Volume 20, Number 40 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 5 - 11, 2011
Fall into the GAAP
The New York Uprising reform pledge signed by a majority of members of both houses of the Legislature had three points: independent, nonpartisan redistricting; ethics reform; and, finally, the implementation of a GAAP budget process.
Former Mayor Ed Koch is the leading force behind Uprising, which counts good-government groups among its members.
The first two points are pretty self-explanatory. Basically, unless there is an independent, nonpartisan redistricting commission, incumbents will keep drawing their own district lines every 10 years, helping reassure their perpetual re-election; viable challengers won’t have a hope of a level playing field and will be put off from even running. However, no one is guaranteed election for life.
Ethics reform is also sorely needed, because it’s essential that we know where our politicians’ income comes from. If our elected officials are doing business with people who have business before the state, we must know this.
The Uprising pledge’s third point, however, a GAAP budget, is perhaps less well understood by most voters. Yet, it’s just as vitally important — particularly with the state’s staggering debt now at more than $9 billion, expected to mushroom to $15 billion in the coming fiscal year.
GAAP stands for “generally accepted accounting principles,” and these regulations are something Albany desperately needs.
Although Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has told us twice since Koch started his reform initiative in March 2010, that New York State does have a GAAP budget, Koch emphatically disagreed.
“It’s not in the law,” Hizzoner told us Monday. “And the budget they adopt is not GAAP-balanced.” New York City, though, does have a GAAP budget under law. It’s high time that the state followed suit.
Earlier this year when then-Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch presented his “Ravitch Plan” — budget measures he hoped the Legislature would adopt — GAAP budgeting was among the cornerstones.
With Governor Andrew Cuomo in office and pledged to reform, it behooves our legislators, including Silver, to help him truly bring about a GAAP, balanced budget. Just saying we have a GAAP budget obviously isn’t the same as having one. With a $15 billion debt looming, the need for GAAP is great.
With a pen stroke
When President Obama signed the James R. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act into law last Sunday in Hawaii, the stroke of his pen signaled the commitment and recognition this country has always shown its heroes. But there is no doubt that it was loudest here in Lower Manhattan.
His signature represented the end of a seven-year fight. There are literally too many people to thank for their advocacy, time spent and dedication to the issue. In the last five months alone, Lower Manhattan community members, elected officials and 9/11 first responders made numerous trips to Washington D.C. to lobby lawmakers and to illustrate the importance of the bill. No one ever stopped fighting.
It was unconscionable to see the bill voted down in the House of Representatives last July in a bitter, bi-partisan vote. But it was exhilarating to see the New York Congressional delegation stand strong and united, Democrats and Republicans alike, much like the days and months after the attacks that forever changed Lower Manhattan, the United States and the world.
We would like to say, “Thank You,” to everyone who made the bill a reality.