What makes me think I am qualified to offer fiscal advice to the governor and legislators in Albany — or those of other states, or the president and legislators in Washington, for that matter? Just this: I live on a budget; I have never defaulted on a loan; I have never filed for bankruptcy; and I don’t play fast and loose with other people’s money. If I can’t afford it, I don’t have it. In short, I live within my means.

My name is not bracketed by distinguished titles or advanced degrees. I am a middle-class, late-middle-aged housewife living a quiet life in a modest home in a small town. What makes me think I am qualified to offer fiscal advice to the governor and legislators in Albany — or those of other states, or the president and legislators in Washington, for that matter?

Just this: I live on a budget; I have never defaulted on a loan; I have never filed for bankruptcy; and I don’t play fast and loose with other people’s money. If I can’t afford it, I don’t have it. In short, I live within my means.

Faced with harsh economic conditions, responsible people tighten their belts. They cut out unnecessary expenditures. They cut back, hard if need be, on the necessary ones. They conserve, re-use, wear out, make do. They think of ways to save money instead of ways to spend what they haven’t got.

They don’t extort money from their friends and family. They don’t borrow money to pay their bills.

They don’t steal funds from their kids’ piggy banks. They don’t increase their kids’ allowance.

They don’t throw elaborate parties or take expensive vacations. They don’t hire more people to do what they are able to do for themselves. They eat tuna casserole, not filet mignon; they drink
water, not wine.

The state has flouted all these sensible guides for hard times. Here are some recommendations for setting this ship of state to rights.

- No “pork,” period. Communities should pay for their own needs and desires. New parks, pavilions, youth activities, library resources, etc. should be paid for by the efforts of individual citizens or private groups. If a project is too costly for the community, it should be accomplished in stages, or it shouldn’t be done. We have become too accustomed to irresponsible handouts from illusory government coffers.

- No new state hires. The state does not produce wealth, it only consumes or redistributes the wealth created by the private sector, i.e. “the market.” Wages for every legislative commission, bureau and division are paid for by the private sector. Private industry has had to do more with less for the past decade, while the government bureaucracy has continued to its obscene expansion. This has to stop.

- No wage/benefit increases for state workers. When times are tough for business, private employers can’t afford to give annual raises to their employees. It is unconscionable for the state to grant raises to public servants that are paid for by the wealth-producing private sector. Ditto for bonuses.

- Cut state aid to schools. Public schools are a sacred cow; anyone who dares breathe the words “reduce” or “eliminate” in the same sentence with “school funding” is pilloried. Yet, the $21.9 billion of state aid to school districts is the single largest portion of New York state’s $133.2 billion budget for the year ending March 31. It is obvious that state taxpayers cannot afford to fund every program, every position, every building improvement, renovation and addition in every district across the state. Again, it should be up to local communities to prioritize projects, scale them down to affordable size, and find ways to pay for them.

The state has been on one hell of a binge. It’s time to get off the crack cocaine-like spending and sober up for the first time in decades.

Macedon, N.Y., resident and Messenger Post contributor Cheryl Miller enjoys reading, writing, gardening, painting, photography, and her pets. E-mail her at Fortuna_ reilly@yahoo.com.