Where’s the money to fund new raises?
On Monday [Nov. 9], in his most recent campaign ... duh, I mean informational speech, Gov. Andrew Cuomo shouted that he would raise the wages of all New York state employees to a minimum of $15 per hour.
This is great news. But just a few questions:
While the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) and the Public Employees Federation (PEF) leaders were dancing at the announcement by their often archenemy, no one was considering the other side of the equation. Raising the wages of nearly 10,000 state workers who presently make less than $15 per hour will cost the state $20.6 million per year.
The governor did not mention how that money would be raised each year. One must wonder what source he has identified for the funding for these raises.
Additionally, most local school districts employ a number of staff members who are currently paid much less than $15 per hour. The districts have seen major cuts to state aid under Cuomo and will most likely be handcuffed into zero budget increases next year and into the foreseeable future due to Cuomo’s 2 percent tax cap on schools. What source will they use for the raises?
I would be the first one to back these raises. However, it is foolhardy to propose a major increase in expenditure without a matching increase in revenue. That is the first lesson in Budget 101.
Gov. Cuomo: Act now to stop gas pipeline
In his essay, “Poppa and the Spruce,” former Gov. Mario Cuomo remembers back some 75 years, to when the Cuomo family moved from a city apartment behind their store to a home in Holliswood.
A huge storm had passed, and they came home to find their 40-foot blue spruce tree toppled over onto the road.
But Mario Cuomo’s Poppa was an indomitable character. He looked at the tree, and to his sons’ astonishment declared, “OK, We gonna push ’im up!” You’re crazy, they said. The roots are pulled up. But Poppa declared, “He’s gonna grow again.”
Mario, Frankie and their father roped the top of the tree and with some pushing and some pulling, got it upright, tied it down and covered the roots. Mario Cuomo finishes his essay by declaring that if you were to drive by that house today, you’d see that great straight blue spruce growing still, pointing right up at the heavens.
Somewhere in that essay is a lesson for all of us. But perhaps most of all, there's a lesson for our current governor, Mario Cuomo’s son.
Imagine standing here in the dark, in the rain, a year or two hence, looking at the wreckage that the Constitution Pipeline has made of our state. A hundred streams have broken free of their banks and are washing out hillsides and homes in the Catskills. A million trees have been clear-cut. New York’s famed brook trout are a memory; the eagles have gone.
Our once vital tourism industry has become a joke. If there is any sort of silver lining, it is that those polluters, Williams and Cabot, have outfoxed us and have piped their fracked gas across our state to Canada. And with higher prices from exporting, they are in the black again.
The vast trench of the Constitution Pipeline, visible from space, has earned some ironic nickname: Cuomo’s Calamity, perhaps.
How hard would we scrape at the earth to make it whole again? How hard would we work to replant trees on the hills and stream banks? How hard would we pull at the clock to turn back the hands of time to a day — today, in fact — before we foolishly let our state be raped by Williams and Cabot?
Gov. Cuomo, is there any doubt what your father or grandfather would have done? Reject the Constitution Pipeline. Make all of New York proud of you.
Lessons to be gotten from Spa’s election
This is an open letter to thank the city of Saratoga Springs, the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties, and the many beautiful human beings who helped to give an outsider a chance to serve this most unique city.
I clearly fought for a voice that I felt had been drowned out by those who claim to speak for the people; the voice of the enterprising individual who, in my universe, is the most important element in the ebb and tide of economic justice.
We should never begrudge the economic success of any individual who risks what they have to seek it or who sometimes reaps a profit because of it.
During this campaign, especially when considering the “opposition,” I have referenced it as war. But take it from an old soldier. It is thankfully a bloodless war and much better than the alternative.
Nonetheless, what has struck me most about this election process and our American political culture is that it encourages me to go home without bitterness, and that reminds me of a passage from the Lord’s Prayer, which says “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Neither our beautiful city nor our beloved America can afford the hate or retribution that unforgiveness can bring in the aftermath of any war.
And if there is anything worthy of our political aspirations, let it be that forgiveness of trespass is the best and most enduring expression of love for both city and country.
I congratulate Mayor Joanne Yepsen on her win.
John F. Safford
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