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Governor Andrew Cuomo came to Rochester on Thursday and announced the sequel to the Buffalo Billion.

Instead of giving other Upstate regions their fair share, Cuomo said there’s only $1.5 billion for the rest of us.

Oh, and we’ll have to fight each other for the loot.

The governor made this announcement in the only big-city county he lost in November. When Cuomo lost Erie County, he showered money and love on Buffalo. When he lost Monroe County, he thrust us into a game show.

Rochester will have to compete with six other regions for three awards of $500 million.

No wonder Mayor Lovely Warren ran away after this announcement. 

Warren probably wanted to say, “I thank the governor for his commitment to Upstate New York and for allowing us the opportunity to compete for money that we should get anyway. Rochester has the highest rate of child poverty in the state. We get less state aid per capita than any other Upstate city. The legislature makes us pay our school district $119 million every year, more than Syracuse and Buffalo pay their school districts combined. The governor likes to reward excellence, so he should take a look at our city’s great credit rating. But we thank him for giving us the opportunity to spend hours duplicating the Finger Lakes Economic Development Council plan. We probably have to make it look ‘different,’ or he might say we cheated. I appreciate the fact he is letting Rochester at least have a shot at a fraction of the cash he gave Buffalo. We are so lucky to have him.”

I’m not convinced throwing money at companies, New York’s chief economic development strategy, always works. I’m not convinced $1 billion or $500 million will make a giant difference. (Buffalo’s job growth looks as bad as Rochester’s.)

But there’s something to be said for equity. There’s something to be said for treating local governments with respect. There’s something to be said for not pitting communities against each other. When you create winners, you create losers. Monroe County voters figured that out.



Links of the Day:


– Cuomo’s property tax plan isn’t a cut. It’s a subsidy.

– The profit made by a Buffalo school construction contractor could be crazy high, but it’s secret.

– Parents were investigated for letting their children walk around by themselves. Their kids have to carry cards saying “free range.” We are criminalizing activities that were perfectly normal when we were children.

What if we did away with bail?

– Data shows Americans really, really like their giant vehicles.

10 Responses to Game Show Governor

  1. January 15, 2015 at 10:55 pm theodore kumlander responds:

    Sounds like the govouner is running government more like a business . Robbing peter and paul .

  2. January 15, 2015 at 10:59 pm theodore kumlander responds:

    The school districts require students who live in a mile radius from the school to walk even in bad weather. But parents who let their kids wander around the park are Bad.?

  3. I can understand the priority to focus on buffalo first as well as the rational to give them a little bit more money. There are challenging issues there.

    It would make more sense to have two 750 million dollar prizes for the larger upstate population centers (Rochester & Syracuse) and a smaller pot of money for smaller population centers like utica and the north country. That way the impact and the excitement it would generate would be proportionally similar.

    Rochester and Binghamton for example are two totally different sized cities.

  4. January 16, 2015 at 7:25 am Rick Geiger responds:

    Good column Rachel. I hope our elected representatives are listening.

  5. January 16, 2015 at 7:28 am John Moriello responds:

    Mario’s kid is making us compete for OUR OWN money.

    Only in New York could this pass for leadership.

  6. I think your attitude here is emblematic of the problem to begin with. Are we ‘entitled’ to money that is largely generated downstate in the first place…it seems assumed that we are by the tone of this article. Also, I find irony that the same ‘community’ that often complains about and largely ignores the poverty issues in our city are touting these statistics that demonstrate why we ‘deserve’ that money. Let’s be honest, very little of any of that money that Rochester does get is going to make it’s way to the poor.

  7. January 16, 2015 at 12:54 pm Monkeytoe responds:

    Cuomo is just doing what liberals do. You can’t expect him to actually try to change things to make sense, fix anything, or be equitable.

    Interesting that you mention the Maintenance of Effort law that requires the City to keep giving a certain level of tax revenue to RCSD (above and beyond RCSD’s own tax revenue). Most local citizens have never heard of it and don’t understand it because the media has never bother to report it and explain it. Just like the media never points out that RCSD spends more per student than most suburban schools – because that would hurt “the narrative” (i.e., that if we just give more money to public schools, they would do better). Explaining that the City is forced by the State Gov’t to pay RCSD over and above what other school districts receive is just another underreported fact – because “education” is a sacred cow. I would love to see a long investigative story that compared average RCSD teacher salaries and benefits with other local districts; compared # of administrator per student with other local districts; compared per student spending with other local districts; and then compared teacher salaries on a # of days worked per year, breaking it down into an hourly rate. Most people hear a teacher makes $50,000 a year and don’t realize that “a year” is for 8 months – at most – work after summer vacation and holidays.

  8. January 16, 2015 at 4:48 pm george eckhardt responds:

    he speaks with forked tongue.

  9. January 17, 2015 at 10:25 am Steve Bathory responds:

    Wait a minute: have we forgotten the tremendous benefits Rochester and Monroe County reaped from having Duffy as Cuomo’s Lieutenant Governor for four years?
    Oh, that’s right: there weren’t any.

    Steve Bathory
    Rochester, New York

  10. Yep I’d just keep voting in those DEMs they sure have the answers.

    Does anyone really THINK, that the winners of if this game WIN because they had the best plan? Its a game and it allows the state and the Governor to have a BIG press conferences, one to announce the GAME and then there is the WINNERS press conferences all really in the end to promote >>> THE GOVERNOR.

    If we had any class .. we would tell the GOV publically … hey Andy we ain’t playing.

    The state has enough people on staff to determine where the money should go, and to whom and for what… BUT MOST OF ALL. The highest taxed state in the UNION the money should go back to the people in lower taxes.. even if its 2 cents per taxpayer. As, apparently the state can’t figure out where it should go as they have over taxed us. Again.

    And does anyone consider the wasted time, money and effort that goes into a losing bid? Or even all bids win or lose. Instead of 100 maybe 1000s of people spending countless hours in meetings and proposal preparation .. wouldn’t their efforts be better spent helping inner city kids, across this state, to learn to READ?

    Yep well done Mr Governor, well done DEM voters.

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