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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
"Leaving no fiscal practice unturned"
ALBANY, Jan. 30 -- sage adj.: proceeding from or characterized by wisdom, prudence, and good judgment.
That’s just one definition of “sage” from the online Merriam-Webster dictionary. But it’s the one that serves as the best transition into an update on the work of the state’s new SAGE (Spending and Government Efficiency) Commission – a commission established in early 2011 to spark the first major overhaul of the state bureaucracy since the late 1920’s. Wisdom, prudence and good judgment couldn’t be a more apt group of words to characterize this overall effort.
After all, the need couldn’t be greater or the goal clearer: we’ve long suspected that the state bureaucracy is undermined by cost ineffectiveness. And if New York government can’t get its own fiscal house in order, how can we ever expect to truly cut taxes for working families, create a better business climate for employers to create jobs, or do the thousand other things it’s going to take to turn this state around for the long run?
We know that the need has never been greater to root out the inefficiency that has taken hold of state government in too many places and across too many operations. Last year, for example, the New York Times reported that a series of Cuomo administration audits revealed that state operations were “plagued by waste and often bewildering inefficiency.” Other reports during the past year characterized “massive waste” in New York government.
So we need to put a stop to it and keep turning the page on the state’s fiscal practices. Now it’s all about the follow-through.
Will the SAGE Commission replay a familiar story, or will it open a new chapter on government reform? The signs keep pointing toward turning a new page. Last year’s state budget, for example, included several agency consolidations highlighted by the merger of the state departments of Banking and Insurance into a single Department of Financial Services. Governor Cuomo’s recently proposed 2012-2013 budget seeks additional mergers like this one. Late last year the SAGE Commission advanced a series of recommendations that will likely be considered, along with others, before the end of the current legislative session. These recommendations pinpoint areas like performance management, accountability, workforce modernization, and energy efficiency.
I’ll also remind you that the public can provide direct input through the SAGE website (www.governor.ny.gov/sage -- click on the “Submit a Suggestion” link on the home page). I hear suggestions all the time from constituents about wasteful government spending, mismanaged government programs, and abused government services. Now there’s another direct line of input to share these suggestions, and we should.
On a more personal note, I’m also glad to be heading for the first time this session a state Senate Task Force on Government Efficiency that will complement the work of SAGE. We simply can’t have too many eyes on wasteful government spending, mismanaged government programs, or abused government services, and I look forward to this opportunity to do what I can to fully encourage this long-overdue accounting.
Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison
Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687
Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967
Doris L. Karius, 546-5544
Barbara Halpin, 594-3683
Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385
Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482
Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335
County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senate
State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Assemblyman Christopher Friend --
Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869