Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My Super Bowl XLII Predictions

Eli Manning is coming into his own and has made very few mistakes in the playoffs. The New York Giants have shown they can compete against the New England Patriots and almost defeated them. The Giants are ready to upset the Patriots in a big win by 3 points on Super Bowl Day. It’s destined to be! It’s going to be a victory for the New York Giants!

We Don't Need a Taj Mahal on the Thruway

There's so much to say this week, that I'm doing a double-shot of "Tedisco in 60." This episode is on the need to cut Thruway tolls, just as the Comptroller suggests.

Truth in Advertising???

The Governor is in Dutchess County today on a so-called “Bringing the Budget Home'' tour. Considering Spitzer’s proposed budget contains $2 billion in tax and fee increases that will cost the average family $473.00, perhaps the Governor should have some truth in advertising and be promoting this as the "Causing You to Sell Your Home Tour" or "Squeezing the New York Middle Class Homeowner Tour.”

By the way, the cartoon above is from

Monday, January 28, 2008

My Appearance on WGY

I was on WGY today and spoke with Al Roney to discuss the proposed Thruway toll hike. Please click here:

Governor Rejects Toll Increases

I am happy to see that today the Governor joined me and my Assembly Republican colleagues in rejecting any proposed Thruway toll increases. New Yorkers can’t continue to be forced to pay for higher tolls, higher gas prices and higher property taxes. It’s obvious that this should be the end of the road for this costly toll hike.

Comptroller’s Audit Echoes My Calls for Thruway Authority To Stop Toll Hike

The New York State comptroller’s audit of the Thruway Authority revealed precisely what I have been saying since last fall – there is no justification for an increase in Thruway tolls. The comptroller is urging the agency to call off the increase. He says the Thruway is taking the easy way out and he'd like to see the agency implement more cost cutting programs.

New Yorkers are already paying some of the highest property taxes in the nation. They cannot afford the Thruway Authority’s proposed 10 percent toll hike on top of its earlier toll increase that just went into effect a few weeks ago.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Another Spitzer Plan Catering to Illegals

In his 2008-09 Executive Budget, Governor Spitzer has proposed a tax on illegal drug sales. His legislation would require tax stamps to be placed on illegal drug packages, much like those currently affixed to cigarette packages.

The difference: cigarettes are legal. What kind of mixed message is the Governor sending with this proposal? Does he expect law-breaking drug dealers to obey this provision? My question to Mr. Spitzer is, “what’s next, taxing prostitution?

According to the New York Post’s Ken Lovett, “Experience in other states shows that stamp collectors, not drug dealers, are the ones purchasing the tax stamps”.

The governor says it's not a step toward legalizing illicit drugs. But if he wants to make the bad guys pay more he should increase the fines they pay -- not legitimize their illegal activity by creating a new state tax office.

Please support my Conference’s efforts to prevent this ridiculous measure from becoming law. It is wrong for New York State.

A Bad Time For A Pay Raise

In recent weeks, Governor Eliot Spitzer and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have expressed willingness to consider pay raises for all State Legislators this year. At a time when New York has a budget deficit of $4 billion, this issue should not be a priority.

In fact, many New Yorkers are currently struggling to make ends meet. Therefore, it is inappropriate for us, as elected representatives, to unilaterally grant ourselves a $20,000 per year salary increase. Our salaries are already the third-highest in the nation, and remember, this is part-time employment.

This is certainly not the way to gain public trust. An increase of this size would cost taxpayers more than $4 million per year. Is this any way to repay the men and women who depend upon us to be their voice in state government?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tedisco in 60: Budget Edition

Here's the second episode of my 60-second-long video series, Tedisco in 60.

Your Family Owes NYS $473

At least if Governor Spitzer gets his way with the state budget. Among the new taxes are a $172 HMO tax, $100 community college tuition increase, $40 DMV fee, and $11.59 gas tax hike. So much for “no new taxes.”

Here’s a breakdown of the tax increases:

Executive Budget – Cost to Average Family

Community College tuition - $50 X 2 kids = $100
(Would raise average CC tuition to $3,276)

Endorsement Fee for WHTI compliant drivers license –
$20 X 2 adults: $40

Increased Motor Vehicle Insurance fee $15: $30

Mortgage Recording Fee
County optional increase (includes NYC): $20
Per page filing fee increase $2 per page: $20

Gas Tax Merger
Tax increase per Family (2009-10): $11.59

Health Costs
Health Maintenance Organization tax
(change from Business Corporation Tax to Insurance Corporation
Franchise Tax): $172

Bottle Bill fee per family: $14

Middle Class Star Rebate
No increase for Basic STAR Recipients: $65


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Gov's Budget Comes With Hefty Price Tag

I have real concerns that Governor Eliot Spitzer’s proposed 2008-09 executive budget would make it harder for New York’s overtaxed middle class families struggling to get by in the wake of a national economic recession. The Governor’s proposed budget contains nearly $2 billion in taxes and fees, would impose 44 new fees and fee increases, and cost every New York family more than $400 annually. New York’s middle class families already struggling with a recession simply cannot afford these additional fiscal burdens. Most concerning, the Governor’s budget fails to fully honor a promise made last year to deliver real property tax relief in the form of direct rebates to overtaxed middle class homeowners. By turning its back on New York’s middle class taxpayers, the Governor’s budget would make our state a more expensive place to live, work and raise a family.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

“We Will Get A Property Tax Cap”

That’s what Governor Spitzer said this morning on the Don Weeks show on WGY. I am delighted that the Governor has come out to strongly embrace the property tax cap, which will help ease the burden on our overtaxed homeowners and businesses and go a long way to making our state economically competitive again. Let’s get this done by April 1st before taxpayers decide on their local school district budget and possibly face even higher property taxes as a result.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tedisco in 60: Episode 1

This is the first in what will be a regular series of 60-second-long (or thereabouts) video podcasts on issues of concern to New Yorkers.

Dramatic Policy Overhaul Needed to Renew Upstate

At times, I’ve been one of this Governor’s toughest critics – but not today. I believe Governor Spitzer deserves credit for recognizing the economic crisis that is gripping Upstate. His decision to give a “State of Upstate Address” put his bully pulpit to good use in helping draw attention to Upstate’s hurting economy.

It’s not hyperbole to say that the Upstate economy is on life support – some small businesses are literally just hanging on, their pain compounded by the fact that we are either close to, or possibly already in, the grips of a national economic recession.

The Governor outlined several steps – including using our tremendous SUNY research facilities as “incubators” for businesses to tap our state’s best and brightest minds, improving Upstate’s roads and other critical infrastructure and utilizing the State Police to help Upstate cities control violent crime – that we should seriously consider.

One area where I diverge from the Governor’s address is seemingly too much of a reliance on taxpayer dollars to fund many of the initiatives he outlined. I am concerned – and I’m not alone – in wondering how our state could afford some of his proposals in light of the nearly $51 billion in debt that New York is carrying – and that is a conservative estimate.

I think it’s fair to say that parts of Upstate have been hit by a ‘perfect storm’ of high taxes, energy costs and job loss. In response to this perfect storm that has swamped Upstate, we should take dramatic, bold steps as timidity is not a cure for the chronic ailments afflicting Upstate. We can do this by enacting a property tax cap and cutting taxes on manufacturers and small businesses which drive Upstate’s economy.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Opening Day Remarks Video

As promised, here's a video of my opening remarks for the 2008 Session.

Countdown: Property Tax Cap

Cue the ticking clock sound from the television show “24”, as today, we unveiled the “Property Tax Cap Countdown Clock” that’s counting down until Tuesday, April 1, 2008, which is New York’s fiscal deadline and when we are calling for the cap to be enacted.

The clock will remain outside my office at the State Capitol for public viewing before homeowners vote on their school budgets. It is a tangible, daily reminder that excessive property taxes are the number one issue facing New Yorkers who are caught in a “middle class squeeze” of high taxes, tolls, fuel costs and just about everything else.

The Governor should be using his bully pulpit to call for quick passage of a property tax cap, which has been enacted in 14 other states including Massachusetts and California. In an economy that may be headed toward – or is in the beginning of – a possible recession, the swift enactment of a property tax cap becomes even more urgent.

Let’s avoid a session-ending cliffhanger for millions of New York homeowners and pass a property tax cap soon to provide immediate relief.

Opening Day Remarks

I gave the following remarks this afternoon for the opening of the 2008 Assembly Session. Video will be posted soon.

Mr. Speaker… Majority Leader Canestrari… my fellow colleagues… welcome back. It’s truly good to see you, one and all…

Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, as we begin this, the 231st session of our state legislature, I think it essential that we ask ourselves an important question…

What kind of a session do we want this to be remembered as?…

Will it be remembered as a session of partisan acrimony and personal mistrust?...

Of political gridlock and legislative stalemate?...

Or, where we can, when we can, however we can, will we find that all often-illusive common ground?…

And forge in the fires of discussion, deliberation and debate, a consensus, a true consensus, on issues that 18-and-a-half million New Yorkers we collectively represent want to see – and deserve – progress on…

Bread-and-butter, kitchen-table issues addressing the “middle class squeeze” gripping far too many families…

Families from Brooklyn, to Binghamton, to Buffalo – and all points in between…

Who are working longer… and harder… for less…

Families that are struggling – literally, struggling – just to keep their heads above the rising tide of a dollar that, while harder to get, seems to buy less than ever…

Families feeling a crushing, exhausting “middle class squeeze” of skyrocketing property taxes, soaring gas prices and rising Thruway tolls…

Families that stay up well into the late night, when the kids are asleep, going over their budget, figuring out what they can afford, what they’ll have to forgo and how they will explain it to their children…

Families that save every penny, stretch every dollar, because they’re worried about being laid off…

Worried about being downsized, worried about providing their children more opportunities and a better life than they themselves had…

The father who puts in endless double shifts and collapses on the family couch, too tired from work to play with his children…

Or the single mom, who works all day, goes to night school, struggles against the odds and tries to spend quality time with her child…

Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, these are the families – the families that work hard, raise their children and play by the rules – that elected us to come here…

To have the privilege – and that’s what this is: a privilege – of serving in the “people’s house”…

And enact an agenda that advances their needs, not those of any political party…

Or favored constituency, or personal whim…


With a bi-partisan, common sense agenda that deals with that middle class squeeze I described, and deals with it directly and decisively…

By the timely enactment of a property tax cap, that provides real relief…

For the overtaxed, overregulated, overburdened families, senior citizens, farmers and small businesses who have long since passed their breaking point…

By renewing our Upstate economy…

Through cutting job-killing bureaucratic red tape, supporting manufacturing and investing in our emerging high-tech industries that hold a promise of real jobs, better wages and the opportunity for families to stay together, right here, in New York…

By ensuring the safety and security of all New Yorkers by passing the Chronic Criminal Act, expanding our state’s DNA Database and identifying and stopping sexual predators – the worst of the worst – before they strike and claim yet another innocent life…

Mr. Speaker, in addition to these priorities, this agenda aimed at alleviating the “middle class squeeze” so many of our mutual constituents now face, I know, we all know, there are a whole host of other public policy issues we need to address…

From improving education, to making health care more affordable, to continuing to reform government so it is the taxpayer’s servant, not its master…

But, if politics is the art of making the impossible, possible, then responsible governance is about setting priorities – and sticking to them…

I believe… our Assembly Republican Conference believes… the New Yorkers who pay the taxes and the bills for what we pass in this Chamber believe… that we must prioritize…

For even though the word “government” may mean different things to different people…

The reality is that, given the severity of this “perfect financial storm” that’s already swamping too many of our constituents…

Our State government cannot afford to do everything for everyone…

And it’s incumbent upon each of us, as legislators, holding a sacred public trust, to differentiate between the needs of the people we serve… and the wants of the elected officials, who are fortunate to serve them…

That’s the hallmark of a representative democracy such as ours – for us to meet, to discuss, to deliberate, to debate these issues…

With civility, honesty, respect and open minds…

And then join together in mutual accord, to break through barriers to progress, to persuade the agents of delay and help make real change a reality…

If there was an actual job description for being a Member of the Assembly that would likely be it… to
help make New York’s full potential a reality…

To serve our fellow New Yorker…

To improve the quality of life for every man, woman and child of this great state…

Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, going forward, this session…

Let us pledge to cooperate without compromising our principles and beliefs…

Let us commit ourselves to a more perfect union…

Let us reach agreement that not only respects majority rule, but protects minority rights…

Let us, in the words of one of our nation’s greatest Presidents, President Abraham Lincoln – a true leader who risked his reputation and gave his life – to keep our then fledgling nation from being torn apart by the evils of slavery and civil war…

A Leader who, in speaking to the necessity of embracing fundamental, far-reaching change to overcome real challenges, said the following…

“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew”…

“So we must think and act anew”…

Powerful words from a powerful leader…

In accordance with President Lincoln’s timeless admonition, it is incumbent upon us all to “think and act anew”…

For, if we set down the crucible of partisanship and pick-up our God-given birthright as Americans…

As New Yorkers…

A birthright to dare, to dream, to achieve, to join together in common cause for the greater common good…

Then we will renew New York…

We will master this moment… our moment… New York’s moment…

Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, thank you and may God continue to bless this house, our great state and its citizens.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Remembering Barbara “Bobbie” Bruno

As many people from across the state will join together today to celebrate the life of the late Bobbie Bruno, I thought it appropriate to take a moment and share some thoughts on this wonderful, lovely woman.

Bobbie was a devoted wife, and loving mother and grandmother who exemplified dignity, decency and grace. She was a dedicated and compassionate volunteer in the community and a caring advocate for the humane treatment of animals.

Bobbie was truly a classy woman who gave Senator Bruno a great deal of strength and support. My heart goes out to Joe and his family and my thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time. Bobbie will forever be etched in the hearts of those who had the honor and pleasure of meeting her and we will always remember her gentleness and warmth.

Friday, January 11, 2008

They Have Farms in New York!!!

Glad to see the Governor finally remembered that agriculture is the state’s top industry. Our farmers play a vital role in New York’s economy and they deserve our help and support.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Did Governing By Vengeance End in Year 1?

There can't be any more of that if we're going to build trust and get things done in Year 2. Another clip from last night's Capital Tonight.

He Didn't say No New Tolls, Fees, Loopholes or "Revenue Enhancers"

Capital Tonight with Brian Taffe does an excellent job covering state politics and government. I appeared on the show last night to discuss the State of the State. Here's a clip.

Thruway Toll Relief MIA in State of the State

One thing I was sad the Governor chose not to mention in his State of the State Address yesterday was the need to stop the proposed Thruway toll hikes. In light of the 10 percent toll hike that just went into effect on January 6th and the recently proposed additional 10 percent increase – five percent of which would take effect in 2009 and five percent occurring in 2010, respectively – you’d think this would have been something worthy of comment by our state’s Chief Executive.

While the Governor was silent on this issue yesterday, there’s still time to act. The state Thruway Authority is planning on making a final determination later this spring on the additional toll hike. If the Governor is sincere on reducing our state’s crippling tax burden and revitalizing Upstate New York, then I would hope he’d join me and my conference in supporting legislation requiring the Legislature’s approval for any change in Thruway tolls. This issue is too important to leave up to a handful of unelected, unaccountable, faceless bureaucrats – it should be decided by the 212 duly elected men and women of our state Legislature.

My legislation – Assembly Bill A.9616 – would require legislative approval of any increased fees, rental or charges for the use of the Thruway. I’ve spoken to Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno and he’s assured me the Senate will pass similar legislation.

It’s already far too expensive to live, work and raise a family in New York. Increasing Thruway tolls by another 10 percent would only add to the considerable financial burdens faced by New Yorkers, especially upstate.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Capital News 9 on Property Taxes, State of the State

Here's a story I taped today on Capital News 9 on property taxes and the State of the State address.

Gov. Offers Conciliatory Words, But at What Cost?

While I welcome the tone of humility in the Governor’s second State of the State Address, I fear his conciliatory words carry a hefty price tag.

Former Governor Mario Cuomo was fond of saying that “you campaign in poetry, but you govern in prose.” Today we heard some lofty rhetoric, but we don’t need more words – we need a healthy dose of reality: overtaxed, overregulated, overburdened New Yorkers can’t afford the billions in new government spending the Governor outlined in his speech today.

The Governor was correct in saying “economic storm clouds are gathering” – they are. It’s a “perfect storm” of high taxes, gas prices and tolls that threatens to swamp New Yorkers who are already working harder and longer, just to keep their heads above water.

Although I commend the Governor for admitting that property taxes are at a crisis level in New York State, I believe he should have gone further than just calling for a commission on enacting a property tax cap. Quite frankly, I don't think I've seen a punting unit called out that quickly since Super Bowl XXV.

With all due respect to the Governor, I believe this issue has already been “commissioned to death.” We already know what the problem is – a crippling, crushing property tax burden that hurts most those who can afford it the least. We can’t allow a property tax cap to become bogged down in a commission. New Yorkers, literally, can’t afford to wait any longer.

Tax Cap Press Conference Video

Here's a video from a press conference on the tax cap that I had a short while ago just before the Governor's State of the State Address.

Fast Track the Property Tax Cap

A little over an hour from now, Governor Eliot Spitzer will be giving his second State of the State Address to the people of New York. From some of the early glimpses I have seen, it appears that the Governor is ready to address our state’s property tax crisis, and that is welcome news for overtaxed, overburdened New Yorkers who have been demanding real relief.

I urge the Governor to push for implementation of the property tax cap and not allow it to become mired in further study. We can ensure that the appropriate stakeholders – most importantly, the collective voices of the more than 18 million New Yorkers we represent – are fully heard and involved in this effort by putting a property tax cap on a ‘fast track,’ and not the back burner. New York needs a property tax cap and we need it now. Accordingly, I’m asking the Governor to move enactment of a property tax cap to the top of this year’s legislative agenda and work in bi-partisan partnership with our Conference to achieve this critical goal.

Don't Play These Numbers

Renting out the Lottery sounds like a bad bet to me. The Governor should not be pitting higher education money against K-12 funding and skimming funds that should go toward lowering school district costs and the burden on property taxpayers.

Utica Observer-Dispatch Says, "Our Leaders in Albany Need to Lead"

Here's an excerpt:

"Give New Yorkers relief from property taxes. Last week, Assembly Republican Leader James Tedisco, R-Schenectady-Saratoga, said that property taxes have reached crisis levels, and if left unchecked, will continue contributing to New York’s decline. Tedisco and others suggest a cap on property taxes, just as states like Massachusetts have successfully done."

For the rest of the editorial, please click below:

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Hey Governor: Either Call for a Property Tax Cap Tomorrow or Stay in Manhattan

In light of the fact that New Yorkers pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation, Governor Eliot Spitzer should either call for a property tax cap in his State of the State Address tomorrow or stay in Manhattan.

Some early reports have indicated that Governor Spitzer may call for a ‘commission’ to ‘study’ the issue of enacting a property tax cap for New York State. If that is what the Governor plans on saying in his State of the State Address tomorrow then, frankly, he should just stay home. We don’t need another commission, study, report, or task force – we already know what the problem is: a crushing property tax burden that’s driving people and businesses from our state.

Ask any homeowner, senior citizen, farmer or small business owner and they will tell you: property taxes have reached a crisis level in New York State. If the Governor doesn’t recognize this, then he’s out of touch with the vast majority of New Yorkers. Overtaxed families don’t need the Governor to be a steamroller, they need him to be a rescue vehicle.

We can join 14 other states, states such as Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota and West Virginia that have already successfully capped property taxes.

I believe this is the number one issue facing our state. Unless Governor Spitzer comes out in support of a property tax cap and actually commits himself to passing it, then I think this session – and possibly his governorship – will be characterized as a failure.

Our Conference has already introduced legislation – Assembly Bill A.8775 – the ‘New York State Property Taxpayers Protection Act’ to address this crisis. It’s been estimated that homeowners and businesses would realize hundreds of millions in savings by limiting the growth of school property tax levies. In fact, if our property tax cap had already been in place, New Yorkers would have realized a savings of more than $2.8 billion over two years. That is real relief that homeowners desperately need.

Governor Spitzer can take a big step toward helping us solve New York’s property tax crisis by joining our Conference in making enactment of a property tax cap the top legislative priority this session. Otherwise, it will be more of the same and he should just stay home.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Gov. Spitzer's State of the State Must Call For Property Tax Cap

In advance of Governor Spitzer’s second State of the State Address, there are three legislative priorities that, in my opinion, must be included in the Governor’s upcoming speech if the Governor is to recapture the mantle of reform that swept him into office.

During his State of the State Address last year, Governor Spitzer spoke of “a journey of New Yorkers in need of hope and in search of change.” The Governor was right – New Yorkers desperately want change. However, instead of change, last year saw more of the same political acrimony and gridlock that had come to define state government. Now is the time to get New York back on track and make the reform agenda – an agenda that millions of New Yorkers thought they were getting when they went to the polls back in 2006 – a reality.

New York can turn the page on a year of squandered opportunities and unrealized promises if the Governor’s address focuses on what I believe are the top three issues needing to be resolved to secure New York’s future prosperity: a property tax cap, no new tax increases and a real plan for fixing the Upstate economy.

First and foremost, the Governor needs to call for a property tax cap. Property taxes have reached crisis levels in New York State. Organization after organization – from the Public Policy Institute, to the Empire Center, to the Citizens Budget Commission – agree that property taxes in our state have spiraled out of control and, if left unchecked, will continue contributing to New York’s decline. The answer is to cap property taxes, just as states like Massachusetts have successfully done. Anything less than a property tax cap is a half-hearted band-aid that will only serve to slow, not stop, the hemorrhaging of our people, jobs and tax base.

Secondly, Governor Spitzer needs to honor his promise of no new taxes. And the Governor should be crystal clear in understanding whether it’s called a ‘revenue enhancer,’ ‘loophole closure,’ fee, surcharge or toll, any time the state government reaches into taxpayers’ pockets and takes more of their hard-earned money, it’s a tax increase, plain and simple. New Yorkers can’t afford any more tax increases, regardless of what they’re called or how they’re described.

Third, the Governor should address his failure to revitalize an Upstate economy that remains mired in a quicksand of job loss, high-energy prices and residential flight. What’s most troubling is that it’s been almost a year and we’re still waiting for coherent, comprehensive action from this Governor to jumpstart Upstate and reverse decades of economic decline. The Governor’s address should outline – in detail – his plan to renew Upstate.

Unless the Governor delivers substantive proposals to deal with each of these priorities in his forthcoming speech, then I don’t see how real change will be achieved. By any measure, if these three issues aren’t addressed, then I think the Governor’s speech will have been a missed opportunity, ultimately seen as more of the same empty rhetoric New Yorkers are tired of hearing. We all know what the problems are – now, more than ever, the question is whether Governor Spitzer will master this moment and show he has the political will to solve them.