‘The temper of the times’

In Columns by Hal Peterson0 Comments

All of my columns have been in an effort to bring the need for real reform in Albany to the attention of Herald readers. I have tried to focus on concerns that highlight egregious happenings that can no longer be tolerated for obvious reasons. On a personal level the reaction to my columns has been extremely positive and I appreciate everyone’s ongoing support.

Dealing with change can be an epic challenge. While our new governor deserves credit for being a motivated leader, his “Transformational Plan for a New NY” remains an inspirational work in progress. Why only “inspirational?” The public sector continues to operate with costs that exceed dollars allocated in our current state budget, while spending has hardly abated.

Regardless of who represents us, we have witnessed unjustifiable increases in spending that has persisted for years at taxpayer expense. With many vested interest groups involved, I leave it to your judgment how much support the need to reduce of spending will receive in January.

A major consideration in achieving real change is dependent on what various agencies, commissions and task forces really accomplish. One such entity is the Spending and Government (SAGE) Commission established by Executive Order last January to “review and assess every level of New York State government to improve the delivery of services.” Its website has not been updated since it was established in May. A final report is due in June of 2012.

We are also witnessing, even during this period of extreme economic conditions, a lack of consensus about how to reduce spending. As the Herald reported two weeks ago, a classic example exists in Nassau County as Jim Carver, the PBA president, spared with County Executive Ed Mangano on fundamental changes to the NCPD gain economies of scale without impairing service. The county can hardly afford to see its affairs co-managed. Bankruptcy might be the only answer. A similar situation exists with the governor, who has released layoff notices to 3,500 union employees who are refusing to accede to modest changes in benefits.

We are only three months away from the start of the 2012 legislative session. Can we assume that the changes introduced in the governor’s slashed budget have been realized? Will the overall spending of some 1,000 governmental agencies be less this year than last? Will the adulation currently enjoyed by the governor this year continue to be his strong suit? Only “The Shadow Knows” and he hasn’t spoken to Margo Lane in years. Once again, stay tuned.

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