Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Word about Openness (updated)

Revising the state tax code might be a very positive thing. The deal announced today by the governor and legislative leaders certainly sounds encouraging.


Is this the way government is supposed to work? Two weeks ago, nobody had heard a thing about reforming the tax code. Yeah, there was talk about the millionaire’s tax, but if there was public dialogue on reforming the tax code, I must have missed it.

Like everyone else, I’m looking at it right now and I thinking that might have good news for me if I'm a middle income person, but I don’t know whether this is a well-conceived plan or not. I assume it is, but I don’t know.

I’m surprised, and pleasantly so. But still, what’s going on here? Where did this issue come from? Why are lawmakers returning in December to take it up in special session? Isn’t this the type of issue that normally is taken up around budget time?

A few years back there was outrage and indignation from the reporters, columnists and editorial boards, as well as all the goo-goos, about state business being conducted behind closed doors.

Remember that time? Everyone was demanding more transparency in the way state government functioned, and there was a positive response – public leaders meetings, public conference committees, public hearings, more news conferences.

Think about that time and think about now. Isn’t anyone else concerned by current events? Not even a little?

Just think about the magnitude of what is happening – a complete overhaul of the state tax code that will affect every single resident of the State of New York.

Aren’t major policy shifts supposed to be the subject of careful review and vigorous and informed public debate?

While I admire the Governor for being bold and creative, and while I’m encouraged that state leaders are trying to get things done, I have real concerns about how this is going down.

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