Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin. 4/1/2006.


It's April 1. Do you know where your state budget is?

As this was being written (Friday afternoon), the Legislature was busily trying to meet the April 1 deadline for approving a budget - after adding yet another billion dollars in spending in the final hours - but then it really doesn't matter anyway, because state government's definition of a "budget" bears no resemblance to the real-world definition.

In Albany, a "budget" means a framework or skeleton - or a 10,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of which only the border has been connected. All the rest will be filled in later - well after the April 1 "deadline" (another word that has no real-world meaning in Albany).

The Associated Press explained it this way: "The governor's office said legislative leaders failed to print complete budget bills by midnight Tuesday in order for the bills to be ready for a vote by Friday, the last day of the fiscal year. It wasn't clear if there would be an on-time budget approved, which would have been the second straight after 20 years of late budgets. But legislative leaders are expected to negotiate with Pataki over the next two weeks on a final budget." (emphasis added).

See?

Try that in the real world and see what happens: "Here's the budget, boss, right on time. I took the liberty of increasing spending about 6 percent beyond what the chief fiscal officer proposed. Whenever he and I find some time over the next couple of weeks, we'll get together and fill in all the specific amounts and details. Can I have a raise?"

Makes you real proud to be a New Yorker, doesn't it?