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Ritchie mailers tout lower taxes, Cuomo connection


A whole bunch of north country residents report that they got the attached mailer from Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Heuvelton.
The mailing — paid with public dollars — touts Mrs. Ritchie's record of "less spending, lower taxes, more jobs," and also touts her connection to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
It even includes a photo of the two together, and a copy of a letter that Mr. Cuomo sent to Mrs. Ritchie.
"Together, we tackled an ambitious agenda and demonstrated that we are a government which has already begun to transform New York's future," Mr. Cuomo wrote in the letter to Mrs. Ritchie.
"Senator Patty Ritchie Cut Your Taxes," the mailer states.
How does that claim — and other claims in the mailer — stack up?
It is true that Mrs. Ritchie cut the mailer's recipient's taxes — as long as the mailer didn't go to any millionaires. There are few of them in the north country, but Mrs. Ritchie had argued that they're the people who are creating jobs, so their taxes shouldn't be raised. A widening budget gap and the possibility of additional school-aid cuts brought about an abrupt about-face in December. The tax hike on millionaires, supported by Senate Republicans and Mr. Cuomo, will raise a net $1.9 billion from the wealthy, while also cutting some middle-income tax rates slightly.
The state also let a sales-tax on certain clothing purchases expire. The purchases of up to $100 are not exempt from the state sales tax.
The "more jobs" claim highlights differing claims among differing Republicans. Republican Matt Doheny, for example, is trying to highlight just how bad the jobs picture is in the north country. He's taking on an incumbent.
Mrs. Ritchie, though, says that there are "more jobs" now.
That's true, as long as we're looking at the state as a whole. According to the state Department of Labor, New York has added 100,000 jobs since July 2011.
It's also true that the unemployment rate is up in the district, and that within the district, the total number of employed people is down slightly.
In Jefferson County, the unemployment rate was 8.8 percent in July 2011, and it rose to 9.4 percent in July 2012. (The July to July figures work best, in my view, because it gives ample time for the Senate's policies to have taken place after taking power in January, and also doesn't succumb to seasonal fluctuations).
In St. Lawrence County, the unemployment rate was 10.8 percent in July 2011, and it rose to 11.1 percent in July 2012.
In Oswego County, the unemployment rate was 9.8 percent in July 2011, and it rose to 10.5 percent in July 2012.
Finally, less spending. Yes, that's true. The budget cut spending slightly from one year to the next twice, according to Mr. Cuomo's office.

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