Transcript: Need to Know Rochester for January 22, 2010

 

(Julie) Coming up on Need to know the largest education cut in two decades, cuts in healthcare, new taxes we examine Gov. Paterson's 2010 budget proposal with WXXI capital Bureau coorespondant Karen DeWitt and NY Now host Matt Ryan also, looking for work these days is a challenge for just about everyone but even more so for people with disabilities.

(ANNCR) Rochester's news magazine since 1997. This is Need To Know.

GOOD AFTERNOON,  THANKS FOR JOINING ME FOR THIS EDITION OF NEED TO KNOW.

NEW YORK GOVERNOR DAVID PATERSON HAS RELEASED HIS BUDGET PLAN FOR THE UPCOMING FISCAL YEAR, WHICH BEGINS APRIL FIRST.  HE'S TRYING TO CLOSE A DEFICIT OF MORE THAN EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS, SO THIS PLAN IS FULL OF PAIN.  JOINING ME TO TALK ABOUT THE BUDGET AND POLITICS IN ALBANY ARE WXXI'S CAPITOL BUREAU CORRESPONDENT MATT RYAN AND KAREN DEWITT, HOST OF NEW YORK NOW.  THANK YOU BOTH.

(Karen) Hey Julie.

(Matt) Hi Julie.

(Julie) Let's talk first about the budget. It's $134 Billion. It's a little bit bigger than last years plan.

(Karen) Yeah, actually despite all the cuts that you just mentioned, suspending is going to be raised by about half a percent and that's because of a lot of fixed cost things they can't control like cost of health care going up and pensions and all the money that New York owes to all it's creditors and paying debt and things like that. So it is going up a little, but as you mentioned there are painful cuts to schools, health care, state agencies, New York City there's a lot of cuts.

(Julie) Before we get too deeply into those cuts, let's talk about where the lines in the sand are being drawn. Some legislators, some business groups say this is a fiscally responsible plan, it's a good plan. Others, including the mayor of New York city say it's going to ruin the state. Where are the lines being drawn?

(Karen) It's always hard to tell in these debates isn't it? But I would say there's a lot fewer gimmicks in this budget than we've seen in the past and it does seem like the governor was trying to be responsible doing a mix of cuts and some taxes. These so called sin taxes. He wants to raise the cost of cigarettes by another dollar a pack and also a tax on sugared soft drinks and sodas. A penny an ounce for the syrup they put into it so if you get a 20 ounce drink, I guess it's 20 cents according to that. He's trying to be somewhat balanced wouldn't you say?

(Matt) Absolutely and you said something on New York Now this week that I thought really kind of hit home. The response was kind of muted to this. Usually after the budget is released you'll have press conferences from the assembly speaker, the senate conference leader in this case. And that just wasn't the case. In fact, after the address Tuesday, in Albany, it was just pretty empty around the actual room that the budget address was given in. Very unusual.

(Karen) Some of the lawmakers didn't even show up for the budget. As soon as it was over, they just ran for the exits. I know as reporters, we had to chase them down. They didn't want to talk about it. I think that they figure they're going to do their own budget. They're not really listening to the governor at this point because relations between at least the majority party legislative leaders and the governor aren't very good and they're going to just defy him on this budget and that's why we really didn't see press conferences of the outrage. Although, speaker Silver did say that the schooling cuts goes too far, he's probably not going to go along with the cuts to higher education, SUNY and for college students.

(Julie) Well, let's talk about some of those because these cuts will significantly impact families, children, students in the state. Let's talk about what those cuts are.

(Karen) That's true. If they go through. I really expect that the legislature is going to come up with a whole different proposal, but yeah, college students would be effected. They'd get less student aid. There would probably be less teachers at the public colleges and universities. It's going to impact people in a number of ways. Schools will have less money so there might be property tax increases,

(Matt) Property taxes, school taxes will be going up. And of course if that happens you might have lay offs in the school system. Certainly, it's far reaching, but as we said, it's all about the negotiation. We'll see what actually ends up, but New Yorkers all across the state, Rochester included, could really feel the effects of this budget if some of this stuff actually does go through.

(Karen) It's not like the legislature has a magic wand or something. They may try. They may come up with some kind of one shot. They talked about refinancing the tobacco bonds, things like that, but they're still going to, in the end, agree with some things that are not going to be popular.

(Matt) And the two dedicated taxes that Patterson did bring up are taxes that he can kind of get away with because you're dealing with the cigarette tax and the sugary soda drink tax. Two things that a lot of people can understand and won't fight too hard because he's looking for better health for New Yorkers.

(Julie) Although that soda tax was in last years budget and it didn't go over.

(Matt) Right.

(Karen) Well, the governor caved on that pretty early on. Remember it was in his budget. He talked about it in his state of the state by about this time of year, late January, early February. He said the legislature doesn't want to do that so I'm not going to do it. There's going to be a lot of pressure from the beverage industry because Coca-cola and Pepsi have bottling plants in Western New York and downstate New York and they're going to say that we have to lay off people. You want us to lay off people in the bad economy? Fine. So they'll probably play hardball with this and it's going to be a tough sell.

(Julie) But it is a significant amount, if it were to go through, we're talking about a billion dollars worth of new taxes and fees in this budget. It's a significant amount of money at stake even though were talking about 20 cents here and pennys there.

(Karen) Yeah. It adds up to real money and they certainly need it. They already raised so many other taxes and fees last year that they don't have much left to raise at this point.

(Matt) And I think the number they're hoping to generate from these taxes with the cigarettes and the sugary drinks is $923 million. They're hoping to put that back into the money they're taking out for health care. Whether they're able to generate $923 million from these is a whole other story.

(Karen) People switch to diet soda I guess, right?

(Julie) OK, so now the legislature has this plan, but as you just mentioned Karen, the end result may look nothing like this plan.

(Karen) Like we said, the legislature seem to king of shrug it's shoulders, you know, leave the building. I think that they are going to try between the two democratic majorities to come up with some alternatives to this plan. I think that's what we'll see in the coming weeks and that's why they're not just totally screaming about what the governor is doing. I think this is really just chapter one in a really, really long book.

(Julie) Matt, what are some of the options? Regardless of what they do, they're staring at an 8 billion dollar deficit that must be closed. If you're not going to do these cuts or these taxes, what are some of the options that might be out there?

(Matt) Well, they're looking at other revenue generators. They're looking at letting MMA or Mixed Martial Arts, be allowed in New York State. That will generate, I think they're saying, 2.2 million if they allow that. And wine in grocery stores which was something that came out last year. Assemblyman Joe Morreli from Irondequoit has been a big pusher of that. So that's something that could generate a lot of revenue. Those are two of the things, but those are things that we've seen before except the MMA, but who knows if that's going to end up.

(Karen) And another one that's new I think is putting these cameras at construction sites on the highways. You know how they always say slow down to 45mph or whatever, nobody does? They're going to have cameras and then go after people. So I think if people don't change their habits on that they can probably get a lot of money that way. But they are trying to think of these little ways of gathering more funds which is what the budget number crunchers, that's their job. That's what they do.

(Julie) Let's talk about some of the underlying politics that are going on as the governor is releasing his budget details, the legislature is passing ethics reform laws, but those might not go anywhere.

(Karen) Yeah. As soon as the legislature this week passed an ethics reform package, the governor said he was going to veto the whole package because it doesn't go far enough. He wants more things like public financing of campaigns which isn't in there. He's looking for maybe term limits, so it's starting up a new stalemate because the democrats immediately said they would override it and senate republicans said, "well, not so fast. let's look at this a little more." During the debate the republicans voted for it but they raised a number of objections about some of the ways that the bills are structured. So, right now we seem to be at a stalemate because they dynamic is the governor and the majority party legislators leaders assembly speaker Sheldon Silver and senate leader John Sampson. They are just not getting along at all. And this is part of it. The legislature went off on it's own and did this ethics reform to kind of one up Patterson because they knew that he was going to put it in his state of the state that he wanted ethics reform and they dont' want to give the governor credit on this and the governor is trying to take some of that credit back right now.

(Matt) And this could turn into a real battle because, like we talked about, only one senator voted no for the ethics reform in the senate and that was actually a democrat. So now when they try to override it the GOP like we said earlier might say, hold on we want to make some changes here. They've really got the ball in their court and it could make some serious changes and really threaten this whole bill from passing.

(Karen) The governor is giving them cover here because they can say well we just want to deal with the governor unlike you bad democrats. We want to be bipartisan.

(Julie) If that's not enough evidence that problems remain in Albany, we had this race to the top issue this week as well.

(Karen) Yeah. That was really kind of a debacle. They believed they needed to expand the limit on charter schools. The governor had one bill, speaker Silver and senator Samson had another bill. The democrats bill would pass in the assembly but there wasn't enough votes for in the senate. There was actually enough votes for the governors bill in the senate but as a result, if they had passed in the senate we still would have ended up with 2 one house bills. What they did at the end was they withdrew all the bills and they didn't pass anything. The 4pm deadline for these competitive race to the top federal funds came and went. No bill.

(Matt) They got the application in but the thought is that the maximum you can get from the federal government is 700 million for education but again it had to do with raising the cap on charter schools so the thought is that New York will not get anywhere near that number of 700 million.

(Karen) Well there is a debate on the charter schools, how much they're actually worth because it's only part of the application.

(Julie) Well thank you both very much. We are about out of time,

(Matt) Thanks Julie.

(Karen) Thanks Julie.

 

THANK YOU KAREN DEWITT, WXXI CAPITOL BUREAU CORRESPONDENT AND MATT RYAN, HOST OF NEW YORK NOW WHICH YOU CAN WATCH EVERY SUNDAY EVENING AT SIX THIRTY ON WXXI-TV.

 

COMING UP THIS WEEK, WXXI NEWS IS PARTNERING WITH THE DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE TO  PRESENT ANSWERING TO UPSTATE WITH GOVERNOR PATERSON.  NEWSPAPER EDITORS FROM ACROSS UPSTATE NEW YORK WILL QUESTION THE GOVERNOR ABOUT ISSUES OF IMPORTANCE TO THE REGION.  YOU CAN WATCH THAT ON TUESDAY NIGHT AT NINE HERE ON WXXI-TV, OR IF YOU'D PREFER TO CATCH A LIVE STREAM OF THE PROGRAM GO TO WXXI-DOT-O-R-G AT THREE-THIRTY TUESDAY AFTERNOON.

 

AND NOW WE GO BACK TO ALBANY AND OUR SISTER STATION W-M-H-T TO TALK TO JOHN ROBINSON.  HE'S AN AUTHOR AND THE SUBJECT OF A DOCUMENTARY W-X-X-I OFFERED THIS WEEK CALLED GET OFF YOUR KNEES.  ROBINSON IS A CONGENITAL AMPUTEE - HE WAS BORN WITHOUT COMPLETE ARMS OR LEGS.  DESPITE THE MANY CHALLENGES HE HAS FACED, HE IS LIVING OUT HIS DREAMS AS A  HUSBAND AND FATHER OF THREE WITH A HIGH LEVEL MANAGEMENT POSITION AT W-M-H-T.  I RECENTLY SPOKE WITH HIM ABOUT HOW HE OVERCAME THE BARRIERS PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES FACE IN THE WORKFORCE.

 

(Julie) John thanks for joining us today.  Last month the national unemployment rate for people with disabilities was close to 14 percent compared to about 9 1/2% for people without disabilities.  Can you describe how difficult it was for you personally to get where you are today?

(John)  It is very difficult it took four years of interviews in Canada and the United States those four years  of interviews was hundreds of resumes and thousands of help wanted ad's.  This is after having an education and degree from Syracuse University wanting to work in television and radio.  I assumed it was going to be easier than it was after having 15 to 20 years of a career I realized that it is more difficult.  I'm aware of those numbers, that they're higher for people with disabilities the employment numbers high.  The unemployment number is even higher. Then you're up to the 30-40% level and that's an amazing number when you consider the population is that underemployed.

 

(Julie) So those of the people who are no longer even looking for work?

 

(John) Those are the people who are not looking for work or are working way below their level educationally.  It would be similar to when I cleaned pools for a year after college instead of working in Television, radio, film.   people prepare themselves well and certainly there are services to prepare yourself well educationally  but society hasn't caught up completely yet certainly when employers are looking for employees.  But we're getting there which is great. 

 

(Julie) So what happens when during those four years of sending out resumes what happens? Do you tell them ahead of time you have disabilities or do show up? When happens when you walk through the door?

 

(John) It Was a learning process for me quite frankly.  At first I wasn't telling anybody It was my mindset that if I was in any diversity group I wouldn't necessarily say I'm a person with a disability on an interview or telephone call or resume. But I did realize that over time people are sort of startled by first impressions of me.  So I did start to put some hints on my resume "worked with disability advocacy" started to put it in the letter. And then would remember at times to mention it so there wasn't the shock or surprises when people meet me for the first time it wasn't always perfect, one job years later the person was so startled that it pretty much ended the interview  right there.

This was an interview that I flew to and that reminded me that I need to tell everybody so that there isn't that shock right off the bat

 

(Julie) If you had to develop a list of the most formidable barriers for people with disabilities when it comes to the workplace what would be on that list?

 

(John) Well I think one of the most formidable barriers, quite frankly,  is within ourself.It how I look at the situation that I'm in. Is the best way to determine if I'm going to be successful. So I have to have the mindset that I can do it if it is something that I can do I  have to have the mind-set of how I'm going to accomplish whatever the task is.  I have to have the mindset that I'm a valuable person to whatever situation I want to be in.  That's the first and foremost obstacle that I believe enough in myself and that the other person believes in themselves when they're looking for a position.  The second hurdle may be obvious and that is the rest of society.  I think we've done an awful lot since 1990.  Since American disability's Act went into effect.  Society has had 20 years to acclimate and get use to recognizing accommodations and recognizing differences in abilities and society has begun to catch up.  We've had 20 years experience with that so  when you're interviewing for jobs most people look past that and that's  a generational thing.  But there's still some barriers to overcome with society and with employers.  I think well down that list are the things you might think about which is doors, elevators , bathrooms,  computer equipment those things are relatively easy.  Because of ADA most things have to be done anyway but really the first two are the barriers within myself the barriers within society. 

 

(Julie) At work now, I'm guessing, you still face of challenges.  What are some of the things that youre still working to overcome and what are you doing?

 

(John) The challenges are again within myself.  I've been very blessed to have a good career I've worked for some great organizations that have treated me well that have asked if I needed certain accommodations and I've been comfortable enough to ask for them.  Really it's within myself.  I have to be aware of when I need to ask for help and be comfortable to ask for it.  I tried to abuse that though.  If there's something that I like vs something that I need that's a different question.  Instead of asking for everything I'd like that won't help anybody.  To be honest when I actually need something such as a stool and a washroom such as voice dictation software for the computer those are things that are very helpful and can modify my day but not things that I'd like, where it's just pretty  I have to be careful to keep that line drawn. 

 

(Julie) What do wish most employers knew about workers with disabilities ?

 

(John) I think, I'll speak for myself I think what I want most employers to understand That I've worked really hard for the opportunities that I've had.  I'm human I'll mistakes but I've worked awfully hard for these opportunities and that to me means I'm going to work awfully hard to continue to have that opportunity.  That means that I remind myself that I want to keep going and want to be a viable employee.  I would like other employees to understand that a Person

that wants that position so much will end up being a better employee for the company they're not going to take that job for granted , they're going to work extra hard they're going to represent that organization well.  with 10%  unemployment for the general population your getting good employees now but  those numbers come and go as we know.  when unemployment goes down again remember  that people with disabilities are a segment of population that craves an opportunity and will work really hard to continue the employment not just to get that employment. 

 

(Julie) I know you're Hoping your story serves as an inspiration for the many soldiers I believe there's about 12hundred that of come back from Iraq and afgahnistan with at least one limb gone.  Talk about that a little. 

 

(John) It's definitely been something that's been in my mind since we've started the process.   Both with the documentary and the book and speaking. I was  born a congenital amputee born without the extention of all four arms and legs and realize that it's been difficult.  And I can only imagine how much more difficult it is to lose a limb or two or three or four.  In this process and speaking with people I hope I can help at least one but hopefully many more wounded warriors who come back from serving our country realizing the it's difficult yes, but through a process of understanding through technology and through again overcoming those barriers within ourselves we can find our place.  Putting the effort in that our soldier have in serving our country ,that same effort putting it into yourself  and learning how to adapt to society I certainly hope that my story can help those people because I greatly appreciate what they're doing for our nation and I do understand to some level what they are thinking and feeling right now.

 

(Julie) Thank you very much for your time today John.

 

(John) Oh you're very welcome thank you very much.

 

JOHN ROBINSON OF W-M-H-T IN ALBANY. HE JOINED US AS PART OF W-X-X-I'S WEEKLONG DIALOGUE ON DISABILITY SERIES.  IT'S TIME NOW FOR THE BUSINESS SECTION WITH THE DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE.

 

(Julie) Matt Daneman is the business reporter for the Democrat and Chronicle good to see you again.  Xerox, tough news coming out of that company this week.

 

(Matt) Definitely, so the company came out with its fourth quarter results for 2009 and is part of this even though they're showing some incremental improvements in some areas of business they're saying things are still off business is still hurting As a result 2500 jobs worldwide are going to be cut over 2010 and this is on top of the 3500 jobs they cut in 2009. For largely the same reason becasue the resession has been such a head winds on the company so we seeing  The same huge impact on this company over the course of this recession . we're talking more than 5000 people without work separated from Xerox becasue of this. 

 

(Julie) obviously it was the big employer here in Rochester any clue as to how many jobs are at stake here?

 

(Matt) That's the $64000 question xerox employees about 7000 people in the Rochester area the company's not able to say what kind of direct Rochester impact their expecting.   Rochester is their single largest base of employment but until they find out how many people, say are going to  take  voluntary buyouts around the globe they won't know how many jobs that they will have to actively cut as well. 

 

 

(Julie) Next week, from Kodak we're going to here it's year end results, what are you hearing about that?

 

(Matt) wall Street is not having any optimism whatsoever all the predictions are that sales and profits will be off.  Maybe not as off as they were for the same quarter a year earlier, more significant,  they're predicting all through 2010 continued losses continued decline in sales. this is a company that is really going to have to do alot of Work to get any economy near Wall Street optimism. Antonio Perez will be in NYC  for their annual investors  conference where they  layout here's our business plan for 2010

(Julie) he's got a tough sell.

(Matt) and he's got a huge tough sell and it's going to be very interesting to see what he will say that will be new or different as the message that the company has had for a while about the inkjet printers, which hasn't done enough to instill confidence in this company

 

(Julie) And if that wasn't enough bad news for Rochester the unemployment #'s came out.

 

(Matt) I'm like the barrer of death today the unemployment #'s for december were 8% up from 7.6% in November so we had seen a couple month trend of the unemployment rate going down now it's bounced up a little, state wide it's 9% does this mean unemployment is getting worse in the rochester area?  There's no right answer, one way to put it is alot of people who had been on the sidelines not even looking for work, go to a job are now counted as unemployed becasue they are now looking for work and can't find work, there are indications that the economy is getting better in some ways companies are starting to report increased sales here and there but when that's going to role out, gettign more people hired and getting more people in the work force that looks like its going to be a long haul.

 

(Julie) And an example of that might be the hickey freeman company.

 

(Matt) exactly here's a company Iconic Rochester company employs about 400 in Rochester looks like this obscure tariff issue might spell some real financial trouble for them.  There's that wool tariff that the US has on imported wool and a fund to tax cut wool that might be going away, the federal government looking at that as a means of raising funds for a jobs program but unfortunately that could mean that it could take a very big hit.  there former CEO said this is a must have so we'll see what happens.

 

(Julie) ok thank you

 

MATT DANEMAN, BUSINESS REPORTER FOR THE DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE.  I'M JULIE PHILIPP.  JOIN ME NEXT WEEK - WE'LL TALK TO GWEN IFILL OF P-B-S.  HAVE A GREAT WEEK.

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