James L. Seward's Blog entries

MTA Bailout Lets Down Upstate

You may have read recently about the protracted debate in Albany concerning a bailout for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).  You may have also thought because it was a New York City issue, the outcome wouldn’t affect you.  Unfortunately, that is not entirely the case.

The MTA bailout, which was finally approved earlier this month, will have very real consequences for upstate New York residents.  Consequences that hardly seem fair considering most upstate residents will never set foot on a subway, bus or train covered under the MTA banner.

May 15, 2009
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Fight For STAR

  Providing property tax relief to New York’s struggling homeowners has always been a top priority of mine.  That’s why I was extremely disappointed when the governor decided to drop the STAR rebate check program from this year’s budget.  Now, though, there is a ray of hope that the STAR checks can be revived.

May 8, 2009
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Wanted: Stimulus Accountability

Billions of dollars in federal money is coming to New York as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  This so-called federal stimulus money is intended to create jobs and help our economy bounce back.  The governor has applauded the funding and announced lists of transportation projects for every region of the state.  But just how many jobs are being created?

May 1, 2009
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STAR Has Fallen

Senate Democrats held a recent press conference in New York City touting a plan to revive the STAR property tax rebate checks.  Unfortunately this is nothing more than a desperate attempt to divert attention from their votes to eliminate the tax relief program.  They stole the car last month.  Now they want to return it.

April 24, 2009
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Taxed Enough Already

Thousand of New Yorkers spent some time recently rallying against high taxes.  Tax Day Tea (Taxed Enough Already) Parties took place nationwide on April 15th, and several were held right here in the 51st district.  The Boston-like tea parties were an opportunity for people to vent their anger over their ever growing tax bills.  I too feel the frustration expressed by these hard working, overburdened taxpayers.

April 17, 2009
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Health Care Costs Will Rise

Now that the new state budget is in place analysts from across New York have been weighing in on the plan.  Almost universally the reaction has been negative.  As time goes on, and people start to feel the effects of this budget first hand, I expect to hear more and more criticism.

April 10, 2009
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Costly State Budget Fails

A new budget is now in place for the state of New York, but I can’t say I am pleased.  The spending plan, which was approved shortly after the April 1 deadline, includes a great deal of bad news that will affect individuals, families and businesses across the state. 

April 3, 2009
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Drug Dealers Protection Act

The Rockefeller Drug Laws, a series of stringent anti-drug measures passed in 1973 which were once considered among the strongest in the nation, were dramatically reformed in December 2004 and August 2005.  Now, once again, additional reforms are being considered.  These reforms though would do much more harm than good.  To put it quite simply this so called reform should be called the “Drug Dealers Protection Act.”

March 27, 2009
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The Budget Battle Continues

 The legislative session in Albany continues to move at a snail’s pace, thanks to what has become a major step backward in transparency and openness in the operation of state government.  Budget negotiations have been bottled up in closed door sessions constituting three leaders, all of whom hail from New York City.  All three are also Democrats, and the reason this point is important is because for years Democrats have been demanding more open door meetings, and calling for government reform.  Interestingly enough, when given the opportunity, they are quick to ret

March 20, 2009
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The Value Of A Tune

March may be a tough month at times, winter weather lingers, time is running out to file your taxes, and at the state level, budget negotiations are grinding along.  But March is still music to my ears.

March 13, 2009
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A Better Plan For New York

The clock is ticking, spring is approaching, and as we wipe away the final remnants of winter, progress on a new state budget is unnoticeable.  With so much hanging in the balance this year, it is essential that we complete work on the state spending plan by the April 1st deadline.  That is why I have joined with my fellow senate Republicans in offering a new vision for the state of New York. 

March 6, 2009
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Where's The Reform?

After years of promising fundamental reforms to ensure greater transparency and accountability, the new senate Democratic majority has actually taken New York’s notoriously flawed state budget process and made it fundamentally worse on every level.  In fact, this year’s budget process has been more closed, more secretive and more dysfunctional than ever before.

February 27, 2009
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It's Not Too Late To Fix Health Insurance

When Governor Paterson’s deficit reduction package hit my desk one of the first things that jumped out at me was an increase in health insurance taxes.  I fought the ill conceived legislation, but senate Democrats were unwilling to budge, and passed the plan anyway.  Now I am calling on the governor to use funds from the federal stimulus package to rescind his hike in health insurance taxes and right a very serious wrong.

February 20, 2009
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Paying Back Our Troops

 The cost of a college education is high.  Every day college students and their parents wrestle with tuition bills, the cost of books and room and board.  Studies show that the expense is worth it.

Over time college graduates, on average, earn more than high school graduates. According to the Census Bureau, over an adult's working life, high school graduates earn an average of $1.2 million, associate's degree holders earn about $1.6 million, and bachelor's degree holders earn about $2.1 million.

February 13, 2009
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SUNY Students Unfairly Targeted

I am proud to represent several State University of New York (SUNY) schools and public community colleges throughout the 51st district.  The campuses have grown over the years and are considered among the finest educational institutions in America.  Students leave these schools with a first-class education, extraordinary job skills, and a keen perspective on life. 

February 6, 2009
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Budget Philosophy Needs To Change

Work is underway in Albany on the 2009 – 2010 state budget, but we are already off to a rocky start.  That is not to say that we can’t right the ship, but it is a job that will take a bit of work from all sides.

The biggest problem is that we are beginning the process from a flawed starting point.  The governor’s budget proposal that we are using as a jumping off point increases spending by 1 percent, and raises approximately 137 taxes and fees by more than $4 billion, all in an attempt to close a two year deficit approaching $15 billion.

January 30, 2009
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Fitness Goals

So, here we are a month into the new year.  How is that New Year’s Resolution coming along?

For many individuals a top priority is losing weight.  Not a bad idea when put in the proper context.  Unfortunately so many people concentrate only on the numbers on the scale.  Health experts agree though that in order to achieve a healthy level of fitness you need to focus on a more well rounded lifestyle. 

January 23, 2009
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Excellence In Our Midst

 Our region is filled with great pieces of history; many are well known while others have yet to receive their due.  Now is the time to change that.I am issuing a call for nominations for the 2009 Erie Canal Heritage Award of Excellence.  The award honors and celebrates the significant places of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and recognizes excellence in advancing the goals of the Erie Canalway Preservation and Management Plan.

January 16, 2009
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Return To Greatness

Much like a sports franchise after a down year, the state needs to rebuild.  While there is some heavy lifting ahead, job creation and tax relief, combined with commonsense cuts can help spur our economy.

The governor has presented his budget, and his state of the state address, now it is time to take those unfinished pieces of the puzzle and create a completed solution that will return New York to greatness.

January 9, 2009
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Outdoor Enthusiasts Hit Their Stride

  Now that we are firmly entrenched in winter, it’s time for many people to head outdoors and embrace the season.  Despite the cold temperatures, many individuals who live in upstate New York look forward to the snow and cold conditions for so many reasons.

January 2, 2009
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