Yesterday, the Daily News attributed unscheduled closings at the city's libraries to "denial about the true impact of the budget crisis." That charge is being levied elsewhere, too. The New York Times has an editorial today called "A Legislature in Denial," criticizing lawmakers in New York for their failure to grapple with the reality of that state's finances. It's not a pretty reality:
"Gov. David Paterson of New York announced this week that the state will have to delay $750 million in scheduled payments to schools and local governments. ... It was either that or watch the state slip $1 billion into the red."
The Times says that New York's legislature has refused to make sufficient cuts or raise sufficient revenue to balance its budget, preferring to put off for tomorrow what might be wiser to do today:
"They finally made some cuts, including a larger swipe at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, but mostly they drained other savings accounts and used some of the federal stimulus dollars that were supposed to be saved for next year."
Incredibly, the guy who wants to postpone payments to schools in the hope that tax revenues pick up next month is being hailed as the responsible actor in this scenario.
Basically it seems like lawmakers (and, likely, activists, administrators, lobbyists and citizens) in numerous places are choosing to put off hard choices as long as possible, hoping the economy turns around and revenues pick up. And, of course, it would be great if that happened. But if it doesn't, decisions like this just lead to an even darker day of reckoning, don't they?