May 2010

As of press time for this month’s Superintendent’s Profile, the 2010-2011 New York State budget remained in limbo.

The legislative stalemate, caused by a $9.2 billion budget deficit (state law mandates a balanced budget), has already cost hundreds, potentially even thousands, of construction-related jobs due to work being halted on many projects across the state. While the impasse may be resolved by the time you read this, the much longer-term problem will remain — government doesn’t work for its people anymore.

OK, maybe that’s not much of a revelation, but things used to work better, when politics wasn’t so partisan and people weren’t so deeply entrenched in their opinions; there were more shades of gray — compromise seemed to happen more quickly.

True, we can’t continue to spend ourselves into crippling debt; nor can we continue to raise taxes; nor can we continue to fund unending social programs and/or bailouts. But we must always find money to reinvest. That’s what any successful business does and as I’ve written here before, a local government, a state or a county is really just a business.

Our politicians know this, so what’s the problem? Political bases and the money raised for reelection campaigns by them. If I run as a liberal and a liberal group raises funds and gets out the vote for me, I may not receive that same support when I rerun for my seat. Same is true for conservatives. There’s no compromise in this situation. I’d be worried about my job and even if I thought it would be right to do X,Y and Z, despite my base, I’d be hard pressed to do it. I’d be sleeping with the enemy in their eyes and my base might just support next time a more faithful and loyal liberal or conservative in their minds.

That’s what we have here. Solutions? Not enough space in this column for that. But we need to find the time and quickly. We’re constituents, not pawns, but we’re being played like the latter and this isn’t a game. P

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