Skip to content

Excerpts from an Address to the Wise-Ass Academy

April 6, 2015

We need a break. As much as we love New York State politics and government, it has become annoying. This is a new sentiment for us. We’ve experienced a range of emotions in the past – bewilderment, frustration, outrage, plus highs when good things happen – but annoyance to the point of “We’ve had enough!” – well, we haven’t felt this way before – not even during the nadir of the Spitzer saga.

What brought us to this point? It’s the ridiculously secretive budget process.  Budget making is the primary function of state government. It’s a process that is supposed to be somewhat open and somewhat orderly.  But the governor and the leaders were acting as though rank and file lawmakers and the people of the State of New York were on a need to know basis. Nobody knew what was being discussed. Nobody knew what was in or out in even general terms. Nobody knew what was being voting on.

And make no mistake about it, this was by design. The governor didn’t want lawmakers or the public to know what was in the budget because if they did, there would have been more opposition and the final deal would have been that much harder to secure.

But is that really the way the process is supposed to work? Now we can hear our Cuomo friends saying: “Oh, come on, do you really want perfect transparency in the process? You want everybody to have their say? How nice. And then what? Everyone just agrees to be reasonable and a perfect budget is made, right? Well, who are you kidding?”

OK, we get it. We understand that the lawmakers want to both cut taxes and increase spending. We understand they want to be all things to all people. We understand that the governor is the one who has to get it done.

That said, there’s no excuse for the fact that before, during and after this budget there wasn’t even the pretext of openness.

Nothing more could be done. Really? There couldn’t have been a news conference when the budget deal was reached? The Governor and the leaders couldn’t have stood together and answered a few questions? Nope. Such an availability could have been quick and desultory and we’d have felt a lot better about the whole thing, but no, for the first time in record history of budget making, the Governor and leaders were unavailable.  Yeah, and the budget director couldn’t make it either.

We hate to keep slipping into this collective persona of wise-ass-ery, but WTF is that about? Who does that? What possible rationale could there be for skipping a post-budget news conference? And how is it that the LCA just said: “OK, no problem. We’re tired, too.”

And even now, how many people can examine this budget and say with confidence what’s in it? Maybe E.J. McMahon. Maybe Liz Lynam.

We can’t. We’re a reasonably astute group of people, but when we try to examine the budget, we find categories of funds that don’t comport to any of the traditional spending pots we recognize. We don’t know the purpose. We don’t know how it will be disbursed.  We don’t know who, if anyone, has oversight.

We can’t help but thinking that it’s, again, by design. Hell, tax breaks for yachts and personal jets might be the tip of the iceberg.

Worse than that, we can’t help feeling the whole budget process was a sham. The governor started out in January with 63 priorities and a half a dozen linkages that were lines in the sand. What happened? The phrase “bait and switch” comes to mind. Go back and look at what the governor proposed in January and then consider was passed in April.

Of course, the administration is doing its damnedest now to spin that it got exactly what it wanted and it was all by design and it’s all so transformational, but nobody believes it.  That’s because almost everything the governor and his people say nowadays is exaggeration and/or posturing.

Ironically, we’re sure there are affirmative aspects to the budget. We even think that on balance, it might be a decent budget, but the process absolutely sucked.

And where does that leave us? Disaffected, at least for a while.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    April 6, 2015 2:57 PM

    Marc Humbert and Jay Gallagher would not have let them get away with it.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    April 6, 2015 7:54 PM

    It’s beyond annoying, it’s disgusting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: