Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Four Months Later....Albany Finally Passes A Budget

The deadline for our state government to fulfill their obligation of passing a state budget came and went long before our sultry summer, and even our brief spring began. Now in the midst of 90 degree weather, legislators from around the state managed to pull it together and get something to stick. It wasn't easy (as Pedro Espada created a tremendous amount of trouble...and assault possibly) but the bill made it to the Governor's desk late last night.

From The Times-Union:

The final party-line vote -- 32 to 28 -- arrived after the sun had set on a dizzying day of last-minute negotiations, one-house bills that have almost no chance of passage in the Assembly, and frenzied efforts to round up two Democratic senators who spent much of the day missing in action.

In other words, it was a fairly typical day in the Senate, which all year has veered between chaos and inertia due to the Democrats' razor-thin 32-to-30-seat majority.

In order to pass the revenue plan that for more than a month has been the remaining piece of the budget puzzle, Democrats needed all 32 votes on deck. Senate Republicans have been rejecting almost all spending measures en masse this summer.

Republicans were set to let the bickering Democratic caucus cave in on itself, but in the end Sampson, Smith and others (despite their many, many flaws) managed to pass a multi-billion dollar budget without borrowing as L.G. Ravitch had proposed. Instead, they gave a victory to wealthy hedge fund managers by not making them pitch more in for the state where they make their personal billions. Who lost out? Well for those that rely on the sales tax exemption for clothing purchases under $110, they won't be saving those few dollars anymore. Large cuts to Medicaid will also be adding to the burden to the least amongst us. In all, a lot of money was lost from the coffer in the last couple of years and the reality was that cuts had to have been made. And to be fair, those in the highest brackets did have to relent on a couple of items.

And to give a bit of good news, the legislature approved a moratorium on hydrofracking the Marcellus Shale, at least until next July. And guess what? Republicans joined the majority and made it a bipartisan victory.