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57th State Senate District

Gagne honored for 'being the arms that hold us' during award ceremony

By Joanne Beck
Sue Gagne George Borrello
Sue Gagne receives the 57th State Senate District Woman of Distinction Award from Sen. George Borrello at the Generations Center in Batavia on Monday.
Photo by Howard Owens.

This is a better place because of the “Sues” in the world, Matt Landers says.

Referring to mental health advocate Sue Gagne, the Genesee County manager spoke about her many attributes, including an ever-increasing passion and energy for providing support to others in her myriad roles since he’s known her the last two decades. 

“So early on 20 years ago, I had a positive impression of Sue. And it has only grown from that point on for my 20 years here of getting a chance to know Sue, whether it's at (a Leadership Genesee) function, or the various roles she's had, and my opportunities to sit in and see her at work at various boards, and she's had a variety of them, all equally important to this community,” Landers said during the 2024 Woman of Distinction Award ceremony Monday at the Generation Center in Batavia. “I’ve gotten to see her more from her role in Mental Health Association, Suicide Prevention Coalition now UConnect Cares, and then some of the great work that she's doing with the City Church here, and the programming that she's advocating for, and coming to me for advocating for some funds for some Opioid Task Force monies, she's tireless.

“Many people in Sue’s role is, in my opinion, they slow down with time, she’s the opposite. I think that she’s speeding up and getting more passionate and more energetic through time, which is impressive. She’s one of those people that genuinely wants to help anyone in need in crisis,” he said. “I’m glad we have the Sues of the world. I’m a little more black-and-white, and the Sues of the world balance me out, and I’m glad that we have Sue and I’m glad to call her friend. Her passion and energy have positive impacted numerous lives in Genesee County, and it’s going to continue to impact them for years to come.”

Gagne was nominated by Sen. George Borrello of the 57th District for having “stood out amongst the group as someone so deserving” of this award. Gagne was honored in May during a ceremony in the Legislative Office Building in Albany alongside fellow honorees from across the state. The award program honors women who've made remarkable contributions to their professions, and their communities and serve as inspiration for others.

Monday’s ceremony brought the award home so that she could be recognized locally in front of friends and family. County Legislative Chairwoman Shelley Stein first encountered Gagne when she worked on the Board of Health and noted that Gagne’s name was there.

“Not only was her name there, Sue’s arms are there. And they’re around this entire county. And I can’t count on the number of times that I have said that name cares about all of us,” Stein said. “So thank you for being the arms that hold us kind of toward the center, or that we can bounce off of, because we need you. We need you more than we ever would imagine.

“I am grateful for the fact that you have continued to grow and to move your skills forward, because we are your beneficiaries here in this county,” she said. “On behalf of the county and our Legislature, and all of those who you take care of, we have a proclamation, but I’m not going to read t because you’re just gonna read it. Ours come come from the heart and from our head. Thank you Sue, congratulations.”

A great deal of Gagne’s work as stemmed from the mental health field, including when she was at the Mental Health Association in Genesee County, where she offered meetings for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. That was when Mental Health Director Lynda Battaglia discovered that “she was a force to be reckoned with,” Battaglia said.

“And I knew way back then that she was just someone that you just loved to be around, genuinely. Our collaborations and interactions continued through the years. And when I came to Genesee County, she was one of the first to welcome me with some hoots and hollering and screams and cheers and hugs, and that was at the Suicide Prevention Center training in Albany, New York in September 2019, and we were just really excited about all the work that we were gonna do together," Battaglia said. "So I see a drive in Sue, that is one of advocacy, advocating and using your voice for those that cannot advocate for themselves. And with that advocacy comes educating our community on mental illness, stigma, suicide prevention, all areas that are near and dear to Sue's heart.

"She's assisted with the development of a grassroots suicide prevention called gal pathway to hope. And on her own time and dime. She nurtured this coalition and built relationships so that this coalition could flourish, and blossom into what it is today," she said. "When she sets her sights on a vision she homes in and does what she needs to do in order to make it come to fruition.”

It was a pleasure for Borrello to nominate and honor someone “as wonderful as Sue,” he said, while also needing to recognize the people that she’s encountered on the worst days of their lives, “when they’re struggling in crisis, when there’s just seemingly no hope.” And to have another human being step in to provide them that hope, “that takes a special person,” he said, especially amidst the red tape of government and navigating a system to receive those desperately needed services.

“You know, as a society, we don't want to talk about these things, we want to sweep them under the rug, we don't want to recognize the fact that there are people out there that are struggling, that have issues with substance use disorders, mental health problems, but you are right there in the middle with those people," he said. "That's why you were the perfect choice for this award, because you are the type of person that does this for no other reason than you want to make society a better place to be. So I am just very, very proud to to be able to honor you today, and just take this time in front of your friends and family and co-workers to say that you are special, because you look for the good in people, you look for the way to get them a path to be productive members of society, to lift themselves up, meet people where they are, as they say you do that every single day.”

In a matter of seconds, Gagne illustrated her open spirit by jumping from a joke about herself into deep tearful reflection about why she has persevered in this field.

“I’m just so grateful, my heart is so full, and now you get me crying. The sadness that people deal with on a daily basis, it hurts, and I can’t just go though life and ignore it,” she said. “And I know I’m speaking to the choir here. You guys are all advocates in your own way, and under our pastor’s leadership years ago … my notes from the dream conference, he said find a need and fill it, and it stuck with me.”

Sue Gagne George Borrello
Sue Gagne
Photo by Howard Owens.
Sue Gagne George Borrello
Genesee County Manager Matt Landers
Photo by Howard Owens.
Sue Gagne George Borrello
Speaking, Genesee County Legislative Chair Shelley Stein.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Sue Gagne George Borrello
County Mental Health Director Lynda Battaglia.
Photo by Howard Owens.

 

Borrello announces his candidacy for reelection

By Press Release

Press Release:

Senator George Borrello officially announced he is seeking re-election to the New York State Senate to represent the 57th District.

“Representing my constituents in Western New York is a great privilege and one that I strive to honor by giving 110 percent every day.  Albany is dominated by New York City legislators and activists whose priorities and values are a world apart from ours. I’ve made it my mission to be a champion for our district and rural New Yorkers,” said Senator Borrello.

“Right now, our state is facing a crisis of epic proportions caused by the unrelenting influx of migrants into New York. It is consuming billions in taxpayer funds at an alarming rate. Yet our governor refuses to rescind the ‘sanctuary’ status that is fueling the crisis,” said Sen. Borrello. “We need elected officials who will stand up for everyday New Yorkers who are rightly saying ‘enough is enough’”.

“As the City’s dominance has grown, the fight to secure our fair share of resources for our schools, roads, and other essential services has intensified. It is also critical that we continue to push back against one-size-fits-all policies that neglect to account for upstate realities,” said Sen. Borrello. 

“There is no better example than the natural gas bans and electric school bus mandates that are slated to go into effect in just a few years. Our rural setting and cold, snowy winters aren’t compatible with all-electric energy sources and, in the worst scenario, represent life and safety hazards.”

Senator Borrello noted that while statewide issues garner headlines, constituent service is a core priority.

“I am proud of the record my team and I have when it comes to helping our constituents. We logged more than 2,000 constituent cases in 2023 alone, spanning a wide range of issues. Behind those figures are real folks who reached out for help with problems – some complex and others that were addressed through a phone call. But in a rural area like ours, where services can be scarce, we recognize the vital importance of this assistance.”

“I’ve been a leading voice against the government overreach that is threatening our constitutional freedoms. We not only won the first court ruling against the governor’s ‘isolation and quarantine’ procedures, but we’ve also mobilized people across the state who realize the risks of giving the executive too much-unfettered power,” said Sen. Borrello.

“New Yorkers are asking for help. In the most recent Siena poll, a majority cited affordability and crime as their top concerns and a majority also said the quality of life in our state is declining. There is too much at stake to sit on the sidelines. That is why I am running for re-election. The future of our region and our state is at stake, and I am committed to doing everything I can to make the changes we need to not only survive but thrive in the years ahead," said Sen. Borrello.

Senator Borrello has represented the 57th District since winning a special election in 2019 and being re-elected in 2022. The district, one of the Legislature’s largest geographically, encompasses Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Genesee, and Wyoming counties, as well as a portion of Allegany County.

More information on George Borrello is available at www.georgeborrello.com and @BorrelloforNY on Facebook.

Borrello announces scholarship opportunity for students, deadline is March 15

By Press Release

Press Release:

File photo of
George Borrello

New York State Senator George Borrello announced that the New York Conference of Italian American State Legislators is accepting applications for four $3,000 college scholarships, two academic and two athletic.

Scholarships are available to residents of the 57th Senate District who are current college students or high school seniors entering college. Students can access and complete the application by visiting: https://www.nyiacsl.org/apply-for-scholarship-form. 

The application deadline is Friday, March 15.  

“This is an excellent scholarship opportunity for high school seniors and college students in the 57th Senate District who have worked hard, distinguished themselves from their peers, and intend to pursue higher education,” said Senator Borrello. “With college costs continually rising, these scholarships give young individuals and their families the opportunity to lessen the financial burden associated with higher education. I encourage eligible students in my district to apply.”

Applicants should have a grade point average of 85 or higher; be active in community service and extracurricular activities and demonstrate financial need. In addition to these qualifications, students applying for an athletic scholarship must also be involved in an organized sport(s).

Applicants need not be of Italian American heritage to apply.

Scholarship recipients will be announced in April, and the winners will be honored at a ceremony in Albany.

The New York Conference of Italian American State Legislators is a bipartisan organization of state Assembly and Senate members who actively promote and celebrate the state’s Italian American community.

Borrello is honored for commitment to his constituents and improving the region's quality of life

By Press Release
image.png
Submitted photo of Senator Borrello with Ambassador Sanon and his awards.

Press Release:

Representing the Council for Justice, Equality and Peace (COJEP International), Ambassador Hugues Sanon presented the Global Distinguished Leadership Award, Key to Sustainability, and Medal of Honor to New York State Senator George Borrello for his service and dedication to the residents of the 57th District.

“Senator Borrello has devoted more than a decade to improving the quality of life in our community and our region through public service roles at both the local and state levels of government,” said Ambassador Sanon.

“He has raised awareness of issues and problems that are impacting families, small businesses, and farmers. He has been a champion of tax relief to ease residents’ financial burdens and make our region more competitive. As a lifelong Western New Yorker, he is unwavering in his dedication to securing the future of the region and that is inspiring and an example that deserves to be recognized,” Ambassador Sanon said. “That is the intent behind this award.”

The VIP dinner was hosted by Ambassador Sanon at his residence on the North Side of Jamestown. In attendance was Mayor Randall G. Holcomb of Lakewood NY, the Blue Star Mothers NY4's Vice President Kathy Collver, Vietnam Veteran Stanley Collver, Pastor Mark Hinman and Mrs. Hinman from Hillcrest Church, Dave Anderson and his wife Holly Anderson, Mr. Jon Elder and Emmanuella Sanon, wife of Ambassador Sanon and COJEP representative at the United Nations.

COJEP International, headquartered in Strasbourg, France, promotes humanitarian values and works in support of peace, justice, freedom and democracy. The organization has consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations, UNESCO (NGO Liaison Committee), the Council of Europe (Conference of NGOs), the OECD and is accredited by the European Parliament and the OSCE.

Ambassador Sanon praised Senator Borrello for “his commitment to making our community and the world at large a better place where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Your tireless efforts have had an impact and brought hope to many. Continue to shine your light, demonstrate compassion and empathy, and transform lives through your important work. The world needs more people like you.”

Senator Borrello expressed his appreciation for the award and extended his thanks to Ambassador Sanon for his work in the City of Jamestown and Chautauqua County.

"I am humbled by this honor and your kind words. I am also grateful for your contributions to Jamestown and Chautauqua County. In the relatively brief time you’ve lived here, you’ve invested yourself deeply in our community. You’ve worked in partnership with local officials, law enforcement, clergy, and non-profit organizations to reach common goals and help those in need. You’ve shown great leadership and have built bridges between people and groups that will make our region and this world a better place,” Senator Borrello said.

“We all recognize that achieving greater justice, equality, and peace are critically important goals. You bring that vision to your efforts, which benefits us all,” he added.

Ambassador Hugues Sanon has presented the Medal of Honor to a number of international and national dignitaries as well as several local leaders including the City of Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas, Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel, County Sheriff James Quattrone, Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist and Rev. Mark Hinman of Hillcrest Baptist Church.

Hawley, Borrello criticize new law that seals criminal records

By Howard B. Owens

Press release from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, C -Batavia) recently criticized the Clean Slate Act, a proposal that would seal the criminal records of recently released convicts. This week, the measure was signed into law by Gov. Hochul. Supporters of the bill argue this will help incarcerated individuals get jobs after they’ve served their time and combat racial bias in the state’s criminal justice system. Critics, however, have said this will make it virtually impossible for employers, landlords and other business owners to fully vet their incoming employees and tenants. Hawley is frustrated because reckless policies like the Clean Slate Act are giving criminals a free pass and making communities less safe.

“This is yet another example of the Majority in Albany imposing their radical ideology on everyday New Yorkers,” said Hawley. “We live in a country where criminals are treated like victims, and the people who are hurt by these crimes are put to the side. Public safety is not something we can afford to mess around with. We need to return to a system where we respect the rule of law and hold criminals accountable for their actions.”

Press release from Sen. George Borrello:

“Governor Hochul’s signing today of the Clean Slate Act is more confirmation that catering to criminals and the radical wing of her party is more important than the safety and concerns of New Yorkers who have repeatedly cited rising crime as the state’s number one problem.    

This misguided law will allow criminals – even serial offenders -- to have their records automatically sealed after a specified time period. Serious crimes like manslaughter, armed robbery, domestic violence, and arson are among the crimes that will be hidden from employers and landlords, placing countless unsuspecting individuals in harm’s way. 

There already exists a process for sealing criminal records that has reasonable safeguards to assure that the individuals in question don’t pose a public safety risk. Yet, like with all the criminal justice reforms passed in recent years by Albany Democrats, reasonable policies and reforms have been rejected and replaced with reckless versions.

This law is another slap in the face to New Yorkers who are watching their safety and quality of life rapidly erode.”

Borrello says much of 2023 legislative agenda pushed 'socialist-leaning' policies

By Press Release

Press Release:

Sen. George Borrello

“As legislators, our job is to represent the interests of the New Yorkers we serve. What have New Yorkers repeatedly asked the Democrat-controlled Legislature and Governor to address? Affordability and crime. What did they get in return?

  • A massive $229 billion state budget laden with unsustainable spending and certain to produce budget gaps in the near future.
  • A state money grab of federal Medicaid funding from the counties, which will force localities to raise property taxes between 7 and 14 percent to cover these state-mandated costs.
  • A ban on natural gas and other fossil fuels in new construction beginning in 2025, which will drive up utility bills, raise housing costs and decrease energy reliability.
  • A $1 billion-plus bill for New York taxpayers to address the migrant crisis, driven by New York’s self-designated ‘sanctuary’ status.
  • A lack of any meaningful improvements to the bail ‘reform’ disaster that continues to wreak havoc with public safety.
  • A continuing, unfair and costly burden on small businesses of repaying the state’s COVID-era unemployment insurance debt.
  • A continuation of the attacks on agriculture through misguided policies like the Birds and Bees Act and approval of the 40-hour farm worker overtime threshold.
  • Unconstitutional election ‘reforms’ like no-excuses absentee voting that New Yorkers already rejected at the polls in 2021 and moving local elections to even-numbered years.  These election bills aren’t about boosting participation; their true goal is to make it easier to elect more Democrats.

None of these ‘achievements’ or any of the other 500-plus measures Democrats passed this session are what hard-working, taxpaying New Yorkers asked for. They are the result of the relentless push by radical special interests to enact socialist-leaning laws that will continue to weaken our economy, punish success and erode law and order.

New Yorkers should be especially outraged about the passage of additional pro-criminal measures that will only further hurt public safety in our cities and communities. 

The so-called ‘Clean Slate’ bill will seal criminal misdemeanor and most felony conviction records, leaving potential employers, landlords, lenders, and others in the dark about the past of an individual they are considering entrusting with a job, apartment, loan, or other arrangements.

This will leave innocent, unsuspecting New Yorkers, including children, vulnerable. It is apparent that our majority of colleagues are unfazed by the increases in crime resulting from their disastrous bail and parole changes.

New Yorkers can be relieved that we were able to defeat some of the reckless proposals by the majorities and the Governor. At the top of the list are the governor’s proposed affordable housing mandates and growth targets, which would have overridden local zoning and changed the character of our communities.

We also won a reprieve on some of the gas ban mandates in the governor’s budget. My advocacy urging agricultural buildings to be added to the list of ‘exempt’ facilities was thankfully effective, providing some relief and certainty to our farmers. The final budget also removed the gas ban mandates on existing homes and businesses — for now.

Other key achievements include a conceptual agreement between the Seneca Nation and the state on a fair gaming compact. Our advocacy brought needed focus to this issue, which is critically important to the future of Western New York. 

We were also able to win passage of legislation to fix the funding problems the Department of Health created for our Nourish NY program. Getting this done was a priority for all of us who led the effort to make this valuable program permanent. 

Ultimately, this session has ended without taking any significant steps to make New York a state where people want to live, rather than leave. 

Democrats’ iron grip on power means they own the failures of the 2023 Session as well as the loss of each family and business who decide they’ve had enough of high taxes, rising crime, and tone-deaf political leaders and leave for greener pastures.

I remain hopeful that when my Democratic colleagues return to their home districts and hear directly from their constituents, they may return to Albany in January, ready to tackle our challenges. In the meantime, my advocacy for the hardworking, law-abiding people in our region will continue.”

Borrello disappointed in passage of bill that bans pesticide seed treatment

By Press Release

Press Release:

Following the Senate’s passage of S.1856, “The Birds and Bees Protection Act,” Senator George Borrello issued the following statement: 

“I am deeply disappointed at the Senate’s passage of this bill which will ban neonicotinoids (“neonics”), which are seed treatments that contain extremely small amounts of pesticides. 

The use of this innovative technology has helped farmers optimize crop yield and quality and allowed them to greatly reduce the large-scale spraying of older, more toxic, and environmentally harmful pesticides. Pesticide application rates will increase by an estimated 375 percent per acre.

Neonic safety for bees and other pollinators has been confirmed by studies and the product has been registered for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). 

This attempt by legislators to override the DEC’s regulatory authority and expertise in this area is reckless and sets a dangerous precedent. Ultimately, if this misguided bill is signed into law, it will be another blow to New York State farmers whose livelihoods have been under attack by this Legislature over the past three years. 

Multi-generational family farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with other states because of the continuing and unreasonable mandates, costs, and regulations that are being heaped on them. I strongly urge my colleagues in the Assembly to reject this harmful and unjustified measure.”

Borrello introduces bill to require comptroller review of tribal - state compacts

By Press Release

Press Release: 

Sen. George Borrello

As negotiations on a new gaming compact continue between New York State and the Seneca Nation, Sen. George Borrello has introduced legislation that would enhance the integrity of the process by authorizing the New York State Comptroller to review any tribal-state compact and recommend approval or needed changes.

Senator Borrello cited the need for this change by pointing to current negotiations between the Seneca Nation and the Hochul administration. He noted that although the Governor has recused herself from compact negotiations because of the conflict of interest presented by her husband’s position with a company in competition with the Seneca Nation, she is still the only official that can approve the contract.  

“The partnership between the Seneca Nation and New York’s executive branch has been strained for several years, largely over disagreements concerning revenue from Seneca casinos. Those tensions, combined with the Governor’s institutional role in the process which makes full recusal difficult, underscore the importance of a full and impartial review by the State Comptroller,” said Senator Borrello. “There is too much at stake, not only for the Senecas but for the state, to allow the process to be compromised by politics and conflict. This is a common-sense proposal that would improve the process and help ensure a fair outcome.”  

The original Seneca Nation Compact was authorized in 2002. The agreement cleared the way for the development of three Seneca casinos in Western New York.  The Seneca Niagara Casino opened in 2002, followed by the Salamanca location in 2004 and the Buffalo location in 2007. Terms of the compact included the Seneca Nation paying 25 percent, which is approximately $100 million a year, of the slot and video lottery machine revenues to the state, with a portion of that directed to each casino’s host city. In return, the compact grants the Nation exclusive rights to operate Class III casinos in Western New York.  

The casinos and their related businesses have an estimated $1 billion annual economic impact on Western New York and provide more than 6,000 jobs. 

“The Seneca Nation territories and residents are within the 57th District which makes this issue a priority for me. They are friends and neighbors to me and other district residents, so the delays and challenges they are encountering in the negotiating process are a significant concern,” said Senator Borrello. “Their world-class gaming facilities have transformed the economy of Western New York and they have been good partners to the state. They deserve a fair and equitable compact and my bill would help advance that goal.” 

Hawley, Borrello issue statements reacting to new state budget

By Press Release

Statement from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

“Our state budget has finally passed, only a month later than it should have. Not only were there numerous empty seats on the side of the Majority as we trudged through the debate and voting process, but this budget is prepared to spend $229 billion worth of taxpayer dollars. That’s double the budget of Florida and Texas, despite New York having fewer residents than either of those states. Spending indiscriminately and passing the costs over to taxpayers almost unilaterally is not the way to attract or retain people or business to this state, and I fear it will continue the downward trend of New York’s economic strength.”

Statement from State Sen. George Borrello:

“New Yorkers have heard repeatedly over this last month that ‘the right budget is more important than an 
on-time budget.’  

“Yet, the sad truth is all the extra time did not produce ‘the right budget.’ It produced another bad budget that, once again, ignores New Yorkers’ top concerns – affordability and public safety – and spends us into a fiscal death spiral. At $229 billion, this budget means we will be spending $627 million in taxpayer dollars every single day.  

“Government watchdogs have decried the reckless spending which will explode next year’s projected budget gap and set us up for a long-term structural deficit of over $15 billion. New Yorkers, who already pay the highest taxes in the nation, will not find any relief in this budget and may very well see increases in the not-too-distant future because of the excessive spending. Property taxpayers are also at risk of higher taxes in the next few years as the state begins withholding federal Medicaid funds that were designed to help counties with these costs.  

“Throughout the process, the narrative we’ve heard is that the governor was fighting for changes to the bail law to strengthen public safety. Many people had high hopes that we would finally get a significant tightening of the disastrous changes that have transformed our criminal justice system into a dangerous revolving door. Disappointingly, the promised changes are nothing but a shell game that will do nothing to reverse the tide of rising crime. Ninety percent of crimes are still not eligible for bail. Judges still do not have the discretion they need to hold dangerous individuals, despite the rewording of the ‘least restrictive’ standard.  

“With a budget process conducted behind closed doors, it is easy to slide in controversial items in the last minute to prevent opposition from having time to organize. We saw that happen with the addition of a provision to dismantle the existing board and governance structure of the Western Regional OTB. This blatant power grab will undermine the voices of the rural counties that are part of the OTB board and put at risk the successful operation of Batavia Downs, the only profitable Western Regional OTB location.   

“While elected officials love to proclaim their support for small businesses, ‘actions speak louder than words,’ as they say. Small businesses’ requests for the state to help pay down the crushing COVID-era unemployment insurance debt that was unfairly dumped in their laps were ignored once again. Adding insult to injury, small businesses, farms and employers of every size will have to find a way to finance the higher minimum wage mandates in this budget, even as the last increase is less than six months old.  

“There were a few positive outcomes worth noting. The advocacy of myself and my colleagues was effective in removing the Executive Budget’s harmful housing mandates that would have steamrolled over localities’ home rule rights with regard to zoning and right sizing communities.  

“It is also encouraging that the fierce opposition of myself and the members of our Conference on the governor’s all-electric mandates helped remove her proposed requirements on existing homes from this budget. However, the mandates for new construction remain and are set to begin in 2025, which will have a devastating impact on the construction sector and related industries. That is just one of many fights that remain on this critically important issue.    

“New Yorkers deserve ‘the right budget’ and an on-time budget. This year, they received neither.”  

Borrello critical of confirmation of Rowan Wilson to Court of Appeals

By Press Release

Press release:

Statement from Senator George Borrello:

“With the Senate Majority’s confirmation of Justice Rowan Wilson for Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, they have won their months-long campaign to transform the state’s highest court with their brand of progressivism.  

They rejected Judge Hector LaSalle, a brilliant and independent jurist with the administrative experience the role demands, in favor of an activist judge. Judge Wilson will be more likely to legislate from the bench and willing to ‘interpret’ the law and State Constitution however necessary to advance a liberal agenda.  

With the state budget now 18 days late, chiefly because of the Legislature’s resistance to amending disastrous criminal justice reforms that have made our streets more dangerous and victims more numerous, today’s judicial confirmation makes it clear that they are as committed as ever to their radical agenda. Everyday New Yorkers’ concerns over public safety and the direction of our state have been ignored yet again.  

Photo: File photo by Howard Owens.

Senator vows to be 'voice of common sense' in Albany at town hall meeting

By Howard B. Owens

Upstate opposition to downstate policies is showing some small signs of success, State Sen. George Borrello told a group of residents at Batavia City Hall on Tuesday.

The residents gathered in Council Chambers for a 'Town Hall Meeting' hosted by Borrello, who represents the reconstituted 57th Senate District, which now includes Genesee County.

On the progress front, Borrello pointed to bail reform.  Gov. Kathy Hochul is backing some changes to the current bail laws in the current proposed budget, Borrello said.

"I can tell you that it's broken, and we're fighting an uphill battle," Borrello said. "We're into the wind every day, but we are making progress. The bottom line is it's up to the people of New York when the majority of people -- three out of four people in New York state, including New York City -- feel that bail reform needs to change. The governor right now she's backpedaling like crazy. She's trying to back herself out of all the promises she made when she was running, when she was down in New York City, abandoning her Western New York values to get re-elected or to get elected for the first time. But when she won by only 1,000 votes, she realized that something's got to change. So I don't have a whole lot of faith in her in many ways, but I think she's at least realizing that she's gonna have to figure out a way to right this ship. Otherwise, she's not going to be around much longer as our governor."

There's also growing opposition to proposals for solar panels and windmills all over the state, Borrello said.

He called the push for solar in the state "nothing but crony capitalism" that is doing more to enrich China than fight climate change.

"Let me tell you something, the proliferation of solar and wind in Upstate New York, this is not about climate change," Borrello said. "This is not about clean energy. It's about money. This is about a bunch of former used car salesmen inundating everybody with these contracts."

Borrello said he is also fighting to protect farms on other fronts, such as opposing changes to the overtime threshold for farm workers.

It's another area where upstate interests are making small progress.  Hochul, he said, is proposing a tax credit for farmers who do wind up paying overtime under the rule changes.

He also said a program that helps direct food from local farms to food banks has been made permanent.

"(Now) farmers can plan for it, and food banks can budget for it," Borrello said.

Upstate opposition to Hochul's housing plans, which reportedly could have forced municipalities to abandon their own zoning ordinance, has led to small changes.  The goal of building more affordable housing will be achieved through incentives rather than penalties, he said.

"I'm still not convinced," Borrello said. "There's still a backdoor way for the state to, essentially, bypass local zoning, local control. It's a bad idea. If you want to make housing more affordable in New York State, make New York State more affordable. That's the best way to do it."

Borrello said most of his colleagues in Albany lack the business experience (he and his wife own multiple small businesses, employing more than 200 people) necessary to help them understand the impact of their decisions on the people of New York.  They're insulated from the effects of those decisions, he said.  And while he's aware of reports of people fleeing the state because of high taxes and overregulation, he plans to stick around and try to make things better for New Yorkers.

"I'm here to stay and fight," he said. "Because this is a great place to be. It's a great place to live. I don't want to leave here. I don't want anyone else to leave here any more. So we're going to continue to fight back. We're gonna continue to push back and be that voice of common sense in Albany."

Photos by Nicholas Serrata.

Borrello announces availability of $4k scholarships

By Press Release

Press release:

New York State Senator George Borrello announced that the New York Conference of Italian-American State Legislators is accepting applications for four $4,000 scholarships, two academic and two athletic.  

Scholarships are available to residents of the 57th Senate District who are current college students or high school seniors entering college. Students can access and complete the application by visiting: https://www.nyiacsl.org/apply-for-scholarship-form

The application deadline is Monday, March 27.  

“This is an excellent scholarship opportunity for high school seniors and college students in the 57th Senate District who have worked hard, distinguished themselves from their peers and intend to pursue higher education,” Senator Borrello said. “With college costs continually rising, this is a chance to lessen the financial burden that is a concern for so many young people and their families. I encourage eligible students in my district to apply.”  

Applicants should have a grade point average of 85 or higher; be active in community service and extracurricular activities and demonstrate financial need. In addition to these qualifications, students applying for an athletic scholarship must also be involved in an organized sport(s). Applicants need not be of Italian-American heritage to apply. 

Scholarship recipients will be announced in May, and the winners will be honored at a ceremony in Albany. 

The New York Conference of Italian-American State Legislators is a bipartisan organization of state Assembly and Senate members who actively promote and celebrate the state’s Italian-American community. 

Earlier this year, Senator Borrello was chosen by his Senate and Assembly colleagues to serve as president of the New York Conference of Italian-American State Legislators. 

Borrello critical of Hochul's proposed budget

By Press Release

Press release:

Following the release of the Executive Budget proposal by Governor Kathy Hochul, Senator George Borrello issued the following comments:  

“There is no more obvious message that New York State is on the wrong track than our unrivaled national standing as ‘number one’ for the outmigration of our residents. That fact should be a call to action for our Governor as she charts the path forward for our state.  

“While we will be delving into the details in the coming days, the initial takeaway from the Executive Budget proposal released today is that we are looking at more of the same policies and approach that got us where we are.  

“Rather than make badly needed structural reforms in programs where growth is exploding and leading us toward dangerous levels of debt as Comptroller DiNapoli noted this week, this massive $227 billion budget simply funnels more money into areas of the budget that we know are rife with inefficiency and abuse, such as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and Medicaid.  

“Missing is the tax relief that our residents need to keep household budgets afloat as inflation and rising energy costs compound New York’s already-high cost of living. The stronger public safety measures and bail reform rollbacks New Yorkers have cited as their number one priority are nowhere.  

“Our small businesses, who are crying out for relief from the nearly $8 billion in pandemic unemployment debt that they have been unfairly saddled with, have apparently been hung out to dry once again. A corporate tax that was due to expire is being extended and all New York City and suburban employers downstate will have to pay an increased MTA payroll tax.  

“What all these actions indicate is that the rhetoric about reversing the outmigration of residents and jobs and revitalizing the New York dream, is just that: rhetoric. This is another budget of missed opportunities.” 

Borrello named president of New York Conference of Italian-American Legislators

By Press Release

Press release

New York State Senator George Borrello was chosen by his Senate and Assembly colleagues to serve as President of the New York Conference of Italian-American State Legislators. The mission of the bipartisan organization is to highlight the significant contributions of Italian-Americans to the state of New York.

“I am grateful to my colleagues for choosing me to serve as President of the New York Conference of Italian-American Legislators. New York State is home to over three million residents of Italian descent whose economic, social and cultural contributions make our state stronger and enrich the diversity of our cities and communities,” said Senator Borrello.

“My great-grandparents came here from Italy and worked hard to provide for their family. They cherished the freedom and opportunities that America gave them, but also kept alive the traditions and culture of their homeland. My heritage is a point of pride for my fellow members and me. Our goals are to celebrate our Italian-American community, foster goodwill among our colleagues and provide educational opportunities to deserving young people through the scholarship program.

The organization meets several times during the legislative session. Its annual activities include a scholarship program to help students with the cost of college or any post-high school education and the popular Festa Italiana, a celebration of Italian culture with live music, vendors and Italian food.

Photo: File photo by Howard Owens

Borrello named chair of GOP campaign committee for Senate

By Press Release

Press release:

Today, the New York State Senate Republicans announced Senator George Borrello as the new Chair of their campaign committee for the upcoming election cycle. Leader Rob Ortt selected Borrello to succeed Senator Pam Helming, who has led the campaign committee as Chairwoman since July 2020. 

“I want to thank Senator George Borrello for stepping into this role to help us grow the Senate Republican Conference,” said Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt. “An effective campaign committee is critical to our goal of electing Republican Senators who will fight to make New York safer and more affordable, and help end one-party rule in Albany. I am confident Senator Borrello has the energy and leadership skills necessary to strengthen our political operation heading into 2024 and compete in every corner of this state.”

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to Chair the Senate Republican Campaign Committee. I am grateful to Leader Ortt for the opportunity and commend Senator Helming for her leadership the past several years,” said Senator George Borrello. “This past election proved that the Republican Party can compete and win in every region of the state. I am excited to get to work recruiting top-tier candidates and developing the resources, relationships and alliances that will help us end one-party domination of our state government.”

“Having served as SRCC Chair since July of 2020, I am extremely proud of what we have been able to accomplish. In these past two years, we elected thirteen new Republican Senators and recruited hundreds of first-time donors to SRCC,” said Senator Pam Helming. “As Senator Borrello takes over as Chair, I know he will build upon our efforts to bring qualified leaders to our conference, strengthen our partnerships and continue to grow our base of support across the state. While I take on new roles within the conference, Leader Ortt, Senator Borrello, and the SRCC team will continue to have my full support.”

“Senator Pam Helming has done a superb job as Chairwoman, and our entire conference owes her a debt of gratitude for her stewardship,” continued Ortt. “During her time as Chair, Senator Helming helped recruit and elect outstanding candidates. This past election she helped us grow our Long Island delegation, expanded our donor base and strengthened our relationships with the Republican infrastructure across the state. I am proud of all her accomplishments and thank her for leaving the committee in a better place than she found it as Senator Borrello takes on the role as Chair.”

Photo: File photo by Howard Owens

State represenatives react to governor's 2023 State of the State message

By Press Release

Statement from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

“Speaking about issues is certainly different from acting on them. If Gov. Hochul wants change in New York, she will have to offer proposals that don’t just benefit her political base. It is my sincere hope she will work with us to fix their disastrous bail “reform”, resume the elimination of state sales tax on gasoline, and to pass our inflation relief bill that would slash taxes on home heating fuel and groceries.”

“Public safety and affordability of basic items are issues that affect New Yorkers daily. This year, I look forward to seeing whether Gov. Hochul takes strides to work with us in a bipartisan manner for the betterment of all New Yorkers.”

Statement from State Senator George Borrello:

“As we approach a new legislative session and fresh opportunities to steer New York State in a positive direction, there were proposals in the Governor’s State of the State address that sounded promising and others that raised red flags.  

“I was glad to hear Governor Hochul recognize that New York State’s outmigration is a problem we can no longer ignore. Acknowledgement is the first step in fixing any problem. However, the blueprint she outlined won’t stop the exodus. Some crowd-pleasing talking points accompanied a series of proposals that fall short of the change in direction we need..  

“Perhaps the biggest disappointment was her lack of emphasis on public safety. Since our bail and parole laws were turned upside down, crime has spiraled in our cities and communities. While the Governor made vague references to ‘room for improvement’ with regard to the bail law, we need more than a lukewarm fix, particularly with poll after poll finding crime is the number one issue for New Yorkers. This so-called ‘reform’ has been such a disaster, we need to repeal it and start over.  

“I do agree that strengthening our mental health system should be a priority and was encouraged at the investments the Governor promised in expanding inpatient mental health beds, outpatient services and better continuity of care. Proven programs like assisted outpatient treatment (AOT), a.k.a. Kendra’s Law, are tragically underutilized which is why I support legislation that would expand its impact.  

“While we can agree that our state needs more affordable housing, the Governor’s proposal to make local governments responsible for achieving this or risk having the state step in and take over set off alarm bells. Restrictive zoning changes aren’t the only reason affordable housing is in short supply. The state’s overregulated construction industry, high taxes and other state-created obstacles play a role as well and unless changes are made on those issues, we won’t achieve a lasting solution.  

“Our small businesses could be devastated by some of the proposals floated in this address, including the idea of tying the minimum wage to inflation and the Cap and Invest proposal. Another glaring omission was any mention of the state finally taking responsibility for its fraud-fueled $8 billion in unemployment insurance debt, which it has unjustly placed on the shoulders of our employers.” 

“I look forward to receiving more detail on these proposals in the Executive Budget. While we all aspire to restore the ‘New York Dream’ the Governor referenced, we need a fundamental shift in direction to achieve that. Nothing I heard today has convinced me that true, significant change is on the agenda.   

For more on Gov. Kathy Hochul's State of the State message, visit the governor's website.

Borrello sworn into redrawn 57th State Senate District, now representing Genesee County

By Press Release

Press release:

Senator George Borrello was sworn in as the representative of the 57th State Senate District on Wednesday, Jan. 4. The ceremony took place in the Senate Chamber just prior to the official start of the 2023 Legislative Session.  

“It is a tremendous privilege to have the opportunity to represent and serve the residents of the 57th Senate District and to continue my work on behalf of the betterment of our state. Going into this new session, my priorities are centered around making New York State safer, more affordable and more supportive of its job creators,” said Senator Borrello. “I also am excited about representing the residents of Genesee and Wyoming counties, who are now part of the newly expanded 57th District.  

The boundaries of the newly drawn district include Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Genesee, Wyoming and the western half of Allegany County. The district is one of the largest in the state, spanning approximately 4,500 square miles.  

Senator Borrello also announced that he will continue serving as the Ranking Member on the Agriculture Committee, a role he first assumed in July 2020. He will also continue serving as the Ranking Member on the Banks Committee and as a member of the Finance Committee. Additionally, he was appointed as a new member of the following committees: Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business; Elections; Housing, and Insurance.  

“I appreciate the opportunity to continue my instrumental role on the Agriculture Committee at this pivotal time for our farmers and agribusinesses. The new overtime mandates approved by the Labor Commissioner in 2022 are poised to present a whole new set of challenges to this industry and multi-generational farm families. Our fight against these changes was one of the most intense efforts of the past two years. Now that they are set to take effect, we need to take steps to mitigate the impact or we will lose more of our family farms,” said Sen. Borrello.  

“I also look forward to bringing my perspective as a small business owner to the Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business Committee. The pandemic response created many challenges for employers that continue to persist. The most critical of these is the billions in unemployment insurance debt owed by the state to the federal government. Currently, small businesses are being forced to shoulder the burden of repaying the debt and replenishing the fund, which is unacceptable,” said Sen. Borrello.  

“There are so many important issues facing our state right now, which I look forward to addressing in all of the key committees I’ve been appointed to. I am grateful to Leader Ortt for entrusting me with these responsibilities and opportunities to shape the legislative agenda in Albany.”  

Borrello issues statement following State Senate victory

By Press Release

Press release:

Following the election results for the 57th Senate District, Senator George Borrello, issued the following statement on his overwhelming re-election win:  

“I am deeply honored that the hardworking people of the new 57th Senate District have chosen me to be their voice in Albany and to continue my work on their behalf. They have my sincerest thanks. It is the people in our community who inspire my public service and I look forward to continuing to work for goals that will make their lives stronger, safer, and more prosperous.

Just as exciting are the incredible victories of our Senate Republican Conference. Beginning January 1, we expect to have several additional members working with us to get New York back on track. These wins are a testament to the extraordinary leadership of our Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt, the efforts of our Republican candidates, and the support of voters who realized that change was crucial.

Even as the final vote tallies in the race for governor are being finalized, the closeness of this race - in a state with a 2 to 1 Democratic advantage - is a stunning achievement for gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin and a sign that New York’s electorate has responded to his message and agenda for change. This campaign was truly a ‘David versus Goliath’ fight which makes Rep. Zeldin’s showing all the more compelling. He attracted strong support across all party affiliations and all regions of the state, including New York City, which underscores how forcefully his messages on public safety and affordability resonated with voters. His mission to ‘save our state’ will not end, no matter what the final outcome of this race.

I urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to heed the powerful message New Yorkers sent them in this election cycle. In electing more Republicans to represent them, voters indicated they don’t support the radical far-left agenda of the Democratic Party’s leadership. Job one for Republicans come January is to get to work repairing the damage and fixing the mistakes of the past four years. It is time to give New Yorkers the safer and stronger state they want and deserve.”

Senate candidate emphasizes support of local businesses during tour of Downtown Batavia

By Howard B. Owens

As an elected official and small business owner himself, George Borrello said he's always found it important to maintain a relationship with the small business owners he represents.

He hopes to represent the business owners in Batavia, if he's successful in his campaign to represent Genesee County as part of the 57th State Senate District, so on Saturday, he toured several businesses in Downtown Batavia.

After COVID lockdowns, workforce challenges, a minimum wage increase, the increased cost of doing business in New York, it's more important than ever, Borrello said, for him to talk with his fellow small business owners.

"I just want to make sure I'm in touch with the folks here," said Borrello, a former member of the Legislature in Cattaraugus County and current holder of the 57th District (which won't include Genesee County until next year).  

He applauded the effort of downtown businesses in Batavia to band together and revitalize their community.

He said supporting locally owned businesses is important because small businesses are what drives New York's economy.

"First of all, 50 percent of our economy in New York State is supported by small business," Borello said. "They employ 50 percent of every working person in New York State. But right now, especially if you're talking about the economic driver, of our nation, it is small business. So if we allow the businesses to languish, then it's going to destroy the quality of life in communities like Batavia. It's also going to have a negative impact on our overall economy. So for me, supporting all the small businesses that are the backbone of the economy, is part of the mission of ensuring that New York stays strong."

On Saturday, Borrello visited Valle Jewelers, Eli Fish Brewing Co., Charles Men's Shop, Hunt Realtors, and Adam Miller Toy and Bike.

And there might have been a little Christmas shopping involved.

"I prefer to do what I can to support fellow local businesses," Borrello said. "But also, I found that's a better, more unique way to find gifts that I would have never thought of. So for me, it's also been a great way to, to kind of do some enhanced Christmas shopping and provide the people that I give gifts to with some unique stuff."

Photos by Howard Owens. George Borrello visiting Valle Jewelers and speaking with co-owner Carrie Lawrence.

Three questions for candidates in the 57th State Senate District

By Howard B. Owens

We emailed three questions to the candidates for the 57th State Senate District, George Borrello and Dan Brown.  Unfortunately, Mr. Brown did not respond.  

UPDATE: Dan Brown responded Sunday evening.  While we had sent a reminder to a leader in his party on Thursday, we mistakenly omitted his name from the reminder email.  Since this was our mistake, we've agreed to publish his answers even though they were received after his opponents answers were published.  His answers are at the bottom of this post.

What is the number one issue facing New York, and how will you address it in the Senate?

BORRELLO: The number one issue facing New York State right now are the disastrous criminal justice reforms – namely cashless bail and the parole law titled, Less is More – that took effect in 2020 and have been responsible for soaring crime rates in our cities and communities. Certainly, our largest cities have suffered the most under these laws: Rochester’s per capita murder rate now outpaces Chicago’s; violent crime in New York City is up nearly 40 percent; car thefts in Buffalo are up approximately 200 percent. Even in smaller communities like ours, law enforcement officials report significant increases in shoplifting, drug crimes, car theft, domestic violence and drunken driving. When individuals know that there are no consequences for committing crimes, they have no incentive to curb criminal behavior. Repealing these laws is the most urgent priority. Then, we can bring all stakeholders to the table (which wasn’t done by those who wrote the original cashless bail law) and craft smart reforms that will be fair to defendants while keeping New Yorkers safe.

What do you think you could do as a member of the Senate to bring more new businesses, start-up, homegrown businesses to Genesee County, to foster entrepreneurship in Genesee County?

BORRELLO: As a small business owner myself, I know how difficult New York State makes it for entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs to start and grow a business. Our state is routinely ranked as the worst place to do business in New York State. One initiative that would act as a strong incentive for entrepreneurship is a measure that I sponsor called the “First Employee Tax Credit.” This proposal is a payroll tax credit to assist small businesses with the disproportionate rise in costs that result from hiring one employee.

Another key factor in creating a climate where entrepreneurship can thrive is ensuring our rural areas have access to broadband. For far too long, broadband access in our rural communities has been nonexistent or inadequate. That is why I led the fight to get the fiber optic tax levied by the state DOT repealed. This particular tax was killing the potential for broadband projects in rural areas with costs that increased in direct proportion to the length of cable to be installed. In rural areas where miles of cable are often required just to reach a single house, this tax was simply ridiculous. After three years of advocacy and building bipartisan support, I am pleased to report the tax was finally repealed in the latest state budget. This is important progress we will be looking to build on in the coming session.    

What is one policy initiative that the political party of your opponent espouses that you think makes sense, is good policy?

BORRELLO: One area of policy where I am in agreement with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle is on the need to provide more funding and support for those who care for our most vulnerable residents. The Cuomo administration neglected this segment of our human services community for years, resulting in wages for direct care providers that were often less than the starting pay at fast food restaurants. Not surprisingly, this has created a crisis-level workforce shortage among the non-profit providers that care for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Providers cannot find or retain staff, programs are closing and individuals are not having their needs met. We made some headway in addressing this crisis in this year’s budget, with a 5.4 percent statutory cost-of-living adjustment as well as some recruitment and retention initiatives, but more still needs to be done. There is strong bi-partisan support on this issue, so you can be sure I will be working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make more progress.

Answers from Dan Brown.

Q1: Taxes. NY state carries some of the highest personal tax rates in the nation. The tax on our income, prepared food, clothing, fuel, property, school, and the tolls to drive on our roads - we are overtaxed, forcing those who can to either live or shop out of state.  The state government needs to attempt to follow the same tax regulations as schools and municipalities. As a fiscally conservative town supervisor of Great Valley for the past 17 years, the town has never exceeded the tax cap and has maintained a healthy contingency reserve. When I look at the 57th District, I see my town in every community. We need to rein in spending locally and especially at the state level and make our state affordable for our seniors, our working force, and our youth.  

Q2: Businesses are struggling to find a workforce. The development of educational agencies around the needs of local businesses is mandatory. I am a huge proponent of trade and technical schools. Apprenticeships to training people and specialized programs affording our young people the knowledge to be able to fill job vacancies here. Regardless of the job site in the 57th District, the technician shows up with a laptop before a wrench. Second, our infrastructure is lagging, power, water, sewer, and roads; every business looks for those fundamentals before the ground is broken on any project. A solid infrastructure shows a commitment to businesses. 

Q3: The Anti-Crime Initiative, municipalities need all the help they can get in mitigating the level of crime occurring in large cities. Bail Reform goes hand in hand and needs to be overhauled as well. The negative impact it has on our communities is felt far and wide, as the chairman of the Cattaraugus County Town Supervisors Association, every one of us is frustrated. Every local, county, and state judge feels that way. It creates an unsafe situation for the police, our friends, and our neighbors. It’s a priority. 

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