Thursday, December 6, 2007

Fix Eliot

With six weeks to go before he unveils his Executive Budget proposal, Liz Benjamin of The Daily Politics reported Governor Spitzer decided to transfer his Budget Director Paul Francis to the State Operations Director post, which will be vacated by Olivia Golden. It's an odd and curious decision.

The run-up to the introduction of the budget is one of the most important time periods for the Governor and his staff. Moreover, the Budget Director can have a far greater impact upon the future of New York. It's where the money is located, and it can be leveraged to make policy changes. Whereas the State Operations Director largely implements decisions that have already been made and ensures that state government can function efficiently (at least that's the way it's supposed to work).

The challenges are enormous for the Governor who proclaimed Day One, Everything Changes. The state must close a $4.3 billion budget deficit, the tax burden is suffocating job creation and revenue growth has slowed. Just last week Francis himself told Michael Gormley of the Associated Press:

"There are warning signs out there that things could get worse. There will be significant cuts in spending really across almost every sector of the budget."

So, naturally, with a recession and spending cuts looming, in addition to the other seemingly intractable fiscal problems New York faces, this is the perfect time for Governor Spitzer to remove Francis from his position of immense power and responsibility.

Francis is right about things getting worse fiscally. The same could be said of his boss and his erratic leadership.