June 22, 2007

School, legislative sessions come to an end

For some reason, New York State's legislature comes to an end just as schools are getting out. Students finish with finals and a wave of celebrations; the legislature ends with negotiations and last-minute votes.

The Journal reports on the achievements of Dryden students as the awards around graduation give them more school news. They also warn districts not to ignore the dropouts as we celebrate graduations.

The Journal doesn't seem to have an overview of the legislative session, but the New York Times (registration required) reports on the general collapse of negotiations at the end. It notes a $100 million giveaway to a New York developer. We'll see if Spitzer signs the bill, but this is exactly the kind of problem our broken legislative process encourages.

The Journal focuses more closely on bills with local sponsors, notably Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton. They note the approval of a Fingerlakes Wine Center in Ithaca and a long-term care experiment between Longview and Ithaca College. (The latter was approved before, but vetoed by Governor Pataki. Lifton also pushed to extend the life of the voting machine committee.

One bill that passed deserves, I think, extra consideration. The New York State Constitution requires local governments to seek legislative approval for a wide variety of financial choices, and those approvals need to be renewed regularly. In theory, this lets the legislature keep local taxes under control. Unfortunately, as municipalities have become dependent on the extra points of sales tax that the legislature lets themhave, this also means that the state legislature has a lot more control over the municipalities, should it ever choose to use it. The sales tax legislation for this year passed without incident, but as County Legislator Michael Sigler says in the article:

"I'm not a big fan of raising taxes to fill holes in the budget,” he said. “But it would be impossible to fill them through property taxes at any acceptable level."

Update: Sales tax for Tompkins County passed without incident, but the sales tax weapon has been unsheathed in Suffolk County.

On the opinion page, Murray Cohen of Dryden writes in support of Al Franken's campaign for Senate in Minnesota.

Posted by simon at June 22, 2007 10:05 AM in , , , ,
Note on photos