What Would Rick Lazio Do?

Many of us find ourselves asking “What Would Rick Lazio Do,” especially when you look at the mess Albany has become under Democrat control. This week is particularly entertaining because after being months late on a budget and raising taxes on cigarettes (making things awesome for already struggling convenience stores), the Democrats seem to be fighting amongst themselves.

I know Prince Andrew has been telling people he’s going to lower taxes, stand up to the unions, and fight the “status quo” of…um, his party running everything. If you want to believe that, you can. I sometimes like to believe I just defended the heavyweight title in Madison Square Garden.

But what would Rick Lazio do? This recent interview gives us some ideas…

CLOSING THE DEFICIT: If you look at what [Paterson’s] been doing and what the Legislature has agreed to, these last 11 extender bills, it’s really more of the same. There’s no fundamental reform or redesign of any program that will create a healthier budget in years to come. The way I would approach the budget is to look more fundamentally at the way our state government is structured, how we deliver services and rationalize the structure of government relative to the revenue we’re expected to bring in. It means we’ll have to reduce the size of the state work force and we’ll have to redesign the Medicaid program.

EDUCATION SPENDING: We’ve had a considerable increase in education aid over the last several years. Statewide we are spending more per student than any other state in the nation. If you compare the amount we spend versus our outcomes, it’s pretty unsatisfying. It’s more than about money. Money is not insignificant, but it’s about much more than that. We need to get to the heart of what makes great schools, a system that challenges every child regardless of what neighborhood they come from or their background.

TERM LIMITS: For every state official, every member of the Legislature and all statewide officers. I like about a 12-year term. Twelve years gives you enough time to build institutional knowledge. It takes you 12 years to get your footing. In my experience as a federal legislator, if you’re not hitting on all cylinders in four, five, six years, you probably never will be. I like the idea of people looking at their job not as a lifetime political job. That’s another primary difference between myself and Andrew Cuomo. He’s been in Washington, but most of his focus has been in Albany these last 30 years. He’s part of that culture that’s become a toxic political culture.

TRANSPERENCY: If people feel like it’s untenable from a business standpoint, then they have to decide which job they want. Do they want to run for political office and submit to that level of transparency? We need to have much more transparency around outside income. I’d say even the disclosure forms, I just went through that myself, it seems to me you could be more precise about different information. These are not huge deals, but it seems to me, I don’t know why if you have a stock in your retirement account, you’re not required to disclose it, but if it’s in a non-retirement account, you are. If it’s a conflict, it’s a conflict.

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