Andrew Cuomo's speech today had several bits that I quite liked, we'll see how much of it comes to past. Overall, what impressed me the most was that Cuomo is representative of the essentials of Progressivism, an emphasis on professionalizing and reforming government and rationalizing state policy.
What excited me the most was when he talked about the juvenile detention system. Once I find the full text I'll update this with an exact quote, the gist of it was that we have to stop imprisoning people just so that some people have jobs. Political constituencies in favor of a tough on crime approach are very powerful however, I'm worried that we're going to see the closure of a handful of the most egregious facilities without the broad overhaul that we need, I'm hopeful but recognize the political reality of the strength of the rural areas dependent on these facilities. His plans to streamline government also make me hopeful, many of our institutions are antiquated and need serious rebuilding, the civil service system not least of all.
What worries me is the anti-tax rhetoric. The reality is that reorganization takes a great deal of money and investment up front to work, although it saves huge amounts down the road. Investing today for the long term can save a great deal of money but this requires more money today, which I don't see how we can get without temporary tax raises or a budget windfall from divesting unnecessary assets, all of which I believe New York has already divested itself of simply to meet operating expenses in previous years. Reorganization is going to mean buying people off with earlier settlements, temporary contracting, investment in new infrastructure, particularly computers, etc. We'll see what happens but I'm worried Cuomo's plans will be defeated because of his promise to cap taxes, I simply can't figure out where the money for restructuring is going to come from if not taxation.
Also, I thought it was really funny that all the bragging about the biggest use of technology ever in a state of the state speech amounted to a bunch of Power Point slides. Though the one about ships passing in the night, with the Governor's, House Speaker's, and Senate Speaker's heads visible on them, pretty funny.