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Politics

Federal shutdown, Albany crackdown on horizon

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Peter Lee
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via Flickr
The federal shutdown could halt cherry blossom celebrations in D.C. What's in store for upstate?

Mark Weiner at the Syracuse Post-Standard has made a stab at breaking down what a federal shutdown could mean for Central New York. On the list are things everyone's worrying about: delayed tax returns, and a halt on military paychecks.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said he worries, in particular, about the effect of a government shutdown on the recovering Upstate economy. “There would be some impact immediately,” Schumer said Wednesday. “No new federal guaranteed mortgages could be issued. You would put a crimp on the whole housing market.” When combined with a delay in federal tax refunds and a loss of business for federal contractors, “that stops money from flowing into the economy,” Schumer said. “All of that together puts a serious crimp in the economy,” Schumer said. “In Upstate New York and the country, this would be a serious blow.”

Weiner notes that federal contractors like Lockheed Martin, that do work in Central New York, may also have to delay production.

Ethics reform

Ethics reform may finally have its day in Albany, according to capitol reporter Karen Dewitt. However, there's still a long way to go for Governor Cuomo and the legislature to reach a final agreement.

Speaker Silver says he and Governor Cuomo agree on three basic tenets of ethics reform. Silver says he supports beefing up an investigative commission that would have greater powers to investigate charges of corruption. He says he also backs lawmaker's disclosure of outside income. All state legislators are part time, and the Speaker is a partner in a major personal injury law firm. Though he says none of his clients currently have business before the state, he believes that those connections should be made public, whether it's "an accountant, an adverting executive, or a lawn mowing service". Silver maintains, though, that the legislature still needs it's own ethics commission, separate from the governor's branch. He admits that the current entity has had a poor track record, failing to follow up on corruption charges and slow to punish offenders, but says there are certain functions that only a separate legislative body can perform, such as guidance over what events are okay to attend without violating the state's strict new gift bans.

Looking into his crystal ball, Speaker Silver made the prediction that legislation will pass before the end of the session.

Not much else

In other news, it was a slow day in Albany yesterday. This news comes according to the Albany Times Union's Capitol Confidential blog, which got a look at Assemblyman Jack McEnery's nearly empty schedule.

McEneny figures the slowness is due to a post-budget lull and the realization that there truly isn’t enough money to satisfy everyone this year (much of the lobbying, importuning and meeting with lawmakers comes down to funding requests). “There’s not much to argue about,” said McEneny, describing the situation as a form of “reality therapy.”