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Budget shenanigans

June 14, 2010 - John Stack

 Who would have thought we would be looking back at the Espada/   triumvirate and their embarrassing senate coup as the time of wine and roses for New York? I was talking to my brother in law this weekend. He was saying you had to go back to the days of Boss tweed and Tammany Hall for such dysfunction. I protested, saying that things actually ran quite smoothly for Boss tweed, just that it was totally corrupt. Today, it is both dysfunctional and corrupt! The shenanigans going on right now would cause the Mad Hatter try to climb out of the rabbit hole!

                The list of usual suspects isn’t even enough this time.  Months ago, Lt Gov Ravitch came up with a plan to borrow billions for day to day expenses. He was roundly criticized by all. Now, not only does it seem like the State is planning on borrowing, but borrowing from the pension fund, and this is even funnier – to pay the pension fund! Even Comptroller Thomas Dinapoli is on board with this. Yeah, the trustee for the NYS pension fund. Tommy – start looking for  a new line of work in November. Back 11 years ago, when the stock market started to tumble was when the State decided that no more money needed to be added to the pension fund because it was self supporting. Albany seems to feel that everything good will just continue on upward and higher – forever. Knowing that at some point localities would have to start paying back into the fund. But, after years of not paying in, this would be another added expense for towns (and therefore taxpayers) I’m sure there are NO towns that put money aside for future pension payments. In fact, the municipalities were able to delay getting back into the system, which is now of course costing even more money. By borrowing now, the towns will have to pay back even more in the future – plus interest!

                How about Paterson? Mostly, I would say he has done what he has to. I love the idea of slipping in cost saving ideas and cutbacks into the extenders when the elected officials refuse to make tough decisions. Heck, at this rate at least the budget would be balanced by Paterson alone if let go on long enough! But, unfortunately he has also fallen to politics. The state GOP has been shut out of all budget negotiations. The insipid Dean Skelos is trying to make hay with this. Thing is, its all really stupid posturing. Back when it was 3 men in a room, Skelos wasn’t crying, because he had one (or 2) of the men in the room. Now that the majority is keeping out the minority he is whining like a silly schoolgirl. He conveniently forgets this is what has happened for the last 40 years with both the GOP and the democrats.

                Skelos is now having his Espada moment. During  Espada’s coup, he claimed he did it ‘for the State, for the people’. Now, Skelos is trying his own hand at doublespeak. Although he has shepherded his GOP colleagues in the Senate to vote – as a 30-0 block – against all of the budget extender bills, regardless what they include. Now, with some democrats thinking of not voting for an extender, Skelos comes out with a whopper of political contextual proportions ‘I will not let the Democrats shut down state government’ –for some reason he didn’t follow this up with ‘like we’ve been basically trying to do by voting against any extender bills’. To quote what he said next takes a little literary license – ‘now we are going to stop acting like petulant 6 year olds and possibly allow some of our members to vote for the extender bill  and keep state government running– unless it includes stuff in it we don’t like’. The stuff he doesn’t want in it are new fees, taxes, spending or borrowing. Sort of like the 1 million dollars of pork he got in state money to build the Dean G Skelos Sports Complex in Rockville Centre on Long Island. This is the candidate of change. This is the leader of fiscal sanity. This is the guy to turn is back from tax and spend policies. But I digress.

                The Senate democrats still seem to be pushing for the re-introduction of the STAR rebate into the budget – at a cost of over a billion dollars. This is a blatant vote getting scheme (as it was used by both parties when originally enacted 3 years ago). Thing is, months ago, the Senate GOP was also pushing for this. They have been strangely quiet on this topic recently, letting the fools in the Democrat caucus of the senate implode by themselves. We’re 9 billion in the hole, and they continue to push for another billion in spending. You can’t write fiction this unbelievable. 


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Dean Skelos explains why using a million in taxpayer funds to get a field named after you is fiscally conservative