Respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll were divided on where the blame for late passage of the state budget should fall, but their low regard for lawmakers is clear. Just 1 percent approves of the state Legislature’s overall performance.
Gov. David Paterson called state senators back to Albany last Wednesday, July 28, but the week ended as it began—without passage of the final revenue bill needed to complete the 2010-11 state budget, which was due April 1. Lawmakers gave final approval to the budget on Tuesday night—just eight days shy of the record for budget tardiness.
Forty-one percent of RBJ readers say the governor and legislators are equally to blame for the late budget. Twenty-nine percent say the Senate deserves most blame, while 27 percent hold the Assembly accountable. Only 3 percent say Paterson is most at fault.
In the what-a-difference-a-year-makes category, Paterson’s overall performance rating more than doubled over the past 12 months. More than half the readers—58 percent—in this week’s Snap Poll approve of Paterson’s overall performance. Forty-two percent disapprove. A year ago, 23 percent of Snap Poll respondents approved of Paterson’s performance.
Roughly 775 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Aug. 2 and 3.
In your view, who deserves the most blame for the late state budget?
The governor and legislators are equally to blame: 41%
State Senate: 29%
State Assembly: 27%
Gov. David Paterson: 3%
What is your opinion of Gov. David Paterson’s overall performance?
Strongly approve: 8%
Strongly disapprove: 13%
What is your opinion of the state Legislature’s overall performance?
Strongly approve: 0%
Strongly disapprove: 82%
Here are some comments from readers:
I said it before in this forum: The governor is disliked by too many groups that are drunk on their own self-interest for him to be a bad guy. Ultimately, we will all feel the pain of misguided politicians that we, the people, elected. He’ll get us through the pain and to the healing quicker than anyone. He doesn’t have to lie; he wasn’t bought by anyone!
—Bill Lanigan, Chamberlin Rubber
I think the Democratic Legislature—including both the state Assembly and Senate—is to blame. They want their perks for their constituents no matter how bad the shape the state is in. That is a sorry attitude, and look where that has gotten New York State. No matter what Gov. Paterson wants to cut to balance the budget, he gets no headway. The "Good Ole Boys" have had their way for so many years; they certainly don’t want to stop now. Let’s vote them out; oh, we can’t because they have made the "Big Apple" used to free money handouts.
—Ruth Ditch, Delta Square
The problems in Albany are complicated and convoluted, and that’s exactly what they want: That makes it easier for our “leaders” to avoid direct blame. The Legislature operates under the most inane, self-serving rules imaginable, and that’s where change must start. What we need is new, strong, effective leadership to drive reform. We don’t need property tax caps and other gimmicks. These are easily circumvented and won’t yield results. We don’t need a constitutional convention that will be run by the same powerful special interests. We don’t need interparty squabbles; both are equally culpable. We need real, fundamental reform of the way this state is governed.
They all need to be replaced in November. They’re a waste. If you vote for them, then you get what you deserve—no balanced budget and more perks for them.
—Ken Pamatat, Creative Images
Who deserves the most blame for the late state budget? The voters. They voted these people into office.
—Ed Jackson, retired
Paterson is being blamed and will be held accountable, for the same reason we in Rochester blamed Bill Johnson. They are both realists who said we can’t spend money we don’t have. No one wants to hear that, and voters prefer candidates who lie to them about financial issues as Brooks did (does). And because of this, the Assembly thinks it has free rein to try to further sabotage anything Paterson does, and by doing nothing, that’s exactly what they have accomplished. The state Assembly is a lying, conniving pack of hyenas and nothing more.
It seems very strange to me that our government officials keep telling us that they know best how to handle our money, yet they can’t balance their own books. I find it ridiculous that there has not been a budget for New York for the past six years. I think the time has come for a complete government makeover from the governor on down. And it can’t come too soon.
—Phil Turturici, Webster
You should have had a selection of “the New York voter” as most to blame for the late state budget. If these same legislative do-nothings weren’t re-elected each and every year, then there may be a change in legislative outcomes. But voter apathy, embarrassing legislator conduct and three men in a room will continue to rule, and that’s why N.Y.’s Legislature is considered the most dysfunctional in the nation. Keep up the great work, N.Y. voter!
—Mike Thornton, Rochester
I think the governor has at least been trying. It does not appear that the Legislature, for the most part, is making any effort at all.
The NYC-based Assembly has not dealt with the reality of the state’s economy. It wants to maintain control. We need Assembly and Senate districts established by a non-partisan panel and limits on political funding.
—Mike Bleeg, Strategic Results
What a bunch of clowns. The sad part is we are paying for the circus. If I conducted my business like these guys, we would be long gone. November is coming.
—Frank Weiner, Bridgekey
It is very sad to see how our useless politicians have made the once-great state of New York into a leading candidate as the poster child of dysfunctionality.
They all suck. Term limits, baby. Term limits.
—Jim Duke, Victor
Gov. Paterson has had his budget ready for many months. It is up to the Assembly and the Senate to get their acts together and work on a bill that they can pass and that Gov. Paterson can sign. Maybe we can get Chris Christi to move from New Jersey after his second term. He could help us pass the 2010 budget by then. We are still "The Empire State." But we are "The Empire State of the Dysfunctional." We need a governor to put the "fun" back in dys-fun-ctional.
—Clifford Jacobson, WebHomeUSA.com
My one question to anyone running for state government will be: "Do you support term limits?" If you do, then I may support you. If you do not, I cannot support you. Too many legislators are legislating based on keeping themselves in the Legislature and not for the common good of New York State.
Primarily I blame the unions. As I have said before, they will never give up the dues from one unnecessary worker to help the taxpayer. Loading up the pensions with overtime, unrealistic demands when the economy—especially that of New York—is in bad shape, and generally demanding things we just can no longer afford from the assembly is the reason we can’t get a budget passed.
—R. J. Brinkman, Chairman Brinkman International Group, Inc.
It would seem that the process is too complicated for our elected officials. Let’s get back to basics. … No more adding pork to a bill or budget package. Keep it simple, spend what you receive.
The Legislature is a joke. If New York was a private business, it would have closed long ago. I laugh at the "penalty" of no pay until they pass a budget. What kind of incentive is that? They still get all their pay—and MORE, because they get paid by the day, and they continue to come to Albany to DO NOTHING. I know there are some legislators who are competent, and it’s a shame, but THEY ALL MUST GO! Pull the lever for whoever is NOT currently serving. We need to clean house. This is not only bankrupting us, but it’s embarrassing to boot!
We deserve most of the blame for continuing to accept this type of performance and continuing to elect these people. We should demand results and elect only those, regardless of the party who will deliver them. We need a constitutional convention to revise the way that the state’s business is done. That convention should exclude those currently running things in Albany.
—Robert Zinnecker, Penfield
There are no easy answers in the complex world of politics. Where do we start? Who do we blame? There are too many influences that pressure our Legislature everyday that are opaque to our vision. And we expect them to focus on the everyday issues of their constituents who do not have the power to influence without a monetary reward. I think it will only get worse for small businesses and people. Money is the only representative in the world, and that will never change.
—Jeaninne Ottman, Eco Bella Bakery
Try handing in an assignment in the private sector three months late and see where you end up. Albany carries its infamous tagline of the most dysfunctional government in the U.S. very well.
This budget fish stinks from the head down, but the whole fish stinks. If this were your personal budget and you didn’t get any money (paid) until it was passed, you’d be darned sure you got the job done. That’s exactly what should happen in Albany. No budget on time, no pay. And, the Senate bears the most responsibility. Gov. Paterson had a budget submitted in January. There was plenty of time to come to terms. The Legislature has no valid excuse at all. Time for a drastic change!
We the people are to blame. We voted these people into office and most likely will NOT vote them out. Let’s see what happens come election time.
—Antonino Barbagallo, Foto-AB Inc.
We are really the ones to blame because we keep electing these idiots who can’t make decisions. If our elected officials actually listened to their constituents instead of their own little pet projects, we would not be in the mess we are in today.
—Robert Carbone Jr., Robert’s Gold Foil Stamping
Let’s us do something different! Let’s stop accessing blame in August and start accessing the blame in November. Who cares if the problem is 60-40 or 40-60? The problems are that New York doesn’t have either a budget or a clue on how to balance the budget. New York has a Legislature that treats the governor with impunity yet provides no leadership itself and a governor who has worked hard to earn these two "achievements."
Vote the incumbents out!
—Mary Spurrier CFP, M. Spurrier Financial Services LLC
This is the time to do something about this pathetic system. Vote against EVERY incumbent politician! Replace them all, at the state level.
It is truly the "end of days" when the "accidental governor" looks like he is exhibiting leadership in Albany! The Legislature is not dysfunctional; it is corrupt, beholden to any special interest group with a bag of cash. Gov. Paterson can criticize the Legislature all he wants about their inability to pass a realistic budget that is smaller than last year’s— he knows they can’t because they have to appease their donors. Meanwhile—he offers no solutions himself. Act like a leader, cut spending by 10 percent and you may find yourself still in Albany next January. God help us if Mario Jr. —I mean Andrew Cuomo—is the next governor. We deserve the government we elect!
—Dave Iadanza, Farmington
The reasons for all of the state’s budget problems lie with Sheldon Silver and his bully grip on the Assembly. The only people he responds to are the teachers’ unions and a few of his NYC special interest groups.
I feel that Assembly and Senate are both to blame for the legislative mess in Albany. Self-serving Sheldon Silver, who rules the Assembly with an iron fist, gets most of the blame. The Senate is the other horrible mess with inept leadership where the individual senators put their personal and partisan interests far above that of the people of the State. Their recent shows of assembling and disassembling are disgusting. Democrats are mostly to blame since they have the majority, but Republicans carry a good part of the blame since they put their party interests far above the good of the State. I wish that there would be a palace revolution where a coalition of well-meaning Democrats and Republicans would throw those tyrants out. In this mess, Gov. Paterson actually looks like Mother Theresa. Unfortunately, the whole atmosphere in the N.Y. government is so poisoned that a change of parties would not make any difference. Apparently, we will have to wait until the mischief making leadership dies and concerned leadership takes over (where are they?).
—Ingo H. Leubner, Crystallization Consulting
When are the voters ever going to make these people accountable? In the "real world," if any of us performed on the job the way all of these politicians have, we would all be having been fired long ago. Their behavior is unacceptable.
Regrettably, the New York State Legislature in Albany is a disgrace and embarrassment to the citizens of New York State. To call the New York State Legislature in Albany “dysfunctional” would be a gross understatement. However, at election time this fall, the voters of New York State have an opportunity to correct this disgraceful and embarrassing situation in Albany, but only if they have the will and desire to do so. If the voters of New York State decide simply to re-elect the New York Legislature without any significant changes, then the voters of New York State are equally “dysfunctional” and deserve the disgraceful and embarrassing New York State Legislature in Albany. My personal decision whether to remain a resident of New York State will be highly influenced by the outcome of the state government election this fall. A continued status-quo with the New York State Legislature in Albany is unacceptable—major changes are needed if New York State is to regain its deserved title as The Empire State.
—Ted Benjeski, Henrietta
The voters of New York State (myself included) are to blame. We voted the laggards in, it’s our job to see them do their jobs, or remove them for not performing.
—Lou Calarese, president, Applied Audio & Theatre Supply
The choice that was not listed: The VOTERS who vote these clowns in election after election are as irresponsible as the self-serving, special interest legislators who work for the special interests and not the taxpaying voter!
Nothing will ever change in New York State until the Assembly becomes Republican and Sheldon Silver is removed as speaker. I don’t anticipate this happening in my lifetime.
The state Legislature is demonstrating that they are both gutless and corrupt. By refusing to pass a budget, they avoid having to cut funds to the special interest groups that fund and control them.
—Joe Lancaster, Cogenic Mechanical, president
The level of incompetence in this state government is mind boggling. I can’t wait for November to show them how I feel.
Total incompetence. There isn’t any more to say.
—William Nash, Ultrafab Inc.
No one wants to take the tough task of cutting expenses. Special interest groups merely advocate/lobby to protect what they have regardless of consequences to the state as a whole. Do state and federal employees really need 12 paid holidays a year? The standard seems to be six days while many groups don’t have any (waitresses come to mind). This is an example of the abuse that exists in the marketplace.
This is not a new problem, just another shabby episode of political pandering and power games. WE elected them. WE tolerate our local reps kowtowing to the bosses. So who’s really to blame, huh?
—Michael Leach, Rochester
Our state government is an absolute joke—a punch line at a party. Our NYS legislators must be content with being failures and laughed at. If they were managing a business it would long be bankrupt and gone. No one wants excuses any more. Fix it or be voted out.
—Douglas Strang Jr.
If you live in New York State, then you are to blame. You are either too stupid or too lazy to change. If you are not happy with the ridiculous state of affairs, Look in the mirror, it is your fault. Stop watching “American Idol” and collecting a government check. Try to read a book and go to work. The Legislature and the New York State resident are a national laughing stock and an embarrassment to self-governance.
Clearly, the Democrats have well earned the characterization of “tax and spend.” Problem now, of course, for the Democrats is we need massive new taxes to support their free-wheel spending and no one wants to pass new taxes prior to the November elections; thus the budget impasse. Even the governor, who NOW wants to rein in spending, is part of the problem. Remember last year at this time, when Paterson was trying to buy votes by giving $200 “back to school” vouches for each child on welfare? There was a run on HDTVs! Voters now have a clear choice. The Democrats control everything in Albany and are totally responsible for this mess. If we keep returning them to office, we have only ourselves to blame.
—Jerry Lighthouse, C.P.M., CPIM Advanced Purchasing Technology, LLC
The performance of all the state government politicians is an embarrassment to all of us that elected them. I am not impressed at all and only see New York as one of the states that are showing the rest of the country what government failure looks like.
—Mike Kaser, Penfield
I only hope that downstate voters have the knowledge and gumption to vote their current legislators out of office! Not worried about upstate; we care.
—Ted Marks, Dundee
Gov. Paterson has the advantage of being a "lame duck" so he has the opportunity to call out the Legislature for their lack of action and profligate spending. Unfortunately, the Albany culture of confrontation, special interest pandering and highly partisan political alignment works against doing what’s right for citizens. If I could change one thing it would be public financing of all political campaigns to minimize the impact of special interests. Throwing the bums out without changing the campaign finance part of the equation is an exercise in futility.
—Frank Orienter, Rochester
The governor should have suspended legislative pay until the budget had been finalized. People tend to move pretty quickly when there’s cash on the line.
They are all highly overpaid and have little to NO accountability. (They are) in love with tooting their own horn!
—Sonia Lochner, realtor
I believe that our New York State lawmakers are so corrupt and manipulative, that they are stealing thousands of dollars from the taxpayers everyday that they are prolonging the state budget. They are everyday "Thieves."
All rhetoric aside, AARRGGHH! This is certainly one "onerous dimwhitathon" and goes to show how wrong it is that the only qualification necessary for elected office is to get more votes than the next aspiring felon. It is time we set minimum criteria for office, term limits and granted the public the power to dismiss ineffectual leadership through some form of referendum.
Our state government is totally dysfunctional. I plan to write in Gov Paterson on the November ballot. Why? First, he has the cojones to take a stand on the budget. Second, my vote, as a Republican/Conservative counts little in the Liberal Welfare State of NY. Third, Cuomo is part of the Dems state politics and a part of the problems. I also intend to vote against every incumbent. There may be some "good," but they are not good enough. Clean Albany in 2010; take out the trash. "Politicians are like socks; if you don’t change them often enough they start to stink." Both politicians and diapers need to be changed often and for the same reason!
—Dennis Kiriazides, retired
I’m pleased that Gov. Paterson is making some effort to stand up against the Legislature and the public unions. Unfortunately, he hasn’t gone far enough and still has supported too much spending and downstate inspired legislation during his reign as governor. I’m extremely disappointed in the Legislature who generally seems to be supporting the public unions over the majority of the tax payers. Until the budget is decreased, the later the budget, the better. Stop the spending and over legislating!
—John Rynne, president Rynne, Murphy and Associates, Inc.
The New York State Legislature and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, in particular, are Exhibits No. 1 and No. 2 in the case for TERM LIMITS! We have far too much power in the hands of far too few people.
—Tom Shea, Thomas P. Shea Agency, Inc.
(c) 2010 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.