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Kathy Hochul

Hochul and Schumer announce the start of construction for Edwards Vacuum supply chain facility

By Press Release

Press Release:

Governor Kathy Hochul and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer today announced the start of construction on the first phase of the $319 million Edwards Vacuum dry pump manufacturing facility, located in the Genesee County town of Alabama. 

The British-based global leader in vacuum and abatement equipment for the semiconductor industry, part of the Atlas Copco Group, chose the Western New York Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park in Genesee County as the location for its new U.S. dry pump manufacturing facility. 

The technology produced at the new facility is a vital component to controlling the highly sensitive environment of semiconductor manufacturing processes. Edwards Vacuum's decision to invest in New York State followed the passage of the federal CHIPS and Science Act, New York’s Green CHIPS legislation, and the domestic semiconductor industry growth the complementary programs have spurred, including Micron's unprecedented $100 billion commitment to Central New York, which is expected to create nearly 50,000 jobs.

“As a Western New York native, I experienced the years of decline from the exodus of manufacturing from Upstate New York,” Governor Hochul said. “Those days are over. The start of construction on the newest Edwards Vacuum facility signals the beginning of a new chapter for both Western New York and the Finger Lakes regions.  Edwards’ choice to build in New York State brings hundreds of good paying jobs and millions of dollars in investment Upstate while helping strengthen our domestic semiconductor supply chain, shorten delivery times for suppliers like Micron, reduce carbon emissions, and bolster national security.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “Today is a great day for the Western New York and Finger Lakes region, with Edwards Vacuum breaking ground on its $300+ million manufacturing plant, which will create an estimated 600 good-paying jobs and boost New York’s already booming semiconductor supply chain. Thanks to my CHIPS & Science Act, which continues to deliver investment after investment for Upstate NY, we are adding another stop to our semiconductor superhighway along the booming I-90 corridor Tech Hub with Edwards Vacuum’s groundbreaking today. I pushed Edwards Vacuum to come to New York because I knew we had the resources, infrastructure, and most importantly, the world-class workforce, to host this major company right here in Genesee County. Edwards is a leading developer of some of the most cutting-edge dry pumps needed to bring the massive cleanrooms of chip manufacturing fabs to life, and with their investment, we are helping bring one of the most critical elements of the semiconductor supply chain to Upstate NY. This is yet another example of my CHIPS & Science Law bringing manufacturing back to America, especially Upstate NY, and is only the beginning of the next chapter in Upstate NY’s manufacturing renaissance.”

Construction on the $127 million first phase of Edwards Vacuum's 240,000 square-foot campus will include manufacturing, warehouse, and administration facilities, with a capacity to produce 10,000 dry pumps per year. The all-electric facility will strive for LEED certification, with a majority of the power generated via hydroelectricity.

Edwards’ commitment to build in the U.S. comes after significant investments by the Biden Administration to increase domestic chip manufacturing, and the passage of the federal CHIPS and Science Act and New York’s Green CHIPS legislation, as well as a growing need to support its customers in North America. Edwards dry pumps are currently manufactured in Asia. By bringing manufacturing to New York, Edwards customers – including Micron and GlobalFoundries in New York, and Intel in Ohio – will experience shorter wait times, improved responsiveness and reduced CO2 emissions from an American-made product. Edwards estimates that when phase one is operational, it will reduce CO2 emissions by 13,000 tons per year.

Empire State Development has awarded Edwards Vacuum up to $21 million through a combination of performance-based Excelsior Jobs Tax Credits and Investment Tax Credits in exchange for 600 jobs, and an additional $1 million to support workforce development efforts and the training of a diverse and inclusive workforce. Additionally, the New York Power Authority is supporting the project though a 4.9-megawatt (MW) low-cost Niagara hydropower allocation and a 2.1 MW of High Load Factor power allocation that NYPA will procure for Edwards on the energy market. Low-cost Niagara hydropower is available for companies within a 30-mile radius of the Power Authority's Niagara Power Project or businesses in Chautauqua County.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “The start of construction for Edwards Vacuum’s new facility signals that hundreds of good jobs and millions of dollars in investments are headed to Upstate New York. We are well on our way to becoming a global hub for advanced manufacturing and building a strong semiconductor ecosystem in New York State.”

New York Power Authority President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll said, “By leveraging low-cost hydropower, NYPA plays a pivotal role in attracting manufacturers of advanced technologies to New York. Edwards will be a key supply chain partner in New York’s globally recognized semiconductor industry, and the firm’s expansion will stimulate the region’s economy—creating hundreds of jobs and spurring hundreds of millions in capital investments.”

Semiconductors, and their supply chain partners, are vital to the nation's economic strength, serving as the brains of modern electronics, and enabling technologies critical to U.S. economic growth, national security, and global competitiveness. The industry directly employs over 277,000 people in the U.S. and supports more than 1.8 million additional domestic jobs. Semiconductors are a top five U.S. export, and the industry is the number one contributor to labor productivity, supporting improvements to the effectiveness and efficiency of virtually every economic sector — from farming to manufacturing.

Governor Hochul has taken significant action to ensure that New York plays a vital role in the reshoring of the semiconductor industry including New York's nation-leading Green CHIPS program that is attracting top semiconductor manufacturing businesses to the state and securing commitments to good-paying jobs, sustainability, and community benefits. Additionally, Governor Hochul created the $200 FAST NY program in 2022 to support the preparation and development of sites across the state. This program was designed to jumpstart New York's shovel-readiness and increase its attractiveness to large employers, such as semiconductors and clean tech and high-tech manufacturing companies. Since the program’s inception, ESD has awarded $175 million to 20 sites across every upstate region, including the Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP), to develop more than 2,500 acres. Governor Hochul also created the Governor’s Office of Semiconductor Expansion, Management, and Integration (GO-SEMI), which leads statewide efforts to develop the chipmaking sector.

In the FY 2025 Enacted Budget, Governor Hochul doubled down on her commitment to establish New York as a global hub for semiconductor research and manufacturing, including:

$100 million in funding for additional rounds of the FAST NY program.

$500 million for NY CREATES’ Albany Nanotech Complex – with a total State investment of $1 billion – to jumpstart a $10 billion partnership that will bring the future of advanced semiconductor research to New York’s Capital Region by creating the nation’s first and only publicly owned High NA EUV Lithography Center.

$200 million to establish One Network for Regional Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships (ON-RAMP) – a network of four new workforce development centers to prepare New Yorkers for the jobs of the future created by companies like Micron and Edwards Vacuum.

The bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act creates an Investment Tax Credit for semiconductor manufacturing facilities and supply chain partners such as Edwards Vacuum as well as a first-of-its-kind $52 billion in federal incentives, which Edwards is pursuing, to spur American semiconductor research, development, manufacturing, and workforce training to bring good-paying jobs back from overseas, strengthen national security, and reestablish America's technological leadership. The bill requires recipients of these incentives to make significant worker and community investments that support broad-based economic growth.

Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward

Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive strategy to generate  robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture‎ and food production, and advanced manufacturing. More information is available here.​

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “I am thrilled to see the start of construction on the Edwards Vacuum facility in Genesee County, which will create hundreds of good-paying jobs and grow the economies of both Western New York and the Finger Lakes. The construction of the Edwards Vacuum facility is just the beginning as New York continues to grow as a global leader in semiconductor manufacturing. I’m proud to have fought to pass the CHIPS and Science Act that helped lay the groundwork for companies like Edwards Vacuum to expand in New York, and I look forward to seeing the growth this facility brings to the region for years to come.”

Representative Joe Morelle said, “This exciting announcement is further proof of our region’s leadership in the global semiconductor industry. Not only will construction of Edwards Vacuum strengthen our supply chain and create good-paying job opportunities, it will also grow our economy and enhance our competitiveness on the world stage. I’m proud to have helped facilitate investments like this by passing the CHIPS and Science Act, and I look forward to continuing our work to cement our position as a center of innovation.”

State Senator George M. Borrello said, “This groundbreaking of Edward’s Vacuum and the investment, jobs and economic growth that will follow it will usher in a new chapter for Genesee County and strengthen its growing status as a hub for tech manufacturing. The path to this landmark moment was fueled by a grand vision for the STAMP site and years of planning, funding and hard work. Driving it forward all along was the conviction that this region and its world class workforce had the ingredients for success. The collaboration of dedicated local, state and federal partners brought us to this historic achievement and reflect our shared commitment to upstate’s resurgence. The future is limitless.”

Assemblymember Steven Hawley said, “I’m proud to see the announcement today that Edward’s Vacuum is starting construction at the STAMP mega-site. The 139th Assembly District has always been a hub of innovation and it's only fitting that it will be at the center of New York’s emerging semiconductor industry. This project is another step in the right direction toward growing the local economy, creating good-paying jobs and making New York a leader in this sector.”

Genesee County Legislature Chair Shelley Stein said, “Today’s announcement is reaffirmation of the positive attributes of Genesee County in bringing a company with the stature of Edwards Vacuum to the STAMP mega-site. Our community can be proud to be part of the growing semiconductor industry not only in New York State but across the nation and world. Genesee County’s location, people, and infrastructure make STAMP the ideal place for future industry growth here. We look forward to Edwards Vacuum’s continued success.”

Town of Alabama Supervisor Rob Crossen said, “We congratulate Edwards Vacuum on the start of construction at the STAMP mega-site. This latest milestone in the development of STAMP continues the realization of our shared vision for investments that improve the economy, attract good paying jobs, and enhance our community.”

GCEDC President and CEO Steve Hyde said, “As we work to grow our economy and deliver family-sustaining careers at the STAMP mega-site, having partners like Edwards Vacuum, Senator Schumer, and Governor Hochul is gratifying. The start of construction for this critical semiconductor industry project demonstrates the impact that STAMP provides in our shared state and federal vision to grow semiconductor and related advanced manufacturing sectors.”

Greater Rochester Enterprise President and CEO Matt Hurlbutt said, “Top-tier talent, world-class R&D resources, access to low-cost hydropower, and the premier infrastructure available at the STAMP mega site are some of the assets that made the Greater Rochester, NY region the right place for Edwards' expansion. We celebrate Edwards' groundbreaking at STAMP and the significant partnership Greater Rochester Enterprise (GRE) has formed with Edwards leaders and our regional economic development partners to reach this milestone in the company's expansion plans. GRE will continue to support Edwards by facilitating connections between the company's leaders and key stakeholders from business, community, and academia. This collaborative effort is aimed at ensuring a successful launch and further enhancing the ties between Edwards, the community, and the region's thriving advanced manufacturing and semiconductor sectors. We look forward to the positive impact this expansion will have on the Greater Rochester, NY region.”

Phase One Renderings Available Here.

State budget message for Genesee County: increased spending to fight crime, improve mental health care, without increasing tax burden

By Howard B. Owens
NYSDOL Commissioner Roberta Reardon
NYSDOL Commissioner Roberta Reardon
Photo by Howard Owens

Once, when she was lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul was dispatched to Genesee Community College to deliver then Gov. Andrew Hochul's message to local leaders on that year's state budget.

Now as governor, Hochul has assigned state department heads to deliver the budget message in Genesee County.

On Tuesday, state Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon told a couple of dozen people attending the briefing that the governor's proposed 2024-25 state budget will not add a fiscal burden to New Yorkers, and that the budget is balanced while increasing spending on fighting crime, ensuring New York's economic competitiveness, fixing broken infrastructure, fighting climate change, supporting education, addressing the migrant crisis, making advancements on housing, and improving access to mental health care.

The total spending plan is $233 billion, a 4 percent, or $6 billion, increase over the current budget.

The budget "does not increase income taxes and comes without cuts to services," Reardon said.

"Fighting crime remains a top priority in this budget," Reardon said. "The governor is proposing to make record investments and improvements in the justice system. The endgame here is to make New York a safer place to live, work and visit. Her plan allocates $40 million to crack down on retail theft, a recent issue that has impacted small businesses everywhere. The governor is also committing $40 million dollars to address domestic violence and $35 million to combat hate crimes across our great state."

The governor also wants to significantly increase spending on mental health issues. This will undo the wrongs of the past, Reardon suggested.

"We will rebuild our mental health system from top to bottom, which is needed after decades of underinvestment," Reardon said. "The governor's proposal earmarks $4.8 billion to overhaul the state's mental health continuum of care, and that is a 45 percent increase from 2022. Investments include $24 million for criminal justice-related programs, $37 million to help members of our homeless population who are struggling with mental health issues, and $43 million for supportive housing. This is a complex problem that requires a multi-pronged approach. The governor wants to devote $55 million to create 200 new inpatient psychiatric beds so New Yorkers can receive the care that they need. And we know that mental health also has a very significant impact on our youth, which is why she wants to commit $45 million to support services specifically for young New Yorkers. That funding will power school-based services and peer-to-peer counseling."

Reardon also said Hochul is proposing $35 billion in total school aid, which Reardon said is a $125 million increase from the prior fiscal year.

"In this region, school aid is increasing by $26 million to a total of more than $2.6 billion in funding," Reardon said.

What about creating jobs?
Prior to her talk, The Batavian was given an opportunity for a short, exclusive interview with the labor commissioner, so we asked how the state budget would help New York businesses hire more workers.

"As you know, the governor is really focused like a hawk on upstate economic development," Reardon said. "There are a lot of measures in the budget to help. There's the on-ramp program that ESD (Economic State Development) is running. There will be training centers along the I-90 corridor in support of the chip fab industry and advanced manufacturing. Also, she's got money in the budget for Geneseo and Brockport for the colleges. And obviously, there's a lot of infrastructure money for bridges, highways, potholes, all of that stuff. She's really focused on that."

The Department of Labor, Reardon noted, is really focused on helping people find careers "that they love."

"That is really one of the best things about the Department of Labor," Reardon said. "We do it every day. She's a huge supporter. She always has been and we work together very closely. She's working on targeted industries, but we help everybody. If you want to go to work in a chip fab or advanced manufacturing, we'll help you do that. But if you also want to work locally and stay here, we'll help you do that, you know, whatever your need is, we connect workers to training to employers to wraparound services if they need it. This is a really big priority for the governor."

As a follow-up question, we asked if we could expect any additional spending to assist business parks in Genesee County, such as WNY STAMP or the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park. As Reardon said that was something she would need to look into and get the information to The Batavian, a staff member gave a head shake of, "No."

Hawley says Hochul's proposed cuts to local roads and bridges 'lacks of understanding of basic economics'

By Press Release

Press Release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, C - Batavia) recently criticized Gov. Hochul’s proposed cuts to local roads and bridges in her 2024-25 Executive Budget proposal. 

Hawley is joined by his Republican colleagues in the Senate and Assembly in his opposition to Hochul’s proposed $60 million cut for the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS), the state’s main source of funding for repair and maintenance of local roads, bridges, and culverts. 

For local communities, taxpayers, and motorists, CHIPS is essential to maintaining safe road conditions and using tax dollars as efficiently as possible. The group also criticized Hochul for failing to be fair and partial in her priorities for upstate and downstate infrastructure. 

Hawley and his colleagues are calling on the governor to restore the $60 million cut to CHIPS base aid and increase the CHIPS base funding level by $200 million to a total of $798.1 million.

Since 2013, Assemblyman Hawley has worked closely with local transportation advocates on the “Local Roads Are Essential” advocacy campaign. The campaign is sponsored by the New York State County Highway Superintendents Association (NYSCHSA) and the New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways, Inc. (NYSAOTSOH) and brings hundreds of advocates to Albany each year to support local infrastructure. Hawley will also be meeting with local County, Town and Village Highway Superintendents on Friday, Feb 23rd to discuss these proposed cuts. Hawley hopes this initiative will bring meaningful change and provide much-needed funding for local roads and bridges.

“The proposed cuts to funding for local roads and bridges shows a complete lack of understanding of basic economics,” said Hawley. “While the price to pave, maintain and upkeep infrastructure is rising, localities are not given the funding they need year after year. The Majority’s politically driven spending is now burdening upstate communities with less aid for schools and now unreasonable cuts for their roads and bridges all to make an impossible attempt to balance an already bloated budget. Prosperity for New Yorkers begins at the local level. If the governor wants to reverse the trend of record-high outmigration, that starts with taking care of local infrastructure instead of turning a blind eye to the needs of upstate communities.”

Tenney introduces resolution condemning Gov. Hochuls school budget cuts

By Press Release

Press Release:

File photo of 
Claudia Tenney

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24) today joined Congressman Marc Molinaro (NY-19) and New York’s Republican Congressional Delegation in introducing a Congressional Resolution condemning New York Governor Kathy Hochul for defunding schools across New York State and prioritizing increased funding for migrants.

The Governor’s budget reduces funding for hundreds of schools across New York State while providing $2.4 billion to provide undocumented immigrants with legal assistance, housing, transportation, healthcare, and jobs. If Governor Hochul’s cuts to schools go through, schools could be forced to make up the difference by shuttering special education and disability services, cutting mental health resources, and more.

"Once again, Governor Kathy Hochul and Albany Democrats are putting illegal migrants and their progressive agenda ahead of New York’s children," said Congresswoman Tenney. "Hochul's misguided decision to cut critical funding from taxpayer-funded schools threatens students' learning, especially as they continue to recover from COVID-related learning loss and their access to valuable disability services and mental health resources. I stand with my New York Republican colleagues in demanding that she reevaluate her priorities and support our children over illegal migrants!"

"Governor Hochul is prioritizing undocumented immigrants over our children's education," said Congressman Molinaro. "Cutting funding for schools will inevitably jeopardize crucial disability services and mental health resources. We cannot let extreme left immigration policies ruin our children’s future. Governor Hochul: reverse course.”

"This self-inflicted New York City migrant crisis shouldn't be paid for on the backs of our children," said Congressman Garbarino. "Our children must come first. The needs of New Yorkers must be placed before those of illegal immigrants. I urge the Governor to change course and do what’s right for our kids and our state.”

“New York Democrats’ sanctuary policy that’s turning hotels, schools, federal parks, and senior living facilities into encampments for unvetted migrants from all over the world is unfair to surrounding communities and the taxpayers who are being forced to foot the bill," said Congresswoman Malliotakis. "Because of State and national Democrats’ reckless policies, the Governor is now slashing hundreds of millions of dollars from schools across the state, including over $130,000 from New York City. This crisis is unsustainable and unsafe for everyone involved, and the fact that our Mayor and Governor are cutting services from citizens to continue funding free giveaways to illegal immigrants is insane. Our children deserve better.”

“Governor Hochul’s misplaced priorities have placed the interests of migrants over Empire State students by slashing education funding while dedicating billions to those who crossed through our porous borders," said Congressman D’Esposito. "I am calling on Governor Hochul to immediately reverse course and stop punishing New York students for Joe Biden’s disastrous migrant crisis.”

“A politician’s budget proposal is indicative of that politician's values and it is clear from her budget that Governor Hochul values migrants over our kids," said Congressman LaLota. "As the husband of a teacher, father of three young girls, and a New York taxpayer, I’m appalled by the Governor’s heartlessness. Her decision to hurt our kids, especially in counties that voted against her, is Cuomo-esque bullying. The Governor is yet again putting politics before people and every New Yorker should be vocal against Hochul.”

Hawley criticizes cuts in the state budget, releases statement

By Press Release

Press Release:

File photo of
Steve Hawley.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C-Batavia) attended a press conference yesterday to address the governor’s decision not to “Hold Harmless” school district regarding foundation aid in the state budget. 

Gov. Hochul released her state budget proposal early last week and did not keep her promise to local school districts that they would not see a decrease in their foundation aid funding from the previous year. 

This comes as the state has put more regulations on school districts such as last year’s mandate requiring all school buses to be electric by 2035. Hawley is frustrated that upstate rural and suburban school districts will not receive the funding they need.

“Gov. Hochul is at it again,” said Hawley. “It’s ridiculous our schools should have to take a back seat while the governor continues to hinder them with less funding and more regulations. The governor should remember her promise to ensure foundation aid for local school districts would not decrease and give them the resources they need. I cannot and will not vote for any state budget that does not put the education of our children first.”

Hawley expresses concerns over Hochul and the Majority's budget

By Press Release

A Statement from Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C-Batavia).

Press Release:

“It’s that time of the year again. The Majority in Albany is once again desperately trying to clean up its mess by spending money we don’t have on projects we don’t need. Lowering the amount our public schools will receive to help teachers and students rebuild after COVID and giving over $2 billion to try to solve the self-inflicted migrant crisis are just more examples of downstate interests trumping the needs of Western New Yorkers. This administration needs to be more fiscally responsible. Families across our state have to create reasonable budgets and live within their means. It’s about time Gov. Hochul and the Majority did the same.”

Assemblyman Steve Hawley represents the 139th Assembly District, which includes Genesee and Orleans Counties and parts of Monroe, and Erie counties. For more information, please visit his official website

Borrello concerned about Hochul’s state address

By Press Release

Press Release:

“Anyone hoping that Governor Hochul’s State of the State message would chart a bold plan for turning around New York State’s affordability and public safety crises has been left disappointed in today’s address.

The worst-in-the-nation outmigration of our residents is a problem that threatens our future. It requires more than new affordable housing units, as the governor suggests. New York State’s combined state and local tax rates are the highest in the nation. Numerous polls have found that this crushing tax burden is the primary reason people are leaving New York. We heard no plans to tackle that issue.

New Yorkers also cite declining public safety as their other top concern. While the governor praised a recent decrease in gun violence, the truth is that crime rates are still significantly higher now than they were before the reckless bail changes took effect. In New York City alone, index crimes are a staggering 33 percent higher now than in 2019. Proposals to combat retail theft, domestic violence and hate crimes are a step forward, but the leftists in the legislature will fight these proposals. Tough talk won’t be enough. She will need to muster the political will to fight and win these battles.

New York’s business community was overlooked in this address. Rather than investing precious resources trying to market our state as an A.I. hub, we should be taking steps to support and boost our longstanding employers in the manufacturing and agriculture sectors who have been hurt by careless mandates and heavy taxes. Small businesses are still struggling under the weight of the unemployment insurance debt that the state unfairly placed on them. These New York State born-and-bred businesses were ignored.

The most glaring omission was any plan for dealing with Democrats’ self-created migrant crisis, which is draining billions of taxpayer dollars and shows no signs of slowing down. Simply throwing more money at this problem isn’t an answer.

The mental health priorities the governor outlined are initiatives that I support. Expanding both inpatient and outpatient treatment are sorely needed changes. However, again, she will need to be willing to go to the mat with the legislature for key items in this agenda, particularly stronger inpatient treatment.

I look forward to receiving more details on these proposals in the Executive Budget. Governor Hochul was right when she said ‘We all want our state to succeed.’ However, to get there will take more than talk, it will take political courage.”

Hawley issues message that Hochul is 'in lockstep with radical majority'

By Press Release

A Statement from Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C-Batavia) on the State of the State Address.

Press Release:

“Gov. Hochul has once again shown she is in lockstep with the radical majority in Albany. As if giving criminals a free pass and taking control away from local governments wasn’t enough, this administration seems hellbent on chipping away at Western New York’s way of life by doing nothing to lower the cost of living and allowing migrants to flood into upstate communities. Time and time again we have been let down and left out by big-city politicians. It’s time for our leadership to step away from these radical policies and start working for everyday New Yorkers.”

Borrello and fellow Republicans ask Hochul to rescind electric bus mandate or commit to funding

By Press Release

Press Release:

Senator George Borrello and 14 of his Republican colleagues in the Senate have sent a letter to Governor Hochul requesting that she rescind the electric bus mandate for public schools or commit to fully funding the conversion.

The electric bus mandates were passed in the 2022-23 state budget to help the state meet the lower emissions targets of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). The requirements are that new school bus purchases be zero emission by 2027 and all school buses in operation be zero emission by 2035.

“School officials in my district are all sounding the alarm about the state’s unfunded electric bus mandate and the crushing financial costs it will mean for districts. With the first deadline in just three short years, school officials are deeply concerned about their ability to afford the electric buses and infrastructure upgrades that will be necessary,” said Sen. Borrello.

A new, full-size electric bus costs $400,000 - $450,000 - triple the price of a conventional bus which is approximately $130,000. With 45,000 school buses in the state, full conversion by 2035 will cost approximately $20 billion. The cost over and above what school districts already pay for replacement buses is projected to cost between $8 billion and $15 billion statewide.

“While $100 million in grant funding for electric buses was just announced, that amount will cover 250 buses. With over 800 school districts in the state, that isn’t even one bus per district. Even the remaining $400 million that will be allocated in future rounds won’t make a dent in the costs of converting school bus fleets statewide,” Sen. Borrello added.

“Local property taxpayers must not be hit with the bill for this politically driven mandate. New York’s property taxes are already among the highest in the nation and are a key factor in our outmigration of residents. If the governor and legislative leaders won’t take the common-sense step of eliminating the mandate, they must commit to fully funding this transition,” said Sen. Borrello.

He explained that school officials are also raising concerns over logistical considerations that aren’t accounted for in the electric bus requirement.

“It is well known that frigid temperatures have a significant impact on traveling range, which could affect school transportation in the coldest parts of the state. There is no flexibility for rural schools in this situation. Similarly, there are bridges in rural communities which are not rated to handle the increased weight of electric buses,” said Senator Borrello.

“Just like the state’s entire climate agenda, the electric bus initiative has been long on virtue signaling but short on crucial details, none more glaring than how schools are expected to pay for this exorbitantly expensive transition.”

“Governing by edict, without gathering input from those on the ground who must implement these plans, is a recipe for disaster,” Sen. Borrello added. “It is time to course correct by either lifting the mandates or committing the funding. The ‘magical thinking’ that has characterized this entire climate agenda is going to bankrupt our state unless state leaders face reality and adjust their unworkable policies.”

George Borrello releases statement regarding Associated Press article

By Press Release

Press Release:

“I am disappointed that a longstanding news service like the Associated Press (AP) has abandoned its responsibility to accurate and unbiased reporting as evidenced by today’s article, “New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is not trying to create ‘quarantine camps.’

Their so-called ‘fact check’ of the basis for Borrello et. al. v. Hochul is nothing but a political cover for the administration’s blatant separation of powers violation, a breach which was confirmed in a State Supreme Court decision in July 2022.

While the term ‘quarantine camp’ isn’t used in Rule 2.13 per se, the language in the regulation is very clear when it says the Commissioner of Health or local health department can issue an isolation or quarantine order, at whim, without proof of infection, and can force someone to remain in their home, or send them to ‘other residential or temporary housing… or other locations as the public health authority issuing the order deems appropriate.’ 

Call it whatever you like – quarantine camp, detention facility, field hospital, etc. – the bottom line is that Rule 2.13 authorizes the government to take such an action, which would be a gross abuse of due process and New Yorkers’ civil rights.

The article incorrectly states that the rule only clarifies powers the state already has. As Judge Ronald Ploetz cited, the rule, as written, ‘actually contravenes the [isolation and quarantine] procedures set forth in PHL 2120’ which was established by the New York State Legislature in 1953. The governor and the Department of Health cannot unilaterally change that law. Only the legislature possesses that power.

During the pandemic we saw governments around the world, and our own, overreach in ways we never could have imagined prior to March 2020. Those actions set a terrible precedent that will require us to remain constantly vigilant against constitutional abuses. That was the premise at the core of this court challenge. By focusing on sensational semantics, the AP’s article did a disservice to their readers and missed an opportunity to educate New Yorkers about what is at stake in this case.” 

GCEDC board to consider Hood expansion to create 48 new jobs

By Press Release

Press Release:

As announced by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, HP Hood plans to invest $120 million to expand its footprint at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in the town of Batavia.  The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors will consider an initial resolution for the proposal expansion at its meeting on Thursday, September 7th.

The $120 million project includes the construction of a 32,500 sq ft expansion to accommodate its automatic storage and retrieval system (ASRS) refrigerated warehouse.  The project will also include new batching and processing systems and other upgrades which will allow the company to increase capacity and begin a new production line.

 The expansion would create 48 new jobs while retaining 455 FTEs, more than doubling the company’s initial employment commitments in 2017. HP Hood’s project is the fifth $100+ million project in Genesee County in the past three years, including Plug Power’s expansion and Edwards Vacuum announcements at STAMP and Horizon Acres Associates in Pembroke in 2023, and Plug Power’s initial project at STAMP in 2021.

 “Since 2011, the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park food and beverage industry has attracted over $600 million of private sector investment supporting over 1,000 jobs,” said GCEDC President and CEO Steven Hyde. “This investment and jobs has generated significant benefits for our community as Genesee County and Batavia are truly the leading dairy-processing hub of the Northeast.”

The GCEDC will consider sales tax exemptions estimated at $4.52 million, a property tax abatement estimated at $549,705 based on an incremental increase in assessed value, and a mortgage tax exemption estimated at $536,000 bringing the value of the proposed financial agreements to approximately $5.6 million. For every $1 of public benefit, HP Hood is investing $16 into the local economy resulting in a local economic impact of $49.87 million in wages and tax revenue.

The GCEDC board will also consider a final resolution from Oak Orchard Solar 3 LLC for a 5 MW community solar farm in the town of Batavia. The $9 million project is projected to generate $4,000/megawatts (AC) annually + a 2% annual escalator of revenues to Genesee County and the Elba Central School District, along with a host agreement with the Town of Batavia.

Hawley calls for special session to address migrant crisis

By Press Release

Press Release:

File photo of 
Steve Hawley

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C-Batavia), along with his Assembly Republican colleagues, is calling on Gov. Hochul to convene an extraordinary legislative session to address the migrant crisis across the state. Over 100,000 migrants have arrived in New York and communities and localities are struggling to keep up with this recent influx. Hawley believes a special session would help to implement much-needed reforms such as instituting background checks for incoming immigrants and giving municipalities the ability to choose whether they want to take in migrants.

“Right now, our state is experiencing one of the largest migrant crises in the country, with little support from the federal government,” said Hawley. “Migrants are being shipped upstate from the city and our communities are helpless to do anything. A special session is needed to provide relief for our state and hold our leaders accountable.”

WROTB president sounds the alarm regarding possible placement of full casino in Rochester

By Mike Pettinella

A potential deal between the state and the Seneca Nation to place a full casino in the City of Rochester would devastate the operation of Batavia Downs Gaming and two other established gaming facilities in Western New York.

That’s the stated view of Henry Wojtaszek, chief executive officer and president of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., the public benefit company that operates Batavia Downs Gaming.

“The latest scheme by the Senecas and some New York State government officials to place a stealth casino in the Rochester area should be a non-starter for residents, community leaders and elected officials," Wojtaszek said in a statement issued this afternoon.

“Many of the more than 400 jobs here at Batavia Downs would be in jeopardy if a Rochester area casino opened, and the millions of dollars in revenue we send to 15 counties and the cities of Buffalo and Rochester would be drastically cut. There are already 10 gaming facilities less than 100 miles in any direction from Rochester; that’s the definition of saturation.”

According to published reports, the new 20-year agreement forged by the New York State Senate and Gov. Kathy Hochul with the Senecas apparently includes a casino in Rochester. Over the weekend, the Senate voted 62-1 to ratify the pact; the Assembly has yet to vote on it.

In his statement, Wojtaszek indicated that the three Video Lottery Terminal facilities of Batavia Downs, Finger Lakes Gaming and Hamburg Gaming paid $140 million in combined taxes to the state last year (and) “that is more than the Senecas did.”

“What is the point of putting yet another facility in the region? No major decision like this should ever be made without robust public input and a comprehensive economic impact analysis.  When you see this type of secret top-down governing from our elected officials, it is fair to question their motives and who they are really serving.

“We’ve seen this tried before, and the ending should be the same as the previous two failed attempts to open a casino in the Rochester area.”

Genesee County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein, contacted by The Batavian tonight, was quick to point out that any casino within 30 miles or so away “would really be a big blow (to Batavia Downs).”

“What’s really unfortunate here is that there are no details,” she said. “The last thing I read was there was a conceptual agreement, but nobody had been able to see what the concept was.”

When it was mentioned that recent changes to the structure of the WROTB board of directors also came with no advance notice to municipal leaders, Stein added that “it seems like we’re in a vacuum constantly – by our one-party rule in Albany and it’s not working well for Genesee County.”

Stein said she and county officials are “frustrated” by the lack of information coming out of Albany and the lack of input by local governments.

“Not to have a plan that is laid out so that we all can participate in … because we’re in, I understand that we’re in that Seneca compact area,” she said. “This new plan, if it’s known to be that it will be in Rochester, will not benefit the public as Batavia Downs does.”

She also noted that rural counties are exploring litigation to stop the changes made by Albany to switch from a one-county/city, one-vote format to a weighted voting format for the WROTB board, effectively transferring power to the Democratic-leaning Erie and Monroe Counties and cities of Rochester and Buffalo.

She did not comment when asked about a conflict of interest situation involving Rochester and Monroe County representatives to the WROTB board (if and when a casino was placed in Rochester), preferring to wait until she learned more about the Seneca compact.

Democrat Jeremy Cooney (the City of Rochester, the Town of Brighton, and the western suburbs of Monroe County) was the lone senator to vote against the measure.

“I have concerns with the announced deal between New York State and the Seneca Nation,” Cooney said in a news release and reported by The Rochester Business Journal. “As a state senator, I did not feel comfortable voting in favor of legislation that removes state lawmakers from their oversight responsibilities and limits input from the public.”

Borrello responds to Hochul's idea of migrant housing

By Press Release

Senator George Borrello sent Governor Kathy Hochul a letter of concern pertaining to her recent plans to move migrants to SUNY campuses. 

Press Release:

Dear Governor Hochul, 

In light of the news that upstate SUNY campuses are being considered as temporary migrant housing, I am writing to urge you to suspend this plan immediately out of concern for the strains on security and resources that such an influx would have on these campuses and the surrounding communities.

I am especially opposed to SUNY Fredonia being chosen as a migrant housing location. Our community does not have the resources that would be required to underwrite the costs of housing, feeding and meeting the many needs that immigrants will require. Our rural upstate social service network is already overburdened by the services required by our own community members.

New York City, a self-designated ‘sanctuary city’, does not have the right or the authority to send economic migrants to other counties in the state without the proper funding, coordination and approval of those counties. Additionally, these migrants have not been properly vetted by U.S. immigration authorities and pose a risk to public safety.

It is important for our state and federal governments to acknowledge their role in creating this crisis and take responsibility for this disastrous outcome.

New York’s immigration crisis is the result of its ‘sanctuary state’ status and policies like the 2020 Green Light Law granting non-citizen, undocumented migrants the ability to get a driver's license. New York’s Green Light law bars federal authorities from accessing New York’s motor vehicle database to enforce U.S. immigration policies and laws. The Green Light Law and its sanctuary status have made New York State the perfect place for undocumented immigrants to settle and avoid deportation.

At a time when New Yorkers face an affordability crisis, and we lead the nation in outmigration, the last thing we should do is add to the burden of hardworking taxpayers and business owners by handing them the bill for resettling migrants who came here illegally. 

My constituents do not support New York’s sanctuary status designation or policies and should not be punished by Washington’s unwillingness to protect our nation’s borders or bad policies adopted by Albany or New York City.

Thank you for your consideration. I would be happy to discuss this issue with you in more detail. 

George M. Borrello
Senator, 57th District

Possible restructuring of WROTB board of directors has local Republican lawmakers up in arms

By Mike Pettinella

Local New York State politicians are speaking out against a report that Democratic legislators and Gov. Kathy Hochul are considering changes to the structure of the board of directors of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney, Sen. George Borrello and Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, all Republicans, issued statements Thursday and today, indicating their opposition to what they believe is a proposal to eliminate individual counties’ authority to select WROTB directors.

Press release from Tenney:

“For 50 years, Western Regional Off Track Betting has shared operational control between 15 county governments and the Cities of Rochester and Buffalo. Under this established system, Western Regional OTB has brought jobs, tax revenue, and entertainment to Western New York. Over the past two years, Western OTB returned over $13.9 million to offset local county taxes across Western New York,

“County leaders throughout New York’s 24th district have reached out concerned about efforts to dismantle, politicize, and disadvantage rural communities within Western Regional OTB. When ‘Home Rule’ created the ownership of Western Regional OTB, member counties were given equal representation. NYS Senate Bill 7855 would strip rural counties of their 50-year established authority of this public-private sector partnership in favor of Governor Hochul and left-wing legislators in Albany.

“I stand with local leaders across the district in calling on Kathy Hochul to drop this misguided plan. It should be dead on arrival during budget negotiations in the Albany sewer. With a budget that is nearly four weeks late, a crime surge, and historic mass outmigration, Albany Democrats should leave Western OTB alone and focus on the real problems facing New Yorkers.”

Press release from Borrello:

“Although they already control the major levers of power in Albany, that hasn’t stopped Democrat One-Party Rule for brazenly and continually hunting for more opportunities to conquer and silence those outside their control. Their latest power grab targets Western Regional Off-Track Betting which has operated for five decades under a model of shared operational control between 15 county governments and the Cities of Rochester and Buffalo.

"However, changes under consideration right now would eliminate this cooperative structure of the past 50 years and replace it with a politicized board that would do Albany’s bidding. The voices of our rural counties would be silenced and the jobs and revenue they depend on put at risk.

"I am fiercely opposed to this last-minute attempt to slide this controversial proposal into the budget as the final details come together. It is another shameful attempt at rigging the system for political purposes and should be rejected.”

Statement from Hawley:

Hawley called the proposal "a power grab trying to diminish the influence of smaller, less populated counties."

"It's called Western New York OTB, not Erie County OTB," he said, responding to a text message from The Batavian. "This is similar to what Western New York complains about in the State Legislature. Excessive control by New York City. Shameful and wrong."

WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek, contacted today, said he and Board Chair Richard Bianchi are monitoring the situation.

“We are waiting to find out what the actual language of the proposed legislation is before making an official statement,” Wojtaszek said.

Currently, the individuals serving on WROTB’s 17-member board, which represents its 17-member municipalities, are appointed by their county or city (Buffalo and Rochester) legislative bodies.

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.

Winter Storm Elliott: update from Hochul

By Joanne Beck

Gov. Kathy Hochul talked on Saturday about the relentless winter storm moving throughout New York State. She toured portions of the state and will be giving assessment updates throughout the weekend. She ordered the National Guard to move into Buffalo to assist due to "the blinding snow, the zero visibility, absolute whiteouts," adding that Elliott "may go down as one of the worst in history."

There are about 73,000 customers without power in this region, including 5,000 in Genesee County, she said. 

In addition to the Statewide State of Emergency, Hochul will also be asking for a federal emergency to be declared, she said in a press release issued Saturday afternoon.

"People are comparing this to the dreaded blizzard of '77, where Buffalo first got its reputation for having an unprecedented amount of snow. We broke that record again a month ago," she said. "So it's very clear to me that the effects of climate change are wreaking havoc everywhere from the streets of Queens with flooding, all the way up to the City of Buffalo.

"But it is life-threatening, what is going on as we speak in Buffalo. Getting calls through the night from frightened neighbors where the temperature's been off for many, many hours - over the course of a day, day and a half.

"So that seems to be the epicenter of this storm that just doesn't seem to be moving on, she said. It is concentrated there," she said. "And so the National Guard had to come in to help with medical emergencies, people who cannot get to the hospital if necessary, to help doctors and nurses get to their jobs in hospitals and health care facilities, as well as helping our seniors who are stranded.

"So we have had people stranded on the highways. I understand that the New York State Thruway, which remains closed in the Western part of the region, we had over 20 people stranded in a very small stretch up until just a short time ago, as well as several hundred who've been stranded on various roads throughout the region.

"What happens in those circumstances? People literally trapped in their cars overnight. Fortunately, our State Police were able to make contact with every single individual, and we literally had snowplows going up to the vehicles and rescuing people, taking them out, and getting them into warming centers because it is absolutely dangerous for anyone to be on the roads - and that includes our emergency vehicles," she said. "So our National Guard, our first responders, our ambulances, our fire trucks are all getting stuck in the snow as well. In fact, almost every fire truck in the City of Buffalo is stranded, it is stuck in snow. And we're just getting through releasing of about 14 or so ambulances that were stuck as well."

More locally, Genesee County's various police, fire, and emergency crews have been out now for two days, retrieving people from snowbanks and ditches or otherwise were stranded due to no visibility. 

The basic message is that warming centers will remain open while people are encouraged to stay home. Roads are closed throughout Western New York and will be, probably through Christmas Day, Hochul said.

Her press release included:

And it's really sad for all the individuals who have not been able to see family members - airport delays, and not able to be driving because of driving bans. But it is more important that people stay safe. You'll have your holiday with your loved ones over New Year's and into the next year. But this is a weekend where it is absolutely dangerous in some parts of our state, particularly the Western part, to be out there. So we want to encourage people to stay where they are.

In addition to having a statewide Emergency Declaration, I'll be asking the federal government for a Declaration of Emergency that'll allow us to seek reimbursements for the extraordinary expenses of all the overtime and the fact that we've brought in mutual aid from other parts of the state. We've deployed individuals, whether it's the utility crews have come, but also making sure that we have all the vehicles we need. But literally, they cannot get through right now, no matter how many emergency vehicles we have, they just can't get through the conditions as we speak.

So that is what's happening in other parts of the state. At this point, I'll be asking Kathryn Garcia, the Head of Statewide Operations who's been embedded with all of us in our command centers monitoring what's going on throughout the state.

But I did want to put a special spotlight right now on the City of New York. It got through some tough circumstances, with the high winds, the ice, the freezing cold. And it is still a dangerous situation. We want to confirm that just because you see clear skies and the rain has stopped and the flooding seems to have abated, that it is still vulnerable because of the icy cold temperatures which can be life-threatening.




Jacobs calls on Hochul to hold special session to rescind bail reform

By Press Release

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) sent the following letter to Governor Hochul on Friday, October 21st calling for her to take immediate action to amend the state's bail reform laws following the recent murder of Keaira Hudson earlier this month.

Dear Governor Hochul,

I write to express my ongoing concerns about the flawed and failed bail reform laws which were passed in this state and signed into law by your predecessor in January 2020. Violent crime committed by repeat offenders in New York State is at now epidemic proportions, especially with such crimes as domestic abuse, which put women and children in our communities at grave risk. I implore you to immediately call the legislature into emergency session to make the necessary reforms to this failed law to ensure public safety for all New Yorkers.

Just last week in Buffalo, NY – our shared hometown – a mother of three children was murdered by her estranged husband who was released on his own recognizance without bail, despite being brought in on domestic violence-related charges. This murder is yet another case of preventable death in our state.

It is unacceptable that a man with a record of violence and domestic abuse, one who had been recorded just days before beating his wife in their home and who was arrested on multiple domestic violence-related charges, could be released on his own recognizance because his charges were deemed “bail ineligible.” Numerous studies have shown domestic violence incidents are not isolated, and escalation is highly probable. According to a 2016 study, 10 to 18 percent of those arrested for domestic violence are arrested again within six months, 15 to 30 percent face a second arrest within 28 months, and up to 60 percent are rearrested within 10 years. Had the judge been afforded judicial discretion in this case, this man would have not been released, and a life may have been saved.

This is one of many instances of a police officer making an arrest for a serious crime only to have that offender back in the community committing more violence. In August 2022, New York City Mayor Eric Adams released a study detailing how a group of career criminals has accumulated hundreds of arrests yet are still roaming the streets, free to commit additional crimes, due to our failed “bail reform” laws. Your office’s defense that this problem was fixed or that these incidents are not data, but rather anecdotal evidence, disregards the countless families whose lives have been upended by violent crime committed by offenders who would otherwise be behind bars.

Our Erie County Democratic District Attorney John J. Flynn said after this needless murder, “This could easily be solved with one sentence in the bail law.” That one sentence would provide judges with discretion to consider “dangerousness” when determining bail.

We have a serious problem in New York State, and there is an immediate need for reform to our failed bail laws. I implore you to call an immediate special session of our legislature to first address the need for increased judicial discretion to limit the release of individuals who are arrested with domestic violence charges; and second, to reform the entire law to give judges the authority they previously had, and now desperately need, to keep dangerous individuals in custody. No family should have to suffer the pain of losing a loved one to a violent criminal who was set free under your failed system.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. I look forward to your response.

State looks to slice 16 cents off a gallon of gas; counties not inclined to do so but Hawley says feds may step up

By Mike Pettinella

New York State lawmakers are close to an agreement to suspend a portion of gasoline taxes for the last seven months of this year, but similar action by most county governments doesn’t seem to be in the works.

“I know the state is looking at doing it, and they're doing it, but I don't anticipate too many county governments doing this,” County Manager Matt Landers said today. “I don’t know where Erie and Monroe (counties) stand on this.”

News out of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office signals that the state will drop the price of a gallon of gas by about 4 percent -- approximately 16 cents per gallon of gas -- from June 1 through Dec. 31. On a 15-gallon fill-up, the savings to the consumer would be $2.40.

Landers said a recent informal poll of county administrators revealed that most were not looking at suspending their 4 percent (or so) sales tax from the price of gasoline.

“I don’t remember, specifically, which counties responded but all the ones that did said that was not something currently on their radar,” he said, while adding that a "discussion" about this subject with Genesee County legislators is likely to occur.

Sales tax accounts for a significant portion of county budgets. In Genesee’s case, sales tax proceeds are being earmarked for large capital projects, such as the construction of a new county jail.

The state tax break will reduce its revenue by about $600 million this year, but Hochul said that money received for pandemic relief and higher than anticipated tax revenue would enable it to handle the loss.

Reports indicate the state would suspend the 8-cent per gallon motor fuel tax and the 8-cent per gallon sales tax on gasoline.

State Assemblyman Stephen Hawley today said Republicans supported legislation to remove 33 cents from the cost of a gallon of gas, as well as state sales tax breaks on home cleaning supplies, clothing and food.

“With a $220.4 billion budget, we’ve got plenty of cash in a rainy day fund,” he said. “Some of what we proposed didn’t fall on deaf ears, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s not enough. We’ve got all kinds of surpluses, apparently, according to the governor.”

Hawley said he’s always been in favor of “giving that back to people so they can spend it in their communities, as opposed to sending it to the state where they can fritter it away.”

He added that the federal government is “going to be doing something as well – so, stay tuned on that.”

When asked if county governments should follow suit, he said they were given the opportunity, but understands municipalities’ reliance on sales tax to balance their budgets.

“That’s a large source of their revenue, so that’s not surprising at all,” he said.

Reforming New York's bail reform laws: Desperately needed or a desperate attempt to win votes?

By Mike Pettinella

Depending upon who you talk to, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s 10-point plan to revise New York’s bail reform statute is either a good first step toward granting judges more discretion in determining whether or not to impose bail for serious crimes or it’s simply a politically expedient move by someone looking to win an election in November.

In recent days, Hochul presented a comprehensive list of changes to the no-cash bail law, including, for the most serious felonies, allowing bail determinations to be informed by factors such as criminal history and history of firearm use and possession; making repeat offenses subject to arrest and posting of bail, and making some gun-related and hate crime offenses subject to arrest and incarceration (and not appearance tickets).

The proposal also is being made following the release of a Siena College poll indicating that two-thirds of New York voters are in favor of strengthening the no-cash bail law and giving judges the power to consider a defendant’s prior arrest record.

The Batavian reached out today to Genesee County attorneys and law enforcement personnel for their “takes” on the governor’s stance.

Genesee County District Attorney Kevin Finnell says he hasn’t read the details of all of Hochul’s points, but for the primary one – allowing judges to consider additional information – he believes that is appropriate.

“That’s what the judges were able to do pre-bail reform,” he said. “And I think giving them that latitude and authority is good because they're the ones that see these people, they evaluate them on a case by case basis, and the judges do a good job in deciding who's a flight risk and who isn't. So, having that back in the judges’ hands is a good thing.”

Finnell said he also agrees with judges having the ability to set bail on repeat offenders.

“Again, using the same criteria, assuming that they can, allow the judges to do what they've always done in evaluating the case -- the person and the likelihood that they'll return rather than just going to the least restrictive form automatically,” he said.

“That may be appropriate in a lot of cases and the judges will be able to still release people to under supervision or ROR (released on your own recognizance) when the case is appropriate. But giving them the extra tool -- the extra ability to set bail when appropriate -- I think is always a good thing.”

Genesee County Public Defender Jerry Ader sees Hochul’s plan much differently, stating that politics are playing a key role.

“I had hoped that the governor would have maintained her long standing position that any possible changes to the law as it related to bail would only be driven by data, not politics, and that gathering such data would take time,” he said. “Unfortunately, I am not shocked or surprised that political pressure has resulted in this new ‘re-election’10-point plan.  Maintaining power is powerful force.”

Ader pointed to The Brennan Center for Justice report, released yesterday, that “there is no clear connection between recent crime increases and the bail reform law enacted in 2019, and the data does not support further revisions to the legislation” (

“In our county, the bail laws presently in effect are working.  Money is no longer the driving factor as to whether someone charged with a crime is in jail.  Most people charged with violent felony offenses and many non-violent offenses can have bail set, if the court determines it to be necessary to insure the person appears,” he said. “If someone has been released, he can be remanded if he persistently fails to appear in court or is re-arrested for a felony.  There is no evidence that our county is any less safe.”

Ader acknowledged that gun violence is increasing, and he has “no problem with enacting new legislation or the state providing additional funding to help remove illegal weapons from our community. “

Calling Hochul’s plan “a step in the right direction,” Genesee County Sheriff William Sheron said that tougher gun laws are not the answer when dealing with the criminal element.

“I firmly believe that they can pass all these gun laws that they want, but the prime definition of “criminal” means criminals do not follow laws,” he said. “So, you can pass all the gun control regulations you want, but those with criminal intent are not going to follow those laws. The ones that are really going to be affected are the law abiding citizens.”

Sheron said laws with more teeth need to be passed.

“We have got to have more of a deterrence out there,” he said. “If people possess illegal firearms, or use a firearm illegally, they’re going to suffer severe consequences and that is going to send the message to other people.”

The sheriff also said he’s on board with giving judges more discretion in the bail process to prevent instances of repeat offenses, something that he says have been on the rise and are endangering the public.

“One that comes to mind is where the individual was stealing motor vehicles from around the area,” he said. “We would catch them with one, and he’d go before a judge and get released. It wasn’t a bailable offense and he’d steal another car. It was just a vicious circle. I forget the total number of vehicles he stole, but he knew there was no chance he was going to jail, so it was a big game to him.”

Sheron said society has gotten away from the “standards of accountability.”

“People make mistakes, I get that, but there has to be a deterrence. Even with kids in school. They see there are no consequences to their misbehavior or their improper actions, and that leads to more improper actions.”

Batavia City Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said he hopes “changes are meaningful and will address crime in our area.”

He said he stands with the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, which issued a statement today contending that the state’s effort to correct “historic inequalities in the criminal justice system” … “tipped the balance so far in favor of the accused that public safety has been jeopardized.”

The statement continues, “We believe that it is possible to create a system in which the rights of the accused are respected while the rights of victims and the public are also respected. Public safety must be a priority. We look forward to working with Governor Hochul and the legislature to identify the proper path forward.”

Heubusch said that “one size fits all packages coming out of Albany do not work in every jurisdiction and do not address the impacts to our neighborhoods and communities.”

“We are hopeful that meaningful change will be implemented to aid us in protecting our citizens.”

Finnell said local justices are qualified to make proper judgments, as long as they are given the power to do so.

“I also think recognizing that not everybody should go to jail is important, too,” he said. “That's the other side of the coin. The purpose of bail is and always has been to ensure that somebody will appear for when required in in County Court. But we've seen that fail in many ways since bail reform.”

Ader stated that he agrees with the governor on her call for increased funding for pretrial, diversion, and employment programs and for mental health treatment.

“It would also help our community immensely if the non-monetary release option of electronic monitoring could be implemented in our county.  It is an option under the present law but has never been used in our county,” he said.

Overall, he thinks Hochul’s 10-point plan is a “knee-jerk political reaction” that moves the state back to a more subjective and repressive system of bail.

“It may make some people feel better, but that’s not the reason for legislation,” he said. “Laws and changes to them need to be driven by data and facts, not emotion.”

The 10-point plan, per a published report in the New York Post, includes:

  • For the most serious felonies, allow bail determinations to be informed by factors including criminal history and history of firearm use and possession. Judges will be allowed to set bail not based solely on the “least restrictive” conditions deemed necessary to ensure a return to court. The statute will set forth specific criteria on which judges will base their determinations, including criminal history and history of firearm use/possession.
  • Make repeat offenses subject to arrest and bail-eligible
  • Make certain gun-related offenses, hate crimes offenses, and subway crime offenses subject to arrest and not [desk appearance tickets]. Certain offenses which presently are subject to desk appearance tickets will be made only eligible for arrest.
  • Make certain gun-related offenses bail-eligible.
  • Make it easier to prosecute gun trafficking.
  • Targeted reforms of the discovery statute.
  • Targeted reforms of the “Raise the Age” statute.
  • Increase funding for pretrial, diversion, and employment programs: Hochul’s budget already includes $83.4 million for pretrial services, but the governor would increase that amount — although the memo did not say by how much. It would also distribute the nearly $500 million appropriated for “Raise the Age” implementation that has not yet been spent.
  • Expand involuntary commitment and Kendra’s Law.
  • Increase funding for mental health treatment.

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