A story published over the weekend really kind of raised my ire.
For those of you who may have missed it, Neale Gulley's piece in the Sunday paper discussed the recent line item veto's by Governor David Paterson and how they would affect Western New York. Specifically, the piece mentioned a $9,450 procurement from Assemblyman Robin Schimminger to the United Way of the Tonawandas.
The story said the organization “stands to lose $9,450 they already got from Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, D-Kenmore, for a new computer system.”
“We were told the money would be there but we’re waiting for the paperwork,” the organization's director of finance and administration said. “it was submitted a couple weeks ago.”
So if I read Gulley's story correctly, the organization obviously didn't “already got” anything. They were promised it by Assemblyman Schimminger but it hadn't been delivered yet. And since they didn't already have it, they didn't lose it. They just didn't get it.
If I tell you I'm going to give you a dollar and then don't, you didn't lose a dollar. You just didn't get the dollar I said I was going to give you. That might make me a bad guy, but it doesn't really make you a victim.
Since the $9,450 in question here isn't from Assemblyman Schimminger's bank account, maybe he shouldn't have promised it in the first place. Seems to me there's a saying here about your mouth not writing checks your butt can't cash.
Further, the story explained that the money was there for the United Way of the Tonawandas to use, but they hadn't done so by the end of the fiscal year, so they lost out.
If you call me today and ask if you can borrow a cup a sugar, I'd likely say yes. If you fail to pick up that cup of sugar in a reasonable amount of time, I'll probably just end up using it myself. Several months down the road if you happen to stop by and say, “hey where's my sugar you said I could borrow,” I'd probably look at you like you had multiple heads. And if I don't have the extra sugar anymore I'm not going to feel guilty about it.
That's not much different that the United Way's not using the money it had been promised.
You still couldn't tell anyone that you “lost” a cup of sugar that you never had. Especially if it was your laziness or disorganization that prevented you from getting the sugar in the first place.
You may think I'm being hard on the United Way here. After all, they're a great group with great goals and they help a lot of people. But I'm just using them as an example – just like Gulley did. And no matter how good they are, that doesn't mean that we have the money to give them.
The reason for Paterson's vetoes in the first place is because the fiscal state of the empire state is deplorable. And we just can't give money out the way we used to. In fact, had we not been giving this money out in this manner for the last 30 years, maybe we'd be in a lot better shape now.
Someone somewhere will try to make the argument that this is “just $9,450” and considering the size of the state's budget, it's proportionally just a drop in the bucket and they should be able to find the money to honor Schimminger's word.
In all, Paterson vetoed $700 million in expenditures.
I guess it's true what they say, “ten grand here and ten grand there and eventually you're talking real money.”