Roney’s Rant: New York – On the Right Track?
Posted by: Al Roney
Published on: August 30th, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Maybe I’m just too cynical, but when I saw the results of a recent Siena Poll, showing a majority of New Yorker’s (56-percent), believe New York is “on the right track”, I wonder what people are seeing (or smoking) that I’m not.
By every indicator New York is NOT on the right track. It’s off the rails.
Let’s start with something that affects all of us, Jobs. How many people are working? What’s the unemployment rate?
At historically high levels!
Our unemployment rate continues to go up everywhere across the state. Overall it’s up almost 1-percent from last year, to an almost 30-year high!
At 8-percent in the Capitol Region, it’s higher than it was during the height of the recession! The numbers also don’t include people working for less pay, underemployed, or those who have just given up looking for work and fallen off the radar.
So, where’s this movement forward with record high unemployment?
Throw in some recent studies on how business friendly New York State is and there’s no improvement there either. Now, it’s never scored well in this category, but you’re not going to be able to bring down that unemployment rate by stifling business growth.
Oh, but we are.
Ironically, during Governor Cuomo’s on-going multi-million dollar “New York is Open for Business” campaign, New York has plummeted into LAST place for “Business Friendliness”.
Hopefully, we won’t be sued for false advertising. At least we do well in Education and Technology, so our young minds can more easily beat feet out of the state in search of greener pastures.
And yes, we are, in fact, losing more young people to other states. Both polls and research back that up, and it’s a trend that hasn’t slowed down at all in the last couple of years.
Let’s talk taxes. That much ballyhooed property tax cap that will really come home to roost in the next week or so when people crack open their school tax bill. Despite some school budget cuts, taxes are still going up, up, and up, and many homeowners this year are going to be staring at yet another double-digit tax hike.
Few are actually holding the line at that 2-percent due to the number of exemptions which allow districts to exceed the “cap” too. One thing that is subjected to a hard cap – the Star Property Tax Exemption – a mechanism that is supposed to soften the blow for tax-payers.
The Governor and State Legislature don’t want you to know the tax cap was bogus, and people (I guess) are still pretending it’s providing some badly needed relief.
And cities, towns and other municipalities in New York are also teetering over a fiscal abyss, with an estimated 300 local governments running up deficits in the last two years, and more than 100 don’t even have enough cash to pay their current bills.
These local governments (school districts too) have been fed a steady diet of unfunded mandates, programs and initiatives the state says have to be paid while providing no additional funding, that have helped push these entities over the financial cliff.
Our State government’s solution may even be to take over the management of these local governments which would strip them (and us) of local authority and power.
So the State actually sets the conditions for financial ruin and then takes over when these municipalities fail to make ends meet!
We are on a roll!
Finally, political corruption.
In the last two weeks alone we’ve had not one, not two, but three scandals come to light, all courtesy of members our esteemed State Legislature.
First up, downstate Assemblywoman and Democrat Naomi Rivera, accused of setting up a not-for-profit entity and then hiring her boyfriends to work at them, doing nothing for big pay.
Second, downstate Democratic Senator Shirley Huntley, who is also charged with setting up a not-for-profit and funneling cash to friends and relatives!
Last, but not least, (boy, this is getting a bit repetitive) downstate Democratic Assemblyman Vito Lopez accused of sexually harassing somewhere between four and six female staffers and interns.
His case gets even better, see Vito had his first sexual harassment case paid with tax-payer dollars. This pay-out was authorized, in secret, by one of the most powerful men in State Government, Assembly Speaker and, you guessed it “downstate Democrat”, Sheldon Silver!
Not only that, the latest reports are, this hush money was approved by the Attorney General’s Office and the check cut by the State Comptroller’s Office!
Apparently the only person who was clueless about the whole Lopez affair was Governor Cuomo.
Transparency has gone opaque.
With all this going on, can we please STOP TALKING ABOUT PAY RAISES FOR THESE POLITICIANS!!!
I laid out the numerous reasons why there shouldn’t be any talk of raises in a prior “rant”, but now I’m hoping this recent insanity puts a stop to it once and for all.
Anyway, with unemployment and taxes going up, our business ranking in the toilet, an exodus of young educated minds, cities and towns in the red, and a fresh heaping of political scandals, how can anyone say, or think, New York is “on the right track”?
If this is the right track, what does the wrong one look like – Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome?
Al Roney is a full-time Talk Show host. You can catch him on-air weekday afternoons on AM TALK 1300 from 3 – 6, on-line at talk1300.com. He’s lived in the Capital Region most of his life, has a wife, 2 kids, a dog, a cat, and a couple of parakeets. And although it’s not always easy being a killjoy, someone has to do it.