Now Is The Time For Responsible Governing, Not Misplaced Priorities
Legislative column from Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua)
June 4, 2010
“It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.” Those are the words of American Patriot Samuel Adams. This rousing quote is framed in the doorway of my Albany office. These days the nights have been long, and overflowing with frustration as day after day passes without a state spending plan and school districts, construction contractors, local governments and non-profits suffer the consequences. Nevertheless, I still believe in the heart of New York, the hardworking folks all across our state who work tirelessly to simply make ends meet and want Albany to do its job and pass a fiscally responsible budget. MOVE THE BUDGET FORWARD WITH LESS TALK, MORE ACTION As readers of this column are all too aware, the late State Budget continues to drag on…and on, and on. In fact, the budget is now officially 65 days past due – and we are no further along than we were on April 1. Governor Paterson must come to an agreement with leaders from the Senate and Assembly Majorities for the process to move forward. As I pointed out at this week’s public Legislative Leaders’ meeting, there is not a defined process in place to move these negotiations forward. I believe we need a process, a plan, a way forward. That is why whenever I have attended public Legislative Leaders’ meetings, I consistently call for action plans and specific timetables for moving forward, as I did at our meeting this past Wednesday. Instead of responding to my continued calls for a specific action plan and timeline to move these negotiations forward, the Governor wants to impose his own cuts into the emergency spending bills. My point has been this: instead of spending time each week on these emergency budget extenders, why not focus on getting a fiscally responsible State Budget done? The voters elected us to enact a spending plan, not a series of stopgap measures. REAL SOLUTIONS TO FIX A BROKEN PROCESS On March 31, 2009, every member of our Minority Conference voted against the 2009-10 State Budget that contained $8.5 billion in job-killing taxes and an unsustainable 10 percent hike in government spending. We knew then it was a road to today’s financial crisis. The facts have proven us correct Back in October of 2009, and also in March of this year, our Conference offered a series of fiscally responsible solutions that would reduce the size and cost of government and eliminate the state’s multi-billion dollar deficit, without hiking taxes and fees or taking on a dime of new borrowing. Do you agree with consolidating State Agencies that have duplicative or overlapping functions? Do you support the collection of taxes on cigarettes and gasoline sold on Native American lands to non-Native American Indians? These are just a few of our proposed ideas that could save the state billions in unnecessary spending and begin the long journey toward a fiscally responsible State Budget. MISPLACED PRIORITES ONLY DELAY GETTING SPENDING PLAN IN PLACE On Wednesday afternoon, with the State Budget 63 days past due, the Majority brought Resolution No. 1282 to the Assembly floor. This resolution urges that other people – referring to NYS members of Congress – denounce the new Arizona law that basically does little more than reiterate the long-standing federal law and obligates state and local police to assist in enforcement of the laws of our land governing illegal entry. With our State Budget extraordinarily overdue, I believe this was a regrettable case of misplaced priorities. Now, more than ever, legislators must focus all of their time and attention on finalizing a fiscally responsible State Budget. It has often been said that there is a time for politics and a time for governing. Folks, now is the time for governing, responsible governing. READY TO TURN THE “LATE BUDGET” PAGE? THEN SUPPORT A “PEOPLE’S CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION” Samuel Adams lived in different times yet his words ring true for me today. We will not give up. We will not quit. We will continue our push for real change and reform within our state government. It begins with convening a “People’s Constitutional Convention” that empowers taxpayers to take back their state government and make real reform happen. If you are ready to turn this page in history, visit www.reformny.org and support a People’s Convention to help put an end to late budgets and bring real reform to our Empire State. As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic, or any other state-related matter should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or e-mail me at email@example.com. You also can follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and informational updates regarding state government and our Assembly Minority Conference.