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State money to Bills generates Assembly floor tussle

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – Strange, maybe, that it came down to a liberal Manhattan Democrat to defend a near $60 million item in the state budget plan to keep the Buffalo Bills from leaving Western New York.

“Buffalo has got a lot of hard times. I don’t think it would be a smart thing to let that team leave because it would really do damage to that city and the mentality of that city," said Assembly Ways and Means Chairman Herman Farrell.

The lawmaker’s comments came this evening during a floor debate over the Assembly’s one-house budget resolution when a Putnam County Republican, Assemblyman Steve Katz, raised concerns about the Assembly accepting a budget provision by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to provide nearly $60 million in capital and operating cost aid to the Bills. The money is part of a deal made earlier this year by the state, county and the team to remain in Western New York.

“Aren’t they wealthy enough that they can handle their own operating support?’’ Katz asked Farrell, who ran the floor budget debate on behalf of the Assembly Democrats. Katz suggested the team was leveraging a threat to move as a way to get a taxpayer bailout.

“The New York Giants said that one day and now they are the New Jersey Giants," Farrell responded, noting the loss also from New York over the years of teams like the Jets and Brooklyn Dodgers. He said the Yankees remained in the city, in part, because of the government aid package.

“I don’t want to get beat up because they left Buffalo," Farrell said.

“I don’t see that this is the financial boon to the city of Buffalo," Katz said. “Honestly, no offense to my colleagues in Buffalo." He said the state should not be giving “$60 million to billionaires who can more than afford to stay right here.

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

tprecious@buffnews.com


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | jterreri@buffnews.com


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | jzremski@buffnews.com

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