April Fool’s Budget

Are “on time” budgets, that top-down rush to (final) judgment in late March, really worth it? Who knows, other than the three people in the room who put these massive packages together. Back in the First Cuomo’s term, state budgets routinely passed in May, June, one in August. And life went on.

There is some conjecture about whether a state budget has to be passed on a certain date, officially March 31, the last day of New York’s fiscal year. Assemblyman Kevin Cahill contends there’s nothing in the constitution that requires a budget before April 1 or any other date, and nothing in the statute, either. Still, adopting a state budget before a fiscal year begins at least speaks to a sense of responsibility. This was Andrew Cuomo’s ninth straight on-timer.

This year, “three men in a room” welcomed by title, a woman for the first time, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stuart-Cousins of Yonkers, joined by holdovers Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie of the Bronx. Cousins had given some hope of reform, even transparency, but no. The three met in secret to produce a last-minute package. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

As to what’s actually in the budget, we probably won’t know for a while, perhaps never. One of the midnight surprises that caught my eye was a $100 million appropriation for taxpayer-funded elections of state elected officials, to include legislators. I’m not sure I want my tax dollars paying for some of the campaigns lately run. In fairness to the people footing the bill, there really ought to be a referendum on this issue. Do not count on it.

Back home, executive-in-waiting Pat Ryan “Dear Neighbor” support letter arrived in the mail on April 1. Pretty much a rehash of his almost-made-it congressional campaign, Ryan assured those who read through it that all the things that made him a future congressman would work as an executive.

One of the better-mangled metaphors presented itself in the second paragraph where the former army officer pledged a “commitment to our values, even when no one else is looking.” That cliché typically refers to a character, but we know what he meant.

Of passing interest is that the flyer was paid for by the state Democratic Committee which usually limits its activities to state-level races. Somebody up there must like Ryan.

Ryan’s 37th birthday party celebration last month at Keegan Ales in Kingston must have sent cold chills down the spines of former executive Mike Hein’s loyal contributors. Hein held birthday fundraisers ($95 minimum) every year for his decade in office. Ryan didn’t charge for his party, but could it have been a portent?

Retired since January but apparently not forgotten, Hein will be feted for his environmental advocacy at a (preemptive) “Vernal Fling” by the Woodstock Conservancy on May 18 from 5 to 7:30 p.m.at the Byrdcliffe Barn. Tickets are $80, meaning Heinaphiles can fulfill their yearly obligation to their departed leader and save fifteen bucks. Info is available at vernafling.com.