By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- The nearly $54 million in capital aid contained in the 2013 state budget to keep the Buffalo Bills in Western New York isn't going over well in some parts of the state. While the editorial in today's Glens Falls Post-Star newspaper raised a number of concerns about the fiscal priorities of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers, we bring you the parts about the state aid for the NFL franchise.
The editorial starts out:
''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.''
It later adds:
"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."
And the editorial concludes discussing the deal for the Bills and the widely reported TV industry tax break that will be used to help finance the return of the Tonight show next year with new host Jimmy Fallon:
"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.''