Each and every spring we seem to do a lot of communicating with our members about how bad Albany is. Just a few years back, it was the Brennan Center’s report that New York State had the most dysfunctional government in the nation. Year-in and year-out around that time, late budgets became the norm, annually thrusting entities relying upon state funding into uncertainty. Last year, we filled our members’ e-mailboxes with piece after piece about a state budget that – during a recession – raised spending by over $10 billion and taxes by over $8 billion.

This year, we maintain the status quo…

We have a budget that is nearly a month late – with no end in sight, a Senate Majority that insists on borrowing $2 billion to send out STAR rebate checks right before Election Day – the same rebate checks they ABOLISHED last budget, an Assembly Speaker whose own conference members call an obstructionist and a lame-duck Governor who says the whole situation is hopeless and his successor is doomed.

So what can we do to ensure Governor Paterson is not in fact the next Nostradamus? Sadly, many New Yorkers have already “voted with their feet” and left for greener pastures. We’re taking a different approach – standing up to the life-long politicians, the special interests, the downstate leaders who have provided little more than lip-service to Upstate. That’s why we’ve partnered with Unshackle Upstate and other business organizations in Upstate and Long Island to “Remember in November,” encouraging voters to use their votes on Judgment Day (Election Day, November 2) to initiate that change.

The first step on Election Day is to bring back an Upstate-friendly majority to the State Senate. This goal serves two purposes – balancing the power between the downstate-controlled Assembly and protecting our interests during the re-districting process scheduled for 2012. With 110 Assembly seats located below the Tappan Zee Bridge, it is inevitable that the Assembly will always be controlled by New York City. An Upstate-controlled Senate can help combat that control, protecting our Upstate interests in Albany. 

The second purpose serves a much more ominous concern- New York is projected to lose at least one and probably two Congressional Districts after the 2010 Census (because people ARE voting with their feet).  If there is not an Upstate-friendly majority in the Senate during the re-districting process, Upstate stands to have its voice in Washington, DC weakened, on top of its current lack of representation in Albany!  Don’t think for a second that downstate interests won’t hesitate to “protect their own” and chop up two Upstate Congressional Seats instead of a more appropriate 1-for-1 agreement.  To protect Upstate’s voice in Albany AND Washington, to be able to stand up to the Assembly Speaker’s obstructionist ways, to stop wasteful spending and harmful borrowing, and to make sure Governor Paterson’s prediction that our next Governor is “doomed to fail” is incorrect, it is imperative Upstate take back the Senate majority.

Given the inefficiency we’re seeing from Albany, perhaps a different approach would be more productive!