Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Once again, state politicos will fail

State leaders have one week to make a miracle.

Don't count on it.

April 1 is the deadline for our illustrious elected officials to invent a state budget.

They haven't met the deadline in the previous 18 years, why would we think they would now?

Just in case you held out hope, allow me to dash it.

"We're not going to get it done by April 1," Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said Monday. "That's apparent now, I'm sorry to say."

A quick check of our local senator, George Maziarz, provided further proof.

I called George about 5 p.m. Monday and asked him if we might possibly have a state budget by the first.

(Paure for dramatic effect.)

"Uh, no."

Now, I've said this before and I'll say it again. We send these men and women in our Senate and Assembly to Albany with two goals:

  • Pass a budget by the set date of April 1, as is required by law.
  • Try not to screw things up too bad.

    Since I've moved back to New York - and dare I assume much before that - our elected officials have failed both those goals.

    The state hasn't had an on-time budget since 1984, when former Gov. Mario Cuomo and the Legislature passed a spending plan March 31. In 1997 and 1999, the budget wasn't adopted until Aug. 4.

    I can only think of two laws the state has adopted since my return from the Buckeye State three years ago.

    First, they outlawed talking on cell phones while driving, theoretically to prevent distracted drivers from running over politicians who don't look both ways before crossing the street.

    Second, they outlawed carrying pointy sticks or anything that's not a knife but could be used as one.

    Both these laws can be described as "feel good legislation," designed primarily to make the politicians feel good and maybe some unsuspecting voters, too.

    Now, some people out there, including a colleague of mine, would say they gave us a casino.

    All right, maybe those people have a point.

    But they only did it to gloss over the fact that this will the the NINETEENTH year in a row without passing a budget on time.

    Think about it. If you missed 19 deadlines in a row, would you still be employed?

    But we keep employing these politicos year after year.

    We really should fire them.

    But that's another miracle that won't happen.