Budget Aftermath & New Poll Question of the Week

Joe Spector asks a very good question in his weekly legislative wrap up — Will this year’s state budget hold together> Spector says things might go better this year than they did in ’08 and ’09 when the Division of the Budget accurately forecast deficits within days those budgets had been signed into law. Robert Megna, the Division’s director, however, warns of cash flow problems and the national economy is not growing fast enough to cut into unemployment. New York can hardly be considered out of the woods.

The budget may be balanced, but is anyone pleased with how it was done? A tiny few. 75 percent of those who voted in last week’s poll question gave the governor and legislature an “F” grade for the 2010-11 budget. Only 9 percent gave it a passing grade of A, B or C. The rest gave them a “D”.

But it’s time to move on to the election season. The Empire Page hopes to complete interviews with another half a dozen or so candidates in the coming weeks. However, our poll question focuses on the NYC mosque issue.

We wonder how making the mosque a campaign issue will impact the chances of those Republicans — mainly Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino in their upcoming primary and in November? It seems to me that Republican candidates had enough solid issues to campaign on without making the mosque the focus of their efforts. There are a number of dangers inherent in doing so, including allowing the voters to take their mind off the economy and the way David Paterson and the Legislature have handled things these past couple of years.

I can understand why Rick Lazio jumped on the mosque issue. His campaign has not been going well at all. He’s not raising very much money, he’s in danger of losing the primary to Paladino and his poll numbers versus Andrew Cuomo are anemic. It seems like an act of desperation and probably will not help his campaign.

For Paladino the mosque question is more complex. He may be responding because he can’t afford to look soft on a populist issue when his opponent is harping on it day and night, but again he may be hurting himself in the long run by allowing Lazio to set the agenda. Paladino’s strength it seems to me is to stick to the tea party themes, presenting himself as the non-politician who will bring common sense goverment to the state capitol. That may not be enough to earn him a 4-year stay in Albany, but he could win the primary and keep Cuomo from drifting to the left on governance policy.

Do you think the mosque issue will help candidates gain support or will it hurt them? Vote on our home page this week.

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