June 19, 2009
“Reform” is a word that has been tossed around a lot lately. I hear it so much, used in so many different ways, that I started to wonder about its real definition. So, I decided to look it up.
I was relieved to see that, according to The American Heritage Dictionary, “reform” means “to improve by alteration or to remove defects” or “something that changes for the better or corrects evils or abuses.” As I thought about all the so-called “reformers” roaming the halls of the state Capitol, I came to realize that in New York “reform” and “reform in Government” mean two completely different things.
Governor Paterson, a self-proclaimed reformer, said it himself that New York State taxes, spends and borrows far too much. Reform, to most New Yorkers, should mean less influence by powerful special interest groups and more openness, transparency and input into the process by taxpayers and rank-and-file members of the Legislature. Thanks to New York, countless dictionaries will need to be edited because in the Empire State “reform” has become a word for political cover only rivaled by the term “restructuring”.
When Capitol dwellers say the word “reform” taxpayers reflexively grab for their wallets because they’re aware this equates to socking it to them with new and creative ways to increase taxes and spending. The 2009 state budget clearly illustrates my point; $10 billion in new spending and $8 billion in new taxes. During a 5-way leaders’ meeting in December I offered several recommendations to rein in state spending and lower taxes by eliminating pork and useless commissions, as well as curb unnecessary state employee travel and placing a moratorium on the purchase of new state vehicles. Clearly, the spending addicts in Albany can’t summon enough will power to reduce taxes.
We need real reform, but until that happens don’t be surprised if while checking the dictionary for the definition of “dysfunctional” you see a picture of your state Capitol.
James N. Tedisco
Member of Assembly