With the state budget battle looming, the new Democratic majority in the Senate is looking to be different and innovative after decades of Republican rule. After a failed attempt at getting into television, Malcolm Smith has decided to open up a web page for people to submit comments, tips and suggestions about the budget.
Here's what I had to say in their comment box:
As you can tell, I don't think that this is as great as they try and make it out to be. Suggesting items for the budget sounds nice in theory, but without being able to tell what is going on, then what good are our suggestions?
"Open government presents you with an opportunity, as well as a challenge—help us find solutions."
Start by actually making government open. Allowing people to present their ideas is a good thing, but making the process in the Legislature transparent for all New Yorkers to watch is invaluable. At the moment, it is gimmicks like this that are touted as attempts at reform but the real deals are hammered out in a backroom. For example, on Wednesday Senate Dems debated amongst themselves what will happen with a more progressive income tax structure...the public should have been there, whether physically or through the lens of a camera. Who said what and offered which amendments to what bills is important information and at the moment, it is kept in secret.
That must end. One way or another, it will.