Basile proposes tax relief for places with closed power plants (updated X 2)

Republican Senate candidate Tom Basile proposed on Thursday that the state fund $200 million a year to provide tax relief to school districts and municipalities that have lost revenue or been forced to pay settlements because a power plant closed or won a court case to cut its tax bills.

Basile invoked the closure of the coal-fired Lovett power plant units in Stony Point in 2007 and 2008, and a tax challenge by the plant’s owners, Mirant, that he said had forced the North Rockland School District to repay Mirant $12 million a year in past taxes. The state forced Mirant to close the plant because of its air pollution.

“New York’s failed energy policies have decimated our tax bases in so many areas,” Basile said in a press release. “Albany’s tax and regulate agenda has seriously cost Haverstraw and Stony Point residents and has left us with land that generates pennies-on-the-dollar compared to its previous tax levy.”

Basile, a Stony Point councilman who’s running for the 39th Senate District seat that Bill Larkin is vacating, said that school districts and municipalities that get state grants through his proposed fund would have to lower their tax levies by an equal amount. He didn’t say for how many years they could get state payments or how much each district or government would be allowed to seek.

(Update: Basile’s campaign says districts and municipalities could apply for state funding equal to the amount of their debt payments to the power plant owner, plus the amount of revenue they lost when a plant’s assessment was lowered. They could collect state payments every year until they finished repaying the owner, “but would also be able to take advantage of a need-based program that will address a portion of loss of revenue.”)

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan supported the idea in Basile’s press release. “This is a serious issue on Long Island with the LIPA tax certiorari decision and it is a problem that is impacting more and more areas throughout the state,” he said. “The North Rockland School District taxpayers have borne the brunt of this problem and the state needs to step in and address this issue now to help alleviate this massive burden.”

(Update #2: The head of the North Rockland Teachers Association issued a scathing response to Basile and Flanagan, saying that Assemblyman James Skoufis, the Woodbury Democrat competing with Basile for the 39th Senate District seat, pushed for aid for North Rockland this year and was blocked by Senate Republicans.

“We see this for what it is, a con job trying to get votes in November,” association President Debbie Brennan said in a press release. “Assemblyman James Skoufis, on the other hand, has been a champion on this issue and willing partner in trying to help our schools and taxpayers. He has been working on legislation that would resolve this issue sustainably, only to see it blocked by Sen. Flanagan. Republican Tom Basile would be more of the same.”)

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Letitia James will speak in Newburgh at Latino Democratic Committee dinner

Democratic attorney general candidate Letitia James is scheduled to speak on Saturday in Newburgh at an annual fundraising dinner and dance for the Latino Democratic Committee of Orange County.

The event starts with a social hour at 5 p.m. on Oct. 13 at Café Internationalé at The Ramada, 1289 Route 300 in Newburgh. Dinner tickets are $65 apiece. Shannon Wong of the New York Civil Liberties Union will be the keynote speaker. Go to for more information.

James won a four-way Democratic primary last month and will compete with Republican Keith Wofford and three third-party candidates – including Orange County civil rights attorney Michael Sussman, the Green Party candidate – for attorney general on Nov. 6.


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Skoufis widens fundraising edge over Basile

Democratic  assemblyman and Senate candidate James Skoufis outraised his Republican opponent by more than 5-to-1 in the latest fundraising period and had nearly 10 times as much campaign funding as GOP candidate Tom Basile as of Oct. 1, with just over a month to go before the Nov. 6 election.

Campaign reports from the two 39th Senate District candidates show the Woodbury Democrat raised almost $140,000 in the 10-day period from Sept. 21 to Oct. 1, a haul that included $11,000 maximum contributions from the Washington-based Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and from the campaign account of Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Senate Democratic minority leader. Skoufis had a little over $314,000 on hand after expenses.

Basile, a Stony Point Republican, raised about $25,000 in that same period and reported a $33,000 balance on Oct. 1. He had spent around $141,000 0n TV commercials during that time, compared to $100,000 in TV ads for Skoufis. Basile’s biggest donations were a pair of $5,000 checks from State Street Associate PAC and Empire Health PAC.

Here are the Oct. 1 account balances reported by candidates for eight contested Senate and Assembly races in districts that cross Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties (excluded are figures for Assembly members Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, and Aileen Gunther, D-Forestburgh, who are running unopposed for re-election.)

Senate District 39

Republican Tom Basile: $32,944

Democrat James Skoufis: $314,111

Senate District 42

Democrat Jen Metzger: $221,848

Republican Annie Rabbitt: $125,445

Senate District 46

* Republican George Amedore: $201,098

Democrat Pat Strong: $118,146

Senate District 51

* Republican James Seward: $437,710

Democrat Joyce St. George:  $25,651

Assembly District 98

* Republican Karl Brabenec: $31,952

Democrat Scott Martens: $14,971

Assembly District 99

Democrat Matt Rettig $19,209

Republican Colin Schmitt: $56,412

Assembly District 101

Democrat Chad McEvoy: $6,587

* Republican Brian Miller: $5,417

Assembly District 104

Democrat Jonathan Jacobson: $52,390

Republican Scott Manley: $23,867

* denotes incumbent

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Senate GOP challenges tax claim in Skoufis campaign ad

Senate Republicans fired off a salvo this week when Democratic Assemblyman James Skoufis began airing a new TV ad for his Senate campaign in which he says he kept his promise to oppose tax increases, voting against 195 “tax hike bills” since he took office in 2013.

The Senate GOP’s campaign arm disputed that message on Thursday by pointing out that Skoufis voted this year for the Assembly’s budget proposal, a non-binding resolution introduced at the outset of three-way budget negotiations among the governor and leaders of the two legislative chambers. The Assembly plan included what Senate Republicans described as $20 billion in new taxes, including a tax increase on the state’s highest earners that they said would have raised $13.5 billion over multiple years (they didn’t say how many).

“James Skoufis is running an ad that says he’s the defender and protector of hardworking taxpayers, but the truth is he voted for $20 billion in new and higher taxes just this year,” Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif said in a press release, demanding that Skoufis remove that ad.

A Skoufis campaign spokesman disputed the charge and returned fire, saying that Skoufis’ Republican opponent for the 39th Senate District has voted to raise taxes in Stony Point and his own pay as a town councilman.

“This is another extreme lie from extremist Tom Basile,” campaign spokesman Jon Heppner said. “James Skoufis has proven to oppose tax increases, while Tom Basile has proven to increase property taxes on local businesses while continually raising his own taxpayer-funded salary.”

The Assembly’s Democratic majority proposed a tax surcharge this year on household income greater than $5 million a year, which was projected to raise $232 million in the first year. Senate Republicans opposed that proposal and all of the other Assembly proposals that they collectively characterized as $20 billion in new taxes. None of them became law.

The 195 “tax hike bills” Skoufis has voted against include increases in local sales and mortgage taxes and the statewide gasoline tax, according to his campaign.

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Delgado leads Faso among voters over 50 in AARP poll

Democratic challenger Antonio Delgado led Republican Rep. John Faso by 43 percent to 36 percent among voters older than 50 in a poll conducted for the AARP in New York’s 19th Congressional District and released this week.

Delgado’s seven-point lead was larger than the four-point margin of error for the poll, which questioned 610 registered voters from Sept. 6-16. Seven percent of surveyed voters over 50 supported another candidate – independent Diane Neal and Green Party candidate Steve Greenfield also are running – and 13 percent were undecided.

Huge majorities of the 50+ voters wanted Congress to preserve Medicare’s existing hospital coverage after 2029 and to strengthen Social Security. More than 80 percent opposed allowing health insurers to deny coverage or charge more for people with pre-existing medical conditions, or to charge older customer up to five times more in premiums than they charge younger ones.

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NYS Union of Police Associations endorses O’Donnell for Congress

Republican House candidate and retired police commander Jim O’Donnell announced on Friday the endorsement of the New York State Union of Police Associations, a Newburgh-based labor organization for New York police officers and sheriff’s deputies.

“Jimmy O’Donnell is the definition of a public servant,” NYSUPA President Anthony Solfaro said in campaign press release. “He is a born leader who understands how to solve problems and get things done. At a time when national security and law enforcement issues are front and center, we need someone with Jimmy’s deep expertise and experience crafting these policies.”

O’Donnell is challenging Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring, for New York’s 18th Congressional District seat, which Maloney has held for six years. He worked for the state police for 23 years, retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1997, and later served as MTA police chief for five years. He’s now an Orange County legislator.

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Orange correction officers endorse Skoufis for Senate

The union representing Orange County correction officers has endorsed assemblyman and Senate candidate James Skoufis in his bid to succeed retiring Sen. Bill Larkin in the 39th Senate District.

“James Skoufis is the person we need to ensure our correctional facilities are safe and secure,” Rafael Marquez, president of  the Orange County Correction Officers Benevolent Association, said in a campaign press release. “He understands the crucial jobs our officers face each day and their importance to the community as a whole.”

The endorsement for the Woodbury Democrat signifies a split in candidate preferences between the two main unions for the 430-employee Orange County Sheriff’s Office. The smaller union representing deputies endorsed Tom Basile, the Republican candidate for the 39th Senate District, in August.


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Four supervisors, mayors endorse Basile for Senate

Republican Senate candidate Tom Basile announced endorsements on Tuesday from two town supervisors and two mayors in Orange County for his bid to succeed retiring Sen. Bill Larkin in the 39th District.

The lineup included Crawford Supervisor Charlie Carnes and Montgomery Supervisor Rodney Winchell, both of whom are Republicans, and Montgomery Mayor Steve Brescia, a Republican who is also the county Legislature chairman.

“Tom will be a true partner for our local officials and business community,” Brescia said. “He’s honest, driven and well prepared to fight for us in Albany.”

Walden Mayor Susan Rumbold also endorsed Basile, saying he “spent countless hours touring the Village and learning about our needs.” What party she belongs to was unclear.

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Obama endorses Skoufis, Metzger for Senate

Democratic Senate candidates Jen Metzger and James Skoufis were among 260 state and federal candidates that former President Barack Obama endorsed via Twitter on Monday.

“Today, I’m proud to endorse even more Democratic candidates who aren’t just running against something, but for something—to expand opportunity for all of us and to restore dignity, honor, and compassion to public service,” Obama said in a short message accompanying the list. “They deserve your vote.”

Obama picked eight state Senate candidates and three congressional candidates in New York. Metzger, in a press release touting the endorsement, alluded to the potential for Democrats to win a majority in a Senate that Republicans control by a single seat. She and Republican Annie Rabbitt are running for the 42nd District seat that retiring Sen. John Bonacic is vacating.

“President Obama was once a State Senator himself, and understands the critical role the State Legislature can play in improving our quality of life,” she said.  “The New York State Senate is just one vote away from advancing forward-looking and responsible policies that will protect our rights, our environment, and our economic well-being.”

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NFIB endorses GOP Senate, Assembly candidates

The National Federation of Independent Business announced endorsements on Tuesday for 74 state Senate and Assembly candidates that included all Republican office seekers in six districts crossing Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties.

NFIB endorsed Republican Sens. James Seward (District 51) and George Amedore (District 46); GOP Senate contenders Tom Basile (District 39) and Annie Rabbitt (District 42); and Republican assemblymen Karl Brabenec (District 98) and Brian Miller (District 101). It didn’t endorse any candidates in races for open Assembly seats in districts 99 and 104.

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