Angry New Yorker

Monday, August 16, 2004
From today's NY Post, a good rundown of the continued chaos Albany has created for us here in the "Empire State".


August 16, 2004 -- DURING the late, lush 1990s, Albany's fiscal profligacy was merely ir responsible. Today, as New Yorkers struggle to recover from a Wall Street slump and a stubborn recession, Albany's irresponsibility is unconscionable.

Last week, state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno and Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver passed New York's annual budget, four months late — and they charged taxpayers usury-level interest rates for all those extra months.

Gov. Pataki had proposed a $99.8 billion budget in the spring; Bruno and Silver tacked on $1.5 billion in extra spending.

So the budget will finally break the $100 billion barrier. But that number is meaningless without context.

In early 2000, during the final year of the stock-market bubble, Wall Streeters and lucky speculators across the state were pouring more than $3 million an hour into Albany's coffers. Pataki, Bruno and Silver took advantage of their unprecedented — and ephemeral — wealth to jack up state spending by nearly twice the rate of inflation. They passed a $78 billion budget that year.

That plan was constructed on an artificial base: The unsustainable gains of the Internet boom. But even after the bubble burst forever, Pataki & Co. pretended their budget platform hadn't collapsed.

So since early 2001 they've hiked spending another 30 percent — while taxpayers struggle to catch up. Income-tax collections — the state's largest source of cash — won't recover to their Internet-era highs until next year at the earliest.

Albany didn't waste just four months. Bruno, Silver and Pataki wasted three years.

They knew that the 2001 downturn wasn't an aberration — it was a return to reality. The recession bared the truth: New Yorkers were already struggling under the heaviest debt burden in the country, and state spending on health-care and education was already spiraling out of control.

New York's three purported leaders should have leveled with the taxpayers. Instead, they stalled.

Bruno, Pataki and Silver squandered more than $13 billion in one-shot boosters to narrow gaping budget deficits. Last year, Bruno and Silver seized on a Pataki proposal to issue $4 billion in deficit-bond financing — ensuring that future taxpayers fund last year's spending. Then the two Legislative leaders defied Pataki to hike taxes on everyone: from new sales taxes on mothers buying clothing for their children to income tax "surcharges" on top earners.

Those tax hikes bought another year that could have allowed for honest reform. Instead, Bruno, Silver and Pataki continued to build more weak structures on their crumbling foundation:

Education: Albany will spend $751 million more on schoolkids this year. But New York has already increased education spending by 54 percent in a decade, with little discernable effect on learning. "

Read the entire article here -

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