Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The PEF Politburo Responds To Chichester

Arlea Igoe, the secretary-treasurer of the Public Employees Federation responded to my Sunday Gazette op-ed on the state budget here. It's always amusing when PEF hits the roof, especially given their destructive influence in state government. And these perpetual grumps probably have no sense of humor about the hammer and sickle image.

The text:

Don’t blame unions for state’s fiscal problems

Christopher Chichester’s Oct. 5 Viewpoint [“Governor, leaders too afraid of unions to cut state spending”] on cutting state spending is factually incorrect and lacks a basic understanding of the issues facing New York state.

An article lamenting the power of public employee unions without knowing the size of the state work force is inexcusable. Mr. Chichester would have you believe the state work force accounts for a substantial amount of the state budget when in reality it accounts for less than 13 percent of the budget. He should know better. The governor he worked for trimmed the state work force considerably during his term in office.

New York state’s budget problems are not spending problems. We did not wake up one day to discover spending had gone through the roof. We had a balanced budget based on projections of expenditures and revenues. Simply put, revenues are not meeting those projections. New York has been overly reliant on the so-called FIRE (Financial and Real Estate) sectors for too long. When those sectors suffer, New York suffers disproportionately. Now is the time to fix that problem.

We need tax policy that is fair and just. Corporate loopholes should be closed and the wealthiest New Yorkers should pay their fair share. We need to end corporate welfare by refusing to continue wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on costly consultants and instead bring those jobs back in-house. We have proven this saves money, which is why the Legislature and the governor have agreed with us. Not because we are all powerful, because we are right.

Discourse is important, but misguided opinions offer no real solutions. The Public Employees Federation union remains willing to discuss real solutions to our budget problems.

Arlea Igoe

The writer is the secretary-treasurer of the Public Employees Federation union.