Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lucky Guy

I never thought I would write that I think the press has gone kind of easy on Governor Paterson. Keep in mind that for about the last year there have been a steady stream of stories essentially saying that he's a lame duck and that Andrew Cuomo is so much better than he is and how the White House hates him and New Yorkers hate him and even people who've never heard of him think that someone else would be a better governor. He hasn't helped his own cause very much, but I can see how it would foster a tough environment in which to govern during difficult times.

But he seems to have caught a break. At least for now.

In his continuing efforts to cut back on spending in the state and close an ever-growing budget deficit, Paterson has announced that, among other things, he's withholding payments to school districts across the state. The New York Times headline read: School Districts Scramble After Albay Delays Aid. That's two breaks in one headline. The first is that the delay was attributed to "Albany" instead of "Paterson the terrible governor who's going to get beat by Andrew Cuomo if he insists on staying in the race." Admittedly, Albany is shorter than all that, so maybe that was the deciding factor.

The other break is a little subtler and is, in fact, repeated in the story itself. That's the use of the word "Aid" instead of, say, "funding". Now that's an interesting distinction that makes the withholding more palatable. Keeping school funding out of the hands of schools sure seems like a pretty cold-hearted move. But if it's just aid, well, maybe it's not so bad. It'll just be a little less help.

I suppose I'm not well-versed enough in the subtleties of New York State's various fiscal policies to say for sure what qualifies for aid versus what is considered outright funding, but it seems like Paterson might have caught a symantic break here, even if it is just a little one.

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