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Questions to Assembly Speaker Heastie on Bills stadium, state spending

2 On Your Side wanted to ask him in person about a variety of topics involving Buffalo and taxpayers.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Western New York had a rare visitor Tuesday in the form of  New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie who is wrapping up a cross-state tour.  

So 2 On Your Side wanted to ask him in person about a variety of topics involving Buffalo and taxpayers. We had some tough questions for the speaker about some prime issues including a potential new Bills stadium.

It started out with a question to the state assembly speaker about the Bills stadium and how much taxpayers might be expected to provide through the state.

He told reporters Tuesday morning, "That's a little above my pay grade at this point because I'm not involved in the negotiations."

That's unusual considering his lofty Albany title so we pressed him again Tuesday afternoon. 2 On Your Side asked, "Don't you decide on the budget as well as other leaders on how much taxpayers could put into a project like that?

Heastie responded, "Well when I said it's above my pay grade - right now - it seems the initial negotiations are between the governor's office, the county executive, and the team. At some point, I believe a proposal will be brought to the legislature but the initial negotiation is occurring between the team, the county, and the governor.

Don't you think you have a role though for taxpayers?

Heastie said, "I do and I think when a proposal is brought to us I think we will - I'd say, we will pass our judgment and give our opinion at that point."

Of course, the state received $12.7 billion from Washington in the America Cares Act - not to mention prior pandemic relief for Albany. So what about future years without a federal assist? 

We asked, "This state is gonna be faced again with serious choices - what would you say to people who are concerned about the amount of spending they're seeing now in state government?"

Heastie said, "Well - when people are on the verge of being evicted, on the verge of losing their homes, on the verge of losing their business - I would just say you know let's ask those people if they feel the state is spending too much money. We'll take these things one year at a time. It seems the economy is improving - you know knock on wood - is improving and doing better. But it is the government's responsibility to take care of immediate problems."

It should be pointed out that the state has also received federal funding specifically to address landlords and tenants and small business relief.