New York will shell out millions to improve the Buffalo Bills’ stadium, while cutting services for disabled people, but that’s OK, according to the Cuomo administration, because the state will be able to use a luxury box at the stadium to promote upstate to employers.

We suggest, instead, the box be reserved for disabled people, since the budget paying for it is being balanced on their backs.

As details leak of the budget being mixed together by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders, the choices they’re making are raising questions.

The governor has been backing fiscal discipline with harsh words. He suggested recently local municipalities and school districts should stop complaining about cuts in state aid and start finding savings in shared services and mergers.

We have long beat the drum for mergers and consolidations between layers of government and neighboring school districts.

But none of our duplicative government spending is as wasteful of public money as giving millions of dollars to cash-rich professional sports teams.

Cuomo’s willingness to throw $54 million into Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium is a stain on his fiscal crusader cape.

We question the usefulness of a Buffalo Bills’ luxury box, apart from its wastefulness. The way the Bills have been playing, New York will have to pay spectators to sit in its fancy seats.

Beyond the team’s sad performance — it hasn’t made the playoffs since 1999 — is a principle that should be fundamental to government operations: The state should not give taxpayer dollars to successful businesses to keep doing what they are already doing.

New York should not have contributed tens of millions of dollars to construction of new stadiums, which opened in 2009, for the Yankees and the Mets.

“We have a lot of wants. Unfortunately, we cannot meet all our wants,” Cuomo said in a recent interview on “Capitol Tonight,” using the hectoring tone that has become a habit with him.

The governor often speaks as if he is tutoring children.

But he is right. We do have wants, and one of the big ones is for him to stop telling us to buck up and sacrifice while he suggests spending our tax money on fancy stadium seats.

At the same time, he “wants” to cut funding for cancer screenings for the uninsured. And he “wants” to cut programs to curb teen smoking.

We wish the governor’s wants didn’t coincide so closely with things we don’t want.

“Our priority should be looking out for families and people with developmental disabilities in communities .... not giving taxpayer-funded handouts to support the lifestyles of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills,”said Republican Assemblyman James Tedisco, who represents Schenectady and Saratoga counties.

He was referring to another of the governor’s “wants,” a big tax break meant to draw the “Tonight” show, with unconfirmed new host Jimmy Fallon, back to New York.

Fallon has already said he wants to film in New York, so why do we have to throw millions of dollars in tax breaks at NBC?

Sports stadiums and network talk shows make poor priorities for New York, especially in an economic environment Cuomo himself has characterized as difficult.

We like football and late-night comics, but if we have to choose, we’ll take proper treatment for the disabled people in our communities.

What we want is evidence our state’s leaders, starting with the governor, are following some guiding principles as they put together the budget, and that one of them is to care for those who need it before spending money on those who don’t.

Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star editorial board, which consists of Publisher Rick Emanuel, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle and citizen representative Robert Sledd.

(9) comments

LockhartKate

This article rings so true with my own thoughts. I represent and advocate for people with neurological disorders. On Friday we have a big meeting with our company to discuss some interesting facts: some of our programs are to be cut. some people are to be 'let go'. and not a single employee will receive a raise/bonus/incentive to continue providing quality care for yet another year. I have so much to say in regards to this issue, I'm mostly disheartened. The struggle, the effort, the relentless optimism that seems to fall deftly on false hope. The issues surrounding this vast group of people have been swept aside every. single. year. I so wish this had the same sensationalism as some of the other issues going on currently in government legislation. But, until that solidarity happens, i continue to wait with baited ear.

srusso
srusso

This article has many truth's in it but people need to remember something. This is the same argument made by people who say we are wasting money in space when people are homeless. There were homeless BEFORE the space program and would be if we stopped it. As far as spending money on sports teams.....

It is wrong to cut out money for disabled services and also services like police, fire, and education. However, there is something called "quality of life". People and businesses usually move into communities where there things to do, such as theaters, museums, and yes, even sports teams.

When raising money for a new baseball stadium in Auburn, NY many years ago, we pointed out to people the quality of life issue and the "dollar roll-a round" factor. For every dollar that was spent in the stadium, it rolled over three times in the community. Same thing for the Bills.

The Bills actually add many millions of dollars to NY’s economy each year.

There is a ticket tax, a parking tax, income taxes from the players, taxes from the restaurant receipts and hotels that people stay in while at the games, and taxes on food, beverages, and alcohol. All of this goes into the economy of New York State.

Add to that, the amount of money that the actual players spend every year on their housing and expenses.

Now just for example; When my wife and I go to one game every year, it’s almost $400.00 for tickets (4 tickets), $200.00 for two nights in a motel, and a few hundred more dollars on Gas, tolls, meals, etc. It’s a $1000.00 weekend.

Oh and as a side note, those two other so called NY teams from Jersey add ZERO dollars to NY’s economy.

synthesis

How much money is made by the state from state income tax on a football players game check? How much sales tax revenue is generated from ticket and concession sales from a Bills home game? The answer to both questions is a lot of money. The net after the stadium improvements in Orchard Park is a gain that is only accentuated by the flux of out of town money that enters the Buffalo area from Rochester and Canada every home game. The gain that I speak of probably is over the coarse of the whole new lease however, and maybe they are cutting social programs in the short term to realize a long term profit. The owners while rich enough to pay for these improvements themselves, have leverage with the threat of leaving. No local or state politician wants to be the guy that lost the Bills and then have to search for votes in Western New York. I don't agree with short changing the disabled but perhaps this just boils down to politics as usual.

jacob77

Lets not forget about all the millions being allocated to the new "Safeact"
Tens of millions of dollars spent just to make a gun registry that will not stop a single crime.
How many schools could this money fund?

Businesses are leaving the state in droves because of the insane taxes, I'm sure a box seat at a bills game will make them look past all the money they will lose by setting up shop in NY.

oilheet

It's refreshing to actually agree with The Post-Star Editorial Dept. for a change! NY State - more specifically "Emperor Cuomo" needs to get off his harsh attitude with NY State's Schools in particular, especially when we see the wasted resources and flagrant spending in so many other areas. Nothing is more important than seeing that our kids get a quality education - to prepare them for the future competitiveness they will encounter. The fact that this "governor" down-plays schools and their importance deeply disturbs me and it should others?

Douglas Be

To All,
Excellent comments on both sides....makes 1 think about the issue in depth.

As far as school funding goes as Oilsheet commented, everyone I would think agrees that schools are the core of a community. We all want the best we can afford for the students. But here is where deeper thought should prevail.

1. N.Y.S. applies the highest total tax rates/fees on their residents in the country.

2. The very thing that drives a family to buy a house in a certain area (the quality of the school district) also forces out or hinders new buyers from coming in. That being the school tax rate. ..Example....QBY school tax rate is 18.15 per thousand of assessed value. You can have a house still in QBY or Lake George ( but both can still be in L.G. school district) and pay 7.30 per thousand ....close to 1/3 per year in taxes. Say you pay 3k in school taxes for QBY per year, if in L.G district you pay around 1k per yr.
. N.Y.S spends the most per kid in the U.S./

Doug Be

oilheet

I was not talking about tax rates for districts - brain-o.
I was referring to the major cuts in State Aid - directly from "emperror Cuomo"
Every district in the state has had to make up the difference or CUT programs, classes and staff - directly affecting OUR KIDS. Now I see we can approve a budget which INCLUDES funding to enforce an un-constitutional infringement on our 2nd ammendment rights, but it's again - OK to cut aid to schools from the state level...????

Granny47

The Buffalo Bills can rebuild their own stadium! Let some of their over paid players contribute to their own "home". The taxpayers of this state have had it with this kind of spending. Especially when everything around us is suffering...... cutting cancer screenings for a football stadium. How shameful! All these professional teams should be self-supporting, including the repairs. Are the taxpayers who would be footing the bill given discounts on tickets, because they are New Yorkers? I seriously doubt it.

The_Philster

No offense, but you should really do your homework before writing such a ridiculous editorial, specifically, your math homework. Having the Bills in Western NY brings far more money, just in taxes alone, than it's shelling out for the stadium upgrades. Even if there weren't a huge buyout clause, if the new owners wind up moving the Bills away, NYS loses far more in tax money from team employees and sales tax money from out-of-state visitors than it's spent on the Bills.

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