CapitolTonight.com has an op-ed penned by our new Governor, Andrew Cuomo, where he outlines the budget process as he now understands it:
It is dictated by hundreds of rates and formulas that are marbleized throughout New York State laws that govern different programs – formulas that have been built into the law over decades, without regard to fiscal realities, performance or accountability.
The formulas operate year after year, generating liabilities that when totaled define the state’s budget growth. The one thing the rates do well is increase year after year. These formulas (predominantly in education and Medicaid funding) are often inserted into the law by pressure from well-connected special interests and lobbyists. When a governor takes office, in many ways the die has already been cast.
He compares it, quite understandably if his analysis is correct, to the scams and schemes his job as Attorney General was meant to root out in other venues. He explains that the 10 billion dollar budget deficit that politicians and journalists alike have discussed – himself included – is basically a function of unreasonably high automatic increases in funding, not on actual numbers or any kind of needs assessment. In fact, if the budget were adjusted by inflation rather than the dictums of these arbitrary systems, the deficit would be a much more manageable 1 billion dollars. All of this is based on his analysis and reporting.
The other side of this that he does not discuss is: if the 13 percent increases are to fund education and Medicare, shouldn’t kids be getting chauffeured to school every day? 13 percent. According to one (admittedly randomly-picked) estimate, Rochester City Schools spend about $1600 per student per year. A 13 percent increase in spending would be about a $2000 pick-up in a single year. Somehow, that doesn’t smell quite right.
I have no idea how accurate the Governor’s numbers are. And I have no way of finding out, either. But if he’s even half-right, where the hell is all that money going?
I’m not above voting for a Republican. Not now, not ever. I like to keep my options open. In fact, but for wishing to send a message by voting for Barack Obama in the New York State Democratic Primaries, I might not have registered for any party at all my whole life. And yes, I have voted Republican in the past.
That’s not to say that my vote is an easy thing for a Republican to win: on the checkbox list of hot political issues, my marker is more often to be found on the left side of the scorecard than the right. I approve of government-assisted or government-financed health care; I approve of a higher minimum wage; I’m perfectly ok with gay marriage. On the other hand, I’m not the most enthusiastic supporter of gun control and my opinions on technology – which occasionally border on technological libertarianism – might very well find a home in a Republican Party that genuinely commits itself to those basic tenets of limited government they insist they believe in.
But the willingness I have to listen to alternative viewpoints is entirely squandered in a political hand grenade like Carl Paladino. Even if Paladino’s politics represent legitimately worthy intellectual positions, who the hell could tell with all the bombast and gutter-wallowing? Nor is he alone in the long, long list of Republican candidates whose positions on the issues are nearly impossible to take seriously. There are those, such as Rand Paul, whose opinions we are forced to take seriously only because they’re very close to winning elections to national office. But there seems to be no one on the Republican side of the ticket in this election season who forces us to consider his or her position simply because of the power of the proposition.
Not only do the current lineup of candidates entirely forbid my voting Republican, they also cut off a critical cornerstone of democracy, which is debate. When candidates do not stand up to even mild intellectual rigor – as is the case with Christine O’Donnell in Delaware – or when they have so embarrassed themselves prior to the debate that they remove all sense of propriety – as is the case with Carl Paladino – we are left taking the only other alternative at their word that they mean anything they say or can defend their position against… mild intellectual rigor.
And so, I shall sigh heavily on Election Day in November and pull the lever for Andrew Cuomo. He may end up being the best governor in the history of governance; he may end up the worst. I have no idea and the opportunity to have his mettle tested at least one time for a short period is not passed. Thanks, Republicans. Now we all lose.
When the buzzards start hovering, its little wonder that the man who made 911 his one and only campaign platform should be the buzzard in charge. In this case, however, Giuliani shows us that his careful, level-headed planning that served him so well in the Republican Primary could be at least as effective here in New York State:
GIULIANI WEIGHING ‘SPECIAL’ RUN FOR GOV – New York Post
In the latest twist in New York politics, Rudy Giuliani is eyeing a run for governor in a special election this fall should Gov. Paterson be forced to resign, sources say.
Down there at the bottom of a discussion of Patterson’s prospects of becoming governor, there is a fairly obvious hint that this is precisely what’s about to happen:
If Spitzer steps down, Paterson would move up – 13WHAM.com
Tuesday morning, Assemblyman Republican leader James Tedisco said he got a call from Paterson. Tedisco had been at odds with the Democratic Spitzer, but, Tedisco said Paterson asked if he would consider a fresh start.
It’s pretty obvious that Spitzer needs to step down, but to this moment, it has been less obvious that he would. This phone call makes it seem like this may already be happening. Indeed, speculation has been that Spitzer intended to use his stepping down as a part of a plea bargaining deal that would eliminate the need for him to be indicted.
After all the craziness happened yesterday afternoon, it seems like a good idea to pull the pieces of the Spitzer Strumpet Scandal and add my own thoughts. Things moved fast through the blog community and elsewhere, and there’s a lot of ground to cover. I’m sure I’ll miss some stuff, so don’t be afraid to hit me with corrections in the comments. But be warned: this is a very long roundup!
Continue reading Client 9 from Outer Space: Morning Roundup
H/t to TalkingPointsMemo.com, from whence I find the story. Well, if we have any defense against the coming onslaught of Republican cries of foul play in the Governor’s Mansion, it may only be that we can hope these girls were at least of age and probably not found in public bathrooms. The same cannot be said of all Republican scandals:
Spitzer Is Linked to Prostitution Ring – New York Times
Just last week, federal prosecutors arrested four people in connection with an expensive prostitution operation. Administration officials would not say that this was the ring with which the governor had become involved. But a person with knowledge of the governor’s role said that the person believes the governor is one of the men identified as clients in court papers.