Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Money problems? Cap your own spending!

As I write this, the state Assembly and Senate have been called back to Albany for a special session to try to trim $1 Billion from the state budget ... in an effort to bring our budget deficit down to $5 Billion.

Make sure you read that right. They're trying to bring our deficit down to $5 Billion ... not the budget itself. The budget itself will still be in the $120 Billion area.

And senators and assemblymen from Nassau to Niagara have been sending mailers to their constituents telling them how much they care about their pocket books. So much that they're proposing a tax cap. No, not on their own spending. They want to cap what your local school board spends.

So a group of politicians who are writing in red ink want to dictate what a duly elected school board they have no control over can spend. And they think they're doing you some favor.

No doubt, school districts spend too much money, hire too many people, and create too many new programs. But that's not for my state senator or assemblyman to decide. They've got their own budget snafus to worry about.

State government has a way of creating problems, then asking other people to fix them.

They did this with health care facilitiess, doling out handfuls of cash to every hospital in their district, then complaining that the state was spending too much on hospitals. So they created a committee (the Berger Commission) to then dictate to these privately-run hospitals whether they should remain as-is, close, or merge with a competing privately-run hospital. The simple truth is had they not given money to the hospitals in the first place, the market would have dictated which hospitals would remain open.

Now they're doing it with schools, passing rules and requirements for school aptitude, testing, building requirements, special education, etc. But at the same time, they're complaining that those schools spend too much money. Is there any possibility that the reason those schools spend soo much money is because the state GIVES them money ... with strings attached?

I've been to enough school board meeting to know that the answer is 'yes.' School districts apply for grants or are simply offered cash from Albany, but have to spend "X" amount of local dollars to get that money. And then the school board tells the local taxpayers, "We're only paying 'X.' Albany is paying the rest."

If Albany would stay out of everyone else's business and concentrate on their own problems (I remind you again, we're $6 Billion in the whole), maybe they could actually accomplish something.

Taxpayers, if you want to curtail spending at your school district, run for school board and do it yourself. If you want your state senator or assemblyman to curtail spending at your local school district, you've been duped into believing a) that (s)he cares ... b) that (s)he wasn't the problem in the first place and c) that the state doesn't have it's own problems to worry about.

If they're so good at handling money, how'd they get a $6 billion budget deficit in the first place?