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Annual rush no benefit to New Yorkers

Annual rush no benefit to New Yorkers

Legislature, governor wait til last minute to address important issues

Remember those college days when you'd get to the end of the semester and realize you had six term papers due in an impossibly short time.

So you girded up for the all-nighters, plying yourself with coffee and candy bars, and pushed yourself through blind exhaustion until the sun came up to get it all done.

Never mind that you had been given months to do the work. Who cares? You met the deadline and that's all that mattered.

Now ask yourself, do you really think you did your best work then? Probably not.

For those of you not familiar with the workings of New York state government, that's exactly how our state legislators and the governor approach the end of the legislative session.

Lawmakers have been in Albany since January. Yet here they are, in the middle of June, with three days left in their scheduled session before their summer break, and they still have a lot of important work left to do.

Do you really think they're doing their best work? Probably not.

For instance, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced a proposal to limit the flow of outside money to political campaigns by making it harder for independent organizations to work in concert with candidates and by requiring more disclosure of contributions.

Exactly where was this important legislation six months ago? Or last year? The governor was prompted to come up with this plan by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Citizen United. That ruling was handed down six years ago. Now suddenly, in mid-June 2016, this is a problem that must be fixed in four days?

That's just one example of the way it works.

New York’s problem with heroin and opiate abuse has been roaring down the tracks for years. When do they plan to deal with it? In the next few days.

Ethics legislation. How many state lawmakers, including two of the top guns from last year, have been sentenced to prison terms for abusing their offices recently? Yet they wait until their self-imposed deadline is a week away to work out some plan that will placate voters until Election Day. How strong do you think that legislation will be?

There are child sex abuse victims waiting for the Legislature to extend or remove the statute of limitations on prosecution of abusers. How long has this problem been an issue? Two or three decades? And they hope to deal with it by Wednesday?

Unlinking teacher evaluations from school financing? Not done. NYRA privatization plan? Not done.

But a lot of it will get done. The famous three-men-in-a-room strategy has already been triggered.

They'll figure out a lot of this stuff in secret, spring it on lawmakers when they come back to Albany next week and give them three days to sort through thousands of pages of complex legislation. Then they'll pass whatever they can push through and pat themselves on the back for getting it all done on time.

As taxpayers, we deserve their best work.

But we won’t get it. Not even close.

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