Archive for the ‘Kathy Hochul’ category

New York State’s Disastrous Budget – By George J. Marlin

May 17, 2023

The following appeared on Monday, May 15, 2023, in the Blank Slate Media newspaper chain and on its website,

During Albany’s annual budget battle, a take-charge governor can exercise extraordinary power over the process.

In 2010, for example, when Gov. David Paterson and the state Legislature could not agree on a spending plan by the end of the fiscal year, the governor threatened to use the “nuclear option”— a short-term spending extension (aka a continuing resolution) to secure a balanced budget.

What is the “nuclear option”?

Here’s Gov. Paterson’s explanation: “The difference between the budget process and the extenders is that the governor writes the extenders, the legislature has to vote it up or down, there are no amendments, no changes, no rejections, or overriding the governor’s veto. It’s either take it or leave it…. We then put our cuts in the next week’s budget extender and the legislature either had to vote it into effect or shut down the government.”

The threat worked and the Legislature backed off and negotiated a budget to the governor’s satisfaction.

Patterson did not fear to use what then Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver called “naked political power” to impose his will on the Legislature.

Unfortunately, this year Gov. Kathy Hochul, fearful of exercising her budgetary authority, was steamrolled by the state Legislature.

In February, the governor, ignoring the signs of economic slowdown — particularly on Wall Street, which provides 22% of state income tax revenue—proposed a record-breaking $227 billion budget, up $7 billion from the previous year.

The release of the governor’s budget is only the opening gambit. The legislative branch, which has an insatiable appetite, always counters with even more spending.

Unable to agree on a budget plan, the state missed the March 31 deadline.

Refusing to use the “nuclear option” the governor surrendered in late April and agreed to a $229.8 billion budget, up $9 billion.

While the 3.7% increase may appear low — keep in mind this is on top of increases that totaled 22% over the past three years.

Most of the additional spending was allotted to school aid and Medicaid.

Education spending will hit an all-time high of $34 billion.

“School aid,” the Empire Center for Public Policy has reported will have “risen 76% since 2012 — while public school enrollment has fallen more than 5% during the same period.

Put another way, the state will be spending about $9 billion more on a smaller number of students than it would have if school aid had simply kept pace with inflation. Meanwhile, student achievement is declining on both state and national measures.”

As for Medicaid, the governor, who called for the state spending portion to increase by 9%, capitulated to the demands of the Legislature and healthcare unions and agreed to a 13% increase, up $4.2 billion.

“The state’s share,” healthcare expert Bill Hammond has noted, “is on track to be 53% higher in 2024 than it was in 2019.”

Total Medicaid spending for the fiscal year, which includes federal, state and local municipal contributions, is expected to top $100 billion.

New York, with 19.6 million people, will spend significantly more per capita on Medicaid than Florida (pop. 22.21 million) or Texas (pop. 30 million).

What did the governor get in return for knuckling under to the Legislature’s spending demands? Not much. Minor changes in the disastrous Progressive bail reforms.

New York’s spending trajectory is not sustainable.

The state’s budget division is already projecting major shortfalls in the out years; $5 billion in 2025, and in 2026, more than $8 billion.

Those dismal numbers do not, however, factor in an economic recession that will adversely affect tax revenue collections.

The governor, who holds a royal flush in the budgeting poker game, folded to the Legislature’s pair of deuces.

Hochul has proven to be a weak chief executive. And while that’s good news for legislators, unions, big government leeches, radical enviros, and various vendors—it does not bode well for overburdened taxpayers who get stuck paying the bills.

Coming Electric Grid Crisis Alert – By George J. Marlin

April 19, 2023

The following appeared on Monday, April 17, 2023, in the Blank Slate Media newspaper chain and on its website,

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in November 2012, I was grateful that my home had been converted to clean natural gas.

Not having electric power for 14 days (yes, two whole weeks) was awful, but my family was able to endure the cold and snowy winter weather thanks to natural gas. We were able to use our stove and oven and to get some heat from our gas fireplace, while our gas-powered water heater supplied us with plenty of hot water.

Think back and ask yourself, “Am I pleased I had a gas pipeline connected to my house 11 years ago?” My guess your answer is yes.

And if your house was powered solely by electricity, ask yourself, “Was I happy being without lights, heat and hot water?” I know I wouldn’t.

Well, if you were unhappy 11 years ago, expect to be more miserable in the years to come.

Here’s why:

Shortly after taking office in 2011, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared war on fossil fuels and nuclear energy. He terminated fracking and closed the Indian Point Nuclear facility that provided over 20% of New York City’s electricity.

Cuomo also pledged the state would have “100% carbon-free electricity by 2040.”

Cuomo’s successor, Gov. Kathy Hochul, has continued the crusade to phase out natural gas.

In December 2022, the State Climate Action Council—controlled by extremists—mandated New York to supply 100% of its electricity from zero emission sources by 2040.

The timeline:

  • Beginning in 2025 all new buildings will have to be electric. Gas hookups will be prohibited.
  • By 2030 all new kitchen appliances (i.e.: stoves) will have to be electric.
  • By 2035 all new cars sold in the state will have to be electric.

So, if your gas stove should break down in 2030, Big Brother will not permit you to buy a new one even though your home is already fueled by gas. How crazy is that?

Gary Donohue, president of the Independent Power Producers of New York, opposed the council’s proposal for these reasons:

  • Reliability is inadequately addressed, putting New York at risk for economy-crushing blackouts and potential public safety risks.
  • High energy costs for energy consumers and the impact on their cost-of-living and on the competitiveness of New York businesses.
  • Insufficient programs to keep benefits of existing renewable facilities in the state.
  • Leaping to moratoriums and bans instead of developing innovative technologies.

Donohue added that it would require “pure magic” to reach the goals.

It gets worse.

If a piece of legislation circulating in Albany becomes law, the New York Post reports, the state Power Authority would be forced “to shut down all its fossil fuel energy plants and build or buy power only from renewable sources by 2030, just seven years away.”

Right now, New York City and the surrounding suburbs receive more than 80% of their power from fossil fuels.

Anyone who thinks that by 2040 it will be possible for the metropolitan region to make a 100% percent conversion to renewable energy is delusional.

But if the Albany radicals manage to impose their flawed, ideologically driven energy formulas, there is the danger of aging electric grids that deliver power to customers, collapsing.

There are already problems. James Meigs of The Manhattan Institute noted in a Commentary magazine piece, “Unlock the Grid,” that on Christmas Eve he received a Con Edison alert that read: “Please conserve energy” because the power grid “was at the breaking point” due to “extreme cold, high-energy use and industrial equipment problems.” Customers were urged to lower thermostats and avoid running appliances.

Meigs went on to point out that “weather-related grid failures … are a growing threat.”

Hence, I was not surprised when an electrical engineer told me that if everyone in my neighborhood owned electric cars and plugged them in at night, the electric grid would blow.

If Gov. Hochul and the leftists in Albany get their way, New Yorkers will be facing outrageously high electric bills and crippling blackouts.

Remember how cold your house was during the Sandy blackout. To prevent that from happening on a regular basis, urge your state legislators to shelve Albany’s ludicrous plans.

Albany Shenanigans on Rent Regulations – By George J. Marlin

April 6, 2023

This article I wrote appeared on The Island 360 web site on Monday, April 3, 2023, and in the Blank Slate Media newspaper chain.

Democratic Socialists are Destroying NY – By George J. Marlin

March 27, 2023

This article I wrote appeared on the web site on Monday, March 27, 2023.

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

March 9, 2023

The following appeared on Monday, March 6, 2023, in the Blank Slate Media newspaper chain and on its website,

In Albany, budget theatrics between the governor and the state Legislature commence every February.

There is always plenty of public weeping and moaning and gnashing of teeth by both sides in the mad rush to negotiate an acceptable spending plan that both the executive and legislative branches agree on by April 1 when the new fiscal year begins.

Here’s a brief description of how the process generally works: The governor in both the State of the State address and in the budgetary message paints a dire picture of the state’s finances.

The statements contain dreary economic projections, particularly during a recession.

Fearing rising unemployment and declining economic activity (particularly on Wall Street), the governor lowballs the revenue expected from taxes and fees.

To eliminate a projected deficit the governor calls for reducing bloated bureaucracies and cutting programs, including aid to education and Medicaid.

To share the pain, the governor announces cuts in the executive budget.

Then there are all the fiscal gimmicks employed to lessen the fiscal blow. These include raids on surplus funds, one-shot revenues, and putting off payments of various invoices until the following fiscal year.

No sooner is the ink dry on the governor’s proposal, Progressives bellyache that the cuts and layoffs are excessive, and the revenue estimates are too conservative.

As the deadline approaches both sides buckle down and do serious negotiating behind closed doors.

While the governor has the upper hand in the negotiations to get in an on-time budget – that means compromise.

“When you compromise and both sides are unhappy,” Gov. Mario Cuomo once quipped. “That’s a budget.”

And then, after numerous late-night meetings and plenty of public posturing, old-fashioned horse trading, and outright buy-offs of individual legislators with pork barrel projects for their district, the Legislature passes a budget.

But that is not the way it’s working this year. It’s not the Hochul approach.

Instead of warning legislators that fiscal restraint is necessary because there is a looming recession, that federal one-shot COVID relief money has been exhausted, that record high taxes are driving top earners to Florida, that it will take at least three more years to reach pre-COVID employment levels, and then calling for spending cuts and tax relief—Hochul did the opposite.

The governor called for more spending to be paid by raiding reserve funds and increasing various taxes.

The budget the governor proposed is a record-breaking $227 billion, up $7 billion.

Apparently, the governor is not concerned that her reckless spending is not sustainable.

This despite the fact that Hochul’s own financial plan projects $20 billion in cumulative deficits between 2025 and 2027.

Another misnomer—the governor’s budget assumes top earners will stay in New York.

In recent years the state has lost over 10% of people earning over $750,000 a year. That’s $21 billion of lost taxable income.

Experts are projecting that this trend will continue. Thus, considering 2% of top earners pay 51% of state income taxes, if 100,000 more move out, New York’s tax base will be wrecked.

To pay off teacher and healthcare unions that supported Hochul last year, school aid will go up at least 9.8%—despite declining enrollment—and Medicaid will increase 9.3%.

Here’s a few other ludicrous items buried in the budget: a 70% increase ($700 million) in tax credits for the movie and television industry.

A $455 million “loan” to the moribund New York Racing Association. Additional pension benefits for state employees and additional health care benefits for undocumented migrants.

There’s also Hochul’s budgetary line item to ban the selling of gas stoves by 2030.

And let’s not forget that Hochul’s proposal is only the first step in the annual Albany kabuki dance. Gov. Hochul has proven to be a weak negotiator and I expect legislators will bully her into agreeing to a lot more spending.

The net result, the Empire Center for Public Policy rightly predicts, “it’s sure to be the same as years past: pushing New York further down the road of higher taxes, failing taxpayers and setting back the state’s long-term fiscal health.”