By DON GLYNN
Niagara Gazette — Talk about political gimmicks!
Look no further than the bill state lawmakers have put in the hopper to provide a $350 check to nearly one million families in 2014, just three weeks prior to Election Day.
Many people apparently think they’ll receive it this year — the state gave that impression when it was first announced — but that’s not going to happen.
Under the guidelines, the checks will be mailed to families that have at least one child under age 18 and have gross adjusted incomes between $40,000 and $300,000. The checks will be sent for three years at a cost of $375 million a year.
As Karen DeWitt, the Albany bureau chief for National Public Radio, cautions: “You should know they’re planning to pay for that by raising other taxes on the wealthy and, of course, the utility tax surcharge.”
Ken Lovett of the New York Post also sees its true worth: “The check won’t have (on the face) ‘Vote for Andrew Cuomo and Your State Lawmaker but it might just as well.’ Or will it be touted as tax relief and money you can spend? No one’s going to say that.”
Anyway you cut it, it’s abundantly clear the money is targeted to a certain segment of the population. For instance, those who won’t receive the checks include the elderly, people without children and those with children over age 18 (college age) who could use it, if only to buy textbooks for a couple of semesters.
It all seems like a weak effort to redistribute the wealth, to take money from the rich and spread it to others. Sounds like something the flamboyant former Gov. Huey (The Kingfish) Long of Louisiana promised in return for votes. He also was known for his “Share Our Wealth” program.
PAYING THE TAB: So often we hear about the positive impact of a film being shot in the area. If big stars are in the cast, it will undoubtedly draw crowds, generate dollars for the local economy and even promote the city or town as a place to visit. Those are major factors for giving tax credits to film producers shooting in New York state. That tax credit — set to expire next year — has been extended for 10 years although it’s been changed to include talk shows and variety programs that relocate to New York. The show must be taped in front of an audience of least 200 people, it must have a $30 million annual production budget with $10 million in renovation capital costs. As Lovett notes, it sounds like the tax credit bill was re-written precisely for relocating the “Tonight Show” to the Big Apple where, incidentally, NBC is building a new studio for Leno’s successor. Just another item handed off for the taxpayers to cover.
THE COMEBACK GUY? Many of us remember former Gov. Eliot Spitzer and the local angle in his fall from grace in 2008, when he was accused of soliciting a prostitute.
Part of that crisis erupted in Niagara Falls when Spitzer had left a luncheon briefly at the former Shorty’s Ultimate Sports Bar & Grille, to call an escort service in Washington, D.C. Later, authorities determined Spitzer had placed the cell phone call from the Pine Avenue restaurant parking lot.
Some observers now contend that the ex-governor, who shows up on TV from time to time and teaches a course at the City College of New York, among other pursuits, is weighing a possibility of re-entering the political arena. Earlier this month, for example, he hosted a fund-raiser at his sister’s Washington, D.C. residence for Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who is running in a special election for the U.S. Senate.
LEARN-TO-PLAY: The Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel has been offering free instructions on how to play table games like blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat, Mississippi Stud Poker and Blackjack Switch.
A spokesman said the sessions were offered two Wednesdays each month to help patrons learn the rules, ask questions and try games using “play money.” There also is a $10 match play incentive for attending. People interested in the sessions can simply sign up at the table games pit an hour before each session.
<\Bz14>MONEY TALK: Overheard at the Como Restaurant: “An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today.”
Contact reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246