Applause given to Goodell for his final legislative breakfast

OBSERVER Photo by Gregory Bacon Editor John D’Agostino, left, moderates the Chautauqua County Chamber’s State Legislative Breakfast Friday, where Assemblyman Andy Goodell, center, and state Sen. George Borrello answer questions from the audience.

MAYVILLE – For 14 years, Assemblyman Andrew Goodell has been attending the Chautauqua County Chamber’s annual state legislative breakfast, where he and the area state senator answer questions regarding state government.

Friday was Goodell’s last time.

He and state Sen. George Borrello attended the annual breakfast, held at Chautauqua Suites in Mayville. The event was moderated by John D’Agostino, editor of The Post-Journal, OBSERVER and Times Observer newspaper in Warren, Pa.

Like previous breakfasts, much of the time was spent criticizing state government. Goodell and Borrello, both Republicans, were also heavily critical of the Democratic leadership, which runs all three branches of government in the state.

“What has happened is the policies in New York City … kind of stayed in New York City. Now with one party ruling the state, with the Republicans losing the state Senate back in 2018, those policies have now spread everywhere,” Borrello said. “The bottom line is this, most New Yorkers feel the quality of life has declined, and that’s according to a recent Siena poll. Most New Yorkers believe that New York is no longer affordable to be in the state.”

Goodell believes the Democratic Party is struggling with infighting, as the Democratic Socialists of America gained ground in New York City. He separates the party into three groups.

“You have the more moderate upstate Democrats, You have the traditional liberal downstate Democrats, and you have the ‘liberal, liberal’ Democrats,” he said.

Goodell believes that because the Democratic Socialists have been winning primaries, the older New York City Democrats have moved politically to the left, which has caused tension with moderate upstate Democrats.

Some of the hot topics include bail reform, the cost of housing, and sanctuary state policies regarding immigration. Goodell predicts these issues will move the state more to the right ideologically.

“There’s a backlash. It’s that backlash that’s moving the state more toward what Upstaters have been saying for a long time. It’s a very slow process, but it’s occurring,” he said.

Borrello believes many of these policies held by Socialist Democrats are unpopular, which is why he noted they are being enacted through the state budget. “They (Democrats) don’t want to have to debate and vote on controversial policies. They want to provide cover for legislators to not have to vote on controversial topics,” he said.

Borrello admitted this is not something only Democrats have done. He noted that George Pataki, a Republican, used the budget to pass unpopular policies, when he was governor.

He said he is a co-sponsor of a bill to remove policy from the state budget, along with a Democratic senator from the Bronx, and a number of other state leaders.

“We all agree that policy shouldn’t be in the budget,” he said.


Borrello noted that Gov. Kathy Hochul has agreed to follow the formula the state legislature put in place in regards to funding schools, something former Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn’t do. But Borrello was upset that Hochul attempted to remove the “hold harmless” clause, which allows schools to get the same funding level when population drops.

He also criticized Hochul for trying to cut the hold harmless clause while at the same time spending $2.4 billion for the migrant crisis in New York City. “How do you tell schools we’re not going to give you money to educate your kids, when you’re giving billions and billions of dollars to New York City and literally doing nothing to stop the influx?” he said.

Goodell said the state too often spends money to fix problems, rather than fix the reasons for the problems. He noted that a lot of schools are facing a drop in enrollment, but the state continues to fund smaller districts instead of pushing schools to operate more efficiently, including merging districts.

Borrello agreed. “If the state wanted school consolidation, they could do it tomorrow, but they don’t because of the politics,” he said.


There were a number of other topics Goodell and Borrello addressed as well. Some included:

– Wetlands in Chautauqua Lake. Both Goodell and Borrello said they believe there’s a lot of “mis-information” out there, but they said they will continue to monitor the situation.

– Wind turbines in Lake Erie. Both lawmakers believe it’s too dangerous and not profitable to put wind turbines in fresh water. They believe it’s being proposed more for optics than anything else.

– Phasing out of natural gas. Goodell complimented National Grid, which was one of the sponsors of the breakfast, but added that in a windstorm, he doesn’t lose gas, like he does with electricity. Borrello feels that too much electricity is being imported to the state and that electricity being generated elsewhere is often made from dirtier power plants than what was used in Chautauqua County, including the former NRG plant in Dunkirk.

– Crime. Borrello continues to criticize the cashless bail system and argued that any changes Hochul has made is simply “smoke and mirrors.”

– Brooks-TLC Hospital. Goodell said they continue to work behind the scenes to get the state to release the funds to build a new more efficient hospital in Northern Chautauqua County. He said studies have shown a new hospital will save the state $1 million a month alone.

In closing, Goodell thanked the Chamber for sponsoring the annual breakfast and thanked the members for their support during his time in Albany.

“I am so lucky to represent the best county in the state of New York,” he said to a standing ovation.


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