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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
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
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
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“Modify outdated Statewide procurement and printing practices.”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,
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
Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison
Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687
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
Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senate
State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Assemblyman Christopher Friend --
Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869