We can be proud of another year well spent! I am always amazed, excited and a little relieved when December arrives. It’s a time to look back on all that we have accomplished and look forward to new opportunities and alliances in the face of future challenges. The Holidays are also a time for celebration and coming together with friends and family, as well as a time of change and rebirth.
We all promise to be kinder, better people and make our New Year’s resolutions to stay in shape or spend less money. Even if we don’t keep those promises as time moves forward, we always appreciate the sense of hope and optimism that the promise of renewal brings.
Our resolutions for 2011 as individuals and as a nation can impact our economic recovery. November’s elections proved voters resolved to change, in only two years since President Obama’s election, the direction our government has been taking. They want to spend fewer taxpayer dollars and stop the corruption that runs rampant in Washington. Republicans took back control of the House and made big gains in the Senate by telling the country that they would bring real change to Washington. But people don’t necessarily know how to fix Washington; they just know they don’t like what they see.
Much like our personal New Year’s resolutions, it remains to be seen if the incoming Congress will actually keep their promises to the American people. The fight that took place earlier this month over extending tax cuts for the rich signals another tough year ahead, full of political bickering and backroom deals. There will be many battles in Washington, but the question is whether anything will get accomplished for the American people.
In New York, the situation is very similar to Washington. Voters, fed up with the dysfunction of the State Senate Democrats, handed the chamber over to the Republicans. When in power, Democrats failed to pass many meaningful laws and reforms — like saving the New York City OTB and instituting new ethics rules — and it will only be more difficult now that the Republicans appear to be in control. I fear that the citizens who voted to change the legislature in hopes of creating a better government will be disappointed by even more political games and grandstanding in the near future.
It will be up to incoming Governor Andrew Cuomo to try to control the political circus in Albany. Cuomo has expressed the best of intentions to bring order to Albany and bring a tough, prosecutorial attitude to the position. Unlike some of his predecessors, however, he also knows how to work within the political system.
I hope that the new governor addresses the real problems in our government and doesn’t blame organized workers for everything that is wrong with the state. So far, he has made a serious effort to include minorities and friends of labor on his transition team and initial staff hires. He will have to make many difficult choices next year, but they must be made based on the best interests of all the people in New York and not motivated by the political winds.
Cuomo’s main concern should be jumpstarting the still sputtering economy. While many private companies and banks are now prospering, unemployment is still too high. The government needs to help both private and public sector workers by encouraging spending and hiring. This plan will pump more tax money into the state budget and ultimately be better for all New Yorkers. Accomplishing that goal is easier said than done, and there will be many challenges along the way.
I have high hopes for our government, our union and our members. I pray that the government keeps those resolutions that are for the greater good, as we will try to keep ours. As we move into 2011, let us also be thankful for the gifts we received in 2010. It was at times frustrating and even worrisome, but we made it through the year together. I know we will do the same next year. Happy Holidays to you and your family.