money is forwarded to the county. They in turn spend half and keep half and the state proposes its budget to the counties. States then spend half and set half aside for Federal budget. This keeps most functions local and strips States and Federal government from the over-bearing power they have now, which results only because they have our money. Would have to repeal the 17th amendment along with the 16th for that to work. Anything that can be funded through user fees, should be.

Jan 6, 2018, 12:58pm Permalink
Ed Hartgrove

Dave. "Anything that can be funded through user fees, should be."
Yes, I believe that's how Florida does it. There's no state income tax here.

Jan 6, 2018, 1:47pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Dave, a review of the founders attitudes on taxation proves you can prove anything by selectively citing founders who agree with your position. Jefferson opposed taxation, according to some accounts, and Hamilton supported both an income tax and a tariff. Then as now, there were extremes and people in the middle.

You're right, any conversation about taxation begins with what should be spent and on what. It also needs to take in the reality that folks on both the left and the right have differing views on what constitutes essential services and in a truly democratic society, compromises would be reached. You know I favor bottom-up government but I'm not for no government at any level. I don't think you're going to fund a government that meets the needs of all its people with only one revenue stream. No business of any complexity can operate that way and neither can government.

Jan 6, 2018, 2:05pm Permalink
Dave Olsen

I'm not for "no government" either, obviously. As far as for how government can operate on a single revenue stream, we don't know that, that's your opinion. We have never tried it, not even a little. I think we agree on the problem, too much government, and its top down and runs on emotions instead of practicality.

Jan 6, 2018, 2:19pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Here's an interesting essay from the libertarian-localist website Front Porch Republic…

Wherein Jefferson is quoted favoring some sort of progressive taxation on real property and makes the note that income tax simply wasn't an issue at the time so it's hard to say how Jefferson and Madison, for example, would respond to the idea of a progressive income tax (though they would oppose broad, unchecked redistribution of wealth and a large bureaucratic government to support it).

Of course, there are also quotes out there used by tax opponents to say Jefferson opposed taxation.

Like I said, you can make the founders -- like the Bible or Koran -- say whatever confirmation bias you want to push.

Jan 6, 2018, 2:22pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

I'm not going to do the research right now because I have other obligations ahead of me today, but I'm pretty sure that the current sales tax collected in Genesee County, including the current share that goes to the state, would never cover whatever you and I both would agree is the essential services a local government should provide. And that's just for the county, not counting spending in the towns, villages and cities on essential services, which even if we had a consolidated government would not diminish much.

And under a bottom-up system we both favor, you've still got to send revenue upstream to the state and federal government for their essential services.

That would necessitate a much, much higher sales tax, perhaps three or four times higher than what we have now.

If you agree with the founders that inequality is destabilizing to society and a threat to a functional republic, then you should be concerned about greatly increasing the most regressive tax system available. It would make the poor and middle class poorer and have a diminishing impact on the rich, other than with a poor general population, there would be fewer people available as customers for their goods and services or the goods and services for their employers.

A single-tax sales tax is absurdly unworkable. It would be economically ruinous.

If all there was were a property tax, we would suffer similar economic distortions because of the burden of high property taxes. Who could afford to own even a modest home in Batavia if property taxes were twice or three times what they are now, which would be necessary to support even the most minimal government.

Setting aside the complete unreality of any proposed single-tax system, any radical change is completely utopian short of a violent revolution and complete breakdown of society and then hope that your side wins rather than Napoleon or Stalin.

My approach to politics these days is firmly rooted in realism. What is the system we have today? What are its defects? And how best do we slowly correct those defects without bringing about greater instability and dampening economic growth? That leads me to a place to not even fantasizing about utopian single-fixes to our problems.

Jan 6, 2018, 2:42pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

I just deleted a comment addressed to Dave. I saw the two comments above with periods and his last comment and thought he had removed his comments in this thread, and wrote a response in that context. I scrolled up further and he's not altered his prior comments, so my comment would come across as an over-reaction (though not anyway way hostile).

I will say,

Dave, I'm surprised at your response. There's nothing in my remarks that would even come close to calling you an idiot. A person disagreeing with you is not insulting you. Disagreement is foundational to a functioning democracy. We don't all sing in the same chorus.

Jan 6, 2018, 4:52pm Permalink
Tim Miller

Ed - Florida is a poor example to use when trying to defend no income tax. I lived there for over a decade, and the major reason Florida does not have an income tax is tourists. Tourists get taxed highly on everything... hotel rooms, rental cars, park entrance tickets, etc.

Although their method works for them, as most states do not have the tourism industry Florida does, they are not a very good model. Ditto for Alaska, except replace "tourists" with "oil/energy."

Jan 7, 2018, 12:51pm Permalink
Ed Hartgrove

Tim. Are you trying to say that NY isn't a tourist destination? I thought being a "tourist destination" was the reason one of the "big-box" stores were given tax breaks a couple years ago (can't quite remember which one it was - Dicks? Are they still there?)

Besides that, I'm pretty sure Cuomo wouldn't have a hard time finding things to replace income taxes. You know, like when he charged $5 taxes on a pack of cigarettes, etc.
BTW - Florida isn't the only no-income tax state.

Jan 7, 2018, 5:35pm Permalink
Tim Miller

Ed - enough with the baloney about "tourist destination" and the rest of the malarkey you posted... pretty lame attempt to make fun of politicians you're not found of, actually.

Just as Alaska gets a big chunk of their revenue from oil and gas, Florida gets a big chunk of theirs from tourism.

Jan 8, 2018, 1:27pm Permalink
Ed Hartgrove

My apologies,Tim. You are correct. I guess my "baloney" was because I thought Dick's had being touted as a tourist attraction, when, in fact, it was the entire Batavia Towne Center that was awarded that designation,

Below is part of the article from the link above
[Batavia Towne Center -- the location of Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Michael's, Petco and Radio Shack -- is a tourist destination.

It became a tourist destination in 2007 when the board of the Genesee County Economic Development Center voted to proclaim it a tourist destination and Mary Pat Hancock, chair of the Genesee County Legislature, gave the designation her stamp of approval.

Without the designation, the GCEDC could not have awarded -- under state law at the time -- some $4.5 million in tax breaks for COR Development Company to build the retail shopping center.]

Jan 8, 2018, 3:16pm Permalink
Tim Miller

Ed - don't know, don't care.... Again, you are bringing up an at-best peripheral item to take a lame shot at politicians or policies you don't agree with. Thank you for adding to the conversation.

I will repeat - using Florida's extensive tourism is as relevant as using Alaska's vast oil and gas revenue when suggesting how NYS could do without an income tax.

I've made my point and added to the conversation. You can continue spewing your irrelevant baloney all you want.

Jan 8, 2018, 4:27pm Permalink

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