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Steve Levy, Suff Cnty Exec- governors race sponsor-Primepay
July 30, 2010 @ 12:00 am EDT
Mr. Levy is always an interesting speaker. Today was no disappointment. Steve’s opening remark was : "Politicians are always trying to satisfy the needs of voters while at the same time telling them that we can cut taxes". His point was that you can do one or the other, but almost never both. According to Levy, just as we need a responsible person at home, there needs to be a ‘grown-up’ in the rooms of politics.
He compared how different levels of government deal with revenue shortfalls:
- At the Federal level they print money
- At the State level they shove it down to the local level
- At the Local level they raise taxes or do without
Steve cited California, Illinois and New York as being financially strapped states where hard decisions will have to be made. Under the Levy Administation, taxes went from being 13% of the bill to 10% of the bill. There were hard choices made to get there. Among the steps taken was an attempt to get New York State to shoulder the cost of troopers on state roads. That didn’t fly, so Levy put Sheriff Officers on the state roads, saving the high cost of Suffolk Police. Mr. Levy says, "The Public Sector jobs are living in their own bubble." The rest of the economy suffers as they go on thinking that they should be excluded from the pain-which of course just increases the pain for the rest of the economy. $180,000 annual salaries for Policemen are just not sustainable. Pensions are funded in ways that most of the private sector gave up on years ago.
The Foley Nursing Home is another ‘craw’ in his throat. Foley costs taxpayers $10 million per year. Steve said he will sell it to a private company, and the residents will be no worse off than they are now. The Union is ready to mount a battle, but he vows that it will be sold.
Some trimming of Levy’s budget was met through early retirements, which only works if you do not rehire the same number of people. He has been able to reduce the work force and keep it that way.
He spoke some on development. While he considers himself an environmentalist, that does not preclude development. Patchogue Village was given as an example. The future development of the Ronkonkoma Railroad Station is being planned, and the prospect of affordable apartments, retail stores, entertainment and transportation to New York City will make that location very desirable.
Lastly, the ending of the Empire Zones is a big blow to Long Island. Steve encouraged all of us to notify our state representatives and urge them to keep the program. Under that program, we were able to attract Canon, a major employer. The problem with ending Empire Zones is that not only will we not be able to offer the incentives involved, but the removal of benefits is retroactive. Because of this, we will not be able to meet previous promises made under the Empire Zone provision. This is patently unfair.
During the Q&A, the question of the MTA tax was brought up by Bill Schoolman, who will be speaking on that subject next week. According to Levy, the County will be entered as a ‘Friend of the Court.’