The State Legislature gave its final approval to a rise in Erie County's sales tax on Wednesday, but not before lawmakers sharply rebuked the Giambra administration for its handling of the county's finances. The sales tax increase to 9.25 cents on the dollar, which state lawmakers derisively dubbed the 'Giambra tax,' was approved, 86-54, by the State Assembly on Wednesday. The Senate passed it Tuesday, 47-9. Gov. George E. Pataki signed the bill Wednesday night and the County Legislature meets again today to give the measure final passage. Though the tax hike was approved, the majority of Western New York legislators wanted nothing to do with taking a yes vote on the controversial measure. Of the 18 lawmakers from the region who voted on the measure in the two houses, 12 opposed it. Those voting against the measure included nine in the Assembly, six of them from Erie County, and three in the Senate, all representing parts of Erie County. In the Assembly the no votes came from Democrats Sam Hoyt, Crystal Peoples and Robin Schimminger and Republicans Daniel Burling, Francine Delmonte, James Hayes, Jack Quinn, Sandra Lee Wirth and Catherine Young. In the Senate, the no votes on Tuesday were Democrats Byron Brown and William Stachowski and Republican George Maziarz. 'Too much of this tax increase will go to inflated spending, self-indulgent excesses, perks and patronage,' said Schimminger, D-Kenmore. For a State Legislature that so often gets blamed for big-spending and tax-hiking ways, the Erie County tax boost became a chance to reflect that reputation elsewhere. Several Western New York lawmakers suggested the tax increase would not have been necessary had Erie County Executive Joel A. Giambra done a better job of managing the county budget.Giambra is finished. He's alienated his erstwhile Dem colleagues, and now he's completely alienated his current fellow Repubs. He's a political orphan. By the way, I think & hope that Swanick and his stupid sweater are finished, too.
Debate ... in Albany!?
Our Assembly members from WNY argued against, and in most cases voted against, Giambra's tax. Democrats and Republicans alike blasted Giambra's mismanagement. And rightfully so. There's an important subtext to this, as well - there was actual debate and persuasion going on in the Assembly over this. Silver didn't just "make it so", as in prior years. There was real disagreement about this. This underscores that things may slowly be changing in Albany for the better.