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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"Sometimes, the facts are the facts"

ALBANY, April 9 -- It was last April, on the same day on the pages of the New York Times
and the New York Post, when two stories first hinted that New York State was finally getting serious about that age-old government plague: waste and inefficiency.

“Albany wa$teland,” the Post proclaimed in a headline. In less sensational but no less straightforward fashion, the story in the Times carried this title: “Audits Find Widespread Waste in Spending by State Government.” Each story (which you can still find on my Senate website,
www.omara.nysenate.gov) sounded the same alarm. Reporters characterized it as “massive waste” throughout the state’s sprawling bureaucracy. Remember that when we talk about New York State government, we’re talking about more than 20 agencies and numerous other authorities, commissions and corporations. So there’s a lot going on in many different places.

What investigators began finding early last year was that there was no rhyme or reason to the state’s internal spending practices. An initial series of audits, dubbed “efficiency probes,” were shocking.

“There is no end to the horror stories,” a top Cuomo official leading the administration’s crackdown on waste and mismanagement was quoted by the Post as saying. This same official told the Times, “We’re a $100 billion-plus corporation that has squandered its buying power, has no standardization across business units and does not reward efficiency.”

In short, we had a state government lacking in common (fiscal) sense. It wasn’t exactly a surprise. Many had long suspected that out-of-control spending undermined the cost-effectiveness of the state bureaucracy and, therefore, diminished many programs and services. But here it was in black and white: state government operations “plagued by waste and often bewildering inefficiency.” Millions of dollars were being spent on toll-free telephone numbers that hadn’t been dialed in months. State agencies were paying outrageous costs for basic office supplies like
ballpoint pens and paper clips.

The Post said the audits could produce $50 million in immediate savings. The Times reported more than $1 billion in savings could be found over the next several years.

Fast forward to the just-enacted state budget and here’s what we find now in black and white: Part L of one of the key budget bills, “Modify outdated Statewide procurement and printing practices.” The budget language begins in earnest the effort to modernize state government,
right-size it, improve performance, increase accountability and, ultimately, save taxpayers' money.

It even includes an important but probably little-noticed provision expanding the ability of local governments and not-for-profit organizations to better utilize the state’s buying power to reduce local costs.

And, yes, it targets at least a billion dollars in savings over the next several years. Those savings, believe me, can be put to good use. First and foremost, it reduces state spending.

This specific budget action raised concerns in a few corners about usurping more independent oversight of the state’s procurement practices. But let’s face it, when it came right down to what should have been simple math over all these years, somehow the calculators weren’t working and the figures weren’t adding up.

The facts were the facts. And the facts of egregious inefficiency and waste can’t be overlooked.

So let’s keep it up. Keep turning the page on the state’s fiscal practices. The goal should be pretty easy to understand: get our own fiscal house in order so that we can afford more important priorities, in better ways, down the road.

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara

 

Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison

Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field

   
       

Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967

Doris L. Karius, 546-5544

Barbara Halpin, 594-3683

Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385

Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482

Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335

County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383

 

State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address: http://schumer.senate.gov/webform.html

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451
Website: http://gillibrand.senate.gov/

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976
www.omara.nysenate.gov

Assemblyman Christopher Friend -- Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
Room 720, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4538
Website: http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?ad=137

 

© The Odessa File 2011
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869

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