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Editorial: State needs to get priorities straight

Editorial: State needs to get priorities straight

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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.

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