Posted by: winteridge | December 10, 2009

NY State of Mind


It seems these days that New York’s Governor Paterson is looking better and better to many residents.  Perhaps even good enough to rate another term in office, should he want it.  At least he has noticed that the state is in dire financial trouble, and has plans to fix it, if only he could get his legislature to do something, anything, besides run for re-election.  They are also aware of New York’s problems, but have no ideas how to solve them.

Of course, I am sure that the Guv is aware that our legislators are not really at fault here.  For longer than most of them have been in office or can remember, they have had little or nothing to do with the annual budget process, other than to vote as “Uncle Joe” Bruno directed them to vote.  They were, collectively, required to stay out of any and all stuff of a legislative nature until “Small Businessman-of-the-Year” Joe and whomever happened to be governor told them when and how to vote on issues.  They learned to stay out of the way, work on their re-election campaigns, and wait for their pork-barrel handouts.  Worked for them.  Now, however, they are being asked to get together and actually discuss the state’s financial problems, the solution of which might realistically involve raising taxes and/or cutting spending.  In other words, to boldly go where none of them has gone before.  Scary.

And of course when Governor Paterson coolly talks of cutting funds to our schools and medical programs (the easy targets, it seems), it may sound great to hard-pressed taxpayers.  Way to go!  But wait.  How would these cuts affect us on the local level?  If NY cuts funding to schools, do our schools spend less?  Well, no, actually.  The money must come from somewhere, and cutting out band uniforms won’t do it.  The answer:  our school taxes go up and up and up again, even if the state is able to cut their deficit.

And if NY cuts payments to medical programs?  (Read that Medicaid.)  Do we cut out all those programs?  Do we close hospitals, lay off doctors and pharmacists, turn needy patients away?  Well, no.  The needed funds will be made up locally, again from increased local property taxes.  Which means more and more taxpayers losing their homes and leaving our great state.  The money is just coming out of a different pocket-same trousers.

So even if our state legislators do follow the governor’s lead and actually address New York’s 90 billion or whatever deficit, they will be wrong.  Perhaps it is best to just go home and work on being re-elected.  I am always amused to see our local assemblymen come home and talk about how those legislators in Albany are doing nothing about deficits and taxes and ethics and how shameful it is.  Wait, aren’t you one of “them”?  Didn’t you win your office by promising to go to Albany and CHANGE all that?  Whut happened?  Didn’t happen?   Do you really think we should send you back?

I guess none of it ever changes really.

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