Governor David Paterson has drawn the line in the sand. He has called on his colleagues in Albany to return with the intent of addressing the state's massive budget gap, and he has sent a message to state's the public sector employees, warning of budget cuts and layoffs. Good for you, Dave, it sure makes for great sound bites.
But we have to wonder if there is any substance to what Paterson is saying. Fred Dicker of the Daily News, a frequent critic of Albany, is also questioning Paterson's lack of details to address the state's fiscal woes. From the DN...
Gov. Paterson last night candidly laid out the harsh realities of New York's deteriorating financial condition - but he was largely silent when it came to proposing the solutions needed to address them. Sure, the governor talked about the fire-sale leasing of such core state assets as roads, bridges and tunnels - just the sort of thing near-bankrupt Third World nations used to do under pressure from the colonial powers.
And of course he said he'll consider reducing the size of the state work force, and demanding further cuts in state-agency spending.
But Paterson never mentioned the unrelenting special-interest grips the teachers and hospital-workers unions have on state government, which have driven up health-care and school-aid costs to unsustainable levels. He never said that the high cost of taxation, energy and labor for businesses are the reasons so many new and expanding companies don't want to locate here, and why the state became overly dependent on Wall Street revenues. And, most importantly, Paterson failed to point out that New York's notoriously spendthrift Legislature must be brought to heel if fiscal sanity is to return to the state.
Paterson's repeated promise to speak truth to power has ignored the fact that, as governor, he is the power - and not merely the interested observer his speech last night suggested. So give our accidental governor a midterm "A" for telling New Yorkers what the legislative leaders don't want us to know: that revenues to the state treasury are plunging at a dangerous rate and something drastic must be done soon.
But be prepared to give Paterson a well-deserved "F" if he fails to follow up with a specific agenda of cuts and savings when he brings lawmakers back to Albany on Aug. 19.