The (somewhat Dismal) State Of The State

By: Melissa Stagnaro

The (somewhat dismal) state of the state

For the last several months, I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the true extent of the economic crisis we face at both the state and national level. (Without much success, I might add.) It truly is a mess of staggering proportions. I certainly don’t envy the jobs of either our esteemed Governor or the President of this great country. There is no easy answer. No measure will be without cost, and no plan will be without opposition.

I’m willing to take the wait-and-see approach with the federal stimulus package. For now, anyway. But I’m afraid I can’t do the same for Governor Paterson’s proposals. They would just be too devastating for our local economy.

My frustration stems from the fact that the governor seems so set on balancing the state budget, that he seems to blatantly ignore the fact his efforts may very well send us deeper into the depths of economic depression. His goals seem almost contrary to those of our president.

This has been hammered home to me more than ever in the last few weeks. Whether it is sitting in school board meetings, listening to radio ads about Camp Pharsalia or having countless conversations with friends and colleagues, I’ve had my questions about the potential impact of the governor’s proposals answered over and over again

What will state budget cuts mean to us locally? Let me sum it up. These cuts in education, healthcare and a slew of other areas mean one thing: more jobs lost in Chenango County. Add in the roughly $3 billion in new taxes and fees Paterson still wants, and what do you get? Even more jobs lost in Chenango County. Does that sound like sound public policy to you? Because, it sure doesn’t to me.

Twice in the last two weeks I have heard local districts talk about positions that will need to be cut. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter if these staffing cuts are a district’s last resort, or their first impulse. It’s hard to hear, and to take, either way. But whether I support their plans or not, I know as well as they do that already over-burdened taxpayers can’t handle a 30 percent tax levy increase. And for some, that would be their only recourse save drastic cuts to student programs.

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I am deeply concerned that our education system will be yet another example of upstate taking the fall for the governor’s “noble” efforts to balance the budget.

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