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State budget more words than numbers

Commentary

Well, it’s budget time in Albany and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has released his $178 billion budget. That’s right $178 billion, which means we are dealing in real money.

Also, as he is prone to do, he has, as one headline accurately described it, “packed it with proposed laws.” For instance, Cuomo wants to modify the state constitution’s Equal Rights Amendment to ban discrimination on the basis of sex, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation and “gender identity.” Frankly why can’t we just say that “no one will be discriminated against for any reason” and leave it at that. Sounds sensible to me, but politicians are seldom sensible.

Now, Cuomo wants to add “E Pluribus Unum” to the state seal to remind the nation that “without unity we are nothing.” I really have no problem with that, but he should remind fellow party mates and New Yorkers, Congressman Jerry Nadler and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of those words, as neither have done much to promote national unity during the impeachment debacle.

The governor wants to legalize marijuana, likely because it would provide a good source of tax revenue for the state. A reasonable person might think that a tax on marijuana would help to lessen the tax burden on individual taxpayers, but in New York state, the tax burden seldom decreases for anyone.

Speaking of marijuana, while there is some indication that its use for some medical purposes may have value, I am reminded that most of it literally goes up in smoke and much of what I’ve come across on that subject indicates that marijuana is more harmful to our lungs than that other source of revenue– tobacco. As a reformed smoker that’s important to me, so I would advise everyone, but especially young people, to smoke neither. Cuomo should keep that in mind but he probably won’t.

The governor, despite recent evidence that it does not harm the environment, wants to make the state’s ban on large scale fracking permanent. While Pennsylvania reaps the benefits of fracking in the form of jobs and revenue, just over the border, in New York’s Southern Tier, unemployment is higher and incomes lower than other parts of the state. It’s sad, but Cuomo would rather pander to the Democratic Party’s anti-fossil fuel left wing base rather than working to improve the lives of New York citizens. In 2019, in a case of delusional wishful thinking, the New York State Department of Labor cited hemp growing and the growth of craft breweries as opportunities for job growth in the southern tier.

Then in a political sleight of hand, the governor wants to ban corporations from contributing to political campaigns if a single foreign entity, for instance a foreign mutual fund, owns 5% of the corporation. With our economy booming under the Trump administration’s guidance, which you’ll miss if you read only the New York Times or watch CNN, “foreign entities” want to invest in our booming economy. Therefore, many corporations are over the “foreign entity” 5% threshold. Cuomo’s attempt at a sleight of hand is important because many corporations contribute more to Republican campaigns and candidates than Democratic ones.

While working to curtail corporate political contributions, the governor, is seeking to strengthen the hands of public employee unions, and guarantee their support, by proposing safeguards for public sector unions having access to new employee orientations. My personal experience belonging to a public sector union is that they work to ensure mediocrity and hinder efficiency in public employment.

Because of a restraining order issued by a federal judge in response to a suit brought by the New York State Vegetable Growers Association due to vague wording in the farm labor law passed last year, the governor wants to expand the definition of “immediate family,” so that it would include aunts, uncles, and cousins. Under the legislation as passed only the owner, spouse and children were defined as “immediate family.” Only these individuals can be salaried with all other employees classified as “farm laborers” and subject to hourly wage and overtime laws.

Therefore, under the law as originally passed aunts, uncles, and cousins, even if they hold a stake in the company or are officers of the corporation would be classified as “farm laborers” and subject to overtime provisions. Additionally, in a unionized company they would be attending employee union meetings with employees whose fate they are in a position to determine. That is prohibited under federal law.

This “glitch” in the law is an example of what urban liberals, whose idea of farming is probably contained in the words of “Old MacDonald Had Farm,” can do when they start messing with something they know little about and have no understanding of.

Then, in a case where you want to ask where the governor has been lately, he announced that the State’s Medicaid program, that covers one-third of the population, needs to be cut by $2.5 Billion. He was rather vague on where savings will come from but hinted that the healthcare industry may have to “eliminate inefficiencies and root out waste, fraud and abuse.” He also indicated that savings must have a “zero impact” on Medicaid recipients, who by the way, often make out better than hardworking New Yorkers relying on private health insurance.

Then the governor had the gall to point the finger at county governments who he accused of simply taking a blank check in aid from the state and not working to eliminate inefficiencies in Medicaid. With Cuomo it’s never him or his administration that are the problem, but some other level of government or simply outrageous fortune.

No wonder, according to a recent poll, 32% of New Yorkers have given serious consideration to leaving the “Empire State” and why New York leads all states in population loss.

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