Nelson Denis (Fromer Assemblyman from Harlem.). New York Daily News. 4/12/2005.
During my four years in the state Assembly, people stood up and said nothing, nobody listened and then everyone disagreed.
On the last "session" day we all became trained seals, voting for a budget that was several months late and no one had read. Now, five years later, Albany is undergoing "reform," the budget is "on time" and I'm Mother Teresa.
There is no budget.
A $105.6 billion "budget" was announced on March 31. Gov. Pataki, Joe Bruno and Sheldon Silver took their bows, the pols collected their paychecks and everyone went home.
Pataki now says "it is not a final budget." He points to "gaping holes that have to be closed," but offers no specifics. Bruno and Silver both knew this would happen. So did state Controller Alan Hevesi, when he certified the budget on March 31.
So how is this an on-time budget? As always, with politicians, the hand is quicker than the eye. Consider the following:
Medicaid: A whopping 37% of our state budget (about $40 billion) is spent on Medicaid, and New York is the only state that forces its counties and its largest city to pay half the nonfederal share. That's $7.5 billion coming from regressive sales and property taxes: A homeowner with two children pays at least $2,000 per year for this mess. Our budget didn't even address it.
The federal government offered some hope: a $1.5 billion grant for health care reform, which would have lowered our Medicaid costs. But our "on-time" budget ignored the offer.
Education: Last year, our state's highest court ordered the Legislature to redirect billions per year to New York City's public schools. The ruling was a powerhouse decision until our "on-time" budget got hold of it. Our children got swept under the rug. The 2005 budget ignored the court order, sidestepped the entire issue and did nothing to reform the school funding formula.
Among the items left undone were the allocation of $1.1 billion in funds for child, family and health programs; $250 million in capital projects for public and private colleges; $350 million for federally mandated voting reform, and support of the state's Environmental Protection Fund.
This isn't a budget. It's a fast-food hamburger, served quick and dirty, then thrown onto the Good Government lunch counter. The only ones who had it "their way" are the politicians. They got their paychecks out of escrow, and ran home.