New York’s Legislature is a mess. It’s like the California State Assembly before citizens there passed term limits and cleared out the career politicians and their partisan back-stabbing and backroom deals.
Hofstra Law Professor Eric Lane says: “The New York legislature is the closest thing to non-representative government you’ll find in America today. Everything in Albany is ridiculous. There’s no debate. There’s no discussion.” In a democracy, power belongs to the people and should be fairly dispersed. But in New York, two men hold near total power over the legislature: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, a Republican.
Behind closed doors, these two men render most of the state without any meaningful representation. This is what we’ve come to expect from entrenched career politicians. Last winter, these two pushed through an unpopular and outrageous 38 percent pay raise for the legislature. But one of the scraps offered the public was that legislative pay would be frozen if the state budget wasn’t passed on time. Lo and behold, the career rulers of the legislature can’t agree and thus no budget has been passed. Now we are beginning to hear the howls from legislators trapped in their own cage, and without their pay raise.
Term limits are law in New York City and several other cities where voters could weigh in at the ballot box. But in New York since voters don’t yet enjoy a statewide initiative process, the politicians can deny a vote. New Yorkers deserve a better government, but they’ll have to fight their rulers to get it.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.