December 2005

On Nov. 8, voters in New York State made two wise decisions: One, they rejected the Legislature’s bid to take control of drafting state budgets and two, they authorized the state to borrow $2.9 billion over the next 30 years to repair and build highways, bridges, tunnels and subways.

Under Proposition 1, the Legislature would have gained control of creating the state budget, leaving Gov. Pataki (and all future governors) virtually powerless in managing nearly all of the state’s programs.

As one voter said in an Associated Press (AP) story, “I wouldn’t give it to them,” he said, referring to what would have been the Legislature’s almost absolute power over the state budget. “It would be too many people to try to keep an eye on.”

Well, that was an understatement. Trying to track the potential for that much pork would have been like trying to corral one pig into an already overcrowded pen; when you open the door, you may get him in, but two get out in the process.

With their approval of Proposition 2, voters also showed lawmakers what they know is important. While many politicians seem reluctant to discuss infrastructure because they apparently think that the subject is not sexy enough to rally support for their campaigns, most people really do understand the importance of maintaining our roads, bridges and transportation system. Although it may not be fun to talk about infrastructure, in the long run, it’s a heck of a lot more interesting to resolve the problems now than to continue sitting one’s life away in incessant traffic jams.

As the same voter asked in the AP story, “A half-hour wait instead of an hour? Is that too much to ask?”

Borrowing money for anything is not ideal, but when faced with the alternative of either spending $2.9 billion now to improve New York State’s infrastructure or spending much more later to do it, what choice is there, really? This is the same type of logical decision that households all over the United States make all the time with their family budgets.

Once again, voters proved that common sense will solve virtually any problem.

Lawmakers hopefully got that message. P


You can also view previous issues of Superintendent's Profile.