Port Times Record . 6/30/2004.

The State of New York has gone yet another fiscal year without a budget being passed on time, and now lawmakers believe it is okay to leave the legislature for summer break — with still no budget.


It is high time that we start holding our elected representatives accountable for this. It seems many of them can coast for a few months without a paycheck, and this makes it easy for them to continue to neglect the needs of their constituents.


The school districts and the taxpayers who support them have been seriously inconvenienced by the state's lack of action on this matter as the districts have had to create school budgets with only an estimate of the state aid that is expected. And when the state does not come through with the dollars needed, it is the local taxpayers who are left to pick up the slack through hefty property taxes.


In May, 40 school district budgets across Long Island failed, and many believe it is because residents were sending a message, not necessarily to the school districts, but to the state. They are angry about the rising taxes, and the school budget vote gives them the only direct control over the tax levies on their homes. But perhaps local taxpayers should start redirecting their energies. Let's vote no on the state legislature.


In Albany last week, some protesters from the Alliance for Quality Education took a symbolic stand by forming a human barricade to physically block lawmakers from exiting the statehouse — yet lawmakers exited anyway, some with police escorts, slipping away, as they do every year, without doing the people's business.


Education advocates are incensed that the state has not been able to work out a plan to reform the state's school funding system required by The Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) vs. the State of New York (June 15, 1995). Regardless of the differing opinions on this new "legislation" created by the courts, the push and pull in the state legislature that delays a timely passage of the state budget is certainly not a new phenomenon.


How have the residents of the state of New York tolerated a legislature that has not passed a budget on time in 20 years? Why do we keep electing the same representatives who have done this to us year after year after year?


And every year there are different excuses. This year, it is CFE. But what about last year? There have been excuses for the past 20 years. It has become a bad habit that there has been no incentive to kick.


We should let all our state representatives know that it is not acceptable for them to be vacationing when their work is not yet done.


This election day, let us send a clear message: Elect — do not re-elect! Let's let them know that the time has finally come when we are "mad as hell, and we are not going to take it any more."