The 2013 budget season is fast approaching. In September, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone must submit to the county legislature his proposal for next year's budget.
The details are still taking shape, but it's going to be painful. Even with the steps Bellone has already taken to whittle down the deficit, it's still a $300-million problem.
Unlike the Upstairs/Downstairs approach in Nassau where the party in charge calls the shots, the Suffolk County legislature has always taken an active role in reviewing and reshaping the budget. Members of both parties typically sit on a budget working group, going over the budget line by line.
But this year, the Republican minority hasn't decided whether to participate in that exercise.
As a public service, here's a little reminder: The current mess is the legacy of a county executive, Steve Levy, who was a walking case of flawed bipartisanship: He started as a Democrat, turned Republican, and managed to alienate members on both sides of the aisle.
So the solution to the budget hole should be real bipartisanship. It's not a Republican or Democratic problem. It's a county problem. Republicans should be involved every day, along with the Democratic majority, in solving it.