Look no further than the unions to understand why New York is in the mess that it is in. They refuse to do anything that will provide fiscal stability and insure that the state legislature will act in a most irresponsible manner. Of course, the state budget was already passed, so Gov. Paterson's demands after the fact ring hollow.
New York's largest union says it won't accept an offer floated this week by the Paterson administration to avoid mass layoffs by accepting smaller raises and a no-layoff guarantee for two years.Threats of layoffs will not change things either. The union fatcats are not going to budge since they see just how weak Paterson is politically.
Civil Service Employees Association spokesman Stephen Madarasz (ma-DARE-az) says the union can't reopen its contract because it would set a debilitating precedent. Madarasz confirmed the proposal was offered this week but said leaking it is a political ploy to build public support against the union.
Governor's spokesman Errol Cockfield responded in a statement: "They have rejected every single proposal that we put forward to prevent job losses among their ranks. Nonetheless, the governor is still committed to finding a resolution."
Gov. David Paterson has been seeking to reopen contracts to gain concessions. He wants state unions to give up this year's 3 percent raises as a way to avoid as many as 8,900 layoffs. He has for months sought concessions to deal with billions of dollars deficits in a fiscal crisis he blames on the Wall Street's meltdown, the recession and years of overspending by Albany.
Last week's Quinnipiac University poll found 65 percent of New Yorkers felt Paterson and the Legislature ultimately lacked the political courage to make those tough decisions in the massive state budget. That 2009-10 budget, adopted late on April 3, included an 8.7 percent increase in spending after many of Paterson's cuts were rolled back in agreements with lawmakers.They also know that the feckless way in which the state handles its finances is why the state is in the mess it is today and that they've got a long record of seeing their own positions strengthened at the expense of taxpayers. Decades of giving in to the unions has created a monstrosity of bloated government and pension obligations that threaten the state with ruinous debt loads and take up an increasingly large portion of the budget.
As for Paterson, Quinnipiac found voters, by a 60 percent to 28 percent margin, disapproved of the job he is doing, the lowest ever for a New York governor. Sixty-three percent said he doesn't deserve to be elected in 2010.
In this latest fiscal fight, neither Paterson nor the union leaders are budging, as thousands of union families statewide nervously wait.
Cutting the state workforce is the first place to start trimming, and this budget does nothing on that front. It is a bloated budget that increases spending significantly all while raising taxes all over the place - from taxes on cigarettes and beer and wine to income tax hikes on those making $200,000 or more. It also eliminated the STAR property tax relief - a functional tax hike on hundreds of thousands of homeowners across the state.
The state cannot afford the unions and their demands; something has to give. That means taxpayers are going to be paying more and more.