So Much For The Promised Reform
The New York Times has a scathing piece on Sheldon Silver's role in the new state budget. I've heard from several well placed Albany sources that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is running Albany -- but to have the Times do an analysis piece cements it.
From the Times:
ALBANY — It’s Sheldon Silver’s Albany now.
Mr. Silver, the powerful and cagey Assembly speaker, achieved what he wanted in the budget that emerged from the shadows of the statehouse this weekend, cementing his newfound role as the capital’s center of gravity.
He won the policy fight, forcing Gov. David A. Paterson to raise taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers, an idea that the governor decried as potentially disastrous three weeks ago. The $131.8 billion budget, which could hardly be called austere, is largely a reflection of the liberal tilt of Mr. Silver, and the Assembly’s predilection for big spending on social programs, no matter the economic climate.
Mr. Silver also dictated the process, turning back the clock to the most secretive budget negotiations the capital has seen in years, casting aside the open government that Mr. Paterson and other Democrats once said would follow the party’s sweeping victories in recent state elections. He argued that technicalities in recently passed budget reform legislation allowed the Legislature to circumvent requirements for open meetings among those negotiating the spending plan.
Critics say Mr. Silver, a Democrat from the Lower East Side who has been speaker for the last 15 years, is the symbol of all that is broken in state government, a man who long ago forsook principle for power. They also say that he lacks the fiscal discipline to prudently manage the state’s escalating future deficits.
“I can’t see what the governor got out of it, or what the Senate majority leader got out of it,” said Kenneth Adams, the chief executive of the Business Council of New York State. “If it’s done by three people and two of them didn’t get much out of it, it certainly sounds like the third person gets the spoils.”
“The message hasn’t hit home yet that the state is in an enormous fiscal crisis,” said Elizabeth Lynam, the deputy research director of the Citizens Budget Commission, adding of the new budget: “It’s a disgrace.”
Let's hope Malcolm Smith was right when he said having one party control everything in Albany will bring greater accountability.
With a budget like this, New York voters may realize the importance of Republican influence on an out of control state government!