Leaders need to outline specifics before final decision
There’s a lot of buzzing going on in the state Capitol these days, but one thing we’re not hearing too much about is the state budget.
It’s due Tuesday. Appropriately, that’s April Fool’s Day.
If ever state leaders had a good excuse for not having a budget on time, it might be this year. Distractions have Albany under siege, and there seems to be more talk going on about who slept with whom rather than how New Yorkers are going to pay their bills in this topsy-turvy economy.
That’s all the more reason for leaders need to ditch the distractions and get down to business.
There’s plenty of discussion going on behind the scenes. The biggest problem leaders are struggling with right now is how much money they have to spend. Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, said last week that progress was being made on this until Gov. David Paterson proposed cutting another $800 million.
Paterson’s proposed spending reductions come in the wake of state revenue projections that have declined by a total of $634 million since the release of the Executive Budget. The Associated Press reported last week that during the 21-day amendment process in mid-February, the Division of the Budget reduced its revenue estimates by almost $384 million, an unprecedented step in recent state history.
Additionally, the AP said, legislative leaders jointly approved a “Consensus Economic and Revenue Forecast” that lowered projected revenues by another $250 million on March 1.
Given the blurry revenue picture, budget talks have stagnated.
Delays hurt us all. While a late budget might not appear to interrupt state government, the bottleneck eventually trickles down to local operations that can directly affect services you receive.
This year, there’s another good reason to adopt a budget as quickly as possible. Griffo rejects the excuse that the Albany uproar be used as an excuse for prolonging agreement, arguing that the uncertainty of the economy could very likely be worse a month from now. Getting a budget in place now could be to everyone’s advantage. Besides, Griffo adds, history shows that rarely does either side benefit from procrastinating.
They’re points well taken. Write and tell other state leaders that while the challenge might be a little tougher this year, this isn’t something they haven’t done before. Getting a spending plan in place sooner rather than later is in everyone’s best interest.