Common sense spending cuts can be made, waste can be rooted out, and structural changes can be made to the state budget, if there are open, transparent discussions and negotiations.
Shockingly, that dialogue is not taking place, because New York City-beholden politicians who currently control the agenda in Albany are violating the law by not holding open Conference Committees and passing the state budget.
The state budget now is several weeks late, yet no meaningful budget talks are underway because downstate Senators and Assembly Members who dictate the agenda refuse to meet in public, if at all.
In the meantime, taxes, spending and borrowing are spinning out of control, hitting struggling taxpayers hard, and driving more people and jobs out of the state.
Sorely-needed road construction projects that would jump start the economy are stalled. Schools are laying off teachers. State workers are [in danger of] being furloughed, throwing state government further into chaos.
Despite an unprecedented fiscal crisis and the threat of running out of cash by June if action isn't taken, those who currently control Albany continue to fail to lead.
Preach it, sister!
The reality is that Governor Paterson and New York City-controlled majorities in both the Senate and Assembly are fiddling while the state burns.
Instead of following the budget reform laws of 2007 that require bipartisan Conference Committees to be convened to hammer out the budget in public, these so-called leaders are stalling by sticking their heads in the sand, hoping against hope that they will wake up one morning and the $9.3 billion budget deficit will have magically disappeared.
It doesn't work that way.
Passing budget extenders to pay the bills week-to-week instead of tackling the tough decisions only is making the problem worse.
Conference Committees worked in 2007 and 2008 to pass on-time budgets. Our taxpayers need open discussions about solutions.
Every person in our state is affected by the state budget, whether they pay taxes, send their kids to school, drive on a road or bridge, or need hospital or nursing home care. The people have a right to know what their government is doing.
They also have a right to expect that their government will get the job done.
It's not just going to take a revolution at the voting booth to fix New York politics. We need more rank-and-file legislators to stand up for their constituents and what's right for New York by standing up to their leadership. I'll even accept Young's stumping for the Republican minority right now if it results in an unleashing of the Conference Committees. If 3 men in a room can't come to an agreement, it's time to put our trust in the dozens of men and women who have experience working together and hashing out their differences. At least let them do their work and bring a proposal to their leadership, rather than sitting on the sidelines, shut out of the process!