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Business group’s ranking of Ritchie interpreted different ways


The office of state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, claimed in a released statement Wednesday that she was ranked “among the highest” of her legislative peers by an independent business group.

What constitutes “among the highest”? Tied for 27th in the Senate, out of 61 who were ranked. Rochester-based Unshackle Upstate gave Mrs. Ritchie an 82 out of a possible 100 based on its support or opposition for bills she acted on.

She beat all Democrats — one of whom scored as low as 18 — but only three of her fellow Republicans scored lower than she did in the chamber.

Sarah Compo, Mrs. Ritchie’s spokeswoman, said she received the “sixth-highest score” the group gave.

That logic rests on the notion that if six people are tied for first place at 94, the person who gets a 93 is in second place.

“That’s the way we’re seeing this,” Ms. Compo said. “She received the sixth-highest score that they awarded.”

The rankings credited her with voting in favor of the state’s new property tax cap; its new, less-generous pension tier for future public employees and other measures that reduced regulations and taxes for businesses.

“By cutting taxes, reducing spending and creating jobs, we are seeing a New York that is ‘working’ again,” Mrs. Ritchie said in the statement. “By continuing to work together and focusing on these goals we can get our state back to track and revitalize our economy.”

But the group deducted points because she voted against Article X, the state’s new power-plant siting law. It was favored by Unshackle Upstate, but Mrs. Ritchie was concerned that it would take decisions about power plants — such as wind turbine projects — out of the hands of local governments.

She also voted to allow school districts to borrow to pay off current pension costs, and voted to allow physicians and other health-care providers to collectively negotiate, according to Unshackle, which did not support the legislation.

The statement also touted a 90-percent ranking from the Business Council of New York State, a group that indeed gave her the highest score in the Senate. She tied for first place with 29 of her fellow Republican senators, or nearly the entire Republican majority, with which she voted identically on the issues the Business Council ranked.

Among the accomplishments, her office stated, was the creation of the regional economic development councils. The office neglected to mention that in 2011, the Senate majority nixed the program in its own budget, citing a lack of specifics.

State Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, also received an 82 from Unshackle. Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, received the lowest score in the region with a 42. She voted to raise the minimum wage and also voted to halt hydrofracking in the state, according to Unshackle, which considered those acts anti-taxpayer.

Assemblyman Marc W. Butler, R-Newport, scored 62 out of 100. He voted against the new, less-generous pension tier for future workers, and voted to suspend hydrofracking, both of which Unshackle didn’t like. Mr. Butler faces Democrat Joe Chilelli on Nov. 6.

Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River, topped all other tri-county area legislators with a ranking of 87 out of 100. He voted against all of the bills the group didn’t like — minimum-wage increase, the Fair Pay Act and a suspension of hydrofracking.

Assemblywoman Janet L. Duprey, R-Peru, did even better, scoring a 93. She is running in a district that now includes the four easternmost St. Lawrence County towns. The group’s only problem with her was her vote against a bill that would award government contracts based on “best value” instead of lowest cost. Unshackle supported it, calling the current process “penny-wise and pound foolish.”

Democrat Amy M. Tresidder, whom Mrs. Ritchie will face Nov. 6, would have fared worse in Unshackle’s ratings.

She would have voted to raise the minimum wage, which the group did not support. She also would have voted against Article X and the state’s new pension tier. And she said she’s undecided on whether she would have voted for the property tax cap — a good idea in theory, she said, but not when it isn’t accompanied by reduced costs that state government in Albany imposes on local governments.

Mrs. Tresidder said Mrs. Ritchie’s claim to a high ranking, when one didn’t exist, was indicative of her record since taking office.

“It’s a constant self-congratulatory, self-promoting kind of atmosphere,” she said. “Maybe that works. We’ll know in a couple of months.”

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