You can run, as Paul Harvey always says, but you can't hide.
A topic of editorial hair-pulling and hand-wringing across the country is the woeful state of state budgets. Much of it sounds sickeningly familiar to New Yorkers.
- The Buffalo News: State legislators acted quickly to close New York’s current $1.6 billion deficit this week. That’s where the praise stops. The way the lawmakers — or, more specifically, the Democratic leadership — closed this gap was business as usual in Albany: dodge the tough decisions, hike taxes instead of cutting payroll, raid specific pots of revenue to bail out the general fund, ignore any need for structural reforms.
- The New Haven Register: Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s proposed state budget is the type of extremely tough fiscal medicine Connecticut must swallow to survive a devastating economic slump. It reflects the unavoidable reality that the state’s tax revenue cannot support expanded spending.
- The Detroit News: The governor called for what she termed "a comprehensive effort to dramatically change the shape and size of state government" to be headed by Lt. Gov. John Cherry. That's an important exercise, but it would have been more useful had it been done several years ago, not in the penultimate year of her last term in office.
- The Philadelphia Inquirer: One proposal that should be dead on arrival is [Gov. Ed] Rendell's plan to raise money for a college tuition fund by legalizing and taxing video poker machines in taverns and private clubs across the state. In football terms, this is a "Hail Mary" of budgeteering. It seeks to legitimize an illegal activity, one result of which would be to further drain the resources of low-income residents. [An idea expressed more, er, graphically, in a Scranton Times-Tribune cartoon.]
- The Santa Rosa Press Democrat: To attain a two-thirds majority — the threshold for passing a budget — members of both parties will have to break promises to allies. And, in the scorched earth custom of recent California politics, some of those allies already are threatening retribution.
- The Las Vegas Review-Journal: The 2009 Legislature will be almost exclusively focused on protecting, restoring and expanding funding for public schools, higher education, welfare programs and public safety. But lawmakers should be equally focused on eliminating overly generous public employee retirement benefits and prevailing wage laws that were grossly unfair to taxpayers during flush times and are totally indefensible amid the worst recession in generations.
- The Rochester (Minn.) Post-Bulletin: When Gov. Pawlenty released his budget proposal last week, he included Minnesota's share of the recovery package in his calculations, and we're more than a bit concerned that the federal dollars -- if and when they arrive -- might be quickly consumed as part of a short-term fix to our state's economic problems.
Etc. Etc. Etc.
-- George Pyle/Editorial Writer