The State of California is bankrupt. Last week it began issuing IOUs to people who are owed tax refunds. Massive spending cuts or tax increases -- or both -- will be necessary to return the state to solvency. Instead, the state's leaders have chosen inaction.
In Albany, the State Senate has been unwilling to meet for the past four weeks. During that time, the City's school governance law has expired, risking a reversal of the progress we have made in recent years. It has also become clear that the State's budget was based on unrealistic revenue assumptions, and is at least $3 billion out of balance.
These dismal episodes underscore the magnitude of the challenges we are facing, and the urgency of ensuring responsible leadership that will confront these challenges head on. That is why I am running for New York City Comptroller.
A few weeks ago, the four candidates for City Comptroller met for a debate. The moderator asked if we would support changes in the City pension rules to reduce the cost of the system to taxpayers. This comes as the New York Times reports today that pension costs to local governments like New York City may triple if we don't enact certain reforms.
The other three competitors flatly ruled out any pension reform; I responded that in light of the City's severe budget problems, we can't take any option off the table.
The "politics-as-usual" rulebook dictates that politicians should avoid endorsing any policy that would negatively affect a specific, organized constituency. "Politics-as-usual" says that dithering and delay are preferable to decisive action, if that action will engender opposition.
This is no time for politics as usual.
Now, of course I will work every day to avoid reducing benefits for hardworking City employees. We depend on our teachers, police officers and firefighters, and they deserve to be fairly compensated for the critical role they play in our communities. But my core commitments are to maintain the quality of life for New Yorkers -- safe, clean streets; decent subways, schools and parks -- and to restore the health of the City's economy.
In the right hands, the City Comptroller's office will be a powerful force for increasing productivity and generating innovation. We will use every tool at our disposal to force City government to eliminate wasteful spending and direct funds toward programs that demonstrate real results and that we, as progressives, believe in.
Follow David Yassky on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DavidYassky