New stealth legislation in Albany has fusion voting in its sights

New York State government, to borrow a phrase, moves in a mysterious way. Not always in a good and proper way, but oftentimes, mysterious.

I’m referring to such things as the preparation and approval of the annual budget. While most of the budget is day-to-day management of the government, there are always some surprises.

This year’s surprise was public financing of elections for state office, potentially providing up to $100 million in public funds for campaigns. The stated goal, aside from spending a ton of money, is to drive corrupt “bad” money out of elections. Continue reading

Ink by the barrel, facts by the byte, progress by the bit — contrasting views of Buffalo’s budget

Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and former Buffalo Comptroller Mark J. F. Schroeder has never been a shrinking violet. Whether he was taking on a political challenge or belting out an incredible version of a classic Italian song, he’s always put his heart into it.

And that was the case last year when he, still the Comptroller, published a very strong, hard-hitting analysis of Mayor Byron Brown’s 2018-19 city budget. In a detailed review, Schroeder laid out the argument for the proposition that the city’s finances were in trouble. Continue reading

WNY firms and organizations spent $5.1 million on lobbying in 2018

Budget-wise, things have been getting a bit tight in Albany recently. The urge to spend state money by newly-elected liberal Democrats from New York City was tempered by the realities of diminishing tax revenues as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo’s interest in continuing to hold down the growth in spending.

Nonetheless, determining how state resources will be used continues to feed a large segment of the business community that tries every year to get a larger piece of the pie. Lobbying is alive and well in New York State. Continue reading

What’s happening (and not happening) with the 2019 elections in Buffalo?

The year 2019 really seems like a strange one in local politics. The state Election Law changes, which shifted the political calendar, seem to make everything a bit off kilter.

A June primary schedule is not new in New York. Such was the case for many years until the early 1970’s, when Albany changed things to set up a September primary. That, of course, means that practically no one involved in local politics today has any history about the rhythm of what an early summer primary means. Continue reading

What kind of health care should be available to all Americans?

Far be it for Donald Trump to pass up an opportunity to make another mess for the political party that he now dominates. So he decides to promise the greatest of all health care plans.

He even named the three senators who he said will lead the charge in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Problem is, they all seem to be busy with other more important things – like watching grass grow. Continue reading