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New York state

Sen. Rath launches legislative survey

By Press Release

Press Release:

Senator Rath has published a legislative survey, asking residents to share their opinions on issues that arose from the 2022 State of the State. The brief 12 question survey is available on the Senator’s website,

“Countless issues will be in front of the Legislature this year, hearing from residents is crucial.  As we enter the 2022 legislative session, there are a lot of timely issues facing our state and residents.  From COVID vaccine mandates to voting laws, hearing from my constituents has never been more important.  I hope you will take a moment to share your opinions,” said Senator Rath. 

NY Legislative Digest

By C. M. Barons

Hawley and Ranzenhoffer respond to Cuomo's speech

By Howard B. Owens

From the office of Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

The governor touched on many important issues worthy of attention in his State of the State Address, but nothing is more pressing for Western New York than mandate relief and job creation. In fact, if we are to fix either problem, we must fix both.

Unfunded mandates have sent local taxes through the roof for years, and I have been fighting to eliminate this burden since my first day in state government. While taxes climb, business owners and job creators flee Western New York in droves. If we are to truly embrace job creation, we must put an immediate ban on any new mandates and begin examining the litany of unnecessary and expensive requirements that can be repealed.

In addition, Western New York’s low-wealth schools have been unfairly burdened by education cuts in recent years. We must protect our community’s schools from having their budgets pilfered in favor of wealthy, downstate districts.

I am encouraged by the governor’s commitment to economic development, but the question, as always, is “How will we pay for this?” As we turn the corner on economic recovery, we must fund these worthy projects by eliminating wasteful spending, not by raising taxes.

From the office of Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer:

By working together in 2011, the State Legislature reduced spending and the size of government, closed a $10 billion deficit without new taxes, and lowered tax rates for the middle class. For 2012, the State Legislature must continue to work together and further build upon its successes of the prior year.

The State Legislature must again close a $3 billion deficit with cuts to spending, not with tax increases. Mandate relief – especially pension and Medicaid reform – must be passed to ensure the property tax cap works for both property taxpayers and local governments. However, the critical goal for this year should be ensuring Albany supports policies and programs that will encourage companies to locate and create jobs in Western New York.

That is why I am encouraged by the governor’s proposal to provide $1 billion in multi-year economic development incentives for the Buffalo region, to attract major companies to invest billions of dollars and create thousands of jobs in Western New York. I am even more pleased to hear his proposal for a second round of $200 million in competitive grants for our regional economic development councils.

As the 2012 Legislative Session begins, I am hopeful that the governor and State Legislature can again work together to build on the successes of last year.”

Hawley: Budget good, could be better

By Howard B. Owens

Press Release:

The 2011-12 state budget made a number of positive strides toward the significant reforms New Yorkers have demanded and rightfully deserved. Unfortunately, this spending plan falls short in several key areas, representing a missed opportunity for the Legislature to heed the call of the state’s taxpayers.

Continuing an unacceptable trend, the formula used to determine education aid once again unfairly impacts Western New York’s schoolchildren. Time after time, we see our students shoulder an unfair portion of funding cuts in an effort to support downstate school districts. This budget repeats those mistakes of old that have plagued our children for far too long. Furthermore, this legislation shifts costs for essential services like special education to individual school districts, driving up the cost of local government and, in turn, the cost to the taxpayer.

In addition, this spending plan reduces funding for the judiciary branch but fails to do the same for the Legislature. I believe the Assembly could find efficiencies and cost savings within numerous administrative operations involved with the chamber. State government should not be asking children, families and businesses to tighten their belts if we are not prepared to do so as well.

However, this budget did make a variety of much-needed improvements to the state of affairs in New York. Vital restorations have been made to protect the services that benefit our most vulnerable citizens, such as funding for elderly abuse prevention programs and EPIC prescription drug payments. The appointment of regional Economic Development councils will renew New York’s focus on stimulating our economy with targeted planning, rather than an ill-advised, one-size-fits-all policy. Along with significant reforms to the Medicaid system that will result in savings both now and in the long-term, this budget certainly has its share of positive aspects.

When all is said and done, this budget has taken baby steps in the right direction, rather than a substantial leap forward. I hope that the Legislature can build on the progress we have made here today and continue this momentum toward putting New York on the road to recovery.


By C. M. Barons

The cost of local government and schools is the fastest growing taxpayer burden.  That burden is magnified by basing local taxes on real property value.  Property tax is unfair and punitive.  It establishes a recurring, non-transactional fee on ownership.  Taxes should be a measure of prosperity.  Property ownership is an investment not a benchmark of prosperity.  Only 54.4% of New Yorkers own homes.  Property taxes contribute to neighborhood blight when property owners opt against upkeep to avoid increasing taxable value. 


In our fragile economic climate with as many as 17.5% unemployed, millions laid-off and New York leading the nation in first-time unemployment claims, local governments cannot ignore the fact: property taxes do not adjust for fixed or reduced incomes. 


My solution to New York’s tax burden is to scrap property taxes AND sales tax.  Replace both with a 4% residential flat tax and 3.8% Value Added Tax (VAT) for business.  With a state GSP of $1,144,481,000,000 and personal income at $828,443,000,000, the net result would be over $74 billion in tax revenue.  With renters direct-paying local taxes, rent bills that include the cost of property tax must be adjusted.  To encourage landlords to reduce rent bills, a Rent Adjustment Credit for landlords who lower rent in lieu of property tax will be built into Form IT-214, Claim for Real Property Tax Credit for Homeowners and Renters.


Value Added Tax is misunderstood by many.  Essentially it taxes profits on products or services.   Example: a sump pump company buys castings at $5.00 apiece, tools and assembles them as a sump pump at a cost of $15.00.  The finished pump is sold to a retailer for $40.00.  The value added is $20.00 which is taxable.  The retailer sells the pump to a customer for $80.00.  The value added is $40.00 which is taxable.  In the case of service providers, the cost of sending a cleaner to a business for 8 hours is $60.00.  The cleaning company charges the business $75.00.  The value added is $15.00 which is taxable.  For financial institutions, the banks pay a VAT on disposal of mortgaged securities, investment and financial services.


The elimination of property based taxation would benefit especially farmers- for whom land ownership is a critical investment.   Besides alleviating the unfair burden placed upon taxpayers, eliminating property taxes would jettison the bureaucracy necessary to administer it.  A 4% residential tax and 3.8% commercial VAT would also generate sufficient revenue to accelerate satisfaction of New York State’s overwhelming debt.

Cuomo Addresses Democrat Rural Conference, Niagara Falls NY

By Bea McManis

Genesee County was well represented at the Friday night session of the Democrat Rural Conference in Niagara Falls with 12 members attending. 

Andrew Cuomo sparked a gread deal of interest and let the Rural Conference know how much he appreciated their continued support. 

“My friends, the job is not done. I believe this upcoming election is the most important for the state of New York in my lifetime, in my 52 years. And my friends, this state is at a crossroads, and I believe depending on what we do now this state will go up or this state will go down. And I’ll tell you what, this state is in drastic need of reform today,”

“The first thing we have to do is get the state’s fiscal house in order. And this is not just a question of balancing the budget.  The roaring days and the big income we’ve had in the past decade is over.  We need to look beyond the budget, hoping that the money will come back next year won’t work.”

“It’s going to be a reorganization. It’s going to be a restructuring,” he said. “There are 1,000 state agencies. But by the way, nobody really knows for sure.”

“Property taxes are going through the roof. Property taxes are driving people from their homes, literally, There are 10,521 local government entities in New York.  “You know what my friends? We can’t afford 10,521 governments anymore. That’s what it comes down. It’s not just about balncing a budget. It’s about changing the way we do business, rolling up your sleeves.”

“The second thing we have to do is clean up the mess in Albany.  We have to clean up the disgrace that is the legislative process. We have to clean up the gridlock. We have to dlean up the waste. We have to clean up the delay. Enough is enough, my friends. This government works for the people, and it has let the people down.”

“In this Democratic Party, there is no place for government corruption, period. This government has betrayed the public trust.

“The government is only as good as the level of trust people have, and this government has violated the trust. We also this year, have to hear and understand the concerns of the people in this state, and understand that in this political environment, I’ve been all over the state and everywhere you go, people are afraid.”

He spoke about “activist groups” that he said will seek to try and divide New Yorkers who are, by and large, “afraid.” The tea party has already begun to attack Cuomo and were present, in front of the Crowne Plaza with signs supporting Paladino. 

As an aside, it was interesting watching how the tea party group (of about 15 people) worked the media.  They had an organizer with a bull horn.  Anytime he saw someone standing in front of a camera for an interview, he would direct his 15 people to run over and picket behind the person being interviewed.  First they would all run to one corner, then be directed to the opposite corner. Then back in front of the hotel. 

“They’ll try to take divisions and exploit division.  They’ll use the fear to separate. Our message has to be the exact opposite: we won’t hear about dvision, we are about unity and unifying this state like it’s never been unified before. That’s who we are. Let them try to divide us.”

I took particular notice of the 10521 governments in New York State because this has been a topic of discussion on thebatavian quite often.  A real reason to take a look at consolidation.  Included in that number were state, county, city, town and village governments along with utility districts.

Governor Patterson hosted the opening reception, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand the banquet for about 500 guests, and Cuomo hosted the dessert.

The straw poll will take place today, Saturday. 

Lawmakers go to Albany to fix budget, fail

By Howard B. Owens

Buffalo News writer Tom Precious pretty much says all that needs to be said about the state of the state in the first paragraph of his story today:

ALBANY — State lawmakers returned Tuesday to Albany, collected their per diems, ate free lunches, huddled with lobbyists and met with each other in private. But they were unable to accomplish the chief task that brought them back to the Capitol: budget repair.

That's good, honest reporting.

White Cane Awareness Day October 15th!

By Charlie Piscitello

October 15th is White Cane Awareness Day. October is White Cane Awareness Month.  The White Cane enables freedom, self-reliance, and identification to the public.  Only persons who are legally blind are allowed to carry a long white cane with a red strip above the tip.  New York State's White Cane Law requires drivers to yield to persons carrying a white cane or using a guide dog. 

Pedestrians with a visual impairment need to concentrate when crossing.  Do not honk or shout that it is safe to cross.  Give pedestrians room to cross.  Stop before the crosswalk, not in it. 

Event Date and Time

Video: What's up with New York's border?

By Philip Anselmo

Holland Land Office Museum Director Pat Weissend tells us why our forebears saw fit to end New York state at Lake Erie instead of just continuing on to the Mississippi... or on to the Pacific. Why not? Pat tells us. Also included in this third installment of our series on what's going on over at that museum is Pat's explanation of why Transit Road is called Transit Road. Really, this one's a gem, folks. Enjoy!

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