Friday, June 11, 2010

Last One Out Turn Off The Lights

New York Governor David Paterson blustered yesterday that the failure to pass an extender on the budget would mean a shutdown of state services and that it would lead to anarchy and chaos.

He also took time out from this nonsensical raving to also blame New York Republicans for the state of affairs. Gov. Paterson's disassociation from reality continues considering that Republicans do not control any aspect of the state government - the State Senate, Assembly and the Governor's office are all in the hands of Democrats - Shelly Silver in the Assembly (and the strongest guy in the room), John Sampson in the Senate, and Paterson.

Who does he think he's kidding?

Those three men are in the position to stop this roller coaster of insanity, but all will go ahead with the status quo because Silver and Sampson don't want to jeopardize their political positions within their respective caucuses. They remain in power because they get consensus and don't take any unnecessary risks - that would include making tough decisions to cut spending that would affect some members' districts harder than others.

But the real issue is that the state is essentially bankrupt and can't pay its bills to the point where there is little choice but to engage in mass layoffs. The Governor had proposed a sensible furlough that would have enabled state workers to stay on the payroll, but the courts ruled that this somehow broke the law even though it was a political question and the emergency situation with the budget is such that there's no money to pay for any of the state services, let alone essential state services.

So, what would happen if the state shuts down? For most people, they wont see any change. State parks and beaches would be shuttered, state offices like the DMV would close, unemployment offices would close, and payments would be delayed to hospitals and other businesses that have contracts with the state.

However, it wouldn't mean anarchy and chaos. It would mean more of the same situation that has been facing the state for years on end.

The state has failed to pass an on-time budget year after year for decades. Combined with massive increases in state spending that repeatedly fail to match revenues anticipated, the budget deficits have grown to the point where they overwhelm the budget. Debt payments take up an increasing percentage of state spending, meaning less money can actually be devoted to programs that actually work and instead goes to mortgaging the future of the state.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli thinks the shutdown would be disastrous, but he's not in a position to do anything about it.

Some groups continue to think that the only way to solve the budget mess is to raise taxes even more.

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