This week, I’ve been pretty busy once again traveling around NYS to get our message out. But I didn’t forget about my blog post. Actually, I wanted to write this one specifically for our active Facebook fans, who have been writing some great, insightful comments not just this week, but consistently over the past few months as we’ve been trying to ramp up the campaign.

Unshackle Upstate doesn’t work on behalf of ourselves  as an organization, or our own thoughts and ideals, but rather is about listening to and echoing the thoughts and concerns of YOU, the taxpayer. So I wanted to personally respond to some of the comments I’ve been seeing from all of you on the Unshackle Upstate Facebook page. I’ve noticed that a lot of people are echoing others in their concerns, so I’ve picked out a few comments to respond to, based on topics that come up over and over again on our page, and some specific things that have happened this week. I’m responding to a few key issues today, and I’ll do this again from time to time.

“NYS Government has to reduce the workforce. There are way too many people on the payroll. In these troubled times we all have to do more with less.” – Gary M Baker; Facebook

Clearly, the leadership of this state is not listening.  We continue to talk about ways to lower state spending and the burden it places on all of us.  Yet this week we hear that the Governor is proposing that day care providers be forced to join the United Federation of Teachers.  No disrespect to the workers, but come on.  The only thing this will do is run up the cost of daycare for private pay and drive up the reimbursement rate within the social service programs.  So on one hand we won’t be able to afford the increase and on the other our taxes will go up to cover Medicaid rates.  That’s not leadership, that’s pandering.  And any elected official that supports that component of the Governor’s proposed budget doesn’t deserve our support.

“Oh Yeah… Let’s start the new fiscal year with a fresh round of additional debt for our grandchildren. Absolutely no mention of seriously attacking the poor management practices that led to the massive shortfall.”- David Hammond; Facebook

If it isn’t taxes and health insurance that drives us over the edge, it is energy.  So now we have a great chance to actually lower our rates for natural gas…oh, and create hundreds of jobs…yet once again that won’t happen.  Why?  Because the state can’t agree on regulations related to hydro fracture drilling (a proven technique used in PA).  So the gas sits in the ground while we contemplate what to do.  But even if we got that figured out, in the budget there is a new Severance Tax.  That is a tax applied to “severing gas from the ground” making it more costly to extract the gas.  So let’s be clear…we can’t agree on how to get the gas out of the ground and yet we are going to tax an industry before it even develops.  Great planning there.

“How about eliminating state pensions for all elected officials…it might encourage more citizen legislators and turnover in state office holders. Financial term limits.” – Bruce Anderson; Facebook

How can we reduce pension issues and at the same time get our elected to work harder for us?  Well, there might be a way to do that.  Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick has introduced a bill to change an elected officials pension from being a defined benefit, or DB plan (one that is backed by you, the taxpayer) to a defined contribution plan, or DC (like the 401K the private sector uses).  Not a bad idea.  That way we at least eliminate the potential for a Conflict of Interest when dealing with the pension system and our ability to get it lowered.  In fact, we pushed for a DC plan like they have at SUNY/CUNY to be in the recently passed Tier 5.  Perhaps Unshackle Upstate will have to push this bill a bit harder.