Wednesday, December 31, 2008

DiNapoli Budget Review

Comptroller and former New York State Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli reviewed Paterson's budget. The result? We're still going to be spending more in 2009-2010 than we did previously in spite of his arbitrary cuts and in spite of all the tax increases to increase revenue. You can read the entire text of the review here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

NY For Growth - Budget Edition

Here's a message from New Yorkers for Growth which I recently received via email -
New Yorkers Bleed Red Ink Under Special Interest Tax Hike Proposal

Using television ads, websites and press releases, Albany's biggest spenders are pushing a plan to spend even more than the 1.7 percent increase in Governor Paterson's budget proposal - and they want to pay for it with a new tax increase in a recession economy.

Using familiar scare tactics, the spending proponents argue that the Governor's budget does not allocate enough to education and healthcare - ironically, the two areas where the state spends the most. They're calling their plan the 'Fair Share Tax Reform,' but it's really nothing more than an income tax increase.

Like you, we know that simply throwing money at the system doesn't transcend into better results.

Consider this: New York's per-capita Medicaid spending is more than double the national average; and, we have the highest per pupil education spending in the country - yielding mediocre performance scores.

New Yorkers Already Pay the Most

According to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research organization based in Washington, D.C., New York already has the second highest state and local tax burden in the nation and has consistently ranked first or second highest since 1977. You can find more facts about New York's excessive tax burden at:
http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/topic/46.html.
It's true. Paterson's budget is not the answer and instead of figuring out how to streamline our budget and cut spending in a meaningful way, we will continue on the path we've been on for decades wasting money and increasing taxes. I await the budget analysis from our Comptroller.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Quick News Blurbs

Before I take a Christmas sabatical from blogging, here's a quick news update for those following the State Legislature.

The NY Post is reporting that Senator-Elect Monserrate slashed his girlfriend in a jealous rage over finding another man's business card in her purse. She's trying to get the charges dropped, but they're still going through with them at the moment. Also, Malcolm Smith confirmed that he dropped by to see and show support for Monserrate when he was in jail.

Currently two Republican State Senators are trying to prevent Monserrate from taking the oath of office and serving due to the severity of the charges laid against him. The resolution was initially submitted by Senator Martin Golden (R-22) and was co-sponsored the following day by Senator Cathy Young (R-57). If the resolution passes, Monserrate would not be able to hold office until there is closure on the pending case against him.

The Working Families Party is working against the "Gang of Three," currently working to get petitions signed by Democrats in Espada and Diaz's districts in order to try to coerce them into siding with Malcolm Smith in the Senate leadership dispute. The WFP hopes that by shaming them into noticing that their district Democrats want them to support Smith, that they'll do it. From what we know of the two of them, that doesn't seem plausible.

Here's some statements on Governor Paterson's Budget by two conservative Assembly Republicans, (both profiled here at Red Albany in the past).
“This is ongoing disingenuous argument that ever statewide elected official ever makes...We’re not going to raise taxes which means we are not going to raise the income tax, but in the meantime, we are going to nickel and dime everybody to death. In the end, they are still dead. And that’s the problem, that the budget is sort of the death by a thousand cuts here...it is not a genuine discussion to success that we didn’t raise the income tax, but we got everybody else doing everything else. And that’s what this budget does.”
-Assemblyman Marc Molinaro (R)

"We taxed our way into this hole; we cannot tax our way out...We have to stop digging and get our addiction to spending in line. Folks are going to have to feel the pain at all levels, but it has to be equal and there should be no tax increases."
-Assemblyman Greg Ball (R)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monserrate Arrested on Assault Charges

State Senator-Elect Hiram Monserrate, a former New York City Council member, was arrested on Friday for potentially stabbing his girlfriend in the face with broken glass. After the incident, instead of taking his bleeding girlfriend to the closest hospital, approximately five blocks from his apartment, he drove her twelve miles to the Long Island Jewish medical Center in Nassau County. According to prosecuters, his girlfriend, Ms. Karla Giraldo, is the one who told police that he cut her with the chunk of broken glass but later asked that he not be arrested. He is claiming to prosecurters that he tripped and the hunk of glass went into her face. Giraldo is currently not cooperating with prosecuters. He's currently out on $5,000 bail. A random purported relative of Giraldo claims that he heard that she said that State Senator-Elect Monerrate is innocent of the purported charges. If convicted, Monserrate would be removed from office automatically. While on the City Council, Monserrate was an active supporter of legislation pertaining to the rights of the victims of domestic violence. This makes his arrest all the more ironic.

For the record, Monserrate ran unopposed this November for State Senate. Also, in May authorities were investigating whether an agency that Monserrate helped get hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to support illegally helped his campaign.

For the Record - Seminerio

Indicted Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D) ran with no Republican opponent in 2008.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The iPod Tax?

Patrick Ruffini, one of the founders of The Next Right, wrote about the so-called iPod tax that Paterson is proposing and about how Republicans can win using this and other ridiculous proposals from the likes of liberals like Paterson as rallying points. He's right. Check out the article here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Crazy 88

Paterson has just provided New Yorkers with 88 new reasons to vote for a Republican Governor in 2010. Here's a list - iTunes sales tax, 18% soda sales tax, doubled beer/wine sales tax, removal of clothing tax exemption, sales tax on hair cuts, sales tax on satellite radio, increased cigar tax, tax on fitness clubs, movie ticket sales tax, taxi and bus sales tax, and all around higher government fees. Newsday has a nice rundown on the new fees and taxes. All in all, nearly $6 billion in new taxes and fees. If I ever saw a rallying cry for Conservatives and Republicans, this is it. Assembly Minority Leader Tedisco and Senate Republican Leader Skelos have each made their own public statements opposing the proposed new fees. I stand here with them. Republicans in New York need to use this as a call to arms.

There are ways to deal with budget shortfalls that don't force more New Yorkers to lose their entire paycheck paying taxes to the state. What of the citizens of New York City who rely on public transportation and taxis to get around? What of the people who want to overcome obesity (that the soda tax is supposed to be fighting)? Why penalize them as they now have to pay new gym fees? Paterson needs to reexamine this budget and, if it passes, the CPNYS and the NYGOP owe it to themselves to battle this tooth and nail. These fees and taxes are the types of things that have been driving out New Yorkers for years. Truthfully, I hope there are fiscally reasonable individuals out there who are ready to fight this and help find new ways to cut the fat/remove the fees.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Flip4.org

MR Newman (me) from Red Albany is joining forces with Flip4.org. I'll be focusing in on discussions pertaining to the unique situation of the NY State Senate. In 2010, if four seats change hands to the GOP, the GOP regains control and this will be crucial during the coming redistribution of Congressional seats. Check out the site and feel free to sign up to learn more about them.

Monday, December 15, 2008

2009 Budget Previews

The NY Daily News is reporting that based on the unveiling of Paterson's FY 2009 budget, New Yorkers are going to see a 15% obesity tax on drinks that aren't water, juice, diet soda, or milk; a return of the sales tax on clothing and shoes; a 3% cut in education spending; tuition hikes at SUNY and CUNY ($620 and $600 per year respectively); approximately $3.5 billion in health care cuts; a proposed lifting of the gas tax increase cap; and a 30% increase in 30% welfare funding over the next three years. The health care cuts come on the heels of a Paterson proposal to eliminate fingerprint and face-to-face interview requirements for access to Medicaid.

So, Paterson plans to make it easier to get access to and easier to defraud Medicaid, but plans to decrease funding as Medicaid is a part of the healthcare spending drop. It shows where the priorities are of the Governor when he wants to cut education spending while increasing the welfare rolls. Does Governor Paterson not realize that with a better education people will be able to get better jobs and therefore the welfare rolls will, in turn, decrease? I understand 100% having to make spending cuts in a bad financial crisis - but perhaps learning where cuts are most reasonable (arts, legislative salaries/pensions) and where reforms are most needed (welfare, Medicaid).

In 2009 and 2010, New Yorkers can expect higher gas, clothing, beverage prices along with increased fraud in the Medicaid system and a weakened education system that will continue the drop from recent years. Thanks Governor Paterson.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Assemblyman Seminerio Indicted

Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio, a socially conservative Queens Democrat from the 38th District, is being indicted on corruption charges. He is being charged with accepting over a million dollars worth of improper payments. The payments appear to have been laundered. The link includes the full text of the indictment from U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin's office.

Here's a quick background check on the indicted Assemblyman, for those interested - The 73 year old Assemblyman has been in the Assembly since 1979. Prior to that, he served as an executive board member representing the Corrections Officers Benevolent Association. Since his election, Seminerio has been a pro-life advocate and has endorsed such Republicans as George Pataki and Al D'Amato for statewide office in the past, putting him at odds with some of the Assembly Democrats. Then again, his fiscal record is considered strongly liberal with glowing endorsements from liberal leaning outfits. He would have been considered a mixed bag for Republican and Conservative voters in his district. Now, being indicted for $1 million in bribes, it's a no-brainer - vote for almost anyone else.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Senate Majority in Question?

The majority status of the NYS Senate is now in question and it's unclear who's going to be in the majority. The "Gang of Three" Senators and Democratic Caucus Leader Malcolm Smith...have changed their minds. Smith is no longer willing to compromise on certain social issues for the "Gang of Three" and Senator-Elect Espada claims that Smith did not fulfill his part of the bargain. Espada was going to be Majority Leader with Smith as President Pro-Temp. Espada said that the position was minimized by Smith, saying, "There was to be a partnership with the rest of the conference; that office would have a budget. As the week wore on there was no budget, there was no power, it was just a title. He was set to announce it today; it was an empty title. I was not going to make myself a party to that kind of fraud."

The goal of the "Gang of Three" was to have more Latinos in leadership roles, themselves specifically. That was part of their big deal, making sure Latinos are represented in the Senate in their misguided attempt to create racial quotas in leadership. I find the whole idea of racial quotas in the leadership roles demeaning, but Senator-Elect Espada apparently disagrees.

With the three "renegade" Senators unclear about their status - it's up to Dean Skelos and Malcolm Smith to unite their respective caucuses and figure out what to do. According to insiders, two Republicans contacted Smith saying they'd consider supporting him for leader of the Senate. By the end of the week, it's predicted that Espada and company will have met with the two caucuses and made some form of decision.

New Yorkers, be prepared for an agressive legislative session filled with arguments from within both caucuses.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bruno Fundraises for DiNapoli

Showing the colors that some of us expected, former State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno shies away from helping any potential Republican Comptroller challenger and helps fundraise for the appointed incumbent and former Democratic Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli. Bruno, who's currently being investigated by the FBI which partially led to his stepping down from the State Senate, has been a fixture in New York State politics for over a decade. Bruno watched as the GOP Senate majority slipped away to the state it's in today. Hopefully, Dean Skelos will perform better in his duties at rebuilding the GOP Senate Majority instead of focusing only on how he can better keep power in his own hands.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tedisco on the Democratic Senate Majority

Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco in a bold statement begs the question, is the Democratic Senate Majority for sale. What does he mean? After the "Gang of Three" got their way, one of them being handed the Majority Leader Status, Tedisco asks if Malcolm Smith is just ready to cede to anyone who will help them retain majority status. Here's a quote -
"The in-coming Senate Democrat Majority talked a good game about reform, but when it came time to act, they went back to the standard Albany playbook. They cut the mother of all backroom deals to divvy up political power among themselves, anointing Senator Smith the new President Pro Tem. It looked like a bad episode of ‘Let’s Make a Deal..."
Following his comments, Tedisco offers some potential reform ideas which are worth examining.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Better Know Red Albany

Here's a repository of the ever popular Better Know Red Albany articles. This post will be updated to serve as a sort of "Table of Contents" for these articles.

Better Know Red Albany: James Tedisco

James Tedisco is the New York State Assembly Minority Leader representing the 110th Assembly District. Tedisco has served the Assembly since 1983. He was elected to Minority Leader by the Republican Assembly caucus unanimously in 2005. Prior to his public service through politics, Tedisco was a special education teacher, guidance counselor, and later served as the athletic director at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School in Schenectady.

In 1977, at 27 years old, Tedisco was elected to the Schenectady City Council, as the youngest person ever elected to that role. He was reelected four years later. In 1982, Tedisco decided to run for an open Assembly seat. Tedisco faced a four man Republican primary, and won. He went on to win the general election and has been reelected ever since. As a Freshman Assemblyman, Tedisco became the ranking Minority member of the Committee on Children and Families and Chairman of the Assembly Minority Task Force on Missing Children. He has been an advocate for missing children and has co-written a book on the topic in 1996.

His Minority leadership has been over only a few years and the Assembly minority has been pretty vocal. Opposing tax increases and helped lead the charge against Eliot Spitzer's failed attempt at granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Early this year, he led the Assembly Minority to prepare a comprehensive platform for themselves entited ReNew New York. The platform is divided into eight broader categories with specific pieces of legislation to help reform each area. I like to call it a Contract for New Yorkers As a conservative former New Yorker, I'm inspired and excited by the concept that the Assembly Republicans have put together. If the Assembly Republicans can get the people of New York to review their platform - I think they'll find some new voters.

Tedisco has been a solid voice for pragmatic conservative governance. He vocally opposed the illegal immigrant license fiasco, he publicly called for Spitzer to resign, he stood up for tax cuts and caps, and he has continuously led the charge to fight cronyism, as shown by his direction of his caucus to oppose the appointment of DiNapoli for Comptroller. Tedisco has worked for the public good for years and is becoming to the State Assembly what Newt Gingrich was to the House of Representatives.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Democratic Senate Majority, Officially

The "Gang of 3" who were holding out to see who offered them something better, have decided to join the Democratic Caucus in the New York State Senate and grant them the leadership. The catch? Each of them gets a prize and same-sex marriage is pulled off the table as the three of them are more socially conservative on this issue. Pedro Espada, who it is still unclear if he legally ran for office, will become the Senate Majority Leader. Malcolm Smith would become President Pro-Tem of the Senate, the first time these positions have been divided in a long time.

I'm glad Skelos didn't bend to make promises he should not have in order to recapture the majority -- but this loss is going to be huge. Red Albany wishes the Democrats the best of luck at fixing the massive budget crisis that they all had a part in helping create.

Commission on Property Tax Relief

Monday, the Commission on Property Tax Relief, led by the most conservative Democrat in New York, Tom Suozzi, released their report. It can be read here. It came out with 32 recommendations including -
School District consolidation
An annual property tax increase cap
Cost evaluation requirements on any new state mandate including the economic impact at both the state and local level
To be honest, Tom Suozzi was a better candidate than Eliot Spitzer in 2006. I think if he were in office, New York may be in a different place than it currently is. That said, the Commission's results are interesting and I await to see how the legislature actually copes with them.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Missing Candidates of 2008

In 2008, the Republican Party of New York failed to run candidates in 14.5% of State Senate races and 24.6% of State Assembly races. In 2010, this can not be the case. If the Republican Party of New York wants to be competitive, they can not merely allow the Democrats to control every seat or allow Democratic nominees to also capture the Republican line. They must have their own candidate in each and every race statewide and they must be competitive, they can not merely put up a sacrificial lamb. Drafting real candidates for each and every district is a goal of mine here at home and in New York. It must be done or else they will remain the minority party. Here is the breakdown -
Districts Without Republican Senate Candidates: Districts 10, 13, 14, 27, 30, 32, 33, 46, and 60

Districts Without Republican Assembly Candidates: Districts 6, 22, 24, 25, 27, 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 45, 58, 66, 79, 81, 84, 87, 89, 92, 94, 95, 98, 106, 111, 125, 126, 132, 133, 140, 141, and 150.
In 2010, this has to change.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New Yorkers for Growth

I've got to plug the group New Yorkers for Growth. Here's their mission statement --
New Yorker's for Growth (NYFG) is dedicated to the proposition that excessive taxes and government spending are driving jobs, people, and businesses out of New York State. NYFG will support candidates for the New York State Legislature who, regardless of party, favor and vote for 1) lower taxes, 2) reduced reliance upon debt, and 3) reform of State and local government spending practices. NYFG has registered a political committee with the New York State Board of Elections in order to make financial contributions to candidates.

Special-interest groups often wield a disproportionate share of political power in Albany because of their ability to finance political campaigns. NYFG seeks to level the playing field by providing financial assistance to those candidates who will stand up to special interests and favor the principle of fiscal responsibility towards all State taxpayers.

NYFG will make direct contributions to campaigns of selected candidates, and encourage its supporters to provide financial backing to these same candidates. NYFG will research candidate records and promises to ensure that its support is going to solely those candidates who support the above principles. Moreover, NYFG will keep its overhead low in order that the most funding possible is available to be directed towards all worthy candidates.
A fiscally conservative PAC that will promote good, small government state legislative candidates and which will actually work internally as fiscal conservatives in order to make sure there's more money for the candidates. I like the sound of that. Founding members of interest? Former Assembly Minority Leader and 2006 Gubernatorial candidate John Faso and Nixon Son-in-law and 2006 potential US Senate candidate Ed Cox. If you share their vision of a more fiscally responsible New York, I suggest checking them out and looking into their candidates, I know I will.