Editorial Roundup: New York

New York Post. September 8, 2021.

Editorial: Hochul stands up for NY’s economy

Gov. Kathy Hochul did the right thing in refusing to extend enhanced unemployment benefits — even if she made the decision on procedure, not principle.

Three federal programs expired Sunday. One extended benefits beyond 26 weeks, a second covered the self-employed, and a third added a $300 weekly bonus to the state amount, often bringing the total to more than what workers would get back on the job.

Progressives wanted all payouts to continue. But Hochul said that federal and state law tied her hands with a ban on allocating new funds to unemployment when the state’s fund is still running a deficit.

But the bigger problem was that an extension would hobble New York’s recovery and add to the state’s coming fiscal woes.

Nationwide, 6 million fewer people are at work than before the pandemic, even as the nation sees record-setting job openings. Businesses are clearly struggling: In a survey out last week, 50% of owners (seasonally adjusted) report job openings they can’t fill, a “record high” for the second straight month. The tight labor market, in turn, is driving up inflation.

In New York, private-sector employment in July lagged the July 2019 pre-COVID level by 787,000, or 9%. By then, as E.J. McMahon noted on these pages, the Empire State accounted “for nearly one-fifth of all Americans still receiving extended Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation — even as untold thousands of jobs go unfilled across the state.”

Extending benefits again would only make matters worse. And don’t buy misleading arguments that states that cut benefits early saw no better job growth than those that kept them: As McMahon also points out, the states that stopped the bonuses had lost fewer jobs to begin with, so they had less room to grow — yet still kept pace with other states.

An extension would’ve hurt businesses (and their customers) and worsened the state’s fiscal troubles. Yes, federal bailouts have New York flush with cash for now. But it’s staring at gaping budget holes in just a few years.

She may have been coy about the reasons, but Hochul made the right fiscal and economic choice.

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Dunkirk Evening Observer. September 8, 2021.

Editorial: Keep Bills’ talks in the open

Two Buffalo-area state legislators want to see discussions over renovations to Highmark Stadium or construction of a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills be public.

It’s hard to believe filling that request should require passage of a state law, but this is New York state after all, where spending millions of dollars in taxpayer money without anyone knowing is commonplace.

So yes, we approve of legislation proposed by Assemblyman Pat Burke, D-West Seneca, and state Sen. Patrick Gallivan, R-Buffalo, to make sure deliberations about the Bills’ future are held publicly. Whether it’s a new stadium with a projected price tag of $1 billion or renovations that are likely to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, we know some of that money will be provided by state and Buffalo-area governments. That spending should be discussed and approved in public meetings.

Our only contention with the proposal is that it is too narrow in scope. Not only should the Bills’ stadium discussions be public, but any spending by a state authority or local government on sports stadiums or entertainment venues should be done publicly.

We live in a state that vacillates between being flush with money and crying poverty every couple of years. School officials have begged for more state money every year for decades. Local governments are begging for more reimbursement money for road work on state-owned roads. Local needs are often crowded out of the state budget. If sports stadiums and entertainment venues are going to be getting state and local money, the public should know about the spending before it happens, not after.

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Jamestown Post-Journal. September 4, 2021.

Editorial: State’s Additional Session Was Anything But ‘Extraordinary’

The state Legislature may have held what Gov. Kathy Hochul called an extraordinary session earlier this week, but the results were far from that.

Any extension of an eviction moratorium in New York state needed to strike a balance between meeting the needs of tenants who have lost jobs due to COVID-19 and the needs of landlords. That was the gist of the U.S. Supreme Court’s message to the state when the high court struck down part of the state’s eviction moratorium, saving renters can’t avoid eviction by simply submitting a hardship declaration but instead must prove hardship in court.

It seems logical, but that’s not what the state did Wednesday.

Democrats are patting themselves on their collective backs for including in the legislation provisions that landlords will be able to challenge hardship declarations and direct judges to require tenants with hardships to apply for rental assistance. Landlords say this week’s moratorium extension should have come with an income limit so that evictions were stopped for those with low income. Landlords also are upset that Wednesday’s legislation makes landlords bear the burden of proof to show tenants don’t have a hardship. They say tenants should have to prove they can’t pay.

We agree with the landlords. They, after all, are the ones on the hook for municipal, county and school taxes, repairs, maintenance and insurance each month while receiving, in too many cases, no income from their property. It seems unfair that the landlord should have to compel proof that a tenant is facing hardship.

Those claiming hardship should be able to prove that hardship, just as they do with utilities. If they truly like the place where they live proving hardship is something they should do. Those that qualify for help should apply for the government’s help through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which comes with a year’s protection against eviction while also providing payment to property owners.

Those who can’t prove hardship should have to pay up. Perhaps the imminent threat of eviction will spur more tenants to pursue the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which now has $2.6 billion to give to those who need help but which had only given $230 million to more than 15,000 households through Wednesday. Help is available, if people will pursue it and if the state loosens the purse strings to get the money to the people who need it.

In every group, there are good apples and bad apples. Landlords are no different. What seems to have happened in Albany is Democrats have painted all landlords to be money-grubbing deadbeats who rent slum apartments and refuse to do any maintenance. And while there are some who fit that description, there are a good many landlords who take care of their properties, who are attentive to their tenants’ needs and who have been more than willing to work with tenants who have been impacted by the pandemic. And it is those landlords who the state has again foresaken by painting the whole group of apples with a broad, unflattering brush.

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Auburn Citizen. September 8, 2021.

Editorial: NY should reconsider extra fair days

Soon after being sworn into her new job, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s made clear that she will employ a much more collaborative leadership style than her predecessor.

Rather than impose decisions from the governor’s office with little or no input from anyone outside the inner circle, which is what Andrew Cuomo did throughout his tenure, Hochul promised to actively engage with her cabinet and other key leaders. Those are the people on the ground living the reality of policy decisions that are made by the governor and Legislature. They should be given a strong voice in how their agencies operate.

A great place for Hochul to employ this leadership style is at the New York State Fairgrounds, and specifically, with respect to the wisdom of running the state fair for 18 days.

In 2019, Cuomo declared that the fair would add five days in a quest to make it the biggest in the nation. Instead, in its first run with the new schedule, the fair experienced its worst attendance in more than three decades.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting scaling back of the fair’s vendors and transportation, had much to do with this year’s dramatic fall. But there was also a palpable sense among vendors, staff and visitors that this fair was just too long.

The first several days overlapped with the popular Erie County Fair in western New York, putting many vendors in a tough spot about where to go, and certainly chipping away at potential visitors from that part of the state, too.

It was also a huge ask of the people that work the fair to commit nearly three weeks with long hours every day without time off. For some private sector vendors, the struggle to find staff prevented them from coming at all this year.

Next year’s fair schedule at the moment remains expanded. But there’s no good reason that cannot be changed.

We’re not calling for that change with this editorial because more information and feedback needs to be gathered in order to make the best decision. What we do advocate is for Hochul to launch a transparent evaluation process in the near future that aims to reach a consensus about how long the 2022 fair should last.

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Advance Media New York. September 3, 2021.

Editorial: A message to students as the new school year begins

Dear students,

At the end of every school year, somebody stands at a microphone at a graduation ceremony and delivers a commencement speech. Some are long. Some are short. Some are good. Some are not so good. One thing they have in common, though, is that they all try to pass on advice about how to live your life. “Commencement” is a beginning, they pretty much all say, not an end.

Well, the past several months have been so crazy that we thought it might be OK to give a commencement speech at the beginning of the school year. After all, why give advice at the end? Why not give it when it can be put to good use?

So as your schools open and you return to another year of masks, hand sanitizers and weird rules that don’t make a lot of sense, here’s what we want you to know:

Ignore the noise.

A lot of adults have opinions about how you should think. Ignore them.

A lot of adults are scared and want you to be scared, too. Ignore them.

A lot of adults want you to think of yourself and only yourself. Ignore them.

You’re in school to learn how to think. You are not only learning how math and science work, but also how to use your brain to think critically for yourself. Do this.

Be kind.

Being mean is easy. In fact, it’s always easier to be negative and down on things. It’s always harder to do the right thing and maintain an optimistic outlook. Honestly, how is a person supposed to be optimistic when they’re getting smacked in the head every day with bad news and mean people? Good question. Our answer? You need to do it anyways, for yourself.

You can’t change other people and, alone, you can’t make the bad news go away. The only person you can change is yourself and how you act in situations versus reacting to situations.

Look for the good.

In comic books and movies, bad guys are all bad and good guys are all good. It doesn’t work that way in real life.

Good people sometimes mess up, make mistakes or make bad choices. It happens. Making a mistake or doing something stupid doesn’t make you a bad person.

Bad people aren’t always bad. They have loved ones, they have hopes and dreams – that don’t always involve world domination.

In all that you do, try to look for the good in other people and in yourself. Find it and respect it. If you do this, hating other people – and yourself -- becomes really hard.

Love your neighbor.

Every belief system we can think of has this somewhere in its doctrine: Be nice to others. Respect other people simply because they are people. Treat others as you want to be treated. Yeah, it sounds trite. And yeah, it sounds easy. But loving your neighbor may be the hardest thing you will ever try. You see, some folks are really hard to love. Some folks seem awful. Yet, the rule here isn’t that you try to change your neighbor to be more like you – to make awful people good -- it’s that you treat others with respect and dignity.

That’s it

School is about to start! Are you excited? Nervous? Looking forward to learning new stuff?

Of course you are. But we adults need your help with one more thing: Please spend the year showing adults what it’s like to act like adults, so you can get back to the business of being a kid.

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Albany Times Union. September 8, 2021.

Editorial: How soon is now?

THE ISSUE:

Evidence of a warming planet is clear and obvious.

THE STAKES:

A carbon tax is needed to stave off a looming global crisis.

Another day, another natural disaster. They’ve become almost routine, haven’t they, these 100-year events that continually arrive ahead of schedule?

Just in recent months, we’ve seen record-shattering temperatures in the Pacific Northwest, wildfires throughout the American West and a hurricane, Ida, that tore a path from New Orleans to Queens, where flash floods last week surged through homes. People drowned in cars and basement apartments.

Yes, big storms and natural disasters have always been part of life on Earth, but there should be little doubt that climate change is wreaking havoc on weather patterns as we once knew them, leaving billions around the globe increasingly vulnerable.

Climate skeptics take note: NASA tells us 2020 tied 2016 for the hottest year on record globally, continuing a long-term warming trend. Higher ocean temperatures, meanwhile, are creating more powerful and dramatic storms, straining infrastructure that was designed for a calmer climate. This summer of scary weather is a likely harbinger of worse to come.

We know what needs to be done. Humanity must cut planet-warming emissions and begin its move toward a carbon-free future. But change, at home and around the world, has been painfully slow.

A recent report from the Brookings Institution noted that governments globally continue to spend more than $500 billion annually on fossil fuel subsidies. While lauding a recent executive order by President Joe Biden targeting such giveaways domestically, it noted that production subsidies remain embedded in the tax code.

Think about that. Despite all the evidence showing the damage wrought by fossil fuels and a warming climate, our government — like others — continues to encourage their use by making them artificially inexpensive. Brookings states, quite mildly, that production subsidies are “not a judicious use of public finances.”

We’ll go further: They are an absurd use of public finances, and must be eliminated as quickly as possible. That long-overdue move must be coupled with a stiff carbon tax that makes fossil fuels artificially and increasingly expensive.

Such a tax would immediately make greener energy more competitive, and encourage private enterprise to develop new and better technologies. And it would acknowledge that fossils fuels have a negative societal cost that is increasingly intolerable.

Here’s another idea with merit: an import tax that charges manufacturers for the carbon impact of their products. Such tariffs, which are now being weighed by the European Union and Democrats in Congress, would leverage American buying power to force global changes and reduce concern that fighting climate change domestically puts the country’s economy at a global disadvantage.

Certainly, carbon taxes and tariffs would hit lower-income Americans too hard. That’s why both must be structured with rebates that alleviate the pain.

But as 100-year storms become 10- or 5-year storms, the cost of our stubborn inaction grows increasingly clear. The time for change is now, if not sooner.

END