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How a proposal gets passed matters

March 13, 2015
Editorial , Lake Placid News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo needs to reconsider his tactics. We called on him last month to specify how much state aid he was proposing for schools. He said lawmakers have to pass education reforms before he'll commit to his proposed $1.1 billion increase in aid to schools. We noted such a maneuver could prove a major detriment to schools, as they work on planning budget proposals, which go to voters in May.

Now, some state lawmakers are correctly complaining about how the governor is putting big policy decisions into the state budget proposal. The Democratic governor's $142 billion state budget proposal this year includes proposals to raise the minimum wage, change teacher evaluations and enact the Dream Act, which would extend financial aid to students in the country illegally.

As if it wasn't bad enough to hold the school aid numbers, Gov. Cuomo is going with a strong-arm tactic that tries to cut off the debate that is due each of the proposals.

To be fair, other governors have done the same thing, essentially using the spending plan as leverage to advance their legislative agenda. The tactic has been used to get lawmakers to take action on proposals that might not pass otherwise.

However, that does not make it right for this governor to do it.

Some of these proposals are contentious issues sure to upset both parties. Many Republicans object to the Dream Act and the governor's call to raise the minimum wage. Some Democrats oppose the teacher evaluation reforms.

These issues deserve separate consideration from the budget proposal.

Remember: How a proposal gets passed matters. For example, the quick passage of the New York Secure Ammunition and Fire Arms Enforcement Act generated plenty of just criticism and has played a part in the continued opposition to the law - and those who rammed it through.

In the short term, getting policies in place by strong-arming the legislature may get Gov. Cuomo what he wants. But the long-term effect will be to foster undeserved ill will toward the policies that get set up.

The inclusion of big policy issues in the budget also diverts attention away from the details of the main event. The state has a gargantuan budget without any of the new proposals. Lawmakers should have time to get into the details that are in the budget under existing programs before any new policies are added.

A better way to go would be to make sure the state aid numbers are available in a timely fashion, and take the controversial proposals out of the budget.

Gov. Cuomo will probably find he has a good deal of support for some of his proposals, but trying to pass them this way hinders school districts, angers opponents of the proposals and kills the lively debate about these issues, which is healthy for our state.



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