James L. Seward's Blog entries

Keep Drug Dealers Out Of Schools

Each day when parents send their children off to school they worry about many things.  Do they have their lunch?  Have they finished their homework?  Are they ready for their spelling test?  But parents shouldn’t have to ask, “Is my child’s bus driver a drug dealer?”  Unfortunately under a provision included in the new state budget, that final question will soon become a legitimate one.

May 29, 2009

Open Your Wallets on June 1st

 Starting June 1st, New Yorkers will be shelling out more of their hard earned cash as a result of tax increases passed as part of the 2009-10 state budget.  These new taxes are just one of several  reasons why I voted no on the budget, and continue to look for new avenues of tax relief.

May 22, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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