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Mid-Term Report on the 2010 Session

March 30, 2010

This week marks the half-way point of the scheduled 2010 legislative session. It’s an appropriate time to check on the progress of lawmakers in addressing the challenges facing the state.

While state lawmakers may have had good intentions, they weren’t able to accomplish much. Their best moment may have been when the two houses agreed unanimously on sweeping ethics reform. Unfortunately, the Governor later vetoed the measure.

Another affirmative development was the vote in the State Senate to expel Hiram Monserrate, who’d been convicted of a misdemeanor charge related to domestic violence. Having Monseratte in the chamber was an embarrassment to both conferences.

Both the Senate majority conference and minority conference deserve credit for advancing fairly well-conceived job creation plans. The Assembly, strangely, hasn’t advanced an economic development plan in several years.

Where the lawmakers really fell down was on the Aqueduct re-development, “Race to the Top” funding and the state budget. 

On Aqueduct, the lawmakers and governor abandoned normal procurement rules and picked one of the least qualified bidders. The process has sparked state and federal investigations.

On Race to the Top, the lawmakers and governor squandered an opportunity to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in federal education funds. 

With regard to the budget, the majorities in both houses passed unprecedented resolutions that rejected tax increases and made significant spending cuts. Despite this, the two houses do not appear to be close to an agreement with the Governor.

With 2010 being an election year for all 211 state lawmakers, there should be an increased sense of urgency in the second half of the session to get more done.

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