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States must cut back. Really.

   Two bites at the state budget apple in The Buffalo News editorial columns yesterday and today.

   Sunday's lead editorial, "State must still cut," says New York Gov. David A. Paterson [right] is correct when hePaterson0209 says that the state should not use the passage of the federal stimulus package as an excuse to avoid cutting its own expenses and deficits.

   The governor, obviously, has no illusions. The Legislature, on the other hand, does. Instead of seriously reducing costs—most of which would require reducing state job payrolls—lawmakers pin their hopes on a federal bailout and ignore the fact that it can be only a short-term, stopgap measure.

      The theme continued Monday, in "States need deep cutbacks," noting that New York is far from alone in facing hard financial times. And that means that the federal bailout is, yes, necessary.

   When the bank holds 10 bad mortgages, it’s the homeowners’ problem. When the bank holds 10,000 bad mortgages, it’s the bank’s problem.
And when one state is facing a budget crisis, it’s the governor’s problem. When a dozen or more states are facing a budget crisis, it’s the president’s problem.

   Gov. Paterson speaks for himself in a New York Daily News op-ed headlined (by the newspaper, I'd bet, and not the governor), "David vs. Goliath: Paterson takes on hospital lobby in $11 billion fight":

   Some groups want us to take some $11 billion in stimulus funds and simply pour them into our current health care system - without demanding reform. This would be a terrible mistake.
   That's because two years from now, when the money runs out, we would be stuck with the same failing health care system, and the same huge deficits, as we have now. The only thing that will be different is that we will have wasted 11 billion precious stimulus dollars.

The Daily News editorial beavers agree with the governor.
- The New York Post refers to the head of the Greater New York Hospital Association as The cowardly bully.
The Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester: Too many representing labor in New York apparently didn't get the memo. You know, the one that says that the nation is in the worst economic mess since the Depression and that New York, as the world center of financial services, has felt the downturn more than nearly any other state.
- The Wall Street Journal notes that some states not only see Paterson's point, they are going further: At least five Republican Governors are saying thanks but no thanks to some of the $150 billion of "free" money doled out to states, because it could make their budget headaches much worse down the line. And they're right.
- The New York Times: California’s budget imposes new taxes, slashes state services and asks almost every Californian to give up something. Now, it’s every New Yorker’s turn.
 Newsday: Whenever this tsunami of acute economic problems finally ebbs, the chronic problem of out-of-control medical costs will take center stage as an impediment to a healthy future. Unless surging costs are arrested, the federal treasury will be depleted by the exploding cost of Medicare and Medicaid.
   And, oh, yes, Newsday also says, consolidate school districts.

-- George Pyle/Editorial Writer
[A tip of the tin-foil hat to Newsday's Viewsday editorial page blog for finding most of these eddies.]


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