Late Monday afternoon, Assemblyman Canestrari stated that he thought a budget wouldn’t get done until June at the earliest. He indicated that the Assembly, Senate and the Governor are too far apart – not only on spending cuts but also on increased taxes/fees and borrowing. That means we’ll see another series of budget extenders next week so that our government can continue to function. But will it?
Gov. Paterson recently introduced a program bill that would call for a one-day furlough for each week that the budget is late. Although it is only a one-day program, he has been right in calling for a furlough of state workers to help balance the budget. The leaders of the public employee unions have snubbed their noses at all of us by refusing to take any furloughs, pay cuts or pass on raises. Of course, at this point the leaders of both houses of the legislature have rejected introducing furloughs. They state that the governor has the power to do it if he really wants to. So today, the governor indicated he would be advancing his furlough plan.
Unshackle Upstate has been pushing for a more comprehensive furlough program. In our list of budget cuts for this year, we put forth a full 10-day furlough that would have saved the state significant money and help balance the budget this year. It is time for the governor to be the leader we need him to be and not advance any budget extenders that do not include stronger furlough language.
So, if Gov. Paterson does include his language, the legislature will be forced to do one of two things:
- Accept the budget extenders, start the furlough process and keep government working or;
- Reject the budget extenders and potentially bring state government to a stand-still due to limited funding
This could be a really interesting time within our government. If the governor finally takes action and puts the furlough language in his budget extender, he will be doing what many have called for…making public employees pay their fair share as we in the private sector have been doing for months. Employees that are potentially furloughed shouldn’t be angry with the governor or the legislature. They should be angry with their union leadership that has refused to even discuss the simplest of changes to help the state and thereby forced this move.
But what happens if the governor does put in the furlough language and it is rejected by some rank and file members of the legislature? Those who oppose the language will be sending us one very clear message: They care more about what the leadership of the public employee union thinks than they do about you, me and all of our neighbors.
It is time for our elected officials to do what is right for all of us – take on the tough issues, make the tough decisions and start acting like leaders.
So once again we have to ask…does Gov. Paterson have the willingness to act like his colleague, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, and take on the entrenched unions? And if he does, will a majority of rank and file members join him? Or could our government potentially grind to a halt?
If that happens, will you remember and act accordingly on Nov. 2 – Judgment Day?