Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The bright promise of Eliot Spitzer

New York Daily News Editorial


Across left and right and center, through all social and economic groups, from Bay Ridge to Buffalo, there is hardly a New Yorker who believes state government has effectively served the public interest in a long, long time. Albany costs far too much and has done far too little about - well, you name it. Our factory-town capital manufactures two primary products: sky-high state and local taxes, and utter paralysis in the face of pressing needs.
Enter Eliot Spitzer.
The Democratic gubernatorial candidate has soared in the polls by representing the promise of large, energetic, historic change to the sizable ranks of the fed-up. Their hopes are very well-placed. Spitzer is brainy, tough and passionate, and the Daily News looks forward to watching him get to work as an agent of change - on Day One, per his pledge.
Our sure-thing new governor has a grand vision. There will be no tax increases - none - in a Spitzer administration. Spending will be kept generally in line with inflation. There will be fair funding for New York City's schools and property tax relief across the state.
And the pay-to-play game - so long enjoyed by monied and connected insiders - is over. Albany's powerbrokers know this already. There's not much they can do about it. They're going to have to live with Gov. Spitzer.
As attorney general, the Harvard-trained Spitzer was an activist hurricane, most famously against corporate wrongdoing. Erring a time or two on the side of aggressiveness, he charged against rot long accepted as standard practice. He will certainly have endless opportunities to do the same, from his new chair in the executive office.
On the political spectrum, Spitzer is perhaps best described as pragamatist-Democrat, setting him apart from the hidebound orthodoxy of much of his own party. Socially liberal, he is far more results-oriented than ideological. So, yes to school choice and performance pay for teachers - both anathema to the teachers union - and yes to squeezing down the state's bloated health care system, and no to the unaffordable pension sweeteners that labor leaders muscle through the Legislature year after year.
And he's much closer to the get-smart-things-done middle than is his Republican challenger. John Faso, a onetime assemblyman from upstate Kinderhook, distinguished himself as a legislator. Faso is an able and knowledgeable man, one who has a record of breaking ranks to vote against particularly egregious fiscal measures. But his primary prescription for the state boils down to calling for deep tax cuts - including a completely wrongheaded elimination of New York's estate tax - without explaining which programs and services he would slash to come up with the dough to pay for the cuts. At the same time, he's not at all keen on upping school aid to meet the state's court-ordered obligation to provide the city's children with the education they deserve.
But there is hardly a point to weighing Faso's résumé. Spitzer has the goods and he is clearly unstoppable, the nearest thing to a force of nature as has come along in years. On the first day of January, Gov. Spitzer will bring to Albany new attitude - "Everything changes," as he puts it - and new intentions. At the top of the agenda, his first budget proposal, due in late January, will test his mettle against that of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, who are both quite set in their ways after 12 years each in their posts. But, armed with a popular mandate, he'll be well positioned to break the gridlock on numerous fronts:
To get control of runaway Medicaid spending by eliminating fraud, trimming unnecessary services and revamping health care delivery.
To rewrite New York's overly complicated, unfair school funding formulas to direct the money where it's most needed.
To put the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on sounder financial footing while pushing through major projects like the Second Ave. subway.
To address upstate's dire economic plight while also making all of New York more business-friendly with, for example, aggressive workers' compensation system reforms.
And to at last, and very importantly, bring meaningful accountability to Albany by winning campaign finance and ethics reforms, along with nonpartisan redistricting that would introduce competitiveness to legislative elections.
We have no doubt that Day One will be every bit the flurry of action Spitzer promises it will be.
And we're confident that so will Day Two, Day Three and the days beyond.


We are looking foward to Eliot's Day One as well......thus Spitzer's_Day_One Blog.............andy

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