Today's Buffalo News editorial page leads with a call for New York state officials to ignore the doom and gloom warnings opposing a cap on property tax increases, but to do it the right way, by allowing, helping and forcing school districts to spend less money: A restraint on property taxes can be part of the answer, but only state efforts to ease school costs — on everything from pensions to health insurance to school buses — stand to offer any relief to taxpayers.
On-line, our Albany watcher Tom Precious reports on the opening of the special session of the Legislature that Gov. David Paterson [right] called to win some emergency fixes to the state's budget crisis. Hope for success is slim: Paterson said talks with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos are going well, but that he still has concerns that many rank-and-file lawmakers do not fully appreciate the scope of the fiscal problem. He said lawmakers are "not paying attention to how severe the situation is."
* In the NY Daily News, columnist Bill Hammond praises the wisdom of the New York electorate: Millions of dollars' worth of radio, TV and newspaper ads have portrayed the freshman governor as some kind of devious ogre who wants to trash public schools and kick nursing home patients onto the street.
And average New Yorkers, God bless 'em, aren't buying it for a second. So far, they're trusting Paterson to do the right thing.
* Maybe the average New Yorkers are reading the editorials in Newsday: A campaign by the New York State United Teachers and its allies, who oppose a school property tax cap, is filled with distortions and hardball political threats. Instead of a creative discussion on how to reduce New York's highest-in-the-nation school costs, the union offers muscle-flexing and fear-mongering. These tactics reveal the anti-cap campaign for what it is: a desperate bid to assert the union's continued power in Albany.
* The NY Post stands with the gov, too: Paterson is a lonely man right about now - sort of like Gary Cooper in High Noon, with the clock ticking and the gunslingers heading into town. The good guys usually win in the movies; in Albany, they hardly ever do. We're rooting for the governor. New Yorkers who care about integrity in government should be, too.
* The Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester calls out Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, saying he can no longer hide behind scandals that were consuming other state leaders: This week, Silver must decide whether he's with Paterson, a fellow Democrat, the Republican-controlled state Senate and the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers. Wisely, they all support a cap on school property taxes. Or will Silver opt to favor special interests, in this case New York's powerful labor unions opposed to a property tax cap?
* In Syracuse, the Post-Standard sympathizes with those who say spending cuts will be hard, and will hurt: Gov. David Paterson was right to ring the alarm bell and bring the Legislature back to session, and legislators must be diligent in finding places to cut. But they must also be selective. It makes no sense to cut programs that help the state's neediest citizens, as some of these reductions appear to do.
* In Albany, The Times-Union has good words for the state senators who have already bucked the teachers' union to support the tax cap: In a town known for the power of special interests, we can't help but pause when lawmakers buck the trend, listening, it seems, to the people, not a well-heeled special interest.
If only it wasn't so unusual.
[Shouldn't that be, "If only it weren't so unusual."?]
-- George Pyle/Editorial Writer