The Best Reporting on NYS Government — Bar None

The best reporting on NYS government these days is being turned in by Gannett News Service’s Albany Bureau. This week-end’s output is an example of why you have to read what Joe Spector and his crew produce on a regular basis if you claim to be on top of NYS political and government news.

Saturday, Bureau Chief Joe Spector led off with In state budgets, some revenue projections miss their mark a timely review of how the governor and Legislature often pass “balanced” budgets using highly optimistic revenue predictions. Could be that our leaders pluck numbers out of thin air in order to meet the revenue projections? I’m shocked!

Meanwhile Cara Mathews provided an overview on how the state is processing applications for new charter schools in State encourages new charter schools.

Spector followed up his budget story today with New York’s taxes out of control: Law calls for dissolving first, study later. This is yet another Gannett piece on the government consolidation issue. Spector reviews the impact of the law making it easier for local governments to consolidate that was pushed through the legislature earlier this year by man who is likely to be installed as New York’s 56th governor in January 2011.

The new law has increased consolidation activity where in the past the procedure was so cumbersome that only one entity dissolved between 1995 and 2009. Of course, activity has also increased resistance by groups such as the Association of Towns which claims that smaller government entities are more efficient. If smaller government is more efficient, why don’t we divide every county, village and town in half?

Gannett Reporter Joe Campbell contributed another important story this weekend with Special districts: Fair taxation or unnecessary burden?, an analysis of another major problem facing New York taxpayers — the fact that there are almost 7,000 districts across the state that have the authority to tax the public.

If you don’t subscribe to the Empire Page, it’s hard to follow the Gannett Albany bureau’s output because the state’s Gannett papers don’t publish every story — even on their websites. The Empire Page, however, posts these stories under the Gannett News Service.

Poll Question of the Week

Last week we asked people whether they support state takeover of the administration of Medicaid. Only 54% voted in favor, 37% say they are opposed and a large 9% have no opinion. This reform has been on the table for some time and it is clear that advocates of state takeover have not done a good job educating the state’s opinion makers about the advantages of their concept. Given that state takeover would help relieve local government and make it easier to reduce the amount of fraud in the system, it’s a wonder that more reform organizations have not gone to bat for this idea.

This weekend the national press produced several stories on Congressman Charles Rangel’s ethics problems. You’ll find links to stories in the Washington Post & all of the NYC papers on Saturday and Sunday’s NYS Headlines pages. For our poll question of the week, we’re asking if you think Rangel will be re-elected? He’s facing a primary battle which if he loses could lead to his running on a third party line in November.

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