More on the race in NY-26...the plot thickens

An update to an earlier post.  At the Buffalo News:

Suddenly, congressional candidate Jack Davis is the bull’s-eye target in a host of political cross hairs.

After posting a strong 23 percent showing in last week’s Siena College poll, the Tea Party candidate making his fourth try for the 26th Congressional District seat is now on the receiving end of attacks by nervous Republicans as well as local figures in the tea party movement incensed over his use of their moniker.

Both groups are taking aim just days after Davis told The Buffalo News he will organize with the GOP should he win the special election May 24, a move that in effect pits Democratic candidate Kathleen C. Hochul against two Republicans — Davis and official Republican candidate Jane L. Corwin.

Now the GOP is ratcheting up last week’s verbal criticism of Davis into mailers delivered throughout the district linking him to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and “liberal Democrats.”

[....] The mailings were sponsored by the state Republican Party, whose executive director, Thomas J. Basile, cited Davis’ three runs for the seat as a Democrat. “It’s obvious that Democrat Jack Davis doesn’t share our Republican values,” he said. “Voters deserve to know the truth about his dishonest attempt to distort his record. Jane Corwin is the only real Republican in this race.”

Corwin’s allies in the tea party movement were also firing away. “We at TEA New York do not support Davis. We all voted to endorse Jane Corwin, yet Davis runs on a tea party line,” complained Rus Thompson, a Grand Island resident and local pioneer of the tea party movement.

Oh, there's more.  Read the rest.

So while all this might seem to be playing into Democrat Kathy Hochul's hands, things may not be peachy in her campaign either.  State Democrats, with the exception of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, don't appear to be supporting Hochul, nor are the national Democrats.

The Lonely Conservative probably has it right: "The lack of actual Democrat support for Kathy Hochul is indicative of a politico that knows Hochul is only running a close race in the headlines." 

A1157, Micro-stamping Legislation, passes in Assembly Codes Committee

This is an update to an earlier post. On May 3, Assembly Bill 1157 passed in the Assembly Codes Committee by a vote of 15 to 7 and will now head to the Assembly floor for consideration. Needless to say, the NRA is asking folks to contact their member of the Assembly, respectfully asking him or her to oppose the bill.  Since Barbara Lifton is one of the co-sponsors of the bill, I imagine you might as well talk to the wall but being on the record is a good thing anyway: LiftonB@assembly.state.ny.us.

Empire Center Facts and Figures on NYS


Today's post on the 2011 Budget Chart Book reminded me to link to similar types of information about NYS.  This is a start—from the Empire Center's Data Bank which

...now includes 49 different data sets in seven categories that measure and rank New York's state and local taxes, spending, debt and economic competitiveness nationally.  The data show New York ranks highest in the nation in net out-migration, school spending per pupil and teacher salaries.  The Empire State also ranks in the top five for its burden of state and local taxes, spending, debt, Medicaid payments per enrollee, average auto insurance premiums and residential electric costs, among others.

Tons more information at this website as well—look under "Publications" or "Issues," for instance.

Higher ed in upstate NY: Knitting, eggs, baskets, and bubbles

Ithaca is actually on the radar of Greg David of Crain's New York Business:

The big success story upstate is Ithaca. Virtually untouched by the recession, Ithaca has added jobs almost every year since 2000. That area's most important industry? Higher education as it is the home of prestigious Cornell University and the well regarded Ithaca College.

The job numbers should be center stage in Albany because they show how higher education is the key to reviving the upstate economy. On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo threw his support behind a plan to unleash the key SUNY campus from micromanaging by Albany--including deciding on their own tuition--so they can marshal the revenues to realize their potential. (A compelling case for the proposal is available on the Citizens Budget Commission website.)

The proposal is being blocked by downstate Assembly Democrats who worry that higher tuition will close the door to minority students. The claim is probably not true, and even if it is, the costs to upstate are devastating. The only alternative to giving SUNY the tools it needs is to condemn upstate to becoming even more a welfare ward of downstate. Is that what the Assembly Democrats really want?

In other words, upstate should stick to its proverbial knitting.  But is it wise to put all of upstate's eggs in one basket?

We've blogged about what may be a higher education bubble here and here. In 2010, Michael Barone, who spoke at Cornell recently, wrote in the Washington Examiner last September:

As often happens, success leads to excess. America leads the world in higher education, yet there is much in our colleges and universities that is amiss and, more to the point, suddenly not sustainable. The people running America's colleges and universities have long thought they were exempt from the laws of supply and demand and unaffected by the business cycle. Turns out that's wrong.

Read the whole thing.

And at TechCrunch is an interview with Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder, hedge fund manager and venture capitalist, in which he says

A true bubble is when something is overvalued and intensely believed.  Education may be the only thing people still believe in in the United States. To question education is really dangerous. It is the absolute taboo. It’s like telling the world there’s no Santa Claus.

And as the interviewer, Sarah Lacey, continues

It used to be a given that a college education was always worth the investment– even if you had to take out student loans to get one. But over the last year, as unemployment hovers around double digits, the cost of universities soars and kids graduate and move back home with their parents, the once-heretical question of whether education is worth the exorbitant price has started to be re-examined even by the most hard-core members of American intelligensia.

Again, read the rest.

So if upstate NY does decide to stick to its existing knitting rather than diversifying, and at the same time potential students (or their parents) start to figure out that it might be wiser to acquire higher education in some non-traditional way (such as distance learning), or build up a work history and become self-sufficient earlier, thus becoming able to take more risks because they haven't racked up buckets of debt—what then? What happens to upstate? Wouldn't it just become "even more a welfare ward of downstate" anyway?

As we've said here before, the laws of economics don't stop at the state—or county—line.

Another nice kettle of fish--this time in NY-26

Upstate NY politics often seems like something out of Laurel and Hardy—without the humor.

Remember this and this? Well, now there's this (at the WSJ, via Jazz Shaw at Hot Air):

A poll shows Republican Jane Corwin leading Democrat Kathleen Hochul in a tight race to fill the New York congressional seat vacated by Republican Chris Lee after he sent a shirtless photo to a woman on Craigslist.

The Siena College poll released Friday shows 36 percent of likely voters supporting Corwin and 31 percent favoring Hochul. With the May 24 special election about a month away, Tea Party candidate Jack Davis received 23 percent and Green Party candidate Ian Murphy trailed with 5 percent.

Siena's Steven Greenberg says that in a district with a seven-point edge for Republicans, Corwin's support lags behind Republican enrollment

The poll questioned 484 likely voters Tuesday and Wednesday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 points.

The polling results from Siena are here.

Oh, my.  Professor Jacobson had called Jack Davis, the supposed tea party favorite, a "false flag candidate" several weeks ago—understandable in view of Davis' past ties to the Working Families Party.  But false flag or not, The Lonely Conservative puts a different spin than the WSJ on the Siena poll figures. And, as is often the case, the commenters add value by pointing out that Siena doesn't have the greatest track record when it comes to congressional polling, which had certainly been my recollection from last fall.

Another nice mess...stay tuned...

Next Tuesday in the NYS Assembly: Micro-stamping Legislation

This has been covered here in an earlier post but is moving along in committee next week:

On Tuesday, May 3, the Assembly Committee on Codes will hear Assembly Bill 1157.  Introduced by state Assemblyman Michelle Schimel (D-16), A1157 would make micro-stamping mandatory on all new semi-automatic pistols sold after January 1, 2013.... 

[....] If passed, the availability of semi-automatic handguns in New York will be in serious doubt, as manufacturers simply may choose not to build or sell firearms for purchase in the state.  Of course, that is the ultimate goal of this legislation....


Pull up a Pew

Via Heritage: The Pew Center on the States has published a report entitled "The Widening Gap: The Great Recession’s Impact on State Pension and Retiree Health Care Costs." The paper is pretty brief and you're certainly capable of reading it for yourself, but here's a couple of points with respect to NYS specifically:

NYS looks great, right? State pensions101% funded?  Well, as we've mentioned in an earlier post public employee union (PEU) pensions are guaranteed by the state constitution, so NYS isn't quite as fiscally virtuous as it might appear—just constitutionally enabled (and disposed) to pick taxpayers' pockets for the purpose of pensions.

It's this map that's the kicker:

NYS doesn't look quite so good in that one.

And as the Washington Post reports

...Pew officials said the growing shortfall was driven by inadequate state contributions, an aging population and market losses that accompanied the recession.

Although investment markets have recovered substantially since the period covered by the report, its authors warn that states still face an increasing burden from retiree costs that are beginning to crowd out critical services.

“In many states, the bill for public-sector retirement benefits already threatens strained budgets and is competing for resources with other critical needs, including education, infrastructure and health care,” said Susan Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States.

There's that dastardly opportunity cost—in the short run, you don't get to have things all ways.  Funny how that works.

[....] Even as they face increasing liabilities, the report said, many states are not making pension contributions in amounts recommended by their actuaries as they juggle retiree and other costs against a backdrop of weak revenue.

Might New Yorkers go Galt?  A related note here from Crain's New York Business: with respect to the federal debt, "It is painfully inevitable that any effort to attack the debt problem will be disproportionately paid for by New Yorkers. The city's relative wealth means that higher taxes will come in large part from people who live here..." The author is referring to NYC; but as we know, what goes on there will affect the rest of the state whether we upstaters like it or not. 

In making its calculations, Pew used the states’ assumptions for what their pension funds would earn in annual investment returns, typically 8 percent — a figure that states have mostly met in recent decades but that some analysts think is now overly optimistic.

Another Captain Renault moment....and while the Post article opened with "The state funds that pay pension and health-care benefits to retired teachers, corrections officers and millions of other public workers faced a cumulative shortfall of at least $1.26 trillion at the end of fiscal 2009, according to a new report," it later states that

If states calculated their investment returns the same way that private firms are required to for their pensions, their obligations would balloon to $1.8 trillion, the report said. If states pegged their returns to 30-year Treasury bonds, an even more conservative standard, the liability would be $2.4 trillion...

Read the rest.

Who's going to pay for all this?

"A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined,...

...but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."—George Washington

Earlier this week, Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection wrote: "I'll be at a handgun training class tonight.  My wife and I finally are taking the plunge, and going through the NRA basic handgun safety course."

Well, the NYS Assembly is trying (again) to make it difficult for law-abiding citizens to obtain handguns:

On Monday, April 11, the New York Assembly Committee on Codes (contact information for this committee can be found herewill consider anti-gun legislation regarding micro-stamping.  Assembly Bill 1157, sponsored by Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel (D-16) [and co-sponsored by Barbara Lifton--tvm], would require semi-automatic pistols manufactured or delivered to any licensed dealer in the state to be capable of micro-stamping ammunition.

Micro-stamping is an unproven technology that is easily defeated with common household tools and the replacement of a few small parts.  If passed, the availability of semi-automatic handguns in New York will be in serious doubt, as manufacturers simply may choose not to build or sell firearms for purchase in the state.  Of course, that is the ultimate goal of this legislation.  Make no mistake, this is a gun ban and it must be stopped.

"...you may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas," part deux

We've said it before. And Michael Barone says it again, at Pajamas Media and Investors.com (via Ace):

...One of the lowest tax burdens in the nation, one of the most stable housing markets, and home to more Fortune 500 corporations than any other state. That’s Texas, and it’s no accident. The GOP-controlled government here lives by a couple of simple rules: Don’t tax everything that moves, and don’t spend all the money.


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