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It is both easy and popular to say no to the proposed budget cuts. After all, everybody loves libraries. But what Avella et al failed to do was come up with an alternative source of revenue or some other area where the spending might be slashed.
In years passed, we also opposed cutting library funding. But in the year 2004, we must at least be willing to re-examine our priorities. In terms of borrowing books, most kids have access to a decent selection of literature at their school libraries. When it comes to research, computerized search engines such as Google and Yahoo can find more material in 10 seconds than the average student could find in an entire weekend at a library.
Some librarians counter that not all students have a computer, but teachers in the intermediate and high schools are already acting on the assumption that nearly all students at least have access to a computer.
In tough fiscal times such as these, political leaders must be ready to examine all possibilities including cutting back on library funding or finding an alternate source of revenue.
The state budget is now two months late. For the last 20 years the budget has been late every year. Measures designed to pressure the Legislature into coming up with a budget on time, including withholding the pay of lawmakers until the budget is approved, have failed miserably.
The time has come to hold the leadership of the state legislature responsible for this fiasco. It is the leadership that carves out a budget deal behind closed doors. The rank and file senators and assembly members have little to do with the process. When it comes to the budget, they are little more than rubber stamps.
We urge the state Senate to pass a resolution asking Sen. Joe Bruno (R- Rensselear) to step down and we urge the state Assembly to oust Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan). Both men have failed miserably and repeatedly to provide the most fundamental leadership. Silver has failed 10 years in a row to deliver a budget on time and Bruno has failed for nine years.
It is not possible that there is no one in either house that can get the job done. The New York City Council must, by law, pass a budget on time, even though for the last 10 years a Republican mayor has had to deal with a Democratic Council. The Council's job is made even more difficult by the failure of the state to pass a budget that would clearly define the level of support for local government.
It would take a measure of political courage to oust Bruno and Silver, but we see no justification for not throwing the bums out. They have a job to do and clearly they are not up to the task.
If the Legislature cannot summon the courage to demand new leadership and thats a distinct possibility then the only solution for state government may be term limits. Although there are people in Albany who truly deserve the title public servant, there are others who have grown complacent. They expect the budget to be late and they really dont care.
Its time for the voters to cry Enough! Tell the men and women warming seats in Albany to elect new leadership or find another job.
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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