The Cost of Bad Government

9 Feb

Last week, the Empire Center for New York State Policy released their annual report on NY legislative spending and posted it on their government transparency website, SeeThroughNY.  I didn’t see much of any coverage of the release, so I wanted to get this out in front of our readers.

What is the cost of State Sen. Dale Volker?  Well, that’s a tough question seeing as how he has influenced state policy since 1975.  However, between April 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009, Sen. Dale Volker spent $1,082,884 of our tax dollars on staff, rent, travel, telephone service, office supplies and other expenditures.  This news would not be complete without the monthly posting of my Dale Volker meme.

Evidently, Dale is not the only member of our local delegation who has been feasting at the trough.  You might remember “favorite son of the tax cutting tea party group”, Sen. George Maziarz.  He spent $906,831 of your dollars on staff expenditures between April 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009.  #1 toxic asset indeed…

While 19 of the top 20 spenders on the list are Republicans (undercutting their current demands to cut spending and transfer power back to them), our local Democratic State Senators finished about middle of the pack on expenditures.  State Senator Bill Stachowski edged his way into the Top 40 with a total of $561,817 and State Senator Antoine Thompson finished at #44 and rising with a total of $548, 236.  I’m sure their numbers will be much higher in next year’s report after the Democrats transition into the majority with its higher allocations for staff expenditures.

In case you were thinking it was just the State Senate that has been chowing down on taxpayer dollars, our State Assembly members have been just as hungry.  Assy. Robin Schimminger finished as the sixth biggest spender in the State Assembly with a grand total of $290,919 spent on staff expenditures.  He finished just $2,000 behind everyone’s favorite bad government bogeyman, Shelly SilverAssy. Sam Hoyt comes in at 29th on the list with a total of $219, 435.

Is it really any wonder that our population drain continues unabated?

From 2000 to 2008, in both absolute and relative terms, New York experienced the nation’s largest loss of residents to other states—a net domestic migration outflow of over 1.5 million, or 8 percent of its population at the start of the decade.

It’s not just the cost or the taxes, it’s that people feel hopeless and disconnected from power.  Their senators and assembly representatives act with impunity and arrogance, no longer functioning as our representatives, doing the people’s work.  The only action many NY residents feel they have left at their disposal is to simply move to another state.

Each year we go to the polls, elect these same individuals and expect different results.  The problem is YOUR State Senator and YOUR State Assemblyperson.  It’s not the “other guy” or those “vampires legislators downstate”, it’s your representative.  Don’t be fooled when your Senator or Assemblyperson shows up with a four foot check for your volunteer fire department, they’re buying you.  They’re spending a truckload of money to do very little in Albany and the dole out fat lists of member items in order to stay in office.  If there is a viable primary opponent this year, donate to him/her.  Support that candidate with your time and effort, and then hold them accountable while they are in Albany.

The only way things will change is if we make them change.

We deserve better.

11 Responses to “The Cost of Bad Government”

  1. Ethan February 9, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    can i get an “amen, brother!”

  2. Mark February 9, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

    How is helping to fund the local fire department “buying me”? Bringing funds and projects to their district is part of a representative’s job. Am I supposed to vote against Jim Hayes because he got $5000 for the Amherst Symphony Orchestra? (I’m not going to vote for Jim Hayes anyway, but that’s not the point.) Or is your position that these things should be funded as a line item in the regular budget, instead of being member items?

  3. jen February 9, 2010 at 2:57 pm #

    “It’s not just the cost or the taxes, it’s that people feel hopeless and disconnected from power.”

    Amen to that.

  4. lulu February 9, 2010 at 3:20 pm #

    Just wanted you to know that when I drag my mouse over your name in the headline of your page that information about the congressman in NJ comes up.

    Also, thanks for the great links about wasteful spending in NYS.

  5. Christopher Smith February 9, 2010 at 3:20 pm #

    @Mark, the point being that the manner in which member items are funded is not a transparent process nor is it specifically based on need. It is largely a political payment system in exchange for votes and support.

    Dale Volker may show up with that $4K check for your local volunteer firemen, but he has systematically robbed this community of opportunities for growth 35 years of bad governance. It’s not a fair trade.

    The checks serve as the means to define his existence, as the connection to Albany power, as the payoff for our obscene tax rates and general disconnect from power. The check is not just a check, it’s sleight of hand to redirect you from the massive pile of FAIL he creates each session.

  6. lulu February 9, 2010 at 3:22 pm #

    OK – now it appears to be some foreign consul attorney – What gives? Am I not getting some joke here?

  7. Christopher Smith February 9, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    @lulu not sure, looks like a plugin gone awry

  8. Pete @ BS February 9, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

    Chris, there is a certain irony to the fact that the search function makes you a GOP Congressman from Jersey.

  9. Patrick Klinck February 11, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    “It’s not just the cost or the taxes, it’s that people feel hopeless and disconnected from power. Their senators and assembly representatives act with impunity and arrogance, no longer functioning as our representatives, doing the people’s work. The only action many NY residents feel they have left at their disposal is to simply move to another state.”

    The hypocrisy of our political leaders makes me want to puke, too, but where do you get this information about emigrants’ reasons for leaving New York? It’s regarded as the conventional wisdom, I know, but, really, is there any empirical data to back it up? How many people leave just b/c it’s so freakin’ cold or the Bills keep stinking or California really just is better all ’round? I’m not saying the factors you cite here are invalid, I’d just like to have see some numbers backing them up.

  10. tim February 13, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    I for one am shocked that those who live the furthest away from albany would have the largest travel costs

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Politics: Worth Reforming? | WNYmedia.net - February 9, 2010

    […] of the bore-inducing disposition of local politics, we get establishment incumbent do-nothings like Dale Volker continuously re-elected without so much as a pathetic whimper. If enough regular people (those with […]

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