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The budget is supposed to be passed and signed by April 1. This has not...
By The Times-Ledger
It's spring and you know what that means. The flowers are about to bloom. The National League Champion Mets will soon be returning to Shea. And the state budget is late again.
The budget is supposed to be passed and signed by April 1. This has not happened once in the last 17 years. As far as we can tell, the lawmakers in Albany are not even close to a budget agreement. There is no excuse for this.
This is not a victimless crime. Local governments cannot finalize their own budgets until they know exactly how much will be coming from the state. Nonprofit organizations that rely in part on state funding are forced either to curtail important services, borrow money or find independent funding sources. In some cases, employees working for these nonprofit organizations wind up going for weeks without a paycheck. No one can count on this funding until the final budget resolution is signed.
The process of creating a state budget in New York makes a mockery of the word democracy. Ultimately, the budget is carved out by Democrat Assembly leaders and Republican Senate leaders in secretive, backroom negotiations. The other elected members of the Assembly and Senate, including the Queens delegation, are nothing more than window dressing.
Steps taken in recent years to get the budget in on time have proved fruitless. Even withholding the pay of the elected officials whenever the budget was late accomplished little.
What we'd like to see next year is a law that forbids our elected officials to run for reelection if they cannot get a budget passed on time. That won't happen because these bureaucrats are lazy, not stupid. They will never pass legislation that will require them to get their work done on time. Although they should.
Think about it. If you failed to get a project in on time 17 years in a row, would you still have your job?
The hot air train
We confess; we are impressed by the speed in which the Port Authority has moved to lay down the tack work for the AirTrain that will take passengers from Midtown Manhattan to the terminal of their choice at Kennedy Airport. They have even managed to do much of the construction work with minimal disruption to the lives of people unlucky enough to live in the path of this train.
We'll even admit that we like the idea of being able to ride free of charge from one terminal to another. Nevertheless, we still fear that this train will never pay for itself. Like the Train-to-the-Plane, the AirTrain will be a tough sell to frequent travelers who are accustomed to traveling to and from the airport by taxi or limo.
It strikes us as odd that the first train cars are already here and being tested and the Port Authority has yet to decide on how much it will charge for the ride. Without knowing this, how was it possible to project the profitability of this service?
Between the lines, Port Authority officials concede that they are concerned about how passengers will adjust to schlepping their luggage from one train to the other in a crowded subway station. A picture put out by the Port Authority shows a traveler toting his luggage with a two-tiered wagon. Where did the wagon come from? Where will it go? How will people packing extra luggage for an extended trip carry their baggage from one train to another?
Yes, sir, we'd like to be excited by this new technology. But until the Port Authority comes up with an affordable one-seat ride, the AirTrain will remain the Boondoggle Express.
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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