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EDITORIAL: Instead of suing, schools should focus on cutting

It seems there's no choice for Gov. David A. Paterson. He's been warning that New York would come to an impasse if it continued to budget by crisis. Now we are backed into a corner by inaction and denial. Paterson says he will send smaller checks this month to schools and local governments. He can't be expected to spend money the state doesn't have.

Far better if Albany had economized last April on the annual budget. Instead, the state blew $6.75 billion in federal stimulus funds, while raising taxes and fees on New Yorkers by more than $8 billion. Then, earlier this month, the legislature balked at another chance to cut spending.

School officials can threaten to sue the governor, but the cupboards are bare. It's an empty gesture, and just as foolish as warning that property taxes will increase. Instead, schools and local governments must respond by shouldering the admittedly difficult responsibility of living within their means. They now have more than adequate notice to build economies into next year's budgets. Albany should also consider other possibilities such as lag payrolls and furloughs for the state workforce.

New York's finances are a mess because too many have failed to accept the basic responsibilities of their jobs - from legislators, to school boards and administrators, to functionaries at the state, county, town and village levels.

Stop whining. Do the math. Make it work. Those are the mantras that will lead New York out of this crisis. hN