Monday, October 19, 2009

A Blueprint for Fixing Albany

Today, the New York Times ran an editorial assessing the problems in New York and what needs to be done to fix them. Calling the state a “national embarrassment” and “a $131 billion monster controlled by a crowd of smug officials whose main concern is keeping their soft jobs,” the Times outlines a must-do list for state lawmakers. The editorial says what recent polls have already suggested – with the 2010 election a little over a year away, lawmakers fail to reform state government at their peril.

The editorial lays out a laundry list of areas for improvement that it will profile in detail in the coming weeks:

  • Ethics Reform. The Times calls for “independent monitors with powers to oversee the ethics of those in the state government and Legislature.”
  • Campaign Finance. Advocating a public financing model, the Times calls for “strict rules for reporting and using that money.”
  • Budget Reform. The Times demands a more transparent budget process.
  • Pension Reform. Of the fact that the comptroller is the sole trustee of the state’s pension fund, the Times says, “This should not be happening anywhere, but especially not in Albany.” The editorial supports Cuomo’s proposal for a 13-member commission to manage pensions, but cautions that the commissioners must be carefully chosen.
  • Modernize Voter Registration. Echoing the paper’s support of a national proposal to reform the voter registration system, the Times says it’s time to make it easier to register to vote in New York.
  • Redistricting Reform. One of the causes of stagnation in Albany is the process by which legislators draw their own districts – and choose their own voters. The Times advocates putting redistricting in the hands of an independent commission.

Some members of the New York state legislature are probably beyond redemption, but for those who still wish to accomplish something for New York State, the blueprint outlined by the Times is a great place to start.

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