Tag Archives: spending

Pols Write “Guest Columns”

8 Apr

Pols like Senator Bill Stachowski.

Senator William Stachowski April Guest Column

The recent budget process was the most difficult I have experienced and one of the toughest in New York state history. As much as this budget is far from perfect and contains several items that I strongly disagree with, we did not have the luxury of voting for them separately.

The plain truth is that the 17 billion dollar deficit grows every day. If we did not approve this budget on time, the hole only grows deeper. Plus, as tough as this situation is, the rhetoric and bomb throwing that is taking place from the opposition and special interest groups only makes worse.

As the saying goes; you can’t believe everything you read and certainly not everything you hear. Name calling and hand wringing by talk show hosts and newspaper columnists sells ads and increase ratings, but they rarely deal with the cold hard truth. The truth is this; the catastrophic drop in Wall Street earnings meant a cut to state tax revenues by almost 25%. The result was a budget deficit not seen since the great depression. That meant new revenue streams had to be created and cuts had to be made. No one wants to pay more and no one wants to receive less, but the state cannot get out of a staggering multibillion dollar deficit without doing both.

Translation: Remember when you used to play SimCity? And you raised taxes and spent a lot? And your industries left town, commercial buildings became boarded up, and people started leaving in droves? Yeah, kinda like that:

#TCDOT 2

4 Apr

While the #TCDOT right is busy screaming about spending, consider that Bush Administration budgets omitted figures for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq completely. The Obama budget for FY 2010 is $3.5 trillion, including funding for the aforementioned wars. The last Bush budget for FY 2009 was $3.1 trillion, and did not include the cost of the wars.

Traditionally all 2009 spending would be included in the budget President Bush drafted in February 2008, but Bush chose to fund the war through emergency supplemental appropriations instead. He did not ask Congress for a 2009 supplemental appropriation before he left office, choosing instead to leave that to the next president. (President Obama asked for another $76 billion for the wars for fiscal 2009.)

And $326 billion of the stimulus package’s $787 billion was for tax cuts. Suck it, #TCDOTs.

Spending

2 Apr

According to the Empire Center for New York:

Calibrated to the Legislature’s estimate of $131.8 billion in “all funds” spending under the enacted budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year, the Empire Center’s “Spend-O-Meter” spins at the following rates:

$4,179 per second
$250,761 per minute
$15,045,662 per hour
$361,095,890 per day
$2,534,615,385 per week
$10,983,333,333 per month

The state motto “Excelsior” does not refer to “spending”.

The New York State Budget

31 Mar

Yesterday it was announced that Governor Paterson, Assembly Speaker Silver, and Senate Majority Leader Smith had reached an accord on a state budget. It raises spending while also raising taxes.

That is not the path that Albany should be going down. None of these alleged leaders has done a thing to change the three-men-in-a-room process. This would be completely within their power to do, and they know that public sentiment (among people who care or pay attention) is overwhelmingly in favor of rules changes.

From the Daily News:

Despite Paterson’s repeated warnings about the state’s fiscal crisis, total spending actually increases by $10.5 billion, or 8.7%, according to state leaders. The bulk of that, they say, is $7.2 billion in federal stimulus money that is required to be spent in the coming fiscal year.

The remainder includes $2 billion in spending cuts rejected by lawmakers as well as $1.3 billion in capital and debt service spending. Even without factoring in the stimulus money, state taxpayer-supported funding should grow by at least $800 million, Paterson’s office said.

Special interests and pet projects are well-represented. The people of the state of New York as a whole are not.

The proposed budget is as broken as the process that shat it out.

(Cartoon courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire.com)

Cars in the State Senate, Cars in the Assembly

18 Feb

It is true that with the transfer of Senate control from the Republicans to the Democrats, there’s been a transfer of cars from GOP leadership to the Dems. The Dems intend to get rid of the Brunomobile, but Bill Stachowski will get a 6 year-old Crown Vic. Via the Times Union.

That Ford, incidentally, is built in Ontario.

The Senate only issues 12 vehicles, including the Brunomobile. The Assembly, however, issues a whopping 16 vehicles to its membership. The difference there is that, although Democrats hold the majority, 12 of those cars go to minority Republicans.

James Tedisco, who is running for Kirstin Gillibrand’s vacated Congressional seat has been commuting 21 miles from his home to Albany in a taxpayer-funded, gas-reimbursed Buick Rainier. A reskinned, more “luxurious” version of the Chevy Trailblazer GMT360 platform.

Jim Hayes – the Williamsville Republican who is the epitome of fiscal prudence and conservatism? He drives from a dysfunctional WNY to a dysfunctional Albany in a spanking-new 2008 Chevy Impala.

How does one reconcile his endless demands for low taxes and low government spending with fleecing the taxpayers for a car that he is more than well able to afford?

I realize that the cost of an Impala or a Rainier or a Crown Vic is but a miniscule fraction of the total state budget. Those costs, however, are quite symbolic. When the state leadership tells us that there are tough times ahead, that taxes might go up while services might be cut, then every single piece of needless spending needs to be examined and eliminated.

Our pointless, clueless, and tone-deaf “representatives” in Albany, just about all of whom merely rubber-stamp what their corresponding “man in the room” has preordained, don’t need or deserve a taxpayer-funded car. They are well remunerated – in WNY they generally make well above their districts’ median salaries – and can well afford to use their own personal vehicle to shuttle back and forth to Albany and lobbyist-provided luncheons and cocktail parties.

The days of company cars are long gone, for the most part, unless someone’s on the road on a regular basis. These guys just happen to have a long commute that they chose to assume. Use your own damn car and just get reimbursed for your mileage. Don’t they already get a per diem for every day spent going to and being in Albany?

In tough economic times, in the midst of economic crisis, a taxpayer-funded car is the most glaring example of privilege and excess. Just ask Joel Giambra.

Dale Volker – You Look Like A Million Bucks

23 Oct

There is no conceivable, rational, logical reason why this do-nothing demagogue needs a million-dollar payroll all for himself.

Welcome to the New York State Legislature, which spends more than $200 million a year and employs more than 3,500 to serve the wants and needs of 212 members of the Senate and Assembly.

Put another way, the Legislature employs as many people as the City of Buffalo and the Town of Amherst combined. Cops, firefighters, trash collectors — the whole works.

“It’s a platinum-coated Legislature,” said Blair Horner, legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group.

Legislators spend more than one-third of their budget to staff and operate their offices. Seniority

and party affiliation drive how much a legislator gets.

The longer you serve, the more you spend. And if your party is in the majority, you get more than those in the minority.

As a result, Volker, the Depew Republican who has served in the Senate for 32 years, operates the costliest office of the 19 legislators who represent Western New York.

His office — including his salary and those of his staff, rent and telephone, and bulk mail that sometimes serves political purposes — cost taxpayers $922,137 in the last budget year, according to state documents.

Don’t forget to check out Heaney’s “story behind the story“. Nice, huh?

$150,000 Dressup

22 Oct

In the midst of a financial meltdown and bailout of Wall Street, it’s always heartening to learn that the Vice Presidential nominee’s wardrobe is getting covered by the Republican National Committee, and although Governor Palin rails daily against various and sundry elites, I’m pretty sure that getting a $150,000 wardrobe over the course of a month makes you – *gasp* – elite .

According to financial disclosure records, the accessorizing began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74.

The records also document a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September.

The RNC also spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup through September after reporting no such costs in August.

The cash expenditures immediately raised questions among campaign finance experts about their legality under the Federal Election Commission’s long-standing advisory opinions on using campaign cash to purchase items for personal use.

Evidently, they grow good clothes at Saks and Nieman Marcus.

The average American family spends $150k on clothes every 80 years. Joe Six-Pack probably shops the sale rack at Sears or Penney’s. Especially in this economy.

A review of similar records for the campaign of Democrat Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee turned up no similar spending.

But all the spending by other candidates pales in comparison to the GOP outlay for the Alaska governor whose expensive, designer outfits have been the topic of fashion pages and magazines.

What hasn’t been apparent is where the clothes came from – her closet back in Wasilla or from the campaign coffers in Washington.

The answer can be found inside the RNC’s September monthly financial disclosure report under “itemized coordinated expenditures.”

It’s a report that typically records expenses for direct mail, telephone calls and advertising. Those expenses do show up, but the report also has a new category of spending: “campaign accessories.”

September payments were also made to Barney’s New York ($789.72) and Bloomingdale’s New York ($5,102.71).

Macy’s in Minneapolis, another store fortunate enough to be situated in the Twin Cities that hosted last summer’s Republican National Convention, received three separate payments totaling $9,447.71.

The entries also show a few purchases at Pacifier, a top notch baby store, and Steiniauf & Stroller Inc., suggesting $295 was spent to accommodate the littlest Palin to join the campaign trail.

Barney’s and Bloomingdale’s? Saks and Neiman Marcus? Almost $10k at Macy’s? OMGOMG She’s just like us!

Big Spender Ranzenhofer

14 Oct

Heh. Especially paragraph 2.

State Senate Joe Mesi’s campaign said today that his Republican opponent Mike Ranzenhofer’s call for a “constitutional cap on spending” was not believable – and that Ranzenhofer’s love-fest with Long Island State Senator Dean Skelos proves it.

“When a career politician like Mike Ranzenhofer says he’s going to cut spending, it’s time to watch your wallet. Ranzenhofer was for big spending before he was against it. Mike Ranzenhofer was a County Legislator during the worst fiscal crisis in the history of Erie County. During that time, he voted for nearly $3 million in pork-barrel spending. Watch what politicians like Ranzenhofer do, not what they say,” said Emma Wolfe, Mesi’s campaign manager.

“And here’s more reason to worry: Mike Ranzenhofer has formed a close bond with his downstate patron Dean Skelos. The problem is that Skelos’s Republican majority has signed off on budget after budget with reckless spending increases. Skelos and Ranzenhofer together equals more of the same.”

“Among the State Senate candidates, only Joe Mesi has put forward a realistic plan to cut wasteful state spending and lower property taxes for working families,” Wolfe said.