In what could be considered a slap in the face to the departing Eliot Spitzer, amid all the hoopla of the resignation, the work of the State of New York went on yesterday. The Legislative “gang of four,” Joe Bruno, Jim Tedisco, Malcolm Smith, and Sheldon Silver all had their 15 minutes on air, then got back to work on the budget. For long time observers of NY State politics, this is somewhat unusual.
Both the Senate and Assembly passed their budgets bills yesterday afternoon, in the wake of Spitzer’s resignation. This will leave about a 2 1/2 week window in which to reconcile the two bills, and get whatever input from incoming Governor Paterson, to have an on time budget. The legislature is pretty much going to have their way this year, as Paterson will not have the time or staff to put together a proposal. At most, he’ll be able to influence some spending and tax issues.
So what’s so unusual? Each of the legislative leaders only took about 15 minutes each to talk about the Spitzer situation, and then went back into chambers to get bills passed. Very little grand standing was to be had, and the semi-expected piling on of Spitzer did not happen. Prior to the Spitzer debacle, the budget battle was expected to be drawn out and nasty. But in just two days, both chambers passed their budget bills, and conference committees will begin the work of reconciling the two on Monday.
We will, in all likelyhood, have an on time budget sans the Governor this year. The fall of Eliot Spitzer may prove to be one of the best things that has happened to the State of New York in a long time. Politicians on both sides of the aisle are looking at the situation, and the national spot light, and are moving forward on the business of the State, rather than dwelling on Spitzer, or exacting a degree of political revenge (no matter how justified).
It will be interesting to see how the dynamic changes with David Paterson in office. Certainly his relationship with the Legislature will be more cordial, and less antagonistic. I also doubt he will be a controversial figure, or try to advance any sort of radical agenda. He may only end up being a care taker until 2010, but we won’t be having the same sort of divisive agendas or actions as we did with Spitzer.