Blase Thomas Golisano (born 1942) is an American billionaire businessman and the founder of Paychex, the second-largest payroll processor in the United States; owner of the Buffalo Sabres hockey team and of the Buffalo Bandits lacrosse team; and founding member of the Independence Party of New York. He ran for governor of New York in 1994, 1998 and 2002 as the candidate of the Independence Party. Although he lost each time, he increased his percentage of the vote. He spent a combined $93 million on the three campaigns.
In 2002, Golisano defeated incumbent New York Governor George Pataki in the hotly contested Independence Party primary. He received 14 percent of the vote in the gubernatorial election, his highest total in the three elections. By receiving more than 50,000 votes each time, Golisano brought the Independence Party an automatic ballot line for the succeeding four years. Golisano has an associate's degree from Alfred State College.
Golisano has become a major philanthropist, founding the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation in 1985, which awards grants to organizations dedicated to providing opportunities for those with disabilities and offering support to their families. He has also made major donations to fund health care and leading educational centers. He donated $14 million in February 2001 to the Rochester Institute of Technology to fund the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. Golisano donated $14 million to the University of Rochester, which re-named their pediatric facility at Strong Memorial Hospital in his honor as the Golisano Children's Hospital in 2002. On March 6, 2006, Golisano donated $6 million to Bishop Kearney High School and Our Lady of Mercy Church. In September 2007, with a $10 million donation, Golisano launched the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at the Rochester Institute of Technology. On October 8, 2008, Golisano donated $10 million dollars to Niagara University for a new Center for Integrated Science building that will be named in his honor.
After New York's Republican Governor George Pataki announced he would not run again in the 2006 elections, GOP officials attempted to recruit Golisano to run for the Republican nomination. Golisano changed his party affiliation to the GOP (with the Independence Party's chairman's blessing) in October 2005, apparently in preparation for another gubernatorial run. However, on February 1, 2006, Golisano announced that he would not run for the governorship.
Golisano has at times been an important figure in the national Reform Party, however his libertarian views have often put him at odds with the religious wing of the party. Some observers characterize this as similar to conflicts that drove former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura out of the Reform Party.
In August of 2008, Golisano contributed $1 million to the Democratic National Convention.
In July of 2008, Golisano formed a PAC called Responsible New York. He funded it with $5 million of his own money. The PAC gives money to candidates for the New York state legislature, regardless of party. The PAC is aiming to support candidates in favor of property tax cuts and election reform.
Golisano has received recognition for his business prowess and philanthropy, including: