The Message with Sizzle

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff.

The people who work in Albany will now be running from Albany to run for reelection.

Many from our region believe they are coming with good news in hand.

Assembly member Susan John proudly touts that she “delivers for Rochester.” She worked to get more state aid to the city and to the City School District.

Assemblyman Joe Morelle talks about how – as chairman of the  Assembly Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Sports Development, he’s “pleased that the Legislature approved $36 million for the multi-venue performing arts component of Rochester’s Renaissance Square project, as well as $5 million
for the construction of PAETEC Park, the new home of the Raging Rhino’s soccer

Senators Joe Robach, George Maziarz and Jim Alesi are thrilled to report that the budget has $15 million in aid to assist in the construction of a new student recreation center/multipurpose field house at SUNY Brockport.

Hey, even Governor George Pataki – the man who fumed about the veto overrides that kept in place a fatter state budget – is fine with taking credit for approving $26.5 million for school construction in Rochester.

Heck, you don’t get a guy like Pataki or, say, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver out to town on an announcement that Medicaid has been reformed. It’s much easier to announce a tangible item paid for by New York State aid (otherwise known as your money). Just a few years ago, for example, it was the announcement of the state aid for the Fast Ferry that brought Silver here.

And, by golly, it was an announcement of state aid that got Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno to downtown Rochester in 2004.

I had a colleague who gave this advice when making any kind of presentation: Make sure it has sizzle.

To New York State lawmakers, it is the doling out of state money for projects and to local governments that “has the sizzle.” They believe this is what sells to the voter.

It put me in mind of something written by Jay Gallagher, the Albany Bureau chief for Gannett News Service. He posed a few questions in his column a few weeks back. Among them:

How can state lawmakers  hold down taxes by increasing spending well beyond inflation? How come we keep hearing that the state debt is huge, yet we still borrow more?

Aren’t these good questions to pose to state lawmakers when they start on the road to reelection? Don’t these have “sizzle?”