ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Post on Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.
Republican candidate Joe Lhota lost the mayoral race big-time last week, but his party prevailed in several contests in blue-leaning areas outside the city. At least one of those GOP winners, Rob Astorino, tells The Post's Fredric U. Dicker he might run for governor next year.
And why not?
Four years ago, Astorino was elected Westchester county exec by vowing to rein in property taxes there, which are among the nation's highest. He made good, shaving the tax levy 2 percent, after it had risen 17 percent over the previous five years. This went hand-in-hand with budget cuts, including a 15 percent payroll trim.
Today, the county spends less than when Astorino first took office.
Given Bill de Blasio's ideological hostility to businesses and his vow to hike taxes, it wouldn't surprise us to see Astorino try to lure city firms to Westchester — just as Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have done on behalf of their states.
Of course, the city is not the only place with a climate hostile to enterprise. "New York is hemorrhaging jobs," says Astorino, which he blames on the state's "extraordinarily high taxes," its "terrible regulatory climate" and Medicaid and public-pension costs that are "killing counties, local governments and school districts."
If Astorino takes on Gov. Cuomo, he'd have a ready-made plan to spur jobs Upstate: opening up New York to fracking.
Sure, Blue York's gov would still be tough to beat, as Astorino himself notes.
But Dicker reports that Astorino already has "several financial heavy hitters" ready to back him in a run for governor. What makes it interesting is this: In Astorino, Republicans have a man who's shown how to run on core GOP principles — and win.
The Times Herald-Record of Middletown on last week's casino gambling referendum.
When voters this week decisively agreed to allow non-Indian casino gambling, a long and elusive dream for many in our region became real.
For so long, changing the state's Constitution to allow this type of gambling seemed impossible. Many local business and community leaders long ago numbed to the prospect after decades of disappointment.
In the meantime, Indian casinos opened in other parts of the state and casinos were fast-tracked in surrounding states. And while that makes you wonder if it's too late for casinos to prosper here, enthusiasm in the business community is nonetheless soaring after the vote.
Take, for example, Ellenville Village Manager Mary Sheeley. She is confident the former Nevele Resort in her community is the future home of one of the four casinos coming to upstate. "We're elated. Couldn't be more pleased."
Sheeley is "very optimistic it's gonna happen." She is hardly alone.
Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Scott Samuelson said casino resorts will lead to "unprecedented" investments for his community. He's confident "local municipalities in this region stand to gain much-needed revenue." When Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited Bethel Woods on Wednesday he energized an audience of government and business leaders by referring to the legislation as a "game changer." He added: "I believe this will fundamentally change the trajectory of the Catskills." Two casinos — one in Sullivan and the other Ulster — is no longer a distant, vague dream. It is a real possibility.
And that's why a deep breath is needed. Local leaders must focus first on the criteria and process a state Gaming Commission panel will use to choose the sites, which could come as early as next summer.
First priority, hold the state commission to its own criteria for making its final decisions: 70 percent based on economic activity and business development; 20 percent on local impact; 10 percent on workforce factors.
The region has been freed from its 30-year-old holding pattern, but the sudden euphoria from the business community cannot fuel on a reckless process, void of accountability, transparency and public involvement.
The governor and others have made a lot promises — from increased school aid to rapid jobs growth — that now must drive the vetting process. Hold the state and the process accountable.
The Buffalo News on cuts to the federal food stamps program.
Apparently, those living in poverty did not get the memo about the ever so slowly improving economy. Otherwise, they wouldn't be worried about the deepening cuts to the food stamp program.
Reductions in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps, began this month. The allotment was raised in 2009 as part of the federal economic stimulus package. The assumption was that the economy would be well on its way to recovery by now, but that hasn't happened.
By taking away this benefit, the government is expected to save about $5 billion next year. The price of that savings will be felt in the stomachs of those who will have less to eat.
The cost of food stamps is undeniably enormous. More than 45 million people were enrolled last year at a cost of more than $78 billion. The latest round of cuts doesn't sound like much — maybe $9 a week for a family of four — but it will be a crippling amount for some. The cuts will inevitably force more people to rely on food banks and soup kitchens, putting new strains on those agencies.
The size of the food stamp program is one of the sticking points the House and Senate have had in reaching an agreement on a new farm bill. The House proposed a $40 billion cut over 10 years to the nutrition program. The Senate bill would cut $4.5 billion.
So Americans struggling to feed their families may have to grapple with the current reduction that is supposed to reflect "better times" and then possibly devastating cuts later if people like House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., get their way. He said a couple of months ago that billions of dollars in cuts "will put people on the path to self-sufficiency and independence."