As the famous Willie Nelson song indicates, we are “on the road again.”  This week has us in Albany and Westchester County tomorrow, back in Rochester Wednesday, then in Syracuse on Thursday.  What is the point of the travel?  Spreading the message of our coalition and adding more names and more fundraising.  The funny thing is that regardless of where we go, the response is the same. “Thank you for doing this work and providing us with the information we need.”  But we are always quick to respond that we’ll get you what you need, but you need to get to the booth and make the right choices.  You see, regardless of what we do, if people don’t actually get out and vote, there won’t be much that can be done to change NY.  So work with us and beat back the voter apathy.

Ok, so this may sound strange, but over the weekend I was looking at the proposed budget and something struck me as “off” (other than the whole budget, right)?  I was looking at the proposed mergers and something wasn’t sitting right.  It finally dawned on me late last night.

If you recall, just last year the Governor and Legislature passed Tier 5, the new employee retirement system.  It will save us billions, but not nearly as much as it could have because concessions were made.  One of those was that there would be no lay-offs.  In exchange for that provision, CSEA and PEF, the state’s largest public employee unions, would not fight the bill.  That’s what got me going on the consolidations.  How can you merge agencies, thus creating a savings, without actually eliminating positions?  Isn’t that why you do mergers…to save money by reducing redundancy?

So we checked.  Guess what?  The only reductions appear to be from retirements and not filling current vacancies.  Don’t get me wrong, we support mergers and consolidations.  The more the merrier in many instances.  We need to create efficiency through technological improvements and the use of private sector practices like Lean and Six Sigma.

But the truth is we’ll never get the true cost savings we need if our leaders continue to make concessions with the labor community.  In fact, we’ll leave you with this: when was the last time you read a newspaper headline declaring that the Governor or Legislature had reached an agreement with the taxpayers or business community?  The answer?  Never!

Clearly we have our work cut out for us.  And we won’t back down.  We can’t.  So this is an important week for Unshackle Upstate and for you.  We’ll be announcing two big projects later this week.  These projects will allow us to get you more information and turn up the heat on elected officials that aren’t taking us seriously.  We look forward to being able to share those plans with you on Friday.