When Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the heads of New York State United Teachers, 1199 SEIU and the Civil Service Employees Association come out against a tax cap, you've got to consider the possibility that the cap is a good idea.
Gov.-elect Andrew M. Cuomo hasn't even taken office yet, but these three unions have issued a blistering attack against Cuomo's effort to limit local property tax increases to 2 percent annually. Silver, speaking more cautiously, says he supports the concept of a cap, but worries that it will deprive schools of money -- a little like worrying that eating less will deprive a dieter of pounds.
Just about everyone in the state wants a tax cap, but of course Silver and the unions have their own vested interests that do not take into consideration what just about everyone in the state wants.
Cuomo isn't talking about rolling property taxes back or even holding them even. He is committed to no tax increases elsewhere, but here he is allowing a 2 percent increase. But that isn't good enough for the people who want to put more of their friends on the state payroll, regardless of need or cost.
Cuomo's mission in behalf of the taxpayers runs headlong into the mission of union leaders who want more and more.
Upstate New York has a big stake in this battle. We have some of the highest combined taxes in the nation, including the property tax.
Cuomo has formidable foes among the unions, trial lawyers and in the Assembly; they will fight him every step of the way.
In a way, that's OK, because that makes it easier to identify the good guys versus the bad.
Speaking of the bad, there's always Carl P. Paladino's approach to problems -- in this case, putting Silver in jail. Like most of Paladino's solutions, it won't work. What did work in Paladino's freaky primary election success was tapping into the public's resentment of how Albany operates. But recognizing a problem and having a solution are different things. Paladino capitalized on the first, but he has had nothing to offer on the second.
Cuomo has a lot to offer -- well-considered solutions presented in seven books he published -- but he still faces the problem of how to implement his programs in the face of self-serving politicians and the vested interests of the spend-more crowd.
Cuomo will need the backing of all of the taxpayers if he is going to deliver for them. Taxpayers will need to pressure their representatives in Albany if New York is to change its ways.