Anyone who watches Albany closely these days knows that the single most powerful person in state government in New York is the Speaker of the Assembly and not the Governor. (If you don’t understand why that’s the case, ask me.)
However, not even Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has led the Assembly since 1994, is immune from the pressures facing Albany as a result of the world-wide economic downturn which exacerbated Albany’s failure during the past decade to bring state spending in line with receipts. You can see that from Speaker Silver’s reactions to Gov. Paterson’s state of the state and from his remarks to the Assembly at the opening of the 2010 session.
Speaker Silver recognizes that spending must be cut in order to achieve a balanced budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year and beyond. He may want to raise taxes and fees instead, but he knows there is no combination of fees and taxes that can be imposed on the public without engendering the kind of revolt that would threaten the Democratic Party’s hold on Albany.
Silver also recognizes that the public is fed up with the shenanigans displayed by various government officials in recent years and as a result ethics reform of some sort must be enacted in 2010.
Of course the devil is still in the details, but given Silver’s total control over the Assembly, we must assume that both the budget and ethics legislation will reflect Speaker Silver’s views on these issues more so than those of the Governor. If you want to know what the final products on both counts will look like, watch and listen to the Speaker.