With our state now in the midst of an economic recession, it was incumbent upon the Governor to bring lawmakers together to sort out our impending budget deficit. Unfortunately, bringing lawmakers back to Albany resulted in nothing more than yet another expense paid for by the taxpayers. Nothing was accomplished.
It is estimated that bringing the State Legislature back to Albany costs taxpayers at least $100,000. Wasting taxpayer dollars during this dire fiscal crisis is a disgrace, especially considering that cuts are being proposed to our schools and state workforce. Knowing ahead of time, as the Governor did, as evidenced by comments made to the media, that the rank-and-file members would have no voice in this extraordinary session, nor have the ability to vote on legislation, the Governor should have canceled the legislative session and just brought back the leaders instead.
Sadly, everyone left town with no resolution. There is no question that these difficult times will require difficult choices. However, this “special” session was nothing other than a political stunt. Moreover, the fact that the Governor has called for yet another special session this December is further evidence that, back in Albany, it is still politics as usual.
With yet another “special” session ahead of us, anticipated for December 16, I am hopeful that the Governor will propose a fiscal plan that addresses the problems facing our state right now and, at the same time, puts in place new restraints to prevent such excessive spending in the future. There are many places in which we can begin to look for solutions. For example, without a current Lieutenant Governor or need for a Capital Defenders office (with no death penalty), perhaps these offices could be consolidated, or the Governor would consider tackling the estimated $5 billion in annual Medicaid fraud, waste and abuse.
In December, if we return to Albany, I and the taxpayers of this state expect that the leadership in Albany will have ready a real plan for rank-and-file members to negotiate, review and vote on.