Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Budget Bell Tolls

Governor Paterson will give a very grim budget message to New Yorkers today. As the NY Times reports: “There will be no confusion about the gravity of the situation,” said Mr. Paterson, who has been sounding the fiscal alarm repeatedly in recent months, as state budget officials began forecasting large budget gaps and a prolonged and deep recession in the state. Risa B. Heller, a Paterson spokeswoman, said that the governor would do more than merely warn of worse times ahead. “The governor will put forth proposals to both get the state’s fiscal house in order and ease the burden on New Yorkers,” Ms. Heller said."

It's about time. Since our elected officials-particularly the mayor-have been partying on the Wall Street generated profits that were bound to come crashing down eventually. Instead of greater efficiencies and government innovations we've been given Lindsay style spending. Nicole Gelinas captures this in this morning's NY Post:
"While Paterson, Bloomberg and the state and city comptrollers already have talked lots about upcoming budget deficits, New Yorkers are used to those warnings once or twice a decade, and big numbers are meaningless after a while.
What's different this time is that the financial industry - the engine of state and city finances - looks to be facing an era of sharply lower profits.
Wall Street's business model is broken; getting it to work again may take half a decade or more. That could leave New York (city and state) facing a prolonged challenge to rival the city's near-bankruptcy in the '70s."

And she goes on to lay the blame where it rightly belongs: "New York, so dependent on the financial industry's continued growth, should shudder. Making this worse: Bloomberg and Govs. George Pataki and Eliot Spitzer used the cash that Wall Street was showering on the city and state not to ease the city's long-term problems - but to allow them to grow worse. The city's tax-funded budget had risen to match the Lindsay-era peak (adjusted for inflation and population) about the time Bloomberg took office six-plus years ago. Now it's 22 percent above the Lindsay mark. Spending rose just 9 percent or so during the Giuliani era, but has jumped three times as much since - the highest rate since Lindsay left office."

So the fiscal chickens are coming home to roost. We're eagerly awaiting the mayor's response to all of this; and just as eagerly awaiting the historical accounting of his spin city mayoralty. Our gut feeling is that the retrospective will not be as kind as the current media sycophancy.