Despite the recent convictions of two of the original “three men in a room” in Albany, the Governor and two new replacements didn’t think anything about once again going behind closed doors to hammer out the 2016 fiscal plan (budget) for the State of New York. On March 31, just two weeks ahead of the sentencing of Sheldon Silver and four weeks before Dean Skelos is reassigned to federal accommodations somewhere, the new three men in a room emerged from behind closed doors with their vision of where the rusty ship of state will be steered this year.
Forget Oversight and Ethics Reform
As he promised, Majority Leader John F. Flanagan (the new second leg for the stool) assured East Ramapo that it will not get the help it needs–there will be no oversight with any kind of veto power, nor will the legislators even get to see that kind of resolution showing up on their desks with an opportunity for them to vote on the issue. Forget it, kids.
Also to remain invisible will be any kind of meaningful ethical reform at the state house or the mansion. I suppose, the leadership figures at this point, who needs it, now that those two bad actors are about to be shipped off for their wrongdoings? After all, if the need arises in the future, the Governor could once again convene a blue-ribbon panel like the short-lived Moreland Commission. That kind of endeavor shouldn’t be very expensive for the taxpayers. Just limit the investigations to a time comfortable for those being looked at.
At the end of last year, the Center for Public Integrity awarded New York State the disgraceful grade of D minus, ranking us 30th worst in the country, tied with Florida. No other state in the Union has had more legislators forced out of office due to criminal or ethical issues. Perhaps the Governor, Flanagan and Carl Heastie (the new “three men”) think this New York version of term limits for legislative leaders (incarceration) will be enough of a check to keep it all on course.
Another cautionary footnote to this secretive budget cooked up behind closed doors is the fact that the Center for Public Integrity looked at the process that created last year’s budget in New York, and for that, they assigned an even lower grade–an F.
Apparently, Senate Majority Leader Flanagan has the same opinion about transparency and accountability for State budget wranglings as he does for oversight in disastrous school districts–the darker the better, for everyone.
Maybe he should check the seat he occupies in that closed room that still has the same bad smell in the carpets and drapes as it did last year. The last five keysters that dented the upholstery of his seat of power were all removed.
Pictured below is last year’s version of Albany’s three men in a room. The bookends have been convicted and replaced by Flanagan and Heastie. With no ethics reform on the horizon, the odds for the newest members haven’t improved. A likely prediction for them? Look at the photo, gentlemen.
Skelos, Cuomo, Silver–Last year’s Three Men in a Room Photo: Associated Press