Piecemeal Legislation Is Costing Us Too Much in Money and Lives
Each year the New York State Legislature passes any number of bills, turning them into laws. All too often this legislation is added to a massive trove of legislation, very often without thought to the overall impact on people’s lives.
In every arena, legislation on top of legislation, band aids instead of problem solving plague us and do not address our fundamental problems. Our state must stop pushing the can down the road, address real problems strategically and comprehensively and change the way we do business in the legislature.
From taxes to healthcare, from education to rules for small business, our legislature looks at the topic at hand, without considering all the other aspects; making laws that often conflict with any number of pieces of legislation already on the books. This is a costly, inefficient system that regularly pushes down unfunded mandates to more local government where it is much more expensive to pay for.
If our state had a comprehensive system, legislators would look at the entirety of the problem, in context, and address it from the bottom up, not from some arbitrary crisis-situation that causes more problems than good. The Rockefeller Drug laws are just one example of this.
On Saturday we celebrated Veteran’s Day. It is reported daily how those willing to give their lives to protect our nation, many of them just out of high school or college aged, are not always well treated when they come home. Viet Nam vets still have serious problems all these years later and our newest veterans are committing suicide in record numbers, many coming home, unable to get the help they need.
We name roadways after them, we have breakfasts for them, but we don’t have a comprehensive, strategic effort underway to get them get back on their feet so they can rejoin their communities feeling whole. We salute their service periodically and then claim we don’t have resources to help them, that is simply not right. We are a wealthy nation, with a wide range of public/private opportunities to meet the needs of every service member who has met the challenge and served this nation. We just have to prioritize it and stop adding one piece of legislation to another, without taking into account the entire picture.
There are outstanding nonprofits working with veterans. They do incredible work, here in the 40th Senate District and around the nation. They cannot meet all the needs of those who need help, the state is unable to meet all the needs, but working with the nonprofit sector, business, faith based institutions and government…strategically, with legislation and opportunities that are built on a plan for today and tomorrow, should be able to do much better than we are doing today. With upwards of 20 service members taking their own lives every day, with thousands waiting for medical care, unemployed, poorly housed and all too many on the streets, we can see what we are doing isn’t working.
This is just one example where our way of legislating is not meeting the needs of the 21st Century or New Yorkers. We are not comprehensive, we are not strategic, we are not thinking about what we need to do today, so we will be better prepared for tomorrow.
Veterans is one example of a system that no pancake breakfast is going to fix, they need to eat three meals every day. We can find examples of this across the board, in housing, healthcare, education, small business and the running of government itself.
Tuesday’s election voted down a Constitutional Convention for good reason, but that doesn’t neglect the fact that real change has to come to New York and its legislature and its legislative process. We find ourselves at a great juncture where we can go forward in a progressive pathway into the future or we can try and go back in time to a world that never existed. It is not easy to make change, but change will follow us wherever we go. So let’s make the change we want, meeting the needs we have. Building a coalition of citizens, working with government to solve our problems is the best way to ensure we don’t continue making the mistakes of the past, avoiding the difficult decisions we need to make for a promising future. We learned a lot about citizen involvement in this last election, lets take advantage of that experience and build a better New York.
Mark A. Lieberman