Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Bazzomanifesto Update 04/01/15: 14 Topics In Today's blog


1) 12 Grapes: 7 YEARS! Help us celebrate all week long.

2) Is Your Kid Graduating College With A Marketable Degree?

3) Media Alert: Thursday, April 2, 2015, 3pm Galef Announces Rescheduled Press Conference Opposing FERC Decision on AIM Pipeline Expansion

4) Vanity License PL8s Day - Wednesday, April 1st

5) [New announcement] CampaignTech East - April 21-22. Register today!

6) ICYMI: City & State - Doubts About Schneiderman's Deal

7) Astorino: Statement on New York State Budget

8) Statement from Ed Cox on Cuomo's Indiana travel ban

9) STATEMENT] Senator Murphy's first on-time budget


11) No joke: Indiana law modeled on Chuck Schumer's work

12) Galef Honors National Donate Life Month

13) Lalor: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in the NY Budget

14) Galef Announces Fifth in a Row On-Time State Budget

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A little bit of SoHo in historic downtown Peekskill    

 Event Calendar                    News/Reviews               914-737-6624
A wonderful spread!
A great price! 
brunch buffetReservations still available. 
7th Anniversary Celebration!
Wed April 1, 8:00 - 10:00
Mike Milazzo
Ladies Night "Unplugged"
 Mike is an accomplished singer and guitarist who blends Rock, Folk, Country, and Blues into a distinctive Americana sound. Mike is a captivating performer and will have you smiling, laughing and dancing! He plays songs from Muddy Waters to Johnny Cash to the Beatles and more. 
Ladies Night specials: $6 wines, $6 martinis, 1/2 priced apps. 
No Cover.
Thu April 2, 8:30 - 11:00
"Sessions" w/ 
JP Patrick & Friends
You never know what MAGIC may happen at one of JP's Sessions, but you will never be disappointed in the calibre of the music. he band explores the musical territory of Blues, R&B, Funk and Jazz. 
Tonight features JP on lead vocals, Blues harp & alto sax, Dave McDowell on sax/flute, Hank DeCora on guitar, Chris Burke on keys, Linda Geiger on drums and Paul Bisbano on bass. No Cover.
click arrow to listen
SugarBad EP Release
"One of the most exciting Soul and Funk bands to come out of Brooklyn in recent memory." 
SugarBad has just released "Up in the Clouds", a 6-song EP. We're honored to be part of their release tour and that they're here to celebrate OUR big milestone. SugarBad has all the intensity of a Rock band, featuring anthemic vocals and horns, a powerful rhythm section, funky guitar and organ-based grooves. 
$10 Cover or $5 with dinner.

Sat April 4, 9:30 - 12:30
click arrow to listen
Johnny Feds & Friends
Johnny Feds was the first band who ever performed for us, and it wouldn't be a 12 Grapes Party without Johnny & the boys! Come out for some great, smokin' hot Blues, and dance the night away! Johnny is joined tonight by John "Elmo" Lawson on bass, Chris Burke on keys, Paul Undersinger on drums and JP Patrick on lead vocals and Blues sax/harp. plus some very special guests
$10 Cover or $5 with dinner.

NEXT WEEK: Wed April 8
Ladies Night "Unplugged"
It's always an honor to have KJ Denhert on our stage. 
KJ is a singer/songwriter of international acclaim. KJ's special blend of "Urban Folk & Jazz" has earned her 4 Independent Music Award nominations and in '09, she was named one of's top female vocalists. KJ has been described as "A crowd pleaser whose music is impossible to classify, but very easy to enjoy." 
 Thu April 9,
 Open Mic
Drew Bordeaux
STAX of Soul
Swing Band

Please feel free to share or publish this blog post I just added to - see below.

Thanks, Jim

Jim Maisano
O 914-636-1621
C 914-469-5486

Jim Maisano posted: "Earlier this year, I noticed a brief article, Look to Smartphones for Unemployment Solutions, in the New York Post business section, and it has popped back into my mind several times since then, so I thought it should be shared:"
Respond to this post by replying above this line

New post on Free Voter Blog

Is Your Kid Graduating College With A Marketable Degree?

by Jim Maisano this year, I noticed a brief article, Look to Smartphones for Unemployment Solutions, in the New York Post business section, and it has popped back into my mind several times since then, so I thought it should be shared:
The premise of the article is that about half the students graduating college are unemployed, despite the fact that many companies cannot find adequate job candidates with the necessary technical skills for the modern marketplace. I find this remarkable - why don't young people leaving college have marketable degrees, especially ones that reflect the education necessary to perform available technical jobs? What are these "hot" technical jobs with nice starting salaries? The article cites mobile data engineers, wireless network engineers and mobile app developers for tablets and smartphones. According to the article, 3.5 million technical jobs go unfilled. A tech executive stated that once promising technical candidates are identified, firms "need to hire quickly and be prepared to extend compensations and benefits packages that beat what competing firms are willing to offer.”
It certainly troubles me that kids are graduating with massive debt, in particular from private colleges with huge tuitions, and yet, they leave college with degrees that don't allow them to qualify for the actual jobs available. Why aren't colleges training kids properly for real world jobs? What an incredible disconnect between colleges and economic realities. I'm glad my son is only in eighth grade - we have time for research to ensure his major lands him a good job when he graduates college in 2023!
Jim Maisano
(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator).

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On Monday, March 30, 2015 3:24 PM, Sandra Galef wrote:
Media Alert: Thursday, April 2, 2015, 3pm Galef Announces Rescheduled Press Conference Opposing FERC Decision on AIM Pipeline Expansion

Galef will join the Town of Cortlandt's Supervisor Linda Puglisi and other
elected officials to oppose the recent decision that will allow Spectra to
run a 42" gas pipeline near critical infrastructure at Indian Point.
On Monday, March 30, 2015 3:43 PM, Catherine Borgia wrote:

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On Tuesday, March 31, 2015 9:39 AM, Campaigns & Elections wrote:

T-minus three weeks until the leading practitioners of digital campaigning converge at CampaignTech East to share their unmatched campaign-winning experience!

At CampaignTech East, our priorities are simple:

-Focus on the technologies that really matter and explain how to get the most out of them.

COME JOIN US in Washington, DC April 21-22 and immerse yourself in what really works. From the very latest tech like self-serve digital ad platforms to 'old tech' like email fundraising, we get down to what counts:

-Is it right for YOUR campaign?
-How to get the MOST out of it
-How to spend only what you NEED to

Winning campaigns use winning tech strategies. Be one of them.

Check out the full agenda & register here:

CampaignTech East is April 21-22 in Washington, DC at the FHI360 Conference Center.
Campaigns & Elections
Announcement in Campaigns & Elections
CampaignTech East - April 21-22. Register today!
Shane Greer
Starter, builder, fixer of all things publishing. Excited by the industry's future and obsessed with digital
T-minus three weeks until the leading practitioners of digital campaigning converge at CampaignTech East to share their unmatched campaign-winning experience!

At CampaignTech East, our priorities are simple:

-Focus on the technologies that really matter and explain how to get the most out of them.

COME JOIN US in Washington, DC April 21-22 and immerse yourself in what really works. From the very latest tech like self-serve digital ad platforms to 'old tech' like email fundraising, we get down to what counts:

-Is it right for YOUR campaign?
-How to get the MOST out of it
-How to spend only what you NEED to

Winning campaigns use winning tech strategies. Be one of them.

Check out the full agenda & register here:

CampaignTech East is April 21-22 in Washington, DC at the FHI360 Conference Center.


March 31, 2015
Check out this piece that hit in City & State last weekend:

Eric Schneiderman has been talking a big game about corruption lately, but he hasn't walked the walk over the last four years.

Now, he's refusing to answer important questions about whether his office went easy on insurance scammer William Rapfogel, considering Rapfogel's wife was, and still is, Sheldon Silver's chief of staff.

Doubts About Schneiderman's Deal

Were the financial terms too kind to William Rapfogel and the Met Council on Jewish Poverty?

By Wayne Barrett
City & State

During his re-election campaign last year, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman frequently singled out the William Rapfogel case as the top public corruption prosecution of his first term. It was an odd claim since neither Rapfogel nor his three co-defendants in a $9 million insurance scam were public officials. No one, however, could dispute the significance of the case.

Schneiderman's staff handled the kickback charges with a professional efficiency, piecing together damning evidence and forcing a guilty plea. But the terms of the plea agreement raise questions that Schneiderman does not want to talk about: He refused to discuss the matter with City & State and declined to allow the assistants who prosecuted the case to answer even written inquiries. Elizabeth DeBold, one of his press aides, did offer some answers in email exchanges. But when the answers provoked more questions, DeBold at first said she'd answer them and then declined to respond to any.

The plea agreement called for 3 1/3 to 10 years in prison and a $3 million restitution payment to the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, the nonprofit Rapfogel headed for decades. Indicted for grand larceny, money laundering, tax fraud and other charges, Rapfogel had been facing 8 ½ to 25 years on the larceny count alone. The agreement also provided that Rapfogel's sentence would rise to 4 to 12 years if he failed to pay the full restitution by his July 16 sentencing date. That date was postponed by a week when he came up $600,000 short, but Rapfogel met the second deadline and avoided the longer sentence.

The prison sentence is not what is troubling about the deal. Paul Shectman, one of Rapfogel's attorneys, called it "harsh" in a City & State interview. He also said that Schneiderman didn't give Rapfogel "any special favor." Another Rapfogel lawyer, Alan Vinegrad, said any suggestion that Schneiderman had gone easy on Rapfogel was "a joke." Neither, however, would discuss the restitution arrangement, which was the only issue City & State raised with them about the plea.

Rapfogel, who is in Wallkill medium security prison until at least December 2016 (when he gets his first parole hearing), was not compelled to forfeit from his own pocket the equivalent of the $3 million he stole. He instead raised the bulk of the restitution from supporters who gave to a fund whose donors remain shrouded in secrecy. Shectman and Vinegrad refused to say anything about where these contributions came from, how they were collected or what percent of the total was anonymously donated.

Since Sheldon Silver was still Speaker of the Assembly when the restitution was solicited (he has since been indicted on corruption charges and stepped down) and Rapfogel's wife Judy was, and still is, Silver's chief of staff, good-government crusader Schneiderman surely must have understood that contributors to the fund might be seeking favor with two of the most powerful people in Albany. In fact, had Rapfogel been unable to raise much of the millions from supporters, he and his wife might have lost their valuable Grand Street co-op, their modest Monticello cottage or other assets, surely making the effort to collect these undisclosed donations a family imperative.

Schneiderman's restitution remedy actually opened the door to the kind of insider horsetrading that the Attorney General has long condemned and that still dominates the state capital. The Rapfogel fund is so insulated from oversight that Schneiderman's office claims it has no documents related to it and did not answer numerous questions about it-such as whether the prosecutor had the power to require disclosure of donors. (A top former state prosecutor says he did).

The office could have attempted to collect the full restitution by seizing Rapfogel's assets or forcing him to sell them. Instead, all it did was secure what DeBold said was a "significant portion" of the $3 million from Rapfogel's "personal assets." At another point, she said it was "substantial," carefully chosen words that conceal more than clarify. She rejected our subsequent efforts to get her to estimate the percent attributable to these actions or to reveal what the assets were. Other sources said the forfeiture included 401ks and bank accounts.

Schneiderman's FOIL attorney says it has no records of these purported seizures, though it's hard to imagine how a law enforcement agency would take property without a paper trail.

The plea deal specifically barred Schneiderman from seizing Rapfogel's son's house, even though it was purchased with $350,000 in ill-gotten gains. The two homes Willie and Judy own, one reportedly renovated with stolen funds, remain untouched.

Neither DeBold nor Rapfogel's attorneys would answer questions about the taxes Rapfogel owed on 21 years of theft, and the plea agreement contains no language about how his tax liabilities are being handled. Despite all these loopholes, the restitution spared Rapfogel two-thirds of a year of possible jail time that would have otherwise been added to his sentence.

Keep reading here


On Tuesday, March 31, 2015 1:12 PM, County Executive Rob Astorino wrote:

Contact:  Bill O'Reilly, 212-396-9117                                FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Statement on New York State Budget by
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino
March 31, 2015

"A state budget that raises spending, lacks even minimal structural reform, and includes tax breaks for yacht sales makes me wince as a New Yorker. Clearly there is a disconnect between what middle class taxpayers are experiencing and how Albany sees things. Middle class families are voting with their feet in moving to more affordable states, while Albany continues to vote in favor of the loudest and best-heeled special interests. That's how we end up with the highest taxes in America and the worst business climate.
"This is a status-quo budget that will maintain New York's downward trajectory. We needed vision and bold reform.  We got busines as usual -- again.
"The goal should be crystal clear:  We should be working toward making New York the most competitive state in the Northeast -- instead of one of the least competitive states in America -- to attract jobs, increase revenue, and stabilize our population. That requires smart and systematic spending reductions and tax, mandate, and regulatory relief. It takes a comprehensive plan, not a mishmash of economic development gimmickry.
"More than 100,000 New Yorkers will leave the state this year in search of a better bargain elsewhere.  Sadly, there's nothing in this budget that will convince them to stay.  No game changing reforms, no mandate relief and no real attempt to get the types of costs down that would make the state more friendly to middle class families, seniors, and businesses.  It bears repeating that Florida, which recently surpassed New York in population has a state budget half the size of New York's.
"Governor Cuomo will cheer his on-time budget. But reform will come too late for millions of New Yorkers, including 60% of New Yorkers over age 50, now eying life elsewhere."


March 31, 2015
Statement from Ed Cox on Cuomo's Indiana travel ban
Contact: David Laska
ALBANY... NYGOP Chair Ed Cox today released the following statement after Andrew Cuomo banned non-essential state travel to Indiana:

"Now that Andrew Cuomo has banned travel to Indiana, he can cancel his upcoming trip to Cuba, where gay marriage is illegal, political dissidents are imprisoned and tortured, and the Castro regime is on the US State Sponsors of Terrorism list. Or he can admit that both moves are political stunts meant to bolster his national profile with no grounding in reality or substance."


On Tuesday, March 31, 2015 6:15 PM, Senator Terrence Murphy wrote:

CONTACT: Matthew Slater, 518-455-3111
ALBANY, NY - State Senator Terrence Murphy released the following statement on the passage of the 2015-16 New York State budget.
"In my first budget I've learned a lot about what it means to be your representative and I'm proud to have had a seat at the table to fight for the residents of my district and pass an on-time budget. 

"As the co-chairman of the Senate's Task Force on Opioid and Heroin Addiction, I am proud to announce the budget provides twelve million dollars in critical funding increases for opioid addiction prevention and treatment.  Included in that, is language which will finally allow school nurses to administer the lifesaving drug Narcan."

"We've provided two hundred million dollars for new clean water and sewer infrastructure and have increased funding for the environmental protection fund for the first time in years.  We've also provided $50 million more than the Governor proposed to fix our ailing roads and fight the war on potholes.  As for the reconstruction of the Tappan Zee Bridge, this budget provides a massive commitment of more than one billion dollars.

"For our schools, we have cut the Gap Elimination Adjustment in half and increased school funding on average by 5.9% on top of that.  On education reform, I joined my colleagues in rejecting the Governor's evaluation proposals for our teachers and shifted this responsibility to professionals at the State Education Department with the goal of reducing standardized testing and returning local control to our schools.

"Living within a self-imposed two percent cap isn't easy, but we also managed to protect the STAR program for property taxpayers. No budget is perfect, but at the end of the day, we have passed an on-time budget that lives within our means."


On Tuesday, March 31, 2015 9:46 PM, Assemblyman Steve Katz wrote:

Contact: Tara Keegan, 845-628-3781,
A statement by Assemblyman Steve Katz (R,C-Yorktown)
            Obsession with an on-time budget trumps legislators' responsibility to read, understand and report to our constituents about the budget and all its $142.5 billion parts before we vote on it. We will see the majority of the budget a few hours before we vote. I can't think of anything more bizarre and irresponsible than feeding this governor's obsession at the taxpayers' expense. Oh, by the way, we've been told that there is not one tax cut or any relief at all for small businesses and middle class taxpayers in this budget.

April 1, 2015
This is not an April Fool's Day gag: The controversial new law in Indiana was modeled after a 1993 law signed by Bill Clinton and sponsored by New York's own Chuck Schumer.

Schumer took to Facebook yesterday (there must not have been any cameras around) to argue against the comparison.  As this great piece in today's Daily News describes, Schumer's argument is laughably weak.

Schumer made two points: first, that the 1993 law differs from the Indiana law because it contains language "to maximize the religious freedom of individuals, provided there's no compelling government interest against it."  There's one problem with that: both bills contain identical - not similar, identical - language giving deference to a "compelling government interest" that can override the measure.

Schumer's second point was that the 1993 law protects individuals, whereas Indiana's law protects individuals and corporations.  The problem with that?  Federal law already defines a "person" to include corporations.

If that doesn't get you laughing this April Fool's Day, nothing will.

Here's the Daily News piece:

Sen. Chuck Schumer does not want Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to drag him into religious freedom law debate by citing 1993 bill

By Dan Friedman
The New York Daily News
April 1, 2015

WASHINGTON - Sen. Chuck Schumer doesn't want Indiana Gov. Mike Pence pulling him into the roiling debate over the state's controversial religious freedom law by citing its basis in a 1993 law Schumer sponsored.


Schumer took the unusual step of rebutting the comparison in a Facebook post and at a news conference.
He said his bill differs from Pence's for two reasons.
The 1993 bill aimed "to maximize the religious freedom of individuals, provided there's no compelling government interest against it," Schumer said Tuesday.
Schumer's bill was written in a response to a Supreme Court ruling denying unemployment benefits to two Native Americans fired for testing positive for a hallucinogenic drug they used in religious ceremonies.
The senator says that motive makes it different from a bill "used to justify discrimination against gays and lesbians."
Schumer also said his bill protected only individuals, while Indiana also includes corporations.
Douglas Laycock, University of Virginia law professor who consulted on the 1993 bill and supports the Indiana measure, called those distinctions insignificant.
"I greatly admire Senator Schumer, but he is just hiding from the hysteria," Laycock said.
Laycock noted that the federal law and the Indiana measure include identical language giving deference to a "compelling government interest" that can override the measure.
"That part is not just substantially identical; it is word-for-word identical," Laycock said.
And while the Indiana bill defines "a person" protected to include corporations, unlike the federal bill, that difference is illusory because federal law already defines a person to include a corporation, Laycock said.
Read the full piece at


On Wednesday, April 1, 2015 10:33 AM, Sandy Galef wrote: April 1, 2015

To the Editor:

In honor of NYS National Donate Life Month, I would like to call your
attention to the more than 10,000 people who are waiting for organ
transplants in New York State and that April is National Donate Life Month.
According to LiveOnNY, a new person is added to the New York State organ
transplant list every two and a half hours. More importantly, not only can
one registered donor save up to eight lives, that same donor can help
improve the lives of 50 others.[1]

Each April, we recognize National Donate Life Month to raise awareness and
promote the importance of organ donation so that our state can move up on
the ladder of states with the highest donor registry.  New York State adults
register themselves as organ and tissue donors at less than half the rate of
adults nationwide.  Only 22 percent of New Yorkers age 18 and over are
registered but the need for lifesaving organs in New York State is among the
highest in the country.  We need to help get the word out to save New
Yorkers' lives.  I urge New Yorkers to visit to learn how
easy it is to register to become a donor.

More information on the benefits of organ donation can be gained by watching
my cable television show, "Speak Out-Long Live New York through Organ
Donation" tonight and on April 8th when I speak with Helen Irving, President
and CEO of LiveOnNY and Roxanne Watson, a heart transplant recipient.
Irving reaches out to viewers to dispel many myths about organ donation and
describes a special duality: not only may an organ donor live on through his
or her recipients, but the recipients have a chance to live on as well. 

For more information or to receive a copy of the cable show please contact
my office at 914-941-1111 or email me at


Sandy Galef

NYS Assemblywoman - 95th AD

(914) 450-4086

(518) 455-5348

On Wednesday, April 1, 2015 11:25 AM, Chris Covucci wrote:

Trouble viewing this email? Read it online
Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor 
For Immediate ReleaseApril 1, 2015
Contact: Chris Covucci - (845) 309-2654
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in the NY Budget

Statement on 2015-16 Budget from Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor (R,C,I - East Fishkill)
"In five years, Governor Cuomo has increased an already bloated budget by 10%. That’s $14 billion more this year than just five years ago. Florida has a larger population and half the state budget. How can we compete with that if we don’t get spending under control? This budget doesn’t do anything to make New York more job-friendly or stop the exodus of New Yorkers to other states. There are a few good things in this budget, many bad things and some downright ugly aspects. Consequently, I voted against the budget bills."
"Those who vote “yes” on a budget are saying this is the best we can do. Voting against a budget is not voting against the positive aspects of the budget. Rather a “no” vote on a budget is a statement that we can do better. I have no doubt that we can do better."
Fixing Albany’s STAR Program Mistake
"In 2013, a number of people who bought homes between about July and November made an understandable and innocent mistake with their STAR applications and ended up without STAR for the next year. The mistake was caused by New York State not properly explaining to new homeowners new requirements. Earlier this year, I introduced a bill that would offer a rebate to these homeowners who lost their STAR exemption because of the State’s mistake. The budget includes that rebate."

Pension Forfeiture for Crooked Politicians"Finally, Albany is introducing a constitutional amendment that would forfeit state pensions for politicians convicted of corruption. But, we will need to pass the amendment again in 2017 and only then will it go to voters for their approval in 2018. In the meantime, I have introduced legislation that would require pension forfeiture as part of any plea deal offered to a politician charged with corruption. We don’t need a constitutional amendment to make that happen. We should move forward with this bill now."

No “Green” Giveaway to Billionaire Donor
"We had a glimmer of hope on the crony capitalism front from the budget. The Senate dropped its attempted giveaway to billionaire donor John Catsimatidis. This would have cost New Yorkers tens of millions of dollars. Catsimatidis was lobbying for a regulation that would mandate a biofeul his company makes. He stood to reap a windfall through his new biofuel production plant. The plan would have added $150 million to the cost of heating oil across New York."

Corporate Welfare and Pork
"Once again, the budget is laden with corporate welfare and pork barrel projects.   Cuomo’s own tax commission acknowledged that the Hollywood tax subsidies don’t work. Still we are giving millions to film production and have expanded it to the music and video game industries to the tune of $470 mil. per year. The Assembly sponsor admitted in debate that no cost-benefit analysis was done before we handed out another $50 million in tax credits to the music and video game industry.We already spend five times more on corporate welfare than any other state, still our unemployment rate is above the national average and our growth rate lags behind the rest of the country.  More corporate welfare isn’t going to get New York’s economy moving. Small businesses need relief, but Cuomo’s budget has them subsidizing his corporate cronies and glamorous industries."

No Tax Relief
"There’s no sign of tax relief for ordinary New Yorkers. Yacht owners will get a hefty sales tax cut for their luxury purchases, but the rest of New York is still left with the huge tax bill. New Yorkers pay the highest taxes in the nation. Families are drowning in all of the taxes and fees. This budget doesn’t offer desperately needed tax relief."

No Mandate Relief
"Four and a half months ago, just before Election Day, every politician in Albany was talking about mandate relief. Now, there’s no mandate relief in the budget. Once the election was over, it was back to business as usual for Albany. Unfunded mandates are the driving force behind high property taxes. We need to prove that mandate relief isn’t just election year talk."

No Veterans Equality Act
"Governor Cuomo waited until after Election Day last year to veto the Veterans Equality Act. It had been passed with nearly unanimous support, but Cuomo claimed he vetoed the bill because it should have been in the budget. He wasn’t being straight with us. The governor didn’t include the Veterans Equality Act in his own budget proposal and it isn’t in the final budget. We should have honored our veterans with this bill."

Weak Ethics Reform
"We heard a lot of big talk from Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders on ethics reform, but, once again, they didn’t deliver. We don’t have term limits, though a supermajority of New Yorkers want them. We didn’t even get term limits for legislative leaders. The LLC fundraising loophole remains in place. The per diem reform is tepid at best, with no requirement for receipts. Legislators can still exploit the system to pay their mortgages or pocket the balance of the $172 per day they don't spend. In the wake of the indictment of former speaker Sheldon Silver, we missed an historic opportunity to fundamentally change Albany."

No Fixes to Crushing Medicaid Spending
"Medicaid eats up a quarter of the budget. New York is one of the few states that gives Medicaid to non-citizens, which costs twice as much as providing Medicaid for citizens because the federal government doesn't provide a dollar-for-dollar match for non-citizens. New York's Medicaid program costs more than Florida and Texas combined. Meanwhile, when middle-class New Yorkers who have paid into the system their whole lives have major health issues, New York tells them to take a walk because they own a home or managed to save a few bucks over the years. A budget that doesn't address Medicaid is, by definition, inadequate."

"The education budget bill is called the Education Transformation Act of 2015, but it transforms nothing. It is an abdication of responsibility by the Legislature. The budget empowers the unelected Board of Regents and the interim Education Commissioner to determine the controversial teacher’s evaluation system. The decision over whether so much emphasis should be put on standardized tests was also outsourced to the Board of Regents, rather than by elected representatives who, like me, overwhelmingly oppose the hyper-focus on standardized tests. While every institution in all fields should strive to improve, most schools in our state are performing. The teachers and public schools in my district are quite good. Still this budget’s one-size-fits-all approach holds up education funding increases for good schools until the districts jump through hoops because schools in other parts of the state have problems. This doesn’t make sense. This budget also misses the opportunity to incentivize, through a tax credit, charitable contributions of $50 million per year to public schools and $50 million per year to parochial schools and other non-public schools."

"Finally, a quarter of the budget is dedicated to education. Education is possibly the most important aspect of the state budget. Yet the material education portions of the budget were released yesterday, debated and voted on last night with almost no opportunity for lawmakers to speak with education officials in our districts or consult with other experts. This is no way to make decisions and it is an affront to democracy."

"Again Albany is throwing good money at bad policies with funding for the SAFE Act, which punishes the law-abiding gun owner and does nothing to get guns out of the hands of criminals. I continue to support full repeal of the SAFE Act and oppose funding the instrumentalities of SAFE Act enforcement and registration."

Legislative Pay Raise Commission"The budget authorizes a panel to give legislative pay raises so legislators won’t have to risk an ugly vote to give themselves more money. It takes away accountability and transparency and it’s constitutionally dubious."
Deeply-Flawed Process
"A budget that is decided by four men behind closed doors is a disservice to the public. There is not one voice in the budget room from north of White Plains. How can this process possibly represent New York? At a minimum, the Senate and Assembly minority leaders should be included in the budget process to increase transparency."
"Worse, Governor Cuomo used a message of necessity, overriding the state constitutional provision that requires three days for legislators to review bills. The budget rams through billions of dollars in spending without adequate time to review it, speak with constituents or get input from experts."

Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor, a former teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes in Poughkeepsie, is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel. Lalor is of counsel to the law firm Gaines, Novick, Ponzini, Cossu & Venditti. He is a graduate of John Jay High School, Providence College and Pace Law School and lives in Fishkill with his wife Mary Jo and their four young children Katie, Riley, Mikey and Kieran Jr..

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