Some of the area’s state legislators fared well, but others lagged behind on Unshackle Upstate’s 2011-2012 legislative scorecards released Aug. 22.
Unshackle Upstate, which describes itself as a coalition of businesses and trade organizations advocating for reforms to make Upstate a stronger place in which to do business, uses the scorecards to grade legislators on their legislative and budget votes as well as sponsorships of targeted bills during the 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions.
In the Utica–Rome area, Republican Assemblyman Marc Butler of District 117, which includes Verona and Westmoreland, received a grade of 62 out of 100. He was marked down for his support of the suspension of hydraulic fracturing and his vote against the Power NY Act 2011. Butler scored points for his sponsorship of state-spending cap legislation, his support of the last two state budgets, and his “yes” vote on the property-tax cap legislation.
Democrat Assemblyman William Magee of District 111, which includes part of Herkimer County, and state Sen. Joseph Griffo of District 47, which covers Oneida County, fared better, both receiving scores of 82 out of 100. Both were noted for their support of the property-tax cap, the two state budgets, and the Power New York Act of 2011. Power NY is an omnibus energy package that encourages new investments in electric-generating facilities across New York.
Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, a Republican from District 115, which takes in part of Clinton, received a score of 87 out of 100 for her support of pro-taxpayer measures such as the property-tax cap and also for opposing measures such as increasing the minimum wage. Unshackle also noted Tenney’s sponsorship of six taxpayer-friendly pieces of legislation including the Taxpayer Protection and Mandate Relief Act — a bill to reduce state and local spending; reduce taxes, fees, and assessments; reduce state borrowing; and reduce mandates.
State Sen. James Seward, a Republican representing District 51, which encompasses all of Herkimer County and other portions of the Mohawk Valley, was among the state’s high scorers, receiving 94 out of 100. Unshackle cited his votes in favor of the Power NY Act, property-tax cap, and best value for public works as well as his sponsorship of legislation to establish an unemployment base period, and to eliminate corporate-franchise tax on manufacturing for his high score.
The Business Journal sent inquiries to all the area legislators asking for comment on their scorecards, but none responded prior to press time.
Unshackle says its scorecards are timely for taxpayers to take notice of as they get ready to make their voting decisions.
“As primary and election day draw near, it’s very important for taxpayers to have a comprehensive guide that shows which legislators have truly dedicated themselves to unlocking New York’s economic potential,” Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate, said in a news release. “We’re encouraged to see that many legislators have responded to their constituents by supporting two consecutive fiscally responsible state budgets and several pro-taxpayer initiatives such as the 2-percent property-tax cap and pension reform.”
In general, Sampson said, the scorecard grades are higher than those his organization handed out in 2010.
The scorecard grades consist of points awarded or lost based on legislators’ sponsorships and floor votes on bills that Unshackle either supported or opposed.
The full listing of legislators and their scores is available online at http://www.unshackleupstate.com/legislative-activity/scorecards/.
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