Sunday, June 27, 2010

Albany Legislature Shows Its Interest In Solving State's Problems With 3 Minute Session

New York is going on three months without a state budget. Budget extenders have kept state operations afloat, but they ignore the key issues. In fact, they've continued ignoring the biggest problem in the room - the $9 billion deficit due to overspending.

Gov. David Paterson called for a special session to deal with the budget issues.

The State Senate responded with a three minute session.
By gaveling in and out in 3 minutes, they didn’t take up Paterson’s revenue bills, including measures to allow SUNY campuses to charge variable tuitions, as well as set up a contingency account for possible/probable Medicaid funding shortfalls from the federal government.

That also clears the way for them to take up their own “two-way” revenue bill devised between the Assembly and Senate Democrats. That bill tosses out the governor’s call for a 4 percent property tax cap as well as a tax on sugary drinks, and the plan to allow wine sales in grocery stores.

They’ll be back tomorrow, with the first order of business almost certainly to be passage of Paterson’s January budget appropriations which would prevent a state operations shutdown.

Then it’s on to figuring out to pay for those appropriations “I’m ready to go on with the two way but I’d prefer to negotiate.”

Sampson was referring to the plan worked out with Assembly Democrats that covers the revenue part of the budget. Their preliminary plan keeps the governor’s sales tax on clothing, expands video lottery hours and limits STAR school tax exemptions for homes valued over $2 million.
Three minutes.

That was nothing more than lip service to the special session.

What is the state to do when its legislative leaders refuse to address the issue of the day? The state is bankrupt - morally and fiscally, and no one in Albany seems to care about what it has done. Legislative leaders are busy scheming on how to keep the spending as high as it is, and tax hikes and revenue adjustments are the name of the game.

In fact, the Legislature is busy trying to "restore" cuts made by Gov. Paterson, with money that simply doesn't exist. Speaker Silver and Senate Majority Leader Sampson don't have a way to actually raise the revenue needed to restore those cuts so despite all their bluster that they'll close the budget deficit - those cuts are absolutely necessary and long overdue.

This year's fiscal situation is far worse than it would have been had the state constrained spending last year when revenues fell precipitously. Instead, the state increased spending and leaned heavily on the federal stimulus package to make up the difference. Without that federal spending in line for this year, the state is still trying to keep the spending at the same level.

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