February 2014 Column - Politics in government forces significant, unnecessary divides

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Last month, Gov. Cuomo made public remarks that “extreme conservatives have no place in the State of New York.” While the comments were off-the-cuff, and taken slightly out of context, they upset a large number of people. He must realize that his comments were offensive and divisive, and should have no role in state government.

All too often, the public sees the arguing and divisive nature of government and politics. Quite frankly, I’m tired of it. There will always be philosophical differences with regard to many issues, but labeling people who disagree with you as “extremists” does nothing but further the divide. Instead of pushing people away with petty name calling, members of government — at all levels — should be looking for ways to work together and find common ground.

New York State has been suffering for the past several years. Businesses find it increasingly difficult to operate, and families move away because they have trouble finding work and keeping up with increasingly higher taxes. The solution will come from having a common-sense dialogue from people on both sides of the issues, not through bickering and infighting.

Gov. Cuomo’s comments are especially disappointing in light of initiatives mentioned in his most recent budget proposal. After reviewing the budget, it appears there are a number of inclusions that could help bridge the gap on the left and right, and help bring many of these “extremists” together for the betterment of New York.

For example, the budget calls for 10 years of tax cuts on new or expanding businesses in New York. It also calls for a statewide tax credit of 20 percent for all New York State manufacturing businesses. These are initiatives that people on every end of the political spectrum should be able to agree on and understand.

Additionally, the governor doubled down on his investment in the “Billion Dollars for Buffalo.” There is $680 million in funding specifically set aside for new capital projects in WNY. This coupled with the previous $150 million of capital appropriations and $170 million in tax credits from the Excelsior Jobs Program, make up the “Buffalo Billion.”

Beyond economic development, the proposed budget also helps bring together both sides with regard to education. Rather than an increased focus on standardized testing and the Common Core, the governor called for more localized control in the classroom. I believe almost everyone would agree that local control is superior to state standardized education and testing. Our teachers know our children. Our teachers know how best to educate, enrich and enlighten them.

So as I said, it is time for an end to name calling and divisive politics. Despite our political differences, I believe we all strive toward the same goals: a better community, jobs for our families, and making Erie County and New York State a place where people and business want to be.


In closing, I want to announce that I will be holding District Outreach Meetings in March. The first will be from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Monday, March 17, at the Aurora Senior Center and the second from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Friday, March 21, at the West Seneca Senior Center. Stop by or you can contact my office at 858-8922