Archive for May 2022

Gov. Hochul’s budget giveaways – By George J. Marlin

May 17, 2022

The following appeared on Monday, May 16, 2022, in the Blank Slate Media newspaper chain and on its website, theisland360.com:

When Kathy Hochul was sworn in as governor in August 2021, she told New Yorkers that she would govern differently than Cuomo.

And so she has….

Unlike Cuomo, who fought tooth and nail with state legislators, Hochul has rolled over to their demands in order to get $600 million for the new Buffalo Bills stadium.

To secure that funding, she resurrected—what Cuomo had buried—pork spending for legislators known as “members items.”

On top of that, Hochul has kept alive Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development programs that replaced “members items” and served as Cuomo’s personal pork barrel spending for local projects that have often been dubious in nature or were rewards to supporters in the form of capital grants or tax credits.

Ed McMahon, of The Empire Center for Public Policy, has noted that the more than $12 billion committed to RED projects in recent years “is in classic terms almost Marxist. This is the state owning the means of production. It’s corporate welfare on steroids.”

Many corporations that received grants failed or the payback promised never materialized. Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion,” for example, which included the Solar City factory, employed only about 20% of the 3,000 jobs projected.

Another flop, the Central New York film, hub cost taxpayers $90 million.

And let’s not forget that several of Cuomo’s economic development shenanigans led to the conviction in 2018 of two of his political cronies, Joe Percoco and Alain Kaloyeros.

Which brings me back to Gov. Hochul. Did she learn anything from the Cuomo-era regional spending boondoggles?

Apparently not.

To get a budget passed, “…she managed to make everybody happy on something,” Kathryn S. Wilde, president of the Partnership for New York City, told The New York Times.

The deputy senate majority leader, Democrat Michael Gianaris (whom I’m guessing is getting his share of pork for his district), likened Hochul to Cuomo “in terms of looking out for corporate interests and her ideological positioning.”

The state comptroller’s analysis of the 2022-2023 budget pointed out that “several new discretionary lump sum capital appropriations were added, with little detail regarding intended purposes…” In other words, political swag. These appropriations include:

• $800 million for “the New York State Regional Economic and Community Assistance Program”—also known as corporate welfare.

• $385 million for the Community Resilience Sustainability and Technology Program to support “projects intended to improve the quality of life of the residents of the state … through investment in facilities which support arts, cultural, athletic, housing, childcare, education, parks and recreational … tourism, community development … and other civic activities.” These are pork grants that state legislators could dole out to 501(c)(3)s, and community groups in their home district.

• $350 million for the Long Island Investment Fund to support “manufacturing, agriculture, business parks, community anchor facilities … and main street revitalizations.”

This is more corporate welfare with few strings attached.

• $185 million for the Local Community Assistance Program to “support community development or redevelopment, revitalization, economic development, economic sustainability … and local infrastructure improvement or enhancement.” Even more corporate welfare.

Here’s a tiny sampling from a “members items” list compiled by Newsday’s Albany reporter Michael Gormley:

• $5 million for a Rochester soccer stadium.

• $108 million to redevelop the Bronx Kingsbridge Amory.

• $8 million for a parking garage in Rochester.

• $20 million for Syracuse University’s basketball team Carrier Dome.

• $8.5 million for a Syracuse “Landmark Theatre.”

• $1 million for Old Fort Niagara.

There are hundreds of millions of dollars of such pork barrel projects.

Blair Horner, the executive director of the N.Y. Public Interest Research Group, stated that these funds “are used to bolster the image of elected officials in an effort to curry favor with voters.”

“Big lump sums,” like the $350 million coming to Long Island, Blair added, “limit public accountability and have been abused in the past.”

Yes, several legislators have gone to jail for abusing these grants by taking care of friends, relatives and donors.

Giving away the store may help Hochul get over the finish line in November, but it will not help taxpayers who will be stuck paying the tab for Albany’s unsatiable spending appetite.

To Win, Conservatives Must Forge Consensus With Catholic Latinos – By George J. Marlin

May 13, 2022

This article I wrote appeared on the Newsmax.com web site on Friday, May 13, 2022.

Gov. Hochul’s Disastrous Budget – By George J. Marlin

May 3, 2022

The following appeared on Monday, May 2, 2022, in the Blank Slate Media newspaper chain and on its website, theisland360.com:

In January, Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed a bloated $217 billion state budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year that the comptroller’s office indicated contained various budget gimmicks, including “billions of dollars allocated to broadly defined purposes with little or no specificity.”

Hochul’s budget is to be balanced using billions in Federal COVID relief dollars that will not be replenished. Hence, her reckless spending will create serious fiscal problems in the post-election years and will put the state on the road to financial insolvency.

While Hochul’s original proposal took care of most special interest groups (i.e., teacher unions), it wasn’t enough for Democratic legislators who have an insatiable appetite for political swag.

As a result, the New York Post bellowed, “Albany returned to the bad old stinky ways of passing a budget.”

The budget was negotiated in secret with the infamous “three people in the room”—the governor, Assembly speaker and Senate majority leader.

Due to political bickering, the budget was not passed on time. It was eventually approved in the middle of the night a week after the new fiscal year began on April 1.

And the final product, laden with political fat and questionable non-budget items, pushes spending to a record-breaking $220 billion; 18 percent higher than in 2020. (The Empire Center for Public Policy reports the state will be spending $6,987 per second.)

Hochul surrendered to the far left on most items to secure money for the biggest financial boondoggle in recent history: the Buffalo Bills stadium deal.

Six hundred million dollars of state funds have been allocated to subsidize the building of a new stadium in Erie County, which is coincidentally where Gov. Hochul resides.

This is an irresponsible expense to buy off voters in Western New York and will be the poster child for corporate welfare for years to come.

Contrary to claims, it is not an investment that enhances the local economy.

An analysis published by the Cato Institute reported “the presence of pro sport teams in 37 metropolitan areas in our sample had no measurably positive impact on the overall growth of real per capita income in those areas.”

Baltimore’s Camden Yards, for example, has generated about $3 million a year in economic benefits but cost Maryland state taxpayers $14 million annually in debt service payments.

The fact that sports facilities have proved to be a poor investment explains why wealthy team owners are not willing to fork over their own money to build them.

“Publicly funded stadiums are, at best, an inefficient investment of taxpayers’ dollars for the meager benefits produced,” said the National Taxpayers Union in a 2007 study. “At worst, [they’re] massive payments to rich team owners and players at the expense of ordinary taxpayers.”

On another front, Hochul caved into the health care union and will spend $7.7 billion for pay raises to the home-health industry.

Also, the budget extends to 2029  the $500 million annual subsidy to film production studios.

And the Empire Center reports state public employee unions received an incredible election year gift: “There is a partial rollback of successful, decade-old public employee pension reforms that saved taxpayers about a billion dollars a year…. [T]he budget reduces vesting periods from 10 years to five and cuts contribution rates in some cases.”

As for Hochul’s bail law changes, they are merely marginal—good for political commercials but not for the public.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams was very disappointed that judges were granted only a little more discretion when setting bail. “I think we have a lot more to do,” he said.

New York City’s PBA president, Pat Lynch, complained the revisions are “political window dressing that won’t do much to change the reality on the streets.”

The Detective Endowment Association leader declared: “No mandatory for gun possession, which the DEA supports, means more shootings. Judges must be allowed to consider prior convictions and recidivism.”

Hochul’s Democratic primary opponent, Congressman Tom Suozzi, summed up the election year giveaway budget thusly: “Instead of using this opportunity to lower taxes, reduce crime and make New York more affordable, Kathy Hochul showed her inexperience by botching the budget process and saddling New Yorkers with billions more in spending, including the biggest tax giveaway in NFL history to build a new Bills stadium.”

Aptly put.