Editorial Roundup: New York

Albany Times Union. April 26, 2024.

Editorial: What, New York worry?

As big as it is, the state’s new budget fails to address a host of crises – and the lack of urgency is troubling.

Remember the opioid crisis? It never went away.

Remember lead and other toxins in drinking water? They’re still in there.

Remember worries about climate change, and concerns that future energy costs may rise more than some people can afford to pay? That issue hasn’t vanished, either.

But if there’s any urgency among New York leaders to deal with these crises, you wouldn’t know it from the just-approved state budget. The elected leaders may pay plenty of lip service to these issues, but their actions – which are, after all, what ultimately matter – don’t quite match their words.

The opioid crisis is a case in point. Overdose deaths nationwide have skyrocketed, from last decade’s peak of about 47,600 in 2017 to more than 80,400 in 2021, the most recent year for which the National Institutes of Health has comprehensive statistics.

Yet as the Times Union’s Raga Justin reports, this year’s budget features few new programs and policies on substance abuse. One excuse offered for this inertia: Projects using our $2.5 billion windfall of settlements from opioid manufacturers must filter through the Opioid Settlement Fund Advisory Board, which oversees how the money is spent. But the Hochul administration has rejected some of the board’s key recommendations, such as safe injection sites.

And this points to a persistent problem for state government: It’s pretty good at taxing people and reaching headline-grabbing legal settlements, but it can’t always spend all the money it rakes in. This, too, reflects a lack of urgency.

We’ve seen this pattern for years. Consider tobacco settlement funds, with billions coming in but relatively little spent on smoking prevention and cessation programs. Consider the check-off funds for a variety of causes that people can donate to on their tax forms; an audit found that two-thirds of the money that came in over the past six years has not been spent.

Another example: A recent report from the office of state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli noted that billions of dollars’ worth of local water and sewer projects are backed up, so to speak, in part because of problems in the loan application process. This comes even as the new state budget added $500 million for these necessary upgrades.

Here’s another issue lacking urgency in the budget: the failure to pass the New York HEAT Act. Among other things, it would have limited energy costs for low- and moderate-income households to 6% of income, shielding them from potentially high costs of shifting from fossil fuel heating and cooking systems and appliances to electric ones. Nor was action taken on the Climate Change Superfund Act, which would have required companies that contributed significantly to global warming to bear a share of the costs of dealing with climate change. Those issues are now likely to remain unresolved for another year.

It’s a year that might be well spent not just resolving the differences on all these issues, but looking at what New York’s problem is when it comes to spending money. A state that has more money than it can spend is a state that’s either taking in way too much, or isn’t investing enough in the people and systems needed to get that money to where it’s supposed to go – that is, to the communities that need it.


New York Post. April 27, 2024.

Editorial: The EmPIRE Act would kill NY small businesses

“No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session,” wrote Manhattan Surrogate Judge Gideon Tucker in 1866 — and the likes of state Sen. Brad Hoylman are still proving him right, over 150 years later.

His worst current brainstorm is the so-called EmPIRE Act, which would “privatize” labor-law enforcement by letting anyone initiate class-action lawsuits on behalf of alleged wage-theft victims.

Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and Assemblywoman Joanne Simon (D-Brooklyn) say the state Department of Labor is too understaffed and underfunded to do the job.

So why not fund and staff it up?

We’re plenty worried about crime in general, but we don’t argue for legalizing vigilantes.

And certainly not vigilantism for profit, as this bill does: It’s an open invitation to tort lawyers to initiate lawsuits against small employers (or even some big ones) in hopes of a fat go-away settlement.

New York already hosts a swarm of trial-lawyer locusts who work that legal racket on a host of fronts.

EmPIRE aims to copy a 20-year-old California law, the Private Attorneys General Act, that has brought a wave of lawsuits that small businesses and nonprofits have little ability to fight; reformers finally got a less-insane replacement on the Golden State ballot this November.

Not that trial lawyers are the only special interest that would exploit EmPIRE: It’s also be a gift to labor unions looking to organize a particular shop or industry.

Unions and the tort bar, not coincidentally, are two of the top sources of Albany campaign donations.

To be clear: Even businesses with pristine records would suffer under the EmPIRE Act, since their already-obscene costs for liability insurance would soar even more.

This will force some firms (e.g., many fast-food franchises) that already operate with thin profit margins to shut down, killing lower-wage jobs in the name of rescuing low-wage workers.

An Echelon poll for New Yorkers for Local Business found that only 32% of New Yorkers support the intention of the bill when it’s fully explained.

New Yorkers know a con when they see one, which is why so much Albany business is done out of sight.


Adirondack Daily Enterprise. April 26, 2024.

Editorial: Media tax credit is welcome, but challenges will continue

Our sincerest thanks to the New York State Legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul for including a local media tax credit in the Fiscal Year 2025 budget, which was passed on April 20. We’re optimistic it will help sustain our newsroom in Saranac Lake — for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and Lake Placid News — for the next few years.

Over the past two months, managers in our parent company, Ogden Newspapers, have helped the Empire State Local News Coalition lobby legislators and the governor to pass the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, which the local media tax credit was modeled after. It is part of what is now known as New York’s Newspaper and Broadcast Media Jobs Program. Little is known about this program, but here is what we’ve been told so far.

The Newspaper and Broadcast Media Jobs Program is a tax credit designed to support existing and new jobs in the state’s media industry. Starting next year and ending in tax year 2028, the government is allocating $30 million each year for eligible print media and broadcasting companies. Not only does this program support the salaries of existing journalism jobs, it gives an incentive to grow newsrooms.

Eligible media businesses can claim up to $300,000 in refundable tax credits each year. Those credits will be divided evenly between firms that are 100 employees or less and firms that are more than 100 employees. A credit can cover 50% of a journalist’s salary up to $50,000 each year and can apply to existing staff. The program provides an additional $5,000 to media companies for each new employee hired.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie lauded the program after the budget was passed.

“Local journalism plays an essential role in our communities,” Heastie said in a statement. “Not only does it provide critical coverage of local elections, but it also joins communities together through a shared knowledge of high school sports teams, new businesses coming to the area and issues impacting readers’ everyday lives. This funding is the necessary first step in ensuring local journalism is protected and supported for many years to come.”

We’re glad state lawmakers recognize the value of locally produced journalism. After all, New York has lost 50% of its newsrooms over the past 20 years. We need to prevent news deserts from happening.

This is certainly good news for the Enterprise and News and other Ogden newspapers in the state — The Observer (Dunkirk), Post-Journal (Jamestown) and Westfield Republican (Westfield) — and for print and broadcast newsrooms throughout the Adirondack North Country Region.

“New York is now the first state in the nation to incentivize hiring and retaining local journalists — a critical investment given that hundreds of New York’s newspapers have closed since 2004, leaving too many New York communities without access to vital local information,” Empire State Local News Coalition founder Zachary Richner said in a statement.

Now we have to ask, “What’s next?”

While New York’s Newspaper and Broadcast Media Jobs Program is a welcome breather, it will only serve as a Band-Aid to a much larger problem. The challenges facing local newsrooms will not go away with a short-term tax credit program. Advertising revenue and subscriptions continue to decline for newspapers across the country, and it’s not much easier for broadcast newsrooms.

Therefore, we see the work of the newly formed Empire State Local News Coalition as only just beginning. The Enterprise and News are proud members of this coalition, which can chalk up the Newspaper and Broadcast Media Jobs Program as a win in 2024. But where do we go from here? Standing up for local news is not just a one-and-done affair. It’s a long-term commitment. It will take even more lobbying to possibly continue this tax credit program after three years, and there needs to be an ongoing element of public education that goes along with it.

That means our message to readers is the same as it was before the 2025 state budget was passed. Keep supporting locally produced journalism — whether it’s your local newspapers, radio stations, news magazines or television stations. We still need your help as we cover the community news and sports you’ve relied on for years.

For subscriptions and advertising information for the Enterprise and News, call 518-891-2600 or visit www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com or www.lakeplacidnews.com.


Oneonta Daily Star. April 26, 2024.

Editorial: Chip factories will be vital to NY and the country

Of all the resources the nations of the world are vying for, few are more essential to daily life now and in the future than computer chips.

The semiconductor industry is responsible for innovations like artificial intelligence, automated factories and electric vehicles. The chips power everything from military supercomputers to the refrigerators we have in our homes. They often determine the economic prosperity and national security of the most powerful countries in the world.

And soon, many of them will be produced right here in New York state.

Last week, President Joe Biden reached an agreement to provide more than $6 billion in government support for Micron Technology to produce memory computer chips in New York and Idaho.

Four of these factories will be in the town of Clay, just north of Syracuse. In addition to support from the government, Micron plans to invest $100 billion in upstate New York over the next two decades. That could potentially lead to almost 50,000 jobs between direct work and construction.

The planned factories will not only serve as a boon to the economy of upstate New York, but will also help the country as a whole in the increasingly important and contentious chip wars with China.

The funding for these plants comes from the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act, enacted to support new and expanded facilities as a way to reduce America’s reliance on foreign-made chips.

The law includes $52 billion to support the domestic semiconductor industry that will help avoid the kind of national chip shortages that occurred during the pandemic.

In the growing Cold War between the U.S. and China, semiconductor production has emerged as perhaps the most important battleground. While American tech companies design some of the most advanced chips in the world, almost all of them are made in Taiwan.

Despite accounting for roughly a quarter of the world’s semiconductor demand, U.S. chip manufacturing is at barely above 10%, sparking concerns about national security given China’s attempts to gain a foothold in the industry.

The U.S. government has implemented export controls to keep American technology out of China, restrictions that have only gotten tighter in the last year or two. The Biden administration has set a goal for 20% of the world’s advanced chips to be made in the U.S.

The reliance on China is still heavy, however. As of 2022, China was the top supplier of goods to America and the third largest buyer of U.S. exports according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. If trade with China were to be cut off, hundreds of thousands of Americans would be out of work.

Which brings up the issue of Taiwan.

While the U.S. is ahead of China in terms of innovation, 90% of the world’s advanced computer chips are made in Taiwan, which in recent years has been under threat of invasion from China.

If that were to come to pass, it would mean a potentially disastrous scenario where the U.S. would be cut off from those chips.

The former CEO of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, which produces 90% of the world’s most advanced chips, estimated that it would cost up to 50% more to make top of the line chips in America rather than Taiwan due to labor costs and differing labor regulations.

What’s more, because of how profitable the semiconductor industry is, most chip companies don’t need extra funding, meaning only less-profitable ones may be willing to participate in the CHIPS Act as currently constituted. This only adds to the importance of having such factories here in New York.

The world’s reliance on these little pieces of technology will only grow in the years to come. Having them being made in our backyard will mean good things for the economic future of upstate New York and beyond.