Thursday, September 29, 2011

Reading Tea Leaves

Yesterday's defeat of a proposed contract between the State of New York and rank-and-file members of the Public Employees' Federation apparently took both the governor and the union head by surprise. From the Crain's New York article:
"The decision to reject the tentative agreement was made by our rank-and-file members who clearly feel they are being asked to sacrifice more than others, particularly in light of the pending expiration of the state's millionaire's tax,” said Ken Brynien, president of the Public Employee Federation.
Mr. Brynien should have stopped after the word "others."  He is reading tea leaves if he assumes the rejection was over expiration of the millionaire's tax.  I think union members, too -- the quiet ones without the signs -- understand that we ALL are Taxed Enough Already in New York State and "taxing the rich" will only drive the well-heeled to permanent safe-haven residences in Florida... and then where will NY be?   

I can't say for sure why people voted "no" -- they were not asked on their ballot.  ... But I note that it was after other unions had approved of their similar contracts that the State announced all the new spending on the "economic development contest."   If the state has the money to spend on a contest that pits one region of the state against another, it has enough money to pay people for the 5 days furlough they are being asked to take.  It is not as though the workers are really getting out of work . . . the assignments will be higher and deeper when they return.

Now it will be interesting to see where Mr. Cuomo cuts.  If it is across the board layoffs, then things that need to get done won't -- or at least not on time.  Traditionally that is how it has been done to avoid the politically unpalatable task of cutting programs.

But cutting programs needs to be where it is done.I will even suggest a program to go:  the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the DEC Office of Climate Change.  The program, which cannot save the climate, was implemented by executive order (Gov. Pataki) and won't be missed.  The governor could even bill a cut as a jobs plan because it will reduce the cost of electric power for everybody. 

Of course the "contest" can go as well as all the economic development programs.  If people have to be paid to bring jobs to NY, there is still something in NY to be fixed.

1 comment:

Dave said...

And what I've been hearing from State Employee friends and relatives is why can the State afford to spend $400 million for future jobs, but not pay those already employed to do the State's work?
I pass that along while lamenting all the tasks the State feels it needs to do.