Let’s take a moment to review some of the national headlines. There is this article about San Bernadino, CA filing for bankruptcy (the 3rd city in the state to take such a drastic step) protection. Then there is this story about wage cuts in Scanton, PA. What do both of these have in common other than they are pretty sad stories?
What is happening in California and Pennsylvania as well as in other states is that local government expenses are outpacing revenues. They aren’t taking in enough to cover what they send out. It is simple math. And what are the reasons for the increased costs? Most of it revolves around pension obligations, healthcare costs, and annual increases in other benefits. But it goes beyond just employee costs and includes things like construction costs associated with the building of public infrastructure.
This hasn’t happened in New York yet, but it is coming. How soon until we have the first town or school district that files for protection? How soon will it be before a local elected official decides that he/she needs to follow the lead of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker? But it doesn’t need to get to that point. There are good solutions out there.
Last November, we helped form Let New York Work. The group put together a six-point plan that would help to control costs at the local government level while still providing the services we want and a sound education to our kids. You can find our recommendations here, http://www.unshackleupstate.com/news/press-releases/let-ny-work.
It is true that some of the recommendations aren’t politically popular and will anger one sector of our communities. But when compared to the option of filing bankruptcy or slashing wages, these are far more palatable and will keep people employed. It is now time for our elected officials, Senate and Assembly, Democrats and Republicans, to do what is responsible. Pass the Let New York Work agenda so that we can avoid the extremes facing California and Scranton.