Fiddling While Rome Burns

From the New York Times…

Mr. Silver, the powerful and cagey Assembly speaker, achieved what he wanted in the budget that emerged from the shadows of the statehouse this weekend, cementing his newfound role as the capital’s center of gravity.

He won the policy fight, forcing Gov. David A. Paterson to raise taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers, an idea that the governor decried as potentially disastrous three weeks ago. The $131.8 billion budget, which could hardly be called austere, is largely a reflection of the liberal tilt of Mr. Silver, and the Assembly’s predilection for big spending on social programs, no matter the economic climate.

Mr. Silver also dictated the process, turning back the clock to the most secretive budget negotiations the capital has seen in years, casting aside the open government that Mr. Paterson and other Democrats once said would follow the party’s sweeping victories in recent state elections. He argued that technicalities in recently passed budget reform legislation allowed the Legislature to circumvent requirements for open meetings among those negotiating the spending plan.

And the speaker preserved the Legislature’s cherished spending on pet projects, pushing successfully for $170 million for members to dole out in district spending, leaving that pool of money essentially untouched, despite the fiscal crisis.

When the New York Times says that your budget could hardly be called austere, it means you are spending like a drunken sailor. This budget is criminal.

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