Archive for the ‘The Island 360’ 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.

Issues That Cannot Be Ignored – By George J. Marlin

May 2, 2023

The following appeared on Monday, May 1, 2023, in the Blank Slate Media newspaper chain and on its website,

Public opinion polls have been indicating that the most important issues for New Yorkers are crime and migrant asylum-seeking.

Those concerns, however, do not appear to be hitting the radar screen of leftist legislators who represent us in Albany and Washington.

Democratic legislators in the State capital, for instance, have been ignoring the fact that major crimes increased in New York City last year by 22%.

Unable to bring themselves to admit that their so-called penal reforms have contributed to the surge in crime, they ignore the cries of victims to substantively adjust the bail laws. (The minor changes in the state’s budget deal are not expected to have any meaningful public safety impact.)

Here are a few cases of ideological denseness that prove my thesis:

On April 18, a 20-year-old was shot in the head outside the Bronx office of Assembly speaker Carl Heastie.

Later that same day, a Bronx policewoman was hit in the head with a glass bottle and subsequently rushed to a hospital.

Film footage revealed that the officer’s assailant, a 45-year-old with a very long list of arrests, quietly walked up to her and smashed her. “God told him to do this,” he later told police investigators.

What was Speaker Heastie’s reaction to these two incidents in his political backyard? “We must stop focusing on the symptoms of crime and treat the disease,” he said.


I’m guessing he means the disease is guns on the streets. But a bottle is not a gun.

Heastie is so wrapped up in his ideological fantasies, that he cannot grasp that the 2019 lenient penal reforms he supported have emboldened criminals.

For example, 327 shoplifters were “arrested and rearrested more than 6,000 times” in the city last year, The New York Times reported.

Why are these shoplifters so brazen? Because they know they will suffer no consequences for their criminal activities and will be back out on the streets hours after they are arrested.

Heastie’s constituents don’t agree with his soft-on-crime policies. A New York Post poll of his Assembly District revealed that 57% of voters want the penal reforms revised.

A 55-year-old constituent told the Post, “It was bad in the ’80s. I feel like it’s creeping back to that era. If a person is accused of a friggin’ violent crime, they are supposed to go on bail or be denied bail depending on the severity of the crime. I don’t support the way it is now. This is bigger than Heastie.”

Then there is the recent outburst of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez after the announcement of a tentative contract agreement between Mayor Eric Adams and the Police Benevolent Association.

Without a contract since 2017, city cops have not had a raise in seven years.

And the longtime starting pay of $42,000 for NYPD officers fresh out of the academy has been the lowest in the region.

The eight-year agreement, if approved by the PBA membership, would start rookies at a competitive $55,000 annually.  It also includes retroactive pay and raises of 3.5% this year and 4% in 2024.

The new pay scale for cops was too much for AOC, a leading “defund the police” advocate.

She blasted the mayor: “We are now at a point where officially most officers are paid more than a teacher with a master’s degree serving the same kids involved in the same incidents.”

AOC’s claim is blatantly false.

Teachers with a bachelor’s degree earn $61,000 their first year in city schools. The starting salary for a teacher with a master’s degree is $68,000.

The congresswoman went on to complain that the mayor is “defunding our public schools, defunding our public pools, defunding our parks [and] defunding our libraries” to fund the police department.

That statement is also false.

If there are any cuts in government services, it will be due to the growing costs of the migrant crisis—which the mayor has said is “destroying the city.”

“The national government,” Adams said, “has turned its back on New York City…. Every service in the city is going to be impacted by the asylum crisis.”

Yes, AOC, Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, Congressman Jeffries, as well as Democratic leaders in Albany, have been out to lunch on this problem.

And if these Progressive pols do not come to their senses and tackle the migrant and crime issues, New York will become what it was in the 1970s—ungovernable.

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.

Gov. Hochul’s Nightmare Dream Book – By George J. Marlin

March 23, 2023

The following appeared on Monday, March 20, 2023, in the Blank Slate Media newspaper chain and on its website,

In conjunction with her State of the State address Jan. 10, Gov. Kathy Hochul released a 276-page book titled “Achieving the New York Dream.”

Calling this work a “book” is a bit of a stretch. It’s more like a term paper. Each page has wide margins, large print, and far fewer words than found in a real book.

But whatever one calls it, the proposals contained therein are a taxpayer’s nightmare.

“Achieving the New York Dream” is a compendium of ideologically driven schemes, that if implemented, would further accelerate the out-migration flight of upper- and middle-class folks.

One of Hochul’s plans, the “New York Housing Compact,” should concern every Long Island homeowner.

The governor makes the dubious claim that more people want to live in New York than there are homes.


Census Bureau statistics tell a different story. From July 2021 to July 2022, the state lost on a net basis 299,557 people. Only California did worse with 343,230 fleeing.

In calendar year 2022, a record-breaking 62,577 New Yorkers packed their bags and moved to Florida. In 2021, the number skipping town was 61,728.

And if taxes, regulations, utility costs, and crime continue to go up, the exodus will continue and there will be municipal deserts throughout the state with plenty of homes for sale or abandoned.

However, for the sake of argument, let’s go with Hochul’s housing assumption despite her faulty reasoning.

To increase construction Hochul would impose on municipalities “targets” (a/k/a quotas) “for new home creation on a three-year cycle.”

While municipalities “will have discretion on how to meet their new home targets,” the state will monitor them. When judging the localities, the number of affordable housing units built “will be assigned extra weight.”

To force the development of multi-family housing in neighborhoods near railroad stations, localities will be compelled to rezone areas around transit stops.

Big Brother in Albany will also establish a statewide database to track the progress of municipalities.

If municipalities fail to meet their targets, the state will override the will of the local elected officials and impose rezoning regulations. Town supervisors and mayors will be dragged before a state housing approval board and ordered to comply with Albany dictates.

Hochul wants to fulfill the longtime progressive dream: destroy suburbia.

The left hates the idea of people owning their own plot of land with a single-family home and a patch of green grass where they are free of the government’s watchful eye.

Progressives prefer large apartment developments where people are contained and can be monitored.

Remember the “Projects” built by that great Progressive social engineer, Robert Moses in the post-World War II period.

In the name of urban renewal, Moses bulldozed viable New York City neighborhoods and constructed high-rise apartment projects that have been mismanaged by the city and have turned into rundown, crime-ridden, dilapidated buildings.

Thanks to Progressive ideology, Urban Renewal became Urban Blight.

Fortunately, local officials have spoken out against the Hochul plan. Oyster Bay supervisor Don Clavin, said at a press conference, “We’re here to express outrage at Gov. Hochul’s attempt to take the suburban dream and turn it into an urban nightmare.”

North Hempstead Town supervisor Jennifer DeSena wisely pointed out that if the governor gets her way, the 300,000 new units that could be built in the next 10 years would “severely impact the quality of life” by straining local services and pushing up property taxes to pay for expanded government and educational services.

If Hochul’s “Housing Compact” becomes law, the winners will be real estate developers who make large political contributions. Assemblyman Jake Blumenkrantz put it this way, “This unprecedented proposal by the governor will now usurp [local] power and hand it to developers and special interest groups and Albany.”

The heat is on. I’m hearing from political wags that suburban Democratic legislators fear the governor’s idea may be the catalyst for a 2024 Red Wave that will sweep them out of office.

A comprise plan unveiled last week does not include the state board but maintains targets while offering more financial incentives.

Such incentives for localities, no matter how tempting, are always dangerous.  Once addicted to them, Albany will add more and more conditions that will lead to state control of zoning.

No, Long Island’s state legislators must reject these ludicrous proposals to preserve municipal governments’ most treasured right-home rule.