Cuomo offers old, failed ideas
It looks like the state of New York state is: “clean out of ideas.”
Gov. Cuomos sophomore State of the State speech yesterday would have been breathtakingly cynical — if hed given it 15 years ago. Coming in 2012, the speech was cynical and dated.
Cuomo wants to hang New Yorks future on one declining industry and one exploitative industry. And hes doing it more than a decade after other states chased the same bad ideas — and failed.
The governor rightly took credit for his first-year achievements. His victories included delivering a balanced budget, even as he restored integrity and competence in state government. (Plus, though he was too modest to mention it, he didnt steal anything and he didnt sleep with any hookers.)
So, its a head-scratcher why Cuomos big plans for 2012 sound like a parody of other states failed schemes.
His first big idea: “We will build the largest convention center in the nation,” he proclaimed. “This will bring to New York the largest events, driving demand for hotel rooms and restaurant meals and creating tax revenues and jobs, jobs, jobs.”
His second big idea: “gaming.” Hell offer a “comprehensive approach to casino gaming” because its an “economic engine.”
In both cases, the facts say otherwise.
On conventions: Since the 1990s, state and local governments desperate for stimulus have spent tens of billions on convention space with little to show for it. States and cities were spending $2.4 billion a year, even as “the overall convention marketplace is declining,” Brookings Institution expert Heywood Sanders noted in 2005. A decade ago, 126 million people went to conventions; last year, it was 86 million.
Cuomo says he wants our convention center to be bigger than Chicagos? Hah: The Windy Citys center draws just half of the business it could handle, my colleague Steven Malanga has found.
Bizarrely, Cuomo wants to shut the Javits Center and build the space in Queens. No, Javits has never succeeded, but do doctors who want to let their hair down for a weekend want to go to Queens — or to Las Vegas or New Orleans? Those latter cities are good at conventions, and offer warm weather and location that New York wont. Plus, theyre cheap.
As for the governors second big idea, well, its telling that he uses the word “gaming,” rather than gambling. Pictionary is a game; casino gambling is a way to suck money from poorer New Yorkers.
“The social costs associated with those persons who become addicted to gambling, as well as the infrastructure costs to nearby communities, far outweigh any financial benefits . . . Even when casinos do well, no state has solved its fiscal problems by the introduction of casinos,” warned Louise Haldeman, a gambling specialist at the Massachusetts League of Women Voters, in 2009 about that states plan to legalize casinos.
In “Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Jersey,” she noted, “casinos have not helped. Gambling is a business that drains the economy.”
Cuomos logic is downright illogical. He promises that “gaming” will create cash, at least $1 billion. But he notes that New York already has “gaming” — five Indian casinos and 29,000 “gaming” machines. He notes, too, that the state is “surrounded by gaming.”
So . . . existing casinos havent saved the state. And were not going to get regional tourists from New Jersey, Connecticut or Massachusetts, which recently OKd casinos. Hmm.
The good news is that Cuomo insists taxpayers wont pay for these ventures; the magical private sector will. But investors wont support convention centers and casinos in this economic environment. If they do, they deserve to lose everything.
But the problem is the other losers from the governors big ideas — New Yorkers. Like a “gamer” in a windowless arcade, Cuomo has lost the big picture. What this state needs is pension reform and infrastructure investment.
On these topics, Cuomo was brief and vague. He promised some pension fixes — but offered no details. He promised a new Tappan Zee Bridge — but he wants to get 95 percent of the money from the private sector. That wont happen — and, anyway, building bridges is a place where a progressive governor should push taxpayer funding.
About the MTA, which faces a $9 billion shortfall in its capital-investment plan, the governor said alarmingly little — only that hell “work with the Legislature.” He spent five times as much time on solar power as on our critical mass-transit system.
Oh, and he promised education reform — like every other governor in America for the last 20 years.
The most worrisome thing here is that Cuomo has to know that convention centers and “gaming” are dead ends. Yet he insisted that “we have been in a state of denial” about the inevitability of casinos.
“Its time we confronted reality,” he said. Hed be right — if he were talking about his own speech.
Original Source: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/gov_state_of_denial_Hp9DKtUwyogT5mh95XnTDO